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.


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)