Perspectives on Fire
Hosted by Daniel Rivers and the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies, MLK Library, 5th Floor, Room 590 on Friday, March 11 from 1:30-2:30 p.m. This event centered on a hands-on graphic novel workshop with acclaimed graphic novelist Brian Fies which included a practicum session that will introduce students to methods of writing and drawing about fire.
Celebrating John Steinbeck's 120th Birthday
Sunday February 27th, 2022 marked the 120th anniversary of John Steinbeck’s birth. To celebrate this occasion, the Monterey Public Library and the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies at San José State University collaborated on a birthday conversation that brought together a group of established and emerging Steinbeckians. Hosted on Zoom on Tuesday, February 22 at 4:30PM, this celebration featured Susan Shillinglaw (author of Carol and John Steinbeck and A Journey into Steinbeck's California); Bob Demott (author of Steinbeck's Typewriter: Essays on His Art); Keenan Norris (Director of San José State University's Steinbeck Fellows Program); and Daniel Rivers (Director of the Martha Heasley Cox Center of Steinbeck Studies at SJSU). Along with discussing favorite moments and persistent questions from Steinbeck's work, these guests reflected on the author's creative legacy and his enduring relevance in the 21st Century.
Fall 2021-2022 Steinbeck Fellows Reading
2021-2022 Steinbeck Fellows Rose Himber Howse, Uche Okonkwo, and Brian Trapp read on December 2, 2021.
Camino Chronicles Symphony
The Camino Chronicles was series of events hosted at SJSU on October 1-3 2021, which used music and the creative arts to explore the histories, cultures, and afterlives of El Camino Real. This series was sponsored by the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies in partnership with Camino Arts, TomKat Media, the world-renowned composer Gabriela Ortiz, the folk-rock band The Ronstadt Brothers, and the SJSU Artistic Excellence in Programming Grant. This weekend of performances and events represented the culmination of years-long partnerships, which included the Center’s commission of a symphony piece by Ortiz, titled “D’Colonial Californio,” and an album from the Ronstadt Brothers, titled The Road: Part 1. The first event of this series was a “Business of Music Talk,” which took place at the Student Union on October 1st, and which invited the Ronstadt Brothers to share their insights on the business of running a touring band. Our second event was the world-premiere of Gabriela Ortiz’ symphony, “D’Colonial Californio,” performed by Symphony San José on October 2nd. The final event of this series was the world premiere of the Ronstadt Brothers’ album The Road: Part 1, which they performed at the Hammer Theater on Sunday October 3rd.
More Past Events
Spring Steinbeck Fellows Reading
2020-2021 Steinbeck Fellows Rita Chang-Eppig, Brice Particelli, and Kate Osana Simonian read on April 22, 2021. Watch the Spring Steinbeck Fellows Reading on YouTube.
2021-2022 Steinbeck Fellows
Congratulations to Ariel Chu, Rose Himber Howse, Tammy Heejae Lee, Uche Okonkwo, Timea Sipos, and Brian Trapp! (Pictured in same order that names appear.)
Of Women and Salt
Of Women and Salt, the debut novel by former Steinbeck Fellow Gabriela Garcia, will be published by Flatiron Books on March 30, 2021. Congratulations to Gabriela!
The Passing of Anthony Veasna So
The Center for Steinbeck Studies wishes to express its sympathy to the family of Anthony Veasna So, a current Steinbeck Fellow, who died unexpectedly. Anthony was a world-class literary talent at the beginning of a spectacular career. His loss is a blow to the literary community of SJSU, the Bay Area, and the world. Anthony's work appeared in The New Yorker, n+1, and many other publications. His first book, Afterparties: Stories, will be published by Ecco Press in August 2021. Anthony will be deeply missed.
The Center is currently hosting an original antique nail from the Western Flyer, the famed vessel chartered by John Steinbeck during the Sea of Cortez Expedition. The nail is on loan from the Western Flyer Foundation, the nonprofit organization restoring the Western Flyer and making the ship seaworthy after almost 80 years.
