History 450

California History • Fall 2017

Lithograph entitled 'High and Dry' shows Gold Rush era ships dry docked in San Francisco and transformed into waterfront businesses, c. 1855 (Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley)

Lecture Schedule and Due Dates

Below you'll find an outline of our semester.

We will be reading four books (plus a few selections on iLearn). I've listed suggested reading goals for each week to help you pace yourself, so do plan accordingly. The exams and scheduled quizzes are listed in bold. Scheduled films will be viewed in class. You can find further information about the exams, quizzes, and grading here.

If you prefer a PDF copy of the syllabus, you can access it here. But please note that the details are subject to change. You're advised to bookmark this page and check it frequently for updates.


Week 1 –– Introductions

Week 2 –– Elusive Paradise

Week 3 –– Imperial California

  • Sep. 4: NO CLASS; Labor Day
  • Sep. 6: The Mission System

Week 4 –– Mexican Frontier

Week 5 –– The Gold Rush

  • Sep 18: Discovery and Frenzy in Gold Rush California
  • Sep. 20: Violence, Property, and State Making
    • Clappe, The Shirley Letters (begin)

Week 6 –– Making of American California; QUIZ

  • Sep. 25: California and the Crisis of the Union
  • Sep. 27: The Coming of the Railroad

Week 7 –– Growth, Diversity, and Conflict

Week 8 –– The Golden City; MIDTERM

  • Oct. 9: The San Francisco Quake
  • Oct. 11: MIDTERM EXAM

Week 9 –– Building Utopia in Southern California

  • Oct. 16: The “Hell Hole” of the West
  • Oct. 18: FILM: Mulholland’s Dream
    • Steinbeck, The Harvest Gypsies (begin)

Week 10 –– Boom and Bust; QUIZ

  • Oct. 23: Los Angeles in the 1920s
  • Oct. 25: Depression Era California

Week 11 –– Arsenal of Democracy

  • Oct. 30: War Mobilization and Transformation
  • Nov. 1: Race and Fear on the Pacific Coast
    • Himes, If He Hollers Let Him Go (begin)

Week 12 –– Cold War California

  • Nov. 6: The Post-War California City
  • Nov. 8: Suburban Dreams
    • Himes, If He Hollers Let Him Go (continue)

Week 13 –– The Activist State; QUIZ

  • Nov. 13: Rising Discontent
  • Nov. 15: Toward the Sixties

Week 14 –– THANKSGIVING BREAK; No classes Nov 20 - 24

Week 15 –– California and the New Right

  • Nov. 27: FILM: Berkeley in the 60s
  • Nov. 29: The Mess at Berkeley and the Rise of Reagan
    • Didion, Slouching Toward Bethlehem (begin)

Week 16 –– Visions of the Promised Land at the End of the Century; QUIZ

  • Dec. 4: Seeking the Black Promised Land
  • Dec. 6: Prop 187 and the Rise of the “Blue State”
    • Didion, Slouching Toward Bethlehem (continue)

Week 17 –– Conclusions; QUIZ

  • Dec. 11: Island or Anchor?
    • Didion, Slouching Toward Bethlehem (finish); DIDION QUIZ


Crate label for Hewes' Transcontinental Brand fruit, El Modena, California, c. 1930