History 271B/371B
Stanford University
Fall 2004
Tuesdays 3:15-5:05
Wallenberg Hall 120

Professor Margaret O’Mara
Office:  Building 200, Room 226
Phone: 3-9342

Office Hours: Tuesday 1:30-3:00 and by appointment

Governors, senators, and presidents from California and other states of the Pacific, Rocky Mountain, and Southwest regions have been dominant figures on the national political stage during the past century.  Western states have played a decisive role in presidential elections and their voting patterns can be harbingers of wider electoral shifts.  The West has been at the center of transformative national political movements, from agrarian populism and progressive reform to 1960s radicalism and neo-conservatism.  This course pairs readings in political biography and political history to examine the role of California and the West in American political development from the Progressive Era to the present. 

This course also places particular emphasis on the growing universe of on-line resources on the history of American politics in general, and Western politics in particular.  Each week our class discussion will incorporate and evaluate internet-based scholarly resources and digitized primary source materials, exploring and assessing their usefulness in teaching, research, and increasing public awareness of the role of the region in national political debates during the past century.

Your required readings come from three sources. 
First, BOOKS available at the Stanford Bookstore and on reserve in Green Library.

  1. California Progressivism Revisited, edited by William Deverell and Tom Sitton (Berkeley, 1994)
  2. Upton Sinclair, I, Candidate for Governor, and How I Got Licked, with introduction by James Gregory (California, 1994 ed.)
  3. Matthew Dallek, The Right Moment: Ronald Reagan’s First Victory and the Decisive Turning Point in American Politics (New York, 2000)
  4. Rick Perlstein, Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus (New York, 2001)
  5. Robert Self, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland (Princeton, 2003)
  6. Leland Saito, Race and Politics:  Asian Americans, Latinos, and Whites in a Los Angeles Suburb (Champaign-Urbana, Ill., 1998)
  7. Peter Schrag, Paradise Lost: California’s Experience, America’s Future (New York, 1998)

Second, ONLINE primary and secondary source materials.  URLs for these documents are in this syllabus and may also be accessed through the class web site.  Note that some of the articles may be accessible only through Stanford library databases and will require a SUNet ID.
Third, selected chapters of BOOKS ON TWO-HOUR RESERVE in Green. 

Each week I list books for further reading as a resource for students interested in reading more about a particular topic or political era.  These also may be read and reviewed for bonus credit (see below).

If you have any difficulties or concerns about accessing or printing the online or reserve material, please talk to me about this well in advance.  You should arrive at class each week having read the materials listed for that date.


Each element is worth a certain number of points; the class grade will be based on how many points earned out of a possible 1000, e.g., grades in the “A” ranges require 900+ points, in the “B” ranges require 800+ points, etc.
Participation (425 points) that consists of:
Active engagement in class discussion, reflecting completion of assigned readings
(300 points)
Leadership of discussion during one week of class, incorporating visual and
textual materials found in related on-line sources (75 points)
Individual five-minute presentation about a “person/issue of the week” (50 points)
Two reader response papers (150 points total).  These are 2-page essays
discussing your reactions to the week’s reading and relating the book to larger
themes addressed in the class.  Each is worth 75 points.
Group Digital Archives Project (125 points)
Final Paper (300 points) of 8-10 pages in length, based on required readings.

A one-time bonus credit (up to 30 points) may be earned through a 2-3 page book review, accompanied by an informal in-class presentation.  The text reviewed should be one of the items listed as further reading.

Graduate students need to meet all of the participation requirements and group project as outlined above.  They do not need to write response papers.  Instead, they will read and review two additional books in political history, chosen in consultation with the instructor, and submit 600-800 word reviews of each book to be circulated among their colleagues in the class and posted on the web site.  They are also required to read the essays labeled historiography on the syllabus (these are optional readings for undergraduates).  The final project assignment criteria are the same but the final research paper should be approximately 25 pages in length.   The weight for these assignments will be as follows:  class participation 200 points; discussion leadership 25 points; presentation 25 points; book reviews 75 points each; group digital archives project 100 points; final paper 500 points.

Details of each assignment and grading standards are at the end of this syllabus.

