Herbert Sloan

Dec 2018

Professor Sloan's class was okay, but I do not recommend it if you are not extremely interested in the subject matter. The lectures can be a bit dry and drag on, and sometimes turn into rants or go into off-topic subjects. Although there are no prerequisites for this class, I recommend having a decent background in American history since there is a lot of information he assumes you already know, and I feel I would have struggled if I had not had a good background. There is usually quite a bit of reading for each class, and you have to buy around 8 books for the class. Preparation for exams is mostly rote memorization work. Overall if you have nothing else you need to take and you are interested in Constitutional law then take this class, but for me, although I enjoyed the subject matter, it was not the most useful use of my time.

Mar 2014

Professor Sloan knows so much, and that is apparent from his lectures. That having been said, he can be boring and a bit dry, and lectures can tend to drag on a bit. There were definitely times I feel asleep in lecture. You have a textbook, which I found was good because it gave the background to what Sloan would discuss in lectures, but you could really get by without reading it and just going to lectures and taking notes -- for the final, Sloan gives you a list of terms that you will have to know, which do a good job of encompassing everything covered in lectures. He would pick specific overarching themes of the period, and spent several lectures over the course of the semester on historiography, which I found was interesting, but, again, was a bit dry. You also have to read six other books over the course of the semester, some of which are interesting, and some of which are boring, useless, and did not contribute anything to my knowledge of American History (Robert Cole's World, I'm looking at you). There is also weekly mandatory discussion sections. My TA, Eric, was okay, and did a good job of facilitating conversation about the texts we were reading. Grading is done randomly, so you can have a TA or Professor Sloan grading your paper and your final, making grading a bit of a mixed bag -- you win some, you lose some. You also don't know which one is grading, which makes it hard to figure out how to do better. The class was also part of the Barnard Writing Fellows program, so you had to hand in mandatory rough drafts of your papers that get reviewed by a writing fellow before you hand in a hard copy. It was good to have someone look at my writing, but it could be tedious at times.

Apr 2013

Professor Sloan is one of, if not the most, boring professors I've ever had. Classes turned into hour-long rants. Everyone stopped paying attention very quickly. We rarely discussed the books, but rather Professor Sloan explained in mind numbing detail whatever happened to be on his mind that day. Were the conversation to turn to a debate, he would patronize the class. Were you to disagree with him, he'd correct your grammar instead of responding to any point you may have had. He made it clear he had no interest in getting to know us and his dislike for the class itself. The essays were never returned in a timely manner, making it next to impossible to improve. All notes on the papers were corrections to grammatical mistakes. He rarely, if ever, made comments on the content of the essay. It made it pretty easy to do well, but frustrating to watch hard work go unappreciated. He can be really nice, and at times funny, but all in all, this was not a fun class to take.

Mar 2013

Sloan is awesome. He sits down a few minutes before class and waits for someone to bring up some small talk until he actually begins his lecture. I would always throw out current events and enjoy his cynical yet objective-ish response. As a pretty conservative person I'm always weary of the position professors will take when re-telling history, but he usually steered clear of politics. The readings were alright, and I skimmed every single book assigned. The lectures were interesting because he was a never ending pool of facts. When he would ask a question and someone got it wrong, he would yell "NO", but make it funny-- it was never intimidating to have the wrong answer, and actually made class more fun because his response was so hilarious. Good intro history class. If you put in the time you can learn a lot of dates and facts.

Nov 2011

Herbert Sloan is an excellent professor! Second best class I have taken after my Americas II seminar. He is very intelligent and ALWAYS makes the time for his students if that time is required outside of class. I absolutely love how blunt and unfair he is to make his point of view clear on the issue. The lectures are interesting and he brings it a lot of outside historical information. I know that when I'm 50 he is one of the few professor I can look back at and say "Hey I remember that guy. What an amazing class!"

