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History & Geography    

Welcome to Fall 2019!



Link here for Curiosities

T.A. Bryce Jepsen, Consultation Hours before class, 607 ST, and after

". . . 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.” Nathaniel West, The Day of the Locust (1939)


1. Course Goals & Purpose

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 environmental, economic, social, political, cultural history, and geographic contexts, though with a different focus. Staple reading in this class will be the textbook Pacific El Dorado, along insights provided by Lisbeth Haas’ Saints and Citizens, Ruthanne Lum Mc Cunn’s historical novel Thousand Pieces of Gold, and Phillip Fradkin's?Seven States of California 

The past is all around us, and it is also my hope that you will be able to observe present traces of California's history. I encourage you, as you are able, to take hikes, visit local museums, and talk to people around you. Share with us your discoveries, along with any interesting books or film/ video forms you may find. I have suggested field trips which correspond with different times in California’s history—Aboriginal California to American takeover, the Gold Rush through pre-progressive era, and the twentieth century—though there are as many field trips as you can find in your imagination. Follow your curiosity. 

2. Required Books & Reading (Also available in the Reserve Reading Room)

1-Text: Thomas Osborne, Pacific El Dorado (2013) Online at the Oviatt.

2-LisbethHaas, Saints and Citizens (2014) Online at the Oviatt.

3- Ruthanne Lum McCunn, Thousand Pieces of Gold (1981)

4-Philip Fradkin, Seven States of California (1995)

5-Additional Article Reading provided.

3. Assignments & Grading

California Curiosity Presentation, Class Participation, 10 % (100 pts)

Three Midterm Exams, 60 % (600 pts)

Three 4-6 page Essays, 30 % (300 pts)

Class Policies

Office Hours: I am on campus much, and I also do advisement for history students. My official Office Hours are Tuesdays 9:15 to 10 and Wednesdays 6 pm. . However, you can find me in my office additionally as listed on my advisement page (Just click "Yamane Advising" on my main Index page @ yamasun.net.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not wait until the day before or after work is due. I encourage you to come by to see me with questions, comments, or d. In a large class, as many of our classes now are, individual meetings help me to know both you and your work better. As a general rule here at CSUN, you should push yourself to attend instructor office hours. You will get more out of your classes, and more out of CSUN.

Attendance: Come to class and please, be on time. You are responsible for what is covered and discussed in class. If you have to miss a class, get notes from another student, look them over, and then come by with any questions.

Leaving class, coming back, leaving class, returning. . . .please remain in class until the end unless you have an emergency. If you have to plan to leave early, please sit by the door. Thank-you from myself and the rest of the class that is distracted when students do this.

No Make Ups unless you have documented reasons.

Regarding CANVAS: Please note, I ONLY use Canvas for the TURNITIN LINK on written assignments. I DO NOT USE the grading feature, the email, nor any other part of this online platform. Again, I only use it for the Turnitin Plagiarism program, and when you open our class "tile," as they call it, the links will be easily visible. Any additional reading, along with power points, will be password protected on my webpage-syllabus or emailed.

Computers, Phones, and Electronic in Class: Some people say that taking hand notes is much better for our memories than using computers. In any case, please do not come to class to watch movies or to email. Put in time and attention, and class time then will help with reading. Also, of course, no phones or electronic distractions.

Plagiarism. Using the words of others without proper quotations and citations is not allowed. Any time you "cut and paste" from the web or copy others', you render the assignment useless. Plagiarism does not help you to develop critical thinking and basic writing skills, and it is usually easy for instructors to discern. Why even bother? Reading, writing, then thinking about significance is not easy; it requires time and thoughtfulness. If you put in the time, you will be amazed by your ability write engaging essays. Also, you may ONLY use class material in your essays--that is, the required books and the additional assigned readings, as well as class lectures.