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Alumni Newsletter 1.2 • 1 February, 2007

Welcome Message

Welcome to the English Department’s second edition of the Alumni Newsletter.  The largest department in the College of Humanities, we have over 700 undergraduate and graduate majors. Each year, almost two hundred English majors graduate and go out into the community to work as teachers, editors, writers, business entrepreneurs--to name only a few vocations. This Newsletter is our way of keeping in touch with our alumni community. We will be sharing faculty and student achievements and activities in the newsletter, and we encourage alumni to send information they would like to share to our e-mail address (english@csun.edu). We would love to hear from you.


Faculty and Student Achievements

For our Fall Alumni Newsletter, we are featuring Tony Arthur, who began teaching at CSUN in 1972. He retired in 2002 in order to write full time.

Tony ArthurFor Professor Anthony Arthur, It’s the Year of ‘The Jungle’


Fulbright Teaching Fellowship, Acclaimed Biography Make for Memorable 2006

English professor emeritus Anthony Arthur is having the kind of year that comes along only once in a century. Quite literally.


Random House in June brought out Arthur’s biography, Radical Innocent: Upton Sinclair, on the 100th publication anniversary of The Jungle, Sinclair’s 1906 classic in social protest literature. An avalanche of positive reviews followed, in more than 25 major publications to date, including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Sun Times, The Christian Science Monitor, the Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, the Denver Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, USA Today and more.

Arthur barely had time to adjust his schedule to lecture invitations and interviews on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” WYNC and WABC in New York and others when a letter arrived from Washington, D.C. For the third time in his life, he had been selected to participate in the esteemed Fulbright Program, the United States’ flagship program in international educational exchange.


As a Fulbright senior specialist, Arthur will conduct a six-week seminar on Sinclair at the University of Dortmund in the industrial Ruhr region of Germany, north of Cologne. He also is scheduled for lectures in Munich, Hamburg, Berlin and a half dozen other German cities.


The CSUN professor will arrive in Europe flush with the success of Radical Innocent. Hardly his first outing on the national publishing scene—five books precede it—the book’s reception has surprised even the seasoned author. “I’ve had good reviews before,” he said, “but nothing in this quantity.”


Or perhaps with these superlatives: The New Yorker’s David Denby called the biography “intimate and intellectually astute.” Los Angeles Magazine considered it “a model of good biography, uncommonly well wrought and continually interesting.” “Rare is the biographer capable of packing the fascinating fullness as compactly—and apparently completely—as Arthur has done,” said the Denver Post.


Arthur began his three-year Radical Innocent project in 2002, drawn to Sinclair because he “hadn’t been done to death.” Discovering in his subject a “paradoxical figure who was a man of enormous talent and energy and will,” Arthur was astonished to find that here was “one of the most important people in American cultural history, and yet there hadn’t been anything done on him that was of real merit.”


Sinclair’s was a full and useful life, but one full of contradictions, Arthur found. The challenge was “to reconcile this extraordinarily selfish and self-centered man—as he described himself—with his image as the patron saint of American liberalism.”


His Radical Innocent experience has whetted Arthur’s appetite to find another appealing subject. “This was my first biography, and I learned a lot in the process. It’s like do-it-yourself construction on your house. You pick up all these skills and you want to use them.”

-- Brenda Roberts

For further information, see Tony Arthur's web site (http://www.anthonyarthur.net).

Upcoming Events of Interest

Dr. Donald Hall, former CSUN English professor and now Jackson Distinguished Professor of English at West Virginia University, will be the keynote speaker at the annual Sigma Tau Delta Honors Colloquium on Tuesday, March 27th at 2pm. His talk, "Globalization and Sexuality: James Baldwin's Loveless American in Paris," will examine James Baldwin's Giovani's Room as an exploration of the possibilities and pitfalls of looking for an identity abroad when one is unable to confront one's identity at home. Dr. Hall  will discuss the potentials represented by travel and globalized interactions but also the ways that productive encounters with "others" demands a grappling with otherness within. Looking at the choices that David, Baldwin's narrator, makes as he refuses to embrace change within himself, Dr. Hall will argue finally that "love" demands an ability to engage in risky dialogue and embrace a learning process concerning one's own limitations.

Erin Gruwell--the teacher featured in the movie Freedom Writers--is scheduled to speak at CSUN on Monday, April 23. This event is sponsored by the Teachers for a New Era. The specific time and place has yet to be arranged, but we will send you that information in our next Alumni Newsletter.

Call for Internship Sponsors

The English Intern Program is seeking internship sponsors for the spring semester. The program places selected students in the communications division of a company, small business, or organization. Positions can entail any type of writing or editing, including promotional, media relations, advertising, and technical/medical. Interns are of upper-division standing and will have completed a university course in professional writing. Internships are 12-20 hours/week for 16 weeks. Interested parties should contact Dr. Kent Baxter at (818) 677-3425 or kent.baxter@csun.edu.

Alumni Corner

  • Nick Sende (BA 2003) is teaching English in Takasaki, Japan for this year.