Ho Chi Minh City

40th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City

San Jose State changed forever when Saigon fell 40 years ago today. Refugees who settled in the neighborhoods near campus grew into one the nation’s largest Vietnamese American communities. These days, many of these immigrants and their descendants are SJSU students, faculty and staff members, and alumni.

SJSU Professor of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Science Hien Duc Do fled Vietnam at age 14 just days before the fall. Drawing from his research on the Vietnamese American experience, Do appears as an expert commentator in many news accounts of the lasting impact of the war. These include special reports by the San Jose Mercury News, KPIX TV, KGO radio, KCBS radio and KLIV radio.

Prominent Vietnamese American writer and journalist Andrew Lam, who left his homeland at age 11, is teaching this term at San Jose State. He shares his views on Vietnam then and now with the Los Angeles Times, Al Jazeera AmericaSan Jose Mercury News, KPIX TVKQED radio, and KLIV radio.

In a cover story on the Fall of Saigon, the Spartan Daily student newspaper profiles four local Vietnamese Americans. Accompanying the report online is a video documentary featuring, among others, a pastor, poet, and city council member. The student videographers discuss their work with NBC Bay AreaSouth Bay Pulse, an iPad app created by the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, features the video and full-length profiles.

“The war created ripples that span generations,” the Spartan Daily says. “But despite the conflict, people have been able to start anew.”

 

SJSU Honors its Faculty Members

Seventy faculty members stepped into the spotlight at the 16th annual Faculty Service Recognition and Awards Luncheon, and were honored for their work at San Jose State University.

“It is an honor for me to take part in this annual event, recognizing our faculty members for their years of service to San Jose State University and acknowledging the special achievements and contributions of this year’s four faculty awardees,” said President Mohammad Qayoumi in his prepared remarks.

2014-2015 Faculty Awards

“I have devoted my career to training students in order to develop the next generation of scientists who will tackle the next generation of tough issues in human system integration.  It is very gratifying to see that the university places such high value on those activities.”

With that said, Kevin Jordan, professor of Psychology in the College of Social Sciences, accepted the President’s Scholar Award. His 30-year career at the university is impressive. He’s authored or co-authored approximately 80 academic papers and presentations, supervised some 80 master’s theses, and secured nearly $200 million in research funding.

The Student Union ballroom erupted with applause as President Qayoumi presented the Distinguished Service Award to Scott Guenter, professor of Humanities in the College of Humanities and Arts. Guenter also received an award for his 25 years of service to the university.

Outstanding Professor Anne Marie Todd of the Department of Communication Studies in the College of Social Sciences and Outstanding Lecturer Cynthia Baer of the Department of English and Comparative Literature in the College of Humanities and the Arts also received a warm reception.

Yearly Service Awards

The university gave awards to faculty members with 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 and 50 years of service. William McCraw, professor emeritus of Political Science and a Humanities lecturer, was the only person at this year’s luncheon to receive an SJSU Tower frame for 50 years of service.  As he walked to the stage, everyone in the ballroom rose to their feet and applauded.

“I feel a lot of pride for being associated with this vibrant campus,” said McCraw.  “It seems just like yesterday that I stepped foot on campus.”

More than 350 people turned out to honor the faculty members for their inspiring work and dedication to SJSU.

 

Aaron Lington

Faculty Notes: How to Win a Grammy

At a University Scholar Series event, Associate Professor Aaron Lington, School of Music and Dance, shared some of the behind-the-scenes realities of producing and recording the album that won a 2014 Grammy for Best Tropical Latin Album. He and his 20-piece jazz ensemble, Pacific Mambo Orchestra, “had to do the recording in a little bit of an unorthodox way,” Lington admitted. A $10,000 Kickstarter campaign paid for studio time, artwork, copyright fees and other necessities. Lington plays baritone saxophone.

COOL4ED, a digital library project whose goal is to bring low-cost textbooks to CSU, CCU and UC students, received the Outstanding Instructional Technology Website award at the annual Directors of Educational Technology/California Higher Education conference in December. COOL4ED partners with California Open Educational Resources Council, chaired by Associate Professor Katherine Harris, Department of English and Comparative Literature.

Two Department of Television, Radio, Film and Theatre Arts lecturers, York Kennedy and Michael Locher, received 2014 Theatre Bay Area Award nominations. Kennedy’s work on Cutting Ball Theatre’s new translation of Samuel Gallet’s Communiqué n° 10 earned him an Outstanding Lighting Design nomination. Locher garnered an Outstanding Scenic Design nomination for his work on Center REP Theatre’s production of Anthony Shaffer’s Sleuth.

