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books, books, and more books! > When it comes to required readings--is there a limit

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message 1: by Daniel (last edited Aug 21, 2009 08:01PM) (new)

Daniel Clausen Before I started graduate school as an International Relations student, I was an English major. I use to think that the reading load for those classes were tough: typically 7-10 books a class as well as articles. But one of the courses I'm taking this semester has 17 books. And not think ones either, some of them are full on thick size textbooks. I was just wondering how that compares with your guys class. There is a consensus that there is no way to actually do that much reading for a single class--and essentially each student needs to make tough choices about what to read and what not to read. But at what point do course syllabuses just become information overload?


Abigail (42stitches) | 53 comments Wow, granted I've never done grad studies, but that seems a little harsh. The most I have ever had for a single class was required internet reading, three small to medium sized text books (one was mostly pictures) and a list of other recommended but not required books. Granted that was a drawing class and we were also expected to draw approximately 10 hours a week outside of class and memorize about 100 or more human muscles (names and locations). I never read any of the extra books...

Do they really expect you to read everything? Or are some of them recommended only for a couple of chapters? That just seems ridiculous. Out of morbid curiosity, care to post a list of these books?


message 3: by Kellie (new)

Kellie (kellieag) The class I think I had the most reading for was Early British Novel. We covered one novel every two classes, but they weren't exactly light reading (Middlemarch and Bleak House come to mind). We also were given several critical essays per novel, as well as the author's source material. Despite this, I took a second course with the professor the next semester :)


Abigail (42stitches) | 53 comments Ohh gods! Was it 2 classes a week? Bleak House in one week? Forget that. I got through the first page and gave it back to the library. That's one I'm going to need on CD...


message 5: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Clausen Abigail wrote: "Wow, granted I've never done grad studies, but that seems a little harsh. The most I have ever had for a single class was required internet reading, three small to medium sized text books (one was ..."

The idea is that the course is supposed to be comprehensive. Even if I don't through all of the books, I still need to know them for my comps exam later on.

1-Robert Art and Kenneth Waltz, eds., Use of Force 7th edition (Roman & Littlefield, 2009)



2-David Barash, ed., Approaches to Peace: A Reader in Peace Studies (Oxford 2000)



3- Richard Betts, ed. Conflict after the Cold War (Longman & Pearson: 3rd edition: 2008)



4- Ken Booth, Theory of World Security (Cambridge: 2007)



5-Brown, Cote, Lynn-Jones, Miller, eds., Theories of War and Peace (MIT Press, 1998)



6-Barry Buzan, Ole Waever, and Jaap de Wilde, Security: A New Framework for Analysis (Boulder: Lynn Rienner, 1998).



7- Barry Buzan, Regions and Powers: The Structure of International Security (Cambridge University Press, 2003)



8-Joseph Cirincione, Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons (New York, Columbia University Press, 2007)



9-Carl Von Clausewitz, On War (New York: Penguin Press,1982 or other editions)



10-Lawrence Freedman, The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy (Palgrave: 2003)

11. Mark Jurgensmeyer, Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence, (University of California: 2003 3rd edition)



12-Howard.R & Sawyer.R., Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Understanding the New Security Environment, Readings and Interpretations (McGraw-Hill: 3rd edition-2009).



13- Mark Katz, ed., Revolution: International Dimensions (Washington: CQ Press, 2001)



14- Mahnken,T. and Maiolo,J, eds., Strategic Studies: A Reader (Rutledge: 2008)



15-John Mearsheimer, The Tragedy The of Great Power Politics, (W.W. Norton: 2003)





16-Sagan, S. and Waltz, K., The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Debate Renewed (W.W Norton: 2003)



17-Sun Tzu, Art of War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971 or other editions)


18-Selected Readings (Collection/package of articles: Hopefully this entire package will be online-my assistant is working on it; otherwise students have to obtain this from a copy center; details will be announced


message 6: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Clausen Kellie wrote: "The class I think I had the most reading for was Early British Novel. We covered one novel every two classes, but they weren't exactly light reading (Middlemarch and Bleak House come to mind). We a..."

I think in the social sciences, there is less emphasis but on reading carefully and more emphasis placed on knowing all the major arguments in your field of study.


Abigail (42stitches) | 53 comments Oh my...


message 8: by Lori (new)

Lori Walker My English classes definitely have a lot of reading for them. One professor usually requires 10 books each semester. This same professor taught a Dickens classes where they read 6 Dickens novels in a semester. But the thing I hate about reading that many books is that you can't really cover them in so short a time. And don't even get my started on the literature survey courses. I'll say this: we're covering Huck Finn in 3 class periods. That's a major piece of literature, but we're hardly giving it attention. Makes em sad.

