A question:

Hey, I’m enrolled in this class.. I’ve come upon some conflicting things about the prof while reading factrak. Does anybody who’s taken this specific class have a review or some advice?

The student is wise to look for advice. Can anyone help? The course looks fascinating.

Apocalyptic thought pervades much of contemporary American culture, whether among Protestant evangelicals, new religions, novelists and filmmakers, or even scientists and environmentalists who warn of ecological catastrophe and the deadly consequences of nuclear proliferation. No, not exactly. This course will introduce, using historical, sociological, and philosophical accounts, how North Americans have thought about and continue to think about questions of the End, both in a cultural and in a personal sense.

Comments:

1) Fascinating stuff. The more tutorials you take, the better your Williams education will be.

2) What’s with the “No, not exactly.”? Is that a joke, an ironic comment, a typo? I am confused.

3) The professor, Glenn Shuck, is one of three visiting assistant professors in the department. Questions: Why isn’t Mark Taylor listed as a member of the department? Why is half the department visiting? At a place like Williams, it is much better to have a large majority of the faculty be either tenured or tenure-track.

4) I wonder what “conflicting” things came up on Factrak? If they are truly scurrilous, there is no need to reprint them here, but if this is just a matter of one student who didn’t like Shuck’s style, then I would still recommend the class.

All of this raises the larger point of how well Williams as an institution does in providing information to the students about classes. In one sense, it does well. There is a lot of information out there, and Factrak helps as well. But, relative to what could be done, the information provided is pathetic. I can’t even find a syllabus for the class!

One of my ideas for revitalizing Willipedia is a focus on classes (and, possibly, professors). Students need better information about classes before they take them and are, in general, eager to provide feedback and commentary on those classes after the semester is over. Willipedia would serve as the perfect platform for fixing this market failure.

UPDATE: Thanks to Professor Shuck for providing us with a copy of his sylabus. Great stuff! Comments:

1) My advice to the original student, Eben Joondeph-Hoffer, is to meet with Shuck. Odds are that he is an engaging enthusiastic teacher, like the rest of the professors who choose to teach tutorials. Any bad chemistry would be evident in a brief chat. Assuming none is found, take the course.

2) How can you pass on a class that features Neuromancer? Cool. I am not smart enough to know how this (overrated?) book connects to “Apocalyptic thought.” Perhaps our readers can suggest a different book. The Stand?

3) I am still not sure what the “No, not exactly.” comment refers to.

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