California Studies Association

The latest news, events, and perspectives from the CSA

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UC Berkeley California Studies Dinner Seminar: Frances Dinkelspiel “Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession, and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California” September 24, 2015

Author and journalist Frances Dinkelspiel will discuss her new book, “Tangled Vines,” on Thursday, September 24 from 7 to 9:15 p.m.  The book tells the story of the destruction by arson of more than $250 million worth of wine in a Vallejo warehouse in 2005, in the context of the long history of crime and violence in California vineyards, including those of the author’s great-great grandfather I.W. Hellman.  Dinkelspiel is the author of a Hellman biography and co-founder of the news website “Berkeleyside.”  The event will be at the UCB Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2521 Channing Way (just east of Telegraph Ave.).

Free admission and dinner.

Contact Margaret Olney at, 510-643-8140

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UC Berkeley California Studies Dinner Seminar: Fall Schedule

The Cal Studies Dinner Seminar has lasted for more than twenty-five years.  We’re older if not wiser, and with generous support from the UCB Institute for Research on Labor and Employment and the Townsend Center for the Humanities, we’re ready for another academic year.  Here is the fall schedule:

Thursday September 24:  Frances Dinkelspiel on her new book “Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California”

October:  No seminar session due to the California Studies Conference at USF, Oct. 24 and the Carey McWilliams Award reception, Berkeley, Oct. 25.

Tuesday, November 10:  Kim Bancroft and Malcolm Margolin on her new book “The Heyday of Malcolm Margolin.”

Sessions held at the UCB Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2521 Channing Way (just east of Telegraph Ave.) from 7 to 9:15 p.m.

Further information contact Margaret Olney at, 510-643-8140

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In case you missed the May 2015 CSA Newsletter…

Our May newsletter went out at the end of the month. Here’s a preview with a link to it… If you want to receive it in the future, subscribe here! The next newsletter is slated for September, just before our annual conference, which is scheduled for Oct 24-25. Click on the image below to read the whole newsletter:

Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 11.32.26 AM

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“Berkeley Saves the Bay” Chuck Wollenberg at the Berkeley Public Library, June 20, 27. 2-3:30

2015 is the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, which for a half century has successfully protected and preserved San Francisco Bay.  The legislation establishing BCDC was accomplished by the grassroots Save the Bay Movement, launched in 1961 by three extraordinary Berkeley women.  The Berkeley Public Library commemorates these events with two talks by Berkeley City College historian Chuck Wollenberg, discussing Berkeley’s role in the emergence and accomplishments of the Save the Bay Movement and the city’s larger influence on the Bay Area’s environmental consciousness.  The sessions will be in the Berkeley History Room of the main library from 2-3:30, Saturdays June 20 and June 27.  Free admission.

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New book on urban San Francisco struggles

The Tenderloin: Sex, Crime and Resistance in the Heart of San Francisco
Randy Shaw, AK Press, 2015tenderloin

Written by a San Francisco movement veteran, this new title seeks to “revive the lost history of a great neighborhood and to solve a longstanding mystery: how has the Tenderloin survived as a primarily low-income, ethnically diverse community in a city of vast wealth? A neighborhood surrounded by the upscale areas of Union Square, Hayes Valley, Nob Hill and SOMA was supposed to have been gentrified long ago. But the Tenderloin defied this fate.”

San Francisco author and editor Gary Kamiya has praised this book as “A lively and opinionated history of one of the most fascinating neighborhoods in the world.” Chris Carlsson, co-director of Shaping San Francisco, says “Shaw’s thoroughly documented, and profusely illustrated work will be a basic resource for scholars and urban investigators for years to come.”


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UC Berkeley California Studies Dinner Seminar: Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo, “Paradise Transplanted: Migration and the Making of California Gardens” May 13, 2015

Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo, professor of sociology at USC, will discuss her new book,  Paradise Transplanted, on Wednesday, May 13 from 7 to 9 p.m.  Published last year by UC Press, the book is an innovative study of the links between southern California gardens and the region’s patterns of multi-national migration and social and ethnic relationships.  The seminar will be held at the UC Berkeley Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2521 Channing Way, just east of Telegraph Avenue.  Free admission and dinner.

RSVP: Myra Armstrong,, 510-643-3012

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Dam San Francisco Bay? The Rise and Fall of the Reber Plan

Chuck Wollenberg’s article on the rise and fall of the Reber Plan to turn San Francisco Bay into two fresh water lakes has been published online by BOOM a Jounal of California.  The article covers John Reber’s personal story, the debates between influential supporters and opponents of the plan in the 1940s and 50s, and the relationship between these events and the Save the Bay movement of the 1960s.



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