Sears Ethical Issues

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Sacred Places: American Tourist Attractions in the Nineteenth Century

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Editorial Reviews

Tourism emerged as an important cultural activity in the United States in the 1820s as steamboats and canals allowed for greater mobility and the nation's writers and artists focused their attention on American scenery. From the 1820s until well after the Civil War, American artists, like Thomas Cole and Frederic Church, depicted American tourist attractions in their work, and often made their reputations on those paintings. Writers like Irving, Cooper, Hawthorne, and James described their visits to the same attractions or incorporated them into their fiction. The work of these artists and writers conferred value on the scenes represented and helped shape the vision of the tourists who visited them. This interest in scenery permeated the work of both serious and popular writers and artists, and they produced thousands of images and descriptions of America's tourist attractions for the numerous guidebooks, magazines, and other publications devoted to travel in the United States during the period.

Drawing on this fascinating body of material, Sacred Places examines the vital role which tourism played in fulfilling the cultural needs of nineteenth-century Americans. America was a new country in search of a national identity. Educated Americans desperately wished to meet European standards of culture and, at the same time, to develop a distinctly American literature and art. Tourism offered a means of defining America as a place and taking pride in the special features of its landscape. The country's magnificent natural wonders were a substitute for the cathedrals and monuments, the sense of history that Europe had built over the centuries. Moreover, Sears argues, tourist attractions like Mammoth Cave, Mount Auburn Cemetery, Yosemite, and Yellowstone functioned as sacred places for a nation with a diversity of religious sects and without ancient religious and national shrines. For nineteenth-century Americans, whose vision was shaped by the aesthetics of the sublime and the picturesque and by the popular nineteenth-century Romantic view of nature as temple, such places fulfilled their urgent need for cultural monuments and for places to visit which transcended ordinary reality.

But these nineteenth-century tourist attractions were also arenas of consumption. Niagara Falls was the most sublime of God's creations, a sacred place, which, like Mount Auburn Cemetery, was supposed to have a profound moral effect on the spectator. But it was also an emporium of culture where the tourist shopped for Niagara's wonders and for little replicas of the Falls in the form of souvenirs. In Sacred Places, Sears describes how this strange, sometimes amusing, juxtaposition of the mythic and the trivial, the sacred and the profane, the spiritual and the commercial remained a significant feature of American tourist attractions even after efforts were made at Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Niagara Falls to curb commercial and industrial intrusions.

Sears also explores how the nineteenth-century idealization of home stimulated the tourists' response to such places as the Willey House in the White Mountains, the rural cemeteries, and even the newly established asylums for the deaf, dumb, blind, and insane. And, in an intriguing account of Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, he examines the reasons why an important nineteenth-century anthracite transportation center was also a major tourist attraction.

Most of the attractions discussed in this book are still visited by millions of Americans. By illuminating their cultural meaning, Sacred Places prompts us to reflect on our own motivations and responses as tourists and reveals why tourism was and still is such an important part of American life.

The Diversity Challenge: Social Identity and Intergroup Relations on the College Campus

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Editorial Reviews

College campuses provide ideal natural settings for studying diversity: they allow us to see what happens when students of all different backgrounds sit side by side in classrooms, live together in residence halls, and interact in one social space. By opening a window onto the experiences and evolving identities of individuals in these exceptionally diverse environments, we can gain a better understanding of the possibilities and challenges we face as a multicultural nation. The Diversity Challenge―the largest and most comprehensive study to date on college campus diversity―synthesizes over five years' worth of research by an interdisciplinary team of experts to explore how a highly diverse environment and policies that promote cultural diversity affect social relations, identity formation, and a variety of racial and political attitudes. The result is a fascinating case study of the ways in which individuals grow and groups interact in a world where ethnic and racial difference is the norm. The authors of The Diversity Challenge followed 2,000 UCLA students for five years in order to see how diversity affects identities, attitudes, and group conflicts over time. They found that racial prejudice generally decreased with exposure to the ethnically diverse college environment. Students who were randomly assigned to roommates of a different ethnicity developed more favorable attitudes toward students of different backgrounds, and the same associations held for friendship and dating patterns. By contrast, students who interacted mainly with others of similar backgrounds were more likely to exhibit bias toward others and perceive discrimination against their group. Likewise, the authors found that involvement in ethnically segregated student organizations sharpened perceptions of discrimination and aggravated conflict between groups. The Diversity Challenge also reports compelling new evidence that a strong ethnic identity can coexist with a larger community identity: students from all ethnic groups were equally likely to identify themselves as a part of the broader UCLA community. Overall, the authors note that on many measures, the racial and political attitudes of the students were remarkably consistent throughout the five year study. But the transformations that did take place provide us with a wealth of information on how diversity affects individuals, groups, and the cohesion of a community. Theoretically informed and empirically grounded, The Diversity Challenge is an illuminating and provocative portrait of one of the most diverse college campuses in the nation. The story of multicultural UCLA has significant and far-reaching implications for our nation, as we face similar challenges―and opportunities―on a much larger scale.

Overcoming Heterosexism and Homophobia

Price: $35.00

Editorial Reviews

This text provides ideas and strategies for affirming diversity and overcoming heterosexism and homophobia in a wide variety of settings, such as education, politics, the media and the helping profession. Providing strategies for educators, counsellors, community activists and leaders and those in the gay and lesbian communities, it is organized into four sections: Foundational Issues - an overview of heterosexism and homophobia and a multicultural perspective on communication; Working within Communities - Ethnic Groups and Family Members; Working with Students; Working in Professional Training Programs; and Working within Institutions. Role-playing exercises, methods of coming out and outlines for workshops are also included.


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