Professor McDonnell is absolutely wonderful. I would recommend this class even if you don't have to take it. This class made me actually look forward to class, but if you get Hilary as a TA definitely switch because she's completely terrible and no help at all. Having her as a TA is my only complaint, otherwise this class was great!!!
I had her for the watching movies class. Oh yea, sounded like cool. Nah! after the third four-hour movie that I was forced to watch, I mean, it gets boring. She is a narcissist that says "you only have to do 3 out of the 5 essays." Hmm okay. But what if you have a very strict TA like Brian or Alex, you may have to do the 5 of them. And the useless discussions are mandatory. So it's a lot of work between week 1 and week 7. The midterm is so unexpected, so you better study everything word by word. One last thing, her first day of class, may sound that she's all cool and stuff but it's too good to be true. I do admit she's a nice professor and comical but what counts at the end, how useful was the class, and what was your grade, not her attitude.
Best professor I had last quarter! She is really funny and she really wants students to do well in the class. I thought it was going to be a boring class but it turned out to be super interesting. If you attend lectures you don't have to do the reading because she covers everything in class. You should definitely take this class if you have the chance.
Spring 2016 - She's a pretty incredible teacher and a great lady. It's a real shame she's left and everyone here will be deprived of the experience of her awesome classes. I audited several of her classes while she was here at UCLA because she's really just that much of an interesting and engaging lecturer. Her slides and lecture material are entertaining. She's very knowledgeable about the material and interested in imparting it to the students and getting them to engage in the class. She's a quick talker but very clear. And she's funny and quite a snazzy dresser as well. In the large lower div lectures she gives 5 15-min identification quizzes per quarter, in addition to a midterm and final. In the smaller upper div classes she requires papers and - notably - several group presentation projects. Her classes aren't easy: she goes to quite a bit of effort to ensure her students do have to do significant work to get a good grade, but I always got the sense that most students enjoyed the classes and her teaching anyway (except for some in the lower div classes; there's always a crowd in those lectures that's only looking for an easy grade.) I really, really wish she hadn't decided to leave UCLA. I'd have kept auditing her classes forever if I could. I was lucky enough to attend her last lecture here in spring of 16', which is the only reason I know some of the why and how she vanished from UCLA. (I'm really surprised not a single one of her students from that class left a review here.) This last class just happened to be on the very next day after the shooting incident that occurred here at the engineering school. She spoke a great deal about that topic, along with, to my shock, announcing she was leaving UCLA. I wasn't shocked for nothing: UCLA is one of the most prestigious universities in the world and she'd recently gotten tenure here, and she told us she was leaving this job with no firm plans at all for a new one. She said she was leaving due to recently realizing that she wasn't happy at UCLA and in Los Angeles, and would prefer to work in a smaller institution with smaller classes, as that is where she feels the best learning environments are. While I'm sure those things are true, I got the very strong impression that these were by far not all of her reasons. As I mentioned, she spoke for the majority of that last lecture about the topic of the school shooting on campus, encouraging students to think about the issues arising from incidents like these and particularly about issues of safety, being more aware, and how to try to take some steps to get better safety measures implemented in schools to either attempt to avoid these events or deal with them as they're happening. She noted things such as the lack of internal locks on our classroom doors and the difficulty of opening windows to escape. Either in this class or a previous one I attended, she'd mentioned that she was at UNC during the 95' shooting incident there and heard the noise and panic, so this is obviously a personally significant topic to her. Notably, she said that this - a student who's mentally unbalanced becoming irrationally angry at a professor (or classmates) and resorting to weapons - could happen to literally anyone. She said that she herself at a previous job had to personally go to great effort to help with the very difficult situation of a mentally ill grad student because that university's administration would not (and seemingly could not) do anything. And she told us how right here at a meeting of the UCLA art history department she'd recently proposed instituting safety and emergency policies for the event of a school shooting; and the response of everyone at that meeting was to simply laugh at her. If you've bothered reading this far, you can probably see what I'm getting at here about what are likely her real reasons for leaving UCLA. I for one am deeply sad the university lost such an exemplary professor over these circumstances. In case she ever happens to read this: UCLA has installed internally-locking locks on most of the classroom doors sometime in the past half a year, though it was probably just because of the unfortunate event in the spring and not due to any one staff member's opinion. And I've seen the occasional leaflet recently hanging off departmental cork boards here on the topic of what to do in the event of an active shooting. I guess it's better than nothing? Better late than never? Something like that.
I went out of my way to take this upper division class after taking a lower division with Professor McDonnell. In the upper division I noticed her classes are a lot less "structured" than they were in the lower division, she doesn't need to prepare too much, though, because she is so knowledgeable in the subject. I learned a lot about Pompeii, more than I ever thought I needed to, and I thought the class was certainly worthwhile. The class was broken down into one exam, one project, and a research paper. Her exam was not too difficult. The only complaint I have is that there was very little time and she graded very leniently on some sections but more harshly in others. (To avoid this problem when you take her class just make sure you do the test in the order of point allocation. So if the essay is 50%, short answer 25% and 25% identifications, do the essay first.) The project was actually really fun. Some people got to do really creative things, and I get the feeling that she appreciates the amount of time students put into their projects. As for the research paper; it was not too bad. She is totally willing to spend some time helping you find sources and will even loan you books from her own personal collection. Just make sure you do EXTENSIVE research on your topic. If you use any sketchy sources or something like that she will probably call you out on it and that's no fun. Overall very fun, knowledgeable, and excellent professor. I would take her again, and I'm not even a classics major. She's just so devoted to teaching her students you can't help but be excited to attend class. Don't miss out on the opportunity to take her IMO.
I would say one of my favorite professors at ucla. She is a great TEACHER. not like other art history class where the prof just states the obvious. her classes are very interesting and you can tell she puts a lot of time into them. She tells fun stories and it's really difficult to zone out in my opinion. Class was very fair and not that difficult, which allowed me to enjoy the class and just learn.