Making and Studying Modern Middle East
Spring 2022 - Professor Yarbrough's class, was, albeit chaotic and a decent amount of work, a really rewarding class where I got to learn a lot about the Middle East (MENA) region and was able to workshop my writing skills. This class was definitely a mixed bag for me, lets start with the negatives. Prof assigns A LOT of readings, while this is to be expected from a writing II course, at times it can get out of hand. Week 2 he assigned us an entire 150+ page novel to read by his thursday lecture in addition to several other 15 page articles. Much of this reading is quite interesting and non-academic, but it is still a lot of work to get through. There are also quite a lot of films assigned, but I actually had a good time watching most of them. To be completely honest you can get away with skimming or even not reading a lot of the assigned readings as long as you pay attention to lecture and listen to your TA during section( thats what I ended up doing). The other negative is the amount of work required for the class, not only are there the two major papers for the quarter, there are also weekly reading checks that are 2 pages long, and a seperate midterm and final. To make matters worse the essay prompts, especially essay 2, were suuuper long and convaluted, the prompt for the second essay was a big paragraph, and to be honest after submitting my essay, I still dont really know what the prompt was. Okay, now onto the positives. The prof is incredibly enthusiastic about the course material, he is always really excited and makes the lecture experience so much more interesting. Usually I fall asleep during lectures, but I always enjoyed his and couldnt wait for them each week. After an essay submission he gave us a "pizza party" esque day where we watched a fun film and got to try a bunch of middle eastern food which was insanely fun. The TA is also a lifesaver in the course, I got lucky and got a great one who helped me workshop my essays and fix them when they needed help. She gave so much feedback on it and helped me improve it, and my writing skills in general a ton which I really appreciate. Finally, the prof offers 2% extra credit for two short 1 page responses to films which I would definitely recommend, as it is a little work for such a large grade bump. Overall I would definitely recommend this course because of the great professor and interesting material, but be prepared for a lot of reading and writing.