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So this class is not exactly what you would call a geography class. Most of the literature focuses on philosophical writers throughout the 19th and 20th Century. Professor May delivers the information is a well thought out and intelligeable way. He is probably one of the best professors I have ever had in my 3 years at UCLA so far. He can get a little wordy in his lectures and talk so fast that you can barely understand what he is saying but if you stop and ask questions, he is more than happy to repeat/ rephase what it is he is saying. Your grade is determined by your TA, they do all the grading. 40% of the class is based on going to discussion. They ask you to write up a weekly summary of the readings for the week and although it is a total pain it actually is really helpful. I got a c+ on the mid term, worked hard in discussion and the final and ended up getting a b+ in the class. Definitely take this class with May if you can.
May reminds me of a mad man at the edge of making a grand scientific discovery. He's very enthusiastic about what he teaches, sometimes so much he leaves the rest of the class behind in a somewhat dazzled and most definately confused state of mind. Part of it is that his teaching style is just so out of the stereotypical mold that its a little hard to handle at first (No slides, no structure, random words on the board, and an eloquent vocabulary that might make you use the dictionary a few times, just to make sure what he means). But despite this, he is a very good professor. Do not be intimidated by him, his age, or his style, just attend discussions to help clarify the lectures. I'd reccomend that everyone should be exposed to his methods at least once in their undergraduate careers, it's definately a learning experience.
This class surprised me in a number of ways, the first of them being that it seems the least related to Geography of any of the Geography courses I've taken here. But even as May dove into a lot of philosophy and politics, the class remained interesting throughout. May is a great professor--he's brilliant, young and very easy to talk to in office hours, which I recommend going to. While the material for the class can seem a bit scattered and confusing at times, it somehow all pulls together at the end and you finish the final feeling like you learned something useful and relevant.
The reviewer below doesn't seem to know what she is talking about. I came into the class with only a cursory knowledge of economics, and did fine. There is some economic discussion in the readings, but he doesn't test you on any of it.
And his tests are easy. Do the readings and show up to class and there is now way for you not to get an A. Anyone who says otherwise is just lazy.
He's really interesting, but he talks about the ideas in class in a really abstract and obtuse kind of way. A lot of the time I found myself just barely following along. But like I said, he's really interesting, and he brings in pop culture examples to keep you engaged. The topic of the class was Cultural Geography and I took the class before with someone else and May made it much more interesting.
Not much to say about grading, because the TAs grade the exams (30% each for midterm and final) and 40% of the grade is discussion, and format for discussion depends entirely on your TA. The exams themselves are essay format, for the midterm we had to write 3 essays in an hour and 15 minute period. It sucked but is do-able.
Readings are a lot and sometimes confusing, but discussion helps you get through them and lectures are based on the reading as well.
I'd recommend May if you want interesting lectures, but beware his lecture style--he can be quite confusing. Best to take a class of his if there is a discussion to get you through, otherwise use his office hours and be persistent, because he definitely wants you to understand the material more than anything else. Overall a pretty good professor and recommended.
He's cute as well, but that's probably just me.
The best class hands down that I have taken at UCLA. There was never a dull moment in class. No powerpoint, slides, etc. Only the occasional phrase written on the board. He's a pretty young instructor; we all thought he was a TA when he walked into class the first day. But he is a dynamic and enthusaistic speaker and some of the material, though confusing and abstract, will stick with you long after class has ended. After the first 2 weeks, I was asking myself if I was taking a philosophy class or a geography class. Confused about that week's topic, I went to his office hours. Turns out he was a philosophy major as an undergrad. There is A LOT of reading that you will have to do each week, plus a one page summary due the week after, but the readings are VERY interesting and definitely make you think. The midterm consists of 3 essays. The final is the same format, I'm guessing. I was worried when the TAs said that they were disappointed with the essays, but I got an A. If you read, go to lectures and discussion sections (very important, worth a huge chunk of your grade), and clarify confusing topics with your TA and May, you'll do fine. Loved this class. I'll miss it. I definitely want to take another class with him. Highly recommended. And I agree with one of the other evaluators - he is cute.
John May -- what to say?
Haha, i just rhymed. Anyway! OMG, i just rhymed again!
Anyways, this class will hinge on how well of a writer you are. It is a cultural geography class, but you are tested on how well you can write. Yes, you have to know the material, but the material is extremely abstract and towards the end gets VERY confusing until it is cleared up by the professor one hundred times or a T.A. Going to lectures is absolutely critical because the readings don't make sense most of the time. It's like reading a giant book of stuff that is written by authors who have a little too much time.
One thing that he does say is that you should leave the class with more questions than answers. And that is a true statement.
This class is called cultural geography but might as well be called "philosophy of the self."
Is it hard? That depends if you know how to manage your time and if you can write. You need to manage your time because the readings are extremely long. Be open minded. Don't make judgements because there is a ton of stuff you might not agree with.
Have a good time! :)
He does a great job making lectures interesting, incorporating pop culture references and keeping things current and easy to relate to. He has a way of being very abstract about things, but I don't think it's entirely his fault--some of the concepts are just really abstract, especially in an intro class like this. Definitely make it a point to go to the lectures, because the reader can get overwhelming on its own. If you go to lecture and pay attention (it's not hard to, like I said he's a good lecturer for the most part and knows how to keep things interesting) then you can probably get away with just skimming readings. Discussion will save you in this class, and it was worth 40% of your grade so don't skip this either. May also did a good job with incorporating authors you would encounter commonly within the Geography major, and explaining their basic premises--good for an intro course. May's easy to talk to, very willing to help, a fair-to-easy grader, and not bad to look at.
Bottom line: Buy the reader, go to lecture and discussion to make readings an easy skim. Lectures interesting, grading pretty generous but you gotta be able to write an essay (exams were 3 blue-book essays within an hour). Good class, recommended. May's cool for an intro course like this, he might be tougher to follow in an upper div class so watch out.
Professor May is my favourite professor by far here at UCLA. His teaching style is unique however I way really able to follow his logic and his "unorthodox" lectures with limited use of powerpoint and random words appearing on the chalk board with all sorts of arrows tying them together. He is great to talk to about Geography as well as just life in general so I would recommend going to his office hours not just before the midterm or final, but to just pop in and say hi to this prof because he may look and sound intimidating but he is just a really cool guy. So do yourself a favour, take this class; it's one of the best I have taken in my four years of college.