History Department

Shawn Schwaller


Schwaller teaches History 135/Chicano Studies 135: Mexican Heritage in the U.S., History 341: The American Environment, and History 130: U.S. History.
He previously taught for the Departments of American, Liberal, and African American Studies, and History at California State University, Fullerton, and the Department of History at University of California, Irvine.  


Schwaller’s research interests are based in American popular culture, California and the trans-pacific west, race, ethnic, and gender relations, the relationship between humans and the built and natural environment, and political and social movements in U.S. history.
He is currently working to turn his dissertation, Under a Plastic Palm: Pacific Island Myths and Realities in Twentieth Century Metropolitan Los Angeles, into a book manuscript. It explores the central role played by the Los Angeles region in the startup and promotion of various twentieth century pop cultural trends related to Hawai’i and the South Pacific. Topics examined include the rise in the popularity of surfboarding, racialized and gendered representations in theatrical productions and Hollywood films, the rise of Hawaiian and South Pacific-themed restaurants and cocktail lounges, and the consumption of Hawai’i and the South Pacific in Orange County’s and greater Los Angeles’s post-World War suburbs.
Under a Plastic Palm examines the romanticization of Hawai’i and South Pacific’s built and natural environment, racialized and gendered representations of South Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians which spoke to U.S. imperialism, consumerism, and tourism, and the way in which the growing relationship between Hawai’i and the South Pacific and the U.S. in the twentieth century created routes for Asian and Polynesian migrants who radically transformed mainland U.S. popular culture.


“A Careful Embrace: Race, Gender, and the Consumption of Hawai’i and the South Pacific in Mid-Century Los Angeles,” in Gendering the Trans-Pacific World. Catherine Ceniza Choy and Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, eds. Boston: Brill Publishers, 2017, 366-388.
“Chicano Movement,” “Chinese Coolies and the California Gold Rush,” “Dust Bowl,” “Mexican Migrant Workers,” and “Serra, Junípero and the Franciscan Missions in Spanish California,” in Race and Ethnicity in the United States: From Pre-Contact to the Present. Russell M. Lawson ed. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, Forthcoming in 2018
“The Music of Sunshine and Noir California: From ‘California Dreamin’’ to ‘Straight Outta Compton,’” in Teaching Popular Music in the Classroom. David Whitt ed. Jefferson: McFarland, Forthcoming in 2018

Shawn Schwaller

Office: Trinity 208 

Phone: (530) 898-3122

Email: sschwaller@csuchico.edu