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Long Texts for Fall 2014


One World, Many Cultures edited by Stuart and Terry Hirschberg

Professor James Wright, FYS
Section 1002-01, MWF 9:30-10:20
Section 1002-03, MWF 11:30-12:20

Professor Kerri Haumann, WRC
Section 1002-02, MWF 10:30-11:20

This truly global multicultural reader features almost 60 contemporary selections by internationally acclaimed authors from 22 countries. These compelling readings explore cultural differences in relation to race, class, gender, and nationality, challenging readers to compare their experiences with those of others in radically different cultural circumstances. Introduces readers to the culture and people of other countries through the eyes of someone from that culture. Family life, adolescent relationships, gender roles, work and the environment, race and class conflicts, social and political issues, " the other, " and customs, rituals, and values -- from the perspectives of authors from 22 countries.

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What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets by Michael Sandel

Professor Ellen Cox, Philosophy
Section 1004-01, MWF 9:30-10:20

Should we pay children to read books or to get good grades?  Should we allow corporations to pay for the right to pollute the atmosphere?  Is it ethical to pay people to test risky new drugs or to donate their organs? What about hiring mercenaries to fight our wars?  Auctioning admission to elite universities?  Selling citizenship to immigrants willing to pay?  In What Money Can’t Buy, Michael J. Sandel takes on one of the biggest ethical questions of our time: Is there something wrong with a world in which everything is for sale?  If so, how can we prevent market values from reaching into spheres of life where they don’t belong?  What are the moral limits of markets?In recent decades, market values have crowded out non-market norms in almost every aspect of life—medicine, education, government, law, art, sports, even family life and personal relations. Without quite realizing it, Sandel argues, we have drifted from having a market economy to being a market society.  Is this where we want to be?  In his New York Times bestseller Justice, Sandel showed himself to be a master at illuminating, with clarity and verve, the hard moral questions we confront in our everyday lives.  Now, in What Money Can’t Buy, he provokes an essential discussion that we, in our market-driven age, need to have: What is the proper role of markets in a democratic society—and how can we protect the moral and civic goods that markets don’t honor and that money can’t buy?

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The Republic of Plato translated and edited by Allan Bloom

Professor Frank Russell, History
Section 1004-02, MWF 9:30-10:20

Long regarded as the most accurate rendering of Plato's Republic that has yet been published, this widely acclaimed work is the first strictly literal translation of a timeless classic. This second edition includes a new introduction by Professor Bloom, whose careful translation and interpretation of The Republic was first published in 1968. In addition to the correct text itself there is also a rich and valuable essay--as well as indexes and a glossary of terms--which will better enable the reader to approach the heart of Plato's intention.

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The Storytelling Animal - How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottschall

Professor Tim Soulis, Theater
Section 1004-03, MWF 9:30-10:20
Section 1004-04, MWF 10:30-11:20

Humans live in landscapes of make-believe. We spin fantasies. We devour novels, films, and plays. Even sporting events and criminal trials unfold as narratives. Yet the world of story has long remained an undiscovered and unmapped country. It’s easy to say that humans are “wired” for story, but why?

In this delightful and original book, Jonathan Gottschall offers the first unified theory of storytelling. He argues that stories help us navigate life’s complex social problems—just as flight simulators prepare pilots for difficult situations. Storytelling has evolved, like other behaviors, to ensure our survival.

Of course, our story instinct has a darker side. It makes us vulnerable to conspiracy theories, advertisements, and narratives about ourselves that are more “truthy” than true. National myths can also be terribly dangerous: Hitler’s ambitions were partly fueled by a story.

But as Gottschall shows in this remarkable book, stories can also change the world for the better. Most successful stories are moral—they teach us how to live, whether explicitly or implicitly, and bind us together around common values. We know we are master shapers of story. The Storytelling Animal finally reveals how stories shape us.

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Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Professor Tim Soulis, Theatre
Section 1004-03, MWF 9:30-10:20
Section 1004-04, MWF 10:30-11:20

In the novel, Siddhartha, a young man, leaves his family for a contemplative life, then, restless, discards it for one of the flesh. He conceives a son, but bored and sickened by lust and greed, moves on again. Near despair, Siddhartha comes to a river where he hears a unique sound. This sound signals the true beginning of his life -- the beginning of suffering, rejection, peace, and, finally, wisdom.

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The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston

Professor Kremena Todorova, English
Section 1004-05, MWF 10:30-11:20

A Chinese American woman tells of the Chinese myths, family stories and events of her California childhood that have shaped her identity. It is a sensitive account of growing up female and Chinese-American in a California laundry.

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Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

Professor Lee Fortner, FYS
Section 1004-06, MWF 11:30-12:20
Section 1004-09, MWF 12:30-1:20

Millions of Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job -- any job -- can be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. Very quickly, she discovered that no job is truly "unskilled," that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned that one job is not enough; you need at least two if you int to live indoors.

