It's such a shame he didn't teach the spring semester. Billows is HILARIOUS. He's also incredibly knowledgeable about the books we read in the fall semester, especially Plato and Aristotle. Like the previous reviewer mentioned, he always went over the background/main themes of the works in the 1st half of the class and then opened the floor up for discussion. This meant we never really had to read the assigned stuff - Billows doesn't really care about the nitty-gritty bits of each book, which is great for someone like me. The class was also very entertaining, despite being on Zoom - Billows frequently raises his voice and shouts his opinions (his views on Trump are gold). I actually didn't think getting an A was hard at all. If you just agree with everything Billows says in class you will not do badly, as long as you back up the arguments well. If you don't like participating in discussions/are a bit shy, that's fine too - Billows doesn't seem to care and his 'participation grades' reflect that (for context, I got 8/10 and didn't speak up much at all). Just showing up to class seems to be enough. He's very slow with returning grades but seems to be a pretty easy grader. He can also be very understanding - he forgot to post the questions for our final (take-home) on Courseworks and gave us a three-day extension after realizing the mistake. If you're lucky enough to be in his section, don't switch out!
Kind of a jerk on the surface, but I learned to love him. Some find his method of teaching frustrating -- he spends half the class rambling a bit about the assigned text, and then spends the next half letting us lead the conversation wherever it may go -- but it worked for me. Somewhat harsh grader, but it's possible to get an A. If you want a warm and cuddly and grandfatherly type of professor, Billows isn't your guy. But if you want a hella smart, hella opinionated, hella funny -- and hella nice when you get past the rough exterior -- professor, you can't go wrong with Billows. I had to transfer out second semester due to a scheduling conflict, and I so, so, so wish I didn't.
Professor Billows gives an in-depth overview of Ancient Greek History. He is opinionated and passionate, but in a way that brings the class to life. He often does this through his anecdotal-tangents, which can go on for upwards of 15 minutes and can be just as informative as the regular lecture. This class is maybe not necessary for Columbians not studying ancient history as the core does a good enough job, but is a must-take if more interested in the ancient world.
I enjoyed this class.It's an excellent introduction to Ancient Greek history. Over zoom, the lectures are like wathcing a recording. The weekly discussion sections are much more lively.
IF YOU ARE REGISTERED FOR THIS CLASS SWITCH OUT IMMEDIATELY! You’re literally better off with any other professor except maybe Callahan. If you want a professor that is so laid back that he won’t reply to any emails, misses your office hour appointments, and provides barely any feedback on his harsh grading - by all means enjoy Billows. His essay grading is EXTREMELY harsh. I received an absolutely embarrassing grade. There were little to no comments written on my essay about why I had received this grade. I spoke to him after class as his office hours appointment times conflicted with my other classes. He said I could meet with him in Fayerweather at his office in an hour. This is when hell started...He didn’t show up, and I waited for over 35 minutes. I emailed him during this time and received no response. I thought maybe something came up for him, so I didn’t hold it against him. I followed up with him the next day and received no reply again. In class, he apologized profusely and said he would make sure to get back to my emails to find another time. I received no reply until the weekend when suddenly we were hit with the news that we would be taking classes online. After spring break, I was getting worried as I had another essay due but still didn’t know why I had been graded down on the last one. There was no way I could talk to him after classes due to the nature of Zoom sessions so I decided to skip my other class taking a hit in that grade to meet with him during his newly set up Zoom office hours. After a long time in the virtual waiting room I was finally face-to-face with Billows. During the meeting he gave very vague feedback, and tried to give a very general overview of how college writing works, and I was still left utterly confused. Keep in mind that I have always been a good student in humanities classes, and got an A in both LitHum and University Writing. As for the midterm, that was also graded relatively harshly, and it took equally long to finally have a sit down with him to understand what I did wrong. I had read all of the books that semester, so it wasn’t like the quality of my responses only showed a spark note level understanding, but I still only received a B- on the midterm. Every one of my passage IDs had been correct, but all the long form responses were graded harshly again, just like the essays. Points were taken off for things that were pretty unfair in my opinion given that we only had the length of a class period to complete the exam, such as not having a deep enough “so what. Just overall this teacher will SCREW YOU when it comes to anything having to do with writing or essays. I’m really grateful for the fact that this class ended up being pass/fail - I cannot imagine having gotten anything higher than a B given my grades the first half of the semester along with the high level of effort I was already putting into the course as is. In class he was generally a very nice person, but I still wouldn’t say this makes him worth taking by any stretch of the imagination given his harsh grading style and generally lackadaisical attitude.
