English

English

Department of English Actions on Systemic Racism

Students have reached out to ask what the department is doing to address systemic racism at CSUN, so I’d like to follow up on last week’s statement in support of Black Lives Matter (below) by describing some specific actions here in English. 

Conversations among faculty about course content—what materials we teach, and why—happen both formally and informally. Conversations about content, including decolonizing syllabi, began a long time ago in our discipline, and syllabi have changed significantly in the last 20 years. Most of our faculty were trained when the debates about “the canon” began or in their wake, so the question of who gets represented in texts and on syllabi is part of our intellectual DNA. Current circumstances mean revisiting those discussions—especially the formal ones in our department meetings—will be a priority this academic year. That said, faculty reconsider their syllabi and add and delete material all the time; it’s the nature of what we do. I know that many faculty have already begun re-assessing what should be on their syllabi this academic year in light of the urgent calls for change around the country.

This fall, we are excited to welcome two new faculty members to the department: Prof. Brandy Underwood and Prof. Ruben Mendoza. Prof. Underwood will teach mostly American and African American literature courses; Prof. Mendoza will teach mostly American and LatinX literatures. Prof. Underwood comes to us from UCLA, and Prof. Mendoza from UC Riverside, by way of CSUN, where he was a TA in our department and received an MA in Chicano Studies. Both have taught a wide range of student populations at a wide range of institutions, so their contributions promise to re-energize efforts to eliminate systemic racism in English and at the university as a whole.

Last semester, The Sundial (the campus newspaper) published an article criticizing our department about, among other things, some of the issues at stake in the national debate about race. I invited the author of that piece to meet with me about her concerns. A group of students with similar concerns joined us in that useful and productive meeting. We began the process of forming a Student Advisory Council to develop concrete strategies for addressing issues the students raised. Unfortunately, between COVID-19 and the graduation of most of that original group, the Advisory Council didn’t get off the ground this spring. I invite any current students who wish to be part of that Advisory Council this year to contact me. Together, we can do more of the work that needs to be done.

Lastly (for the moment), as we prepare for the fall semester, faculty are taking a variety of courses and workshops on effective online teaching. A crucial component of these courses addresses equity issues in online instruction. Faculty are learning about ways to reach out to all students remotely and to design classes that enable all students, regardless of their circumstances, to participate and learn successfully while we are online. We will continue to keep equity at the forefront of our online pedagogy.

—Prof. Beth Wightman
Chair, Department of English

 

Statement of Solidarity with Black Lives Matter

The Department of English stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and the organizations currently calling us all to account for our roles in the systemic racism that continues to plague our country. We support the protestors calling on us to say the names of victims of a compromised system of criminal justice, including: George Floyd; Breonna Taylor;  Ahmaud Arbery; Sean Read; Tony McDade; Eric Garner; Trayvon Martin; Michael Brown; Philando Castile; Tamir Rice; Sandra Bland. We mourn the unnamed and unnumbered victims. We further stand in solidarity with all CSUN students, faculty, and staff who face injustice every day. You are welcome, you are valued, and you are seen.

Dr. Beth Wightman
Professor and Chair

LiteratureCreative WritingHonors ProgramEnglish Subject Matter ProgramsGraduate ProgramsCareers

Events

Tearing Hatred from the Sky with Bree Newsome

Thursday, September 14, 2017 - 3:00pm

Bree Newsome and the Confederate flag

Community organizer and activist Bree Newsome will give this year's Freshman Convocation keynote at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 14, 2017. She'll also be speaking for an hour earlier in the afternoon that same day in the Plaza del Sol.   Read more

Jack Kirby @ 100: A Centennial Exhibit - panel discussion with comics creators Mark Badger and Tony Puryear

Monday, August 28, 2017 - 3:00pm to 5:00pm

kirby panel blue

“Jack Kirby @ 100,” an exhibit of comics and prints at the Oviatt Library, commemorates the centenary of the famed artist, known for co-creating the Marvel Universe. Working across half a century of comics in diverse genres, Kirby (b. Jacob Kurtzberg, 1917-1994) is the quintessential American comic book creator, and one of the most imitated artists in American popular culture. CSUN affirmed Kirby’s legacy in 2015 with an Art Galleries exhibition, _Comic Book Apocalypse_, and is continuing the celebration this term with “Jack Kirby @ 100,” in time for the 100th anniversary of his birth. Read more

Jack Kirby @ 100: A Centennial Exhibit

Friday, August 25, 2017 - 8:00am to Sunday, October 1, 2017 - 5:00pm

kirby exhibit red

“Jack Kirby @ 100,” an exhibit of comics and prints at the Oviatt Library, commemorates the centenary of the famed artist, known for co-creating the Marvel Universe. Working across half a century of comics in diverse genres, Kirby (b. Jacob Kurtzberg, 1917-1994) is the quintessential American comic book creator, and one of the most imitated artists in American popular culture. CSUN affirmed Kirby’s legacy in 2015 with an Art Galleries exhibition, Comic Book Apocalypse, and is continuing the celebration this term with “Jack Kirby @ 100,” in time for the 100th anniversary of his birth. Read more

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News

New Faculty: Christopher Higgs and Colleen Tripp

July 30, 2015

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The department welcomes new professors Christopher Higgs and Colleen Tripp.

Christopher Higgs earned his Ph.D. in Post-1900 American Literature and Culture from Florida State University, and his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from The Ohio State University. He is the author of two novels: The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney (Los Angeles: Sator Press), and ONE (New York: Roof Books) in collaboration with Blake Butler and Vanessa Place, as well as two prose chapbooks: Becoming Monster (Lincoln: The Cupboard),  New Faculty continues

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