Nickel and Dimed reveals low-rent America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity -- a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate stratagems for survival. Read it for the smoldering clarity of Ehrenreich's perspective and for a rare view of how "prosperity" looks from the bottom. You will never see anything -- from a motel bathroom to a restaurant meal -- in quite the same way again.

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Lives on the Boundary by Mike Rose

Professor Scott Whiddon
Section 1004-07, MWF 11:30-12:20

Remedial, illiterate, intellectually deficient—these are the stigmas that define America’s educationally underprepared. Having grown up poor and been labeled this way, nationally acclaimed educator and author Mike Rose takes us into classrooms and communities to reveal what really lies behind the labels and test scores. With rich detail, Rose demonstrates innovative methods to initiate “problem” students into the world of language, literature, and written expression. This book challenges educators, policymakers, and parents to re-examine their assumptions about the capacities of a wide range of students.

Already a classic, Lives on the Boundary offers a truly democratic vision, one that should be heeded by anyone concerned with America’s future.

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The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin

Professor Anthony Vital
Section 1004-08, 12:30-1:20

Centuries in the future, Terrans have established a logging colony & military base named "New Tahiti" on a tree-covered planet whose small, green-furred, big-eyed inhabitants have a culture centered on lucid dreaming. Terran greed spirals around native innocence & wisdom, overturning the ancient society.

Humans have learned interstellar travel from the Hainish (the origin-planet of all humanoid races, including Athsheans). Various planets have been expanding independently, but during the novel it's learned that the League of All Worlds has been formed. News arrives via an ansible, a new discovery. Previously they had been cut off, 27 light years from home.

The story occurs after The Dispossessed, where both the ansible & the League of Worlds are unrealised. Also well before Planet of Exile, where human settlers have learned to coexist. The 24th century has been suggested.

Terran colonists take over the planet locals call Athshe, meaning "forest," rather than "dirt," like their home planet Terra. They follow the 19th century model of colonization: felling trees, planting farms, digging mines & enslaving indigenous peoples. The natives are unequipped to comprehend this. They're a subsistence race who rely on the forests & have no cultural precedent for tyranny, slavery or war. The invaders take their land without resistance until one fatal act sets rebellion in motion & changes the people of both worlds forever.

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The Grace of Silence, A Memoir by Michelle Norris

Professor Amy El-Hindi Trail, Education
Section 1004-10, MWF 12:30-1:20

In the wake of talk of a “postracial” America upon Barack Obama’s ascension as president of the United States, Michele Norris, cohost of National Public Radio’s flagship program All Things Considered, set out to write, through original reporting, a book about “the hidden conversation” on race that is unfolding nationwide. She would, she thought, base her book on the frank disclosures of others on the subject, but she was soon disabused of her presumption when forced to confront the fact that “the conversation” in her own family had not been forthright.
 
Norris unearthed painful family secrets that compelled her to question her own self-understanding: from her father’s shooting by a Birmingham police officer weeks after his discharge from the navy at the conclusion of World War II to her maternal grandmother’s peddling pancake mix as an itinerant Aunt Jemima to white farm women in the Midwest. In what became a profoundly personal and bracing journey into her family’s past, Norris traveled from her childhood home in Minneapolis to her ancestral roots in the Deep South to explore the reasons for the “things left unsaid” by her father and mother when she was growing up, the better to come to terms with her own identity. Along the way she discovered how her character was forged by both revelation and silence.
 
Extraordinary for Norris’s candor in examining her own racial legacy and what it means to be an American, The Grace of Silence is also informed by rigorous research in its evocation of time and place, scores of interviews with ordinary folk, and wise observations about evolving attitudes, at once encouraging and disturbing, toward race in America today. For its particularity and universality, it is powerfully moving, a tour de force.

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The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution by Denis Dutton

Professor Tim Polashek, Music
Section 1004-11, MWF 1:30-2:20

The Art Instinct combines two of the most fascinating and contentious disciplines, art and evolutionary science, in a provocative new work that will revolutionize the way art itself is perceived. Aesthetic taste, argues Denis Dutton, is an evolutionary trait, and is shaped by natural selection. It's not, as almost all contemporary art criticism and academic theory would have it, "socially constructed." The human appreciation for art is innate, and certain artistic values are universal across cultures, such as a preference for landscapes that, like the ancient savannah, feature water and distant trees. If people from Africa to Alaska prefer images that would have appealed to our hominid ancestors, what does that mean for the entire discipline of art history? Dutton argues, with forceful logic and hard evidence, that art criticism needs to be premised on an understanding of evolution, not on abstract "theory." Sure to provoke discussion in scientific circles and an uproar in the art world, The Art Instinct offers radical new insights into both the nature of art and the workings of the human mind.

