Department of Architecture and Interior Design
Miami University
Oxford, Ohio

“…the nature of the ‘overview’ changes depending upon ‘the politics of location’ of the ‘author’.”
Michele Wallace

“Yes I know my enemies/They’re the teachers who taught me to fight me/Compromise, conformity, assimilation, submission, ignorance, hypocrisy, brutality, the elite/All of which are American Dreams…”

Know Your Enemy, by Rage Against the Machine


ARC/BWS 427/527 is part of three Thematic Sequences: “American Life and Culture Since World War Two” administered by the English Department, “Cultural Studies and Public Life” housed in Educational Leadership, and “Urban Culture and Service Learning” administered through the Miami University Center for Community Engagement as part of the Over-the-Rhine Residency Program.

Using the generic American city and its transformation since 1940, this course explores epistemological questions as they are influenced by issues of class, race, gender, culture. What do we know of the American city? How do we know what we know? What are the theoretical and ideological parameters that constrain and expand our knowledge of the city, especially as that knowledge is modified by multicultural experience? What are the experiential parameters that constrain and expand our knowledge?

Given these questions, the course weaves together three strands to interpret the text we call the City: the social construction of the Self, the social construction of the Other, and public engagement. The first strand seeks to construct a theoretical frame in order to see how culture and environment are always dialectically intertwined, and more, that built environments can contribute to progressive expressions of diversity if consciously considered. This strand critically (re)assesses what we understand as history, culture, and identity.

The second strand studies some of the city\’s major political, economic, and spatial transformations. Readings from the fields of economics, political science, sociology, cultural studies, and urban geography analyze the repercussions of suburbanization, corporate concentration and deindustrialization, urban renewal, gentrification, displacement, segregation, and homelessness. The attempt here is to understand these spatial transformations from the vantage points of class, race, gender, and culture. For example, how have the conditions of urban renewal, or gentrification, or suburbanization been experienced and taken up by women as well as men, by different races, classes, cultures? The point is to explore the world through the multiple discourses which construct our public life, with particular attention to the position of the Other.

Miami University for Community Engagement in Over-the-Rhine
The third strand of the course turns toward Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati to conduct research and create knowledge that are socially relevant to everyday life in Over-the-Rhine. This research will represent the work of the Center for Community Engagement.

The uniqueness of the Center is its relationship with the Over-the-Rhine People’s Movement. It is a site for learning and for producing knowledge that intersects with the needs and demands of a social movement. The Center privileges human and ecological needs as leading priorities in urban development, and challenges the profit motive as the dominant arbiter in urban social policy.

The Center provides a setting for faculty and students from a variety of disciplines to work collaboratively with neighborhood organizations and residents on common projects for the community’s cultural and economic advancement. By providing such a setting, the Center creates opportunities for students, faculty, and community members, through the dialectic of research and social action, to share experiences about how the political system works, especially as it impacts the terrains of culture, education, architectural and artistic production, economic opportunity, and everyday life.

This part of the course entails students taking responsibility for developing and conducting a group, semester research project. The intent is to supplement typical classroom activities of reading and discussion by engaging the city itself. Students will collect data, interview representatives of different cultural groups, engage in oral histories, and conduct extensive library research. In short, the objective is to embrace an ethnographic method: to engage citizens and life beyond classroom walls as sources of knowledge for understanding the relation between culture and space. Just as importantly, the goal here is to advance the learning and historical understanding of the People’s Movement.


Andrew L. Barlow, Between Fear and Hope: Globalization and Race in the United States (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2003).

William Julius Wilson, When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996).

Labor/Community Strategy Center, Reconstructing Los Angeles from the Bottom Up (Los Angeles: Strategy Center Publications, 1993).

Eric Mann, Katrina’s Legacy: White Racism and Black Reconstruction in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast (Los Angeles: Frontlines Press, 2006).

Course Reader: A collection of selected essays available through electronic reserve at King Library. Password: “arc-city.”


All students must attend and participate actively in class discussion (20%). This class is a seminar, which means students must do the readings and be prepared to engage each other in conversation. If you do not talk in class there is no way to receive an “A” or “A-.” Two unexcused absences will result in the reduction of one letter grade.

A typed reaction paper of 1-2 pages will be due each week (10%). Be prepared that I may ask you to share your paper with the class. I do not “grade” these reaction papers, but I keep note of the fact that you do them and I gauge general progress. These reactions offer an opportunity to engage a private conversation with me over the issues of the course.

A combined book review essay of When Work Disappears and Between Fear and Hope will comprise 20%. This will be 5-6 pages for undergraduates and 7-8 pages for graduates. The intention here is to thoroughly discuss a point or two prompted by the readings. I am not looking for a summary of these books. Due date: Tuesday October 7.

30% of the grade rests with the semester project. This project will encompass significant research that will be conducted in a team format and presented in class. Two things will accompany your presentation: 1) a written report; and 2) a visual report (i.e., poster, brochure, photographic collage, website design and/or addition, etc). In past courses, research topics have included a deep examination of the history and operation of institutions of the neighborhood, as well as provocative topics such as “black-on-black crime,” gender roles in the neighborhood, community education, and the Cincinnati Boycott.

There will be a self-assessment essay, worth 20%, which in part will examine how the theories of the course match up with your experiences of the community. Also, you will state the grade you feel you deserve.


Tuesday, August 26

C. Wright Mills, “The Big City: Private Troubles and Public Issues,” in Irving Luis Horowitz ed., Power, Politics, and People: The Collected Essays of C. Wright Mills (New York: Oxford University Press, 1969).

