All Ratings and Reviews for Steven Nelson
I took this class as a life science major trying to get an easy GE credit and it was pretty easy. I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this class though, I feel like a lot of professors say they don't want you to focus on grades and just learn but Professor Nelson actually backs that up. He is very clear in lectures, and the exams are not made to try to trick you. I would highly recommend this class to anyone, because a lot of the information from this class changed how I view and navigate the world. Even though this class had nothing to do with my major it was still one of my favorite classes I took at UCLA.
I do not have any major complaints about anything in this class. I took it as a GE and learned so many interesting and valuable things, and i am not an art person (but i do love learning about Africa). Nelson is a really great professor. one thing that was frustrating was that his slides only had pictures and captions so it was sometimes difficult to follow along in lecture. it did get boring and repetitive at times but i did realize that this class isn't meant to be superrr deep (not an art person so i assumed everything was supposed to be super deep), just get the general significance of the art pieces and you'll be fine. there was one short essay in the beginning on a piece from fowler which is solely supposed to be about describing the piece, no analyzing. one midterm, one final, one 6-8 page essay on a piece from the fowler (not the same as the one mentioned above, there's 2 essays total in the class, one short and one long). the paper was a bit of a pain but i enjoyed everything i learned from it. exams were pretty fair. discussions helped to expand on the readings (i didn't read most readings). there is some memorization--no dates though just memorizing the significance of different pieces, as well as a map of africa. overall would recommend!
Professor Nelson is very funny, articulate and unbiased. His lectures always had the perfect amount of humor, controversy and political savvy. 10 in the morning is early but with him, he always sent me off into the day feeling a little smarter, more critical of stereotypes and more progressive in my social vision. I highly recommend him.
Love, love, love Professor Nelson. His African Art History class is incredibly interesting (even though I'm not an Art History major!). He is extremely knowledgeable, passionate, and engaging - one of my favorite professors so far at UCLA. If you study for this class and go to lecture, it's really not hard. Make flashcards, memorize them, and you're guaranteed an A on his tests. He's not trying to trick you.
I really, really recommend taking a class with Professor Nelson!
His class really isn't as bad as everyone makes it out to be. He's witty and funny, plus if your good at memorization, then the tests are a breeze.
All this class really is, is memorization. And I don't mean this as a bad thing. Tests are based of regurgitating IDs and memorizing the map of Africa, with two short comparisons (and a long comparison for the final). Memorizing these things can be easy points, or your downfall, it just depends on what type of person you are. I for one thought it was great this way because I could earn easy points.
Going to class is a great idea, he is a great lecturer and provides you with a lot of great information. Plus he's funny and makes the class entertaining.
If you are into art history, but afraid of taking a non western course, I would recommend this one. It's very very interesting. And if you're not into art history, it's still a good class and not as difficult or as uninteresting as every one else makes it seem.
I signed up for this course based on the reviews that it would be an easy A. I am a business/econ major and have an interest in art history as a whole (I took AP art history in Europe and frequent museums and galleries) however I had no previous exposure to african art. Like others have said, this class does require a lot of memorization, however this is only to be expected with an art history course.
All of the TAs seemed to be very pompous and pretentious, and this reflected in their grading. The TAs, like many other courses, are the ones who determine your grade, so make sure to stay on your TAs good side and to behave not only in section but lecture as well (many times the TAs would turn around from their front row seats and just glare at people whispering or quietly texting... they're pretty intense). Also make sure to go to their office hours so you can understand what they exactly want for their papers.
As for Nelson, he is a funny, outgoing guy who seems pretty informed about the topic. Taking notes in class is important -- just make sure to write down the name of art piece and all of the information Nelson tells you about it so that when you are reviewing for exams you can review your notes easily. Sometimes lectures do get boring (if you fall asleep in the dark easily then this class is not for you) but my class wasn't too early in the morning so it worked out.
The exams weren't difficult for me. I studied moderately beginning the week before and studied my notecards (picture of the art piece on the front and name of the piece, artist, date, region and description on the back) thoroughly the day prior. They are pretty time crunched so make sure that you know every piece confidently because it's pretty hard to predict which pieces Nelson will test you on.
Overall, I would recommend this class. It's not THE easiest GE but it definitely doesn't require much brainpower and does require mostly memorization. Let's just say if you have a good memory, take this course. I ended up with an A, however was unsure of my grade throughout the quarter because my TA was late on getting assignments back. Goodluck!
First, some notes about the class: if you're a south campus major taking this as a GE, it'll do just fine, though you probably won't be interested in the material at all. If you've got a good memory (especially when it comes to tidbits and subtleties) and can write well under pressure (on the midterm and final), then you should do just fine. In fact, save your money and don't buy the books. I pulled off a B+ in the class without opening a single one of them. That being said, if you don't read the books, you MUST go to lecture and pay attention (like others have said, make a basic drawing of the slide and then write what he says about it).
Now, regarding the professor: like I just said, you must go to lecture since it's probably easier (and certainly more entertaining) than reading art books. Fortunately, prof. Nelson is a great lecturer. He's very entertaining, makes a lot of sarcastic comments and funny quips, and is enthusiastic. Despite any lack of interest I had in the material, I still enjoyed lectures and found it easy to pay attention and take notes. Definitely one of the best (and more memorable) profs I've had for a GE class.
This class had more memorization than my LS 2 class.
Not worth the time or effort if you are a science major: farthest thing from an easy A!
Nelson is very interesting, but he is irrational with material to know.
If you want an B+ or higher without putting in the time of an LS class, stay away.
Grading is up to the TA's, they vary a lot on how strictly they grade. Easy class if you get a good TA, horrible class if you get a bad TA.
Effective lecturer, but his exams place too much emphasis on knowing the little details of a painting(e.g. date and the artist who made it). Reading wasn't interesting at all, only read after you been given the study guide on which slides to follow.
I would take another GE if possible unless you are interested in African Art. Not the easiest A, but doable if you did not have a strict TA like I did.
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