This course is an introduction to California literature and culture after 1940. The title comes from the fact that California, the country’s most populous state, has always been a crossroads, and has been settled and developed by people from every part of the United States and the rest of the world. California has never been unified and integrated: 42% of its population speaks a language other than English at home, and the Department of Motor Vehicles offers the driver’s license exam in 31 languages. California is also a legendary place of pleasure and abundance. We will ask and answer the following questions: How has California’s turbulent history been at the same time so inspiring and productive? What has made California a global power in both technology and culture? What created “Golden State” California, and where did it go? After years of crisis, what are the forces driving California’s recovery? Finally, what will the next version of California look like?
Lecture topics include California’s nine ecologies, the World War II years, building the suburbs, racial segregation and civil rights, evolution of Hollywood, sources and impacts of immigration, literary and art movements, Berkeley in the 60s, the Higher Education master plan, Black Panthers and radical movements, the era of Proposition 13, agribusiness and the farm workers' movement, multiculturalism, Silicon Valley and the New Economy, drugs, gangs, crime and the prison boom, California and the new media, “Mexifornia,” Age of Arnold, the Next California.
Grading will be based on three quizzes, a final exam, and two papers (the second paper may be a personal memoir).
Once this course is full/closed, you can sign up to the wait list at:
Students on the wait-list must attend the first day of lecture/section to enroll in the course. For more information see the English Department Crash Policy.