Viking Pundit links an Economist article on Saturday’s election in Kuwait; one of my public opinion students this semester (a Kuwaiti) wrote an interesting paper on attitudes towards female candidates in that election.
Said Kuwaiti was also one of the graduates today, although he is one of the students I don’t remember crossing the stage—I saw all three of my honors thesis kids and about a dozen or so other seniors, but not by all means all of them. I posted some photos over at Flickr; when they say ”[i]t features the pomp and circumstance expected of a traditional Commencement celebration but with a New Orleans twist,” they’re not lying—although I don’t remember “Pomp and Circumstance” itself, so maybe they are. Or maybe it was just rearranged so much that I didn’t recognize it, which is pretty much the same thing as not playing it at all in my book. Overall it was an enjoyable experience, although I personally could have done without the fireworks, which seemed designed to thin the ranks of the tenured faculty by provoking sudden cardiac arrest.
There’s nothing like that late-April feeling of ennui to put a final punctuation mark on the semester. I’m not sure exactly why I’m making this post two weeks earlier than I did last year, but surely that’s not a good sign.
For your amusement, here’s a link to my flyer for my public opinion and voting behavior class in the spring. Enrollment is currently at 14/25; hopefully I can get it to the max going into the semester, so it stabilizes around 20–22 once the drop period passes. Southern politics in the spring is already maxxed out at 35; the 8 am American politics class is lagging well behind, but I’m not sure if freshmen have registered yet (early MWF classes in general don’t have great enrollments, it seems).
Well, it turns out I’m not teaching Congress after all in the spring; instead, for a variety of reasons too boring to go much into (mostly having to do with distribution requirements within the political science major), the king of the schedule and I decided that I should teach POLA 618, Public Opinion and Voting Behavior, instead.
A book list will be forthcoming. Hopefully I can intercept things before the bookstore orders a bazillion copies of Unorthodox Lawmaking et al.
I ended up doing more of a book overhaul than I planned for the spring. The least change: American Government got all four books I mentioned in the previous post.
I ended up with a net add to Congress, bringing the grand total up to seven books. I will probably emphasize Analyzing Congress as the primary readings for the subjects it covers and demote the overlap in Congress and Its Members to supplemental readings, but I couldn’t get rid of the interbranch and policy stuff from the latter. Other than edition updates, I added a new CQ book, All Roads Lead to Congress, as a complement to Sinclair’s Unorthodox Lawmaking. Never before have my professional interests and hobbies intersected so well.
Southern politics ended up with a net loss in the requirements column and a hold on the total book list length. Jettisoned are Woodard’s The New Southern Politics—I could justify it in a course on contemporary southern politics, but my class isn’t quite that, instead being more of a “REP + parties in the south” syllabus—and Bullock and Rozell, the latter just simply because the group presentations make their readings redundant. Added to the required readings is Black and Black’s Rise of Southern Republicans, because I realized this semester that my readings really didn’t cover anything between 1985 and 2000, especially with Woodard ditched. Bass and de Vries’ Transformation of Southern Politics makes the “recommended” list, joining Key, since I decided to add some reserve readings from it.
Next stop: syllabus tweaks.
The upside of having taught everything under the sun in American politics (well, except parties and interest groups and the presidency) is having zero new preps in the spring. Maybe I’ll have a double upside and not have to spend 50% of the semester on airplanes like I did last year.
The lineup: American Government, Southern Politics, and Congress. For my own sanity and to free up some more time to work on research, I expect minimal tweaks from the last time I taught these courses.
The most likely changes for Congress are culling a book (it’s between Congress and Its Members and Congress Reconsidered, most likely the former due to overlap with Analyzing Congress, even though I may sneak back in some of the inter-branch relations material from the former) and replacing one Fenno book with another (out: Congress at the Grassroots, in: Congressional Travels).
For American Government, I may ditch The Right Nation in favor of bringing back Fiorina’s Culture War, or I may figure out a way to use both. I’m about 98% sure I’ll be sticking with The Logic of American Politics and its companion volume, Principles and Practice.
Except for some syllabus reordering, I’ll probably stick with my current Southern Politics readings.
You know, if someone had told me earlier in the week that Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis would run for 226 yards and Seth Adams would pass for 305 today, I’d probably have been happy. But zero execution in the red zone and missed conversions = a loss to Missouri. I’d have consoled myself with a Mississippi State loss to Tulane, but no such luck, despite the game being tied at 17 at the half. What’s even worse is I was sitting next to a kid, so I couldn’t even shout profanities at the State fans or the referees.
So instead I consoled myself by seeing Superbad. That did the trick.
I just spent $87 dollars shipping about half of the books and journals in my office to Tulane; at least using Media Mail saved me a bunch of money. Tomorrow I get to go back and finish the job, once I get some more of the useful-sized boxes from Office* (12×12×6 ones seem to work best for office books).
The Times-Picayune has a lengthy interview with departing Tulane sports law prof Gary Roberts, in which he predicts the New Orleans Hornets will be leaving the Crescent City in the next five years, soon to be followed by the New Orleans Saints. Roberts also talks about the continued viability of Tulane’s intercollegiate sports programs, the BCS, and the effects of the newly-introduced NCAA Academic Progress Rate.
According to the Times-Picayune, Tulane is on-track to enroll 1400 freshmen in the fall, some of whom will doubtless fall into the clutches of my nefariously evil Introduction to Political Science seminar. The course is still very much on the drawing board, although I think it’s going to include big chunks on electoral systems and democratic competence*—and maybe not much else, since it’s apparently not supposed to be a field survey but more of a “wrestle with a few big questions while you write a bunch of stuff” course.
* This class will be a nice counter-balance to Politics of the American South; I get to teach one class that says “democracy sucks, and Ken Arrow proved it” and another that says “it's really important for everyone to have the right to vote, because that's what makes democracy work.” Woe betide anyone trying to take both classes at once; the cognitive dissonance would be painful. How I manage to survive simultaneously believing both of these things is left as an exercise for the reader to figure out.
I am happy to report that I have accepted a visiting position for the 2007–08 academic year in the political science department at Tulane University in New Orleans. I’m not sure exactly what I’ll be teaching next year, but I know it involves an introduction to political science course and some additional mid-to-upper-level courses in American politics at the undergraduate level, which hopefully will include my seminar in Southern politics in the spring semester.
I’m particularly looking forward to living about nine degrees farther south. St. Louis may very well be a great place to live… but not between November and March, at least for this cold weather wimp.