The Good Society
033:040, Literature, Science, and the Arts
169:040, Leisure Studies
3:30-4:50 MW, E238 Adler Journalism Building
Office of the President, 230 Jessup Hall
(Northwest corner of building, in enclosed hallway)
Mailbox is in main President’s Office, 101 Jessup Hall
Office hours: By appointment
Syllabus is online at www.uiowa.edu/~ipops
Class calendar is on on-line version of syllabus
This course focuses on the open-ended question, "What is the good society?" A broad range of perspectives—historical, economic, political, cultural, artistic, philosophical, and scientific—provide the basis for analysis, discussion, and writing toward a definition of the good society. This semester, we will focus on five major ideas regarding our collective practices within American society—ideas that have intended to define the United Sates as “the good society,” and ideas that have helped shape and define our culture over time. We will explore both historical and contemporary ideas related to each of these ideas, examining how they have changed over time, as well as how they both complement and compete with each other.
Required Texts (available at Prairie Lights Bookstore, 15 S. Dubuque St.)
Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry, ed. Norman
Wirzba, Counterpoint, 2002
Alan Trachtenberg, The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age, Hill and
Wang, 1982, 2007
Linda Hogan, Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World, W. W. Norton, 1995, 2007
Bill McKibben, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future, Holt, 2007,
Coursepack, available at Zephyr Copies, 124 E. Washington St.
Additional handouts and online materials
Grading and Course Expectations
My presumption is that you are here to learn, and learning requires, especially in a discussion-oriented course, consistent class attendance, adequate preparation of course readings and other materials, active and constructive participation, and completion of writing assignments on deadline. College of Liberal Arts and Sciences course guidelines state that for each semester hour credit in the course, students should expect to spend at least two hours per week preparing for class sessions; for this course, then, we presume an average of six hours of outside preparation on average per week.
Grading will be based on these assignments:
Five short papers (approximately 2-3 pages each), one on each unit (10%
each, 50% total)
One larger-scale semester project focusing on how a community with which
you’re familiar exemplifies (and/or does not) “the good society” (30%)
Attendance and preparation (based on daily in-class short writing; see section
below for specific details) (20%)
· You must complete all papers and the semester project in order to pass the course.
I set high standards for you, and I presume you do so for yourself. Letter grades mean the following: A for exceptional work, B for very good, C for acceptable, D for unacceptable but passing, F for failing.
I grade students individually (not on a curve) based on historical performance of students in my experience. For your information, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences recommends the following grade distributions (in percentages) for this level course:
A: 15%, B: 34%, C: 40%, D: 8%, F: 3%, Average 2.50
Attendance and Preparation Policies and Evaluation
I presume you will be here at every class meeting. There are no “excused” or “unexcused” absences for this course. An occasional absence for legitimate reasons is understandable, and I have built in a buffer for those instances in the “attendance and participation” portion of your grade. (To put matters into perspective, realize that two absences is one whole week of our course.) If your longer-term attendance becomes problematic for a legitimate reason (extended illness, family emergency, etc.), please let me know as soon as possible so that we can make appropriate arrangements for possible makeup work. These will be rare situations, however.
To document attendance, to evaluate preparation, and to focus your thinking for class discussion, I will ask all class members to write for five minutes on the day’s reading (or topic if no reading is assigned). The writing is to be informal—structure and mechanics will not be graded. You may not refer to your texts during the writing.
Your writing should be specific regarding the reading material. Therefore, rather than attempting a summary of the reading, I would suggest some of the following:
· Discussion of what you found particularly interesting,
· Questions about ideas you are not yet understanding,
· Analysis of the reading’s strengths and/or weaknesses,
· Connections you see with other material from the course or your own experience.
There will be no make-up writings allowed (except in the case of rare, longer-term extenuating circumstances as noted above). We will do our in-class writing after a couple of minutes of “housekeeping” matters at the beginning of the class period. I will not accept any of these writings after I have collected them when the writing period is completed.
