AAR Member Note

Jason S. Sexton

Books and Publications

Redemptive Dreams: Engaging Kevin Starr's California

From the publisher:

"An essential piece in California Studies, Redemptive Dreams: Engaging Kevin Starr’s California offers the first critical engagement with the vision of California’s most ambitious interpreter. While Starr’s multifaceted and polymathic vision of California offered a unique gaze—synthesizing central features, big themes, and incredible problems with the propitious golden dream—his eight-volume California Dream series, along with several other books and thousands of published articles and essays, often puzzled historians and other scholars. Historians in the contemporary school of critical historiography often found Starr’s narrative approach—seeking to tell the internal drama of the California story—to be less attuned to the most important work happening in the field. Such a perspective fails to acknowledge key developments in historical subfields like Black and African American Studies, Chicana/o/x Studies, Asian Studies, Native Studies, and others that draw from the narrative in their critical work and how this relates to Starr’s contribution. But it also neglects Starr as a theological interpreter. Along with being a major figure in California institutional life, with literary output spanning genres from journalism to critical cultural and political commentary, to history and memoir, Starr’s unique contribution to California Studies as a distinctly Catholic historian has yet to be adequately understood. Through his lived experience as a devout Catholic to the particular theological features of this faith tradition that animated his views, this critical sociological perspective sheds new light on his project. With contributions from sociology, history, and theology, akin to investigations appearing in Theology and California: Theological Refractions on California’s Culture (Routledge), Redemptive Dreams offers interdisciplinary perspectives that highlight key features inherent in interdisciplinary theological reflection on place and illuminates these diverse disciplinary discourses as they appear in Starr’s articulation of the California Dream. Such a vision remains important for reckoning with California’s place in the world."

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