Getting Through the Readings
The use of edited anthologies and the careful "pruning" of the additional readings ensure that the quantity of reading is a quite manageable average of 125 pp per week. This course, however, attempts to cover a broad range of topics. Much of this material is abstract, complex, and unfamiliar. The concepts are also developed sequentially, so falling behind can prove quite problematic. Students are most strongly encouraged to keep up with the reading. Discussion will help students develop their understanding of the course materials.
Students should make certain they read the material in the order in which it appears on the syllabus (rather than the order in which they obtain it!). The ordering often follows a logical progression (e.g. an unfolding debate), where the sequence matters. Otherwise, the readings follow from most important to least.
Obviously, there is far more valuable material on our course topics than we can consider in this class. Some of you may be pressed, at some points, to cover even the assigned material with the thoroughness you would like. I recommend the following strategy. First, read the discussion questions so you know where we are headed. Second, familiarize yourself with each of the readings. Read the abstracts and/or the introductions and conclusions to determine the authors’ arguments and findings. Next, consider briefly the relation between the various readings, their relation to previous readings, and their bearing on our framing/discussion questions. Finally, work systematically through the readings (starting at the top) to develop a critical analysis of the authors’ works. Be sure to jot a few notes for each piece.
Reading everything on the reading list in this manner would be better than reading only the first selection for each class very thoroughly.