All Ratings and Reviews for Alessandro Duranti
Anthro 4 was an ok experience for me. My main issue with the class was the format of assignments Professor Duranti chose. The basic structure was 6 assignments with no release/due dates to just be given out at various points in the quarter - each was worth 20%, lowest one gets dropped. If you are happy with your grade after five, you don't have to do the sixth (or you can choose to not do one of the other assignments). No midterm, not final, literally nothing matters in this class besides your grades on these assignments (discussion sections are optional, no participation or anything). In theory, this is actually awesome, and it had its benefits, but unfortunately in the first 7 weeks of the class we had two (2) assignments... you get where this is headed. Even though the assignments themselves are really not difficult and Duranti directs you to the corresponding readings and gives some hints, the pacing of the workload was really not distributed equally. Maybe not a killer for everyone, but I found this to be pretty frustrating. My TA (Spencer) was great, he clearly really wanted to engage us and was super helpful if you went to optional discussion sections, but I thought he was a bit of a harsh grader on some things. For me, the reason this class was a "so-so" experience was that I found the subject (linguistic anthropology) to be really dense, hard to understand with the effort I was willing to put in (honestly, took this as a requirement, just wanted to get it done with limited interest in actual topic going into the class), and more reading than I was hoping to have (especially at the start, near 100 pages per week). Duranti however is clearly passionate, invested in our learning, witty, funny, and ALWAYS offering help and answering questions. I think the class lost some of its charm being online, but overall was a fine experience and not too difficult grade-wise to succeed.
Duranti makes himself available if you're ever confused on anything but I never did any reading for this class. I took it as a GE, and to be honest I got an A+ but I feel like I havent learned anything. I had Jarred as my TA and he's an awesome dude, and could be very clear but nobody in my discussion section actually did any work for this class. If you want to learn dont take this class, but if you dont mind writing and you think you're a decent writer, take this class and its an easy A.
Professor Duranti is a really great guy. I went to see him in his office hours a couple times and he always made sure to ask me about how the class was going and even my other classes. It is true that the readings are the most important part of the class. Most of the tests are based off of them. Contrary to what other posts say, the reading load is not that much compared to a normal social science class. I thought the tests and projects weren't too hard. I did really well on them, but that may have just been my TA. Overall though, this is a great class and a great professor.
the professor himself is good; he has good presentations, and is always looking for feedback. However, the class itself is boring, and the readings aren't much better. The T.A.'s are easy graders though, so A's are accessible.
I would suggest not taking Antrho 33. Duranti is a nice guy and all but that doesn't help when it comes to learning anything. The subject is pretty much all BS and Duranti goes about explaining the most simple details in the most complicated way. The assignments are good but hard because he instructs his TA's to be so nit-picky. I've never worked so hard in a GE class before or tried so hard to change how I write in order to please the ego of a professor. Trust me you don't have time for this class. Duranti should do less lecturing and stick more to research.
First, professor Duranti is really into what he teaches. In the first few classes, you really are excited about the class lectures. Then, as you realize that you have way too much reading to do, and that the reading is sometimes impossible to get through because the articles chosen to teach topics in the class use vocabulary and "understood" ideas that only liguistic anthropologists themselves, or interested students taking upper division courses in the subject area would understand. The assignments are really easy if you have good writing skills. Be careful on the midterm, you have SO little time for the amount requried of you. Also, don't bother buying the book "Key Terms"--he tries to squeeze it in, but it really doesn't fit any of the material all that well. He isn't even using it on our final.
DO NOT TAKE DURANTI! HE IS THE WORST PROFESSOR I HAVE EVER TAKEN. HIS LECTURES ARE NOT ORGANIZED AND THE EXTREMELY LONG READINGS DO NOT RELATE TO WHAT HE TALKS ABOUT IN CLASS. AFTER THE FIRST LECTURE I TOTALLY REGRETTED EVER TAKING ANTHRO 33. THE CLASS ISN'T VERY DIFFICULT IF YOU GET ALL OF THE READINGS DONE ON TIME, BUT I DONT THINK ITS WORTH IT. DURANTI AND ANTHRO 33 ARE A STUPID WASTE OF TIME!
Duranti is a raging egomaniac! Apparently nothing relevant occured in the field of Linguistic Anthropology until he got his PhD. We had to read his boring book, and although there were some interesting articles in HIS reader the focus in the course was on his work, his wife's work, and his life story while the work of other (and better) authors was less focal. The discussion section was a complete waste of time, but since points were involved, attendance was important. The assignments were interesting, but his lectures were so dreadful that it was hard to maintain any of the interest in the subject. He rambles on and on about unimportant concept, then glosses over interesting and thought-provoking ideas. You're given a "fill-in-the-blank" outline at every lecture, as if you're in 1st grade rather than college. If you're interested in the subject take the class with someone else...if you're just looking to get an easy A, it's definitely do-able. His exams are based exclusively on the readings (of which, there is a lot). I just can't express how much I hated his class!!!!
While his lectures were a bit on the unorganized side, it wasn't impossible to follow. Most of the readings were decent except for the Constructing Panic book which you will learn to dread. The tests were very fair and the assignments weren't hard. Just go to lecture, take notes, pay attention and read. I'm a comm major and some of these concepts actually appeared in other classes...overlap is always a good thing. I wouldn't say this is a fun class by any means, but it's not horrible.
He's a nice guy and very famous researcher, but I found his class and the readings, dull, simplistic, and self-important rather than educational. Make sure to get a good TA and at least skim the readings. I would recommend strongly against taking his class, but you almost must if you're an athropology major (unless you go to summer school).
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