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Firstly, Kirkland is a great professor. His lectures are very theatrical and he makes them very interesting. You can tell the dude is really passionate about what he's teaching and genuinely cares. That being said, I never actually found the content of this class to be especially interesting (it mostly covers technical, mundane stuff like the architecture/ size of ancient buildings, memorizing Greek words, describing pottery etc.). Also, it seemed like everyone who took this class seemed to have an extreme interest in this stuff and a pretty solid background knowledge. I was kind of taken aback by this as this is supposed to be an intro course, and other people I talked to felt the same way. The professor and my TA would casually through around references to the Iliad, Odyssey, or Plato or something and and most people would nod in agreement, or entire discussions would be based on them and I'd get lost (I've read the Percy Jackson books and that's kinda it for my background knowledge). The lectures are also pretty fast paced, and he uses a very complex, academic vernacular, which made it hard to take notes on his slides. So overall, my main qualm with the class was it seemed like it wasn't very introductory or accessible, as it seemed like a lot of students in the class (or maybe more like a few, outspoken students) had a lot of background knowledge, and that the TAs and the Professor would cater to those students and assume everyone knew everything, rather than describing in plain terms who Penelope was, what the Parthenon was etc.
That being said, the class is manageable. My TA was a fairly easy grader and the two papers weren't too difficult. Both the mid term and the final were purely based on you ability to memorize passages, pictures, and define words-- so if you study a few nights and advance you should do well on them (I'd recommend using quizelts and taking notes on his slides to study).
Workload wasn't terrible. You can get away with not reading the textbook (McInerny, about 3 chapters per week), but you should read the weekly short (usually not-so-short) stories for section. If you can't understand them or if you're in a time crunch you can use spark notes for most of them.
Professor Kirkland has been the highlight of my fall quarter. He cares so much about classics and teaching and he puts a lot of effort into his classes. He is funny and his lectures are amazing and I legit felt bad about missing his lectures. If you study for his midterms and finals they are a cakewalk. Like his midterm was extremely easy, but you need to spend time memorizing the terms, images, and passages. His essays are also not bad at all. Also, Kirkland is just a really nice person, I also had him as my discussion leader and he is really an amazing professor. 10/10 would recommend and take this class again.
I never missed a lecture in this class because I legitimately enjoyed going to his class. He always spoke with such passion and I always felt engaged. I mean the best kind of passion--not the snobby kind-- the you can tell he loves what he does so much it makes you smile kind. He too would often laugh at some of the absurd topics we learned in lecture and would make some quality jokes, real knee-slappers. If someone asked a question he couldn't answer, he would take the time to research it and email the class later with an eloquent response.
In terms of grading, everything is very fair. His midterm required you to memorize terms, images, and texts; although, he would give you like 20 terms or images and only require you to write 10. The final was the same and he gave you the essay prompt prior to taking the final so you could be prepared. I read heavily the first half of the quarter, but fell off towards the end of the quarter and it didn't matter because what he covered in lectures sufficed.
I would take any class this man taught 10/10.
Kirkland is an amazing professor who loves what he teaches. His lectures are super interesting, and often funny. I loved this class so much that I took a Fiat Lux with him the following quarter.
For exams, you'll need to memorize almost 100 vocab terms (some of which you hear a lot in class, and others you'll hear only once - the former being easier to remember). The next part is being able to identify any image the professor uses during lecture, and being able to comment on it. This is a bit harder because you'll need to remember the name and era from which each image emerges. Finally, you'll need to identify a section of text and comment on it.
There are also two essays that you need to write towards the end of the quarter, and these are generally easy to write. I didn't do too well on them but still managed to get an A in the class because I aced the exams.
This might sound crazy hard, but remember that it is a GE! The professor and TAs aren't out to get you... okay maybe my TA was. But, it is generally on the easier end, just a lot of content to remember.
Don't be afraid to ask questions, and pay attention during lecture and you'll be fine.
Professor Kirkland is an incredible instructor! He's engaging, funny, and you can really tell he has a passion for what he teaches. He explains the material very clearly and answers any and all questions that students may have. The coursework itself is manageable (if you're okay with a bit of reading) and the expectations for assignments and exams that made up most of our grade (two papers, a midterm, and a final) were clear and fair.
I was also one of the students who happened to be in the only section Prof. Kirkland was a TA for, and I looked forward to each discussion. We would talk through the primary source texts and he would ask us questions to help us understand it better. Overall the class was very enjoyable and I would definitely recommend it as a GE or even just as a fun class!
