Keeping up with the Joneses

Well, it looks like I’m never going to get around to writing that bit on Tolmie.  In short, it was a fascinating book, it really helped me to understand the nature of Independency more deeply, and it showed just how important the Baptists were in the Leveller movement.  Tolmie tended to rely overly much on sources like Thomas Edwards, and he admitted that the evidence was often not up to the task.  However, his discussion of the Henry Jacob church was very enlightening.

I am currently working on David Zaret’s Origins of Democratic Culture.  It’s an interesting read so far, and Zaret has been doing a nice job of trying to keep to the more recent histories of seventeenth-century England.  In some ways, the books seems more anthropological than sociological, but I am very keen to get to the later chapters where he starts discussing the changes caused by the Civil Wars (or revolution, as he says).

I have been thinking lately about teaching.  I read an article in our school paper which reported on another, more scholarly article.  It said that students are on average studying 10 hours less per week than their counterparts from the 1960s.  This is partly due to the increase in distracting technologies, but it is also a result of easier classes.  There is no reward for professors to make classes challenging; it comes out in student evals and more grading.

My own students did not like the units I planned out for them; they took too much work.  While I understand some of their complaints, I think it was a fairly minimal amount of work outside of class.  It was certainly far less than the 2 hours of work outside of class for every unit.  Then, my supervisor informed me that I need to get my eval numbers up, which means that I will ultimately rewrite the unit assignments to make them simpler.  Who is really winning here?

There’s an interesting paper coming at the Huntington Library.  Alastair Bellany is giving a talk on “Adonis, Ganymede and the Duke of Fuckingham: Art, Sex and Libel in the 1620s.”  What’s not to like?  So if you happen to be in the area, it’s set for Saturday at 10 in the Overseers’ Room.  There’s a good chance I’ll see you there.

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