Building Community Syllabus

Submitted by Karen J. Sanchez-Eppler on Monday, 1/23/2012, at 10:50 AM
Click on this link for a copy of our syllabus in Word
Submitted by Karen J. Sanchez-Eppler on Monday, 1/23/2012, at 10:50 AM

Karen Sánchez-Eppler                                                                                Molly Mead              

101 Morgan, tel. 2186                                                                                  102 Keefe, tel. 2948                                                                

Office Hours:    Wed 10-12                                                                          Office Hours: Tues 9-10

             and by appointment                                                                                 and by appointment


Building Community

Webster 217

American Studies 221

Spring 2012


This course investigates the practice and ideal of community in America both on a national and a local level, asking students to engage in specific projects aimed at strengthening the public sphere and fostering community life. We will consider the nature and limits of democracy, the meaning of belonging, the experience of stigma and exclusion, the concepts of civic responsibility and public discourse, and the conflict and compromises inherent in political advocacy. This course will pay particular attention to the struggles of often-marginalized groups to build healthy and just communities. Coursework will include contemporary and historical case studies, literary depictions, and more theoretical readings, as well as a substantial commitment to the development and fulfillment of projects that assess or respond to contemporary concerns. Projects may range from youth work, to cultural events, to work on local policy goals, environmental, poverty and rights initiatives, or the 2012 elections.



Available at Amherst Books


Timothy Black, When a Heart Turns Rock Solid (Pantheon, 2009) ISBN 0307377741


Tomas Rivera, ...y no se lo tragó la tierra / …And the Earth Did Not Devour Him (Arte Publico Press, 1995) ISBN 155885083X


Chang-Rae Lee, Native Speaker (Riverhead, 1996) ISBN 1573225312


Ellen Baker,  On Strike and On Film: Mexican American Families and Blacklisted Filmmakers in Cold War America (University of North Carolina Press, 2007) ISBN 0807857912




All other readings and streamed films are available on line through e-reserves



What is community?


Monday, Jan. 23rd        Introductions   


Wednesday, Jan. 25th   


Keith Morton and Sandra Enos, “Building Deeper Civic Relationships and New and Improved Citizens,” The Journal of Public Affairs (2002), 82-102.


Rebecca Solnit A Paradise Built in Hell (2009), 1-10 and 305-313.  


Kai Erikson Everything in its Path (1976, 2006 ), Prologue i-xiii and  246-259


“Letter from the People of New Orleans to Our Friends and Allies” (2007)

Monday Jan. 30th    

 Panel of Holyoke folks: elected official, community organizer, direct service provider, arts initiative


“Destination Holyoke” exhibit created by the Wisteriahurst Museum, view all 4 sections: immigration, industry, social diversions, and cultural identities at


I Corinthians: 12


Robert Bellah et al. “We Live Through Institutions,” The Good Society (1992), 3-18



The Grassroots


Wednesday Feb. 1st   

Kamala Visweswaran, “Refusing the Subject” in Fictions of Feminist Ethnography (1994), 60-72. E-book


Marie Kennedy and Chris Tilly with Mauricio Gaston, “Transformative Populism and the Development of a Community of Color” in Dilemmas of Activism (1990), 302-323.


Timothy Black, When a Heart Turns Rock Solid (2009) introduction and Part I

Monday Feb. 6th

            Group work


John L. McKnight, “Introduction,” “Releasing Individual Capacities,””Youth,” “Releasing the Power of Local Associations and Organizations” Capturing Local Institutions for Community Building” in Building Communities from the Inside Out (1993) 1-46, 109-119, 171-187.


Marshall Ganz, “What is Organizing” (2006)


Timothy Black, When a Heart Turns Rock Solid, Part II


Wednesday Feb. 8th     

Timothy Black, When a Heart Turns Rock Solid, Part III

Jennifer Pastor, Jennifer McCormick, and Michelle Fine etal., “Makin’ Homes an Urban Girl Thing” in Urban Girls Revisitied (2007), 75-96.


