This Blog, and the supporting Website, was created to serve multiple purposes. Minimally, it should:
1) Provide a single/permanent location where current and future students studying for either of the Political Theory Exams can find the needed exam materials. [Reading lists, syllabi, online texts, sample questions, donated study guides, article/chapter/book summaries]. In preparing for exams, I was astonished to discover that this material has not really been collected, and digitalized, in one location.
2) Provide a semi-institutionalized forum for current and future students to discuss with one another, and prior students, the practical/pragmatic aspects of taking the exams in Political Theory. Hopefully the site will help to disseminate and institutionalize the ‘practical wisdom’ of those who have gone before us.
3) Provide a semi-institutionalized forum for present, future, and perhaps past students to work through the substantive exam material together. While a blog is probably a second best alternative to face-to-face study groups, it could perhaps emerge as a worthwhile alternative. Given the dispersed and “busy” nature of the graduate student population, it could provide a more independent/flexible means of working through material together.
4) Provide a semi-institutionalized forum for present, future, and past students to discuss substantive issues in “Political Theory”, independent of whether those discussion contribute immediately to exam preparation.
5) Most generally, to constitute a semi-institutionalized community of discourse, beyond the seminar setting, among students interested in Political Theory.
1) Why all the talk of “semi-institutionalizing”? I normally favor the more spontaneous organization of communities and discourse. I’ve come to the conclusion that for whatever reasons, political theorists at Berkeley are unlikely to spontaneously organize for either exam preparation or substantive intellectual discussion. Thus the recourse to Blogs, Websites, and “Semi-institutionalization.” There is precedent for this approach. I know of two such Blogs and Websites that worked quite well amongst theorists at Harvard and Yale.
2) Institutions, especially “semi-institutions” do not exist independent of the individuals that sustain them. For this to work, it will require iniatiive and participation. People could help in many ways:
1)Provide any of the following items:
i. Electronic syllabi from undergraduate/graduate courses in political theory
ii. Electronic notes from undergraduate/graduate courses in political theory
iii. Reading list for Authors or Topics, especially “Special Fields”
iv. Study Guides
v. Summaries of texts/articles
vi. Practical Advice
2)Most importantly, we can contribute intellectually, by participating in the discussions on the Blog.
3)I have no idea what the copyright rules in this domain are. I’ve asked professors for permission to post electronic syllabi. I will only post syllabi from professors who have given permission. Lecture notes are even more problematic. My understanding is that if they are summaries or outlines, they are not protected by copyright. If they approximate verbatim transcription they do. I will ask professors permission before posting lecture notes.
4) I am basically a technological idiot. Only by the miracle of Google Web Creator was this Blog and Website brought into being. Anticipate technological problems. Any help, suggestion, or criticism on how things could be done better is much appreciated.
PROCEDURE: To post to the blog there are two options. I’m hoping most of the conversation can be carried on in the pre-established postings/categories I’ve set up. Simply click on the “comment” icon under the appropriate posting to add your text. Should you find the existing posting categories lacking, confining, or otherwise oppressive, more categories/postings can be added. To add a category/posting, you will need a permission. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you an invitation/permission. The rational for constraining most discussion to the “comment” threads is simply organizational. The fewer threads/categories, the easier it will be to sustain discussion around common topics.
CONTENT: I don’t intent to constrain the content on the site, thought its instrumental use will be greatly diminished if discussion strays too far from things ‘political’ or ‘theoretical’. With this in mind, I have created a parallel blog called “Politically Theoretical”. Discussion not immediately pertaining to exam material and preparation should be posted on that blog. The links can be found on the top right.
2)DONATING EXAM MATERIALS:
To contribute exam materials please:
a.Post them directly into the relevant comment sections, size permitting
b.Email me larger files (Syllabi, Notes, etc.), and I will host them off the blog. They will be linked to the blog.
c.Link files directly to the blog in the comment section, if you are already hosting the files elsewhere.