Course number
M, W 12:00 pm - 1:59 pm
Enrollment limit

Class Description

This project-based course is three courses rolled into one, all oriented toward the American Studies-based digital project “The Berkeley Revolution”. (Any interested students should browse the site at to get a sense of what a previous set of students accomplished.) First, the course delves into the history of the 1970s Bay Area, which was an unusually fertile cultural seedbed: so many features of contemporary life — from the cappuccinos we drink to the laptop computers we use to write and think — were incubated in it. The region was ground-zero for the revolution in cooking known as “California cuisine”; ground-zero for new forms of spiritual practice and religious organization; ground-zero for the technological utopianism represented by the Whole Earth Catalog and the computer clubs that produced the first desktop computer; and ground-zero for social movements such as women’s liberation, black liberation, gay liberation, and the environmental movement, and for the new cultural forms that were entangled with them, such as disco, punk, and ‘alternative comix’. Second, the course offers students an introduction to the practice of archival research. Our class will explore specific archives at Cal, such as the Chez Panisse Collection, the Berkeley Free Church Collection, the Social Protest Collection, and the Disability Rights and Defense Fund Collection. Students will be asked to explore these sorts of “official” archives, and will be invited, if they’re interested, to curate their own “unofficial” archives. You will be approaching these collections with the open eyes of historians looking at fresh documents, and with the goal of plumbing these documents for the insights and stories that they yield. Third, the course will give students the experience of creating digital history projects of their own, as part of the larger “Berkeley Revolution” project. Students will work, collaboratively, to create both digital exhibitions and multi-media essays that spring out of the primary research they do.

Course Catalog Description

This course is designed to introduce honors students (those who have achieved a minimum overall GPA of 3.3) to the history and theory of American studies as an interdisciplinary field and to explore current themes, debates, and researh problems in American studies.