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Well, first he's a very cute, hat-wearing old man. But dont let this harmless exterior fool you. Emerson is way old-school and likes to make life difficult by telling his TAs to grade HARD. So TAs were going bananas, eagerly taking points off whenever possible. In some instances, it was unreasonable.
Lectures really are very boring like everyone is saying. Ive never actually fallen asleep in a class before - until I took this class. Even though the subject was very interesting to me, I must admit that ol' man Emerson reduced me to snores. Even so, you can still do reasonably well even by skipping several classes. As long as you have a decent TA to give you the highlights in section, you can skip Emerson's boring powerpoint lectures. He does tend to overdo it on the readings. His reader is expensive and FULL of readings, most of which you wont be tested on.
There was only a midterm, one interview/transcript paper, and an in-class final. I'm about to start the spring 2009 quarter and havent received my grade yet. Since Emerson himself is grading the interview paper, I expect I'll get my grade possibly in time for Christmas 2009, by which time I will have graduated.
Overall, a nice man - boring, but nice. Reasonably straightforward exams.
He is very knowledgeable, through, and of course, looks like an adorable walrus, but even with the interesting material, these factors could not save me from losing focus in class. Out of all the soc classes I have taken, he was one of the most boring lecturers. If you are able to take good notes, do the reading, listen to what your TA wants, you are able to get an A. However, they do grade with designated distribution of grades in mind (Certain amount of A, B, C's). It is difficult and the TA's are told to grade harshly. In other words, if someone wrote it better than you, you'll get a lower score than him.
I had Isaac Speers and he was a really good TA. Just hope for a good TA, regurgitate the stuff he says in discussion and cross your fingers that you're a good writer. This class is definitely not a GPA booster or an easy ride.
Borring lectures, the grade is made up of two blue book essay exams and a paper, which he has the TA's grade very hard. He actually seems like a nice guy but between the painful lectures and the nitpicky grading, avoid this class.