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The History of the Syllabus?


Submitted by Jim Aune on December 29, 2011 - 10:42pm


I'm starting to work on the syllabus for my graduate course this spring. (Yeah, I'm on a one-one load, so shoot me.) I also have been reflecting on my own undergraduate and graduate experience. WE NEVER GOT SYLLABI. Well, Zarefsky had one, but, you know. We got a list of books on the first day, or found them at the bookstore beforehand. There was maybe a one-page handout listing assignments, but not always. We were never "assigned" readings. If a book was assigned, you read it, at some point before the end of the semester. None of this "is it on the test?" bullshit. It would be a nice modest reform of higher education if we went back to this practice. I can't imagine any other professional with any sense of phronesis (or audience adaptation) who would pre-commit to a standard schedule of practices four months into the future. Perhaps I could sell it to postmodernists as the equivalent of Lacan's "variable hour" as a psychoanalyst.

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Submitted by Jon Hoffman (not verified) on December 30, 2011 - 3:44pm.

I think I might quote this post in my next syllabus.

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