California Studies Association

The latest news, events, and perspectives from the CSA

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San Francisco’s Own Rosa Parks

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, CSA Steering Committee member Elaine Elinson writes about Charlotte Brown, a young African American woman who challenged the color bar on San Francisco streetcars while the Civil War was still raging and news of the Emancipation Proclamation had not yet reached most slaves.

When young Charlotte Brown refused a San Francisco streetcar conductor’s demand to disembark because “colored persons were not allowed to ride,” she faced a social climate almost as hostile as Rosa Parks did in Montgomery, Ala., in 1954.

But Brown’s challenge came almost a century earlier – on April 17, 1863.

Click here to read the entire piece as featured on Sf Gate.

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Jared Farmer to speak Jan. 17 on Street Palms and the Fashioning of Los Angeles

The Autry Western History Workshop and the Los Angeles History Group will hold a joint seminar on Tuesday, January 17, 2012.  The presenter will be Jared Farmer of the State University of New York, Stony Brook, who will speak on his paper, “Metropolitan Fronds: Street Palms and the Fashioning of Los Angeles.”

The seminar will meet in the classroom at the Autry National Center’s Griffith Park campus.  Dinner will be available at 6:30 for those who reserve a place by Thursday, January 12.  To make a reservation, and to obtain a copy of Prof. Farmer’s paper, please email Belinda Nakasato-Suarez at

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Next California Studies Dinner Jan. 18: Jan Goggans speaking about the work of Paul Taylor and Dorothea Lange

The next California Studies dinner will take place Jan. 18, 2012, in Berkeley; the speaker will be Jan Goggans, Associate Professor, School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, UC Merced; the title of the talk is “California and the Great Depression:  the work of Paul Taylor and Dorothea Lange” 


Jan. 18, 2012
7 :00 p.m. – 10 :00 p.m.
Director’s Room, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2521 Channing St.(just above Telegraph Ave).

The dinner is buffet style. Dinners are free, but a small donation is requested from those partaking of wine and beverages.

PLEASE RSVP by Monday, Jan. 16, 2011, to Delores Dillard, Department of Geography, 507 McCone Hall, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA  94720-4740 phone (510)  642-3903 or FAX (510) 642-3370, or e-mail:

SAVE THE DATE: The next Calif. Studies dinner will take place Feb. 15, 2012; the speaker will be Chuck Wollenberg, Professor, Berkeley City College.

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LA Times reports on the Study of California Literature Outside of California

In its Monday, Jan. 2, 2012, edition, the Los Angeles Times reports on the increasing study of California literature both in and outside of the state:

Students sample the large shelf of California literature

From the article:

Boosted by a new generation of students eager to explore the state’s confluence of luxury and despair, of exploration and reinvention, courses in California Lit have popped up in schools such as Bowling Green University in Ohio and Carleton College in Minnesota as well as UC, Cal State and private campuses in California.

The courses often focus on the tension between California as a fantasized place of new beginnings and the harsh disappointments that follow. They explore how fictional works unfold against a natural backdrop that combines beguiling beauty and the ever-present threat of earthquakes and fires.