Over the past week I’ve been working on the syllabus for the anthropology of religion course I will be teaching this summer. Summer courses are strange beasts that disrupt the normally placid rhythms of a semester long course. We meet everyday for five straight weeks. Given this schedule, it’s simply not possible for students to read the amount of material I would normally assign for a semester course. Reading books requires time which summer students don’t generally have. We have to move fast and furious, so deciding which articles to assign is critical.
Last year, I spent about two weeks agonizing over the articles and the order in which they should be read. After assessing last year’s results and getting feedback from students, it took only about a week this year. It was, however, a week well spent and I’m thinking about doing something like it every six months whether I’m teaching or not. The reason for this is that I have at least 1,000 candidate articles (about 50 inches stacked), all of which are organized into topical folders. Along with a few hundred books, this is the material I’m using to write my dissertation-book. I think it is helpful to go through everything once in a regular while simply to jog memories and organize thoughts. The blog is useful for this also, and is in fact the reason I started it just over two years ago.