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October 3, 2012

To continue with last post’s theme of “reading lists” (and the implied “school year is starting so I’m going to be lazy with my posts for a while”), here’s the reading list for a course W.H. Auden taught at the University of Michigan in 1942, open to juniors, seniors, and grad students. Wow. First off, this course was probably awesome. Second, I’ve never seen that many books on any syllabus ever, and I can’t imagine reading it all in one semester. Third, lest you say “well they’re upperclassmen by now they’ve probably already read most of it in other classes”… well, I don’t know about them, but I’ve only read (exactly) half of what’s on that list. Which is a failing, I admit, but I’m better read than, well, most people. Finally, not only are these a lot of books, but they’re a lot of very different books. I’d be really interested in seeing how he linked them all together. The theme of the class, you can see, is “Fate and the Individual in European Literature,” but I’d hope at least that he’d have something more complex to say than just “European literature takes very seriously the relationship between fate and the individual”…

To extend the linkage theme even further, I thought I would say something about the various websites where I find a lot of what I post here (including the above link). Of course, since most of these sites are more interesting than what I write, this may be a more useful post for you, the reader, than those other lengthy diatribes into which I put so much effort.

Note that, unlike apparently most other people, I read all of these through RSS (Really Simple Syndication, look it up): this means I don’t actually go to all of these websites with any regularity. The articles come to me. My RSS subscription list, of course, also includes feeds about things like politics, baseball, linguistics, and webcomics, but this list is just the stuff relevant to what I post here.

Note also that this list doesn’t include the numerous acquaintance-blogs that I read because I know the person. There are only sites that I read because I love their subject matter and because I think they do a good job making me think more about it. They’re authorities, of sorts, though I don’t necessarily think they’re always or even often correct. They’re the voices that I listen to, when I set out to listen to “what people are talking about.”

Note, finally, that I encourage people to suggest other sites they read that fit with what we’re interested here. Comments are welcome!

Poly: each of these offers a regular stream of variously-authored articles that don’t necessarily have anything in common, but which fall under certain broad rubrics. They’re essentially like print magazines. Grouped roughly according to subject matter. Most important bolded.

Mono: these are the personal sites of people whose opinions I find interesting, whatever they’re talking about, and who often link to interesting things. Most important bolded.

  • Armed and Dangerous (Eric. S. Raymond) – Open Source, technology, libertarian, blog; ~3/week
  • Marginal Revolution (Tyler Cowen/Alex Trabarrok) – economics, culture, posts and links; ~6/day
  • jewish philosophy place (Zach Braiterman) – Judaism, religion, academia; ~1/day
  • Findings (Martyn A. Chew) – epistemology, pedagogy, Singapore, gnomic utterances – ~1/day
  • more than 95 theses (Alan Jacobs) – Christianity, literature, technology, posts and links; ~3/day
  • The Deeps of Time (Michael Baruzzini with frequent guest posts) – Catholicism, science, articles and posts; ~2/week
  • Human Exceptionalism (Wesley J. Smith) – technology, ethics, transhumanism, posts; ~6/day
One Comment leave one →
  1. October 15, 2012 9:00 pm

    Love that syllabus! I’ve only read about a third of those books so far.

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