Took Ancient Greek History with Billows and it was the best history course I've taken at Columbia. He starts class at a level 10 and then takes it to a level 15. Like he started voice-acting historical figures. The man is a powerhouse. I never thought I enjoyed classics until this course, now I wish I had concentrated in it. His lectures follow the textbook very closely, in fact, almost verbatum. I started reading the main secondary source but then realized he hits ~everything~ in lecture. We covered so much material, and yet it feels like you're just with a friend who's telling you a gripping story they're really excited about. This is history at its best. Ancient Greek History is also epic. It's about this small backwater area of the Med. that ends up toppling the freaking Persian Empire. They also really like their "great men," which becomes entertaining when you learn about the life stories and legends/myths about people like Alexander the Great, Phillip of Macedonia, etc. Ask Billows about Alcibiades and you'll see.
If you want a good grade, don't want to put in too much work, and want to walk away from CC having learnt something, THIS IS THE CLASS FOR YOU! He begins with class everyday rocking in his chair like your typical grandpa, and briefs us about each author. It is obvious he is very well-read, has his own perspective on each of the others. After an introduction, he usually asks for our opinions. Most people haven't read the material or don't know what to say about it, and Billows doesn't mind continuing talking by himself. We spend most of the class debating a lot of contemporary issues. So if that's problem for anyone, this isn't the class for you then. However, Billows is able to tie back those issues to the text, and draw some interesting conclusions. I have probably put in zero work (besides essays), but I've walked away learning something substantial. He takes forever to hand back assignments, but its not that big of a deal. Grading: Overall, he seems relatively simple. Just agree with what he says in class, and you can't do too poorly.
Billows is great. Charming, funny, a little corny, but beyond that, he really knew his stuff and made the class worthwhile. Each class Billows writes about 20 terms on the board, talks about each one, then crosses them off as he goes. Sometimes he uses pictures or maps, but, for the most part, he just stands there and talks. A lot. Many times to the point where he goes way over the lecture period time. Billows definitely grows on you, though, and it makes staying twenty minutes past the end of the lecture worth it. The class itself was an absolute breeze. The content was sometimes dry and seemingly pointless, and much of the exams was memorization and knowing major trends. Pretty much none of the readings have to be done. Even for the papers, facts from class and pulling tidbits from the required and recommending readings using the index were more than enough. Overall, an OK subject with a witty and knowledgable professor.
Oh Billows, what a guy. So like, if you're down to not read anything for CC-- no books, no summaries, no sparknotes-- and still get an easy A, this is probably the class for you. If you go class, take notes on what Richard says (I usually just copied down what he said verbatim), and are able to regurgitate them in essays and exams, you'll do swimmingly. Some notes on Billows: He's extremely liberal, and that becomes very clear very soon. He knows his shit, and likes to make that known. 40% of our classes ended up as debates on whether or not ALL drugs should be legalized, how fun is that! Class discussions existed sometimes. A lot of the time he just lectured if we didn't have anything to say and he seemed perfectly fine with that. If you do say something that he doesn't agree with, get ready to be promptly bitch-slapped and shut down.. Like even if his counterargument doesn't make sense he'll make it clear that your logic is wrong. He has a soothing british accent that goes with his grandfatherly figure. He swears in class. A lot. And references his nightly drinking habits. Yeah I was like a big fan. I literally don't know the grade breakdown for this class cuz he didn't give us one lmfao. There were points in the year when i was just like "wait am I still in CC?" and my science-major self was perfectly fine with that. All in all fun class, 0 work, he doesn't teach second semester though so right now I'm scrambling to find another easy professor and it's not going too hot..
Billows is a highly entertaining lecturer that definitely knows his stuff. His readings are very heavy, but you can pretty much skim them. He covers the important stuff in class. He likes to go on asides, is pretty much interested in the military, and tends to say stuff that sounds horrible, but keep in mind, he's saying what the ancients thought, not what he thinks. He'll often point that out. His IDs for his exams are always put on the board, so be sure to define them in lecture and start yourself a running spreadsheet of them from the start. You seriously won't have time to compile the kind of information needed on them when midterms roll around. There are also guaranteed to be a few that literally do not exist in the text book and were never mentioned in lecture. Have fun with that! Billows' TAs are a craps shoot. They are generally very nice, but will have no consistency whatsoever with regards to grading or expectation. Expect discussion to be a tangential waste of time, the paper to be graded harshly, and the midterm scoring to have no bearing on what they said to expect. All that negativity aside, I liked his lectures well enough to take him twice in a row, TA tomfuckery notwithstanding. If you are even slightly interested in Ancient Greece or Rome, his class is sort of not to be missed. He's liberal, goofy, and often gets lost down some weird(!!) roads.
