Wednesday, 3 December 2014

An Interview with Henry Knight Lozano on Teaching California History and Culture

Randall Stephens

One year after Henry Knight Lozano started teaching in American Studies and History at Northumbria he began offering a new, exciting module called "The Golden State: California."  Henry's current research covers Florida, California, and Hawaii, making the module a great example of research-led teaching.

The course has certainly proved to be a popular option for our third-year students.  Fittingly, some of those who have taken it have written their dissertations on topics related to the module.  Those enroled in it this semester are engaging with the history, literature, art, and themes of what was, for many years, America's most western, and one of its most dynamic, states. 

Henry says that The Golden State:

considers how California developed as both a place and an idea in the American imagination, focusing on the transformative century from the 1840s to the 1950s. While historical, our approach will also be interdisciplinary, reflecting the ways in which cultural constructions and popular representations have played a crucial role in California’s development. Thus, novels and visual culture, advertisements, films, and music, will all be consulted at different points as key elements in the Golden State’s formation. . . . Studying California’s remarkable transformation from the Mexican-American War to the early Cold War period, students are expected to take an interdisciplinary approach to the seminars and into their research on California and its “exceptional” history.

In the interview below, I speak with Henry about how he has set up the module, the kinds of reading and research students are doing, and the themes being covered.

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