Working Class Culture in the Central Valley (Spring 2016)

DescriptionDorothea Lange, the Great Depression’s most famous photographer, and her husband, Paul Taylor documented the plight of California’s dispossessed, culminating in 1939 in American Exodus: A Record of Human Erosion.” The Common Ground Faculty Cohort will read Jan Goggan’s scholarly work on California’s developing New Deal narrative and discuss her take on this photographic expose of immigrant suffering and how it informed working class culture as it developed in the Central Valley. 

Lecture/Discussion: Jan Goggans, UC Merced, Associate Professor, School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts. The recipient of a Kevin Starr California Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship, Dr. Goggans focuses on cultural expression in and of the Great Depression as well as the literatures and cultures of California.

Foundational Texts/ResourcesJan Goggans, California on the Breadlines: Dorothea Lange, Paul Taylor, and the Making of a New Deal Narrative(U of California P, 2010); Raymond Winter. Hunger and Homelessness in California’s Central Valley (CreateSpace, 2013); Dorothea Lange and Paul Taylor, American Exodus:  A Record of Human Erosion (1939).

Key Questions: How does the experience of migration to California’s Central Valley influence one’s sense of identity, particularly immigrant and refugee populations from a stunning array of ethno-cultural backgrounds?  What do Dorothea Lange and Paul Taylor learn as they document the disposed of California’s Central Valley?  How does photographic journalism alter the way a group imagines its’ collective identity?

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