Mar 2011

Sloan's American Civilization class was a mixed bag at best. His detailed and quite immense knowledge of historical trivia made the class enjoyable at times but also off point at others. Most of the knowledge actually retained could have been easily gained by reading through the textbook. The essays were unfortunately focused on the colonial period and religion, both not at the focus of my interest, and the time it took for them to be returned was quite frankly appalling. Nevertheless the course featured some interesting and some controversial readings and discussion sections with Justin Jackson were well-planned and enriching. As a foreigner new to American history this course was way less helpful than it could have been, making it probably enjoyable to those of you who have already digested and hurled out the material several times in your school careers.

Dec 2009

This is one of the most boring classes I have ever taken, and NOT because the material is boring- in fact, I find it quite interesting- but because Sloan is just not a dynamic lecturer. Lecture consists of him digressing all the time in a monotone. He is also condescending and gets off on being outrageous. True, he is sometimes witty and the class is not horrible, but it is certainly not worth the time you spend in lecture, take it from an A student. Read the books yourself or take another class from this time period. (Also, BTW, the class is not an easy A; he and the TAs actually grade essays very carefully. Not that you'll get them back in time for the comments to be useful, since Sloan takes forever, literally more than a month, to get papers back.)

Nov 2009

Having endured any high-school American History class, you know the material Sloan is talking about. And if you can't keep up with his fast talking then the textbook is written well enough for anyone to understand. Problem 1: He digresses all the time; about New York families, Mayor Bloomberg, Hudson Bay blankets, Jefferson's taste in wine, Lincoln's favorite jam, current movies, random Historians, past Columbia presidents, -- i don't know just some very detailed trivia facts that are unnecessary in a survey-style course. Try to not be side-tracked by these details Problem 2: After the lecture, the TAs do all the work -- they grade, they clarify, they run discussion groups - I know there are 40-some students but TAs are always effy - are they grading harder to be impressive? Have they actually done the reading too? Problem 3: There are some dense, boring books in this course. If you can't beast through 400 pages of dull colonial history then reconsider this class -- there are 6 very dense books you have to read in a short time period. Other than those few issues, it's one of my favorite classes and I'm not a history major.

Apr 2009

I took the Americas I with Sloan and had an awful experience. Maybe he was having on off semester, but most of the people in the class (there were only 16, and I got the opinion of at least 5 people) really did not enjoy the class and it was sometimes even degrading being in his seminar. He would interrupt people and criticize them really harshly when they talked. I remember in the beginning of the class everyone would raise their hand when he asked a question, but by the middle of the semester when he would ask a question no one would speak for a long time because they were afraid of getting shot down. I remember once when someone brought up the idea of academic freedom in the classroom he yelled "Academic freedom means I get to teach what I want!!" and totally shot her down. This was one example of many. Usually I am really hesitant to criticize professors but this experience was just too awful not to share.

Jan 2008

Professor Sloan is obviously a very smart man. He is however one of the most boring and un-engaging lecturers there is. Looking around the room it was clear that most students were pretty bored as well, occupying themselves with solitaire and email on their computer. In retrospect I really didn’t need to go to class to do well on the final.

Aug 2007

Professor Sloan is one of the best professor's I have had. He is not only extremely knowledgeable, but he is also approacheable and genuinely wants his students to engage with the material and suceed. The workload can be daunting, but most of the material he assigned, I ended up using as sources for my term paper, so actually doing the reading proved quite useful. Anyone thinking of going to law school or majoring in US history should take this course.

Jan 2007

This man is nothing short of a genius. Wonderfully dry sense of humor and anything but smug. Approachable and easy to talk to. He is the crown jewel of the History Dept. Sloan offers unique and in depth perspectives. And he does acknowledge his students outside of class--just say hello to him. Don't miss taking a class with him

Nov 2006

Professor Sloan seems like a good person. That said, his lectures bored me to tears. I like history enough to be a major, I even like American colonial history. I can't put my finger on WHY his lectures were so boring... maybe it has to do with taking too many Thad Russell classes (damn you Barnard/Columbia for getting rid of him!). I just found most things about this class pretty tedious.

Sep 2006

Herb sloan looks like a southern plantation owner. However, hes REALLY nice, REALLY smart, and includes anecdotes and very interesting theories into his survey. His side notes keep you awake and you dont have to read the textbook if you pay attention to his lectures.

