Discover Culture and WWI at Charles Burdick Memorial Military History Symposium.

San Jose State University will host the 2018 Charles Burdick Memorial Military History Symposium on April 15, from 1 to 7 p.m. with an expert panel, a film and a music concert.



Panel: SJSU Engineering Auditorium (ENG 189) 1:00 to 4:00

Moderator: Dr. Jonathan Roth, Professor of History and Director, Burdick Military History Project.

Dr. Karen English of San Jose State University will speak on American Poetry in the Great War.  The most famous poem of World War One “In Flanders Fields” was written by a Canadian about a British battle, but there were many American poems written in support of, and against the war, by men and women, officers and enlisted.  Educated in North Carolina and raised in a military family, Dr. English has taught American Literature and American Studies at San José State University since 1989.   Her academic field is American Literature before 1865, but she saw the film Gallipoli in 1981 and has since been passionately interested in literature written during and about WWI, esp. American poetry, but also fiction, autobiography, and drama.

Professor Kimberly Schafer of San Francisco’s Academy of Arts University will present Otto Dix: Combat Veteran and Avant Garde Painter.  Otto Dix was already a painter when at age 23, he volunteered for the German Army and served continually from 1914 to 1918.  Dix fought in the Battle of the Somme, on the Eastern Fronter, and took part in Germany’s final Spring Offensive in the West.  He earned an Iron Cross (2nd Class) and left the army as the equivalent of a Staff Sergeant (Vizefeldwebel).  After the war, Dix became a leading painter a critical observer of Weimar and the Great War. Prof. Schafer holds two graduate degrees from Oxford Brookes University (formerly Oxford Polytechnic), and has been with the Academy of Art University since 1996. Her graduate thesis focused on the twentieth-century British artist Stanley Spencer (another World War One veteran).

Dr. English will introduce the 1918 film Shoulder Arms, which Charlie Chaplin wrote, directed and starred in.  We meet his famous character in boot camp, and the 46-minute movie takes us with him to the Western Front.  The film was hugely popular and was used in bond drives.  Although almost 100 years old, the movie still resonates with today’s veterans.

Concert: SJSU Concert Hall (Music 176)

Chief Warrant Officer 2 (CA) James Lamb and the 11-member California State Military Reserve Band present From Ragtime to Jazz: The Music of James Reese Europe, bringing to life the fascinating tale of Jim Europe, a leading figure in the transition from ragtime to jazz. Travelling from the stage of Carnegie Hall to the battlefields of World War I France, the presentation combines narrative, images, video, and live music to chart the story of this groundbreaking African-American musician and soldier. The band uses historically accurate compositions and scores as played by Jim Europe’s ensembles and instruments common to the period to accurately reproduce the music as it sounded 100 years ago.  The California State Military Reserve Band is made up of members of the CSMR or CalGuard, a volunteer organization that backs up the California National Guard, as well as Guard and Reserve musicians.

To reserve free concert tickets please go to:

For further information, including regarding accessibility and accommodation, please contact Dr. Jonathan Roth

Celebrate Student Research April 17

San Jose State University’s Office of Research and Research Foundation will host the 39th Annual Student Research Forum April 17, from noon to 2 p.m. in the Dr. Marthin Luther King Jr. Library, Room 225.

The event is an opportunity to congratulate the outstanding SJSU Student Research Competition finalists who will be representing the university the CSU-wide competition May 4 and 5, at CSU, Sacramento. The event will include an awards ceremony recognizing the students and their faculty mentors, followed by a reception and poster session.

The following SJSU Research Competition finalists will go on to represent San José State University at the 2018 CSU Student Research Competition May 4, 2018, and May 5, 2018, at California State University, Sacramento:

Israel Juarez Contreras – Chemical Engineering
Kelly Cricchio – Art History
Vijay Lalith Cuppala – Mechanical Engineering
Unnikrishnan Sreekumar, Revathy Devaraj, Qi Li – Computer Engineering and Software Engineering
Simon Jarrar – Applied Anthropology
Vandana Kannan – Computer Science
Khiem Pham – Computer Science
Jeffrey Tseng – Economics

Please RSVP no later than Monday, April 9, 2018, to

Exploring the Legacy of An Abolitionist

Photo: David Schmitz Professor Jennifer Rycenga

Photo: David Schmitz
Professor Jennifer Rycenga

Department of Humanities Professor Jennifer Rycenga’s expansive research interests include religion, politics, popular and classical music and lesbian history. An alumna of UC Berkeley and the Graduate Theologian Union, she has taught at SJSU for more than 20 years and coordinates the Comparative Religious Studies Program. Co-editor of The Mary Daly Reader (NYU Press, 2017), Queering the Popular Pitch (Routledge, 2006) and Frontline Feminisms: Women, War and Resistance (Routledge, 2001), she is currently working on a cultural biography of white abolitionist educator Prudence Crandall (1803-1890). She talked with WSQ about her Crandall project, research methods and the joys of birding.

