What swims beneath the sun-drenched surface of California life? Where has California been, and where is it going? What does the “California Dream” stand for today?
This course explores the hidden sources of California’s unique mix of sunshine and noir--its interactions of vision and violence, transformation and conflict, pleasure and disaster. We’ll cover the growth of the suburbs, the bohemian culture boom, immigration then and now, the rise of the University of California, sexual revolt and political protest, Chicano blowouts and civil rights, Dogtown surfing culture and the environmental crisis, Hollywood and celebrity, the Contra wars and the crack epidemic, the tech industry and the surveillance state, and California’s immediate future. We’ll ask, “Is California Over?” as some say? “Is California Back,” as Governor Jerry Brown insists? Books by Paul Beatty, Joan Didion, Jack Kerouac, Maxine Hong Kingston and Luis Alberto Urrea; Films by Robert Altman and others.
Requirements: final exam, midterm paper and final paper or personal memoir.