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  LiveWire / My Forums / Prof Reviews / History / Detail

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Semerdjian, Elyse
History
Average Rating: 5.5
Reviews
Posted May 30, 2010 at 8:22pm
Teaching Style: Mixture
Grading: Easy
Availability Outside Class: Average
Homework Load: High
HIST223 (The Ottoman Empire)

Overall Rating: 7.0

Recommended
Comments:
I found Dr. Semerdjian to be an extremely knowledgeable professor, and agree with other reviews that have mentioned her tendency towards disorganization. However, I still feel like I learned a lot about trends in the Ottoman Empire even if I don't have a solid understanding of how the empire developed over time.

She can be fairly strict, but usually only about things that drive her crazy, such as people coming in late, unexcused absences, and students who stare exclusively at their laptop screens. Therefore I found it very easy to get on her good side (never did any of the above).

I found her exams to be easy - our class got handouts and I definitely recommend keeping them (all of the terms on the test were in the handouts). She told us exactly what would be on the exam and even let the class write possible essay questions (she picked one to put on the exam).

I thought there was an excessive amount of dense, sleep-inducing reading, but I'm not a history major, so maybe that's normal. On the plus side, I did not find that skipping a couple dozen pages out of each reading made much of a difference. Still, the topics were pretty interesting.

The class was weighted heavily towards the early Ottoman Empire (which made me happy, but if you want to look more at the modern Ottoman Empire, don't take this class).

Score Breakdown for Spring 2010: 10% participation, 20% Geography Quiz, 20% Mid-Term Exam, 10% Response Paper, 10% Abstract/Bibliography for Final Research Paper, 25% Final Research Paper (10 pages). No Final Exam.
Posted Nov. 6, 2008 at 8:42pm
Teaching Style: Mainly Discussion
Grading: Easy
Availability Outside Class: Good
Homework Load: Average
Women and Gender in Islamic Societies

Overall Rating: 9.0

Recommended
Comments:
I have to disagree with all of the other reviews. I've found Semerdjian to be interesting, prepared, and very knowledgeable. She definitely knows what she is talking about and she has a lot of interesting stories about the Middle East.

The class is mostly discussion, and while there are, on occasion, silences, they usually stem from our lack of familiarity with the text, not her lack of preparedness. She always follows with another question that makes her initial question clearer. For the most part the class discussions have been great.

Her grading is pretty lenient, and your grade is based mostly on a final paper that she is very willing to help with.

The class as a whole is very interesting! I recommend it.
Posted Nov. 2, 2008 at 11:38pm
Teaching Style: Mixture
Grading: Average
Availability Outside Class: Good
Homework Load: Average
International Relations Middle East

Overall Rating: 6.0

Recommended
Comments:
This class was perfect to take during the election season because it opened my eyes to the another side of world in their perspective. Prof Semerdijan is a really interesting person and has pretty much been everywhere in the Middle East. It is fun to her stories about her travels. She talks a lot but the books she assigns are really interesting.
Posted April 24, 2007 at 10:21pm
Teaching Style: Mixture
Grading: Easy
Availability Outside Class: Average
Homework Load: Low
International Relations in the Middle East

Overall Rating: 5.0

Not Recommended
Comments:
She obviously knows her stuff, and it's great to talk to her outside of class, but she doesn't know how to foster discussion. Our class was silent almost the entire semester but not because of the individual students. She seems disorganized and never has a set plan for engaging the class. The books were interesting though. I wouldn't take another class from her unless except that she is one of the only profs to teach middle east classes.
Posted April 14, 2007 at 10:17am
Teaching Style: Mixture
Grading: Average
Availability Outside Class: Average
Homework Load: High
Islamic Movements

Overall Rating: 3.0

Not Recommended
Posted Feb. 20, 2007 at 3:10pm
Teaching Style: Mixture
Grading: Average
Availability Outside Class: Average
Homework Load: Average
History 223: Islamic Movements

Overall Rating: 3.0

Not Recommended
Comments:
disclosure: I'm a hard-working, socialist, humanities major.

She didn't read the textbooks before the class (her excuse: "the Amazon reccomendation said they were good"). She does very little work to prepare for the class, she is completely incapable of public speaking, is a catastrophic failure at describing what assignments entail and is totally scatterbrained about everything and at all times.
She plays favorites and doesn't enjoy being disagreed with. Conservative students are unwelcome, and liberal students are expected to just go along with whatever she says.
At least 50% of the reading she assigns does not come up on tests or in class, and for a class that is supposed to focus on Islamic Movements, the first third is focused on the History of Islam and Islamic Law until 1000 CE.
Don't expect any leniency despite her own inadequacies. She does not grant extensions and will deduct 2% of your grade for every absence.
On a lighter note, she isn't an exceptionally difficult grader.
She seems very nice and is apparently quite qualified, but is an awful professor. I spent every class wishing I could jab my own eyes out with my pen just to have something to do. Stay away.