VIDEO: Hybrid City

Tuesday, September 2

American Apartheid
Douglas S. Massey and Nancy A. Denton, Chap. 2: “The Construction of the Ghetto,” American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993).

Tuesday, September 9

Globalization and Race
Andrew L. Barlow, Between Fear and Hope, Introduction – Chap. 3.

Tuesday, September 16

Between Fear and Hope, Chaps. 4 – 7.

VIDEO: End of Suburbia

Tuesday, September 23

When Work Disappears
William Julius Wilson, When Work Disappears, Introduction – Chap. 5.

Michael Moore, “Why Doesn’t GM Sell Crack,” in Downsize This! (New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1996).

VIDEO: Roger and Me

Tuesday, September 30

When Work Disappears, Chaps. 6 – 8.

Robin D.G. Kelley, “Integration: What’s Left,” The Nation (December 14, 1998).

VIDEO: Tiger By the Tail

Tuesday, October 7

Cincinnati/Over-the-Rhine: Neoliberalism, Gentrification, and Displacement
Jason Hackworth, Chap. 1: “The Place, Time, and Process of Neoliberal Urbanism,” from his Neoliberal City: Governance, Ideology, and Development in American Urbanism (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2007).

Karla Irvine, “Over-the-Rhine: A Permanent Ghetto?” (HOME: July, 1991).

Roy Lowenstein, “Inner-City vs. Suburb: Locating New Housing for the Poor” (draft manuscript, undated).

Jonathan Diskin and Thomas A. Dutton, “Gentrification—It Ain’t What You Think,” position paper of the Miami University Center for Community Engagement in Over-the-Rhine (August 2006).

Thomas A. Dutton and Jonathan Diskin, “Rush to Judgment,” position paper of the Miami University Center for Community Engagement in Over-the-Rhine (August 2001).

McKim N. Barnes, “A Strategy for Residential Rehabilitation,” in Real Estate Review.

VIDEO: These Old Buildings Raised Our Many Children and Visions of Vine Street.

Tuesday, October 14

Cincinnati/Over-the-Rhine: Uprising
Thomas A. Dutton, “Violence By Any Other Name,” The Nation (June 18, 2001).

Manning Marable, Chap. 8 “Building Democracy from Below,” from his The Great Wells of Democracy: The Meaning of Race in American Life (New York: BasicCivitas Books, 2002).

Jonathan Diskin and Thomas A. Dutton, “Cincinnati: A Year Later But No Wiser,” Shelterforce: The Journal of Affordable Housing and Community Building (May/June 2002).

Tuesday, October 21

The Search for Theory: Domestic Neocolonialism
Robert Allen, Chap. 5 “Corporate Imperialism vs. Black Liberation,” from his Black Awakening in Capitalist America (New York: Doubleday, 1969).

Stokely Carmichael and Charles V. Hamilton, excerpts from Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America (New York: Vintage Books, 1967.

Ron Baily, “Economic Aspects of the Black Internal Colony,” Review of Black Political Economy 3 (1973).

Michael B. Katz, excerpts from his The Undeserving Poor (New York: Pantheon Books, 1989).

Tuesday, October 28

Domestic Neocolonialism, Over-the-Rhine, and Econocide
Thomas A. Dutton, “Colony Over-the-Rhine,” The Black Scholar, v. 37, #3 (Fall 2007).

Thomas A. Dutton, “Indian Reservations, Trojan Horses, and Economic Mix.”

Thomas A. Dutton, “When Personal Responsibility Becomes Abusive.”

Robert L. Allen, “Reassessing the Internal (Neo) Colonialism Theory,” The Black Scholar, v. 35, #1 (2005).

Tuesday, November 4

Cincinnati and Corporate Hegemony
Dan La Botz, “Who Rules Cincinnati,”

Joseph Leibovitz and Scott Salmon, “20/20 Vision? Interrurban Competition, Crisis and the Politics of Downtown Development in Cincinnati, Ohio,” Space & Polity, v. 3, #2 (1999).

Tuesday, November 11

The Prison-Industrial Complex
Loic Wacquant, “From Slavery to Mass Incarceration,” New Left Review 13 (January-February 2002).

Don Mitchell, Chap. 6 “No Right to the City” from his The Right to the City (New York: The Guilford Press, 2003).

Daryl Meeks, “Police Militarization in Urban Areas: The Obscure War Against the Underclass,” The Black Scholar, v. 35, #4 (Winter 2006).

Tuesday, November 18

Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans
Saladin Muhammad, “The Black Nation’s 9/11.”

Cornel West, “Exiles from a City and from a Nation,” The Observer UK (September 11, 2005).

Eric Mann, Katrina’s Legacy: White Racism and Black Reconstruction in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast (Los Angeles: Frontlines Press, 2006).

VIDEO: When the Levees Broke

Tuesday, November 25

Los Angeles
Mike Davis, “The Hammer and the Rock,” New Left Review 170 (July/August 1988).

Labor/Community Strategy Center, Reconstructing Los Angeles from the Bottom Up (Los Angeles: Strategy Center Publications, 1993).

Mike Davis, “In L.A., Burning All Illusions,” The Nation (June 1, 1992).

The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, “Summary of Report,” Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1968).

VIDEO: Voices from the Frontlines and Bus Riders Union.

Work Day.

Tuesday, December 2.


Tuesday, Dec 9


School: Miami University
Professor: Thomas A. Dutton
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