Written by Reese Grayson.
Graphic by Peyton Cabaniss.

Originally published as part of the Spring 2018 “Rebirth” Issue.

I asked students to discuss a class they felt was important, memorable, or revolutionary – a signature part of their academic career.

Class: Elizabethan Poetry and Prose
Department: English
Teacher: Dr. Jennifer Kate Barret

“I have never had a professor like her before,” says one of Dr. Barret’s students, who was previously anxious and unsure about taking her class. The student explains that “[Dr. Barret] will give you your paper back and type up pages worth of responses to your paper, and I have never had a professor do that before.” For a class that dives into older and often neglected literature, her student emphasizes that Dr. Barret “finds a way to make her lectures relevant to today.” For example, “we were able to explore the rhetoric of misogyny in the 16th century and how a lot of that has been taken and redesigned and is used in today’s world. Misogynist rhetoric has not changed that much from then to now.” When evaluating the long-term impact of Dr. Barret’s class, her student says “I think after being in this class, it has pushed me into the field of research, and it has prompted me to go into the Harry Ransom Center and want to do my own independent research.”

Class: Criminology
Department: Sociology
Teacher: Dr. E. Mark Warr

“I have never met a professor that is more passionate about their research” says Dr. Warr’s student. Taught almost purely via lecture, his student says it was “one of the hardest classes I have taken to date,” but was “the sole reason I declared a major in sociology.” In dealing with extremely sensitive and dark subjects, the student explains how the teacher “was so passionate and knowledgeable about the topic and nothing could stop him.” In addition, “he made it a point to make you feel 110% comfortable in that class and that you wanted to speak and be engaged.” His student emphasizes that “the material is extremely relevant to our society, and [this class] gives you a method to frame the dialogue that surrounds criminals.”

Dr. Warr had to retire towards the end of the semester due to illness. Dr. Lynette Osborne will be continuing the class.

Class: Islamic Law
Department: Middle Eastern Studies
Teacher: Dr. Samy Ayoub

“He walks into the room and everyone smiles,” says one of Dr. Ayoub’s students. With over forty people enrolled in the class, it still feels like “it’s a discussion in a lecture class.” Emphasizing how much professor Ayoub engages with students, his student says that “I have never been in a classroom of that many people where it still felt like the one-on-one that I am used to from a tiny school.” When explaining how Dr. Ayoub exudes passion when teaching, the student says “he cares more than any professor I have taken about whether what he is teaching is understood and engaged with.” And, his student believes that Dr. Ayoub is here to not only make you more educated on this, but make sure you can better educate others around you on this.” Especially considering the topics discussed in class can often be “inappropriately misunderstood” and students “should have the authority to talk about [them].” When asked why people should take this class, his student says that “I think everybody who has any spot available for a class that he teaches, owes it to themselves to take a class with someone that makes you feel good,” and “cares so much more about the learning and you understanding [the material].”

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