Intellectual Life-Voyage Web Organization: Readings Organized by Three Thematic Connections

Organization Chart

        The links to other courses you are taking can accumulate as you see connections, and you can build new patterns of association with your interests as you go.  Individual readings can be parts of more than one webbed relationship centered on an abstract concept.  Initially, some of those thoughts about "sailing," for instance, might have begun in the section of Candide in which the travelers go to South America, but by the time we have finished other ocean voyages, especially Aebi's Maiden Voyage, the "sailing" line of thinking might have really taken off and would need a space of its own in which to grow.  Warner's blue crabs and watermen all "sail" the Chesapeake as we walk the land and identify their worldview with that mobility as we do our "grounded" existence.  However, Warner also discusses the Methodist conversion of the Eastern Shore as a momentous event in the nineteenth century that responds to the English crisis of religious faith that began in the late fourteenth century with the Great Schism, the Plague (link to Candide?), the Protestant Reformation, and the Catholic Counter-Reformation that led to the development of Deism (Candide!).  For this reason, even though the blue rounded rectangles above each might represent one web page devoted to a work seen through a specific analytical or reflective "lens," each page might contain other hyperlinks to comparable or contrasting lines of thought in pages not directly clustered with it.  We might call these two kinds of connections "big-picture" issues and "nuance-" or "refinement-links" that tune up the larger shape the author's thought is taking.

        Scholars routinely experience this kind of "chunking" of associations on the way to writing articles and books.  It is a way to allow creative chaos to rearrange old knowledge in order to expose new, original insights.  Scholars' intuitions about the importance of a pattern of evidence grow slowly, accumulating explanatory power as they encounter more and more evidence that fits the pattern, or instances where pattern violation improves the "fit" of their explanation by correcting and refining it.  Eventually, some of the "chunked-together" observations and data get a logical explanation that can be shared with others, and it's time to all it a scholarly article or book.  The matrix of relationships above could be the origin of one book, or more likely, four!