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Course Information

Instructor Info:James Wald
Office Extension x5592
Term: 2012F
Meeting Info: Wednesday
02:30 PM - 05:20 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 101

It is fashionable today to speak of "sustainability," but how do we understand the term in its broadest sense? Historic preservation plays a key role in researching our history, building civic identity, and creating sustainable communities. Once associated primarily with saving the elegant buildings of the elite, historic preservation today involves vernacular as well as distinguished architecture, landscapes as well as the built environment, and the stories of all social groups. Preservation and adaptive reuse of old buildings play a key role in both economic and environmental policy. Students will study general preservation theory and practice and in particular conduct research on Amherst's history and historic resources. Students will visit local historic sites, document collections, and museums. Project may include contributions to the Jones Library's new "Digital Amherst" initiative.

Course Objectives:

Course Objectives:


• to teach students about public history and historic preservation as fields

• to introduce students to the application of these fields in public life

• contextualize or problematize these fields by studying their origins and evolution rather than just current practice

• to teach students about local history

More generally:

• to help students to gain a sense of historical perspective on their world

• to help students to see how history plays a role in contemporary life and public policy

• to help students to develop advanced research and writing skills


Evaluation Criteria:

Evaluation Criteria: Students will complete the readings and writing assignments on time, attend class, and participate in class discussion of the readings. In short, they will accept the responsibilities inherent in a seminar format.


Written work:

• In the course of the term, students will prepare several response papers or short essays, based on the assigned readings or a small research task. (There will probably be weekly assignments of this sort, with some possible variation.)

• The core of the work and evaluation, however, involves the research project. The final product can take various forms, depending on student interest: anything from a traditional long research paper to a sort of policy document or other text relevant to actual preservation work; entries for Digital Amherst, etc.  In all cases, though, the final product will be undergirded by the equivalent of a research paper.


Additional Info:


The following books are available for purchase at Amherst Books:

8 Main St., Amherst /  tel. 413-256-1547

• Norman Tyler, Ted J. Ligibel, and Ilene R. Tyler, Historic Preservation:  An Introduction to Its History, Principles, and Practice, 2nd ed. (NY and London: W. W. Norton & Company, 2009)

• Max Page and Randall Mason, eds., Giving Preservation a History: Histories of Historic Preservation in the United States (NY and London:  Routledge, 2004)

• Daniel Bluestone, Buildings, Landscapes, and Memory: Case Studies in Historic Preservation (NY and London: W. W. Norton, 2011) [hardcover]

These three titles will also be on reserve at the Circulation Desk of the Library.

• All other course readings will be available in electronic form via the course website.


Note: I am all too aware that books are more expensive than we would like, but there is really nothing that one can do about that. And, copyright regulations allow us to scan only small portions of a book, which will not suffice if we are using all or most of a given title. I have chosen three of the most important titles in the field, and I have in addition reduced the number of titles from the five that I used last time to three this semester. As it is, books are the tools of our trade, and owning books is part of being a scholar.

I have placed an order with Amherst Books because it is a small, independent bookstore, run by a Hampshire alumnus who has also taught here. It will provide excellent and informed service as well as a wide range of standard works as well as other titles that you might not find elsewhere. The bookstore can also order additional copies quickly if a given title is out of stock.

Ultimately, though, my only requirement is that you do the reading: whether you purchase the books yourself, read them in the library, share them with another student--whatever.

Especially if you do not purchase the books, you will need to take good notes, in order to have a means of retrieving and reviewing the material for purposes of discussion and written assignments.