Natural and Cultural Histories of California

What do we include, what is not included, and what are the consequences of knowing (or not knowing) the lives and experiences of people as well as animals, as we tell the story of California? 

Maryanne Tompkins “Golden Girls”: Women in 1850s California This project explores the letters and personal accounts of women in California during the 1850s to reconsider women’s roles and hardships in the Gold Rush era

Sarah Young: Condor Country This project focuses on the natural history of the California Condor, including the role of the California Condor in Native American cultures and the depletion and the recovery of the bird population during the twentieth century

Nathan Parker: The California Bird Project This field guide of 10-15 native California birds examines their natural habitat and the human impact on the life of the native birds.

Justin Thibault: The California Dream: Greater than the Storm This project examines the San Francisco earthquake (1906), the St. Francis Dam failure (1928), the Crescent City Tsunami (1964), the Cedar Fire in San Diego (2003), and the La Conchita Landslide (2005) to explore the people who live in a place that is at a constant risk for a devastating disaster?”

Kate Witschonke: Conservation and Recreation in California This project investigates the people who shaped the conservation movement in California and how conservation created what we call today outdoor recreation

Kate Faulkner: California Conservation This project documents the history of Yosemite National Park and the impact of the Park on California. Pictures, videos, personal journals and other primary and secondary sources show the impact of nature and outdoor activity on Californians since John Muir.

Building and Cultivating California: Architecture, Agriculture, Viticulture

The emergence of Californiaa material and ideological processdepended in large measure on how the growing population lived and the built environments that defined the day-to-day lives of the people drawn to the golden state, as well as the agricultural development that took root in the fertile soils of the central valley and in the wine country on the North Coast and inland valleys.

Senada Dushaj: Building the California Dream: Art and Architecture in California From the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in San Diego to the twentieth century, this project tells the story of the emergence of the Spanish Colonial Revival Style and presents a portfolio of California architectural styles.

Phil Cohen California Architecture This project looks at how styles of architecture have shaped the culture of California from the Gold rush era to the present–from the Spanish Colonial style to the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright

Jamie Craig Agricultural Policy and the Control of Nature The purpose of this project is to dig deeper into the history of agricultural policy and how events such as the hoof and mouth disease epidemic of 1924 and the Mediterranean fruit fly eco-terrorist attack in 1989 changed agricultural policies.

Anissa Girard: California and the Brick of Wine This project tells the story of the California wine industry through a history of Napa Valley that includes the effects of the Volstead Act.

Representing California: Geography, Literature, Film

California dreaming describes a process of making: of associating particular spaces and places with a cultural imaginary we call California. The cliche images of beaches and surfer dudes, palm trees and wide sun-splashed boulevards and the generative subcultural currents that enliven and complicate our dreams. Dreams take hold in our minds and become less ephemeral representations The ongoing imagining, making, constructing, mapping of space, both physical and cultural, across time, inevitably constrained by the limitations of the places where we actually are, and at the same time open to renegotiation: of relations among peoples and places. 

Emily McLaughlinCalifornia’s Geographical Diversity This projects represents California through the geographical diversity of the Golden State

Jessie Myers: John Steinbeck and the Literature of California This project explores how of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and Grapes of Wrath represents the history culture of California in relation to photographs from the 1930s and the Great Depression

Abby Shepherd: Judy Garland: The Judy Garland Project presents a chronology of the life in chronological order from 1922 to 1969 through newspaper articles, direct quotations, and media images

Lucy Martel: Words of California The Words from California Project documents the words associated with California and explains how these words offer insight into the diverse culture and people of California

California Subcultures

If culture is a term that names a dominant or normative set of material things and beliefs in a society then a subculture can be understood as a more refined description of cultures that are always more than constituted as a majority or a dominant group. Subcultures are emergent spaces for people who share common values that often do not align with the more general and abstract idea of a singular culture. Subcultures are often positional, whether explicitly or implicitly diverging or dissenting  from the mainstream culture of which they are a part, or they are a part of the mainstream. 

Devon Sacca Crystals, Culture, California This project documents the history and philosophy and practices of the world’s largest public school of Wicca and the Magical Arts, “Our Lady of Enchantment Seminary of Wicca,” in Clearlake, California.

Bill Connor: California Beach Culture The California Beach Project documents the natural and cultural history of California’s iconic beaches and explores the complex beach culture that has developed in California since the 1950s

Zach Rollins Professional Sports in the Golden State This project documents the culture of professional sports teams and the images and lifestyles of professional athletes who play for California’s major sports franchises

Cullen Willey A Cultural History of Skateboarding in California This project documents the birth of skateboarding in California during the 1960s and the development of skateboarding during the following decades

Counterculture and 1960s

Ryan Brady: The World they Imagined: Haight-Ashbury 1967 This project investigates the cultural phenomenon of the summer of love through the works and words of activists, musicians, poets, writers, and photographers.

Kate Sullivan 1969 Altamont Music Festival This project tells the story and explains the historical significance of the Altamont Music Festival to better understand a year in which both Altamont and Woodstock dominated the cultural imagination.

Wilda Joseph: Hippie Counter-Culture in 1960s: If it Feels Good, Do It This project examines the hippie movement in California during the 1960s and explain how the movement started, its development, and its impact on the culture of California and more broadly the cultural history of the United States.

Brianna Bunjaporte The Hippie Movement and its Legacy in California Culture This project looks at how the hippie movement has shaped ideals of beauty, class, and culture

Music of California

Steve Sullivan: The Mamas and the Papas’ Contribution to California Music This project explores how the Mamas and Papas (Michelle Phillips, Cass Elliot, Denny Doherty, and John Phillips) shaped the culture of music in California and influenced other musicians

Ben Cooper: Red Hot Chili Peppers This project explains how the music and culture of California influenced the Red Hot Chili Peppers and how the Red Hot Chili Peppers influenced other California musicians and brought together a following of dedicated fans

Brianna Majors: Hip Hop and Gangsta Rap in 1980s California This project tells the story of how Gangsta rap shaped a distinctive subgenre of music that fed into mainstream music and created a cultural conversation about black experience

Thomas Ledbury, The Grateful Dead This project focuses on fan culture, the common experience of the music of the Grateful Dead, and the contribution of the band to the everlasting dream of California

Chuck Khoury From the Underground the Mainstream: Social Movements and Musicians in California This project describes underground social movements (summer of love, Hip hop and rap, punk movement) to analyze how the music was so important in the spread of social awareness on a nation wide level and the messages it carried.

Eddie Dionne The Sounds of the Golden State: Surf Rock This project explains California through the lyrics, artists, and venues of Surf Rock

Maddie Ratcliff: Music is California This project documents California music from the past, its influence on the music of the present, and its role in shaping popular music today

Taylor Stanizzi The Music and Photography of California This project explores the relationship between music and image, sound and photography, by exploring how images of California can be part of the experience of music