Lecturer Linda Levine, Department of Health Science and Recreation, and Associate Professor Yasue Yani, Department of World Languages and Literatures, received Helen L. Stevens Outstanding International Educator Awards in October, honored for creating opportunities for SJSU students to study abroad. Stevens is the retired director of International Programs and Services.

Gwen Mok

Gwendolyn Mok, Coordinator of Keyboard Studies

Pianist Gwendolyn Mok, coordinator of Keyboard Studies, performed Robert Schumann’s “Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44” with the Pražák Quartet at San Jose’s Le Petit Trianon Theatre. “It is a joyful piece. (The composer) wrote it for his wife Clara when he was in a very happy, bucolic period,” Mok said of the work. Mok and the Czech string quartet last performed at the Le Petit Trianon in 2011, collaborating on a piece by Dvořák. Both performances were sponsored by the San Jose Chamber Music Society.

Professor Annette Nellen, Department of Accounting and Finance and director of the master’s program in taxation, announced the publication of the sixth issue of The Contemporary Tax Journal, a student-managed online journal. Launched in 2011, the journal investigates and explains tax law and features the work of SJSU MST students alongside original articles by other academics and tax practitioners.

Congratulations to Joyce Osland, director of the Global Leadership Advancement Center and Lucas Endowed Professor of Global Leadership, for receiving the Scholarship and Critical Thinking Award at the Outstanding Leadership Book Awards in San Diego. Osland shared the honor with the co-editors of Advances in Global Leadership, volume eight (Emerald Group Publishing), a guide for both researchers and practitioners. “It’s a privilege to have a hand in growing this field of study, given its importance on the global stage,” Osland said.

Professor and Chair Lawrence Quill, Department of Political Science, published Secrets and Democracy: From Arcana Imperii to WikiLeaks (Palgrave Macmillan), an investigation of the role secrets play in liberal democracies and the impact of those secrets on the individual citizen’s “right to know.” Quill is a 2015 visiting fellow at the Center for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, Wolfson College, Cambridge University.

Quake Column

Professor San Fratello’s “Quake Column” (courtesy of Emerging Objects).

Working with her partner at Emerging Objects, a 3D printing MAKE-tank based in San Francisco, Assistant Professor of Design Virginia San Fratello invented a 3-D printed earthquake-proof column designed to withstand major seismic activity. “Quake Column” was inspired by Incan earthquake architecture and uses no bricks or mortar.

Humanities Lecturer Emily Leah Silverman, author of Edith Stein and Regina Jonas: Religious Visionaries of the Death Camps (Routledge), talked about her book and research at an event sponsored by Florida International University’s Program in the Study of Spirituality. Edith Stein, a Catholic Jewish Carmelite nun, and Regina Jonas, the first female rabbi, were both executed by the Nazis in Auschwitz.

KQED Arts interviewed Associate Professor Mary Warner, Department of English and Comparative Literature, about the challenges of teaching aliterate students (students who can read but don’t care to do so). Of particular concern: students who identify themselves as non-readers but aspire to become teachers.

KQED: 140 Characters or Less: Aliteracy & Silicon Valley Youth

Posted Nov. 4 by KQED Arts.

By Adrienne Blaine

The popular Internet abbreviation “TLDR” stands for “too long, didn’t read.” As social media springing from Silicon Valley condenses messaging to shorter and shorter character counts, local educators struggle with “aliterate” students. Unlike illiteracy, aliteracy means, “I can read, but I won’t read,” or “I can read, but I don’t care,” according to Dr. Mary Warner, an English professor at San Jose State University who specializes in young adult literature and literacy.

Read the full story.

Exceptional Voices and Vision

Alan Soldofsky

Meet two SJSU English professors whose recently published books reflect a deep sense of place and history. (Christina Olivas Photo)

In the Buddha Factory by Alan Soldofsky

In the Buddha Factory by Alan Soldofsky

The Center for Literary Arts continues its 2013-14 season with readings by two SJSU English professors whose recently published books reflect a deep sense of place and history. With “In the Buddha Factory,” Alan Soldofsky explores the opposite tensions of place and no place, rich and poor, finite and limitless, with his backdrop being Silicon Valley and Zhejiang Province. It is in this Chinese epicenter of capitalist development that Soldofsky visits a Buddha statue factory. Nick Taylor’s novel “Father Junipero’s Confessor” explores the human drama underlying California’s mission era through the eyes of a Franciscan serving Junipero Serra. A book party, reading and signing for both authors will begin at 7 p.m. Sept. 30 in King 225/229.

 

Father Junipero’s Confessor: A Novel by Nick Taylor

Father Junipero’s Confessor: A Novel by Nick Taylor

This event is co-sponsored by The Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies and the Department of English and Comparative Literature. Other CLA events this term are a book party for Steinbeck expert and Professor Susan Shillinglaw; three events with author and humorist Sandra Tsing Loh; and readings by New York Times bestselling author Tom Barbash and Filipino poet Barbara Jane Reyes.

Ken Burns to Receive Steinbeck Award

Ken Burns to Receive Steinbeck Award

Ken Burns to Receive Steinbeck Award

Ken Burns (photo by Jason Savage/courtesy of Florentine Films and WETA Washington, D.C.)

“History made them famous. Ken Burns made them real.” So says PBS about one of the most influential documentary filmmakers of our time.

Join the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies, the Student Union, and KQED for a special evening as Ken Burns accepts the John Steinbeck Award at 8 p.m. Dec. 6 in Morris Dailey Auditorium.

Burns will sit down for an on-stage conversation with Michael Krasny. Tackling subjects ranging from the Central Park Five to the Dust Bowl through the eyes of everyday people, Burns keeps social justice at the heart of all of his work.

Authorized by the Steinbeck estate, The John Steinbeck Award, “in the souls of the people,” is presented to artists and activists whose works exemplify the spirit of Steinbeck’s social engagement.

Previous recipients include Bruce Springsteen, Arthur Miller, Sean Penn, John Sayles, Studs Terkel, Joan Baez, Garrison Keillor, John Mellencamp, Rachel Maddow, and Dolores Huerta (co-founder, with Cesar Chavez, of the United Farm Workers).

Sneak Preview 

At the event, Burns will screen a sneak peek of his upcoming documentary, “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History,” set to air in 2014.

There’s a connection between John Steinbeck and Eleanor Roosevelt. When detractors accused Steinbeck of exaggerating the conditions in migrant labor camps as depicted in The Grapes of Wrath, the first lady came to the novelist’s defense.

Tickets are on sale now at Ticketmaster, the Event Center Box Office, or by phone (1-800-745-3000).

Poet Named 2013 Lurie Distinguished Visiting Author-In-Residence

Poet Named 2013 Lurie Distinguished Visiting Author-In-Residence

Poet Named 2013 Lurie Distinguished Visiting Author-In-Residence

Kim Addonizio (Lin Tan photo)

Contact: Alan Soldofsky, SJSU Creative Writing Director, 408-924-4432

SAN JOSE, CA – Award-winning poet Kim Addonizio has been appointed San Jose State University’s Connie L. Lurie Distinguished Visiting Author-in-Residence for the 2013 spring semester. Annually, the Lurie Author-in-Residence is selected by the Department of English and Comparative Literature in the College of Humanities and the Arts.

Addonozio is teaching the ENGL 240: Graduate Poetry Workshop on Tuesdays at SJSU.  She will give a public reading from her poetry and fiction on 7:30 p.m. March 19 in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, room 225/229.  Admission is free and open to the public.

Addonizio’s most recent book of poetry is Lucifer at the Starlite (W. W. Norton, 2009).  Her previous collections include What Is This Thing Called Love (W. W. Norton, 2004) and Tell Me (BOA Editions, 2000), which was a finalist for the National Book Award.  She also has published two books about writing poetry and the creative process: Poet’s Companion (W. W. Norton, 1997), co-authored with Dorianne Laux, a standard text used in many colleges and universities; and her most recent book of writing prompts and instructional advice, Ordinary Genius (W. W. Norton, 2009).

About the craft of writing poetry, Addonizio emphasizes cultivating a sense of personal power and finding your own way of doing edgy work in both open and closed forms to expand the range of your voice.

She has published two novels, My Dreams Out in the Street (Simon & Schuster, 2007) and Little Beauties (Simon & Schuster, 2005); and a collection of short stories, In the Box Called Pleasure (Fiction Collective, 1999).  In addition, she has co-edited Dorothy Parker’s Elbow: Tattoos on Writers, Writers on Tattoos (Grand Central Publishing, 2002).  She has been the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, The Commonwealth Club Poetry Medal and the John Ciardi Lifetime Achievement Award.

