History 450

California History • Spring 2018

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

Assignments and Grading

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

  • Midterm = 30%
  • Take-Home Essay Exam = 30%
  • Final Exam = 40%
  • Class Participation = Priceless

Below you'll find details for each of these requirements. Be sure to dates for scheduled exams. Please note: make-up exams are rarely granted and only for legitimate emergencies.

Midterm and Final Exam

Both exams will include short identifications and essay questions. Both will cover course readings, lecture material, and films. The final exam will be cumulative.

Take-Home Essay Exam

The Take-Home Essay Exam will include two questions focused around course readings and films. Students will have two weeks to complete it from the day the exam is distributed.

Class Participation

Regular attendance and active participation are not only critical to ensuring that we have a rich and lively learning environment, but they are also key to success in this course. Come to class prepared to share your perspectives, ask questions, and engage with your fellow classmates.

Classroom Policies


We will always begin promptly, so please arrive on time. Also, DO NOT pack up and begin to leave before lecture is over. Besides being a distraction to your classmates and to me, you will miss the important points that I save for the end.

Electronic Devices

I ask that students DO NOT use laptops or electronic tablets for note taking. Studies show that note taking with paper and pen maximizes learning. Plus, electronics can distract other students (and the professor). If you need digital copies of your notes, you can snap a photo of written notes later. If you have a disability or other learning needs that require you to use a device in lecture, please let me know and we’ll work it out. Always silence cell phones before class, and stow them away. If you must take or make an emergency call, please step out through the back door.

Discussion Etiquette

When participating in class discussion, do be courteous and respectful. At times we will venture into topics that may spark debate. Diverse perspectives are always encouraged, but when disagreeing, please always strive to be generous and open-minded rather than dismissive.

Missed Exams and Extensions

I will not make arrangements for make-up exams or extensions except for those who have a valid emergency. Routine illnesses, commute troubles, travel plans, work-related conflicts, etc. are not considered emergencies. Remember, exams are scheduled well in advance, so be sure to check the class schedule and plan accordingly.

About Disturbing Material

History, when studied with precision and depth, is messy. In order to examine difficult questions about California's past, historians must engage with all kinds of material, including material that’s upsetting. This class will expose you to the concepts, viewpoints, expressions, and images of previous eras. Some of it will be challenging. Your decision to enroll in this course is considered a voluntary agreement to participate in classes where you may encounter this kind of material. However, if a topic provokes feelings of trauma or panic, you may step out of the room without penalty. Just remember that you will still be responsible for any class content you miss.

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