The success of this seminar depends on you.  Your preparation, active participation, and intellectual engagement with this material and with your fellow students will make these hours worthwhile for all of us.  Attendance is mandatory; an unexcused absence will lower your class discussion mark by one third of a letter grade.  Please contact me immediately about anticipated conflicts.  In addition, I do not give extensions.  The course has been designed to give you some flexibility in choosing when to turn in written assignments, and to help you avoid facing simultaneous deadlines in multiple classes.  I expect you to manage your workload in a way that will allow you to submit all assignments on time.

Students with disabilities should (1) register with the Disabilities Resource Center [563 Salvatierra Walk, Stanford, CA 94305; TEL: 723-1066 (voice), 723-1067 (TTY)]; (2) inform me during the first week of the existence of the disability (discretion assured).



9/28     Introductory Lecture and Discussion

10/5     The Progressive Era
SIGN UP FOR CLASS ASSIGNMENTS (response papers, oral presentations, discussion leadership, preference of group digital media topic)
BOOK:           California Progressivism Revisited, pp. 1-98, 144-174, 203-246
ARTICLE:    George E. Mowry, “The California Progressive and his Rationale: A Study
in Middle-Class Politics,” The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 36, No. 2. (Sep., 1949), pp. 239-250.
ONLINE:       Autry Museum Online Exhibit, “The Struggle for Women’s Suffrage in
the West”
Historiography (required reading for graduate students, optional for undergraduates):      
Daniel Rodgers, “In Search of Progressivism” Reviews in
American History 10 (Dec. 1982), 113-132.
Robert Johnston, “Re-Democratizing the Progressive Era: The
Politics of Progressive Era Political Historiography,” Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 1.1 (2002).
Further Reading (optional for all; can be read and reviewed for bonus credit):      
George E. Mowry, The California Progressives (Berkeley, 1951)
Spencer C. Olin, Jr., California’s Prodigal Sons: Hiram Johnson
and the Progressives, 1911-1917 (Berkeley, 1968)
Beverly Beeton, Women Vote in the West: The Woman Suffrage
Movement 1869-1896 (New York, 1986)
Thomas Goebel, A Government by the People: Direct Democracy
in America, 1890-1940 (Chapel Hill, 2002)

10/12   Poverty, Populism, and Media Politics
BOOK:           Sinclair, I, Governor (including Gregory introduction)
ONLINE:       Library of Congress Online Exhibit, Voices from the Dust Bowl: The
Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection
                        University of Washington, Communism in Washington State – History
and Memory Project
Harry Bridges
Herbert Hoover
Historiography:          Meg Jacobs and Julian E. Zelizer, “The Democratic Experiment,”
in The Democratic Experiment: New Directions in Political History (Princeton, 2003), 1-19.
Further reading:        Richard Lowitt, The New Deal and the West (Norman, Okla., 1993)
James N. Gregory, American Exodus: The Dust Bowl Exodus and Okie
Culture in California (New York, 1991)
                                    Alan Brinkley, Voices of Protest: Father Coughlin, Huey Long,
            and the Great Depression (New York, 1982)

10/19   Crusading Liberals
BOOK:           Dallek, The Right Moment
ONLINE:       California Master Plan for Higher Education
Stanford Special Collections and Hoover Archives Finding Aids
(In preparation for the group digital media project, browse California and Western history finding aids and online resources at Stanford. Come to class prepared to discuss.)
PERSONS/ISSUES OF THE WEEK:       Helen Gahagan Douglas
Artie Samish
Stewart Udall
Further reading:        Clark Kerr, The Uses of the University (New York, 1963)
Stewart            L. Udall, The Quiet Crisis (New York, 1963)          
Greg Mitchell, Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady: Richard Nixon vs Helen
Gahagan Douglas -- Sexual Politics and the Red Scare, 1950 (New York, 1998)

