All Courses

CW 150AC - Researching Water in the West

Spring 2018

This course examines the subject of water in California, drawing upon scholarly articles, essays, memoir, film, photographs, and legislation. In collaboration with the Teaching Library, CW 150AC explores techniques for conducting online archival research and using primary sources. The course considers a variety of players in the story of water rights in California, including federal and state representatives, conservationists, Native Americans, and Japanese Americans. Students craft a research project of their own design within the broad parameters of the course topic.

Breadth Requirement: This course satisfies the University's American Cultures Requirement
This course can be used toward satisfying the Seven-Course Breadth Requirement


Available in 
Units and Format 
3 units – Three hours of seminar/discussion per week
Grading Option 
Letter grade or P/NP
Historical Studies Breadth
American Cultures





Class Number: 23267
Meeting time @ place:
TUTH 11:00am - 12:30pm @ 201 Giannini Hall
Section Theme: None
Instructor: Pat Steenland
Section Description:

College Writing 50/150: Researching Water in the West

Its presence, its absence, and its consequences for the peoples of California


Water: its presence and its absence are central to an understanding of California history. This three-unit class will explore the subject of water in California drawing upon multiple genres, for example, film, photographs, memoir, essays, scholarly articles, and Congressional legislation. We will also immerse ourselves into the new world of online archival research.


The story of California water is often a story about people and culture. One of our primary goals in this class will be to study these peoples through a shared experience: how their stories intersect through their connection to this contested resource. The course proposes an integrative narrative drawn from California water history to look at particular issues of race, culture, and ethnicity.


This semester the course is participating in the American Cultures Engaged Scholars program. Students will engage in a community service partnership with the Paiute tribe of the Owens Valley to study the contested history and present-day state of water resources in the Owens Valley

Book List:

“Land of Little Rain,” Mary Austin

“My Summer in the Sierra, “ John Muir

“The Battle Over Hetch Hetchy,” Robert Righter

“Farewell To Manzanar,” Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

“Western Times and Water Wars,” John Walton

“Writing With Sources,” Gordon Harvey

Course reader, available at Cal Copy, 1748 Shattuck, (510)549-7171