Professor Billows is wonderful. He is kind, respectful and helpful to his students. It seems he actually enjoys teaching and sincerely cares about his students which, I believe, is not always the case of Columbia Professors. He is also a good lecturer and actually pretty funny, which can be useful as not everyone naturally gets excited about Ancient history. This Ancient Roman History course covered about 1000 years but Professor Billows did a great job structuring it. Just note that he particularly enjoys focusing on military history. Yet, he does make sure to cover all major topics but, as any lecturer, he focuses more on what he enjoys whenever possible. I would definitely recommend taking this class. It will be a pleasure, you will come out with a good understanding of Roman history and especially a better idea of how to work with ancient primary sources.
I think that he rubbed a lot of people the wrong way in the way he phrased some of his challenges to the texts. However, I don't think that, most of the time, he was actually voicing his own opinion. To me, it seemed as if he was just offering a challenge that we maybe had not thought about or that was commonly rejected in our times. However this meant that some of the things he said were a little scandalous. I think starting this class with the disclaimed that, "I'm going to play Devil's Advocate, so don't be offended" would be beneficial. That said, I think he's a really nice guy. He's very grandfatherly in that he's kind of an old man who's set in his opinions and won't really budge. He does forget papers and midterms, but why should you complain? He grades them fairly (coughcough easily coughcough), so you shouldn't be so worried.
In January 2011, on the Monday just before classes began, I received what I thought was quite a pleasant surprise: instead of the professor I had expected for Contemporary Civilizations, I would be enjoying a semester of instruction with a prominent scholar and historian. I thought myself the luckiest thing in Morningside. After the first class I mentioned to a friend that, whatever the hype, I hadn't found myself so much a fan of Billows's teaching style. Perhaps it would take some getting used to. There was no "getting-used-to." By the end of April, after each Monday and Wednesday I would have complained to anyone who would listen that *this* was the worst class to date, that Billows had outdone himself yet again. With the semester over, I can honestly say that CC with Billows was the most intellectually impoverished experience I had during my time at Columbia. Billows is forgetful and brusque, the archetype of a professor mellowed with tenure and cynical towards his undergraduates. He forgot our midterms in his house, car, or office for five weeks straight; "My bag couldn't fit them all," he once complained. But this doddering quality softens him not an iota in day-to-day interaction: Billows possesses a robust set of lungs that he puts to great use in talking over students and cutting off people with whom he disagrees. I was shocked to see such a blatant disregard of basic classroom etiquetteâ€”in the instructor. As if his disrespect towards the basic functioning of the classâ€”not to mention towards its participantsâ€”were not enough to poison the course, he persisted in making a caricature of himself as a professor of classical civilizations. Hardly a day went by without his throwing out the off-hand orientalist or sexist remark, and either pretending that he had meant it all in jest or that there was nothing offensive the comment whatsoever. He was dismissive of Wollstonecraft, Woolf, Fanon, and DuBois, treating the texts cynically, as if he believed they found inclusion on the syllabus solely for their authors' sex or race. If one were the sort of person to deride CC as necessarily canonizing, othering, and perpetuating of Western hegemonyâ€”and I resolutely am not that sort of personâ€”this would have been that exact sort of Plato-to-NATO class at which one would direct one's rage. But most important was that his instruction was paltry at best, bankrupt at worst. We never cracked open the texts in class; not once did he call of us to turn to a particularly difficult or telling passage. Reading meant very little; close reading, nothing at all. Very oftenâ€”as if we were not discussing the richest texts in the Western political and ethical traditionâ€”he would run out of things to say by the two hour mark, and sit there in gloomy silence. Did he, I still wonder, off any insights that couldn't be gleaned from skimming "Sophie's World"? Billows's grading had such a light touch as to be insulting; perhaps he maintained such a condescending attitude about our intelligence that he was continually surprised that any of his students could string a sentence together. This is fine if you are looking just to get your degree and have a shining transcript to accompany it, but much less fine if you came to Columbia looking for a profound and challenging education marked by the Core. By the end of the semester, even principled students were pulling out their computers in class to read the New York Times and work on things that actually mattered. If this fellow shows up on your schedule, run.
