New semester

The new semester is well under way here. Classes are going well so far, especially a new seminar I’m doing on geographical research methods. Why is it that most books on research methods in geography are written by Brits? There’s hardly any over here.

My other class needs to brush up their history a little bit. In discussing the First World War, no one could name the president at the time. (Someone suggested Coolidge however).

After the fold (and a nice picture from the new Google Sky showing the nebula in Orion), some links to various student discussions of Foucault’s work. These posts show people forming their opinions and reactions to Foucault in a kind of snap-shot, a work in progress.

google-sky.jpg

Update. One of the Google blogs has made a nice video of Google Sky, released earlier this week.

reading rainbow, ph.d. episode III: foucault discusses Discipline and Punish, History of Sexuality and Orders of Discourse. Her opinion? They make fine beach reading.

ecb23 wonders why Foucault comes up so much in college.

Daniel, a student in Germany, provides a good engagement with the piece “About the beginning of the hermeneutics of the self” (not in DE, publication details below).

etienne86 seems to be doing a class where they’re reading something from Technologies of the Self.

All of this puts me in mind of the Larval Subject manifesto:

I have a dirty confession to make: I passionately believe in traditional liberal arts education and the formation of critical thinkers that do not simply repeat but that are capable of posing problems and creatively generating solutions. The aim of pedagogy should be the formation of free men and women or self-directing agents.

Not because, you know, the examples quoted above illustrate some sort of position to which the manifesto is opposed, but rather to the extent that A) Mr. Larval is right and B) if so, how best to achieve it.

Bringing things to a point (ah!) I used to teach seminars with things I (probably) already agreed with and wanted to study with the students. This is a surprisingly hard temptation to resist. In a world after all, where students are exposed to so much TV, pabulum and mainstream thought (so you might reason) why not some time on feminist approaches, counter-conducts, critical theory etc. etc. There is something to this: GSU for example is giving a seminar on Foucault and feminism and I would have thought you would pretty much have to be interested in (favorably disposed to?) one of those to be interested in the seminar. Which is fair enough (I’d like to go myself).

Yet a common pedagogical approach is to spark contrasts by looking at two different viewpoints; not to plump for one or the other en masse, but to draw out the impact and importance of the arguments made. Instead of reading something in the abstract, read it against the grain. By the way, if this applies in the classroom, shouldn’t it apply in real life as well? Shouldn’t I only be reading (or reading more) things I disagree with? Yow.

So this semester I will try to resist the temptation to issue readings that only cover research methods I am interested in and try and include others as well. It’s not so difficult is it?

OT-02 2.1 “About the beginning of the hermeneutics of the self: two lectures at Dartmouth” Political theory 21:2 (May 1993) pp. 198-227. English original. [These lectures, given Nov. 17 and 24, 1980, are very similar to the Howison lectures that MF gave in Oct. 1980 (OT-01); and correspond to Lectures III, IV and V, «Mal faire, dire vrai», given May 1981 in Leuven (Saulchoir nº D201)]
2.2 “About the beginning of the hermeneutics of the self” J. Carrette, ed., Religion and
culture (Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, 1999), pp. 158-181.
Transcript by Thomas Keenan and Mark Blasius.
2.3 “Subjectivity and truth” and “Christianity and confession” S. Lotringer, ed., The
politics of truth (Semiotext(e), 1997), pp. 171-231. [Revised version of 2.1 above.]
2.4 “Subjectivity and truth” and “Christianity and confession” S. Lotringer, ed., The
politics of truth (Semiotext(e), 2007), pp. 147-191. [Republication of OT 2.3 above.]

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