This assignment is not intended to “catch” you in lack of preparation but rather to motivate you to keep up with the course material and attend class. It is demonstrably true that those students who attend class the least perform the poorest. Conversely, the more prepared students are, the better both individual performance and class discussion are, and the learning experience individually and collectively is optimal.
Each daily writing will be worth four (4) points—1 point for attendance and 3 points for content. There are 28 class days, for a total of 112 points (adjustments will be made if necessary during the semester). Grading will be on a straight percentage scale with 90s for A’s, 80s for B’s, 70s for C’s, etc. Therefore, assuming all class days are held, the grading scale will be:
Total points Grade
66 and below F
E-mail and computer access: For purposes of class communication and fulfillment of assignments, you'll need an e-mail account and regular access to a computer.
Attendance: See “Attendance and Preparation Policies and Evaluation” above.
Class decorum: I work to create a positive, affirming, comfortable, challenging, and open atmosphere in the classroom. I appreciate your efforts to do the same. The best learning comes about from disagreement and debate; at the same time, class discussion must remain civil and respectful. I highly discourage late arrival and early departure from class, as they are disruptive. College of Liberal Arts and Sciences classroom environment policies are available online at http://www.clas.uiowa.edu/students/academic_handbook/ix.shtml.
· Please turn off all electronic devices—cell phones, text messaging devices, iPods, computers, etc. —before class starts. Text messaging, email, web browsing, and other electronic communication are not allowed during class.
Deadlines: Deadlines are deadlines. I will accept late papers only under extraordinary circumstances and only with prior approval. This is primarily in fairness to the rest of the students in the course. If you anticipate a serious problem, please alert me before an assignment is due, or as soon as possible after an emergency.
Administrative home: The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is the administrative home of this course and governs matters such as the add/drop deadlines, the second-grade-only option, and other related issues. Different colleges may have different policies. Questions may be addressed to 120 Schaeffer Hall, or see the Academic Handbook: www.clas.uiowa.edu/students/academic_handbook/index.shtml.
Academic fraud: Plagiarism and any other activities when students present work that is not their own are academic fraud. Academic fraud is reported to the departmental DEO and to the Associate Dean for Academic Programs and Services, who enforces the appropriate consequences. http://www.clas.uiowa.edu/students/academic_handbook/ix.shtml.
Accommodations for disabilities: A student seeking academic accommodations should register with Student Disability Services and meet privately with the course instructor to make particular arrangements. For more information, visit this site: www.uiowa.edu/~sds/.
Understanding sexual harassment: Sexual harassment subverts the mission of the University and threatens the well-being of students, faculty, and staff. Visit www.sexualharassment.uiowa.edu for definitions, assistance, and the full University policy.
Reacting safely to severe weather: In severe weather, the class members should seek shelter in the innermost part of the building, if possible at the lowest level, staying clear of windows and free-standing expanses. The class will continue if possible when the event is over. (Operations Manual 16.14.i.)
Making a Suggestion or a Complaint: Students with a suggestion or complaint should first visit the instructor, then the course supervisor and the departmental DEO. Complaints must be made within six months of the incident. www.clas.uiowa.edu/students/academic_handbook/ix.shtml#5. The Leisure Studies Academic Coordinator (DEO) is Professor Ken Mobily, 408 Jefferson Building, 335-0172. The Director of the Division of Interdisciplinary Programs is Helena Dettmer, 120 Schaeffer Hall, 335-2633.
Please note: The course calendar will be modified as necessary as the semester progresses. It is your responsibility to keep abreast of calendar changes via class announcements and online changes. If you are absent on a day a reading handout is provided for a future class session, you are still responsible for acquiring the handout and preparing the reading on time.