I have taken class with Billows multiple times. Accept that in a lecture he's going to tell you the same stories over and over again, not make any real attempt to engage his students, and go 10-15 minutes over every class. If you are interested in Greek history, all of this is worth it. He knows his stuff, tells it in a very entertaining manner, and generally is a very lenient grader. In the seminar I took with him, he had between 1-3 students present on the week's readings. Often times, Billows intentionally gave us arguments to read that he did not agree with, precisely so he could counter their claims in class. If you were not presenting (You have to present twice throughout the year), you basically just sat there and listened for 1:50 a week. At the end of the semester a 20 page paper was due. If you take a Billows seminar and it is in this format, I would recommend that you get a vague idea of what you want to write about in the beginning of the semester. Then you can sign up to present on that topic in class, use your research from your presentation to write most of your paper, and just find additional details to fill in the rest. You literally have to do no work otherwise outside of showing up (almost) every week.
After taking this course, I'm firmly convinced that Billows received his education in the Spartan "agoge" and eats lunch with his "syssitia" every day. This guy loves everything Ancient Greece, and he certainly loves to discuss every detail of a "hoplon" shield and the tactical formations of a Macedonian phalanx, and how the Macedonians kept Persian cavalry charges at bay with their "sarissa" long pike. As you can imagine, this class is mindnumbingly boring, especially at 10:30 in the morning. Basically class is structured around Billows writing 20 terms on the blackboard, and then he gives a lecture where he goes over all the terms, and underlines each and every one as he covers it. It's basically a long stream of dates and people, and its just gets to be pretty unbearable after awhile. Class goes over by at least 15 minutes every day, which really got on my nerves. The thing is...despite the fact that the class is boring, it's SO EASY TO DO WELL. I mean, the pragmatic person (Pericles was the archetypal pragmatist, Billows emphasizes) would suffer in the short term to benefit in the long run. When it comes to the midterm and final, Billows gives you a list of like 120 terms, which is basically miserable to go through each and every term, but if you want to do well, just suffer and go through them all and write up some notecards. Despite suffering, it's not hard to get an A in the class. Mike was an excellent TA, probably because he didn't know anything about Ancient Greece. We talked more about historiography and how to read ancient texts and what information we can glean from texts like Herodotus and Thucydides. Here's some tips: go to section, don't go to lecture all the time, meet with your TA about the paper, READ FREEMAN'S Greek Achievement, read the LitHum sections of Herodotus, read the Melian Dialogue from Thucydides, read Robert Kagan's Peloponnesian War (quick read), don't even buy Plutarch or Polybius. You can do it. Trust me.
Professor Billows is a classic Columbia professor. He has no clue what is flying, but that just makes the class all the more better. His lectures are really interesting, especially if you are in to the subject matter.
Great lecturer, really funny and gets off on random tangents to make snarky remarks about politics, government, religion, etc. He paces around a lot and knows his subject material off the back of his hand. The class was 100% lecture based and, though he did go over about 10 minutes most classes, his talks are interesting enough to make up for it. He is able to make the material come alive and be relevant.
I personally found Professor Billows to be an excellent CC professor. He is very engaging, and class was absolutely comical. I enjoyed going to class almost every time as we often discussed hot button topics in relation to the readings, and the class would frequently get into debates. Moreover, we tended to focus on the main points of readings rather than the details/quotations. This was, in my opinion, very enjoyable because it allowed me to come away with an overall understanding of the works. However, it also meant that we did a bit of a "surface study of the works. That being said, one issue I had with Billows is that he was very inaccessible. He made it clear that he did not want us coming to his office hours. Also, I feel that at times we could have kept closer to the work and not gotten into as many contemporary debates. Finally, he ONLY teaches first semester (and has done so for something like 20 years -- he's an ancients professor), which to me was a bit of an issue. Overall, though, a very enjoyable CC experience.
