Such a great professor! I only had her for a Fiat Lux (Religion 19) but had a blast. She but so much time into getting to know us individually and was always very insightful. She is very well-versed in all of the Abrahamic religions, not just Judaism. Whereas most highly intelligent professors don't care much about interacting with the class, Professor Bakhos invited us to dinner and would stay for usually 1-2 hours talking about the class, current events, and life in general. I definitely recommend taking her for any class.
Winter 2021 - Not sure if Professor Bakhos changed her curriculum during Covid or if I’m taking the wrong class, because the class I took is MUCH more difficult than the class all the other reviewers were talking about. I took this class as a GE thinking it would be fun and interesting like everyone said, but boy was I wrong. This course's grade was mostly comprised of 3 different sets of take-home essays throughout the quarter, each of which had you writing at least 7 essays (5 short and 2 long). On top of that, you also had an additional paper to write in week 9. There is SO much writing, this class should've honestly qualified for a Writing II class (except it's not, so lose-lose). Furthermore, it seems like she was looking for very specific answers for these essays, but also didn't want to "give away the answers". I honestly felt that she wasn't that helpful during office hours or Q&A sessions, but considering these essays are basically our midterm and final, I can somewhat understand why she might not be too keen on handing out answers to people. However, her lecture style (which mostly involves talking/getting sidetracked on people's questions while flipping through a handful of slides with scarce information) has not held up well over zoom and imo wasn't very helpful when it came to writing the actual essays. Which means that, in order to find the answers for each essay, you're going to have to be re-reading the textbook thrice over, scanning your minimal lecture "notes", and deep-searching Google for more information. Is this an interesting class? Certainly some parts are fascinating to learn about. But the biggest flaw with this class is that there is too much information and not enough time to learn it all, which made the take-home essays a wonderful, "on-your-own" experience for me. Before you take this class, ask yourself: Am I willing to sacrifice my entire sleep schedule over the course of 4 separate weeks for a GE? If the answer's no, then maybe avoid it and get some sleep. Sidenote: Participation is MANDATORY in this class. They had some policy where if you missed 2 or more discussion sections, you couldn't pass the course, which I felt was kind of unforgiving, especially during Covid.
Winter 2021 - I have a love-hate relationship with this class. The lectures were grueling, but we had some amazing discussions. I struggled with the distanced-learning since participation was 20% of our grade, and attendance is mandatory. This was probably the worst part of the class because Professor Bakhos talked really slow and wouldn’t record lectures and I couldn’t stay focused on anything she was saying. The breakout rooms were too crowded for everyone to contribute, and most of the time we didn’t even have a TA guiding the conversation. The syllabus also says if you miss more than two discussion sections, you can’t pass. However, our discussion sections were great, and we had a group chat where everyone elaborated on the topics we were covering. In Professor Bakhos’ defense, though, a lot of my complaints would be resolved if in-person instruction was available. I don’t want to discourage you from taking the course if you’re interested, but I definitely struggled with the new format. She also had pretty chaotic and disorganized energy and I’m sure the transition was difficult for her. She seemed like she cared, and she had moments where she was really funny. Our exams were take-home, and we had about a week to do them. They had five short answers, and one long essay at the end. I didn’t study or do any of the readings, and I threw something together the night before it was due and still got a B. My TA gave me very specific feedback and this bumped my next exam up to an A. (Shoutout to Aaron) Overall, it was a cool class, but it’s too much information for 10 weeks (covering three of the world’s largest religions) and there are much easier GEs out there.