I think Marotti is a cool guy. eh wears jeans and black t-shirts to every lecture and doesn't afraid of anything. But really, this is a good introductory survey class. I absolutely despise history courses that consist of nothing but memorizing names, places, and dates. Marotti does a great job of avoiding that style in favor of presenting a much more critical and in-depth analysis of Japanese history that challenges conventional stereotypes and really articulates how Japan has evolved from its origins to the era of the nation-state. He's got a very dry, witty personality, which makes his lectures...ah, interesting, to say the least. That said, the workload is not for the faint of heart. There's no textbook - instead you're assigned a long list of primary source material. Emphasis on the long - I would guess that it easily exceeded 1300 pages of material. On the bright side, there's no expensive course reader since he uploads everything online. Now you're probably curious - do I really have to do *all* of that reading? Good question - there's some readings that are just flat-out not worth your time. "Tale of the Genji" and Gayn's "Japan Diary" stood out to me as really long sources that weren't really necessary. Still, don't get in a habit of skipping everything, since you run the risk of lectures flying over your head and the final exam is comprehensive. You can probably get away with skimming some of the longer ones, and your TA should point out the important parts in section. In terms of graded materials, there's no midterm, which is nice. Instead, you'll have three 4-page essays assigned throughout the quarter, and you'll have your pick from a very generous list of prompts for each one. If you are exceptionally lazy, there's no reason why you can't do all of the reading that applies to just prompt you select and outright ignore the rest, but I wouldn't recommend that. The final exam consists of two in-class essays, one weighted 40% and the other 60%. You'll get a list of 13 prompts to study from and a minimum of 7 will appear as choices on the exam; there were actually 9 on ours but I can't guarantee that you'll see that many. Since you know the prompts there's no surprises here, and the final can be as hard or as easy as you want it to be. Section is worth your time, especially if you slack on the readings. You'll get a good synopsis of everything and it'll substantially increase your understanding of the material. I got an A+, but don't let that fool you into thinking you can go on autopilot and do well, i.e. if you are south campus and have no time to do reading, then this is not the class for you. Marotti emphasized on the first day that he doesn't teach GEs the way other professors do, i.e. low standards and light workloads. Do the reading and you'll do well.
History 172C Marotti is very unique in his style of teaching. The practice of reading and analyzing primary documents (which you will do a lot of) can be tedious, but it also heightened my critical thinking considerably, which is something I am thankful for. Marotti's lectures are basically whole class discussions led by him, and as another poster said, I would definitely recommend attending if you skip on the readings or fail to entirely comprehend them. He takes attendance, so skipping class is just overall a bad call. He tends to empasize main ideas over and over, so keep these crucial themes in mind while writng your papers. Marotti's class was tough both in work load and grading. We always had a four page paper to work on (four of them were assigned throughout the quarter) and our TA was quite conservative about awarding high grades. The daily writing assignments you will turn in are also subject to scrutiny, and it will take some time to learn to write them properly. As for Marotti's office hours, they could sometimes be an interesting experience. At the beginning of the quarter I felt as if every questioned I asked him was countered by him offering me another question. This was discouraging and often left me gun shy going into papers. But I don't believe this was out of lack of concern for student learning, and I did begin to understand Marotti better as the quarter progressed on. I recieved an A- in the class, which I guess I shouldn't complain about since i only did around 50% of the readings, but considering where I stood prior to the final I am now left doubting the grade raising abilities of the extra credit writing assignments. But a small hit to my GPA may very well be a fair price to pay for the new ways of thinking I was exposed to in this class.
Professor Marotti is one of the best professors I have taken at UCLA. His lectures were done in Socratic style, and he is incredibly animated when he does lecture. You can tell that he loves his subject when he teaches. That being said, the class is not easy. There are weekly assignments and three papers which will consume a good deal of time. If you have the time and the interest, I would absolutely suggest this class.
Spring 2023 - the "lectures" are just movies in class. make sure you do the readings, you need to cite them in the essays. but overall, its not hard. all the movies are very engaging. but it has a lot to do with triggering content so email the professor first to see if this class is for you.