Nonstop Beautiful Ladies

Addonizio grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C., and moved to San Francisco in the late 1970s, where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s from San Francisco State. She has taught in the Goddard College MFA program, and also teaches private classes from her home in Oakland. She fronts a rock and blues band, Nonstop Beautiful Ladies, for which she plays blues harmonica, sings, and recites poems.

The Lurie Distinguished Visiting Author-in-Residence in Creative Writing was established in 1999, offering students the opportunity to study with nationally and internationally known authors. Previous Lurie Authors include some of the most distinguished poets, fiction writers, and nonfiction writers writing in English today.

Distinguished Writers

Notable among them are science fiction writer and poet Ursula K. Le Guin; Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Carolyn Kizer; former California Poet Laureate Al Young; international best-selling nonfiction writer and journalist Simon Winchester; acclaimed novelist, essayist and poet Ishmael Reed; Booker-Prize winning Scottish novelist James Kelman; acclaimed short-story writer Z Z Packer; award-winning poet and internationally acclaimed scholar Sandra M. Gilbert; best-selling adventure/outdoor writer Tim Cahill; internationally renown novelist and short-story writer Fernando Alarcón; and award-winning memoirist and investigative journalist Julia Scheeres.

Connie L. Lurie is a generous benefactor who has donated to SJSU on numerous occasions, including a major endowment to the Connie L. Lurie School of Education. Lurie graduated from SJSU in 1964 with a bachelor’s degree in both elementary education and psychology after which she taught as an elementary school teacher on the Monterey Peninsula for six years.

 

Students Present Digital Humanities Project

Students Present Digital Humanities Project

Jesus Espinoza and Pollyanna Macchiano at the Re: Humanities symposium on digital media in academia at Swarthmore College (Bryn Mawr/Jay Gorodetzer photo).

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

English majors Jesus Espinoza and Pollyanna Macchiano presented “Project Beard-stair” at Re:humanities, a symposium on digital media in academia held this spring at Swarthmore College.

The project focuses on three books Espinoza found while working at King Library. The books were dropped in the return bin, but were not part of the library’s collection.

After flipping through each volume, Espinoza was intrigued, and took the books to Assistant Professor Katherine D. Harris of the of Department of English and Comparative Literature.

The professor’s research and teaching interests include British Romanticism and Hypertextual and Digital Studies. She is an early proponent of a growing field known as digital humanities.

Espinoza’s find proved to be valuable, early 20th century art books. Using Twitter, Harris helped Espinoza pull together a research team, including Macchiano, Collette, English graduate student Doll Piccotto, and School of Library and Information Science graduate student Colette Hayes.

Project Beard-stair represents their collective effort to digitize, archive, exhibit and research the books outside the confines of a traditional research paper. They also participated in the SJSU Student Research Competition.

“The enthusiasm we share for this project is something that we want to translate to the classroom — a different way to experience coursework and a new and exciting way to experience scholarship as a whole,” the students wrote.

Adrienne Rich, The Poetry Foundation/Colleen McKay image

Celebrating SJSU’s Legacy of Poetry

Legacy of Poetry Day poster

SJSU’s Legacy of Poetry Day will feature an afternoon of readings by Spartan poets including two Santa Clara County poet laureates.

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

In celebration of National Poetry Month, San Jose State will host a Legacy of Poetry Day 11:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. April 19 at Caret Plaza, outside the campus entrance for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library.

President Mo Qayoumi will offer opening remarks for the event, which will feature a special tribute to the late Adrienne Rich, a pioneering feminist poet and essayist who taught at SJSU for two years in the mid 1980s.

Rich “passionately addressed the antiwar movement and wrote of the marginalized and underprivileged,” said the Los Angeles Times. In “On Edges,” a 1968 poem about women’s rights, she wrote:

I’d rather
taste blood, yours or mine, flowing
from a sudden slash, than cut all day
with blunt scissors on dotted lines
like the teacher told.

SJSU’s Legacy of Poetry Day will continue with an afternoon of readings by students, faculty members, emeriti, and alumni. Professors Alan Soldofsky and Annette Nellen organize the annual gathering, with support from the Campus Reading Program, Creative Writing Program, Department of English and Comparative Literature, and the Poets & Writers Coalition.

