News Vol. 18


English & Comparative Literature: Frankenstein Bicentennial: Frankenstein and Ballet

2018 is an important year in the literary world. It marks the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein. This astonishingly timely narrative explores fundamental questions about the limits of science, the ethics embedded within pushing forward with new technologies, and the danger of trying to control the natural world. It also has an immense legacy in film and other forms.

With an introduction by Dean Shannon Miller to this opening event for the year, Professor Peel’s lecture will be the first event to kick off the celebration spanning Spring and Fall 2018 semesters. Our goal is to not only highlight the novel itself, but also incorporate many academic disciplines in this celebration. We hope to bring interdisciplinary thought to the conversation of a novel that, even after two hundred years, remains popular and culturally relevant.

Reflecting on the origin of Frankenstein, Shelley later wrote that she was often asked “how I, then a young girl, came to think of . . . so very hideous an idea.” We will attempt to answer that question by looking at cultural and scientific forces in her day and by considering her early life—which itself could be a Gothic tale. We will then ask how the novel has managed to play so powerfully on our wishes and fears for two centuries, becoming a myth continually reborn in new avatars, now including a ballet.

For more information, visit

English & Comparative Literature: Pulitzer Prize Winner Peter Balakian in Reading & Conversation with SJSU President Mary Papazian

The Center for Literary Arts of San José celebrates National Poetry Month by bringing poet Peter Balakian to San José’s Hammer Theatre (101 Paseo De San Antonio, 95113) on April 12 for a night of reading and conversation with Mary Papazian beginning at 7 PM.

Peter Balakian is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Ozone Journal, whose title poem recounts the speaker’s memory of excavating the bones of Armenian genocide victims in the Syrian desert with a crew of television journalists.

Other works by Balakian include Black Dog of Fate (winner of the PEN/Albrand Prize for Memoir); The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response (a New York Times Notable Book and Best Seller); and Vice and Shadow: Essays on the Lyric Imagination, Poetry, Art, and Culture.

Balakian’s accolades include the Presidential Medal and the Movses Horanatsi Medal from the Republic of Armenia and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has appeared widely on national television and radio, and his work has been widely translated. Balakian is a Professor of English and the Director of Creative Writing at Colgate University.

Copies of Balakian’s work and SJSU’s Reed Magazine will be available for purchase. Only attendees with VIP tickets will be granted access to the reception and book-signing with Balakian.

For more event information, visit

To purchase tickets, visit:

English & Comparative Literature: 2nd Annual Education for Liberation Conference planned for April 2018

The 2nd Annual Education for Liberation Conference is scheduled for April 28, 2018, in the Student Union. The conference goal is to build and celebrate sustainable networks between youth, students, pre- and in-service teachers, teacher educators and administrators, Hip-Hop teaching and performing artists, civic leaders, activists, and social entrepreneurs. The event will include community workshops, Hip Hop performances, networking opportunities, and a public debate.

For more information, visit the website at:



Film and Theatre: Fred Guess hired as Film and Theatre’s Operations Equipment Specialist (OES)

Put your hands together and welcome Fred Guess, who had been hired as our new Operations Equipment Specialist (OES)

Fred graduated from our department in 2008. A few years later, he taught for RTVF while also working in the check-out room. Last year, he was hired as our Production Support Technician where he has been filling in the gaps left by the departure of our engineer, John Duncan. Over the past 10 years, Fred has been involved with over 20 film and video productions produced by Spartan Film Studios, FPS, and the department.

Also, Fred is the faculty advisor for the SJSU student organization All Comedy”and the SJSU Improv Club.

Film and Theatre: New York performance of a historical musical

Professor Scott Winfield Sublett’s musical play Charleston Harbor was given a staged reading in Manhattan by the Amas Musical Theatre. The play tells the the true story of Robert Smalls, a slave who stole a Confederate gunboat and delivered it into the hands Union Navy (in the process sailing himself and his family to freedom). The show’s music consists of authentic spirituals of the 1800s. The three performances received standing ovations.

Film and Theatre: Winter season of accomplishment for Faculty Member Joshua Marx

Joshua Marx was recently nominated for two performances by the BATCC (Bay Area Theatre Critic Circle) Awards. Joshua also attended conferences at the Immersive Design Summit and was an adjudicator and presenter at the Lenea Theatre Festival in Sacramento, where he discussed Stage Combat skills and Immersive Theatre technique. Joshua is also currently in rehearsals as the title character in The Elephant Man at Hillbarn Theatre in Foster City. He is also an expectant father and hoping to have a baby boy come into his life in late April!

Film and Theatre: Cinema studying cinema

In October 2017, Alison McKee presented a paper at the International Conference on the Image in Venice, Italy, for which she received a College Professional Development grant. She is writing an article this semester based on that paper, funded in part by a University RSCA award.

McKee also has a chapter in the book Patricia Highsmith, Film, and Adaptation, forthcoming from Macmillan in 2018, called “The Price of Salt, Carol, and Queer Narrative Desire(s).”

Film and Theatre: Coming of Age and Keith Moon

Theatre faculty Nancy Carlin will be performing in the world premiere production of Kate Hawley’s Coming of Age at The Jewel Theatre in Santa Cruz March 14–April 8 For more information, visit

In addition, the one person show, drumming extravaganza, Keith Moon: The Real Me directed by Nancy Carlin will be touring to the Hudson Theaters in Los Angeles and play March 23–April 15. For more information, visit

English & Comparative Literature:  Book about Trump and rhetoric

In Faking the News: What Rhetoric Can Teach Us About Donald J. Trump, eleven prominent rhetoric scholars explain how Donald Trump was persuasive enough to get himself elected president and how he has been persuasive enough to keep a dedicated group of supporters loyal to him.

Edited by SJSU assistant professor Ryan Skinnell, this book is specifically aimed at non-specialists who are eager to understand how Trump’s persuasive language works.



Film and Theatre: Thanksgiving Play by Play set to premier at Cinequest on Friday, March 9

Students from San José State University have had always had major involvement with the Cinequest Film Festival.

Harry Mathias, a professor of narrative film production at San José State University, teaches university film production classes. At the end of each semester, his classes comestogether to make a short film. The film production class collaborates with his two cinematography classes and advanced editing class to make these films.

In the past, many of their films have won major awards in national and international film festivals. Several of the films created, directed, cast and shot by his students have premiered at Cinequest. Their most recent production is Thanksgiving Play by Play set to premier at Cinequest on Friday, March 9.

This film was created, directed, and cast by Department of Film and Theatre students and is being premiered at Cinequest.

For more information, visit

Film and Theatre: Theatre Arts Graduates Backstage on Hamilton in S.F.

Theatre Arts graduates Dennis Vanta and Ashley Grambow recently completed wardrobe crew work for the Broadway tour of Hamilton in San Francisco. Ashley and Dennis are members of Theatrical Wardrobe Union Local 784.

“The experience was exciting and exhausting and required total focus on the performers who are constantly in motion backstage changing costumes and climbing ladders to get in place for the next scenes,” they said.

The cast and crew bonded during the show run in San Francisco and continue to stay in touch via social media. Ashley and Dennis credit their wardrobe training in SJSU Theatre productions as preparation for careers as professional wardrobe crew in theatre and film in the Bay Area.