Spring 2022 - Professor Yarbrough's class, was, albeit chaotic and a decent amount of work, a really rewarding class where I got to learn a lot about the Middle East (MENA) region and was able to workshop my writing skills. This class was definitely a mixed bag for me, lets start with the negatives. Prof assigns A LOT of readings, while this is to be expected from a writing II course, at times it can get out of hand. Week 2 he assigned us an entire 150+ page novel to read by his thursday lecture in addition to several other 15 page articles. Much of this reading is quite interesting and non-academic, but it is still a lot of work to get through. There are also quite a lot of films assigned, but I actually had a good time watching most of them. To be completely honest you can get away with skimming or even not reading a lot of the assigned readings as long as you pay attention to lecture and listen to your TA during section( thats what I ended up doing). The other negative is the amount of work required for the class, not only are there the two major papers for the quarter, there are also weekly reading checks that are 2 pages long, and a seperate midterm and final. To make matters worse the essay prompts, especially essay 2, were suuuper long and convaluted, the prompt for the second essay was a big paragraph, and to be honest after submitting my essay, I still dont really know what the prompt was. Okay, now onto the positives. The prof is incredibly enthusiastic about the course material, he is always really excited and makes the lecture experience so much more interesting. Usually I fall asleep during lectures, but I always enjoyed his and couldnt wait for them each week. After an essay submission he gave us a "pizza party" esque day where we watched a fun film and got to try a bunch of middle eastern food which was insanely fun. The TA is also a lifesaver in the course, I got lucky and got a great one who helped me workshop my essays and fix them when they needed help. She gave so much feedback on it and helped me improve it, and my writing skills in general a ton which I really appreciate. Finally, the prof offers 2% extra credit for two short 1 page responses to films which I would definitely recommend, as it is a little work for such a large grade bump. Overall I would definitely recommend this course because of the great professor and interesting material, but be prepared for a lot of reading and writing.
Spring 2022 - I took this class for a GE / Writing II credit. If you are in the same position, DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS! Also as a disclaimer, I am getting an A, so I'm not salty about grades, this class is just a HUGE time commitment for what a GE should be... I am a neuro major and am used to putting in a good amount of work for my classes, but this class was sucking up more time than all my actual major classes combined! I had to take it and stay in it because I was a graduating senior, otherwise I would honestly have dropped within the first couple weeks and waited to take a lighter GE. GRADING: Attendance of discussion (not required for lecture): 10% Participation in discussion: 10% Response papers /Focus Question Answers (300-500 words per week): 10% Midterm Exam: 15% Final Exam: 15% Essay 1, 7 pages (draft=5%, revision=10%): 15% Essay 2, 9 pages (draft=10%, revision=15%): 25% CLASS: Two 1h15 lectures a week (that thankfully are recorded). Slides are about 50 per lecture with nothing but pictures in them and random words... so be prepared to take the fastest notes of your life or watch the recordings slowly to catch all the details -> because the exams will ask about detailed information the professor says in lecture. He is honestly a nice man and good lecturer, I'd love to listen to him as a podcast, but hated having to actually absorb every single detail he mentioned in class for the exams... he could at least add some more text to slides so you can focus on listening instead of writing all the small details... or make the exams be less into the details. The level of detail honestly makes it seem like you're a graduate anthro student instead of an undergraduate GE student... DISCUSSIONS (1h per week): if you can, have Emma as your TA, she was the one blessing in this class! Every week you must show up and participate a little bit for points, and then you also need to turn in a weekly focus question (300-500 words) based on a question from the readings. It took me about 1h a week to do the focus question (not counting the time to do the readings!) Readings: they are the reason this class is ridiculous. I could deal with the detailed lecture aspect... but the amount of readings required for this class is absurd. There were weeks where we'd have to do 100+ pages of readings, watch a 1-2h movie, and read an 30 min-1h article! IN ONE WEEK! I'd spend easily 4-5h a week on the materials... and I wouldn't read the actual novels, I'd either skim or read many notes and articles about them... because I cannot read a freaking book a week for ONE class... and also because you had to pay for them a lot of the times which seems ridiculous to me when there's so many good, free and shorter reading sources he could've picked instead the problem is that you need the readings to both answer the focus question each week, as well as for the exams! If you don't do them you will most likely fail the class, which is what makes it such an impossible time commitment. The articles were normally a good read, some shorter videos we're good too. The problem really is with having whole damn novels some weeks... if the professor cut it down to 1-2h a week of extra material it would be much more reasonable. Exams: 50 questions each, non cumulative, open note. Half the exams are on the lecture and the other half is on the readings. He will go into detail. It is not enough to know the symbolisms or meanings in each reading, he will ask you for specific information about them. I missed an exam question on a reading that I had done from start to finish because it was super detailed... it's just not reasonable to expect us to go into that level of detail for so many readings per week. I made copious notes on each lecture + for each reading, added notes from friends, from discussion section, ect... it really was a lot of work... Essays: The first essay is analysing a boundary in one of the readings for the class, the second one requires more outside research and extra sources. You first turn in a draft and then a final version. I spent a lot of time on these... maybe 20h each easily between drafts and final versions. I suggest treating your draft as the final version, because they do grade it expecting a pretty decent essay already. If you a 3-4h effort the night before I really doubt you'll get a good grade on your draft. I was lucky that my TA was amazing and helped me a lot during OH... but once again, this took a lot of time and effort on my end. Once again, you have been warned. The time commitment for this class is insane! You're looking at 3h30 of class + 1h for weekly homework + 4-5h for readings (assuming you only read the articles or sources that are less than 40 pages and then read summaries on the novels or bigger movies, otherwise it's even more...). That's 10 hours a week for basic stuff. Then add the time for essays (easily 40h a quarter) plus studying for the finals and organising all your class notes and reading notes (easily another 30h)... divide it all amongst 10 weeks and you're looking at 15-20h of work per week to get an A (some weeks more, some less depending on when deadlines are coming up...). Even if you don't want an A and you just want pass the class, I really doubt you can get away with less than 10h a week of work... If you love anthro and this is your jam, by all means go for it, it is doable. But if you just want to take an interesting GE and get your writing II credit, learn a bit about something different, and have a manageable work load, this class is NOT it
