How should we teach graduate theory? More specifically, how should I teach graduate theory this Fall?
In September, I’ll be teaching the first semester required graduate classical social theory course at Brown. There, it’s the first half of a two-part sequence, and the second half hits the high points of contemporary theory (starting around Goffman, and including Foucault, Bourdieu, etc.). So, I don’t need to rush too much to cram some bits of the contemporary in. That leaves a full 13 or so weeks for classical theory itself.
So, dear readers, how do you approach classical theory? How would you like to see it approached? I have ideas, but I’ve never taught the graduate course before so I’d love to hear what worked for you as a student or, even better, as instructor. I’d be especially interested in ideas for useful assignments and methods of evaluation. What would actually help a first year PhD student, especially one who might not be that interested in theory per se? What assignments or readings did you love or hate? What secondary sources were useful in prepping the class?
To start things off, I’ll say that I’m definitely planning to include some selections from DuBois, having been persuaded by Morris’ The Scholar Denied and related discussions. I’m thinking that “history of method” or “how can we know the social world?” will serve as a recurring subtheme, with both DuBois and Durkheim fitting into a discussion of the birth of quantitative social science (see, for example, Hacking’s reading of Durkheim in Taming of Chance).
But what do you think?