***

Legacy of Poetry Day 2012

11:45 a.m. Opening remarks by President Mo Quyoumi, Senate Chair Beth Von Till, Professor Annette Nellen.

12:15 p.m. Reading of SJSU Legacy Poems with special tribute to Adrienne Rich (1929 to 2012), featuring SJSU faculty poets Joan Barnett, Gloria Collins, Kate Evans, Linda Lappin and Neli Moody.

12:30 p.m. Reading by Erica Goss, SJSU alumni and author of the newly released chapbook, “Wild Place.”

12:45 p.m. Reading by Nils Peterson, Emeritus Professor and First Santa Clara County Poet Laureate.

1:30 p.m. Readings by Sally Ashton, Santa Clara County Poet Laureate.

1:45 p.m. 10th Anniversary MFA Program Reading and Celebration with readings by SJSU students, employees and alumni.

Adrienne Rich, The Poetry Foundation/Colleen McKay image

Celebrating SJSU's Legacy of Poetry

Legacy of Poetry Day poster

SJSU’s Legacy of Poetry Day will feature an afternoon of readings by Spartan poets including two Santa Clara County poet laureates.

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

In celebration of National Poetry Month, San Jose State will host a Legacy of Poetry Day 11:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. April 19 at Caret Plaza, outside the campus entrance for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library.

President Mo Qayoumi will offer opening remarks for the event, which will feature a special tribute to the late Adrienne Rich, a pioneering feminist poet and essayist who taught at SJSU for two years in the mid 1980s.

Rich “passionately addressed the antiwar movement and wrote of the marginalized and underprivileged,” said the Los Angeles Times. In “On Edges,” a 1968 poem about women’s rights, she wrote:

I’d rather
taste blood, yours or mine, flowing
from a sudden slash, than cut all day
with blunt scissors on dotted lines
like the teacher told.

SJSU’s Legacy of Poetry Day will continue with an afternoon of readings by students, faculty members, emeriti, and alumni. Professors Alan Soldofsky and Annette Nellen organize the annual gathering, with support from the Campus Reading Program, Creative Writing Program, Department of English and Comparative Literature, and the Poets & Writers Coalition.

***

Legacy of Poetry Day 2012

11:45 a.m. Opening remarks by President Mo Quyoumi, Senate Chair Beth Von Till, Professor Annette Nellen.

12:15 p.m. Reading of SJSU Legacy Poems with special tribute to Adrienne Rich (1929 to 2012), featuring SJSU faculty poets Joan Barnett, Gloria Collins, Kate Evans, Linda Lappin and Neli Moody.

12:30 p.m. Reading by Erica Goss, SJSU alumni and author of the newly released chapbook, “Wild Place.”

12:45 p.m. Reading by Nils Peterson, Emeritus Professor and First Santa Clara County Poet Laureate.

1:30 p.m. Readings by Sally Ashton, Santa Clara County Poet Laureate.

1:45 p.m. 10th Anniversary MFA Program Reading and Celebration with readings by SJSU students, employees and alumni.

Poets in Performance: David Perez

Poets in Performance: David Perez

Poets in Performance: David Perez

David Perez (photo by Ariana Perez)

Date: December 1, 2011

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Location: Hall Todd Studio Theater, Hugh Gillis Hall

Summary: The Poets & Writers Coalition and the Department of English present Poets in Performance featuring David Perez. He tours regularly throughout the United States and Canada, and has competed at the Individual World Poetry Slam and the National Poetry Slam. A recipient of the Arts Council Silicon Valley Fellowship for Literary Art, he currently lives in San Jose, where he teaches the occasional creative writing workshop and hosts various poetry and performance art events. “Love in a Time of Robot Apocalypse” is his first book of poetry. Perez will be joined on stage by students from the ENGL 131 Poetry Writing Workshop. This event is free and open to the public. Sponsors include the Associated Students of SJSU and Instructionally Related Activities.

— Submitted by Alan Soldofsky, Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing

book cover

Author Pamela Olson: "Fast Times in Palestine"

book cover

Author Pamela Olson comes to SJSU Oct. 18.

Date: October 18, 2011

Time: 7 p.m.