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The Carpenter's Pencil: A Novel of the Spanish Civil War by Manuel Rivas

Professor Veronica Dean-Thacker, Spanish
Section 1004-12, MWF 1:30-2:20

Set in the dark days of the Spanish Civil War, The Carpenter's Pencil charts the linked destinies of a remarkable cast of unique characters. All are bound by the events of the Civil War-the artists and the peasants alike-and all are brought to life, in Rivas's skillful hand, with the power of the carpenter's pencil, a pencil that draws both the measured line and the artist's dazzling vision.

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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig

Professor Avery Tompkins, Sociology and Women's Studies
Section 1004-13, MWF 2:30-3:20

Acclaimed as one of the most exciting books in the history of American letters, this modern epic became an instant bestseller upon publication in 1974, transforming a generation and continuing to inspire millions. This 25th Anniversary Quill Edition features a new introduction by the author; important typographical changes; and a Reader's Guide that includes discussion topics, an interview with the author, and letters and documents detailing how this extraordinary book came to be. A narration of a summer motorcycle trip undertaken by a father and his son, the book becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey into fundamental questions of how to live. The narrator's relationship with his son leads to a powerful self-reckoning; the craft of motorcycle maintenance leads to an austerely beautiful process for reconciling science, religion, and humanism. Resonant with the confusions of existence, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a touching and transcendent book of life.

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The Odyssey translated and edited by Richard Lattimore

Professor David Kaufman, Philosophy and Classics
Section 1004-14, TTh 11:00-12:15

'Muse, tell me of a man: a man of much resource, who was made to wander far and long, after he had sacked the sacred city of Troy. Many were the men whose lands he saw and came to know their thinking: many too the miseries at sea, which he suffered in his heart, as he sought to win his own life and the safety of his companions.'  Recounting the epic journey home of Odysseus from the Trojan War, The Odyssey - alongside its sister poem The Iliad - stands as the well-spring of Western Civilisation and culture, an inspiration to poets, writers and thinkers for thousands of years since. This authoritative prose translation by Martin Hammond brings Homer's great poem of homecoming to life as Odysseus battles through such familiar dangers as the cave of the Cyclops, the call of the Sirens and his hostile reception back in his native land of Ithaca.

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A Mind of Its Own by Cordelia Fine

Professor Melissa Fortner, Psychology
Section 1004-15, TTh 11:00-12:15

In recent years, we've heard a lot about the extraordinary workings of our hundred-billion-celled brain: its amazing capacities to regulate all sensation, perception, thinking, and feeling; the power to shape all experience and define our identity. Indeed, the brain's power is being confirmed every day in new studies and research. But there is a brain we don't generally hear about, a brain we might not want to hear about…the "prima donna within."

Exposing the mind's deceptions and exploring how the mind defends and glorifies the ego, Dr. Cordelia Fine illustrates the brain's tendency to self-delusion. Whether it be hindsight bias, wishful thinking, unrealistic optimism, or moral excuse-making, each of us has a slew of inborn mind-bugs and ordinary prejudices that prevent us from seeing the truth about the world and ourselves. With fascinating studies to support her arguments, Dr. Fine takes us on an insightful, rip-roaringly funny tour through the brain you never knew you had.

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Earth in Mind by David Orr

Professor Richard Taylor
Section 1004-16, TTh 1:30-2:45

In Earth in Mind, Orr focuses not on problems in education, but on the problem of education. Much of what has gone wrong with the world, he argues, is the result of inadequate and misdirected education that alienates us from life in the name of human domination; causes students to worry about how to make a living before they know who they are; overemphasizes success and careers; separates feeling from intellect and the practical from the theoretical and deadens the sense of wonder for the created world. The crisis we face, Orr explains, is one of mind, perception, and values. It is, first and foremost, an educational challenge.

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The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community by Ray Oldenburg

Professor Simona Fojtova, Women's Studies
Section 1004-17, TTh 3:00-4:15

The Great Good Place argues that "third places" - where people can gather, put aside the concerns of work and home, and hang out simply for the pleasures of good company and lively conversation - are the heart of a community's social vitality and the grassroots of democracy.

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Cultural Critique via Vonnegut
Professor Gary Deaton, WRC
Section 1104-01, MWF 2:30-3:20

This section will utilize the work of the inimitable Kurt Vonnegut as a particular lens through which to examine American culture. We will read several of Vonnegut’s novels (e.g., Galapagos) and some of his short fiction (e.g., “Harrison Bergeron”). Class discussion will focus on the themes Vonnegut introduces. Student projects will be centered on analyses of areas of concern about U.S. culture and methods for addressing those issues.  To be clear, student research in this class will NOT be about Vonnegut, but rather will use Vonnegut’s notions of critical thinking and analysis to critique a problem the student perceives with contemporary America.

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