Pros: Kirkland is one of my favorite professors at UCLA. Every lecture is like a performance--he speaks with passion and drama (but never overdone) and makes the lecture so engaging. He is always well-prepared and really knows what he's talking about. He really seems like he cares about the class, the material, and the students. The content itself is also pretty interesting, and I actually really enjoyed most of the assigned readings. The textbook isn't too dry and is pretty helpful.
Cons: It frustrated me that so much of the exam (for both the midterm and final) were memorization-based. Also, the textbook readings can be a lot at times especially if you're busy. It's hard to make up any lectures you miss on your own because a lot of what he says isn't in the slides, and the class isn't Bruincasted.
Other: Make sure you pay attention to the images and what the analysis of each artifact is. As for the textbook, I'd say you can get by without really reading it if you're solely considering what
you need to know for the exams, but again, I found the content to be interesting. The textbook can be helpful if you missed info about some of the artifacts he shows in class. This class is graded on section participation (for which no rubric is really given; the syllabus says grading is up to the TA), a midterm, a mini essay (500 words), a longer essay (4-5 pages), and a final. Extra credit questions were given on both the midterm and the final. I personally felt really overwhelmed preparing for the exams because of the sheer amount of memorization that it seemed like was necessary, but I did well on both, so it's definitely not too much to handle if you put in the effort.
Professor Kirkland obviously cares about his students and their learning. He provides lots of good historical examples and tries to keep it engaging. That being said, I personally was not very interested in the material despite this and found it hard to get through all of the readings. So, I didn't do them... Didn't even buy the books. This made studying for the midterm a tad time consuming but there are lots of good summaries online. Easy class overall, good for a GE.
Loved this class as a GE! Only enrolled because it worked with my schedule, and I'm so glad I did. Wasn't sure what to expect as I had nearly zero knowledge/interest in Ancient Greece, but Kirkland made lecture very interesting and it was very manageable workload-wise (granted, I didn't read the textbook, only used it to look up key terms definitions). Lecture isn't technically mandatory, but if you miss it it's hard to make up because most of class is him speaking and not reading off the slides (which is what makes it engaging!). Weekly readings were manageable, I usually did them the night before as they were around 40 or so pages on average. Section was 15% of your grade, and I'm not sure how James (my TA) graded, but I'm pretty sure if you show up and speak once you'll be fine. DO NOT underestimate how long it will take to study for the midterm and final (think: >200 terms, images, passages)! It's ALL memorization, so budget your time very wisely and make quizlets/flashcards.
TLDR; Pretty light weekly workload, engaging lecture, 2 essays, and memorization-based midterm and final.
Prof. Kirkland is an AMAZING person who is so excited to teach his students about Greek History, which is probably the reason that I enjoyed the class without having any background knowledge in anything Greek really. He speaks eloquently and really does try his best. Just like any history class some parts are boring and some parts will be interesting . Overall he's clear in how he presents the material and what is considered *fair game* for exams. He is very straightforward and fair on his tests, and even adds extra-credit! The only thing is that there is a LOT of material to memorize so you need to dedicate AT LEAST a few days to memorize terms, images, passages etc. but he won't try to trick you. I did read the textbook but lots of people in the class got away with not reading at all since you honestly don't need it for the exams. I didn't buy any of the side material and went to read or scan the pages of the books I needed at the library the week before. I think it was a good experience for my first quarter!
Professor Kirkland's class was the highlight of my first quarter at UCLA. While I never really interacted with him outside of lectures, he is notably an outstanding and engaging lecturer. His passion for Classics inspired me to take on a minor in Classics! (I am a South Campus major.)
To be honest, I wasn't doing my best at the beginning of the quarter, partially because I hadn't figured out how to study yet. But, I was able to pull myself together and managed to get an A-. Here are some tips I wish I knew before taking the class:
- Use flashcards or Quizlet to study the artwork that you need to know about. These tools are also very useful for memorizing time periods and historians/poets/philosophers. Stay on top of making such cards.
- Read all the primary sources assigned every week for section. If you don't understand what you are reading, use Sparknotes to guide you. They are helpful for identifying who wrote these pieces...
- The tests are easy and offer extra credit. They are definitely worth studying for.
- DO put effort into your essays. They're also a great way to make you go back and reflect on what you've learned so far.
- Attending lectures makes everything easier because the textbook is sometimes superfluous. Just go!
- Make more connections with upperclassmen, especially if you're not a North Campus major. They're way more chill over there.
- Lose any stereotypes you have about Ancient Greece. They're not going to be helpful.