Student Comments
Eco 357k Introduction to Marxian Economics
Fall 2002

Below are all the written comments by students from course evaluations, the good, the bad and the obscene.

This was one of the best courses I have ever taken. I'm not a Marxist and yet feel this class has been extremely enlightening. I would recommend anyone to take this class as it gives you an entirely different viewpoint of the capitalist system. The class makes you think ahead and debate, and Dr. Cleaver is an excellent lecturer and a very funny guy.

Cleaver was a great teacher and very educated on the subject, so much so that sometimes I really had no idea what he was talking about. That's not his fault I suppose. I, apparently, am simply not on his level when it comes to this subject. Very interesting however, when I did understand.

Cleaver is very knowledgable in a variety of topics related to capitalism. The most difficult part is the extremely heavy reading load. Also, Cleaver talks "above me head" at many times. He stimulated me to think about exploitation and capitalism, along with other aspects of life.

This course realizes all the old humanist reasons for attending the university: knowledge, personal growth, self-evaluation, becoming better equipped to deal with the world and to improve it, etc. My time in here was truly transformative.

The commentaries on the internet about each topic were the biggest help to me because I had trouble understanding the early, abstract topics. This course opened up my eyes and really made me look at things differently-that's what makes for a great class. You are very intriguing to listen to.

My goal in this course was to let my perspective shift and see the world in a new way. I am very pleased by how much this course encouraged new perspectives and different relationships to the world I live in. This is what education is for. This is why we are here.

Overall, I thought the course was awesome. I've had a real interest in Marx for several years and I think Cleaver's autonomous interpretation provides a fresh outlook on Marx. I especially appreciated the emphasis in workers' struggle against capitalism as a major force in the class relations. Most orthodox interpretations tend to focus too much on the capitalist system itself to the detriment of the autonomous action by those opposes to it.

Dr. Cleaver seemed to have trouble understanding viewpoints and perspectives of students who were not looking at concepts from a Marxist way of thinking-one very narrow way of looking at things. He can never be as effective an instructor until he can at least acknowledge ideas from outside of that framework of thinking.

I'm glad that I had this opportunity to read Marx in a structured setting w/a prof. who was willing and able to breath life into the text. My only criticism is that while you were approachable and extraordinarily open to hearing students, I'm not sure you were especially open to entertaining debate, ect. Still, I wasn't here to listen to other students talk; I wanted education of complex ideas, and even a bit of indoctrination - many things I have felt I now have a language to discuss fruitfully and intellectually. Thank you.

Don't miss the movies, it shows, they help liven the class. Also, finding other info relating to the material helps w/ helps w/ essay exams.

Keep everything the same except maybe a little less reading if possible.

I really enjoyed this course and feel that I have already begun to compare what I see today w/ what Marx described over a century ago. You did a fantastic job reading this course and I don't think anyone could have done it better.

This instructor has really made one think about the material of this class and given me a different perspective on things in this world. I seldomly have an instructor/professor that is as intelligent and as fun to hear lecture as Cleaver. I will take away a lot of knowledge from this class despite that I will make a C.

The university needs more professors like Dr. Cleaver. I am sure that many would agree w/ me when I say that I would be willing to sit-in on his class even if I was not receiving credit for it. It is unfortunate that the university doesn't have more professors teaching Marxism.


I would have liked to have learned more about the Marxist critique of mainstream economics. Also, further discussion and critique of conservative criticisms of Marxism I think would add to this course.

Excellent course! Expanded my mind. Thanks!

This course is what college is all about b/c what good it be if you did not get a different perspective on things? That is exactly what this course did. The books were a bit difficult, but it was all worth it. Excellent class! I would recommend it to anyone.

This course provides a new insight and different perspective of things and how they are around us. The information gained out of this course is eye-opening. Prof. Cleaver is a great teacher who truly is for students!

This course shows one a different point of view. It allowed me to realize that not everything considered good is necessarily good. It shows you that capital has a lot to do with how society perceives things.

I thought I was a Marxist coming into this class. You influenced my views on a wide variety of subjects though. I appreciate the selection of novels to accompany Capital, even though we were never tested on The Jungle. Class was a joy and never really had the same feel as going to my other classes. Study guide is excellent and I really appreciate your interpretation of Capital.

This course, I feel, will be forever beneficial to me. It has taught me to question everything and ultimately decide issues for myself. Just because something is comprehensible doesn't make it truth. Thank you very much.

