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Recently Published Works from CSUS Faculty

American Alchemy: The California Gold Rush and Middle-Class Culture
(May 2000, University of North Carolina Press)

Brian Roberts, professor of history

America’s middle class of 1849 was anxious and uncertain, torn between respectability and the need to compete in a new industrial marketplace. Many felt trapped. Then gold called from California, and middle-class men by the thousands made their escape. Married men, men with strong community ties, left for a land widely seen as immoral. It was one of the great cultural upheavals in American history, says Sac State’s Brian Roberts in American Alchemy: The California Gold Rush and Middle-Class Culture. Most of the men who headed West, Roberts says, weren’t simply hoping to be successful capitalists. Many hoped that everyone who went would get rich. That didn’t happen, but the dream set the stage for a defining feature of California. “This state has long been a place where expectations long overran reality,” Roberts says. “There’s always another Gold Rush in California.”


Women in the Inquisition
(1998, Johns Hopkins University Press)

Mary E. Giles, professor of humanities and religious studies

In 1478, fearing the demise of Christianity in multi-racial and multi-religious Spain, the Catholic Monarchs established an Inquisition. The Spanish Inquisition’s secrecy, acceptance of denunciations, use of torture, and confiscation of property brought terror to much of the Spanish populace. Those condemned for heresy number in the thousands. In Women in the Inquisition, editor Mary E. Giles pulls together the stories of 15 women’s life experiences under the Inquisition. They include Inès of Herrera del Duque, a 12-year-old whose messianic prophecies captivated both children and adults. She was burned at the stake along with many of her followers. The author of eight books, Giles found her inspiration for Women in the Inquisition while researching Spanish spirituality. In November, Women in the Inquisition received an award from the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and in December, a Spanish edition was published.


Striking a Balance—Positive Practices in Early Literacy and Activities for Striking a Balance in Early Literacy
(1999 and 2001, Halcomb Hathaway Publishers)

Nancy Cecil, professor of teacher education

With this innovative set of books written primarily for schoolteachers, Sac State’s Nancy Cecil establishes herself as a leading advocate of a comprehensive approach to reading education. She calls the politicized phonics vs. whole language debate phony. In the Striking a Balance set, Cecil says it isn’t enough to simply teach skills—the so-called phonics approach. And it doesn’t work to focus on just reading great books—the so-called whole language approach. Instead, Cecil advocates a middle way, a comprehensive approach she has long promoted. “Having access to the books without the skills is like being in a candy store without any money,” Cecil says. “You need the money to get some candy out of the deal. With reading, kids need the skills, but they also need to read books they are excited about. Otherwise, you’ve lost them. They may be able to read, but they’ll choose not to.” The Kentucky Reading Association is just one of many groups she’s impressed. It titled its recent statewide conference “Striking a Balance,” and had Cecil as the keynote speaker.


Culturally Competent Practice
(June 1998, Wadsworth Publishing Company)

Doman Lum, professor of social work

“Cultural competency” is the development of cultural awareness. Culturally competent people acquire knowledge about culture and cultivate skills to help them take culture into account when dealing with problem situations. The term was coined by counseling psychologists in the early 1990s, and in Culturally Competent Practice Sac State’s Doman Lum extends cultural competency to social work. The first step toward cultural competency is being knowledgeable about your own culture, Lum says. “People say to me, ‘I’m just an American.’ But there are cultural residuals, parts of their cultural background that are still there. Being self-aware helps them be aware of the culture of others,” he says.


The Smallest Things Make the Biggest Difference
(February 1999, HealthSpan Communications)

Ray Haring, professor of family and consumer science

Positive thoughts can change your life, according to Ray Haring, author of The Smallest Things Make the Biggest Difference. “This book is a combination of science and inspiration,” Haring says. “It covers a lot of topics. It deals with work, optimism, friendship, communication, health and goal-setting, and it gives lessons on patience and values.” The book blends hundreds of ideas, insights and scientific findings to show that the smallest thoughts can make a huge difference in a person’s physical, emotional and spiritual health.“This book shows people how to get huge results from making simple changes,” Haring says. “Everything you do in life comes down to the quality of your thoughts, beliefs and actions. When you change your thoughts, you change your world, so in the book I try to point out how the smallest thought can make the biggest difference.” Haring’s book has won praise from two national best-selling writers, Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager, and John Gray, author of Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus.


Forced Choices: Class, Community and Worker Ownership
(1999, State University of New York Press)

Charles Varano, professor of sociology

It was called a model in employee ownership. But ever since workers at a West Virginia steel mill saved their company from extinction by purchasing it, they’ve found it isn’t so easy being both management and labor. In Forced Choices: Class, Community and Worker Ownership, Charles Varano examines the Weirton Steel Company buyout and finds class consciousness crops up despite the best intentions. When they purchased the mill in the mid-80s, Weirton employees vowed their company would be different, that it would belong to the community, not distant corporate shareholders. Yet as time went on, they found the realities of the business world caused familiar power struggles between “management owners” and “worker owners.” Despite hopes that all parties would be equal, class distinctions surfaced. Declining earnings caused management to freeze wages and reduce profit sharing, causing anger among the workers who thought management should share sacrifices along with gains. The Weirton experience raises issues about capitalism, such as the value of labor, property rights and meritocracy, Varano says. “Americans believe in capitalism,” Varano says. “But they don’t believe in all of it, all of the time. I sought to understand what these people believed and the social conditions that shaped those views.”


COP Talk: Essential Communication Skills for Community Policing
(1999, Acada Books)

Virginia Kidd, professor of communication studies

Virginia Kidd didn’t set out to write a book about police work. It kind of crept up on her. While observing focus groups and citizen’s academy programs promoting community-oriented policing, Kidd noticed something. “They were encouraging the police officers to go out and get to know people in the community, as a way to prevent crime,” she says. “But they weren’t giving them any communication training beforehand.” Kidd says she was amazed at the amount of communication police officers need to do on the job—not just talking to people, but organizing community forums, speaking to groups and giving media interviews. Kidd, along with former student and current Sacramento Police Department Captain Rick Braziel, wrote COP Talk to give officers some help. It details basic communication skills with police-oriented examples. “Interpersonal skills are essential for police officers going into difficult situations,” Kidd says.



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