History 383 - Dr. Gayle Olson-Raymer

Discussion Guides - California: Land of Mythology and Diversity

Modern Map of California

Introductory discussion:

Questions:

  1. What did you learn about California in these films?
  2. What are the myths and the realities portrayed in these films?
  3. If you lived in another country, what message would you take from these films?

Discussion Goals:

  1. To understand the goals and expectations during the 15 weeks that we will be working together in a learning community.
  2. To begin exploring the geographical and other myths of California history.
  3. To examine the diverse geological and geographical past that determined the current geology and geography of the state of California.

Goal #1: To understand the goals and expectations during the 15 weeks that we will be working together in a learning community


Goal #2: To begin exploring the geographical and other myths of California history

The powerpoint presentation, California: Land of Mythology, can be accessed by clicking here.

As we will see - The mythological origins of California are simply an introduction to the fascinating story that is California's history. As we will see as our story proceeds, there are many different realities that contradict the myths about California's history. Indeed, as the course proceeds, we will learn that

  1. Prior to the 1840s, the major historical dynamic in California was the relationship between the Hispanic colonists and Indians. There were virtually no white people or North American white people there.
  2. The early economy of Spanish-dominated and later Mexican-dominated California was built on the backs of the California Indians.
  3. The discovery of gold and the arrival of the transcontinental railroad completely altered the political, economic, cultural, and social fabric of California.
  4. California's resources are not, nor have they ever been, unlimited; they are finite - especially water.
  5. California's society is most accurately characterized by persistent inequality, attempts by certain groups to subordinate others, and inter-group tensions.

In short, we must begin to really understand one of our course themes: The real history of California is complex and filled with stories of both success and failure, power and oppression, interaction and conflict, extraordinary and ordinary individuals, environmental conservation and destruction.


Goal #3: To examine the diverse geological and geographical past that determined the current geology and geography of the state of California


Conclusions: California: Land of Mythology and Diversity

  1. Before it was ever a place, California was a mythological figment of an author's imagination.
  2. Course Theme: Geographical, cultural, ethnic, and geological diversity are primary ingredients in California's history.
  3. Course Theme: California is a place of the extreme, the unusual, and the spectacular.
  4. Course Theme: In geographical terms, California is a very old place; in socio-political terms, California is a relatively new place.
  5. Course theme: The real history of California is complex and filled with stories of both success and failure, power and oppression, interaction and conflict, extraordinary and ordinary individuals, environmental conservation and destruction.
  6. Course theme: California's society is most accurately characterized by persistent inequality, attempts by certain groups to subordinate others, and inter-group tensions between those in power and those courageous Californians who have resisted social, economic, and political oppression.

For more information , see: