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September 30, 2006

Who Needs Professors?

Yesterday was the first meeting of the Brithist Reading Group for the fall semester. I started this reading group in January to bring together those of us who at some point are planning to do a prelim field in modern Britain, and to give class credit to those who needed it. It started out pretty strong, but dwindled to three members by the end of the semester. Nonetheless, the three of us found it pretty useful, and Sarah, one of the three, decided to revive the reading group for the fall semester. This time around there is much more interest because there are a lot of second-year grad students who are planning to do Britain fields, as well as two third-year students who have Europe fields with British stuff, and, of course, me, the only fourth-year student who has yet to take prelims.

There were nine of us there yesterday and we discussed three books: Orientalism and Race by Tony Ballantyne, Burdens of History by Antoinette Burton, and Prostitution, Race, and Politics by Philippa Levine, as well as three articles by Levine. We had split up the labor with two or three people on each book and one person on the articles. Everyone had something to say and, even though each of us had only read one of the three books, we were able to make connections and comparisons. An hour into the meeting, someone said "this is way better than class -- we've just covered three books and three articles in an hour!" The rest of us couldn't agree more. I think that, without having a professor there, we were all willing to take more responsibility for the discussion, and we were also less inhibited. We should have all our classes without professors!

Posted by eklanche at September 30, 2006 07:47 AM


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