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Welcome to the Department of English

Students who study English and Creative Writing at Fresno State explore the power of language and literature around the world. Students in our five degree programs learn to write well in small, collaborative communities where students and instructors work together to analyze, apply, and construct meaning with a wide range of texts and for a variety of professional purposes.

Our Points of Pride

We serve all Fresno State students

Writing and critical thinking are foundational skills for all majors on campus. Our department’s First-Year Writing program and Writing Center offer innovative and collaborative instruction across the curriculum, employing our brightest graduate and undergraduate students as teachers and tutors in training.

We offer publishing and programming experience

• The Normal School, our nationally recognized literary magazine staffed by graduate students, continues to earn accolades and is ranked alongside the most respected publications in the country such as the New York Times Magazine, the Paris Review, and the Harvard Review.

• The Philip Levine Prize for Poetry, our nationally recognized book contest named in honor of our beloved late U.S. Poet Laureate and Professor Emeritus Philip Levine, accepted a record 945 entries in 2015, keeping its grad student staff deeply engaged.

• Our four student organizations actively produce multiple publications of their own, and they take the lead in planning and presenting the department’s dozens of scholarly and literary events, all open to the public.

We participate in local and national conferences

• Career development in all five of our degree programs is actively encouraged as our students present their scholarly and creative work at conferences.

• Our annual Young Writers’ Conference brings 300+ high school students and teachers from the community to campus, with our grad students leading writing workshops and producing a youth journal. 

• Our Undergraduate Conference on Multi-ethnic Literatures of the Americas is planned by grad students who provide an annual platform for undergrads to present their research. 

We help keep Fresno the "Capital of Poetry in the World"

As U.S. Poet Laureate emeritus Juan Felipe Herrera says, the Central Valley’s rich literary history serves as an inspiration to readers worldwide. Our department takes that storytelling legacy seriously as it continues to train new readers, writers, and teachers of literature.

Statement of Solidarity with Black Lives Matter

Members of the Department of English at Fresno State have made a statement of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, in the aftermath of fatal violence against George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. The statement is below, and available as a PDF for sharing. 

Statement - 6/03/2020

Statement of Solidarity with Black Lives Matter from members of Fresno State's English Department (PDF, 66k)

We, members of the English Department at Fresno State, condemn in the strongest possible terms the continued targeting of unarmed Black citizens by law enforcement throughout the country. We are angered by the latest spate of unprovoked violence: against Ahmaud Arbery, who was fatally shot by a former police officer while jogging; Breonna Taylor, an EMT saving lives during this pandemic, who was killed in her own home, and, most recently, George Floyd, asphyxiated by a white police officer while three others looked on.

We want our Black students, student allies, colleagues, and coworkers to know that they have our unequivocal support at this time of renewed grief in the African American community. You are seen and valued, and are a cherished, integral part of the Fresno State community. We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and the Movement for Black Lives Week of Action.

We stand in solidarity with a commitment to fostering safe and inclusive learning environments, including teaching effective civic discourse practices, modeling and expecting rhetorical listening, and making space for the voices that have traditionally been silenced. We stand aligned with efforts to dismantle white supremacist ideologies as they necessitate a Black Lives Matter movement; this means, as examples, that we teach non-dominant literatures and histories; theories of race, social justice, oppression, resistance; and rhetorical approaches and genres to support efforts for a peaceful and just society.

We believe the law enforcement and criminal justice establishments as a whole must interrogate the extent to which they have internalized anti-Black mythologies that permit their members to perpetrate such violence, and, in most cases, to do so with complete impunity. We believe that it is within the purview of a concerned citizenry to hold its public safety officials to account, and to rectify policies and legislation that shield violent actors from appropriate legal recourse.

We recognize that we are all members of a racially hierarchized society in which anti-Black racism is the rot that corrupts our interactions with one another -- not only white and Black, but also the interactions between other minority groups and the African American community. The involvement of a nonwhite police officer in the death of George Floyd makes this fact painfully clear. We,who identify variously as African American, Asian American, Latinx, Arab American, Muslim, immigrant, as well as white, condemn the structures that pit peoples of color against one another, to be used as instruments of white supremacy, benefiting from the violent policing of Black bodies.We refuse to be enablers of anti-Black violence. We stand in support of productive direct social mobilization efforts, firm in our commitment to anti-racist education.