10/26   Conservative Ascendance
BOOK:           Perlstein, Before the Storm, 1-246
ONLINE:       Johnson-Goldwater Political Advertisements from 1964
PERSONS/ISSUES OF THE WEEK:       William F. Knowland
Robert Dornan
The Better America Foundation
Historiography:          AHR Roundtable on Conservatism:  Alan Brinkley, “The Problem of
American Conservatism”; Susan M. Yohn, “Will the Real Conservative Please Stand Up?”; Leo P. Ribuffo, “Why Is There So Much Conservatism in the United States and Why Do So Few Historians Know Anything about It?”; Alan Brinkley, “Response to the Comments of Leo Ribuffo and Susan Yohn,” American Historical Review 99(April 1994): 409-452.
Further Reading:       Lisa McGirr, Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American
Right (Princeton, 2001)
Jonathan Schoenwald, A Time for Choosing: The Rise of Modern
American Conservatism (New York, 2001)
Theodore H. White, The Making of the President 1964 (New York,

11/2     Politics, Western Style
BOOK:           Perlstein, Before the Storm, 247-488
ONLINE:       Coverage of the 2004 Election in Western States
(Review online coverage of 2004 federal, state, and local elections in one Western metropolitan are or state outside California, identify key issues driving these races, assess degree to which historical data is incorporated in this coverage.  Come to class prepared to link to and discuss one site you found particularly revealing.)
PERSONS/ISSUES OF THE WEEK:       Dianne Feinstein
Cecil Andrus
Mark Hatfield
Further Reading:       John Jacobs, A Rage for Justice: The Passion and Politics of Philip
Burton (Berkeley, 1995)
Cecil Andrus and Joel Connolly, Cecil Andrus: Politics Western Style
(Seattle, 1998)
James Richardson, Willie Brown: A Biography (Berkeley, 1996)

11/9     Race, Space, and Politics
BOOK:           Self, American Babylon, 1-60, 133-334
ONLINE:       Mapping Politics
(Self makes particularly good use of maps to show local voting patterns.  Find examples of electoral mapping on the web and come to class prepared to discuss and link to these sites.  Ask: How is the information presented?  What is included and/or left out? Who is the audience?  What is the map designed to do?)
PERSONS/ISSUES OF THE WEEK:       San Francisco Bay Area Council
Howard Jarvis
Henry J. Kaiser
Historiography:          Timothy J. Gilfoyle, “White Cities, Linguistic Turns, and Disneylands:
The New Paradigms of Urban History,” Reviews in American History, vol. 26 (March 1998), 175-204.
Further reading:        Becky Nicolaides, My Blue Heaven: Life and Politics in the Working-
Class Suburbs of Los Angeles, 1920-1965 (Chicago, 2002)
Thomas J. Sugrue, Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Politics in
Detroit (Princeton, 19996)
Douglas Massey and Nancy Denton, American Apartheid: Segregation
and the Making of the Underclass (New York, 1993)

11/16   A Shifting Electorate
BOOK:           Saito, Race and Politics
RESERVE:   Gordon Chang, ed., Asian Americans and Politics: Perspectives, Experiences, Prospects (Washington and Stanford, 2001), 39-78, 153-172, 354-366.
ONLINE:       Kevin Johnson, “Public Benefits and Immigration: The Intersection of Immigration Status, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class,” UCLA Law Review 42 (August 1995)
Loretta Sanchez
Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965
Further reading:         Steven J. Pitti, The Devil in Silicon Valley (Princeton, 2002)
William Deverell, Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles
and the Remaking of its Mexican Past (Berkeley, 2004)        
Kent Ono and John Sloop, Shifting Borders: Rhetoric, Immigration, and
California’s Proposition 187 (Philadelphia, 2002)


11/30   The Next America
BOOK:           Schrag, Paradise Lost
The first 45 minutes of class will be devoted to discussion of Schrag’s book.  You will present your digital archives presentations in the second part of class.  Each presentation will be 15 minutes long with 5 minutes of Q&A afterward.  This means that our class session will run overtime; please alert me to any scheduling conflict this may create.
Further reading:        Mark Baldassare, California in the New Millennium (Berkeley,
Larry Sabato et al., Dangerous Democracy? The Battle Over
Ballot Initiatives in America (New York, 2001)
Peter Dreier et al., Place Matters: Metropolitics for the Twenty-
First Century (Lawrence, Kan., 2001)

THAN 3:00 P.M.
If you would prefer to submit a hard copy, rather than an electronic one, please arrange with the instructor in advance.  Papers received after 3pm will be downgraded by a third of a letter grade (e.g. B to B-) for every fifteen minutes they are late.