A great professor if you're looking for a lecture-style history course that is actually engaging. Don't expect personal face time with Billows, who you will see basically only when he comes twice a week to lecture. That said, he's a funny and dynamic lecturer, easy to listen to. You won't have to worry about staying awake in his class. The material is interesting and the syllabus isn't too intense. So long as you come to class for the lecture notes and read Greek Achievement, the main text around which this class is centered, you should be prepared for the exams. The other readings are unnecessary, as you will not be tested on them. There is a weekly hour-long discussion section that you should attend, but the TAs don't take attendance so it's not totally mandatory. There is one paper, conveniently due right before Thanksgiving so that you don't have to worry about it during finals time. For the exams, you just need to know the information cold and spit it out, but the information you need to know comes directly from the lectures and from Greek Achievement.
Billows is one of those "old time" lecturers. That is, he lectures. I can think of maybe 5 questions that the students asked him all semester. However, I LIKE this style of teaching. The lectures were always very informative, and I learned a great deal about a fascinating subject. You don't get to know the professor at all (his TA, the wonderful Monica, does all of the paper consultations, and he's rather inaccessible... not someone you could easily talk to) but you do get to know history, which is more important. I hope to take many more classes with Billows.
Richard Billows is an amazing professor and his class was without doubt one of the most enjoyable classes that I have ever taken. His class is always exciting, unexpected, and hysterical. It is sort of like attending the filming of a Monte Python movie about religion and justice. Billows centers his discussions around broad topics and not around specific quotes. This alows for really interesting debate and also means that the books do not have to be carefully read. That being said, if you are extremely religious or require everything to be politically correct, do not take this class. Billows is extremely opinionated, which for me was his greatest strength.
My only complaint about Professor Billows was that he seemed to be confused as to what time the class actually ended. He has it in his head that the class time is an hour and a half, and as a result, you WILL be in class for ten to fifteen minutes longer every single class. But other than that, I really enjoyed Professor Billows class. He is, as other reviews say, a old school professor. He lectures straight for an hour and a half and is likewise always rather thrown off when someone asks him a question in the middle of his lecture. He has a dry sense of humor that can spice up the lectures, and his building excitement when he talks about war is quite entertaining. I knew very little about greek history before taking this class, and although I did not have much of an interest in the subject, I found the class really enjoyable. The lectures were for the most part very interesting. Definitely recommended.
(First Semester Only) Professor Billows generally opened each class with about 20-25 minutes of background on the books, and spent the rest of the class on discussion. As he is a History professor, he was very interested in the historical context of the works. In discussion he sometimes disagreed with student opinions, but you would still get a good grade for participating even if he disagreed with your opinion. He was very opinionated which some students did not like. If you want an objective, unbiased professor, you probably would not like Billows, but I felt that his opinionated nature kept class discussions interesting. He told the class that participation was graded on quantity not quality. This encouraged students who obviously did not do the reading to make random comments. If you want to participate but not do the reading, this might be a good section for you. Other students who wanted a close discussion/analysis of the text were disappointed, as the discussion often went into random tangents. Works were frequently connected to current events, which I found interesting, but some students viewed as "off topic." The professor did not encourage students to approach him outside of class, which some students liked and others didn't. Overall, student opinion regarding the Professor varied. If you want a professor who focuses on main themes, connections to current events, historical context, etc. you would probably like this section, but if you want to analyze specific quotes in detail and are bothered by students who make uninsightful comments, you probably would not like this section. To me, the class felt like he was teaching more in the style of a history or political science class than in the style of an English class, so think about which style you like better.
Ok. I knew a fair amount of people in our CC class who appreciated billow's style. If you want a teacher who won't make you work but also won't help you learn/appreciate the material, you're golden. But seriously, I found myself watching the secondhand for two hours, which was so painful. Class discussions were nonexistent - it was more like everyone waited their turn to shout out disjointed comments that he refused to mediate or comment upon, so we came to no useful conclusions. He's somewhat likeable, and sort of odd in a "awww, how cute" kind of way, but I completely lost my ability to find him amusing after I started to realize how much he was ruining western philosophy for me. However: 10 points for his willingness to extend papers (which, by the way, were on completely abstract and impossible topics)
Billows is a good professor overall. - He runs 10 minutes over every class. all semester. - you dont actually need to read Herodotus, Thucydides, Polybius etc. But do so if you have the time. - Read the textbook. Altough he covers all the information in his lectures, his style can be haphazard and confusing at times. There is a lot to write down, so bring a computer or write fast. - Class was what you made out of it, section was terrible. -Make sure to really study for the exams, just memorize the terms and you'll do fine. -Don't write the paper the night before, because some research actually does have to be done
Prof Billows was not bad at all. Sometimes class was more of him lecturing than students discussing but I did not have a problem with that. He gives lengthy backgrounds before starting each book which can be a little slow, but I liked how he put everything into context. He has no problem shooting down students, forcing them to argue their points of view, which may not be good for sensitive people. Sometimes the class was unbearably long, especially if only a few people read, but he doesn't give pop quizzes or anything, and he doesn't seem to care either way, but things go much better when more people read the books. Throughout the semester, I grew to appreciate him more and more since he really just discusses the book and doesn't make students do postings or responses or anything else.