If you are interested in donating to the Western Flyer Foundation or owning a piece of Steinbeck history, please visit the Flyer Foundation website for more information. Additionally, you can follow the restoration process on the Western Flyer Foundation Youtube channel and their Instagram page.
2020-2021 Steinbeck Fellows Reading
Three of the 2020-2021 Steinbeck Fellows - Tammy Delatorre, Daniel Pearce, and Anthony Veasna So - read from their work in a free event held on Zoom December 3, 2020 at 7:00pm Pacific. Watch the Fellows' reading on YouTube.
Congratulations to Chef José Andres
Chef José Andres received the 2020 John Steinbeck Award on Monday, November 30. The event was co-sponsored by the Commonwealth Club of California and featured Chef Andrés in conversation with 2004 Steinbeck Award winner Sean Penn and Steinbeck Center Director Nick Taylor. Watch the event and Andres' discussion on YouTube.
Mad at the World
Biographer William Souder presented his new book, Mad at the World: A Life of John Steinbeck (W.W. Norton) on Monday, October 19, 2020 at 7pm on Zoom. Souder discussed the book and his writing process with Steinbeck Center Director Nick Taylor and answered questions from the audience. Watch a video of Souder's discussion on YouTube or read the audio transcript of Souder's discussion.
Nick Taylor Participates in an Online Seminar
Steinbeck Center Director Nick Taylor participated in an online "tertulia" (seminar) on Steinbeck and Mexico sponsored by UNAM, the National Autonomous University of Mexico. In the seminar recording, Taylor discusses Steinbeck's deep love of Mexican art, literature, and cinema with Prof. Adela Pineda of Boston University, author of a new scholarly volume on Steinbeck and Mexico. View the seminar recording on YouTube.
Reading by Black Steinbeck Fellows
For those who missed it live, the July 8, 2020, Reading by Black Steinbeck Fellows, featuring L. Rebecca Harris, Carrie R. Moore, Tommy Mouton, and SJSU Professor Keenan Norris, was recorded. View the Reading by Black Steinbeck Fellows recording.
2020-2021 Steinbeck Fellows Selected
Six new Steinbeck Fellows have been selected for the 2020-2021 academic year. Congratulations to Rita Chang-Eppig, Tammy Delatorre, Brice Particelli, Daniel Pearce, Kate Osana Simonian, and Anthony Veasna So!
2020 Clark Fiction Prize
Congratulations to former Steinbeck Fellow Chia-Chia (Jennie) Lin, whose novel The Unpassing has won the $25,000 Clark Fiction Prize.
May 1-3, 2019 – The International Society of Steinbeck Scholars hosted "Steinbeck and the Twenty-First Century: Identity, Influence, and Impact," a conference in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Library at San José State University. Read the full conference program. [pdf]
Read Marcus Mumford's speech, delivered at the 2019 Steinbeck Award ceremony, about the influence of John Steinbeck in his thinking about justice, power, and community.
Women of Steinbeck Exhibit
Our new exhibit, Women of Steinbeck, is on display in the Special Collections Gallery, 5th Floor of MLK Library, through January 20, 2018. See photos and artifacts exploring the lives of the influential women in Steinbeck's life, including his mother Olive Steinbeck and his wives Carol, Gwyn, and Elaine (pictured, l-r).
Bob Woodruff Receives John Steinbeck Award
Photo courtesy Bob Woodruff Foundation
On Tuesday, February 21, 2017, journalist and philanthropist Bob Woodruff received the 2017 John Steinbeck Award in a public event in the Student Union Ballroom of San José State University. Dan Ashley of ABC7 News conducted an interview with Mr. Woodruff, who was joined onstage by his wife, Lee, the co-founder of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. The event was a fundraiser for San José State's new Veterans Resource Center.