Our discipline teaches critical and creative thinking, reading, writing, and rhetoric. It emphasizes the use of our words to counteract violence. We use our voices now to affirm our support of the Black community at Fresno State, in the Central Valley, and in California; in Minnesota, Kentucky, and Georgia; throughout the United States, and beyond national borders.

 

In solidarity:

Samina Najmi, Melanie Hernandez, Alison Mandaville, Jefferson Beavers (staff), Kathleen Godfrey, Alexander Adkins Jaramillo, Tanya Nichols, Ruth Y. Jenkins, Melanie Kachadoorian, Brynn Saito, Jenny Krichevsky, John Beynon, John Hales, Corrinne Hales (emerita), Mai Der Vang, Tomaro Scadding, Lyn Johnson (retired), Randa Jarrar, Ginny Crisco, Steven Church, Jeremiah Henry, Linnea Alexander (emerita), J. Ashley Foster, Venita Blackburn, William Arcé, Bo Wang, Magda Gilewicz, Cheng-Lok Chua (emeritus), Reva E. Sias, Timothy Skeen, Chris Henson (emerita), Lisa Weston (Chair), Sara Salanitro (staff), Steve Adisasmito-Smith*

*This statement has been signed by those members of the department whom we were able to reach during summer break. It will be updated as needed. 

 

Additional signatures from other departments: 

Department of Art and Design: Martin Valencia (Chair), Joan Sharma, Stephanie Ryan, Luis Pelaez, Silvana Polgar, Saam Noonsuk, Paula Durette, Laura Meyer, Jamie Boley, Ed Gillum, Keith Jordan, Tracy Teran, Rusty Robison, Nick Potter, Yasmin Rodriguez, Vanessa Addison-Williams, Stephanie Bradshaw, Ronda Kelley, Laura Huisinga, Rebecca Barnes, Tonyefa Oyake, Chad Jones, Holly Sowles, Imelda Golik, Matt Hopson-Walker, Neil Chowdhury, Ana Stone, Kamy Martinez

Department of Theatre and Dance: Ruth Griffin

Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures: Rose Marie Kuhn, Paula Sanmartin

 

Statements on DACA

Members of the Department of English faculty at Fresno State have made a statement on the repeal of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The statement is below, and available as a PDF for sharing.

Updated Statement - 3/07/2020

Statement on DACA repeal by the Fresno State English faculty
(first issued 9/20/2017; updated 3/7/2020)

We, the English Faculty at Fresno State, continue to condemn the decision by President Trump to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. We stand with our students whose lives are severely affected by that decision. The program has provided a pathway for students, here and around the country, to study and earn college degrees, to work, to contribute to their communities, and to plan for the future. The end to the DACA program imperils all those goals, and we believe that it will have a serious toll on our students’ lives, minds, and bodies. As we await the 2020 Supreme Court decision on DACA, we continue to commit to the below statements.

To all our students, we say:

We stand in solidarity with undocumented students, Dreamers, and all students who are affected by the repeal of DACA.

We pledge our commitment to support and protect our students in any way possible. In addition to this statement of solidarity, the department is researching all the ways we can be in support of you and uphold the university administration’s promises to defend students. We are seeking information and training that will enable us to help protect your rights against raids, etc. We are also committed to finding and disseminating resources to you, and aiding in your understanding of the materials. We encourage students to visit the Dream Success Center to access information and free immigration legal counseling. We will continue our participation in Fresno State’s UndocuAlly trainings.

To our colleagues and to the administration:

We commend and fully support President Castro’s commitment to continue to allow California residents who are Dreamers to pay in-state tuition; to maintain the DREAM loan program for financial aid; to offer legal services to our undocumented students; and to support campus-based student service centers.

We call on administration of California State University and, specifically, of California State University, Fresno to:

  • guarantee student privacy by refusing to release information regarding the Immigration status of our students;
  • refuse to comply with immigration authorities regarding deportations or raids;
  • refuse I.C.E. physical access to all land owned or controlled by the CSU;
  • offer over-break housing for students who cannot return home due to fear of deportation;
  • find existing resources and/or continue to pursue special funds segregated from federal monies to support legal action on behalf of and guarantee in-state tuition for students previously deemed DACA recipients, as well as continue operation of campus-based Dream Centers;
  • clarify what apparatus and protocols are in place to protect our students;
  • offer trainings to the campus community in the event of unauthorized access 

To the administration, we ask the following questions and make a request:

  • Does the university have a protocol for what will happen if government officials are on campus?
  • How long will it take for our campus to mobilize to protect students?
  • Are Fresno State Police trained and standing by to keep government officials from being on campus?
  • If faculty participate in civil resistance and action, what is the university’s commitment to its faculty and staff?
  • We ask for the formation of a rapid response team comprised of faculty, staff, and administrators, with a centralized contact.

As teachers of English literature, we strive to share with our students texts that encourage us all to enter unexplored or otherwise inaccessible worlds of experience. Literary, rhetorical, and creative writing teaches compassion, teaches empathy. Our country’s administration lacks compassion and empathy and has engaged in hateful rhetoric against immigrants, the undocumented, and Dreamers. This rhetoric and the resulting rescinding of DACA are a direct attack on many of our students’ ability to work, study, and take advantage of the opportunities our university has to offer. The goal of such rhetoric stands in direct opposition to our goals as English professors. The end of DACA diminishes the future of our students and dangerously destabilizes their lives.

Signed:

The English Faculty at Fresno State

 

First Statement - 9/20/2017

First Statement on DACA repeal by the Fresno State English faculty

We, the undersigned English Faculty at Fresno State, condemn the decision by President Trump to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and stand with our students whose lives are severely affected by that decision. The program has provided a pathway for students, here and around the country, to study and earn college degrees, to work, to contribute to their communities, and to plan for the future. The end to the DACAprogram imperils all those goals, and we believe that it will have a serious toll on our students’ lives, minds, and bodies.

To all our students, we say: We stand in solidarity with undocumented students, Dreamers, and all students who are affected by the repeal of DACA. 

We pledge our commitment to support and protect our students in any way possible. In addition to this statement of solidarity, the department is researching all the ways we can be in support of you and uphold the university administration’s promises to defend students. We are seeking information and training that will enable us to help protect your rights against raids, etc. We are also committed to finding and disseminating resources to you, and aiding in your understanding of the materials.

 

To our colleagues and to the administration:

We commend and fully support President Castro’s commitment to continue to allow California residents who are Dreamers to pay in-state tuition; to maintain the DREAM loan program for financial aid; to offer legal services to our undocumented students; and to support campus-based student service centers.

We call on administration of California State University and, specifically, of California State University, Fresno to:

       --guarantee student privacy by refusing to release information regarding the Immigration status of our students;

       --refuse to comply with immigration authorities regarding deportations or raids;

       --refuse I.C.E. physical access to all land owned or controlled by the CSU;

       --offer over-break housing for students who cannot return home due to fear of deportation;

       --find existing resources and/or continue to pursue special funds segregated from federal

          monies to support legal action on behalf of and guarantee in-state tuition for students

          previously deemed DACA recipients, as well as continue operation of campus-based Dream Centers.

       --To clarify what apparatus and protocols are in place to protect our students

       -- Offer trainings to the campus community in the event of unauthorized access  

 

To the administration, we ask the following questions and make a request:

       --Does the university have a protocol for what will happen if government officials are on campus?

        --How long will it take for our campus to mobilize to protect students?

        --Are Fresno State Police trained and standing by to keep government officials from being on campus?

        --If faculty participate in civil resistance and action, what is the university’s commitment to its faculty and staff?

       -- We ask for the formation of a rapid response team comprised of faculty, staff, and administrators, with a centralized contact

 

As teachers of English literature, we strive to share with our students texts that encourage us all to enter unexplored or otherwise inaccessible worlds of experience. Literary, rhetorical, and creative writing teaches compassion, teaches empathy. Our country’s administration lacks compassion and empathy and has engaged in hateful rhetoric against immigrants, the undocumented, and Dreamers. This rhetoric and the resulting rescinding of DACA are a direct attack on many of our students’ ability to work, study, and take advantage of the opportunities our university has to offer. The goal of such rhetoric stands in direct opposition to our goals as English professors. The end of DACA diminishes the future of our students and dangerously destabilizes their lives.

 

Signed:

Randa Jarrar

Kathleen Godfrey

Alison Mandaville

Samina Najmi

Rubén Casas

Virginia Crisco

Steve Adisasmito-Smith

Chris Henson

Melanie Hernandez

Tom McNamara

J. Ashley Foster

Steven Church

Tim Skeen

Corrinne Hales

Magda Gilewicz

John Hales

Ruth Jenkins

Bo Wang

Lisa Weston

Reva Sias

John Beynon