Apr 2006

Herbert Sloan is the nerd's professor. If you love the Constitution, US History, or just learning, you will love this adorably grumpy fount of knowledge for the amazing enthusiasm and depth of understanding he brings into the classroom. If you want an easy ride or simple lecture, stay away- he speaks with the utmost clarity and precision but would quite understandably be horribly boring to anyone not caught up in the subject matter. Go the first day- and let your first impression stand.

Jun 2005

On the first day of class, Prof. Sloan told us the following: 1. "The Constitution sucks." 2. "Human rights are a bourgeois fallacy." 3. "The American Revolution was a mistake." Interestingly though, he is quite liberal and those quotes should give you an inkling about how thought-provoking this class is. He said that it would be a history class, not a course on Constitutional law, but the class was made even more interesting by the fact that that statement turned out to be largely untrue. Now for debunking some of the reviews below. It's true that Prof. Sloan's knowledge of the subject is very obviously encyclopedic. He will frequently say things like, "And what do you know about Charles Evans Hughes' second cousin?" -- a few seconds of silence capped with Prof. Sloan's exaggerated, mock-scornful answer -- "He once lived at 113th and Riverside!" Some of my fellow reviewers have mistaken this and his frequent "Did you read the Times yesterday?" inquiries for smugness. In fact, Prof. Sloan is simply interested in the subject and likes to drop bits of trivia. I never saw any indication that he thought less of us for not knowing the history of the living arrangements of 19th- century jurists. The lectures are packed with information, so you will take a lot of notes (about two pages per class in my case, and I write densely). He doesn't stop on his own to solicit questions, but he is very open to answering even tangential questions if just raise your hand. By the same token, Prof. Sloan is ready to chat about pretty much whatever you want either after class or in office hours, an opportunity that I strongly recommend you take advantage of, if only out of a desire to get inside his head a little bit. He is well-spoken and extremely smart, so it can be fun to discuss various legal controversies with him. Attendance is critical if you want to do well. The content of the lectures is quite independent from that of the reading, so you either have to show up and take notes yourself or make sure you have a friend who is not quite the truant you are. On the exams, you need a fairly expansive knowledge of the cases, laws, and important figures discussed in class and the Kutler reader. You only have to know the rest of the reading well enough to write a few sentences about each book in the essays. The book review shouldn't be too bad. Pick a book that interests you. Your review should not (!) be a book report. Analyze how well the author does what they're trying to do, form an opinion, and express it well in your writing. He lets you hand in a first draft. If you do that and take his advice, it will help your grade. An A is within reach is you take thorough notes and nail the book review. Making a course outline before the final is very helpful.

Jan 2005

by far one of the most BORING history classes I have ever taken. Going to lecture was a drag--reading those seemingly "useless" books was also relentlessly boring. Sloan will fill his lectures with seemingly meaningless information and trivia questions. But for many American history majors its a requirement--so go to some lectures, skim the books & you'll b fine.

Jan 2005

i thought professor sloan was great as a lecturer. is unafraid of sharing his opinons and biases, but can appreciate opinions opposed to his own. i learned quite a bit in his class, even if i was not always the most intent listener. i did find the discussion sections to be fruitless. the main text was pretty boring, but the others were better, except for one that was ridiculous.

Jan 2005

Professor Sloan is a very entertaining lecturer and gives a highly opinionated view of American history. Do not expect to get a good outline on American history out of him, you'll have to read the textbook or have a working knowledge of American history to get that. Sloan will give you different ways to look at US history and historiography and will give you meaningless but interesting trivia in the process.

Nov 2004

This class was incredibly interesting and a lot of fun. I took it the first time it was taught, and so, while it was a lecture, only 7 people were in the class, and it felt like a seminar. This may also be due to the HUGE amount of reading that Sloan assigns. I learned so much from this class, and liked Sloan a lot, he makes many slightly off-color but amusing remarks and is easily sidetracked onto almost any topic. He encourages class participation, and isn't above jumping into the fray in a particularly heated debate. Although, no matter how cool he is in class, he'll try to pretend he doesn't know you if he sees you outside, which is a bit weird.

