Class Schedule


Exam Study Guide

Paper Guide

Califoria Maps

Required Books:

1-Chan & Olin, Major Problems in California History (Houghton Mifflin, 1997)

2-Thorne, El Capitan (Malki-Ballena Press, 2012)

3-Brands, The Age of Gold (Anchor Books, 2002)

4-Fradkin, The Seven States of California (University of California, 1997)

5-Various Moodle Readings (I simply use Moodle as a Reader)

Spring 2017


Midterm Questions are up!



". . . But not even the soft wash of dusk could help the houses. Only dynamite would be of any use against the Mexican ranch houses, Samoan huts, Mediterranean villas, Egyptian and Japanese temples, Swiss chalets, Tudor cottages, and every possible combination of these styles that lined the slopes of the canyon.

When he noticed that they were all of plaster, lath and paper, he was charitable and blamed their shape on the materials used. Steel, stone and brick curb a builder's fancy a little, forcing him to distribute his stresses and weights and to keep his corners plumb, but plaster and paper know no law, not even that of gravity.

On the corner of La Huerta Road was a miniature Rhine castle with tarpaper turrets pierced for archers. Next to it was a highly colored shack with domes and minarets out of the Arabian Nights. Again he was charitable. Both houses were comic, but he didn't laugh. their desire to startle was so eager and guileless.” from Nathaniel West, The Day of the Locust (1939)

What is the (S)tate of California? Are we extraordinarily innovative, or especially imitative? Are we truly unique, or a mere reflection of the nation as a whole? Part of the West, or an extension of the East? What part of our State's identity is myth, and what part reality? We will chase down ideas about our "elusive Eden" by following shifting land and resource use, various cultural influences, and governing polities from the time of indigenous populations to the present. How have environmental, economic, social, and political forces molded California, and which of these do you consider most significant?

This is a survey class of California’s history and geography, and the purpose is to gain a basic understanding of California’s spatial patterns in historical context. The two are a natural blend because historians often begin with geography, and geographers study connections between environment and people. Scholars in both fields consider connections between people and place over time. Staple reading in this class will be from the Major Problems in California History, El Capitan, The Age of Gold, The Seven States of California, along with some Moodle Readings.

The past is all around us, and it is also my hope that you will be able to observe traces of California's history present in our region. I encourage you, as you are able, to take hikes, visit local museums, and talk to people who have experienced our history. Share with us your discoveries, along with any interesting books or film/ video forms you may find. From hikes in the Santa Monica mountains to visiting any on of the rich variety of museums, there are many ways to learn about California's past. Follow your curiosity.