California Studies Association

The latest news, events, and perspectives from the CSA

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Pop-up Talk: Lincoln Cushing on Radical Acts

Lincoln, one of our CSA steerers, gives a pop-up talk at OMCA. | Friday, August 15, 2014, 7–7:30 pm | Details:

radical-acts-1 Join archivist and author Lincoln Cushing for a brief talk in the newly reinstalled “Radical Acts” section within the Gallery of California Art. Cushing will discuss the postwar rise of social justice movements and related posters in the “All of Us Or None Archive,” a large set of political posters within the Museum’s collection. The Bay Area was a powerful node of production for these “paper bullets,” and Cushing will reveal the many layers of meaning in the posters on display. This in-Gallery pop-up talk takes place during Friday Nights @ OMCA, featuring half-off Gallery admission, Off the Grid food trucks, live music, and more.

Included with Museum admission. During Friday Nights @ OMCA, from 5 to 9 pm, admission is half-price for adults, free for ages 18 and under. Admission for Members is always free.

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California Studies Dinner Seminar: Fall Schedule

Tuesday, September 16
“Red All Over: Political and Countercultural Printshops in the Bay Area”
Lincoln Cushing

Thursday, October 16
“What’s an Icon?: Political Journeys of Elizabeth (Betita) Sutherland Martinez”
Tony Platt

Wednesday, November 19
“Upton Sinclair: California Socialist, Celebrity Journalist”
Laura Coodley

The seminars are held at the UC Berkeley Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2521 Channing Way (just east of Telegraph Ave), 7-9 p.m. Dinners free.

Contact: Myra Armstrong,, (510)643-3012.

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Bill Issel at the Commonwealth Club

Check out historian Bill Issel at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on Monday, August 25, giving a talk entitled, “The San Francisco LGBT Struggle for Freedom Revisited: Catholic Power and the Right to the City.”

Issel is an emeritus professor at SF State and has written numerous books on San Francisco history, politics and culture. You can read about his work here. Here’s an abstract of his talk:

issel coverThe LGBT movement of the 20th century became one of the challenges to Catholic power that Walter Lippmann called “the acids of modernity.” Bill Issel’s new book, Church and State in the City, describes how, in San Francisco, the church and laypeople worked to make it a Catholic city. They wanted to make their city a place where residents would be secure against modernity’s incursions. By the 1940s, Catholic power reached its zenith just as LGBT newcomers began demanding equal rights to the city. This story helps explain the city’s robust opposition to LGBT activists’ call for broader American freedoms in the 1950s and beyond.

Details and tickets here.

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The Death of the City? Reports of San Francisco’s Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

boom.2014.4.2.43- galleria photoBy Rachel Brahinsky

As part of the Boom California summer 2014 issue, I have a new essay on SF, looking at the tech boom and its effects in a new way. Here’s an excerpt:

You may have heard that the wave of gentrification that’s crashing through San Francisco these days has brought “the end of San Francisco.” You may have heard that the cool city of fog and freaks is over and done with, run over by Google buses filled with techies who have no sense of community or history. At the risk of being very unpopular, I’m going to tell you this isn’t quite true. The “Google bus,” which is what people in the Bay Area call the mass of private, tech commuter buses that fill the rush-hour streets, is not essentially the problem. In fact, it may be the seed of the solution.¹

The San Francisco Bay Area is undergoing a period of rapid transformation. In many ways, we’ve seen this boom before. Yet the unsettled atmosphere of the current moment—in which the middle class fears eviction alongside the most vulnerable—has refueled another familiar Bay Area process in the fight against displacement. The San Francisco you love exists because, as capitalism’s “creative destruction” tears through the urban landscape, community advocates fighting for what I call an “ethical city” try to reshape that destruction²—and sometimes they win.

This latest wave of advocacy has been centered around tech wealth and motivated by the great, white shuttle buses. Defended as a way to keep the tech industry “green,” even as it blocks public transit and weighs heavily on city streets, the Google bus has become a metaphor for life in an age of seemingly warp-speed urban change. Neither gentrification nor real estate flipping—in which investors buy and resell property for quick profit—were invented in San Francisco, and neither of them are new. See New York’s SoHo and Lower East Side in the 1980s and 1990s, and see cities around the globe, which have produced enough variants on the theme that academics have created an advanced taxonomy of gentrification.³ Even so, the rumble of urban change has been deeply jarring on many levels ….. Follow this link for the rest of my essay, available for free on JStor

Read the rest of the Summer 2014 issue of BOOM: What’s the Matter with San Francisco?

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“Phoebe Apperson Hearst and the Transformation of Town and Gown” Chuck Wollenberg, Berkeley Public Library Saturday, June 7 2-3:30 p.m.

Dr. Chuck Wollenberg, Berkeley City College historian, will give the second talk in the Berkeley Public Library’s program “Berkeley and the Great State U” this Saturday.  The lecture/discussion will cover Phoebe Apperson Hearst’s major role in both the transformation of Cal from an undistinguished land grant college into a major university and the city’s transformation from a rural town into an integral part of the Bay Area’s urban core during the first two decades of the twentieth century.  The talk will be in the third floor community room of the main library from 2-3:30 p.m.

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Living New Deal brings New Deal art salon to Southern California in May & June

First New Deal Salon At the Huntington

Hayward Post Office WPA Mural DetailWith a grant from the University of California Humanities Research Institute, the Living New Deal will host a series of public conversations about the legacy of the New Deal. The five salons will be held at cultural institutions throughout California. New Deal scholars Harvey Smith, Gray Brechin, and Alex Tarr will discuss the Living New Deal’s ongoing efforts to document New Deal sites and record oral histories of those whose lives were touched by the New Deal. Please join us!

Huntington Library

MAY 28, 2014




Next stops… Long Beach, San Diego….

Long Beach Museum of Art

MAY 29, 2014




San Diego History Center

JUNE 2, 2014


Then: up to Sacramento….


Sacramento Historical Society

JUNE 24, 2014


…and more coming soon!

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Your California masterpiece — published….

Exciting opportunity for scholars of California studies…. Quoting directly from the Heyday Press website:


California Historical Society Book Award

          2014 Submissions Now Open
Call for Manuscripts—July 1, 2014 Deadline

About the Contest

The California Historical Society (CHS) and Heyday have established the California Historical Society Book Award for a book-length manuscript that makes an important contribution to both scholarship and to the greater community by deepening public understanding of some aspect of California history. The prize carries a $5,000 advance and publication in both print and e-book formats by CHS/Heyday, with an awards ceremony, ample promotion, and an author tour throughout the state.

The purpose of the award is to recognize and promote an exciting new literary work in celebration of California’s heritage. The ideal manuscript will inform the minds and delight the imaginations of readers while generating a deeper understanding of California’s rich history. The work must adhere to high scholarly and literary standards and must be lively and engaging to general readers. In addition to conventional works of historical scholarship, other genres will be considered, such as biographies, collections of letters or essays, creative nonfiction, and other stimulating literary forms.



  • The topic should be broad enough to be of interest to readers throughout the state.
  • Authors with either manuscripts in progress or finished manuscripts are welcome to apply.
  • Manuscripts, when finished, should be at least 40,000 words. While we are open to other possibilities, preference will be given to manuscripts of fewer than 75,000 words.

Head to the Heyday website for information about how to apply….


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