New Books by Steinbeck Fellows
Under the Stars: How America Fell in Love with Camping (nonfiction) by Dan White, Henry Holt, 2016
Remembering Thom Steinbeck (1944-2016)
With sadness, the Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies marks the passing of Thomas M. Steinbeck, elder son of John Steinbeck and author of three works of fiction.
Restoration of Western Flyer
A California geologist and businessman is restoring the Western Flyer, the fishing boat chartered by Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts for the 1940 research trip described in The Sea of Cortez (1941) and Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951). The restored Flyer will be used as a science and education vessel.
Steinbeck Renaissance of 2015 Declared on 113th Anniversary of American Nobel Laureate's Birth
February 27, 2015 — Interest in Steinbeck is surging. Steven Spielberg is reportedly preparing a remake of The Grapes of Wrath. Jennifer Lawrence has signed on to play the lead in East of Eden. Last week the actor James Franco, who starred on Broadway last year as George in Of Mice and Men, announced that next month he will start filming an adaptation of Steinbeck’s little-known 1936 novel In Dubious Battle.
Today marks the 113th anniversary of Steinbeck’s birth. To celebrate the occasion, the International Society of Steinbeck Scholars and the Center for Steinbeck Studies at San José State University have proclaimed a Steinbeck Renaissance.
April 20, 2015 – Norton has announced that it will publish Mad at the World: John Steinbeck and the American Century, by William Souder, in 2019. Souder is the author of Under a Wild Sky: John James Audubon and the Making of the Birds of America, a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in Biography.
Sept 10, 2014 – Author Khaled Hosseini received the 2014 Steinbeck Award on Weds, September 10, in the New Student Union. "I suspect there are a lot of Ma Joads in Afghanistan right now, trying to keep their families together,” Hosseini said.
Dec 6, 2013 – Ken Burns accepted the John Steinbeck award for his documentaries. He also held an interview with Michael Krasney of KQED public radio. A sneak peek of his documentary The Roosevelts: An Intimate History was also aired at the ceremony.
Feb 25, 2012 – Rachel Maddow accepted the John Steinbeck Award (in the souls of the people"), in Morris Daley Auditorium after participating in a conversation with Pat Thurston, KGO talk show host. Watch the Maddow Interview and Award Ceremony.
October 14 , 2010 – Academy Award-Winning Filmmaker and Social Activist Moore received the John Steinbeck Award from noted author and son of John Steinbeck, Thomas Steinbeck, in Morris Dailey Auditorium, with a packed audience that included Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak. Moore was in conversation with Dan Pulcrano, Executive Editor of Metro and answered questions from the audience, delivering a moving plea for activism in the upcoming elections. The event was hosted by Mr. Steinbeck and Ms. Catherine Busalacchi of the Student Union, and it benefited the Center for Steinbeck Studies.
Photo credit: Geoffrey Vail Brown.
October 12, 2010 – Much-honored story-teller Carol Birch visited the Center and gave a dramatic performance of passages from The Grapes of Wrath, passages that did not concern the Joads. Birch has been recognized by the National Storytelling Network with their "Circle of Excellence" Award, rarely given, and she has been a lecturer at more than fifty universities and a featured storyteller half a dozen times at the National Storytelling Festival. Birch has also appeared in video productions focused on America's foremost storytellers and has received two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
September 28, 2010 – Former Steinbeck and Stegner Fellow Skip Horack read from his new novel, The Eden Hunter (Counterpoint Press, 2010) to an audience of more than sixty enthusiastic listeners. The Eden Hunter has been reviewed as a "beautifully written, suspense-filled adventure story that conjures the great terrain of Melville and Conrad as he explores one man’s struggle to seek goodness in the midst of evil.” (Jill McCorkle).
September 23 , 2010 – Legendary Civil Rights Activist and UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta was honored at an event in Morris Dailey auditorium on the SJSU campus. Huerta was in conversation about SB 1070 and the New Chicano Civil Rights Movement with Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) President Thomas A. Saenz and members of the activist band Ozomatli. The event, moderated by Richard Gonzales of National Public Radio, was a co-presentation with the San José State University Student Union, honoring Huerta's lifetime of achievement, and also a benefit for the Center for Steinbeck Studies and the Mexican Heritage Corporation. A well-attended reception took place afterward in the Center.