Winter 2022 - TLDR: It's a scoring class with interesting material, however you need to put in effort. So it is not difficult, but it is time consuming. I would recommend you to take this class and Prof Yarbrough is a great lecturer. Took this class partly online as it was in Winter 2022. The professor is great to listen to and the lectures and subject matter are generally interesting. This is an upper div but I took this class as a freshman and got an A. Prof Yarbrough is a good teacher and interesting to listen to with a sense of humor. The class is about Islam and how it has interacted with other religions (or societies) in many different ways. Themes taught in the class include the treatment of non-Muslims in Islamic empires, Islam and violence, Muslims in Europe now etc. He makes lectures very interesting and I liked the lectures a lot. Most classes were structured like this: The professor will explain some basic concepts, dive deeply and analyze some examples like a case study, give a conclusion and then present like an original insight/takeaway from this. It was interesting and engaging. Lectures were fun, the readings were not. There are a lot of readings and you will NEED to do the readings. Expect around 60-100 pages of reading a week. Most of the readings will be very dense, academic texts or really old historical texts and they will be dry and challenging. The readings are rigorous and will need effort. 60% of the total grade is more or less guaranteed if you do the very very bare minimum and you can easily score 80% with minimal effort, getting an A requires some effort but again it's not a difficult class. One good thing is that all the readings (which reading is due for when) and the syllabus (which mentions the focus question for each week, details about your final paper etc) are given to you at the start of the class itself so you can plan accordingly and get ahead if you have some free time early on. Grading: 10% Discussion section attendance 10% Discussion section participation 10% Weekly Focus Question Submission 10% Weekly Micro-Quiz 20% Midterm 20% Final Exam 20% Final Paper More info: 1. Each week you submit a one page focus question response with each response worth 1% of your total grade. So there will be a focus question which will basically require you to answer it and use evidence from the readings to support your answer. However, this did not take much time because you do not really need to present a world class essay or anything. Just have complete sentences and cite the appropriate evidence from the readings (which after reading the focus question you can search the readings for key words and quickly find) and you will be fine. Honestly I wrote most of these before I even went through the readings and each week's response took under 20 mins to do so I was fine. 2. Micro-quiz: at the start of every Thursday's lecture, we will have a 10 minute 5 question micro-quiz with fill in the blanks, MCQ or T/F questions. Each micro-quiz is worth 1% of your grade. The quiz will be about the big picture ideas of the readings or basically be a multiple choice question about what is the thesis of the author of a certain reading. It is a pass/fail micro-quiz meaning you get full credit if you get 3/5 correct or more and you get 0 if you get 2/5 or below. Even if you barely skim the readings, this should be easy. I went through many of these without doing the readings and still passed the quiz because I used my common sense. 3. The mid-term and the final have half of the questions allocated to content from lectures and half to readings alone. So half of your questions will be exclusively from the readings. The questions are very straightforward and quite basic so if you did the readings you will be fine and won't have to sweat, but that said you need to do the readings. 60% of each exam is based on MCQ/ TF/ Fill Blanks questions and the remaining 40% was based on 2 essay questions (500 words each). That said, the 2 essays were chosen from an essay bank of 5 questions that was released like a week before so you can prepare for this easily. Our exams were open book so that was great too, though I do not know if they will be open book or online henceforth after Winter 2022. 4. The final paper basically requires you to do what the professor does in each lecture: analyze an interaction across a boundary and draw an original insight from that, and using the readings (separate readings assigned for the final paper) explain what happened, how this interaction played out and why it happened the way it did and not any other way. You will be given like 3-4 different choices and you can pick a topic. Again, the details of the final paper are released more than a month in advance so it is easy and nothing to stress about. My paper was like 6 pages so not a big deal.
Winter 2022 - Ok, so I took this GE since I needed another class. I'm saying this review as someone who has very little original interest in Islam. I will discuss each portion by itself. Professor: Yarbrough is one of the best lecturers I have ever had in my life. He is funny, engaging, and extremely well spoken. Classes are 75mins, and while they do feel long, it's not nearly as bad with Yarbrough as it is with other professors. I went to his office hours once, and he was nice and friendly. While being very nice, I doubt that he's lenient, though I've never been put in a position where I had to test this. Easiness: This is not a free A, but there is a good chance to get an A with a decent amount of effort. This class is not hard, but does take effort/time. Time Consumption: This class takes lots of time. There is an above average amount of reading in this class, and the once a week HW assignment takes a decent amount of time. Readings: Unfortunately, you can't get away with not doing the readings. Both the midterm and final are half based off the readings, as are the weekly assignment. I can't imagine getting more than a 80% (at the absolute most, more realistically 50%) in this class without reading. There is about 40-70 pages of reading, depending on the week. Interest: I didn't really like the subject, but that's just me. Still, it ended up being mildly interesting. Key Assignments: There is a midterm, final, and final essay, all put together worth ~60% of the grade. If you take decent notes during lecture and while reading, you should get at least a high B/low A on the midterm/final once you review. You'll have to study ~ 4 hours for each, so not that bad (if your notes don't suck). Final essay is 5 pages with about 80 pages of reading. Get started early so that it doesn't conflict with your finals. Overall: Great professor, lots of work for a GE, not that difficult. Extremely fair and organized.