Location:
Engineering 189

Summary:
Pamela Olson’s memoir reveals the humor and beauty of Palestine and the terror and heartbreak of life under occupation, from the perspective of a small-town girl. “It’s love in the time of occupation as Pamela Olson … takes us on the emotional roller-coaster of her very personal experience of life in Ramallah — and in doing so lays bare the human drama of a people … determined to live free,” said Tony Karon, senior editor, Time Magazine. Meet Pamela and get your own signed copy of her memoir. Donations are welcome to cover the cost of the event. Olson will also speak at 7 p.m. October 22 in the Arab American Cultural Center, 3952 Twilight Drive (Building Two), San Jose. This event is sponsored by the Culture & Conflict Forum, Student Association for Middle East Studies, Department of English and Comparative Literature, San Jose Peace and Justice Center, AACC Silicon Valley, and Jewish Voice for Peace (South Bay). For more info, please contact Culture & Conflict Forum at (408) 677-9137

book cover

Author Pamela Olson: “Fast Times in Palestine”

book cover

Author Pamela Olson comes to SJSU Oct. 18.

Date: October 18, 2011

Time: 7 p.m.

Location:
Engineering 189

Summary:
Pamela Olson’s memoir reveals the humor and beauty of Palestine and the terror and heartbreak of life under occupation, from the perspective of a small-town girl. “It’s love in the time of occupation as Pamela Olson … takes us on the emotional roller-coaster of her very personal experience of life in Ramallah — and in doing so lays bare the human drama of a people … determined to live free,” said Tony Karon, senior editor, Time Magazine. Meet Pamela and get your own signed copy of her memoir. Donations are welcome to cover the cost of the event. Olson will also speak at 7 p.m. October 22 in the Arab American Cultural Center, 3952 Twilight Drive (Building Two), San Jose. This event is sponsored by the Culture & Conflict Forum, Student Association for Middle East Studies, Department of English and Comparative Literature, San Jose Peace and Justice Center, AACC Silicon Valley, and Jewish Voice for Peace (South Bay). For more info, please contact Culture & Conflict Forum at (408) 677-9137

SJSU in the News: Professor Emeritus Pens Top Tennis Book

My top 10 tennis books: #3 The Goddess and the American Girl

Originally published by Examiner.com June 20, 2011.

# 3 The Goddess and the American Girl, The story of Suzanne Lenglen and Helen Wills by Larry Engelmann (1988) 464 p.

Larry Engelmann is a historian and a freelance writer. He is the author of 4 more books (Daughter of China: A True Story of Love and Betrayal, Feather in the Storm: A Childhood Lost in Chaos, Tears Before the Rain: An Oral History of the Fall of South Vietnam, They Said That!: The Wit and Wisdom of Modern Celebrity Culture), and resides in San Jose, California.

The Goddess and the American Girl is a prime example of a brilliant dual biography. It follows the careers of both women turned tennis legends from the day they first set foot on a tennis court. 90 years ago, before Suzanne Lenglen (1899 – 1938) and Helen Wills (1905 – 1998), there were no female sports celebrities. Engelmann writes, “Lenglen, a French woman lionized by her countrymen as The Goddess, and Wills, called Queen Helen, or The American Girl, revolutionized women’s tennis with the introduction of power strokes and graceful, almost balletic movements. In the process they virtually invented the celebrity athlete.”

The reader needs to be reminded that the appearance of Lenglen and Wills on the international sports scene came only a mere 20 years after women were not allowed two bounces of the tennis balls anymore. During the nineteenth century women were allowed two bounces because they wore long skirts and were not able to move as quickly across the court. But when those two ladies appeared on the European and American scene in the 1920s and 1930s, they became better known and more admired than any movie star, politician, or royal family member.

It is a well known fact that Lenglen was introduced to the game of tennis by her father. “Papa” Lenglen was her mentor who reigned over her career with an iron fist, but is also credited with adapting power tennis to the women’s game. Stories about his unrelenting forcing of Suzanne’s progress are legendary. Making his daughter hit running forehand balls onto an unfolded handkerchief on the other side of the net, under the threat of “no dinner tonight” are as well known as his threats during matches while sitting at the net post coaching her.

Lenglen won 31 Grand Slam titles between 1914 and 1926. A flamboyant, trendsetting athlete, the right-hander Lenglen was No. 1 in 1925-26 the first years of world rankings. She won Wimbledon every year but one from 1919 through 1925, the exception being 1924, when illness led to her withdrawal after the fourth round. Her 1919 title match, at the age of 20, with 40-year-old Dorothea Douglass Chambers is one of hallmarks of tennis history. During her reign as undisputed Queen of the court she won 270 consecutive matches and gave up only two sets doing so.

