I listen to a lot of podcasts.
A lot. I have a long commute and I travel a lot, and so I spend a lot of time walking — to and from home and train stations and airports and classes and bookstores and bars — and sitting on moving vehicles that move too much for me to be able to read comfortably. And so I listen to podcasts on long journeys by train and bus and plane as well.
As it happens, the kind of podcasts I enjoy the most are also the kind of podcasts I learn a lot from. As a result, I frequently find myself in the annoying position of knowing I learned something from a podcast, but not being able to remember exactly where so that I can reference it again. And as I listen, I’m always making connections between what I’m learning from the podcast and what I’m studying (or have studied before); but those connections are soon lost as I get off the train or go to my next class and start thinking about something else. As a teacher, this is annoying because I want to be able to direct students to relevant material that interests them; and also because I often use podcasts or YouTube videos as supplemental class material. It’s annoying when I can’t remember where I heard what.
I tried to remedy this by writing in a journal to keep track of what I was listening to, but my motivation faded after just a few days (trust me, it’s more work than it sounds). I then thought about creating an Excel database to keep track of everything, along with my comments and references to other related sources, so I could connect some dots to other resources, but that just felt like even more work and maintenance — and, ultimately, not the best way to organize things anyway.
So I thought I would try blogging instead. I reacted to an iTunes University Oxford anthropology lecture once before, and it ended up being one of my favorite blogging experiences. What I’d like to do here, then, is some more of that — but hopefully not just react to podcasts I listen to; my ambition is to create little mini-syllabi on a particular topic and provide some of my own commentary to go along with it.
This will, I hope, and if I can get in the habit of it, become an educational resource of sorts not just for myself, but for anyone else who wants to learn more about a topic independently, or to teach classes about it. In addition to the thought that it might be of potential use or interest to others, I’m inspired by the idea that other people might leave insights and further resources in the comments that might help me learn even more. So I am rather optimistic about this approach.
Within the next few days, I hope to get the first such post up; which will be about a recently re-run episode of This American Life called Tell Me I’m Fat; and would be appropriate, I think, for a Women’s/Gender Studies kind of class.
And with that, I will leave you with one early 20th century perception of beauty. Very white, but defies other contemporary standards.