On behalf of the Institute on California and the West, welcome to ICW’s website. We invite you to scroll through these pages to see the range of ICW projects over the last two decades. We will mark our 20thanniversary in 2024 and are hopeful you can join us in the celebration. Our work investigating the history and culture of the modern American West is characterized by a set of activities that seek to bridge scholarly and public audiences, dialogues, and contributions to knowledge. We are committed to our work and our many collaborations, and we urge you to reach out to us with questions, comments, and suggestions about other directions we might explore. We take every suggestion seriously, and our dialogues with you strength our work and outreach.
At the heart of what we do is a doctoral training program designed to teach, mentor, and learn from some of the nation’s most talented young scholars in the history of the American West. We do this by way of innovative doctoral seminars held at The Huntington Library, courses which often drawn on the intellectual talent of colleagues at other institutions, among them UCLA, UC Riverside, and UC Irvine. Syllabi from some of our courses are available for your perusal elsewhere on this site, and you can also meet our doctoral students and learn about their research and many accomplishments.
We also run a robust workshop, lecture, conference, and webinar/brown bag program designed to showcase new and important work in the field. Our signature efforts in this regard are our “In Conversation” series; our Vimeo interviews; and our webinar series on specific themes germane to our field. We invite you to be on the lookout for all of these programmatic opportunities as you move through this site. We also record these; feel entirely encouraged to watch them at your leisure.
Two thematic investigations we have been focusing on are “The West on Fire” and the “Chinatown History Project.” Each are described in depth elsewhere on this website. Both are exciting, deliberately interdisciplinary, and dependent on sustained engagement with broad public audiences. We are committed to updating our progress on these, and other, projects in regular fashion; please feel free to check back often.
Since our founding in 2004, ICW has worked very closely with K-12 educators and students in collaborative and innovative ways. We run teacher institutes in the summers — programs that bring scholars, sources, and K-12 teachers together in dialogue about lesson planning, primary source research, teacher training, and new ways of imparting knowledge and fueling curiosity. At the center of our K-12 work is the Los Angeles Service Academy (LASA). For over a decade, LASA has been a program in which high school juniors from across the Los Angeles Basin come together on Saturdays to learn about the infrastructural mechanisms of the metropolis; you can learn more about this program on this website and at LAServiceAcademy.org.
Our Western Edition podcast series launched in 2021. The first season of the podcast took up a series of episodes related to The West on Fire project. In it, we explored the history and culture of Smokey Bear; post-wildfire debris flow events; the effects of wildfire smoke on vulnerable people and populations; prescribed and cultural burning practices as a way to mitigate catastrophic wildfire events; incarceration and firefighting, and race and firefighting across greater Los Angeles. Our second season examined the past, present, and future of Los Angeles Chinatown through a series of fascinating interviews and fieldwork in the Chinatown that currently exists, as well as the one that was destroyed in the 1930s to make way for Union Station. Season three, Memorialization and Memory Across the West, arrived in the spring of 2023 and had us traveling the West – from San Antonio to Jackson – to think about how and why we remember the past. Western Edition comes together through the collaborative efforts of our splendid team: Avishay Artsy, Katie Dunham, Eryn Hoffman, and Jessica Kim.
ICW superintends a book series – Western Histories – a collaborative effort with the University of California Press. We are immensely proud of the fine books we’ve brought out over the last fifteen or so years. You can learn more about the series here: https://www.ucpress.edu/series/wh/western-histories
ICW exists as testament to the collaboration between USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and The Huntington. We are also the beneficiary of financial and other support from an array of philanthropic individuals and organizations; we do our work energized by the generosity of institutions and individuals. We could not do our work without them. We welcome your support at any level you might be able to provide. Please direct any questions you have either to us: Bill at email@example.com or Elizabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Operations Director Eryn Hoffman, at email@example.com.
William Deverell and Elizabeth Logan