• CSUN History Department

Fall 2015 Undergraduate Course Descriptions

May 19, 2015

Undergraduate Course Descriptions--Fall 2015 


Please note that all Proseminars (497), Tutorials (498), are RESTRICTED classes.  This means that enrollment is by consent of the instructor only, and that you CANNOT enroll in them simply by asking for a permission number.  You must personally contact the professor so that he/she can determine whether your enrollment is appropriate given the particular content, approach, requirements, and level of the course.  Before contacting the professor, be sure you have read the description of the class provided below. The professor will then decide whether to give you a permission number.  Also, since these courses fill up quickly, DO NOT wait until your registration date (or even later) to contact the professor.  Do so as soon as you have determined that you wish to take the course.  Following these procedures will assist both you and your professors.

HIST 497A:  Proseminar     Thursday  1600-1845       SH268            Professor Josh Sides

  Research seminar in the history of Los Angeles

HIST 497B:  Westlake/MacArthur Park – Discovering a Community’s History to Define its Future M 1600-1845    SH 287   Professor Susan Fitzpatrick-Behrens 

In Fall 2015, CSUN undergraduate and graduate students from department of history will team up with high school students from Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), an innovative arts and education program in downtown Los Angeles, to develop a community history of Westlake/MacArthur Park.

Since its foundation, Westlake/MacArthur Park has played an understudied role in the development of arts, culture, social movements, and commerce in Los Angeles. Founded in the 1880s, Westlake was known as the Central Park of Los Angeles.  Its lovely lake surrounded by walkways, palm trees, and grassy knolls offered a welcome respite from the city. Angelinos passed afternoons gliding across the lake on paddleboats, lounging by the lake’s shores, or playing chess on picnic tables surrounding it. 

The area was later transformed by proliferation of art institutions and vast demographic changes. The Choinard Art Institute, Otis School of Art and Design, the Art Center School, and the Denishawn School of Dance all trace their origins to the community, which also gave rise to centers for Labor, Housing, and Immigrant Rights, including CARECEN, the UCLA Labor Center, SALEF, and Cliníca Romero.  Residents built thriving commercial enterprises that frame the periphery of the park and radiate outward to Pico-Union and downtown.  Family-owned enterprises reflect the diversity of the population; they include a plethora of small businesses, a bustling informal sector, and an energetic religious marketplace. As the density and diversity of Westlake/MacArthur Park’s population increased, residents organized around new challenges.  The Park became a site for large-scale protests against police brutality, US involvement in Vietnam and Central America, and for immigrant rights, making it a visible manifestation of political and social transformations defining the country, the city, and the Americas.

Like many ethnically diverse communities in Los Angeles, Westlake/MacArthur Park is experiencing redevelopment/gentrification.  In 1993, the Red Line opened a station at the edge of the park, which contributed to an efflorescence of interest in the community’s economic potential.  The owners of the Roosevelt Hotel recently bought the Plaza Hotel (formerly the Elks Lodge) promising to restore and re-open it.  Hollywood personalities are reported to have purchased architecturally important buildings.  These developments may offer promise, as Urban Studies Specialist Gerardo Sandoval suggested in one of the few published studies of the community.  Yet, they also threaten immigrant and elderly community members with physical displacement and with losing the opportunity to define their community and its history.

This course seeks to provide that opportunity by inviting students and community members to work collaboratively to develop inclusive community histories of Westlake/MacArthur Park.  Developing a strong sense of the community’s history and acting as agents in creating it may catalyze HOLA students, CSUN students and community members to become agents in current debates about development in Los Angeles and to define the direction that development takes in their community.

History 497C:  Proseminar in Civil War Military Biography  .  F 1100 -1345 SH288. Professor James Sefton

The Proseminar is a required course in the process and craft of researching and writing history. In this section, each student will write a paper of approximately fifteen pages on the life of a Civil War general who has not yet been the subject of a full-length biography. Students will use official government records, documents, and publications; unit histories; memoirs; newspaper accounts, and other contemporary sources. Much material is available online.  Class sessions will cover research technique as well as the characteristics of good writing.  For that reason, a Grade of C in History 301 is an absolute prerequisite.  Interested students should consult with me personally or by e-mail to obtain a permission number.  Sierra Tower 622, or .

History 498C:  The History of Soviet Film  Fri 930-1215  JR212  Dr. Miriam Neirick

This course examines the history of Soviet and post-Soviet Russian cinema. Students will view and discuss films that exemplify succeeding periods in Russia’s cinematic history, including the avant-garde experimental cinema of the 1920s, Stalin-era socialist realist musical comedies, wartime propaganda films, late Soviet films that document the crimes of the Soviet state and dramatize the disintegration of Soviet society, and the first post-Soviet Russian blockbusters. Students will also be asked to read criticism of the individual films, scholarship pertaining to the institutional history of the Soviet and post-Soviet Russian film industry, and primary documents relating to cinematic aesthetics and production.

HIST 498C: The British Mandate in Palestine, 1918-1948      T 1600-1845       SH 288    Dr. Jeffrey Auerbach

This intensive upper-division weekly reading tutorial explores the critical thirty-year period of British rule in Palestine from the end of World War I in 1918 until the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. It attempts to bring together two separate but related topics and historical literatures: British mandate rule in the Middle East, and the formation of the State of Israel. The course will focus on such questions as: Why were the British interested in the Middle East? What were the reasons for the Balfour Declaration, and what impact did it have? How effectively did the British manage different religious groups in Palestine? How did the Zionists go about building a national home? To what extent did Arab Palestinians develop a sense of national identity under British rule? Why did the British leave Palestine, and what was the legacy they left the region? Using primary and secondary sources, we will analyze the political, economic, international, social, cultural, and religious forces that brought about the British presence in and eventual withdrawal from Palestine; Jewish immigration and the creation of the State of Israel; and the emergence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Hist 498C:  Crime and Punishment:  Murder Trials in Modern Europe       W  1900-2145       SH186    Prof. Kathleen Addison 

This discussion seminar focuses on the public spectacle of murder occupying a place in public discourse in the late 19th and early 20th century.    The broad interest in the subject and the process became part of social media of the time through several factors:  improved technology, both in forensics and communications; increased ideas of modernism and the transgressions of social behavior; changing ideas of morals and values in the Victorian sphere (even beyond England); and increasing modernization of the bureaucratic process with respect to police forces and administration of justice.  

Within that context, however, the studies we will be using can be evaluated in many different ways:  gender roles, public space, class consciousness, ritual/religious murder of “outsiders” in a community, developing interests in the psychology of murder, and the variances in calls for public justice.