History 383 - Dr. Gayle Olson-Raymer
Introduction - California: Land of Mythology and Diversity
Introduction: Welcome to your 15-week exploration of California History. Throughout the semester, we will learn about, discuss, and analyze the historical factors that have produced the very complex and diverse state of California. In so doing, we will ...
- explore California's ethnic, economic, and geographical diversity;
- examine the efforts of those Californians who built the political, economic, and social infrastructure of the state and who helped shape what people around the world continue to call the "California Dream;" and
- learn about the courageous efforts many Californians choose to change the reality of their limited and unequal access to that dream.
Before we go any further, let's get a better understanding of the California Dream:
- How do these ads promote the California Dream?
- What are the myths promoted in these ads?
- How do these myths "sell" the California Dream to non-Californians?
- And how does this photo deflate the California Dream?
We are going to begin this semester by examining some of these myths. Our goals for today's discussion are:
- To begin exploring the geographical and other myths of California history.
- To examine the diverse geological and geographical past that determined the current geology and geography of the state of California.
- To understand the goals and expectations during the 15 weeks that we will be working together in a learning community.
Goal #1: To begin exploring the geographical and other myths of California history
Group Activity: Please take the following steps:
- Step 1: Get into ten groups of 4 people each. Each of you needs a piece of lined paper. Write your name on the paper. As you work on the assignment below, please follow these rules:
- Use legible writing
- Use every minute of time you are allowed to write.
- Please do not talk. This is a silent activity.
- Step 2: Each person will spend 5 minutes writing a response to the following question: What do you believe is the most powerful myth about California - its history, culture, economics, environment, etc.?
- Step 3: Pass your response to the person on your left. Take 5 minutes to read what was written by the other group member and write a response beneath it.You can agree or disagree, add an additional comment, ask questions, share a connection ("that reminds me ..."), or raise a whole new idea. Just keep the conversation going.
- Step 4: Pass your response to the person on your left. Take 5 minutes to read what was written by the two other group members and to respond as explained above in Step 3.
- Step 5: Pass the paper back to the original writer. Take 5 minutes to read what you originally wrote and what your other group members wrote in response and underline/highlight what you believe is the single most interesting thought that anyone wrote - including yourself.
- Step 6: Taking turns, each of you should read out loud the single most interesting thought you marked. Then take 10 minutes to decide if you can agree on the most powerful myth described by your group members. Elect a group spokesman to share your thoughts with the entire class. Be sure to turn in your papers at the end of class.
Now, let's dig into our history by examining the powerpoint presentation, California: Land of Mythology, 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 our story proceeds, we will uncover many different realities that contradict the myths about California's history. Indeed, as the course proceeds, we will learn that
- 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.
- The early economy of Spanish-dominated and later Mexican-dominated California was built on the backs of the California Indians.
- The discovery of gold and the arrival of the transcontinental railroad completely altered the political, economic, cultural, and social fabric of California.
- California's resources are not, nor have they ever been, unlimited; they are finite - especially water.
- 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 #2: To examine the diverse geological and geographical past that determined the current geology and geography of the state of California
To address this goal, we will use the powerpoint presentation, California: Land of Diversity, which can be accessed by clicking here.
If you want to access the California Earthquake map shown to the right, click the last bullet under "For more information" below. You can click on each quake for the date and magnitude.
Goal #3: To understand the goals and expectations during the 15 weeks that we will be working together in a learning community
Let's spend a few moments with the course syllabus - http://users.humboldt.edu/ogayle/hist383/Syllabus2015.html) - which I asked each of you to read prior to coming to class today. Do you have any questions about the requirements? The day-to-day coursework? Anything else?
Conclusions: California: Land of Mythology and Diversity
- Before it was ever a place, California was a mythological figment of an author's imagination.
- Course Theme: Geographical, cultural, ethnic, and geological diversity are primary ingredients in California's history.
- Course Theme: California is a place of the extreme, the unusual, and the spectacular.
- Course Theme: In geographical terms, California is a very old place; in socio-political terms, California is a relatively new place.
- 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.
- 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.
Reminder - You will have your first Cold Call at our next meeting - Elinson and Yogi, "Introduction" (pp 1-6) and "Epilogue" (pp 453-470)
For more information , see: