Prof. Allen knows his stuff well but in order to do well in the class you have to at least the theme of the 10 books assigned and the extra credit offered. DO IT ALL! We learn the main themes of the books through his lectures and through actually reading them. Also during lecture, he keeps everyone awake because either he has an interesting film for us to see or he might randomly call on you to answer a question. Many have been fortunate not to be picked on to answer a question though. I learned a whole lot about the African American community and how they affect the world we live in. Also the TA, Rob, clarified many questions we had that the teacher just couldn't do. The professor and TA are very intellectual guys that believes the students can read any type of book...we had a few grad books in are readings but made it through. They only thing I would say is wait until your soph. year to take this if you are not a soc. major or anything related to the field.
Fall 2018 - In hindsight, I really enjoyed this class. In the moment, not so much. Professor Allen is a really nice guy, and his classes were usually informative and driven by great content (although beware if you don't like being picked on to answer, as Allen has no qualms picking students at random). There are a lot of books for the class - 7 or 8 if I recall correctly - but I found them to be interesting and essential reads. The group project is what you (or your group members) make of it - there's very little structure to it - but it was a nice touch having a peer evaluation at the end to be able to convey exactly what each group member was responsible for; helpful if you're one of those types who pick up the slack for the others. However, the real stress inducer with this class was surrounding expectations of papers. Allen can be a little bit disorganized, which meant the syllabus and deadlines changing fairly frequently. He is also vague on what he expects to see, and then marks the first of three papers fairly harshly. The other two papers are marked by the TA who was more generous in her approach and so many grades skyrocketed from there, however when the first paper wasn't up to scratch for many, it did seem to have a disheartening effect on a lot of students. I'm sure Allen does this deliberately to try and push us, but in the moment it didn't quite come across. Ultimately, I think Professor Allen's class helped make me a better student, but it was a little bit of a painful process getting there.
Spring 2016 - Loved his course, you will definitely enjoy participating in the engaging discussions. He is a little on the harsher side of grading papers but with good intent, he really cares about improving your writing skills and will tell you exactly what you need to do to get an A. With that being said, since he tells you exactly what you need to do, he will see you on the bullshit and call you out (in a caring, compassionate way). He can be funny and serious when appropriate and he is very understandable. He's overall a real guy :)