Facilitation of Class Discussion
At our second meeting, you will sign up to lead class discussion one week during the quarter, alone or with another classmate.  You and your partner will be responsible for developing questions on the week’s readings and helping the instructor lead discussion during class.  You also will be responsible for developing an electronic accompaniment to your discussion plan that incorporates visual, textual, or audio materials available on the Internet.  The aim is to show the class where related topics are discussed on the web, evaluate the quality of these resources, and use multiple media to enhance a substantive discussion of scholarly readings.  Discussion questions and a plan for seminar facilitation, including web links, should be emailed to the instructor no later than 2:00 p.m. on the Monday before the class meeting.

Oral Presentation
You also will sign up for this assignment at our second class meeting.  The report should be a substantive and succinct oral presentation on a PERSON/ISSUE OF THE WEEK.  The presentation should last no more than ten minutes and I encourage you to take advantage of the technology we have in the room.  It should tell your classmates the history of the person/place/thing, and should contextualize the topic within the issues and themes discussed in the class readings.  The report topic you choose should be presented during the week it is listed on the syllabus, and you should not be a discussion leader the same week you do your oral report.

Reader Response Papers
You will write two of these essays over the course of the quarter.  In order to give you flexibility in managing your assignments for this and other courses, I have not given these fixed due dates.  At the second class session, you will sign up for the two weeks in which you will submit an essay; one must be in the first half of the quarter (on or before 10/26), the other must be in the second.  These are not book reports, but concise analytic documents that give me your assessment of the readings for a given week, their relation to one another, and how they reflect other themes addressed in class.  You should not be reluctant to point out shortcomings you find in the readings, but criticism must be constructive and convincingly argued. 

I will accept rewrites on response papers if you are dissatisfied with your grade.  You must submit rewrites to me no more than one week after you have received your graded paper; I will record the higher of the two grades. Students who turn in the second reader response paper on the last day of class may pick up the graded papers in the class box in the History Department after 3pm the following day.

Group Digital Media Project
The second week of class you will sign up to prepare, in collaboration with several classmates, a fifteen-minute digital media presentation.  The presentation does two things: 1) provides your audience with a review and critique of the archival material on a given topic that is already available on the Web; 2) describes materials related to this topic that are housed in Stanford’s Special Collections and University Archives and makes suggestions about which collections or parts of collections might be digitized in the future.  Each group will address one of the following subject areas:
Governors of California
Business and Politics in the West
Direct Democracy
Race and Ethnicity in Western Politics
To prepare for this project you and your group will need to meet with your group early in the quarter and visit the Archives well before the “research week” (also the week of Thanksgiving) so that you have time to page relevant materials; we will not have a regular class meeting on November 23 so that groups can meet and compose their presentations.

Using reviews in scholarly journals such as the American Historical Review and the Journal of American History as a model, these essays should provide:

  1. a brief but thoughtful summary of the text’s main argument(s);
  2. a general description of the contents of the book;
  3. the book’s relationship to the wider literature; and
  4. your evaluation of the book’s usefulness and importance.

Write these essays not only with an eye to illuminating your classmates but also in terms of preparation for oral exams.

Final Research Paper
This is an 8-10 page paper based on the class readings and discussion.  You may choose one of three topics, to be handed out in class on November 16 and subsequently posted on the class web site. 

Graduate student variation:  Your final paper should be the length of an article in a scholarly journal, i.e. 20-25 pages.  I welcome your writing on topics that are congruent with your research interests and thesis or dissertation topics, as long as they build upon what we have read and discussed in this class; please consult with me about your topic  in advance.

Bonus Opportunity (up to 30 points)
This is a 2-page review of one of the texts listed as additional reading. You will be asked to write a narrative analysis (not a summary) of the text, and give a very short (5 minute) presentation of your review in class.  I will post reviews on the class web site as a resource for your classmates.