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Spring 2017

Place Courses

American Studies 102 Hands on the Vine: The California Wine Industry
  • TTh 2-3:30
  • A. Saragoza
  • 370 Dwinelle
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 12391
Cross-listed with Chicano Studies 180

This course examines the California wine industry and the people involved in its production, emphasizing those who do the actual labor, from grape pickers and cellar masters to the vineyard managers and winemakers. The course emphasizes the period since the famous wine tasting competition between California and French wines in 1976, which marks the onset of the “boom” in wine consumption in the U.S. The course takes into account social and cultural trends that impact on the wine industry as well as other key attendant issues: immigrant labor, foreign competition, styles of wine making, and the multiplier effects of the industry, e.g., wine tourism. The course features field trips and guest lectures by farm workers, vineyard managers, wine makers, and winery owners.

American Studies 102 What is This?! Writing About American Things
  • T 9-12
  • A. Shanken
  • 270 Wurster
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 12392

This is a small, specialized seminar course. If interested, please talk to a faculty advisor before enrolling.

The word “thing” comes from proto-Germanic words like thingam that surprisingly are about assembly, council, and discussion. Things, those inert objects we place on shelves, throw in drawers, and jettison on trash heaps, have their roots in action, communication, and space. There is no “thing” without its corresponding behavior and there is no behavior without its corresponding place. This class looks at the relationship between things, actions, communication, and place, and it does so particularly within the modern American context of production, consumption, and obsolescence. It is primarily a class in writing creative non-fiction (and reading it). Students will be asked to write short weekly essays about stuff: bricks, paper clips, bras, marbles, collectibles, junk; the places we keep them: mantles, boxes, boutiques, attics; and what they say to us and about us. The class is intended as a supportive workshop environment for students to observe closely and write incisively about the things around them.

American Studies 110 Staging California
  • TTh 2-3:30
  • S. Steen
  • 534 Davis
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 31988


This course takes our home state of California as the site through which to explore how cultural systems of performance help shape social systems of race.  We will consider the role a range of performance forms--theater, film, pageants, political protests--have played in shaping California’s unique cultural and racial topography.  From the theatricalization of Chinatown in Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song to that of urban riots in Twilight, from the staging of farmworkers' rights to the configuration of the region by Disney in its state-themed park, performance strategies have been used by a variety of agents towards a wide range of social and political goals.  We will use the histories of play productions, films, and para-theatrical performances to interrogate conceptions of California as a “post-racial” state.   

American Studies H 110 The Road in American History
  • W 2-5
  • D. Henkin
  • 104 GPBB
  • 3 Units
  • Class Number: 31952

NOTE: Honors seminar. Requires consent of instructor and/or approval of faculty advisor to enroll.

This seminar takes seriously the idea that paved roads and well-worn paths have been powerful material forces in the historical formation of U.S. society, culture, and politics, while simultaneously offering resonant symbols of national identity and personal transformation throughout that history. Starting around 1800 and moving to the end of the twentieth century, we will study selected sites, moments, and artistic works that illuminate this rich topic.  Requirements include extensive reading, regular participation in discussion, and three written assignments (but no term paper or research project).

American Studies C 111 E The Field: California Farmworker Literature
  • TTh 2-3:30
  • M. Gonzalez
  • 240 Bechtel
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 32121
Cross-listed with English C136

This course will focus on the lives and struggles of Mexican farm workers in California as represented in Chicano/a literature from the 1970s to the early twentieth-first century—or roughly the period that coincides with the rise of neoliberalism as a dominant politico-economic system in Western capitalism.  We’ll consider the ways that the daily struggles and political movements of Mexican farmworkers link Chicano/a history to immigration law, state repression, racialization, gender discrimination, class exploitation, and the expansive power of transnational agricultural corporations.  All of the literary works that we’ll study in this course document or dramatize these links either thematically or formally.  We’ll also read several essays on history and literary criticism to contextualize the literature, and we’ll view two films.  Required assignments will include a midterm, a class presentation, and two papers. 

Reading List:
Diana Garcia, When Living was a Labor Camp
Rigoberto González, Crossing Vines
Rose Castillo Guilbault, Farmworker’s Daughter: Growing Up Mexican in America
Bruce Neuburger, Lettuce Wars
Salvador Plascencia, The People of Paper
Gary Soto, Jesse
Gary Soto, The Elements of San Joaquin
Helena María Viramontes, Under the Feet of Jesus

Films: Alambrista and Fighting for Our Lives

American Studies C 112 B The American Cultural Landscape - 20th Century
  • Th 11-12:30
  • A. Craghead
  • 145 McCone
  • 4 Units
  • Class Number: 32764
Cross-listed with Geography 160B
Section 101, Tues 1-2, 145 McCone
Section 102, Wed 12-1, 145 McCone
Section 103, Thurs 10-11, 145 McCone

This course introduces ways of seeing and interpreting American histories and cultures, as revealed in everyday built surroundings—homes, highways, farms, factories, stores, recreation areas, small towns, city districts, and regions. This course encourages students to read ordinary landscapes as records of past and present social relations, and to speculate for themselves about cultural meanings.  This course deals with culture, and America, but it does not deal equally with three different cultures.  Thus, with our apologies, it does NOT satisfy the University's American Cultures requirement. There are no prerequisites.  You may take this “B” course even if you have not had the “A” course.  People from all majors are enthusiastically welcomed.