March 29 – American Politics & Community Today: Reading & Discussion Series (Session 3)

American Politics & Community Today: Reading & Discussion Series
Wednesday, March 29 will be the third in our four part series ending on April 12. This series is possible through a generous grant by the Humanities New York foundation, and the Roxbury Arts Group.






The Reading and Discussion group will meet between 6:00 – 7:30p at the Roxbury Arts Center, 5025 Vega Mountain Road, Roxbury NY

What does it mean to be an American in the 21st century? What does a model American do, and what responsibilities do Americans have to their communities and to each other? Have the answers to these questions changed over the history of the United States? Questions such as these will be explored in this new Reading & Discussion Series being offered by the Roxbury Arts Group.


Discussion leader (not teacher) Jennifer Kabat:
Most important for our group is good discussion. I’m not a teacher; my job is to  make sure our conversation is open, trusting, respectful…. We’re talking about  citizenship and civics. We live in a small community with diverse opinions and have  come from a bruising election cycle. Key to our success is openness, to treat  everything everyone says with respect. We might be practicing together some of the  ideas in the first book we will be reading. 

Some basic ideas to bear in mind:

  • Don’t interrupt. Let people complete their thoughts. 
  • Some people in the group might be shyer than others or less comfortable expressing their ideas than others. Some might be developing nascent ideas.Give those less comfortable talking room to speak.
  • What we say here, stays here. Think of this as a safe space to develop and experiment with ideas.
  • In discussions there might be pauses, quiet. That’s okay.
  • To recap: Week 1, March 1: Prologue and Chapter 1 Talking to Strangers-Introductions: Who are we all? Why are we here-Overview of good discussion practices.– Reading a brief passage together and discussing it.
  • To Recap: Week 2 March 15, Part One Talking to Strangers pp 1-49Supplementary podcast to listen to Freakonomics, “Trust Me,” November 10, 2017,  27 minutes. (You can listen via the site or else on your phone via iTunes). There’s also a  transcript online. 

    Johannes Adam Oertel: Pulling Down the Statue of King George III, 1848

    Week 3 March 29 
    Part II, Chapter 7 pp 86-98  Part III, Chapter 8 and Chapter 11 pp 101-118; 161-186
    Supplementary Reading for this week’s discussion (considering bigger questions  about trust and citizenship)
    Evan Osnos, “Doomsday Prep for the Super Rich,” The New Yorker, Jan 30, 2017

    (Professor Kabat can email you a pdf).

    Supplementary Reading for Talking to Strangers that provides some background for the book:
    Annette Gordon Reed, “The Captive Aliens Who Remain Our Shame,” Review of The  Common Cause, Creating Race and Nation in the American Revolution (image above). The New York  Review of Books, January 19, 2017.

    (Professor Kabat can email you a pdf).

    Hua Hsu, “White Plight,” The New Yorker, July 25, 2016.

    (Professor Kabat can email you a pdf)


    Participants are able to borrow books directly from the Roxbury Arts Group for this program. To request a copy, email Miguel Martinez Riddle at or call 607.326.7908.

    Leading the discussion series is Margaretville resident Jennifer Kabat. Kabat, a writer and essayist, is also a co-founder of the collaborative essay site, The Weeklings. She has been a guest critic at Yale, the Rhode Island School of Design, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, and other institutions. Her writing has been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, BOMB, Harper’s, The Believer, The White Review, Salon, The Guardian, and Granta, among others. She has recieved multiple grants to support her writing and was recently artist-in-residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts in California. She teaches contemporary art and theory at New York University and design writing at the School of Visual Arts. Currently she is finishing up a collection of essays GROWING UP MODERN exploring civic values from where she grew up outside of Washington DC to where she lives now right here in the Catskills.