Tell us about the subject of your research.

Prudence Crandall had an Academy for women in Canterbury, Connecticut, in 1831. In 1832, three extraordinary events occurred. First, Crandall was reading the then-little-known abolitionist newspaper from Boston, The Liberator, supplied to her by a household employee of hers, a young black woman named Maria Davis. The Liberator issues contained the second extraordinary occurrence: writings from black men and women, most notably the first American woman to give public political speeches, black Bostonian widow Maria Stewart. Stewart called for the establishment of a high school for black women, and encouraged education as the path to equality. The third extraordinary event occurred in the fall of 1832. Maria Davis’s future sister-in-law, Sarah Harris, asked Crandall if she could attend the Academy. Crandall agreed, and all went smoothly for a time. But the white parents of the students were not pleased with this change in the school. They threatened and cajoled Crandall to drop Harris from the roster; she refused. Instead, Crandall went to Boston, visiting with the editor of The Liberator, William Lloyd Garrison, to discuss her plan to reopen the school for black women only. Garrison pledged his support.

And did Crandall reopen her school?

Yes. The new Academy was publicized with an advertisement featuring seven white and eight black male endorsers—one of the most racially integrated documents in the history of the abolitionist movement. Over the next 18 months, Crandall and her co-teachers maintained the school, and more than two dozen black women studied there. The townspeople of Canterbury opposed the Academy with persistent racist tactics, including cow patties thrown into the well water and the butchery of a black-and-white cat to mark the villagers’ opposition to racial integration. The leader of the opposition, Andrew Judson, had a law passed in the Connecticut Assembly, making the harboring of out-of-state blacks for purposes of education illegal in Connecticut. This led to extensive litigation against the school. Yet despite these assaults, the school continued until a vicious attack in September 1834 left the school building uninhabitable. My research has been able to demonstrate that, despite such opposition, the students went on to achieve places of importance in the free black community, affecting the movements for change that led up to and past the Civil War. The rock that Crandall threw into the complacency of white society in the north resulted in many generations of black self-determination and a richer sense of who we can be as a country.

When did you first become interested in Crandall?

I first learned of Crandall in the late 1990s, ancillary to my research on the black abolitionist Maria Stewart. My mother and I love to travel to historic places, so when I read about the Crandall Academy, now housing a museum, we included it on a trip in southern New England. That was in 1997! I was hooked as soon as I learned the trajectory of Crandall’s life. What I have discovered, though, turns out to be infinitely richer than I could have conceived when I began. Crandall’s school represented one of the strongest early coalitions across lines of difference in American history. Black women, black men, white women and white men not only worked together to launch and maintain the Academy in Canterbury, Connecticut, but they understood the need to protect each other. For instance, the names of the students were not revealed by the abolitionist press nor by Crandall herself. This creates some headaches for historians, but it demonstrates a perceptive incipient analysis of privilege and risk. Crandall’s legal team (who, of course, were white men) built an insightful argument for both black citizenship and female citizenship; their arguments would reappear in the Dred Scott case and Brown-v-Board. Part of what I have discovered is the existence of an American anti-racist genealogy. To be anti-racist means that you embrace the equality of all people, and do not seek to blame the victims of prejudice for the prejudice directed against them. Crandall grasped that the problems created by racism were in no way the fault of black people.

There seem to be several layers of discrimination operating in this higher education story.

One of the most important aspects of this story is how we can witness intersecting identities. The black students were facing prejudice primarily because of race, but also by virtue of their gender, age, sexuality, class status and class strivings. Crandall was dismissed by some opponents, then and now, because she was merely a woman. The Academy in Canterbury offered a unique opportunity for black families to give their daughters not only an advanced education, but the skills necessary to extend education more broadly through the black community, by training them to become teachers, too. I think of this when I interact with the many future teachers of California who come through the liberal studies program in our humanities department. Their wonderful diversity, across race, language, gender, sexuality and religion, shows me that the legacy of Crandall, Harris, and the other students lives on in America.

Did Crandall’s religion influence her academic mission?

Definitely. She was raised Quaker, and so the egalitarian ideals of that denomination were part of her deepest core. She also benefitted from the superior educational opportunities that the Quakers offered to women: she had attended a Quaker boarding school whose curriculum closely mirrored that of her own academy. However, Crandall left the Quakers and joined the Baptists in 1831. The Baptists were more open to the optimism of the Second Great Awakening and the evangelical tendency that maintained that reforming society was a way of manifesting one’s faith. Crandall used the Bible talismanically when Sarah Harris asked to join the school. She opened to Ecclesiastes 4:1, which speaks to the oppressed lacking advocates. She took this as a divine mandate to admit Harris and, later, the other black students.