It's true, his lectures are always 10 min. too long (be careful when scheduling a class in the next block) but they are really funny and entertaining. Doing the reading is helpful but not wholly necessesary since his lectures are really thorough. Be prepared to take lots of detailed notes because he rattles of dates and names about as fast as you can write them once he gets going. His impersonations of various historical figures are real gems. The downside to his class (excluding the lecture length) is that he is not very approachable. Especially concerning papers, his responses to questions often bear little resemblance to the question asked. He grades fairly (not too hard but he will call bs what is is). His terms lists make studying for the midterm and final really easy (but be prepared to study a lot).
Richard Billows, like every one else has been saying, does tend to keep you 10 and sometimes 15 minutes after class in lecture/ The lectures were however really intriguinf and he is quite vibrant and colorful in lecutring, meaning it would be hard to fall asleep. I heard he is an easy grader and he probably is, I did very well on the midterm, but it is annoying to memorize and study for the million IDs. If you want an interesting course with a pretty lenient professor, take this one. One thing I found annoying were the recitations. I am not sure whether they were mandatory or not, but I found them quite useless. We did not go over anything relevant to the exams and my TA, Stephen, mumbled all during rec so everyone ends up falling asleep.
I agree that this course was pretty easy. Prof. Billows takes his lectures almost straight from the textbook, so if you miss a class or skip a reading it's not the end of the world. The lectures could get kinda dry sometimes, but make sure you pay attention when Billows talks about Athens; it is his specialty, and it can actually be pretty funny to observe his obvious bias against all other greek cities. He has a really dry sense of humor, but you might miss his jokes and sarcastic remarks if you don't pay attention. He doesn't like to be interrupted when lecturing, so prepare to be shot down when you offer comments or questions, especially if you say something uncomplimentary to the Athenians. The worst part of the course was that he honestly went at least 10 minutes overtime for EVERY SINGLE CLASS. Overall, an interesting course with a relatively light workload, and taught by a professor who definitely knows his subject.
Professor Billows is an excellent professor who is quite familiar with the material-- I believe he said he's been teaching CC for 17 years. He only teaches the first semester, so expect a mystery professor for second semester. Lectures are opened with history lessons, all which are pertinent and interesting, if you can bear to listen. See, he talks in this kind of monotonous drone with a British accent, which makes you a bit sleepy. It doesn't help that he rocks back and forth in his chair the whole two hours, lulling you with this rhythmic motion. But he has good stuff to say, can rescue floundering discussions, and always makes excellent points about the readings. Discussions sometimes go off on tangents, but he seems fine with it as long as it's something everyone is interested in discussing. You'll come away with a good understanding of the works. He brings up 'controversial' issues regarding the Bible, so if this is sacriligious and insulting to you, don't take the class and get your underwear all bunched up. Come to class with an open mind and willingness to talk, and you'll have a rewarding experience.
Prof. Billows, for better or for worse, is a solid teacher who knows a lot about the first-semester CC material and relates it very well to current ideas, events, and politics. His historical accounts did get a little boring, but they only last a little bit of the class; the majority of the time is spent trying desperately to answer his important yet highly-philosophical questions that really require a quick mind and a broad understanding of the material. Even days when it was clear no one had read, he could get the class riled up. Some may say that he shoots down people, which is kind of true, but he makes sure to simply point out the holes of the many stupid arguments that may come up. This keeps discussions on target, focused, and engaging. CC is not hard, but Billows defintiely asks the tough questions and genuinely wants people to think about their responses. A good choice for the class.