The course provides a refreshingly new insight to the current economic system in the US.

When I walked into this class for the first time I was a devout conservative and very pro-Capitalism, now I'm not so sure; Dr. Cleaver has successfully thrown my political views into confusion. I feel this class should be mandatory for all economic/business majors, b/c it is a critical view about all we (eco/business majors) are taught. People seem to assume since America is so rich that the system is obviously flawless, or at least I did.

I found the notes posted on the web to be quite helpful in understanding Capital.

The slides being posted on your web page is very helpful. The notes online are very helpful too and the time you put into organizing the web page is really appreciated. You being interested in our progress is a great motivation for us to do better in the course rather than giving up after we did poorly on an exam. You should continue to only have 4 questions on the exams b/c it gives us more time to answer the questions sufficiently. Tell your students to come to class rather than just trying to read the book and notes. Lectures really help to explain the material.

I took this class on a whim, but I've really enjoyed learning about capitalism from a completely different point of view. Reading Capital was very tough for me, but your lectures and online notes were very helpful. I would have liked to have read another novel and covered a few less chapters in Capital.

Cleaver is both intelligent and passionate about his work. My political views are not completely like his, but there is more convergence than before. He has given me a broader view of economics and made the Marxist interpretation more useful to me. Also his cynicism with regard to the pervading economics perceptions is funny/makes class more interesting.

[A picture of a Business Major saying "I have no wiener", and Cleaver saying "Fascist!"]

So, does this Survey represent the Students as the quality control agent while the professor is the producer of a piece work labor? I've learned so much in this class. It had open a new door for me and presented to me a whole new world I never knew existed. Thanks a lot, Harry. Looking forward to attend your future classes.

Harry - I really enjoyed your class & look forward to getting to work w/ & learn from you. I thought the class readings were great. The Jungle has become a personal favorite. I wish that there was more discussion and application of Marx's analysis to the status quo in the context of globalization. I also thing - although I understand why you don't - you should say more about we as citizens/subjects can & should do.

I have waited to take this course since entering the university, and it was wonderful. More than just engaging with the material, Dr. Cleaver engages with the students, and does more than any professor I have ever had to make the material personally useful and applicable. I believe I have received through this course a firm foundation to further develop my understanding of Marx further, and this is more directly addressed to Dr. Cleaver. Your devotion to the students has been sincerely felt, and made this class a truly rewarding experience. My personal gratitude to Dr. Cleaver, for being a professor who cares most about the students, the learning process, and last about the system which inhibits most professors from being as worthwhile and engaging. Of things that I will miss at this University (I am soon to graduate) Dr. Cleaver's lectures are foremost. My thanks.

Cleaver is a great lecturer. He discussed the notes with the students rather than shoving the material into us. I was afraid initially that I would fail the course because I wasn't a leftist. The first weeks until Test #1 are very intimidating because of the vast amount of difficult reading and processing that had to be done. Test 1 was hard as hell. Eventually though, you get used to the expectation. Most students in the class, or the ones that come to class rather, are very leftist and the terminology they used, as does Cleaver, can be frustrating to understand initially. That said, it's not your typical class experience. 3 tests. You only have 2 tests during the semester. The last test is your final. Das Kapital by Marx is the text as well as Cleaver's book that interprets it. Kapital is a hard book to read, but after reading it, you feel good for reading it firsthand. The class is not for the conservative student who wants an easy A. Cleaver talks a good talk about the "system" and "oppression", but he doesn't hand out grades. I've done my work consistently and I should have a low B. Even with the curve and a really good score on the final, I'll be lucky to scrape an A. Big Tip: Get to know the TA and look over your graded test. The TA grades your tests, not Cleaver. Overall fun professor. Intelligent, albeit a little off key.

This course has been very rewarding and very challenging. I have totally enjoyed Dr. Cleaver and his vast range of ideals. He is an inspiration to his craft, while sustaining a level of professionalism and commitment required by a professor. The reading is extensive, but it is required to truly question the existing system and our common beliefs. The material should be viewed as a means to an end. That end being a revamped understanding of the current state of affairs. When Marx set out to write capital, it was to five the workers something to fight with. We must not forget this! Through materials of this kind any professor such as Dr. Cleaver, capitalism may hopefully never dominate every aspect of our lives. Thank you Dr. Cleaver, it has been a pleasure.