History 642

Dr. P. Dreyfus

pdreyfus@sfsu.edu

PROSEMINAR: CALIFORNIA CITIES, SF & LA

DESCRIPTION:

This course will address the emergence and development of California’s two preeminent cities, San Francisco and Los Angeles. We will consider the reasons for urbanization, the interaction of human activity and natural setting in shaping urban location and urban space, and the relationship between cities and the regions in which they are situated.  Students should emerge with a framework for understanding the process of urbanization in general, as well as its specific features in a California context.

TEXTS:

Gray Brechin, Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin

William Deverell and Greg Hise, editors, Land of Sunshine: An Environmental History of Los Angeles

Philip J. Dreyfus, Our Better Nature: Environment and the Making of San Francisco

Robert M. Fogelson, The Fragmented Metropolis, Los Angeles, 1850-1930

Several additional required readings are on electronic reserve at the Leonard Library website, and are designated as such in the class schedule below.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS:

The class will read and critically discuss the assigned books and articles. 

Each student will be responsible for initiating discussion of one of the assigned readings, and will prepare a list of appropriate discussion questions for the class to consider. 

In addition, each student will produce a book review on one of the assigned texts above. Book review instructions appear at the end of this syllabus.

The reading for this course, though by no means exhaustive, is designed to help students understand the methodology of urban history and urban environmental history and the perspectives that historians have brought to bear on the specific subject of cities in the American West, with particular attention to San Francisco and Los Angeles. You will not be tested on the reading, but it is essential that you be prepared to discuss assigned materials in class. A central function of the proseminar is group discussion. It is also expected that the reading will help you think about how to produce your own research paper.

Since the principal function of the proseminar is to provide students with the tools to engage in historical research and writing, each student will produce a 12-15-page paper based largely on research in primary sources. The paper must be double-spaced and word-processed in 12-point font, with endnote citations. Research topics will focus on some aspect of urban environmental development, broadly construed, and should relate to either the city’s internal landscape or to its external impact.

While the course title includes both San Francisco and Los Angeles, it is anticipated that most papers will deal with San Francisco simply due to the availability of local sources. The Leonard Library on campus is an adequate repository of local newspapers, but other more useful material will be found in the San Francisco History collection of the SF Public Library or at the Bancroft Library at UC-Berkeley. The SF History Collection hours at the SF Public Library are TWTh 10-6, F12-6, SA10-6, SU12-5, closed Mondays.

Students will meet in conference with the instructor several times over the course of the semester to discuss progress and problems with their on-going research. The last few weeks will be dedicated to in-class presentations and student critiques of projects as they near completion.

GRADING will be calculated on the following basis:

A late book review or late paper will automatically be discounted by one full grade level (10%). In addition, university policy requires students who wish to receive a grade of "incomplete" to file a formal petition with the instructor. These petitions are available in department offices. Any student who has not completed the course assignments and has not submitted a petition will receive a grade of "WU," which represents an unauthorized withdrawal and is equivalent to an "F."

CLASS SCHEDULE:

August 29     INTRODUCTION

September 12    HOW TO THINK ABOUT URBAN ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY

Readings on electronic reserve: Martin Melosi, "The Place of the City in Environmental History,"  Samuel Hays, “The Role of Urbanization in Environmental History,” Andrew Ross, “The Social Claim on Urban Ecology,” Joel Tarr, “The Metabolism of the Industrial City: The Case of Pittsburgh.”

September 19     NO GROUP MEETING-INDIVIDUAL STUDENT CONFERENCES

September 26    CITIES AS ENVIRONMENTS; CITIES IN ENVIRONMENTS

Readings:  Deverell & Hise, essays 1-2; Dreyfus, chapter 1; Fogelson, chapter 1.

October 3       THE WESTERN CITY

Readings on electronic reserve: Richard Wade, The Urban Frontier: The Rise of Western Cities, 1790-1830, chapters 1-2; Gerald Nash, Creating the West, "The West as Urban Civilization"; Gunther Barth, Instant Cities, Urbanization and the Rise of San Francisco and Denver, chapter 7.

October 10    COMPARATIVE 19th CENTURY URBAN PATTERNS

Readings:  Brechin, chapter 1-2; Dreyfus, chapter 2-3; Fogelson, chapters 2-3;  electronic reserve: Gunther Barth, chapter 8.

October 17     NO GROUP MEETING-INDIVIDUAL STUDENT CONFERENCES

                            BOOK REVIEW DUE TODAY

October 24    ENVIRONMENT, AESTHETICS & THE SEARCH FOR LIVABILITY

Readings:  Deverell & Hise, essays 4,5,9; Dreyfus, chapter 5; Fogelson, chapters 7-9.

October 31   STRUGGLING WITH NATURE

Readings: Deverell & Hise, essays 6, 7, 10, 12; Dreyfus, Conclusion.

November 7      NO GROUP MEETING-INDIVIDUAL STUDENT CONFERENCES

November 14     PRESENTATION OF PAPERS

November 28    PRESENTATION OF PAPERS

December 5    PRESENTATION OF PAPERS

December 12    PRESENTATION OF PAPERS

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16 – FINAL DRAFT OF ALL PAPERS DUE BY NOON IN SCI 222

 

IMPORTANT DEADLINES FOR FALL SEMESTER 2011


 
Last day to add classes with a permit number:       Sept. 6
Last day to drop classes:                                      Sept. 6
Last day to late add classes by exception:             Sept. 20
Applications for graduation due:                            Sept. 23
Last day to request CR/NC grading option:          Oct. 18
Withdrawal after drop deadline:                 Sept. 7-Nov. 15
 
Withdrawal ONLY for "serious and compelling
     reasons" (documentation required):        Nov. 16 - Dec. 12

 

WRITING A BOOK REVIEW

READ THESE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY. YOUR GRADE DEPENDS UPON CAREFUL ADHERENCE TO PROPER FORMAT.

 

FORMAT

For this class, a book review must be 400-700 words long, which is two (2) but no more than three (3) word-processed, double-spaced pages. You must absolutely and without fail confine yourself to the word and page limits. There must be no separate cover page and no folder or binder covering your review. The print must be in 12-point font, with minimum margins of 1" on all sides. ANY SUBMISSIONS THAT DO NOT MEET THE EXACT SPECIFICATIONS DESCRIBED HERE WILL NOT BE READ AND WILL NOT RECEIVE A GRADE.

CONTENT

The first thing that must appear at the top of the first page of your review is the full bibliographic citation for the book you are reviewing. This means TITLE (in italics or underlined). Author’s first name and last name. City of publication:

Publisher’s name, year.

Next, you should have a line that says: Reviewed by your name.

After this comes the review itself which contains three elements:

1. a concise summary of the book’s subject matter

2. a concise summary of the thesis

3. a critique of the book

The subject matter will be obvious but the author may be setting out to answer some specific question or questions about the subject. You may be able to determine this by careful reading of the introductory material. You cannot relay everything about the content of the book, so you have to be concise and precise. THIS IS NOT A BOOK REPORT. The most important aspect of a review is analytic and not just descriptive.

The thesis is the book’s most important element and may be the hardest thing for you to determine. This takes practice. The thesis is not the subject but the author’s interpretation of the subject. It is the author’s conclusion about why things happened as they did or what motivated the historical actors covered in the book. It is a product of the historian’s intellectual framework. The thesis may or may not be explicitly stated in the book. You must nonetheless state it explicitly in your review.

Finally, your critique is your evaluation of the book. This should include an appraisal of the author’s bias and the degree to which evidence is used effectively, as well as the literary quality of the work.

If you need to look at an example, try a journal like American Historical Review.