California Studies Association

The latest news, events, and perspectives from the CSA


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UC Berkeley California Studies Seminar, Diane North: “California at War: the State and the People During World War I” October 16, 2018

Scholars have produced many works on the impact of World War II on California, but until now the state’s experience in World War I has been largely ignored.  Diane North fills this void with her new book, a comprehensive social history of the state during the Great War.  Dr. North, a former member of the Cal Studies seminar, is Professor of History at the University of Maryland University College.  She received her Ph.D. at UC Davis and has previously taught at San Francisco State.

The session will be at the UCB Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2515 Channing Way (just east of Telegraph Ave.) on Tuesday, October 16, from 7 to 9:15 p.m.  Free admission and dinner.

RSVP: Christina McKay, christina.mckay@berkeley.edu.

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UC Berkeley California Studies Seminar: Gray Brechin on the Cal Stadium, “A Monumental Memorial to Denial” September 12, 2018

In 1923 UC Berkeley built Memorial Stadium squarely on top of the Hayward Fault.  Nearly ninety years later, the university spent nearly a half billion dollars retrofitting the structure and adding a large athletic training facility.  On Wed. Sept. 12, Gray Brechin critically discusses these and other events in the stadium’s history.  Brechin is a research scholar in the UCB Geography Department and founder of the Living New Deal Project.  He is the author of several works, including the ground-breaking Imperial San Francisco.

The session is at the UCB Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2521 Channing Way (just east of Telegraph Ave.) from 7-9:15 p.m.  Free admission and dinner.

RSVP to Christina McKay, christina.mckay@berkeley.edu


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UC Berkeley California Studies Dinner Seminar, 2018/2019 Schedule

For thirty years, the UCB California Studies Dinner Seminar has presented the work of authors, scholars, and observers of California history, society, and culture to knowledgeable university and community audiences.  Supported by grants from the university’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment and the Townsend Humanities Center, the seminar meets at the Labor Institute, 2521 Channing Ave. just east of Telegraph Ave. from 7-9:15 p.m.  Here is the 2018/2019 seminar schedule.

September 12  Gray Brechin, UC Berkeley, on the Cal Stadium, “A Monumental Memorial to Denial”

October 16  Diane North, University of Maryland, on her new book “California at War: the State and the People During World War I”

November 15  Dick Walker, UC Berkeley, on his new book, “Pictures of a Gone City: Tech and the Dark Side of Prosperity in the San Francisco Bay Area”

January 17  Rachel Brahinsky, University of San Francisco, on her forthcoming progressive/radical guidebook to San Francisco

February 20  Joe Blum, photographer and former iron worker, on photographing iron workers building San Francisco’s Salesforce Tower

March 19  Bob Cherny, San Francisco State, on “The Party’s Over: Former Communist Party Members in the Bay Area”

April 18  Tom Dalzell, lawyer and historian, on his forthcoming book on the history of Peoples Park, Berkeley

May 15  Susan Anderson, African American Museum and Library at Oakland, on her forthcoming history of African Americans in California


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UC Berkeley California Studies Dinner Seminar May 17, 2018: Chuck Wollenberg, “Rebel Lawyer: Wayne Collins and the Defense of Japanese American Rights”

With all deliberate chutzpah, seminar convener Chuck Wollenberg has scheduled himself for the final session of the academic year on Thursday, May 17.  He will discuss his new book, “Rebel Lawyer: Wayne Collins and the Defense of Japanese American Rights” published by Heyday.  Collins, perhaps the most important civil rights lawyer almost no one has ever heard of, represented defendants in the Korematsu and Tokyo Rose cases, among others.  His opposition to racism and defense of civil liberties, even in time of war, resonates today in the Age of Trump.  Wollenberg is former History Instructor and Chair of the Social Science Department at Berkeley City College.  He is the author of several books and articles, including “Berkeley a City in History.”

The session will be at the UCB Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2521 Channing Way (just east of Telegraph Ave.) from 7-9:15 p.m.  Free admission and dinner.

Contact Charlotte Rutty at charlotterutty@berkeley.edu.


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UC Berkeley California Studies Dinner Seminar, April 18, 2018: Tomas Summers Sandoval “The Vietnam War in Mexican America”

Professor Tomas Summers Sandoval will discuss his research on the impact of the Vietnam War on the Chicano community on Wednesday, April 18.  More than 200,000 Mexican Americans served in Vietnam, and Sandoval has explored the effects of the war on both individuals and the community through oral histories of Chicano veterans and community members.  A Professor of History at Pomona College with a Ph.D from UC Berkeley, Sandoval plans to publish the results of his research both as a book and as a dramatic performance piece.

The session will be from 7:00 to 9:15 p.m. at the UCB Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2521 Channing Way (just east of Telegraph Ave.).  Free admission and dinner.

Contact Charlotte Rutty, charlotterutty@berkeley.edu.


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UC Berkeley California Studies Dinner Seminar: Sandra Nichols and Friends, “Uncovering the Lost Latino History of the Napa Valley” March 22, 2018

Sandra Nichols and Latina students from Napa Valley College will discuss the Latino history of the Napa Valley on Thursday, March 22, 2018.  Latinos have played a central role in the economic and social development of the valley from the original Mexican land grants in the 1830s to the crucial participation of Latinos in today’s winery and vineyard workforce.   Nichols and a group of Napa Valley College students have been working to uncover this largely lost history, with particular emphasis on the impact of the Bracero Program of the 1940s and 50s.  Nichols is a geography scholar with special expertise in patterns of Latino migration in California and has been affiliated with the UCB Geography Department and the California Institute for Rural Studies in Davis.  She will be accompanied by students who have combined historical research with contemporary activism.

The session will be from 7-9:15 p.m. at the UCB Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2521 Channing Way, Berkeley (just east of Telegraph Ave.).  Free admission and dinner.

Contact Charlotte Rutty at charlotterutty@berkeley.edu


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UC Berkeley California Studies Dinner Seminar, Feb. 21, 2018: Hiya Swanhuyser, “The City Will Never Be The Same: Lost Radical Cultures in San Francisco’s Montgomery Block”

On Wednesday, February 21, San Francisco author and journalist Hiya Swanhuyser will discuss her forthcoming book on San Francisco’s Montgomery Block.  When it was built in 1853, the “Monkey Block”was probably the largest and most important office building in the Far West.  But as the commercial center of the city moved south, the building became occupied by bohemian artists, writers, and cultural radicals.  Hiya Swanhuyser considers the role and heritage of the Montgomery Block (now the site of the TransAmerica Pyramid) as the center of San Francisco’s first counter culture.

The session will be from 7-9:15 p.m. at the UCB Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2521 Channing Way, Berkeley (one-half block east of Telegraph Ave).

Free admission and dinner.  Contact Charlotte Rutty, charlotterutty@berkeley.edu.

(Rachel Brahinsky’s presentation, originally scheduled for Feb. 21st, has been rescheduled for the fall.)