Transcription of Student Evaluations

Judaic Studies 191R – Spring 2001


1.  I thought it was a great course, one of the most pleasurable and interesting classes I have taken.  The topic was a big part of it, but it was helped greatly by the professor who came prepared every class with fresh perspectives and handouts to broaden our interpretation of Kafka’s writing and all writing in general.  He made everything open to interpretation.  I feel I got a good portion of Kafka’s published works introduced to me.  I would recommend this course, although it was an unusual and nice situation being in a nice small group class.


2.  The instructor consistently conveyed passionate interest in the topic and the course materials.  The students saw and responded to this.  He also excelled in drawing comments from students and treating these as valuable, original contributions.  The course had genuine intellectual content without any professional dogma.  Of special value to me were the instructor’s use of German original sources of Kafka and [his] passion [for] the Jewish element as fundamental to Kafka, which was for me a new and valuable perspective.  That I diligently attended testifies to my respect for an enterprise which was, for me, simply an opportunity and a pleasure.  (This evaluation was written by an auditor.)


3.  I thoroughly enjoyed this course.  The discussions were always comfortable and thought-provoking.  Professor Ellis is very interested in the subject and is excellent at leading discussions.  All of the handouts—and there were many of them—were interesting and complemented our primary readings very nicely.  However, I think that overall this course would be much more fitted for a 3-credit course.  Of course, this would mean an extended, more encompassing reading list and more assignments, but the kind of person that Kafka was demands more attention than a 1-credit course can offer.  Overall I am very pleased with this course.


4.  This class, though it only met once a week, was the most informative of any of my UMass courses by far.  What attributes to this was first a very small class size, which should be the goal for any course.  In an intimate setting, the material from which we learned was never ending an open to interpretation [sic].  Richard always came prepared and I feel provided us with, if not the best, then an outstanding arena of material to learn


      My favorite part of the course was each week we would read a short story or a piece of a novel by Kafka and we would tear it apart.  We would look it from every vantage point and angle.  I learned an immense amount of knowledge concerning the Jewish people of Prague, literature, ambiguity, a touch of linguistics and philosophy.  Furthermore I have an even deeper interest now in learning more about Franz Kafka.  It was a highly valuable course and again, the most interesting/fun/informative of any UMass class I have taken as of yet.


5.  The course was a seminar style—a small number of people and a lot discussions—so I was able to express my opinion and listen to others.  That was the best part.  In the first class, the professor explained the aims of the course, and it helped me to increase my interest in the subject.  Handouts were helpful to understand the subject more.  If I can make a suggestion, this class will be better if it becomes a 3-credit class so that we can cover more materials with deeper depth. 


6.  This course was of extreme interest to me; luckily, so was it to the professor.  To teach something of personal interest is crucial, but never was the professor overly biased or over-opinionated.  He allowed ample discussion of readings while providing a tremendous amount of insight.  I recommend Professor Ellis on his method in teaching this course for how else is one to approach a study of Kafka?  My only suggestion would be to lighten the reading load a bit.