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I took Russian 25W with Professor Heim and really enjoyed it. The lectures were really interesting and I looked forward to them every time. Professor Heim really is passionate about this class and he gets you excited about it too. He really opens you up to the world of Russian literature and just literature in general. He is a fantastic lecturer, and gives a very comprehensive view of the novels which allows you to understand all the aspects of the novels. Whenever I went to office hours, he was always very welcoming and willing to discuss any questions or ideas about not just the course, but Russian history, literature or Russia in general. He is also very willing to help with essay writing.
As for workload, there is a lot of reading and writing (Yes you are supposed to read War and Peace). There are 4 essays in total on the books you're supposed to read. You get to rewrite each essay. The essay grades are reasonable, and you are bound to improve your grade when you do the rewrite (he takes the average of both grades). Also, it's good to go talk to the TAs after you get your first draft back because they will give you the advice you need to do a better rewrite.
The midterm and final are the same format, with ID passages and essays. You even get to rewrite the midterm. I did all of the reading, didn't finish War and Peace and still did fine in the course. As long as you take notes and pay attention to the passages he analyzes from the books and how he analyzes them, you will do fine in the midterm and final.
Professor Heim is a kind and knowledgeable professor. His love for his work and students really teaches students how to appreciate literature and see the world in a new way. He really is amazing to listen and talk to. I really recommend taking a class with him during your time at UCLA.
I took Russian 25W (not 599) with Professor Heim Fall 2009, and I agree with the previous review on the point that the grading scale on the Bruinwalk page may be a bit misleading--it wasn't so easy to get an A in the class. He actually told the TAs to regrade our midterms because too many people were getting As! Also, because this was a writing intensive course, there were a lot of essays (TA graded), and it was rather difficult to consistently get good scores on them (although there were a few people who did, so it was definitely possible). He also grades things on a GPA scale (4.0 is an A, 3.0 is a B, etc) making it a little bit harder to get an A. There was also a LOT of reading, so if you do take 25W, make SURE you don't fall behind, unless you read freakishly fast.
That being said, his midterm and final exam were more than doable. He asked about important quotes that he discussed, so just pay attention in class and write down all the concepts and quotes he goes over, and review them before the exam. (I mean, considering the length of War and Peace, he could have asked about the most obscure things and flunked the class, but he didn't and asked very fair questions.) The choice of reading he gave us was also quite decent, and I learned a lot from this course. You will definitely take away something from this class, but be prepared to work for your grade.
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