Not only were her performances on the court noted, however. She garnered much attention in the media when she appeared at Wimbledon with her dress revealing bare forearms and cut just above the calf, while all other players competed in outfits covering nearly all of the body. Staid Brits also were in shock at the boldness of the French woman who, because of her rather fragile health condition, compounded by her cigarette smoking habit, also casually sipped brandy handed to her by her mother, between sets to raise her spirits. Some called her shocking and indecent, but she was merely ahead of time, and she brought France the greatest global sports renown it had ever known.

Prior to Lenglen, female tennis matches drew little fan interest, which quickly changed as she became her sport’s greatest drawing card. Tennis devotees and new fans to the game began lining up in droves to buy tickets to her matches. Temperamental, flamboyant, she was a passionate player whose intensity on court could lead to an unabashed display of tears. But for all her flamboyance, she was a gifted and brilliant player who used extremely agile footwork, speed and a deadly accurate shot to dominate female tennis for seven straight years.

Helen Wills beat Suzanne Lenglen’s Wimbledon record although she lost the only match in which they came face to face. Engelmann quotes James Thurber describing that much touted singles match at Cannes in 1947 as ‘one of the most grotesque and thrilling and momentous games on record.” In 1938, Wills set a record of 8 Wimbledon singles wins – unparalleled until Martina Navratilova tied it in 1987, and added a record ninth in 1990.

Helen Newington Wills Roark, also known as Helen Wills Moody, has been described as “the first American born woman to achieve international celebrity as an athlete.” She won the following Grand Slam singles titles: 7 US Championships, 8 Wimbledon, and 4 French Open between 1923 and 1938. Including numerous doubles and mixed doubles titles she won 31 Grand Slam titles altogether, in addition to 2 gold medals at the 1924 Olympics in Paris.

With a winning streak of 150 matches without giving up one set, Helen Wills was the international star player from California, who was known for her phenomenal concentration on court. Her getting down to business attitude, rarely smiling or showing any kind of emotion during a match, earned her the nickname “Little Miss Pokerface”. It was reported that one Wimbledon final had her play on and attempting to serve after she won the Championship point and the umpire had called her the winner already. She just was way too concentrated to bother with counting her games or observing the score board.

Engelmann states that, “Wills dominated women’s tennis as few athletes in any sport have done; winning every singles match she entered from 1926 to 1933. Like Lenglen, she was introduced to tennis by her father and played a man’s game.” But there the similarities end. Whereas Lenglen was homely and prone to nervous fits, Wills was a great American beauty and heartthrob, a California girl whose health and good looks defined the American “New Woman.”

Engelmann’s fascinating writing style contrasts these first two stars brilliantly and details not only the women, their lives, families, matches, and friends, but the whole international sports world of the 1920’s and 1930s. The book jacket states, “Filled with anecdotes about tennis tournaments and the famous of the day – including Charlie Chaplin, Joseph Kennedy, and Bill Tilden – it is at once social history, sports history, and entertaining biography.”

stack of books

English Honors Class Reflects on the Impact of 9/11 on U.S. Literature and Culture

stack of books

The course will look at the ways that civil rights, law and public perceptions of immigrants have been deeply affected by 9/11.

Contact: Professor Persis Karim, persis.karim@sjsu.edu.

Many Americans believe or have claimed that “everything changed” after September 11, 2001. Does American literature, culture, and society reflect this change?

While around the U.S. this coming week, Americans will be remembering, commemorating, and re-living the events of September 11, 2001, a group of SJSU’s brightest students will be reflecting on the larger impact of that historic day on American culture and society. A group of 13 honors students from the Department of English and Comparative Literature, taught by Professor Persis Karim, have started their semester by reading and analyzing literature produced immediately after 9/11 and in the years following. The terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C. and the United Airlines crash in Pennsylvania will be revisited in the media through stories and remembrances of survivors and those who perished in the attacks, including a plethora of images seared on the minds of Americans of all generations. Students in the  honors seminar, many of whom were in middle school on that fateful day, will attempt to understand how 9/11 altered their generation and the larger cultural landscape of the United States.

