California: A Sense of Place

Course Description

"A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, writes Joan Didion, "remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his image." From the Gold Rush to Hollywood to Silicon Valley, Yosemite to the Salton Sea, in this course we‚ encounter a series of writers and artists whose work is set in California, or participates in its imagining, and throughout consider how culture and a sense of place are closely related. How does a novel, photograph, or film conjure community or landscape? When we think of California, whose stories are included, and whose are left out? Possible texts: works by Mary Austin, Mike Davis, Rebecca Solnit, John Steinbeck, and Nathanael West; the films Sunset Boulevard,Clueless,and There Will Be Blood; and the art of Carlton Watkins, Dorothea Lange, Richard Misrach, Martin Ramirez, Wayne Thiebaud, and Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II. We‚Äôll visit New Almaden, a quicksilver mine in the 19thcentury, later Superfund Site, now a museum and popular trail.*For the final paper, students will research a place in California of their choice. *Or a Mission mural walk, or the Oakland Museum of California.

Syllabus Link

None available.
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