What draws you to historical research? What about the process do you find most satisfying as a scholar?

To be able to rescue some names and lives from obscurity, to remember the warp and woof of how they lived out what it means to be human. History is the place where the big ideas of what is meaningful meet up with the details of life as it is experienced. In the case of those involved in the Canterbury Academy, I found that by examining women’s lives and interracial cooperation, I have discerned how the participants were expanding the boundaries of what was possible for women to do and be.

You’ve been teaching at SJSU since 1995. As someone keyed into cultural and academic shifts, describe some of the differences in your classroom and students then and now.

I think that in the 1990s, students still had fairly standard expectations of what to expect from college, in terms of curriculum and fields of study. With the geometric growth of the internet, both students and professors are in a perpetual candy shop of information, ideas, and opinions. On the one hand, research skills have improved. Students are easily able to locate scholarly articles and build extensive bibliographies. On the other hand, the internet inculcates lazy habits, such as stopping too early in a search and not knowing how to discern the quality of a source. Today’s students have easier access to knowledge, but a more difficult road to discover wisdom. That’s not a bad thing, really. By flooding students with information and opinions, the Internet forces them to learn how to swim intellectually!

You’re also an avid birder. Which bird “encounters” are currently on your wish list?

Any bird, through its behavior or unexpected appearance, can be a delight. I’ve maintained a list of all the species I’ve seen on the campus over the last 22 years and have now seen 64 species in our three-by-six block downtown oasis. The most recent addition was among the most welcome: families of Western Bluebird that I saw hawking insects off Tower Lawn in July 2017. I have now branched out, so to say, to an interest in all taxa and have been recording my sightings of insects, mammals, lichens and more in the stupendous online platform, iNaturalist. I urge WSQ readers to contribute their sightings to the project I’ve started on San Jose State Biodiversity: The platform is free to all (and open-source, too, for computer geeks), and works easily with your phone’s camera through the iNaturalist app. In fact, I regularly call iNaturalist “the smartest use of a smart phone” because it gives each of us the ability to document and learn about the world around us.


March 2018 Newsletter: Provost Update – Diversity Drives Creativity and Innovation

I hope everyone is finding some time during spring break to reenergize before we head into the final months of the semester. March was especially busy, and I was fortunate enough to be involved in events that highlight the diversity of our university as well as our work to create a more inclusive campus and community.

On March 1, I welcomed nearly two-dozen doctoral students from Stanford University’s Diversifying Academia, Recruiting Excellence (DARE) Doctoral Fellowship Program. The program aims to build a pipeline for faculty from underrepresented groups. For the past 10 years, fellows have visited our university to learn about SJSU’s commitment to diversifying the faculty and to hear from some of our own faculty members about their experiences. I shared with the visitors that this year, Faculty Affairs and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion implemented newdiversity training for search committees involved in faculty recruitment.

During their visit, the DARE Fellows also engaged with student researchers and scholars from our Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program. The McNair students engage in undergraduate research, prepare for the GRE and learn how to choose a graduate school, among other activities that will help them on the path to a doctoral degree. The newsletter this month shares more about these programs along with other efforts to support diversity and inclusion such as our African American College Readiness Summit, the Women in Engineering Conference, and the Chicanx/Latinx and African American/Black Student Success Center internships.

As many of you know, we have one of the most diverse student populations in the nation. On March 15, we hosted the inaugural SJSU Student Success Symposium attended by more than 230 faculty, staff and students. Many of our guest speakers discussed ways to engage students from underrepresented groups, especially Dr. Sylvia Hurtado, from the University of California, Los Angeles, whose talk was entitled “Campus Climate and Institutional Change: Advancing Diversity and Institutional Practice.” Visit the Student Success Website to learn how to participate in a follow-up session after spring break to help us identify the next steps in promoting academic excellence.

While we strive to be inclusive of people from many backgrounds and experiences, it is also important for us to have a diversity of perspectives, disciplines and ideas. Our university has many interdisciplinary programs and centers, such as the Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change, the Mineta Transportation Institute, the Humanities Honors Program, among others. We are also in a prime position to expand opportunities for our students to engage in multi-faceted projects that cross discipline lines.

Just this week, the Biomedical Engineering Society of San Jose State hosted its 9th Annual Bay Area Biomedical Device Conference. As part of the conference, 34 student teams presented ideas for devices to help medical professionals and patients. These teams included students from many engineering, business, health professions and other majors, working together to find a solution to a medical problem. The industry leaders who spoke at the conference reiterated how diverse perspectives affect product and process innovation.

As we head into April, we will have more opportunities celebrate our diversity and academic excellence. Some upcoming events include theCelebration of Research April 4, the Faculty Service Recognition and Awards Luncheon April 5Legacy of Poetry Day April 12, the Inclusive Innovation Summit April 13, Admitted Spartan Day April 14Honors Convocation April 20 and the Fifth Annual SJSU Cultural Showcase April 25.