Students in “Literature and Culture after 9/11” are currently reading literature (poetry, prose and fiction) written in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, such as a compilation called, Afterwords: Stories and Reports from 9/11 and Beyond as well as novels, essays, and historical documents (such as excerpts from the 9/11 Commission Report). Some of the novels that students will read include Jonathan Franzen’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Don Delillo’s Falling Man, and Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children all of which have now become part of the canon of American literature that describes 9/11 and its impact. Students will also read literature authored by Americans of Muslim, Arab and Middle Eastern heritage, including Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Laila Halaby’s Once in a Promised Land, as well as excerpts from Afghan-American writing such as Bay Area writer Tamim Ansary’s West of Kabul, East of New York written and published immediately after 9/11.

The course will look at the ways that civil rights, law and public perceptions of immigrants have been deeply affected by 9/11. The class will also read Dave Eggers’ Zeitoun a journalistic account of an innocent Arab-American man living in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina who gets caught up in the anti-Muslim fervor of the post-9/11 years. In addition, to written texts, the class will view several documentaries and will view news specials that commemorate the tenth anniversary of 9/11.  The class will respond on their class blog: “9/11: Through the Looking Glass.” Their first assignment next week is to post a response to the coverage of the ten-year anniversary and some of the reading they are doing. The class has established a Facebook page which serves as a place for student comments, insights, and a class resource of articles, websites, and information about the upcoming 9/11 anniversary.

The objectives of the class are to understand how a major historical event continues to reverberate in our society and to shape the ways we view ourselves as Americans, and to perhaps reflect on the events of 9/11 with an attention to the many perpectives, experiences, and continuing effects it has both nationally and internationally. A public forum to assess the impact of 9/11 will be hosted later this month with members of the legal, cultural, and journalistic community.

Sally Ashton

SJSU Faculty Member is Second Santa Clara County Poet Laureate

Sally Ashton

Sally Ashton (courtesy of Spartan Daily)

By Lisa Francesca, Contributing Writer

Little did returning student Sally Ashton know, when she took poetry classes from Professor Nils Petersen in 1999, that they’d become colleagues and friends, and that one day she would succeed him as Santa Clara County’s reigning poet laureate.

Ashton received her bachelor’s degree from SJSU in 2001 and then an MFA from Bennington College in Vermont. She published three collections of poetry, directed the first California Poetry Festival (through Poetry Center San Jose), became editor in chief of the online DMQ Review, an art and poetry journal, and started teaching. Private workshops in places like Villa Montalvo led to her current role teaching creative writing at San Jose State. Since her transformation from student to faculty member, Ashton has been nominated for three Pushcart prizes and is the recipient of an Artist’s Fellowship in poetry from Arts Council Silicon Valley.

In a recent spot on KNTV news, Ashton expressed her desire to bring poetry closer to the community during her two-year term. “Poetry and all art attempt to make the world look like what it feels like,” she said. “Poetry shouldn’t be a foreign language.”

We asked her what it was like to be on the faculty after being an SJSU student. “I love my colleagues and of course the students,” she said. “I love the diversity and (working with) people who are in general just working really hard. I don’t get a sense of anyone taking things for granted at SJSU. It’s just a lot of people on a journey. I find that age group really exciting, off on a lot of adventures. And it’s a real privilege to have studied with people who are now my friends. There’s a legacy of all the teachers who went before — there’s a sense of presence, not only of them but of the school’s history itself as the first public college in California — a college for people who love to teach, who are serving the community.”

Check out Ashton’s poetry projects on both the laureateship blog and her own.

This is a sketch of Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, the namesake of SJSU's Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. mage courtesy of El Bibliomata.

Wisconsin Professor Wins SJSU’s Bad Writing Contest

Photo of birds flying near wind turbines. Photo courtesy of Danish Wind Industry Association.

The 2011 winner of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest featured wind turbines and birds. Photo courtesy of Danish Wind Industry Association.

By Sarah Kyo, Public Affairs Assistant

Wind turbines combined with “sparrow-like thoughts” won over judges of the 29th Annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Writing Contest.

Professor Scott Rice of SJSU’s Department of English and Comparative Literature founded this competition, which celebrates purposely bad writing. Contestants from around the world write and submit original opening lines of fictional novels.

The contest is named after Victorian author Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, who began his 1830 novel “Paul Clifford” with the famous phrase, “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Sue Fondrie, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, wrote this year’s grand prize winner: “Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.”

Visit the contest’s official website to read the entries of the 2011 winners, runner-ups and “dishonorable” mentions, and to find out how to enter next year’s competition.