When I signed off for the summer, I figured we'd probably start the US before 1865 again with a diary about what the Indians saw facing east as various European colonizers approached North America during the 16th and early 17th centuries. I didn't know then that I would have not one but TWO new preps for the fall. First, and I think I referred to this, I'm teaching the history of California for the first time. This is fairly exciting for me because I've always wanted to teach it. But then, because a full-time professor at one of the places I teach announced she was leaving at the end of July, I find myself teaching Western Civilization to 1750 for the first time too. California I know something about. Western Civ I know something about too, but the last time I took a course having to do with this was during the Fall semester of my freshman year in college -- in 1967.
So the purpose of this diary is to ask the Kos community via a poll which option I should take. I tried this in a Top Comments diary recently but the vote was much too close: 22-20 in favor of California which I think has to do with the hour when Top Comment runs. More below the Great Orange Bookplate.
In one corner, California. All kinds of things here. A group of Native Americans who don't get much love even from scholars of Indian history. Spanish colonization, although not much because of California's remoteness from Mexico City. Russian fur trappers! American traders. The Mexican War, which ended in California before it did anywhere else. The discovery of gold in 1848 (so why are they called the '49ers?). The Civil War in the west. The railroad magnates, and land development. Progressive Reform! The motion picture business, agribusiness, and enough heavy industry to make Los Angeles the second largest industrial city after Detroit during World War II. Frank Capra and the other image producers for the rest of the country. Richard Nixon. Pat Brown. The Free Speech Movement. Ronald Reagan. All kinds of things, and Carey McWilliams as one of the commentators (all progressives should know who he is, and one day I'll produce a diary that does that).
In the other corner, Western Civ. The earliest modern men. Mesopotamia. Egypt. The Minoans and the Mycenaeans. Greece and the Persian and Peloponnese wars. Rome, republic and empire. Christianity, and the West and east versions. Islam and the Byzantine Empire. Moorish Spain. Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire. The Crusades. Dante and the flowering of the Middle Ages. The Black Death. The Renaissance. The printing press. The reformation, and the religious wars. Colonialism and the Atlantic World. The Enlightenment. All kinds of things here too, and some interesting art to boot.
I think this should be your decision. I know I write to make myself happy, but my history diaries are really for the Kos community. LGBT history? Maybe a series in the spring if I don't have any more new class preps. Incidentally, since I'm teaching 16 (and maybe 19) units this semester, the earliest my history diaries will post is 6 AM Saturday. just like this one.
Thank you for your help! Vote, please!
With 68 votes in, the vote is TIED (34 each). I can't add the Top Comments poll and this one together because there are people (Dragon5616, sidepocket) who voted in both. So the tiebreaker is which will be easier for me. I already have the introduction to a series on California History working in my draft file, the Carey McWilliams diary, and the best I could do for Western Civ for Labor Day Weekend would be an introduction to the study of the history of civilization and culture that hinges on the Oprah Winfrey - Jonathan Franzen dustup (I always take Oprah's side). So California (which isn't the biggest reach) for the Fall, and what I learned about Western Civ that's worth communicating week by week for the spring (but starting two weeks after we conclude California).
The new series will start at 6 AM August 30. There will be breaks 10/12 and 10/26, and it will end 12/21. Thank you all for your input!