California: The Golden State - HIST6063

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2023 to 2024.


This special subject explores California history from Native American times to modern day. It charts the rise to power of the US Pacific Coast and the many complexities that come with mass immigration, technological innovation and cultural frontierism. The special subject does not provide a simple narrative of state history, but instead employs a series of case studies to illuminate key periods of California's past and present, auto-stops, if you will, to navigate the Golden State as both a place, an idea and, most significantly, an image. The case studies also facilitate an interdisciplinary approach to the topic, for example, the Great Depression in California is considered by a session on the life of the hobo, his music, migration, work and community in the period. Sources here include Nels Anderson’s classic sociological text 'On Hobos and Homelessness’ and collections of Okie/hobo music of the period. A number of movie showings will relate both the rise of Hollywood as a state industry as well as Hollywood’s own social commentary on the California experience. The California dream and the notion of California exceptionalism will be critiqued across the module. Students will be expected to immerse themselves in the culture industry of the state and truly explore what (if anything) makes California so special or Golden.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 60
Private study hours: 540
Total study hours: 600

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
2x Essay 3500 words 24%
Source Analysis 1500 words 6%
Source Analysis 1500 words 6%
Seminar Presentation 5-10 minutes 4%
Examination 2 x 2 hours 60%

Reassessment methods
Reassessment Instrument: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices. The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages:

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate a systematic understanding of California history over a broad period of study, with particular skills demonstrated on a number of case studies.
2 Navigate an interdisciplinary approach to US history that includes the exploration of various other disciplines (literature, film studies, geography, and sociology).
3 Compose written assignments and oral arguments situated within the discourse of California studies by navigating a variety of apposite sources including novels, reports, records, diaries, music and film (alongside traditional histories).
4 Critically evaluate how California issues relate to important themes such as gender, nationalism, identity, ethnicity and race, immigration and environmental hazards.
5 Recognize problematic concepts and labels such as 'California exceptionalism,' 'the California Dream' and 'Californication'.
6 Plan and write an original American Studies/American history essay devising and sustaining a coherent argument.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Participate in discussion, make their own contributions to discussion and listen to and respect the contributions of others through the three-hour seminar format.
2 Engage in group work, cooperating on set tasks toward answering questions presenting individual and group responses.
3 Communicate their own ideas clearly and coherently, orally and in writing, assisted by peer and teacher feedback.
4 Effectively manage their own learning, plan their use of time, and identify appropriate directions for further study, encouraged by the teacher.
5 Apply the methods and techniques they have learned to produce word-processed assignments that are of a high standard of presentation and professionalism and apply their knowledge and understanding of the topics covered.
6 Draw on their own independent research skills in gathering and interpreting primary resources (including film and literature) for detailed analysis.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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