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Derby is a sweet lady who has a lot of knowledge and passion for Latin America and the Caribbean. That being said, she makes no sense during lecture. To provide an example she went from talking about Guatemala to Fidel Castro refusing to cash the US owned Guantanamo Bay rental checks. The readings and material are really interesting, though not really necessary to do until you write your paper. She did make a last minute percentage change on the syllabus which was kind of annoying.
Overall you shouldn't worry too much about passing the class with a good grade. She is more than welcoming in her office hours and willing to work with you in regards to your papers. Just find a way to tolerate lectures.
I've taken derby for both History 8A and History 161. There is a really big difference in the way she teaches a huge lecture as opposed to a smaller class. I have to say that I really enjoy the way she brings in multimedia, films, music, art, to back up her lectures. While she can be disorganized, her lectures are not entirely the put you to sleep kind. Also if you go to her office hours, she will really help you with your papers. As with many professors, what you see is not always what you get. she is very intelligent and she can read through your bullshit.
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