History 642

Proseminar in California History • Fall 2018

Mexican-American cannery workers on break outside the Southern California Fish Co., 1947 (Los Angeles Public Library)

Requirements and Grading

Your success in this course depends upon thoughtful work in each of the following:

  • Class Participation = 20%
  • Class Presentations = 10%
  • Reading Responses = 20%
  • Paper Prep Assignments = 20%
  • Research Paper = 30%

Below you'll find details for each of these requirements. Be sure to take note of all due dates. Extensions will not be granted except for documented, legitimate emergencies.


Class Attenance and Participation

A seminar course is an on-going discussion, so your attendance and active participation in every class will be crucial. And it is mandatory. You’re also required to come to class having completed the week’s assigned readings for that date and prepared to discuss them. This a reading-intensive class, so I recommend bringing reading notes to class to keep you focused and ready to contribute. In sessions centered on paper preparation and oral presentations, you’ll be expected to listen actively and provide constructive criticism. PLEASE NOTE: More than 2 unexcused absences will be reflected in a significantly lower final grade.

Class Presentations

Each student will lead two class meetings over the course of the semester, both with a partner. During your two scheduled classes, you and your partner will present a 10 to 15 minute summary of the reading, including some questions you both would like the class to consider. Then, with my help, the two of you will guide the conversation. I’ll also be available to help groups prepare. You’ll be graded on preparation, organization, and your ability to work as a pair.

Reading Responses

A short but thoughtful response to each week's readings will help you prepare for our discussions. Each week, in no more than 1 typed page, you will give a brief summary and offer your assessments of the key argument(s). All responses should be submitted via iLearn no later than midnight on the date listed in the syllabus schedule. PLEASE NOTE: Responses submitted late will not be accepted.

Paper Prep Assignments

  • Paper Proposal (4%)
  • Primary Source Exercise (4%)
  • Draft (4%)
  • Peer Review (4%)
  • Paper Presentation (4%)

Your aim in this course is to produce a superbly organized and thoughtfully written research paper. To that end, you’ll submit the above preparatory assignments as you work toward completing the final paper. PLEASE NOTE: Failure to complete ANY TWO of the Paper Prep Assignments will result in a failing grade for the course.

Research Paper

Throughout the semester, you will work toward the completion of a 12 - 15 page research paper (excluding title page and bibliography) on a chosen topic within the theme of American popular culture. This paper will be based in primary source evidence and situated within secondary source interpretations. PLEASE NOTE: Late papers will be penalized ½ a grade if submitted after the deadline and then ½ a grade for each additional 24 hours.

History Graduate Students

Graduate students will write a longer research paper (20-25 pages), and will be expected to lead one class independently. They will also write an additional 4 page book review of a book of their choice in consultation with me.

Filipino-American agricultural laborer, c. 1930 (James Earl Wood Photograph Collection)