Review Comment

Crisis of Authority (FY Seminar)

December 20, 2012

Pious, Richard Silver_nugget
Crisis of Authority (FY Seminar)

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I can't decide how I feel about this course: on the one hand, it was interesting to learn from a really famous and respected academic, but on the other, his insights and readings were not particularly stimulating.

It is difficult to participate because he spends most of the class lecturing, but I don't think he killed anyone on their participation grades. He is mostly just interested in your writing style. If he doesn't like the way you write, he doesn't offer much advice on how to change it- even in office hours, he just repeats what he says in class. I'm glad I took this class, but it didn't change my life or my writing style.

Workload:

Not terrible, but he doesn't allow drafts, which most professors do for seminar.

December 15, 2012

Pious, Richard Silver_nugget
Crisis of Authority (FY Seminar)

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

If you are a Barnard first-year, TAKE THIS CLASS! It will challenge you, and you will complain, but you are taking advantage of one of the best professors Barnard has to offer. I am still in shock that I was able to learn from such a stellar academic during my first semester. And the seminar is so intimate that you will actually have a relationship with Pious after the class. He is intimidating at the beginning, but you'll soon discover that he is incredibly understanding and relatable.

Despite the impressive professor, the content of the class is not the most stimulating. It's mostly political philosophy (Plato, Orwell, Machiavelli, de Tocqueville, Mill, Bok.) That being said, the reading list consists of authors that you'll be glad you read. Many of the authors and selections overlap with LitHum requirements, so you can commiserate with Columbia College friends. Class periods are usually spent discussing the readings or analyzing "good writing" (mostly journalistic.) Pious wants your writing to dramatically improve over the semester, but the main focus is on crafting quality openings. He tends to reiterate the same advice throughout the entire semester, but his feedback is usually helpful, and he is always flexible about finding time to help (if you aren't too intimidated to go to office hours.)

Be ready to question your writing style. Be ready to deal with a top-notch academic. But this class is an amazing way to begin your academic career at Barnard.

Workload:

Semester is divided into four topics: Language and Authority, Knowledge as Authority, True Lies, and Power of the Powerless

Required readings for each class, sometimes heavy but manageable (only accountability is participation in class discussions, so you could get away with Sparknotes for some)

Four papers (each work 20%), one per topic, ranging from 6-12 pages (each one increases in length)

Participation (the final 20%), based on class discussion and four article reviews (class period before each paper is due)

December 29, 2010

Pious, Richard Silver_nugget
Crisis of Authority (FY Seminar)

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Crisis of Authority was my first choice for FY Seminar - so you can guess that I'm really interested in Political Science. Being interested in the subject matter is important in this class; Pious is an absolutely brilliant man, and the course is heavily geared towards people who enjoy reading and writing non-fiction. He demands a certain level of commitment in this seminar - ALWAYS DO THE READINGS. Do not cross him; he really was the most generous professor I had all semester, but you do not want to get on his bad side.
He makes you learn how to write in a very specific fashion. If you enjoy reading and writing in the style of The Atlantic, The New Yorker, or other magazine of that caliber, this is the class for you. He has a habit of reading the opening paragraph of every paper aloud to the entire seminar (anonymously, of course), which was nerve wracking at first. Eventually, you get to recognize your fellow classmates' writing styles, and I've had other people in the seminar talk to me about my openings before.
Pious isn't here to let you bullshit through this course - he knows when you participate and when you don't, when you show up and when you skip a few classes. Crisis of Authority may not be the easiest seminar, but it is definitely one of the most rewarding.

Workload:

4 papers (final drafts), standard amount of reading for a FYS, exercise before writing each paper.

February 09, 2009

Pious, Richard Silver_nugget
Crisis of Authority (FY Seminar)

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

You will not regret taking this class. Even though Pious may have rules and regulations, they are practical, and if you're a human being with even a small dose of common sense, you'll understand why he's strict about enforcing them. Before you take this class, though, be prepared to toss whatever you may have learned about writing from your high school teachers; it'll fail you here. Pious can appreciate creativity, which is something I miss, since my current English professor seems to regard originality as a flaw. Don't be afraid to participate. Seriously. Even if you're wrong, he'll find a way to make it sound alright, and he'll definitely remember and appreciate you for trying.

I wish I could take this class every semester, because he makes it worth taking. The readings are pretty interesting too, and many of them you'll remember for a long time afterward.

Workload:

3-4 essays. Final drafts only. Lots of reading, but interesting ones...not bad at all.

May 24, 2006

Pious, Richard Silver_nugget
Crisis of Authority (FY Seminar)

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

This man is a genius.

Choosing first year seminars was easy; this was the only one was of any interest to me. Unfortunately, the three months between then and the time the semester began, I had become thoroughly apathetic to political science. But I soon realized that that was not what this class was about. Sure we did read Plato, Machevelli, Orwell's 1984, and a good many other political commentaries, but that was not Pious' main interest. He wanted us, a group of 15 ambitious, but timid young women, to become writers. Forcing us to abandon the methods we had all learned in high school; he taught us that writing had to be something more. Using the New Yorker are Bible, we learned to how to captivate our readers, make are writing interesting down to the last period, and argue til we win the war. That is what this class is about. And I could not be more greatful; this man has taught me everything.

And as intimidating as he might be, he really is a nice guy who loves to ignite the class in deep, meaningful discussions, and to regale us with tales of his life and all the amazing connections he has made. Pious is a God.

Workload:

A fair amount of reading, four 6-8 page papers using readings, and four short, ungraded reviews of reviews from different periodicals such as the New York Book of Reviews and the Atlantic Monthly. Keep in mind that he will read the introductions of each paper aloud to the class and expects criticism. While he keeps their anonymity, it is not easy to endure the first time around.

March 20, 2006

Pious, Richard Silver_nugget
Crisis of Authority (FY Seminar)

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I have to say, that this class was my favorite class last semester. It had absolutely nothing to do with the readings, since I'm not a big fan of Socrates or Plato but I have to say that Prof Pious is one of the most intelligent people I think I have ever met. I came from high school getting straight A's on every AP english lit paper and teacher then wasn't an easy grader. But, seriously, you will wish that you still had your high school english teacher grading your essays. Prof Pious does not BS and he will tell you when your writing sucks and when you are writing like a high schooler and when you're not thinking. He won't just tell you that you are smart and for that I highly respect him. He encourages you to write like a real writer and not some cheesy "thesis statement" essayist. He really improved my writing and gave me a whole new perspective on writing in general. We read essays from "The New Yorker" and "The Atlantic Monthly" and he encouraged us to write our own papers so that it was of that caliber (where people actually read it and remembered it). He's very meticulous about writing style (he loves the MLA Handbook). He encourages class discussion - actually he insists upon it and he is quite comfortable just staring at you until you say something. He was a bit intimidating at first, but I really loved this class and I think it had everything to do with the professor.

Workload:

4 papers, reading assignments from various journals and magazines...Go to office hours -He doesn't seem as intense as he does during class.

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