My history classes require 3-6 books each semester, but it's not a daily reading assignment; you'll have a month or a few weeks to get it read on your own time. I think that I get more out of these books because I'm not so worried about falling behind that I go for quantity of pages not quality of comprehension.


message 9: by April (new)

April (booksandwine) My American Revolution history class required about 7 books, and that's the most I've ever had to read for a class. I actually didn't do all of the reading, I only bought two of the books and read from them.
I actually tend not to do the required reading, or to just skim before a test. It's terrible, but I read way more "fun" books, than I do books for school.


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

In my "Myth of Scarface" class, I was supposed to read one book every week (the class met once a week and we were to discuss a new one each time in relation to the topic "Scarface the character"). Books in this class? Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the GODFATHER(!!!!), Hamlet, Othello, East of Eden, and a bunch of others. Seriously, the Godfather? In a week?! So yeah, needless to say this is the class I started relying on Sparknotes for. But because we didn't have a lot of time in each class (a 3 hour class was filled with book discussion, watching a film, and then more discussion about how the two relate to the original topic), it was okay that I only had the key points down. :)

On a up-side, I'm taking "Critical Studies in Animation" this fall and check out my required reading for that! http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10...


message 11: by Silvia (new)

Silvia (silverware) | 436 comments When I studied in the UK I had 3 profs per class. Each prof assigned about 3 books which you chose from what to read. So that was about 9 books in total + for every lecture you had to read an average of 6 research articles and trust me it added up. Because 6 research articles is usually over 100 pages in teeny tiny text. GAH! And you had to read them and memorize the name of the researchers and publications because you had to cite them in the exam essays GAH!


message 12: by Ashley (new)

Ashley (readerandwriter) I only have one textbook for summer quarter...takinga math course. But I do think some instructors go overboard with the amount of books they expect their students to read. When they expect us to read a large quantity of books, they can kiss complete comprehension good-bye because it becomes a race to finish the book or certain chapter(s) before a due date. They also need to keep in mind that their students have other classes and other textbooks to read and comprehend.


message 13: by Lori (new)

Lori Walker How do you feel about the number of required books in your classes? Too much?

I've noticed that when a book that I've wanted to read for ages (like Last of the Mohicans) becomes assigned reading, I suddenly have no desire to read it. Anyone else like this?


message 14: by Kayla (new)

Kayla | 604 comments I actually love it when a professor assigns a book I've already been wanting to read. I think, Finally, homework that I actually enjoy doing!


message 15: by Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner), The Founding Bookworm (new)

Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner) (perpetualpageturner) | 4407 comments Mod
Kayla--I used to feel the same way. My last semester in college I got to read Frankenstein and The Things They Carried for class and I was so stoked because they were on my list to read!


message 16: by Kelly (new)

Kelly | 308 comments I don't like reading required books, because that usually means there is a time limit to read it, and I like to read at my own pace. I think I get it in my head that it's for school, and not for my own reading, so I can never finish the book, or I end up hating it because we HAD to read it. lol i'm probably weird.


message 17: by Lori (new)

Lori Walker Kelly, That's exactly the way I am! I think it's the time limit that kills me. It's like, "I have to read X by this date whether I want to or not." Having to read it takes away the fun because I like to read what I want when I want. Maybe if my class's discussions were open and more enjoyable, there might be some incentive to read. But if the professor is just going to blab for 75 minutes without me (or anyone else) getting in a word edgewise, it seems kind of pointless.


message 18: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly (kimberlywithat) | 2140 comments That sucks Lori. I have a ton of required reading in my Contemporary British Lit class, but she lets us discuss it as a class for most of the class period. She likes listening to our ideas more than her own.


message 19: by Jessika (new)

Jessika (jessikareads) Often, I have a hard time with required readings. I just tend to end up not liking them. But then, when I read them afterwards on my own time, I find that my opinion has completely changed. I will never forget having to read Gatsby in 10th grade and hating it, only to love it when I read it a few summers later on my own time. For me, part of it is the required reading, but I think the other part, too, is that oftentimes, I'm not in the "right place" to be reading a book that's required. As a 15-year-old, it just wasn't in me to comprehend (or want to comprehend) just what was so great about Gatsby.

The only class I've never had that problem with was Major American Writers II, in which we read Gatsby, The Invisible Man, Catch-22, and A Farewell to Arms. I loved all of them!


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