Somebody put me out of my misery. Together, these 3 add up to a lethargy-inducing cocktail. They've sucked up most of my weekend and pretty much all of today (minor exceptions: looking for new apartments with MP1 on Saturday and lunch at our favorite tapas place yesterday). I don't know if I'm allergic to chlorine (been swimming lately) or if the forest fires on the N. and S. of us are just killing me slowly. The skies don't look bad. Maybe something is blooming? Ugh. It's that ants-crawling-on-the-face feeling.
Anyway, no serious writing can possibly get done under these conditions, so I've been working on the damned syllabi. One needed only minor revisions because I'm using a new edition of a favorite text book and several chapters have been re-ordered (no longer does kinship precede marriage, which in turn precedes gender. No, NOW we have gender, then marriage, then kinship and family). It is all intertwined, god knows, so we shall see if this somehow offers a more logical path of learning for students. And of course, I had to incorporate (or not) the possiblity of an instructional furlough day for this course. I chose to take/ask for only one furlough day that will impact this class, because Labor Day (M) and Veteran's Day (W) already diminish the number of lecture days in the course. So I think that syllabus is ready to roll.
My other syllabus required an agonizing amount of work. (Last night at dinner, MP2 said to me and TH: "I never knew how much work went into those things. I get syllabi that have '1997' crossed out and '2009' written next to it." Too, too funny. I cannot WAIT to do that on my last semester of teaching. I don't care if it's just fakery, I'm going to dummy-up a syllabus that reads 1997, make a big messy strike-through across the date, and then hand-write in its place whatever year it is. And maybe I'll give a multiple choice-only exam, with all the correct answers listed as "c." I have a long-retired colleague who actually did this regularly. A biblical archaeologist, he was about as far from godly as one could get. His most regular and successful ploy was recruiting cute young co-eds to drive home late at night--when the buses were no longer running--because he had never learned to drive--"being a New Yorker and all." Blech.) But I digress. So, I have taught this particular prep only once before (2 years ago), and there were some things (i.e. articles, books, exercises) that worked, and some things I wanted to jettison. With no primary text--only ethnographies, edited volumes and articles--I've got to figure out what reading order will create a decent structure and hierarchy of content and theory as the course progresses. This always stresses me out no end. (I wish I cared less about this sort of thing.) But anyway, it is DONE now. Two of the 4 books are collections of essays. One of them will be read in full, and from the other, I've selected critical essays to be integrated throughout course. I also cut the number of reserve articles down to 9, with 3 additional ones for the grad students who are sitting in. Furthermore, I have chopped some substantial pieces of writing/grading. With a 10 percent reduction in my pay, I may just go ballistic if I have to deal with plagiarists this semester, and besides that, we are being bombarded with emails from both the union and the administration reminding us to be creative about how we manage our furlough days and time. For this class, I'm taking/asking for 2 furlough days (that's a total of 3 out of 9 mandatory furlough days that will fall on instructional days). I'm fairly sure that I've sufficiently attended to the work-load reduction (grading/reading, etc.), but I'm going to let this one sit and age a bit before I consider it finalized. Lots of reading in the class--I don't think I'll be reducing that, but I may decide to change the format of exams once I'm off these meds and not sneezing my brains out.