I hope to see you at these and other events next month as we continue to work together to improve student success while creating an inclusive and welcoming university community.

February 2018 Newsletter: Institute for Study of Sports, Society and Social Change Launches Research

Dr. Ted Butryn is the interim founding director of the Institute for the Study of Sports, Society and Social Change at San Jose State University.(Photo by David Schmitz)

Dr. Ted Butryn is the interim founding director of the Institute for the Study of Sports, Society and Social Change at San Jose State University.(Photo by David Schmitz)

By Melissa Anderson

Last January when Ted Butryn attended the Institute for the Study of Sports, Society and Social Change (ISSSSC) Words To Action Town Hall, he was there as an observer, as a professor of Kinesiology with a specialization in sport sociology and sport psychology, and as an admirer of Dr. Harry Edwards. Edwards, ’64 Sociology, ’16 Honorary Doctorate, was a student-athlete at SJSU who has become a renowned activist and scholar. He helped to launchISSSSC, starting with a donation of historical photos, autographed books, memorabilia and correspondence that is housed as part of the Dr. Harry Edwards Collection in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library.

When Butryn was approached to be the interim founding director of the fledging institute, he jumped at the chance to develop an interdisciplinary research center and to collaborate with Edwards.

“I met Dr. Edwards this summer and when I first started teaching the sociology of sport course at SJSU, I used to tell students, humbly, that I could never fill his shoes but I was going to do my best. I told him this story and said, looking up, that I know that now quite literally,” Butryn said, alluding to both Edwards’ reputation and 6’8” stature.

Butryn recalled first learning about Edwards’ work when he was an undergraduate student at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, where he ran track and cross country while studying sport psychology. In an African American history course, he discovered the Olympic Project for Human Rights, and the 1968 protest by-then San Jose State University students Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who used their Olympic medal moment to bring attention to their cause.

His interest led him to SJSU, where he completed a master’s in sport psychology before returning to the University of Tennessee-Knoxville to complete a doctorate in their cultural studies and sport unit.

“I loved looking at how race, class, gender, sexual orientation, among other identities, worked and intersected in sporting spaces,” he said, of his master’s and PhD work.

Butryn has built a reputation in his own right and was named a North American Society for the Sociology of Sport Fellow in 2017. His own research has examined technology and sporting bodies and white racial identity and white privilege in sport, with his most recent research pivoting to the NFL protests. He has published more than 20 refereed articles, including four in the Sociology of Sport Journal, which is one of the top journals in the field. Along with numerous published book chapters, he also has presented more than 50 juried presentations at various academic conferences.

“ISSSSC was founded on the same principles of academic excellence and social integrity that have guided our university for over 160 years and in recognition of the influential power that sports and athletes have on our national and global cultures,” said Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Andy Feinstein, in an email announcing Butryn’s appointment last fall. “SJSU considers the sociology of sport to be an emerging and prominent pillar in the field of social sciences and established ISSSSC to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration, analysis and education to further our knowledge on the intersection of sport, society and social justice issues.”

In his early months as director, Butryn identified SJSU faculty who are interested in interdisciplinary research around sports and society, as well as top scholars from other universities and colleges in the US and Canada. The SJSU Academic Advisory Board members are listed online.

“We will be looking at a number of issues from different perspectives, drawing from sociology, cultural studies, psychology, and management, and using a variety of research methodologies” he said.  For example, he noted that he and his colleagues are examining the media coverage of the NFL protests, how young athletes interpret the protests, as well as how sport managers can learn about how to navigate the age of athlete activism in the future.

Other potential areas for research include sports and technology, the intersections between concussions, gender, race and socioeconomic status, and the sporting experiences of racial, ethnic and cultural groups that reflect the SJSU community. The ISSSSC team is also especially interested in providing research, scholarship and creative activity opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.

“In the fall, we plan on having student research teams led by faculty advisors presenting during the week-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Mexico City Olympics and SJSU’s legacy in the area of sport and social justice,” he said, noting that he would be recruiting students from numerous classes across campus.

ISSSSC will also continue to host important and timely conversations about the intersection of sports, society and social change.

The upcoming Words to Action: Gender, Sport and Society Town Hall will beMarch 14, from 8:30 a.m. to noon. The event will feature leading voices on gender equity and women’s rights in the sports world. Tickets are on sale now.

“In 1993, I remember sitting with my teammates in Tennessee watching the World Track and Field Championship 10K,” Butryn said. “I was already familiar with the Carlos and Smith protest, but they aired a brief documentary commemorating the 25th Anniversary (of the 1968 protest) that was really powerful. To be involved with the Institute leading into the 50th Anniversary at SJSU is more than a dream come true.”