Creative Writing: Drama23>
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She was the first ever Professor to make me doubt myself as an English major. For example, when we read in class, her printouts were retarded and page 3 was on the back of page 5 and what not, and then she has the nerve to butt into a discussion between me and a colleague, and says "it doesn't take a college degree to go from page two to page three." On top of that, she openly shamed other writers in the class, saying that their specific style of writing didn't fit the assignment and that they failed. My friend who got this comment cried after class. She's in no way, shape, or form a nice professor, let alone an encouraging one, and for Creative Writing Poetry for crying out loud! This is supposed to be a safe place to share ideas and intellect and truly express yourself! I mean, grading was fair, but she could be really REALLY mean at times. You could definitely tell she had favorites.
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I took English 125 Violence in Literature with Professor Maniquis in the Spring of 2012 to satisfy the English major's critical theory requirement. Professor seemed intimidating in the first few minutes of the first class, but it quickly becomes apparent that he balances his intimidation with a genuine excitement for his students' educational pursuits. He truly cares about his students cultivating their own personal repertoire of world literary knowledge, and his class is functioned to operate with this in mind, i.e. that continually engaging with classic texts of world literature, and constantly dwelling on them, is an incredibly efficient way not only to succeed as an English major, but also to write well-crafted essays and research papers, to communicate one's thoughts adequately, and to concretize personal beliefs on topics as diverse as religion, epistemology, etc.--beliefs that can only be supported when one has taken a great deal of the body of their literature into account.
Because of this, Professor Maniquis's intimidation is as a matter of fact an excitement at what he understands to be the potential that all of his students can strive for, and also a challenge to undertake that intellectual journey. The Professor himself shows in his own person that undertaking this journey is worthwhile because he is a genius, and his years of experience truly shine through in the classroom setting. His lectures function narratively--that is, they begin with a recap of everything his previous classes have gone over, systematized to the point where every class will begin with you understanding exactly where you are in the grand scheme of the entire ten weeks. From this, he branches into the topic of the day, generally introducing it but not delving straight into its intracacies right then and there. He will craft a sort of academic story, a tale of how our modern conception of whatever we happen to be talking about on any particular day came to be viewed how it is. This is what many take to be the "tangential" nature of Maniquis's lectures. They are indeed tangential, but the mistake is thinking that because they are tangential they must therefore lack an overarching structure and/or a coherent synthesis by the end--two things which they do indeed possess. I filled up an entire "UCLA" composition notebook that, by quarter's end, read almost like a novel from first page to last. I still use this notebook today for other courses because the topics that Maniquis discussed in English 125 can be applied to any course in the Humanities (however directly or indirectly) as well as life in general. If any one has ever individually theorized about the grand relation between religion, violence, terrorism, the power of the written and spoken word and the power of the human imagination to conceive of unimaginable terror, or if any one is curiously interested in any of these subjects, Professor Maniquis reconciles them all by quarter's end, giving students a new perspective in which to take into other courses, as well as which to approach life with. Speaking personally, I feel much more confident walking into classes with Maniquis's instruction resting in the back of my mind than I did beforehand.
As to the particulars of the class, we were assigned a choice of either writing two short (4-6 pages) essays or one long (8-12 pages) essay. If we choose the option of two papers, one is submitted mid-quarter and the other the week after finals (this was in Spring quarter, so I'm not sure how he does it for, say, Winter quarter), meaning that we could work on the second essay AFTER the quarter AND the final had been completed. We could also rewrite the first essay to try and improve our grade, and if we are dilligent enough to do this, Maniquis will take such diligence into account in grading the second paper. He and his TA are tough graders. I got a B on my first one. But the comments that both of them leave are very helpful; no one will be left in the dark as to why they received the grade they did. The second option is if we want to wait until the end of the quarter to write one final essay, which is not advised because then we do not get feedback on how to construct essays for this class--in my case, for example, I would've gotten the B and been forced to remain content with that grade, lacking an opportunity to improve my class score on a subsequent essay.
The Final consisted of two essay questions, each taking about 1.5 hours, to be written in class on the day of the final. We were given the questions ahead of time and told not to outline an entire essay, but to know the subject well enough to be able to write essays that didn't need to be outlined, because we would simply be familiar enough with the material. It was difficult refamiliarizing myself with the material, but it was nothing that a group study session the night before and about 4 hours of private studying could get me through. I'm not sure if he gives out the essay questions in all his classes, but he did for ours because he wanted to make sure that we spent the bulk of our time writing the final paper(s).
Weekly reading assignments are long and intense. Take notes, but more importantly, try and get an accurate sequence of the events laid out in your mind. He'll fill in the gaps during lecture. You can go to his office hours if you have questions. I never did, but I still got an A in the course, so he's not "that" type of professor. Try to do all of the reading so that you can pass the quizzes at the beginning of class. He didn't always have them and they weren't graded, but its worth our while to do the reading so that the essay writing will go well. He'll know if you don't know what you're talking about.
This was the best English class I've taken at UCLA thus far (I transferred in as a Third year). I highly recomment Professor Maniquis. The reading is intense, but manageable. I know some people who didn't do it all and still got B's in the course, so the course is definitely passable.
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