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Bristow is engaging and really funny, but he can be intimidating because he makes jokes if you're talking during lecture or if your phone rings. The readings were mixed – some were great while others were super boring and felt like a waste of time. The grading was pretty standard: participation in section, a few essays, and a final with IDs and a short essay.
Bristow himself is cool. He's an entertaining and insightful lecturer, and spent most of class close-reading the texts he assigned for homework.
Unfortunately, his assignments were ridiculous. Every essay prompt was like a joke, and the final exam had so many restrictions that it made my head spin. It's not that the essays or the test were difficult in and of themselves--but Bristow's extremely restrictive instructions were bordering on bizarrely compulsive. I would only take him again if there were fewer assignments, because I don't think I could handle such condescending prompts and restrictions again.
This guy's a riot--lecture's are always entertaining, and his powerpoint lectures are available online. He can be crass, but he's very to-the-point when it comes to analyses of his texts.
His choice of reading is not very canonical, but it is still worthwhile to take a class with him. His tastes tend to be on the more queer- and sexual-side when it comes to selection of readings, but there's not enough classes in the UCLA English department dedicated to those subjects anyway.
Professor Bristow is definitely the best professor i've had for the 10 series - he is extremely engaging, funny and made some potentially boring texts come to life. The difficulty of his tests/structure of the class is pretty standard for the 10 series.
I took 10C with Bristow and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. If given another opportunity, I'd be happy to take more classes with him.
Though he provides all of his powerpoint lectures online, I would attend lecture and take notes on whatever isn't covered by the powerpoint-- and a good third of the analysis he does are based of the texts or simply mentioned and not written down. It shouldn't be too difficult to pay attention in class. Professor Bristow is an interesting and engaging lecturer who has a clear passion for his topic-- which means that he will also be hard on people who aren't paying attention in class. He's very witty, and yes, as as the previous poster mentioned, often brings up or mentions sexuality and sex as it pertains to the texts (and several of the texts we covered are either implicitly or explicitly sexual.) I never found it a problem-- usually it was either amusing, or important as either a topic for discussion, or part of the contextual background of the work.
I enjoyed most of the texts selected for reading, but more important than the fact that I enjoyed them was that Professor Bristow was always able to provide enough analysis and information for me to thoroughly analyze the works, regardless of whether or not I personally enjoyed them.
My TA was fine-- perhaps a little hesitant, for someone who was supposed to direct and build up serious discussion on a topic, but a fair grader and discussion was generally pretty good. I put in a fair amount of work in his class, and got an A-.
The final was composed of four parts, one part defining literary terms covered in class, and the other three essays on different texts we covered. Since there are certain restrictions on writing about the same text or topics that you have already covered, you might want to keep in that in mind-- if you find a very versatile text that you enjoy or could use for just about any topic, maybe consider saving it for the final and writing Paper Topic #3 on something else.
Professor Bristow is easily the worst professor I've had in the English department including the 10 series and a couple upper divs. First off, his selection of texts was disappointing to me, because he omitted some very interesting canonical authors and texts. Second, he seems to have an obsession with sexuality and sex (although he clearly prefers the term "f***ing" and delights in using crass language when unnecessary, and his texts reflect that. Allowed that the time period saw some interesting developments in opinions on sexuality, Professor Bristow's own homosexuality heavily influences his syllabus, so if you aren't jazzed by queer studies, the readings may be difficult to enjoy, or even to stomach, though not altogether without value.
When reading or discussing sensitive texts that dealt with subjects like intimacy, sexuality, and even rape or sodomy, Professor Bristow would favor sensationalism and emphasize the crudeness behind the language rather than let the words or subtleties speak for themselves. He loves to use phrases like "hmmmmm, isn't THAT interesting?", which, while entertaining for being comical, detracts from the literariness or seriousness of the work, in my opinion. In this way, I feel like he abused sensitive texts. He also abused authors by focusing on the gossip and "juicy details" surrounding their lives rather than their strictly pertinent biographies.
In short, I came into the class with high interest in Victorian literature and came out of it with a hatred almost for both Victorian and modern literature, and an almost dismissive attitude of queer and gender studies based on Professor Bristow's poor treatment of all of the above. His one redeeming quality--a British accent, which does not belie any special authority to speak intelligently on British literature, I assure you. I will avoid future classes with him like poison.
Professor Bristow is the best English teacher I had for the 10 series. He's very knowledgeable, witty, demanding, and interesting. The readings are a little intense, but they're all very good and he goes in depth into every one of them. He gets a lot done during lecture, and he doesn't tolerate people sleeping or texting. The class was hard, but I learned a lot. He also reminds me of Tim Gunn from Project Runway.
Bristow is phenomenal. I agree with the previous poster--he is very intense about his class, and he will call you out if you don't have your book with you, are talking, or fall asleep. But he is so hilarious and interesting I can't imagine how someone would have trouble paying attention to him for less than an hour. I didn't love the readings, because I don't love this period of literature, but I actually had a great TA and lectures were a pleasure. The 10 series is much better with good professors, and I HIGHLY recommend Bristow.
I loved loved loved Bristow and 10C. His lectures were very well-organized and well thought-out. He picked some interesting texts to read (not all great, but I enjoyed the majority of the readings), and he really pays attention to how the texts overlap each other and connect. His essay topics were extremely challenging, but not impossible. They really prod you to evaluate the text yourself, rather than giving you a cookie cutter, obvious prompt. He's absolutely hilarious and jokes around in class, but he does take his class very seriously-- he's watching you, and he will catch you if you're sleeping or texting.
Although I was wary of reading modern literature at first, Bristow made me fall in love with it, and I would definitely recommend taking this class with him.
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