Sunday, January 21, 2007

Anarchy in the UC

The quarter is officially in full swing. Only two weeks in, but a fifth of the way through the quarter. Here's the lowdown so far. Comparative Ethnic Politics has some interesting readings, but the class might actually be kind of lame. The professor seemed to dominate the conversation even though two students were supposed to be presenting/leading discussion. Hopefully this doesn't happen every week and I've been told that you kind of just need to interrupt this particular professor.
Schmitt & Arendt is going to be an awesome course. The first week's readings were a bit difficult due to the subject matter (the romantic subject), but this week's book is good so far and I'm looking forward to the rest of the course.]
TAing is going well I suppose. My 9:00 section was much more lively than last week, but the 3:00 was the exact opposite of lively (deadly?). 10:00 was about the same as they had been the prior week. We were discussing anarchism and it was good to see the students attempting to grapple with the idea of people running their own lives. Mr.Fascist in the 10:00 is still holding strong, but at least there was conversation. In the end most of the students still thought that hierarchy was necessary, but a good deal of them thought that anarchism at least raised some good points (the ol' "it looks good on paper . . ." line). Also, 4 students raised their hands when asked if they would murder people if it weren't illegal, so watch out for those ones. Anyway, it looks like things are picking up with the whole discussion section thing and we'e about to jump into some of the heavier stuff (Machiavelli this coming week). We'll see how it goes.
Oh yeah, we have a theory reading group on Friday. I believe that the readings have to do with the role of the academic in society or something to that effect. I'll post more on that later.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Kids Are All Right

Started TAing this week. It's been interesting so far. My first section (9:00 AM) was pretty lame since most of the people in the class room, myself included, were about ready to fall asleep. 10:00 went better just because people were actually willing to talk. 3:00 was about the same.
We were supposed to be discussing the nature of political authority (what defines it? where does it come from? etc.) and it took a bit of work to get the students to talk. What surprised me was when one of the students stated simply that he thought people wanted to be told what to do and he personally would choose to live under a stable dictatorship rather than a democracy that had a chance of falling into chaos. I'm not sure what childhood events would lead this student to think this way, but I thought for sure that someone would crack his head open on the table, yell at him or at least give him a stern talking to. Yet, nobody did. None of the students said "Hey, I like being in charge of my own life." Maybe I'm expecting too much from a group of university students early in the morning. At the same time, they are university students. What happened to the required dirty hippie/ crazy leftist phase that kids are supposed to go through? Especially at UCSB, a school that has a fairly intense history of political activism that at one point resulted in a bank being burned to the ground . I'm not saying I want these kids to burn down banks or even protest the war, I just wonder what's going on when one kid can get away with saying this in a room full of his peers and not even get a raised eyebrow in response. Oh well, we'll see what happens this coming week.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Winter Quarter

 The new quarter started today.  So far it looks to be pretty sweet.  I sit in on the PS1 lectures MWF 10:00-11:00.  Digeser basically just went over the syllabus and all that jazz.  The TA's (all 6 of us) had a meeting with him a little later on in the afternoon.  Went over what we have to cover in the next week and a halfish.  Augustine this week, anarchism next week.  It's gonna be one crazy roller coaster ride my friend.  Anyway, tomorrow I have seminar at 1:00, but it's getting moved to like 4:00 or something I guess.  That one is on comparative ethnic politics.  The books look interesting, so I'm pretty stoked.  Wednesdays I have the seminar that makes my mouth water.  It's on Hannah Arendt and Carl Schmitt and is being taught by Kirstie McClure from UCLA.  Thursday's I do the TA thing from 9:00 to 5:30.  That's basically the schedule for the quarter.
In other news.  We had a slew of guests over the break, and they will continue to come through the next week.  It was great getting to hang out with my brother and his wife as well as the Chapmen.  My grandparents celebrated their 50th anniversary and we had a blast at the festivities.  My mom is coming out this weekend, and my step-dad will be joining us for one of those days.  All this means that I have been and will continue to be quite busy.  I do hope to post again soon, but I always say that.  I should have a bit of downtime at certain points throughout the day that I really should take advantage of though.  Anyway,  I'm out.