small thoughts

Exhortation to self: try to write a small amount, more frequently, rather than a large amount, less frequently.

Question to self: When did I start to attend lectures not simply to listen to what the lecturer has to say, but to see how he says it? or to attend undergraduate courses and learn, in the course of it, how I might myself begin to put together a course? A strange sort of dual consciousness now attends each lecture and seminar with me: somehow, at some point, I started to pay attention to content as well as form. At the same time as being taught, I am learning how to teach; and similarly with giving presentations, lectures. Not that I’m complaining — perhaps it’s just me, but I believe in the efficacy of this sort of learning: it hones the attention marvellously. And it does have an earlier precedent: since I can remember, I have read in part in order to learn how to write.

As an aside, I have in truth been thinking quite seriously about constructing a course on Southeast Asia, to the extent that I’ve kind of even started to collect materials for it. I’m nowhere even near to being in the position to teach anyone yet, but I regard this as a glacial amassing of interesting photos, secondary reading, sound and video clips, primary sources, quirky anecdotes, translations of key materials — out of which I’ll one day, hopefully, be able to fashion something really rich & interesting on the decolonization of Southeast Asia (which is totally a course I would love to teach!), or perhaps any sort of course on nineteenth and twentieth century imperial experience in Southeast Asia. Unfortunately I’m given to understand that Southeast Asia just isn’t sexy enough for most American universities; these days it’s all about China and the Middle East. I suppose until Southeast Asia starts rearing terrorists or becoming economic giants, I’ll have to fashion myself into a historian of empire or of East Asia, somehow.


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