Monday, Feb.13th

Group work


Tomas Rivera, ...y no se lo tragó la tierra / …And the Earth Did Not Devour Him

Wednesday, Feb 15th


Tomas Rivera, ...y no se lo tragó la tierra / …And the Earth Did Not Devour Him


Saturday, Feb. 18         HOLYOKE BOUND FIELD TRIP


Electoral Politics


Monday Feb. 20th  

             Group Work 


 New SI Voter Participation Analysis: Severe Disparities Persist, Lots of Factors (2011)       


John D. Griffin and Brian Newman, “Which Groups Govern?” and “Differences in         Political Preferences and Priorities” in Minority Report: Evaluating Political Equality in          America, 11-35 and 39-58.  E-book


Wednesday Feb. 23rd  


Chang Rae Lee Native Speaker (1996)


Lani Guinier, “Political Race and Magical Realism” in The Miner’s Canary (2003) 11- 31. E-book

Monday, Feb. 27th         

            Group Work


Chang Rae Lee Native Speaker


George Marcus, “The Sentimental Citizen” in The Sentimental Citizen: Emotion in Democratic Politics (2002) 133-148

Wednesday, Feb. 29th  


Chang Rae Lee Native Speaker


Jeffrey B. Ferguson, “Freedom, Equality, Race” and Glenda R. Caripo, “Race and Inheritance in Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father” in Race in the Age of Obama special issue of Deadalus (Winter 2011) 44-52 and 79-89.


Civil Society

Monday, March 5th     


Class Visit from Marie Kennedy


Robert D. Putnam, “The Prosperous Community: Social Capital and Public Life,” The   American Prospect (March, 1993) 1-11.

Cliff Hague “Can We Reinvent Planning?” forum authors Marie Kennedy, Carlos García Pleyán, and Maria Teresa Vázquez-Castillo,  Progressive Planning (2008), 34-45.

F. A. Hayek, “Freedom and the Economic System” (1939)


Wednesday, March 7th  


Nichael Edwards, “Introductory—What’s the Big Idea?” Civil Society (2004), 1-17.


Nancy Fraser and Linda Gordon, "A Genealogy of Dependency: Tracing a Keyword of the US Welfare State," Signs 19 (1994): 309-336


Sharon Hays, “Money and Morality” and “Cultures of Poverty,” Flat Broke with Children: Women in the Age of Welfare Reform (2003) 3-32 and 179-214.

Monday March 12th

                Group Work


Henry David Thoreau, Resistance to Civil Government (1849)


“This is SCLC” Pamphlet (c 1960)


Emma Goldman, “Anarchism: What it Really Stands For” 

Wed March 14th 


Film: To Kill a Mockingbird  (1962)


Spring Break



Monday, March 26th

            Group Work


Ralph Waldo Emerson “Gifts,” Essays Second Series (1844)

Wednesday, March 28th

Kathryn Mathers, “Moving Fieldwork: Traveling with Americans to and from Africa” and “Conclusion: saving Africa: Love in the Time of Ophra” in Travel, Humanitarianism, and Becoming American in Africa (2010), 11-41 and 181-199

Monday April 2nd  

Theresa Funiciello, “City Silos and the Pop-Tart Connection,” in Tyranny of Kindness (1993), 119-161 and 326-29.

Andrea Smith, “Introduction” and Ruth Wilson Gilmore, “In the Shadow of the Shadow State” in The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex 1-8, 16-17 and 41-52.


Wednesday April 4th  

Kavita N. Ramdas, “Philanthrocapitalism: Reflections on Politics and Policy-Making”     Symposium: The Politics of Philanthrocapitalism   Springer Science (August 2 2011)





Work and Money


Monday, April 9th  


Dean Cycon, class visit


David Bornstein, “ Restless People,’ “From Little Acorns” and “The Emergence of the   Citizen Sector” in How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas (2004) 1-20, 271-288, 307-310 and 324-327.

Wednesday, April 11th


Film: Salt of the Earth (1954)   

Bill Fletcher Jr. and Fernando Gapasin, Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized   Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice (2009) 9-17. E-Book

Ellen Baker,  On Strike and On Film: Mexican American families and blacklisted filmmakers in Cold War America (2007) 45-174

Monday, April 16th


            Group Work

 Ellen Baker,  On Strike and On Film 177-254




Wednesday, April 18th  

Wendy Ewald, class visit


 Monday, April 23rd  

            Group Work

Film: W.A.R.: Women Art Revolution (2010)


Wednesday, April 25th   


Harriet Senie, The Tilted Arc Controversy (2001), 1-54


Video of Serra discussing the controversy, on the San Francisco MoMA website:

Monday, April 30th    


Rick Lowe's projects in Houston 


Erica Doss, “Raising Community Consciousness with Public Art: The Guadalupe Mural Project,” in Spirit Poles and Flying Pigs: Public Art and Cultural Democracy (1995), 157-196.


Wednesday, May 2nd    Endings