• Inspiration Point


The “Visions of California” Seminar was first offered as a Carleton off-campus program in 1995.  An intensive, “total immersion” experience, the seminar is a broad-ranging exploration of California literature, art, history, society, and environment.  An experiment in putting education “in place,” the seminar features multiple fieldtrips to literary and historical sites.  It also features an array of guest speakers – writers, artists, historians, actors, geologists, winemakers, architects, surfers, movie-makers – sharing their knowledge of and passion for the complex life and history of the Golden State. “Visions of California” is a unique venture in American education, and has been written about in the Washington Post, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Sacramento Bee.

Faculty Leader

Michael Kowalewski, Professor of English and Environmental Studies
Michael Kowalewski is the McBride Professor of English and Environmental Studies. He teaches a variety of courses in American literature and American Studies at Carleton. He has been teaching and writing about California for over 25 years, both at Carleton and at Princeton University. He is the author of Reading the West: New Essays on the Literature of the American West (1996). He also edited Gold Rush: A Literary Exploration (1997), a sesquicentennial anthology of gold rush writing sponsored by the California Council for the Humanities.


Professor Catherine Kowalewski
Catherine Kowalewski attended Mt. Holyoke College and has a Master’s Degree in Art History from Rutgers University. She has taught art courses at Carleton, St. Olaf, Rutgers, Rider College and elsewhere. She has also worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.