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She really wanted to help but she really didn't help.
Do not get fooled by the previous average grades.
She graded harshly!!!!!!!!
This class is 50% about the history surrounding the Atlantic ocean (pirates, slavery, geography, etc.), and 50% about how we look at history (Atlantic history vs. imperial history vs. global history, etc.).
Professor Pestana is a good lecturer and she is very helpful during office hours.
The workload was light for a history GE. We had 30 pages of reading each week, 3 short papers (no more than 4 pages), and no homework.
During our quarter, the essay prompts were kinda vague and many people did not do well.
As a south campus major, I enjoyed this class and would recommend to anyone who needs a light history GE.
This is a review of Dr. Pestana, specifically. I took this class with the assumption that it would be based largely around essays and discussion participation, and that it was. There are three essays, with the first two being worth 25% of your final grade depending on what the professor says. The last, a final, is worth 30%, with the remaining 20% being your discussion grade. Be active in discussion, and engage with your TA! That discussion grade can make or break your final grade.
Dr. Pestana’s prompts were vague, unhelpful, and difficult. Those who did “exactly what she wanted” were rewarded with higher grades, but you’d have to be borderline lucky to accomplish this. She’s also very picky on theses. One or more of your essays will be graded by your TA, and TAs tend to be a lot easier on the grading than the professor herself.
Lectures were arguably unnecessary for those familiar with course materials. The length was manageable, but the content was dry. I wouldn’t waste your time fretting about lecture knowledge, as you will rarely be asked about lecture content. Focus on the primary and secondary sources, because those will be discussed in discussion and cited in your essays.
First, I am a South Campus major who is mediocre at writing. This is a fairly graded, but very involved class. This class isn't really reflective of the professor. Even though she does give lectures that are somewhat interesting, the class isn't about lectures. It is about all the reading you'll have to do (and it is usually around 30 pages a week, broken up into several articles from 5-17 pages long). Go to lectures if you want, but they weren't very helpful to me.
What is very important is reading and going to discussion and OH (both for the professor and the TA) as often as possible. This will help you understand and analyze the readings for the papers. Other reviews say she grades harshly, but I don't think so. She is looking for a defensible (not correct or even strong, just arguable) thesis, a conclusion, and that you actually understood the articles and the time period/location they are placed in. Talking to the TA will be your best bet for getting through these with a good score.
One more thing about the professor, if you are struggling to come up with a thesis, SHE WILL HELP YOU COME UP WITH ONE. I cannot stress how helpful she is, she literally dragged my dumb ass to a thesis over the course of 90 minutes and probably saved my grade (I took it P/NP, but would have ended up with an A if I didn't chicken out).
Also, if you can, try to get into Emily Bolender's discussion section, she is super helpful and supportive, gives good feedback, and gives extra credit if you dress like a pirate for discussion on pirate week!
TL;DR: Read everything (and before discussion), skim the lectures and attend OH and discussion.