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Course Information

Instructor Info:Michele Hardesty
Office Extension x5490
Margaret Cerullo
Office Extension x5514
TA Info:Edie Buddington
Erika Held
Term: 2012F
Meeting Info: Wednesday
02:30 PM - 05:20 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 107

Our vision for this course is to facilitate critical thinking about the history, ideas and practices of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) in New York City, and the broader “Occupy/Decolonize” movement.

Our first two classes will attempt to frame our analysis of Occupy Wall Street. We will start by asking: Who are we? What has brought each of us here to study this movement? How will we operate as a group? We will move on to ask questions about Occupy Wall Street as an (ongoing) historical event: What makes a historical moment significant? How does one approach studying and writing about such a moment? In the weeks that follow, our discussions and panels will be organized around a series of key terms: Wall Street, the City, the Commune, Occupation, Decolonization, the Police, Imagination, Debt, and the Precariat. In doing so, we will move from the financial crisis of 2008 to the spread of Occupy/Decolonize sites worldwide, then finish with some of the issues (student debt, foreclosures, and precarious labor) that continue to animate the work of Occupy activists.

For six weeks this semester, our three-hour class period will be split between discussion of the readings in FPH 107 and a panel discussion with activists and scholars that will take place in the West Lecture Hall of FPH and will be open to the public. These panels will begin at 4pm SHARP.

Course Objectives:


As we were preparing this course, one of our librarians made an insightful remark: “Life events don’t fall neatly into disciplines.” In other words, when something like Occupy Wall Street (and the wider Occupy/Decolonize movement) happens, it demands a multi- or interdisciplinary approach to understand it. Anthropologists may conduct ethnographies of the occupiers, urban planners and geographers may examine how OWS illuminates issues of public space, and historians may trace the origins of Occupy/Decolonize to any number of social movement histories. Yet we propose with this course that we need multiple disciplinary lenses to fully account for the significance of something like Occupy Wall Street. At the same time, we acknowledge that Occupy itself has opened up new languages and frameworks of inquiry. Our first goal, then, is to strengthen our abilities to pursue multi- and interdisciplinary inquiries into an ongoing event/movement, and, in doing so, develop a stronger critical understanding of the Occupy movement.

Building on our librarian’s comment above, the material for this course does not fall neatly into categories of “scholarly”/“nonscholarly” or primary/secondary sources. We will look at blog entries written by professors and scholarly journal pieces written by poets. In addition to traditional scholarly sources we will look at incendiary manifestoes and equally incendiary cable TV programs, with vastly different political perspectives. We will look at accounts written by observers with widely varying proximity to Zuccotti Park. Very importantly, in our panels we will hear from activists, organizers, and scholars—some of whom are alumni of Hampshire—who continue to engage in projects related to Occupy. Accordingly, then, you will learn to engage with and evaluate a wide spectrum of voices and sources, thus becoming stronger researchers of—and participants in—our contemporary world.

Evaluation Criteria:

Participation: This course is a discussion-based seminar; your preparation andparticipation is crucial to its success. Plan to attend all class meetings, and come to class prepared to discuss the week’s assigned readings.

Weekly Assignments: We will be using forums on Moodle for weekly response writing. These responses should represent a serious and questioning engagement with the ideas of our readings/viewings, and should be 300-900 words, with in-text citations to our readings and any other source you use. You may skip three assignments over the course of the semester—meaning you will complete a total of seven posts—and we suggest you save these for busy times instead of using them all at the beginning of the term. You may also post in excess of these minimums, and we encourage you to read and comment on your classmates’ postings. Response postings are due at 12pm on Wednesdays; late postings will not count towards your total.

Research Essay: The major assignment of the semester is a substantial research essay of 12-15 pages for which you will prepare a preliminary proposal, an annotated bibliography, a draft, and a final essay. Your research project should undertake to examine (and make a critical argument about) a specific aspect, event, location, campaign, or text related to one (or possibly two) “Occupy” sites. Your project can be collaborative in its research phase, but each student will write an essay. The due dates for the essay are in the schedule below, and more details on this assignment will be forthcoming.

Project Presentation: The final two class meetings of the semester will be devoted to short (10 minute) presentations of your final projects that will be open to the Hampshire community.

Self-Evaluation: We ask you to write a final self-evaluation of your performance inthe course and post it to The Hub by Friday, December 14 at noon. Self-evaluations are crucial to us for evaluating your semester’s work.

Additional Info:


Course Website: This syllabus is available in electronic form on our course website, which you can access via the library website, or directly at

Writing Center: Deb Gorlin: or x5531; Ellie Siegel,, offices located in Greenwich.

Library: Cultural Studies and Humanities librarian Bonnie Vigeland: x5649,; Critical Social Inquiry librarian Caro Pinto,, x5704.

Disability Services: If you have a disability that might affect your ability to meet the expectations of this course, please contact Joel Dansky, Disabilities Services Coordinator, at x5423 or, or stop by his office at CASA’s new home in Lemelson. Registering with Disability Services allows us to make specific accommodations for you in class.



Required books (available at Food for Thought Books, 106 N. Pleasant St., Amherst Center)

Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

            The New Press, 2010, 2012.

Blumenkranz, Carla et al. Occupy!: Scenes from Occupied America. Verso, 2011.

The Invisible Committee. The Coming Insurrection. Semiotext(e), 2009.

Lang, Amy, and Daniel Lang/Levitsky. Dreaming in Public: Building the Occupy Movement.

            New Internationalist, 2012.


   Also required


Boyd, Andrew, ed. Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution. OR Books, 2012.

            Available online – you may use the website or purchase the book – at



All other materials are available via our course website on Moodle.