Alex Jacoby is a coastal historian, educator, researcher, and writer. He received a doctorate in United States history from University of California, Irvine. He also holds a master’s degree in history from UC Irvine and a bachelor’s degree from Macalester College. His research interests include the environmental and cultural history of twentieth century southern California, digital humanities, and littoral cultures. His doctoral dissertation, “Bringing the Beach to Los Angeles: The Politics and Environment of the Southern California Coast, 1880-1970,” explores how today’s readily identified beach actually refers to the real and imagined place produced by popular culture, economics, everyday life, and ideological negotiations. His teaching interests include environmental history, classroom technology, and transpacific history.


I’ve taught a range of undergraduate courses related to United States History, California, popular culture, the environment, writing, and research. Some recent classes include:

Mirror of the Modern World: An Introduction to Film and Film History (Colburn Conservatory, 2017) An introductory course examining the development of film in the United States over the last hundred years to better understand its profound imbrication with American life.

Surf’s Up! Southern California Beach History (UC Irvine, 2016) An upper level seminar that discussed the beach in popular culture, but also topics including:  climate and environmental change, suburban real estate and global commerce, pleasure piers and tourism, public recreation and segregation.

Hacking the Humanities (UC Irvine, 2016) An introductory course that  offered concrete examples, hands-on work, site visits and personal projects, students acquired core competences to conduct Digital Humanities research.


Syllabi available by request.



Dissertation: Bringing the Beach to Los Angeles: The Politics and Environment of the Southern California Coast, 1880-1970

Stable link This dissertation examines the historical development of the beaches of the Santa Monica Bay from the 1880s through the twentieth century within the context of the growth of metropolitan Los Angeles. While many see beaches and their popularity as timeless, the coast underwent dramatic transformations over much of the twentieth century. Residents and …