Oh Professor Kenny. I find myself saying "YAS Gale" on a regular basis (not the most proper way to describe a professor but it's genuinely felt and this is anonymous, right?). Professor Kenny is my adviser as well as being my teacher for Defining Marriage. She is someone who is very approachable (if anything I wished she had lectured more in class instead of just having us talk-she's very knowledgeable) and when you talk to her you come away with good ideas and actual assistance. She challenges you to think in new ways without being unreasonable and is an excellent resource to have as a student of religion and gender, and as a student in general (she one time spent a class going over proper citations with us which was very helpful). The class itself was fun and the readings were amazing but I sometimes felt like she was giving us busywork just to make the class a 4 credit/seminar level course. Overall though, if you are interested in religion and gender (and are aware that this is primarily a religion class) you should take this class to better your understanding of this fascinating legal and social construct. We basically spanned the United States from the colonial era to today (working reverse chronologically) and talked about everything from polygamy to family values. The only criticism I have is that this class was quite Christian/Protestant-centric but that is Professor Kenny's specialty. I guess I just wish that had been clearer in the course description/syllabus.
This class was frustrating in the beginning. The one-page weekly analysis papers were tedious and the topics covered in the first few weeks of the semester were kind of dry, but as the semester went on the course material got better and better. Overall, the course was interesting and worthwhile, especially because Professor Kenny is such a great professor. She is an amazing lecturer (and often very funny). Also, she almost always reviewed and outlined/diagramed the readings during class, and we usually discussed them extensively. She and the TAs were incredibly helpful at office hours too. I definitely recommend this class!
Professor Kennyâ€™s â€œDefining Marriageâ€ seminar was one of my all-time favorite Barnard classes! The course focuses on how marriage functioned throughout U.S. history (with a lot of attention to religious history), and the readings give a fantastic overview of both. Prof Kenny is extremely nice and great at encouraging dynamic class discussions. She is also that rare balance of someone well-organized and tightly structured in terms of syllabus, assignments, leading class discussions, grading, etc. (which means youâ€™re ACTUALLY learning the material youâ€™re supposed to be learning), who also manages to be a down-to-earth and reasonable teacher. As a bonus, I at least felt that the research paper I wrote for her class (she leads you through the process) totally taught me how to write research papers for the rest of my academic career. If you are at ALL interested in gender studies, marriage, American history, or religious history, I recommend this class and Prof Kenny as a fantastic teacher 100%!
Professor Kenny was the best seminar professor I could have asked for! She was always prepared for class, either with a brief introductory lecture to add to our discussion of the reading or with a list of questions to guide the discussion. She encouraged participation, but only directly asked you to comment if you hadn't spoken even once all class. The blogs were easy and ungraded except for participation points so don't let that discourage you from taking this class. Some of the readings were tedious (and skipped) but she's revamping the syllabus for next year anyway. Also, papers were initially daunting but she provides excellent help when you're trying to figure out a topic--go to her office hours, or even ask her after class--very friendly and approachable, and she definitely does not waste your time. She even gives you a chance to revise papers and her comments are amazingly helpful, because she doesn't force you to write HER way, yet manages to guide you toward writing a much more logical and grammatically correct paper. You will not regret taking a class with her!
This was a great class, I enjoyed it for the most part. The novels read in the class were easy reads and very interesting. We did have some historical document reading requirements which were fine, except for one by which was tedious and annoying. There were weekly blogs which were easy if you did the reading, if you didn't then I'm sure you could make something up as well. The discussions in class were sometimes interesting but it all depends on the students. Professor Kenny was there to pick up the conversation if it died off. The best thing about this course besides the awesome reading list, was that Professor Kenny made herself extremely available if anyone needed any help, and was very patient. She held all her office hours but if those did not work for you, she was willing to meet almost any time possible for you. She goes through your essay in detail and helps you formulate better ideas and sentences. She also is very explanatory with essay corrections so when you get back your paper, you know why you received a particular grade. Take advantage of the office hours, she will help you write a better paper, and gives great advice!