The California of Americans’ historical imagination – of adventure, opportunity, and happiness –and the California of historical fact – with its struggles and hardships -- have had strikingly discordant effects on the larger American historical narrative from the mid-19th century to today. This course explores California’s mythology and historiography through artifacts of popular culture including films, songs, and journalistic sources as well as sources that reveal the gritty realities of fires, floods, earthquakes, migrant laborers, and gangs. The instructor holds a PhD in History and will present primary sources from digital archives, slideshow lectures, and film clips. The extensive writings of historian Kevin Starr will receive attention along with works by Carolyn Merchant and other environmental historians of the California region since 1850. Lectures will be followed by hands-on activities and group discussions to explore selected primary and secondary sources. Participants will have opportunities to play an active role in the course by sharing artifacts and ideas during in-person discussions and in online discussion forums. Multimedia and print materials will be made available online in advance of course meetings to support and extend discussion. Participants will learn not only about course topics but also how to find and interpret historical sources.