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Fall 2004 l Capital University Journal

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Recently published works by CSUS faculty


Selling the City
Gender, Class, and the California Growth Machine, 1880-1940

(Stanford University Press, 2004, $49.50)

Lee Simpson, professor of history


California women inherited the right to own land from the area’s former Spanish rulers. And although they were mostly shut out of official public offi ce through the mid 20th century, they apparently weren’t willing to trust men to improve their land’s value. Instead, Simpson writes, landowning women of the late 1800s and early 1900s worked behind the scenes trying to ensure the state’s fast-growing cities were well-planned and attractive. It was self-interest, she writes. Better cities, the women felt, would mean higher property values. Historians call it “propertied self-interest.” The result was that early on California cities embraced the cutting-edge ideas of creating comprehensive city plans and adopting zoning ordinances—strategies that became standard for American cities. “Women were central to this, to Western cities experimenting with the idea of city planning on a large scale well before other cities in the United States,” Simpson says. Simpson disagrees with historians who argue men were fully in charge, saying they’ve depended too much on formal titles. While women were rarely in official positions, she says, they were often heading up citizen’s groups and insisting city leaders consider their ideas. For instance, Simpson says that for more than half a century community leader Pearl Chase was largely responsible for developing Santa Barbara’s famous Spanish-style architecture—even though she didn’t hold a formal
city position.

The Old Testament
An Introduction to the Hebrew Bible

(McGraw-Hill, 2002, $50.80)

Stephen Harris and Robert Platzner, professors of humanities and religious studies


For those who don’t know the difference between Sodom and Gomorrah, help has arrived. Two Sac State professors have co-authored a beginner’s guide to the origins, themes and controversies of the Hebrew Bible and the later Biblical writings known as the Apocrypha.

“It’s not written for the specialist, it’s not written for the academic, it’s for those who want to know more about the Old Testament,” says Platzner. “It’s designed to be accessible to
the average student and the non-academic reading public.” He and Harris put the book together with the novice in mind.

The book strives to get to the meanings of the works as they were originally intended by the authors, subsequent editors and first readers. It also tries to give today’s reader a sense of the “life setting” the first biblical works were created in.

“The life setting is the historical context out of which the various books of the Hebrew Bible emerged,” Platzner explains. Much of that comes from biblical archaeology, a field that provides a changing, fragmentary—and often controversial—view of biblical times.

“So much of this consists of conjecture that at every point of the argument you must caution students to be wary,” Platzner says. “But those controversies make their way into this book.”

Although Platzner says he and Harris did their best to remain as neutral and as objective as possible, he suspects that some will take issue with it.

“Some religious communities will find it controversial because it doesn’t mesh with their dogmatic views or their chronology of events,” he says.

Regardless of how each reader may react, Platzner says all should find it easy to use: It’s logically organized and each chapter includes topics, key terms and review questions along with selections that explore issues in more depth. In addition the book offers up a variety of maps, illustrations and chronologies.


Luck is No Accident
Making the Most of Happenstance in Your Life and Career

(Impact Publishers, 2004, $15.95)

Al Levin, professor of counselor education, with John Krumboltz


Here’s a book that challenges the stressful idea that we have to know what we’re going to be when we grow up.

When it comes to careers, it advises, follow your interests and seize the opportunities that luck and chance throw your way. A plan is okay, but most people don’t follow a single, well-planned career path. So why try?

The book is packed with practical ideas, as well as numerous stories of how people arrived in their current careers. It’s the product of years of workshops Levin and Krumboltz have put on.

The authors bill their work as the first career book that admits life doesn’t go according to plan. They say only about 2 percent of people they’ve surveyed are in the occupation they had planned when they were 18 years old.

“The central message is that most people’s careers are infl uenced by unplanned, unpredictable events,” Levin says. “How you react to positive and negative experiences are powerful factors in determining the directions your life takes.”

