Yesterday morning I joined my colleagues Natalia Mehlman Petrzela and Anthony Chaney on a panel discussing California’s place – and California as a place – in postwar American thought. Kerwin Klein, our chair and commenter, served as a lively conduit to bring out some of the crucial common themes running through our individual papers. And, as is always the case at the USIH conference, questions from audience members during the Q&A teased out aspects of thought that will enrich our work as we each move forward on these different projects.
Not until our panel was finished did I come out of my tunnel of presentational angst and notice the backdrop for our talk. Through the floor-to-ceiling screened windows of Tressider’s Oak West conference room, our audience could view the splendor of California itself, or at least some of the glories of this corner of it: a verdant and variegated canopy of palm trees, pine trees, cedars, and California oaks, parting here and there to reveal warm sandstone walls and red tile roofs glinting in the sun against a partly cloudy sky of brilliant blue. That’s Stanford. And a fragrant garden all misty wet with rain is Stanford too.