One of the driest professors I have ever experienced. If you dont want to try to memorize a million Greek ID's, don't take this (unless he's changed since fall 2001)..
took him in Fall 2002. this was one of the courses i heard was really "easy"! we all know what that means. its easy to others, but when you take it, you find out that its not all that easy. so yes, this is a relatively manageable easy course (note: i am not saying "easy"). but u GOT TO READ WEEKLY ASSIGNMENTS. they arent that long tho. take good notes in class; they are crucial. the class is quite fun and can get quite animated by the professor's jokes and remarks on greeks. he is an easy guy who is passionate about teaching this course. but he takes 10 min extra evcery class so that can get to you some times when u sit there for 2 hrs at a stretch. i think its possible to get at least an A- (a B+ easily) if u read the books and prepare for the midterms and finals way before the last night. he gives review sheets (nothing outside it will appear in the exams) but the prob is that there a lot of them!! so making notes and then (worst) memorising all the dates and names can be impossible if u start the night before. try to work in groups (esp to make the notes). i had this TA named Erik-- he is kinda cool. not necessarily an easy grader but a nice helpful reasonable guy. he wont give u an easy A by BS-ing,u got to show work first. if u r into reading and the Greeks, this is a grt course. should be easy for u then
I took this course Fall 2002. It was an interesting class but Prof. Billows seems to think that he can go 10 minutes after class EVERY day. Yea, it gets annoying so if you are taking this class, make sure that you don't have anything after this to rush to so you can stay. It is interesting material and Billows kept my attention. Most importantly the sections with the TAs aren't mandatory!! My TA wasn't even helpful at all. If you aren't really interested in Greek History this class might not be worth your Humanities credit. If you are a history major this will be great to take!
Prof. Billows began every class with a long, monotone lecture about the historical context of each book we were reading. Some people might have found it interesting at times or didn't mind zoning out for 45-min, but I was bored out of my mind. My biggest gripe about this class was that Prof. Billows took over a month to grade anything we turned in. And then when we finally got out assignments back they had spelling corrections, no comments, and a grade. Again, some people didn't care, but I found it frustrating.
Only teaches fall semester of CC. Basically treats CC as a lecture class, occasionally asking questions and shooting down anyone who dares answer. His comments are next to nothing on your papers, but he does correct your grammar, which is important for a CC professor to do. Exams are graded tough and with no justification on his part for giving the grade that he does. Not the best choice for CC.
As a CC prof, Billows only teaches first semester, and thats because he knows that material very very well. He usually spends the first half hour giving a historical context for the work, which though gets somewhat tangential is actually really fascinating and full of random tidbits of info. Then comes the discussion, which, like all CC classes, depends heavily on what type of people you have in your clas. Don't let him intimidate you, cause when he thinks you're wrong he definitely lets you know. At the same time, he does make an effort to encourage class discussion, and allows the dialogue to go on long, strange and often humorous tangents that are in some way apparently related to the text. One thing you will get out of this class is a good understanding of the texts, which can't be said for every CC class. Billows is humorous and pretty entertaining, I really enjoyed both the style and structure of his class. He's actually a great person, with loads of interesting things to say, a fascinating mind, and a biting sense of humor. The cynicism and unabashed ability to completely disprove your points round off the quirkiness.
Billows is an old school style professor, meaning that he spends every lecture pacing in front of the class and talking. There is no multi media and there are practically no handouts. His lectures tend to be dry, but when he is funny, it is hilarious. The textbook has been described as a cure for insomnia, this is true. The saving grace of this class was the TA, Giovanni. If you take this class and he is one of the TAs, go to his section. He is chill and really funny and does not believe that greek history is life. This makes for a great section. You also pick up knowledge of the Ptolemies and war elephants, as this was the topic of his thesis. To girls: he is cute. Very cute. This makes the actual class a lot easier to get through but a lot harder to pay attention in, since all you will be tempted to do is stare at him.
Sure he may be a bit too stately and intimidating but he knows his stuff. The class will start out slow and it may even be hard to stay awake at times because of the british monotone- but if you listen it gets easier becuase hey... wait... he's saying something really interesting. the class always consists of a historical lecture followed by discussion. read and know your stuff because he will not be afraid to shoot you down- but if you loosen up and have fun with the guy the class can be really great. do not just run away after the first scary day with your tail between your legs and you will be rewarded.
Humor <i>very</i> seldom, but when it comes, it helps keep the class awake. <i>Very</i> bland delivery of material. He specializes in the early philosophy taught in 1st semester CC, so it's pretty long-winded. His opinions are relatively ordinary, but he'll knock down others' contrasting thoughts in a second. Not a very good grader.