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To even call his classes "lectures" is a misnomer, the only information you get is Allmendinger reading the equivalent of a wikipedia page about the author for five minutes at the start of the lecture. He offers no intellectual stimulation at all. Do not be fooled by the first lecture or two either - he raises a few issues in these which he completely ignores for the rest of the course. Moreover, he clearly doesn't plan his lectures but spends the time asking basic, BASIC question and trying to build his class upon students' comments. The lectures have absolutely no direction. Each week I leave with the rueing the fact that another hour and a half of my life has gone to waste, and I'm never getting it back. I've noticed that Allmendigner studied at Havard and Oxford, he probably received the finest education that anyone can - does he realize that us students at UCLA would like to be intellectually provoked in the short time we have here, in a similar manner to how he probably was when he was educated at university? Apparently not.
First of all, Professor Allmendinger is one of the most fun, approachable, and hilarious professors I've ever met at UCLA. He tells these little anecdotes sometimes and really draws you in with his storytelling.
The required reading for the course is all very interesting, so if you fall behind you know it's definitely because you're lazy (like me). There's a midterm, one 7-10 pg paper, and a final, each worth 1/3 of your grade. The midterm and final honestly weren't that hard. He gives you several options as to what prompts you want to answer, so you can avoid the texts you might not have considered as carefully. I was honestly worried about the paper, since I'm the type of English major that writes 3 pages if it's a 4 page essay, but he gave us a lot of leeway with what we could write - a standard close reading essay, or a creative writing option. I went with the creative writing option and got an A. It was even actually kind of fun writing it.
I've read through the reviews here and I agree, he doesn't do standard lectures with powerpoint and all that; rather, he gives us background on the book we were supposed to have read and then opens the floor for discussion, interjecting here and there with important points of his own. I'm the type of person that's pretty shy and not good at contributing to discussion, especially when it's not mandatory, so I wasn't too crazy about it, but class was still interesting. I could just sit there and listen to what everyone else was talking about. I didn't take too many notes, and hardly consulted them when studying, but I still did pretty good on the midterm and final.
All in all, Professor Allmendinger is really cool. I think his personality makes up for any of the minor flaws of this course, and he's really good at answering any questions you might have. If you ask him something by e-mail he responds super fast. If you can take Detective Fiction (if you're lucky enough to grab one of the few spots in the class) definitely go for it.
Honestly, I had high expectations for the Detective Fiction class when I enrolled. However, the professor was VERY different from what I expected! Although Professor Allmendinger is very nice and funny, he is not organized at all! He came to class with a tote bag and the book we were talking about that day. No notes, no powerpoint, nothing. He would simply go off memory and often times a student would bring up a topic regarding the book and he would answer with "I don't remember that" or "I never even thought of that." As fun as the reading was, he was very flippant with explaining the material that would be graded. When it came to the midterm he briefly just skimmed over what he "expected" without even going in depth of how he would grade. Then when the midtem grades were posted it ended up that 20% of the class failed! It was pretty clear that he did not give out good instructions (literally there were no directions on the paper). Although I ended up getting an A- in the course I definitely feel like if I had heard more about this course I would not have taken it. His expectations and comments are very unclear so the best way to understand what he wants is to go to office hours with questions. If you plan to take this class, you will enjoy the reading and discussions but do not necessarily expect a high grade (even if you are an English major)!
COURSE TAKEN: ENGLISH 117
Blake is an exciting, innovative instructor who is very approachable. His teaching style is very casual, which some students (especially those who are not independent thinkers and who require strict guidance) may not like. This is to say that he rarely, if ever, merely lectures. While he always introduces the texts beautifully, he leaves it largely up to the students to say what they will about the books and topics up for discussion.
I have heard some students criticize him for not saying enough about a book (as in, "I want to hear what HE has to say"). But I couldn't disagree more with these students. His creative way of lecturing/teaching is incredibly helpful, as it requires highly original thinking on the part of the students. Blake certainly values creative thinking over memorizing details from novels. Again, students who are not fully devoted to the class may not like this. All of his classes require a large amount of independent thinking.
So ultimately, Professor Allmendinger is hands-down my favorite professor in the English Department. His lectures are never dry, and I ALWAYS look forward to coming to class. And on top of it all, he is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. Highly recommended!
This was by far my favorite class at UCLA. I recommend him to everyone. His lectures are fun and interesting. He is a fair grader and easy to approach. He is very clear about what he expects and you know what he's going to test on. There aren't any hidden surprises and he's open to feedback. Take any class you can get with him.
Don't know what professor the people on the bottom are talking about, but Professor Allmendinger is fantastic. The class was great. It took a really fun approach to the material, allowed for open interpretation, and as long as you could support it, anything went. And the environment just made me happy. You felt like you were friends after the class was over.
Take whatever you can with him.
I have taken Professor Allmendinger twice while at UCLA. I took him for Eng 115 which was Detective Fiction and then for Eng 183C which was a seminar. I enjoyed having him for both classes. The Detective Fiction class was lecture style. We got to read a lot of interesting and entertaining books which was a nice break from some of the not so entertaining reading we as students have to do in our other classes. His lectures can at times drag on but overall Professor made good points in his lectures. Also he tried to allow for there to be a question/answer time or more discussion based part of his lectures which made them even better.
For his Seminar, I found him to be even better. The class was discussion based and the discussions were led by the students. This was really nice because instead of being led down a certain way that Allmendinger wanted the class to go, it was all off of the perspective of the student and it was as if Allmendinger was just another participant. Also the topic was something that was rather interesting and really easy to keep a discussion flow.
His grading is tough, but fair. For the essay's you have to show you put the work in. It does not have to be perfect in every respect but the paper does have to be carefully thought out. Most of his papers too are free reign when it comes to the topic. He allows you to write about something that you want to write about, or take a creative approach and make like a short film.
Overall I have really enjoyed having Allmendinger as a professor here at UCLA
Course: English 115D (although it was listed as 115A), finished with a B.
Allmendinger is a very nice, funny professor, and likes to engage with students. Furthermore, he's very open to making the class accessible to students, at least in 115D, where he knew non-majors were taking the class. He really enjoys his topic, in this case Detective Fiction. He easily gives B's but not too sure about A's. Relaxed lecture style.
If you're looking for a serious class, and care about what you're learning, you won't enjoy this class and professor; you'll think it's a joke. If you couldn't care less about your academics, this is an easy enough professor to take.