Nov 2004

Prof. Sloan is a decent teacher, except for the fact that he has the TAs grade everything, which makes the grades pretty biased and unfair. Some of his lectures are more interesting than others, but he is absolutely knowledgeable on the subject. You could definitely skip the lectures and skim the books and still get by.

Oct 2004

At first I was pissed that I wasn't put it Mark Carnes' reacting section, becasue I had heard such good things about him. On the first day of class, I started to feel really pessimistic about the class because Sloan was acting incredibly arrogant, acting as though we should all be in awe of the fact hat he had written the History SAT II. That being said, as the semester went on, things weren't bad at all. For the most part the teacher plays an extremely minimal role in the class - just sits in the back and lets the students play the games (that's the way the course was designed), so it really doesn't make a difference if you like him or not. Plus, he's turned out to be nicer than we all initially thought. He's pretty lenient with papers and such, but in terms of grading, it's hard to say, because I haven't gotten any grades back yet.

Oct 2003

Maybe I was sitting in a different class with the others who gave a review for this class Spring 2003. If anything Sloan was self-deprecating constantly referring to other scholars and their works. This man is a scholar and an engaging, enthusiastic, funny lecturer. He is filled with information that all relates to his lectures. This is my third year at Columbia and he is the best Professor I have had-- and I have taken other history classes including ones by Jackson and Brinkley. Sloan admits he is a late grader but had the midterms back in time the drop and pass/fail option. I look forward to taking another class with him. Don't be put off by his erudition-he is approachable and always willing to help his students. He personally conducts an evening review session before the final. The entire class gave this man thundering applause when he concluded his last lecture Don't leave Columbia without taking at least one class with him

Aug 2003

Prof. Sloan knows what's what about Thomas Jefferson (he's the leading expert) and a lot of other American History... up to the Civil War. He's not the most enthusiastic lecturer, but he's fair and the workload is generally pretty manageable. However, if you don't already like history, don't take one of his courses or prepare to be bored.

Aug 2003

he is a renaissance men with a very fragile ego. Knos the materials, but extremely insecure. It comes out as malicious treatment of students whom he considers lazy and mediocre. He projects his intellectual biaas via incessant references to the New York Times. Overall, however, his narrative is critical and original

Jul 2003

he was good. i mean, as good as my history teacher in high school. this class is basically a waste of time unless you need it for your major or want to brush up on some American History....or if you wanna meet Barnard chicks. anyway, the class was run with a lot of busy-work...the midterm and finals were a lot of silly grammar school memorization of dates and such...very VERY little actual thought. class is always chock fulla jocks and seniors looking to fill their time and pad their GPA...

Jun 2003

As a Political Science major, I took this class hoping to further understand the issues I was dealing with in my American Politics classes. This class did not help me in that arena at all, but rather reinforced my ability to recall useless facts and attempt psychic abilities. When asked how the class should study for the exams, Professor Sloan told us if we thought hard enough, we could figure out what the questions and IDs would be - luckily there was no choice for either. My notes for each class were approximately 6 pages, mainly a restatement of the case, with pages and pages of unrelated anecdotes. Also, be sure you've taken a Foner class or two, because Sloan will no doubt ask smugly "But you remember that from Foner, right?" If you want a kick in the GPA, waste your time cramming for this. At the end, you won't feel smarter or more accomplished, you'll just feel violated - and rightly so.

Jun 2003

I took this class on a whim, expecting it to be pretty interesting. And much of the material was--the scope of the course will give the student a firm basis in constitutional law. However, I found this man profoundly disturbing. I know this sounds severe, but he would get up and ask "who had read the Times this morning" and smirk at how unintellegent we were for not having done this. He would mock people for not knowing trivial historic facts, and make frequent references to his undergraduate experience at Stanford and how he is on the board to make the History SAT II. I just found him appallingly arrogant. Like the stereotype of the Ivy League, and the reason that people make fun of people like this. Furthermore, he was extremely late returning everything, including getting in final grades to the registrar. Maybe if he took some time away from the New York TImes he could grade on schedule. A pretty good class, but he's a [culpa censor].