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Professor Dienstag is easily the most eloquent and intelligent professors I have had at UCLA. The class itself was amazing. However, if you are taking this class or any other political science class for that matter AVOID NAVEED MANSOORI AS A TA AT ALL COSTS. I typically never write reviews for classes but Naveed is one of the worst TAs at UCLA. His discussions are disorganized and unprepared, and though he is clearly intelligent, he does not know how to teach material at all. Don't let his "chill"/spastic vibe fool you: he is a ridiculously difficult grader, which would be fine if his teaching was of high caliber. His extreme socialist views are projected on every word he says and he shuts down any discussion about views that differ from his own. Its obvious that he cares very little about teaching students. I have had other friends who have taken him as a TA and agree that he is the worst. Think Michael Scott and Toby in the Office type relationship between you and Naveed after you take this class. Professor Dienstag's teaching makes this class redeemable, though.
Professor Dienstag is super passionate about continental philosophy-real big into Nietzsche and Rousseau. He makes the ideas of tough thinkers like Hegel and Nietzsche comprehendible to everyone, even though I wouldn't say this is an easy class by any measure. The texts are dense, but it's all stuff that is understandable with a little bit of strenuous political theory wherewithall. This man is extremely intelligent!! Just jump on and take Dienstag's ride to pessimistic excellence!
One of the most brilliant professors I have ever learned from at UCLA. I definitely thought this class was worth my money. I took Dienstag during Fall 2010 and as the previous person had said, we read a book each week and he gave us his own interpretation that was very clear and concise. If you're going to take this class, you definitely should not miss a lecture, but you would not want to anyways because each lecture is just so interesting. One thing I did not like about this class was the discussion. I felt like the TA that I had really did not know what they were talking about and the students led the discussion. The one page assignment due every Wednesday was really annoying... but other than that, loved every single lecture. The class was graded on 5-7 pg paper (20%), 7-10 pg paper (40%), discussion/participation (20%), and one "cumulative" final (20%). The final consists of identifying quotes and the author, true/false, and explicating why it's false. Grading was a bit hard.... but regardless, LOVED Dienstag! I wouldnt recommend it for anyone who is taking a big course load.
He is unquestionably one of the best text-interpreters I have ever had in a professor. We read about one book per week first from Rousseau, then Hegel, Nietzsche, Gadamer, Foucault, and finally Arendt, respectively. Again, his interpretation of each text is clear, concise, and well-delivered in lecture. I strongly recommend reading and going to every lecture, but doing all of the reading isn't necessary because of how well he summarizes it for you. Of course, then, it would be necessary to make every lecture (He didn't podcast). They're only an hour and fifteen minutes long, so that wasn't too tough either. He gave us two papers and an in-class final. The grading was fair, and the material was very interesting. I am both a political science major and a philosophy major in my senior year, so I have taken my share of classes from both fields. This class was one of the best. If you want to get your worth out of UCLA, take Dienstag.
Professor Dienstag is a brilliant man. He has a very dry sense of humor, but if you honestly go to class having done some of the reading and wanting to listen to him, you will without a doubt learn from him.
In the class you have weekly reading responses (1 paragraph- very manageable), 2 papers (1 5-10 pages, 1 7-10 pages), and a final. Overall, if you like theory...take Dienstag!