A new semester and a new blog project

The spring semester has just started up for me at Felician, and as usual, it’s going to be a busy one–five sections and two senior theses, for a total of five preps and 69 students. (Last semester was five sections and one tutorial, for a total of five preps and 120 students.) So I’ll be blogging less than I have for the last six weeks or so, and when I do, I’ll probably be staying away from topical/journalistic stuff and focusing more on stuff related to my teaching and research interests in philosophy and psychology. It’s also likely that PoT will be getting another blogger or two in the near future.

On the teaching end of things, I’ve decided to bring blogging into the classroom. So I’ve set up three Word Press sites–one for my ethics class (two sections of CO 350), one for my aesthetics class (PHIL 260), and one for my international relations class (PSCI 303). The ethics class focuses on five topics: sex, drugs, money, race/crime, and honesty/the virtues. My rather idiosyncratic aesthetics class starts by discussing the Charlie Hebdo controversy (and related ones), moves to a discussion (via Susan Sontag) of the depiction of others in photography, then moves to a reading of Lolita, followed by units on beauty,  “everyday aesthetics,” and the aesthetics of popular music. The focus in the last case is Adorno’s critique of popular music. The international relations class is basically historical in focus, but trots students through the World Wars, aspects of the Cold War, 9/11, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the Gulf Wars. All of the sites are still works in progress, and I’ve described the rationale for doing the project on each site itself. Feel free to take a look.

For obvious reasons, Felician students will have top priority at these sites, but I’ve decided not to make the sites password protected or exclusive to Felician students. I think my students would profit from doing their work “out in the open,” subject to the gaze and scrutiny of the outside world, and perhaps non-Felician readers would profit from following along and seeing what we’re doing. Subject to that “students first” or “pedagogy first” proviso, I’ve decided to experiment with accepting comments from non-Felician readers. Obviously, I’ll have to use my discretion as to how non-Felician people interact with my students, but if you’re burning to make a point, feel free to send it along.

To all my academic readers: best wishes on the new term. Hope you’re as excited as I am to start mine. Just be grateful that you’re (probably) not teaching a 5+:5+ load–though I recently met someone who was teaching a 6:7.

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