History 450

California History • Spring 2018

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 –– Elusive Paradise

Week 2 –– Imperial California

  • Jan 29: Spanish Conquest
  • Jan 31: The Mission System
    • Clappe, The Shirley Letters (begin)

Week 3 –– Mexican California

  • Feb 5: The Age of the Dons
  • Feb 7: Manifest Destiny and the Coming of the Americans
    • Clappe, The Shirley Letters (continue)

Week 4 –– Gold Rush

  • Feb 12: Discovery and Frenzy in Gold Rush California
  • Feb 14: Violence, Property, and State Making
    • Clappe, The Shirley Letters (continue)

Week 5 –– State Making

  • Feb 19: California and the Crisis of the Union
  • Feb 21: The Coming of the Railroad
    • Clappe, The Shirley Letters (finish)

Week 6 –– Growth, Diversity, and Conflict

  • Feb 26: NO CLASS
  • Feb 28: Labor and Race in San Francisco

Week 7 –– San Francisco in the Gilded Age

  • Mar 5: The Chinese in Northern California
  • Mar 7: The San Francisco Quake

Week 8 –– MIDTERM

  • Mar 12: Midterm Review
  • Mar 14: MIDTERM EXAM

Week 9 –– SPRING BREAK; No classes May 19 - 23

Week 10 –– Building Utopia in Southern California

  • Mar 26: The “Hell Hole” of the West
  • Mar 28: FILM: Mulholland’s Dream
    • Steinbeck, The Harvest Gypsies (begin)

Week 11 –– Boom and Bust

  • Apr 2: Los Angeles in the 1920s
  • Apr 4: Depression Era California
    • Steinbeck, The Harvest Gypsies (finish)

Week 12 –– Arsenal of Democracy

  • Apr 9: War Mobilization and Transformation
  • Apr 11: Race and Fear on the Pacific Coast
    • Himes, If He Hollers Let Him Go (begin)

Week 13 –– Cold War California

  • Apr 16: The Post-War California City
  • Apr 18: Suburban Dreams
    • Himes, If He Hollers Let Him Go (continue)

Week 14 –– The Activist State

  • Apr 23: Rising Discontent; TAKE-HOME ESSAY (begin)
  • Apr 25: Toward the Sixties
    • Himes, If He Hollers Let Him Go (finish)

Week 15 –– California and the New Right

  • Apr 30: The Mess at Berkeley and the Rise of Reagan
  • May 2: Seeking the Black Promised Land
    • Didion, Slouching Toward Bethlehem (begin Part I)

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

  • May 7: Prop 187 and the Rise of the “Blue State”; TAKE-HOME ESSAY DUE
  • May 9: Silicon Valley, Tech Bubbles, and Environmental Activism
    • Didion, Slouching Toward Bethlehem (finish Part I)

Week 17 –– Conclusions

  • May 14: Final Exam Review

FINAL EXAM: WEDNESDAY, MAY 23, 10:45 - 1:15p

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