A few recent reads

Last summer, I met an old friend for drinks in Boulder. We had once been friends who shared our fiction writing and talked endlessly about the books and short stories we were reading and how we were thinking about writing different characters and story lines. You can imagine my embarrassment when he asked what I was reading and I couldn’t think of a single thing that didn’t have the words “poverty,” “development,” “poor,” “family,” or “gender” in the title. As a result, I started devouring Faulkner, and have been since been making more time for fiction.

Over the winter break, I happened to read two very enjoyable books in quick succession with similar themes: time, memory, writing, sexual oppression and violence, gender, and even some academic inquiry. If I had a literature PhD instead of an economics one, I’d probably write a paper on Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being: A Novel and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. One has elements of the Murakami-like magical realism and one is more a dystopian fantasy, but both are excellent reads and highly recommended.

By coincidence, I also happened upon the #readwomen2014 conversation on twitter this morning (h/t @berfrois). I can definitely get behind a great list of women writers. I can’t wait to explore.

I’m still reading the other stuff of course. In fact, I spent Christmas morning before everyone got up with Justice, Gender, And The Family, much to the consternation of my family and friends.

Doesn’t everyone read feminist tracts while waiting to open presents? No? Y’all are missing out.

Crowd-sourcing classroom blogging

So, I’ve made some work for myself this semester, I think. In light of the conversation a few weeks ago regarding blogging by academics, and a recent spate of blog posts on LSEImpact on social media, I decided that my students should be blogging.

In reality, I think they should be writing. A lot. And I think they should be reading each other’s writing. It’s amazing to me how many students go through college having had no one read their papers or other written work except their professors. Don’t get me wrong, I have faith in the ability of most professors to present an informed opinion on a work, but those students are missing significant opportunities to improve their skills of crafting an argument if they do not practice and put themselves out there. I can give an opinion on how to write something, but it’s merely one opinion.

It’s a good one, of course, but just one.

So, I have 25 students in two methods classes. They are going to blog about their research projects–still TBD for most, though a few have come to me with interesting ideas. They are going to blog about their reading assignments–mostly from Poor Economics or Freakonomics. Hopefully, they also blog about questions that come up in their textbooks. Hopefully, they blog about interesting things they find in the news. Hopefully, they start reading other blogs and commenting on them as well.

The course blog is here. It has three lists of links. One for each section of my class and one for several economics blogs. Some I read, some were just suggested to me. If your blog is not on there, and you think it should be, let me know. I’m happy to add it. I think the more examples they have, the better.

In addition, I’m totally open to ideas of how to make this work. Assignments that are particularly well-suited to blogging (with an economics or econometrics or research component preferred) are totally welcome. If it worked or if it didn’t, it it was an unmitigated disaster or a resounding success, I’d love to hear about it.