Mon, Aug. 25 - Welcome and introduction to the course
The Agrarian Society
Wed, Aug. 27 - Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, "Query 19: Manufactures"
Online at http://etext.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=JefVirg.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part=19&division=div1
J. Hector St. John De Crevecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer, “Letter III: What Is an American?,” beginning (p
48) – p.61; pp. 66-70
Online at http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/CREV/letter03.html
Dale Maharidge and Michael Williamson, “The Land” and “Uptown,” from Denison, Iowa: Searching for the Soul of
America Through the Secrets of a Midwest Town (coursepack)
Mon, Sept. 1 – Labor Day, no class
Wed, Sept. 3 – Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace
“The Unsettling of America,” pp. 35-46
“People, Land and Community,” pp. 182-194
“Conservation and Local Economy,” pp. 195-204
“The Whole Horse,” pp. 236-248
Mon, Sept. 8 – Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace
“The Body and the Earth,” pp. 93-134
“The Idea of a Local Economy,” pp. 249-261
“The Pleasures of Eating,” pp. 321-327
Wed, Sept. 10 – Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace
“Two Economies,” pp. 219-235
“Solving for Pattern,” pp. 266-275
“The Use of Energy,” pp. 279-292
The Civically Engaged Society
Mon, Sept. 15 – Wendell Berry, “From Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community,” The Art of the Commonplace, pp. 159-181
Philip Selznick, “In Search of Community,” coursepack
Wed, Sept. 17 - Alexis de Tocqueville, Selections from Democracy in America
"Of the Uses which the Americans Make of Public Associations"
online at http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/ch2_05.htm
"How the Americans Combat Individualism by the Principle of Self-Interest Rightly Understood"
online at http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/DETOC/ch2_08.htm
William M. Sullivan, “A Public Philosophy for Civic Culture,” coursepack
Mon, Sept. 22 - Robert Putnam, “Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital,”
Online at http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/DETOC/assoc/bowling.html
Amitai Etzioni, “The Road to the Good Society,” Online at http://www2.gwu.edu/~ccps/etzioni/B329.html
PAPER #1 DUE
Wed, Sept. 24 - Cornelia Butler Flora and Jan L. Flora, “Creating Social Capital,” coursepack
The Corporate Technocracy
Mon, Sept. 29 – Alan Trachtenberg, The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age
Preface - Chapter - Chapter 3, pp. 3-100
Wed, Oct. 1 - Trachtenberg
Chapters 4-5, pp. 101-181
Mon, Oct. 6 – Trachtenberg
Chapters 6-7, pp. 182-234
Wed, Oct. 8 – Trachtenberg
FYI: Website with archive of Columbian Exposition photos and information:
PAPER #2 DUE
Mon, Oct. 13 – Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man, selection, coursepack
Recommended: Fukuyama, "They Can Only Go So Far" (handout)
"The Fall of America, Inc." (handout)
Wed, Oct. 15 – James Howard Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Manmade Landscape, selection,
Mon, Oct. 20 – Film: subUrbia
View film ahead of class, on reserve at Main Library Audiovisual Services
The Traditional Culture in Modern Society
Wed, Oct. 22 – Linda Hogan, Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World, pp. 11-62
Mon, Oct. 27 – Hogan, pp. 63-108
PAPER #3 DUE
Wed, Oct. 29 – Hogan, pp. 109-159
Mon, Nov. 3 – Film: Daughters of the Dust
View film ahead of class, on reserve at Main Library Audiovisual Services
Wed, Nov. 5 – The Amana Colonies
Jonathan G. Andelson, “The Community of True Inspiration from
Germany to the Amana Colonies,” coursepack
Class visit by Lanny Haldy, Amana Heritage Society
The Sustainable Society
Mon, Nov. 10 – Bill McKibben, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future
Introduction, Chapters 1-2, pp. 1-94
Wed, Nov. 12 – McKibben, Chapters 3-4, pp. 95-176
Mon, Nov. 17 – McKibben, Chapter 5, Afterword, pp. 177-232
PAPER #4 DUE
Wed, Nov. 19 – No class
November 24-28 – Thanksgiving Break
Mon, Dec. 1 – David C. Korten, The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, selection, coursepack
Paul Hawken, Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Social Movement in History is Restoring Grace, Justice, and Beauty to the World,
Wed, Dec. 3 – Sustainable Iowa City
Class visit by Fred Meyer
Mon, Dec. 8 – Project presentations
Wed, Dec. 10 – Project presentations
PAPER #5 DUE
FINAL EXAM PERIOD – Thursday, Dec. 18, 7:30-9:30 a.m.