Levin, for instance, had planned to be a lawyer. He suggests people follow a fl exible career plan while also pursuing hobbies, joining associations, doing volunteer work—anything that helps them meet new people and come across new opportunities. He says that’s good for careers and a fulfilling life.


Deviant Behavior
Crime, Conflict and Interest Groups

(Pearson, Allyn and Bacon, 2003, $53.60)

Timothy Capron, professor of criminal justice, with Charles Magahy and J.D. Jamieson


Changing times and changing values have kept Capron busy revising and re-revising his tome on deviant behavior. He’s just fi nished work on the sixth edition.

“Crime changes all the time. Behaviors that were considered deviant 50 years ago might not be today,” Capron says. “For example, before we weren’t worried about the Internet. There weren’t any laws so the court would be hard pressed to prosecute.”

In fact, Capron and colleagues devote a section of the book defining deviant behavior and
how it changes. Emerging issues include hate crimes, social and legal responses to homosexuality, cyber-deviance, date rape and domestic violence.

"But probably the biggest changes have been in the area of drug use,” Capron says. “Perceptions about it seem to swing back and forth. First you have these horrific sentences where all these people get locked up, then the jails get overcrowded and people want to look at treatment.”

The book also looks at how “special interests”—groups with diverse notions of what should be viewed as normal or legal—drive policy in crime legislation and sentencing.

Capron cites the example of California’s three strikes law. “Special interests were involved in getting it passed,” he says. “And the corrections union is very defensive when discussions for eliminating it arise. It’s not the academics who are arguing for it.”


Behind a Convict’s Eyes
Doing Time in a Modern Prison

(Wadsworth Publishing Company, 2004, $35.95)

Bruce Bikle, professor of criminal justice, with K.C. Carceral, Thomas J. Bernard, Leanne Fiftal Alarid and Alene S. Bikle


While there’s a great deal criminal justice students can learn about corrections and the prison system in the classroom, most can’t grasp what life is like behind bars.

That, Bikle says, has inspired a new approach in the field: convict corrections. Using the words and experiences of a convict—in this case K.C. Carceral is a pseudonym for a man currently doing time for murder—books like Behind a Convict’s Eyes provide an insider perspective.

“It fits into the new model of humanizing prisoners in the system,” Bikle says. “Carceral spends his whole day there. It’s a lens we’ll never have.

“It fits into the type of corrections being taught, de-demonizing the offender. It’s important for students to see this is a guy who made mistakes that put him in prison, and he has something to tell us.”

Bikle adds that Carceral provides a particularly useful viewpoint because he did part of his time in a private prison, an option that is being considered throughout the country.

Carceral’s original writing was pretty rough, Bikle says. Bikle, along with colleagues Alarid, Bernard and Alene Bikle, helped turn the work into a textbook, adding a philosophical and academic background piece to each chapter.


Latinos in Higher Education

(Elsevier Science, 2003, $86)

Edited by David León, professor of ethnic studies


“We’re seeing a huge demographic change,” says León, director of the Chicano studies program and the Serna Center at Sac State. “One out of three Californians are of Latino descent today, and by 2040, it will be one out of every two.” Nationally Latinos make up 12 percent of the population, the country’s largest minority.

León says the time is now for universities and colleges to prepare for a wave of Latino students. “We have to align our institutions to ensure Latinos receive a quality education,” he says. Pointing higher education in the right direction is the goal of his book.

León collected and edited contributions from 16 colleagues into the book’s three sections: “Demographics and Demand,” “The Crossover to College” and “Rising in Academia.” The work is part of the three-book series, Diversity in Higher Education.

León, who also wrote a piece for the book, says what sets his book apart from others on the subject is its focus on Latinos moving beyond undergraduate programs. “We have to encourage Latinos to go to grad school,” says León. ”We need mentoring programs for Latino faculty and we need Latino administrators.”

Financial assistance and other support programs will be key, he says. “Higher education is a requirement for success. Without that, Latino contributions will be marginal.”



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