The Golden State: Art in California, 1945-1981 (V4159)

30 credits, Level 6

Autumn teaching

This module explores the art and visual culture produced in California between 1945 and 1981. It considers how a regionally specific cultural identity was formed through dialogue with other centres of cultural production, namely New York, as well as shaped by economic, social, historical and geo-political factors unique to the region. These include the state’s border with Mexico, its location on the Pacific rim, and its climate and landscape. The module will also pay close attention to the role played by cultural and educational institutions in enabling, supporting and promoting cultural activity.

You will be introduced to a wide variety of media, including painting, sculpture, assemblage, collage, architecture, murals, film, performance and photography. We will explore how these cultural forms negotiated gender, sexual, racial and class politics and contributed to activist groups such as second wave and radical feminism, the anti-Vietnam movement, the ecological movement, the civil rights movement, the Black Panthers, gay and lesbian liberation, and the new left.


100%: Seminar


30%: Coursework (Portfolio)
70%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 33 hours of contact time and about 267 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2021/22. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. However, we are constantly looking to improve and enhance our courses. There may be changes to modules in response to student demand or feedback, changes to staff expertise or updates to our curriculum. We may also need to make changes in response to COVID-19. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: