Press Release

Sandra M. Gilbert, 2009 Lurie Distinguished Visiting Author-in-Residence at SJSU

San José, Calif., -- Sandra M. Gilbert will be San José State University's Connie L. Lurie Distinguished Visiting Author-in-Residence for the 2009 Spring semester. Annually, the Lurie Author-in-Residence is appointed by the San José State University Department of English and Comparative Literature in the College of Humanities and the Arts.

Gilbert is the author of eight collections of poetry: In the Fourth World, The Summer Kitchen, Emily's Bread, Blood Pressure, Ghost Volcano and Kissing the Bread: New and Selected Poems 1969-1999, The Italian Collection, and most recently, Belongings: Poems. A Distinguished Professor of English Emerita at the University of California, Davis, Gilbert has also published a memoir, Wrongful Death, which the New York Times Book Review calls "an enduring contribution to the literature of grief." She published Death's Door: Modern Dying and the Ways We Grieve, a work which combines memoir and literary scholarship, in 2006. The Library Journal called the book "a sensitive and sensible masterpiece." Gilbert also has taught previously at Cornell, Princeton, Stanford, California State University East Bay, and Williams College.

With Indiana University English Professor Susan Gubar, Gilbert coauthored the groundbreaking work of feminist scholarship, The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the 19th century Literary Imagination. She is also co-editor with Gubar of the The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women. Gilbert co-edited with Diana O'Hehir MotherSongs: Poems By, For, and About Mothers, a touching, heartfelt collection.
As Lurie Author-in-Residence, Gilbert will teach English 181: Topics in Women's Literary History, a seminar focusing on key issues in women's literary history with an emphasis on the complex relationship between feminism and modernism. She'll also lead a graduate poetry workshop, English 240, a course offered as part of SJSU's M.F.A. program in Creative Writing.
Connie L. Lurie's gift, which has enabled SJSU to establish the Lurie Author-in-Residence annually in the Spring semester, has made Gilbert's addition to the SJSU faculty possible. Mrs. Lurie is a generous benefactor who has donated to SJSU on numerous occasions, including a major endowment to 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. Lurie is married to Robert Lurie, former owner of the San Francisco Giants.

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. 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; Booker-Prize winning Scottish novelist, James Kelman; and internationally acclaimed novelist, poet, and essayist Ishmael Reed. In addition to teaching, the Lurie Author-in-Residence takes part in the SJSU Major Author Series, including a public reading and an on-stage interview about the writer's work. The Lurie Author also participates in an educational outreach program coordinated by the SJSU Center for Literary Arts, which serves secondary school students and their teachers in underserved communities in San José and Silicon Valley.

Gilbert was nominated for the Lurie Author-in-Residence position because of her outstanding reputation as a teacher of creative writing and literature as well as her distinguished reputation as a poet and scholar. "We're thrilled to have this major poet and critic teaching at San José State University," said Professor Alan Soldofsky, Creative Writing Director, Department of English and Comparative Literature. "Sandra Gilbert's work as a poet, memoirist, and scholar transcends the genres in which she writes. She is one of the significant writers and thinkers of our time."

Gilbert said that she was delighted to accept the 2009 Lurie Author-in-Residence appointment. "The diversity of students who attend SJSU, many of who are the first in their families to attend university, are precisely the kind of people I want to teach." Gilbert taught at University of California, Davis English Department from 1975 until her retirement in 2006. She also taught as a professor of English at Princeton from 1985 to 1989. She received the John Ciardi Award for Lifetime Achievement in Poetry in 2000.

Sandra M. Gilbert's Public Appearances:

Wednesday, April 15

1:30 p.m. Conversation, Q&A and book-signing
Second floor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, rooms 225-229

7:30 p.m. Reading and book-signing
Second floor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, rooms 225-229

TBD Mr. Pleasant High School


Contact: Professor Alan Soldofsky
SJSU Creative Writing Program Director
San José State University
Phone: 408-924-4432
One Washington Square, San José