History 642

Proseminar in California History • Fall 2018

Riveter at Lockheed Aircraft Corp., Burbank, CA, 1942 (National Archives)

Course Description

Welcome to History 642.

This seminar will introduce you to some of the latest and most groundbreaking works exploring the history of California and the American West. In addition, it will provide hands-on training in historical research and writing. Over the course of the semester, you will submit weekly reading responses, a paper topic, a primary source exercise, a rough draft, a peer review, and a 12 - 15 page final paper on a topic chosen within the history of California and the American West.

Prerequisites: HIST 300 and ENG 214

This website is designed as a user-friendly syllabus to use in conjunction with iLearn. Here you will find weekly schedules, assignment descriptions and due dates, and writing resources. Bookmark it, and check back often as it is subject to change.


Class Time and Location

See syllabus

Required Texts

  • Patricia Limerick, The Legacy of Conquest(selected essays)
  • Susan Lee Johnson, Roaring Camp
  • Alexander Saxton, The Indispensable Enemy
  • James Gregory, American Exodus
  • Josh Sides, LA City Limits (Free ebook via SFSU Library)
  • Lisa McGirr, Suburban Warriors (Free ebook via SFSU Library)
  • Additional articles via iLearn

Recommended Texts

  • Walton Bean and James Rawls, California: An Interpretive History (any recent edition)
  • William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White, The Elements of Style (Free ebook via SFSU Library)
  • Kate Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers

All required books are available at the student bookstore, on reserve in the SFSU library, and via online book outlets like Amazon.com and Abebooks.com new and used (~$5 to $10). Some can also be found in the SFSU library and local public libraries.

Student Learning Objectives

  • Identify the major historical changes impacting the social, cultural, economic, political, ideological, and physical landscapes of California.
  • Identify and analyze primary sources related to the history of California and the West, including conventional kinds of documents (newspapers, magazines, speeches, court rulings, etc.) and non-text sources (paintings, political cartoons, music, ads, material objects, etc.).
  • Demonstrate in writing and in discussion an ability to critically analyze various interpretations of the past.
  • Complete a primary-source based research project that communicates results within the context of major historiographical debates, using the conventions of historical writing.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of historical research and the knowledge it produces for the present.

Disneyland under construction, 1955 (Designing Disney)