May 11, 2010 – Thomas Steinbeck discussed his new novel, In the Shadow of the Cypress (Simon and Schuster, 2010), and signed books at noon in the Center for Steinbeck Studies, with over 50 people in attendance, including Martha Heasley Cox. Mr. Steinbeck told stories of his life as a writer and of his childhood, growing up in a writer's world. Thomas Steinbeck began his career in the 1960s as a motion picture cinematographer and photojournalist in Vietnam. Known for his short stories, Mr. Steinbeck previously published Down to the Soundless Sea, a collection of stories and a novella, which won critical praise. His novel, In the Shadow of the Cypress, has just been published by Simon and Schuster.
May 5 , 2010 – The 2009-2010 Steinbeck Fellows, Katie Chase, Skip Horack, and Andrew Milward (in that order) read from their respective works-in-progress in the MLK Jr. Library. The event was co-sponsored by the Center for Literary Arts and Reed Magazine.
April 21, 2010 – Peter Nathaniel Malae, Former Steinbeck Fellow, gave a reading and book signing for What We Are, his new novel, which had been reviewed in the New York Times. What We Are won the Joseph Henry Jackson Award. His story collection, Teach the Free Man was a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Award and the Glasgow Prize. Nine True Love Stories will be published in 2011.
19 November 2009 – 2005-2006 Steinbeck Fellow Sara Houghteling read from Pictures at an Exhibition (Knopf 2009), her critically acclaimed novel, giving a slide show of art work relating to the novel's plot, answering questions, and signing books. The event took place in room 550 (Schiro Room) of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library. On April 15, 2010, the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford presented Houghteling with the 2009 Edward Lewis Wallant Award for Pictures at an Exhibition.
18 September 2009 – Pete Seeger, legendary folk singer, performed at the second annual "This Land Is Your Land Festival," sponsored by the John Steinbeck Family Foundation and with the support of Live Nation. The concert took place in San Francisco, helping benefit the Center for Steinbeck Studies, the Woody Guthrie Foundation, and San Francisco Food Bank. Also appearing: folk-rock singers Sarah Lee Guthrie (grand-daughter of Woody Guthrie) and Johnny Irion (grand nephew of John Steinbeck).
Spring 2009 – The Center sponsored activities relating to the SJSU Campus wide Reading program, which chose Cannery Row as its selection. Lectures were given by Michael Hemp, A. L.“Scrap” Lundy, and former Center Director, Professor Susan Shillinglaw.
25 September 2007 – The John Steinbeck Award: "In the Souls of the People" is given to Garrison Keillor.
2006 – A conference took place in Sun Valley, Idaho, organized by Stephen K. George and with the cooperation of the Center for Steinbeck Studies: “Steinbeck and His Contemporaries.”
2005 – An International Steinbeck Congress took place in Kyoto, Japan.
10 September 2004 – The John Steinbeck Award: "In the Souls of the People" is given to Sean Penn.
26 February 2003 – The John Steinbeck Award: "In the Souls of the People" is given to Joan Baez.
Fall 2002 – On 02 October, Studs Terkel was given the John Steinbeck Award at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco. The Center's Director published three books to mark the Centennial: America and Americans and Selected Nonfiction, edited by Susan Shillinglaw and Jackson Benson (Penguin, 2002); John Steinbeck: Centennial Reflections by American Writers (Center for Steinbeck Studies, 2002), and How to Organize a Steinbeck Book or Film Discussion Group, by Susan Shillinglaw and Harold Augenbraum (Center for Steinbeck Studies and The Mercantile Library).
Spring 2002 – The Steinbeck Centennial project, coordinated by The Mercantile Library, the Center for Steinbeck Studies, and the National Steinbeck Center launched the most ambitious series of events for any American writer of the 1900s. Over 500 libraries across the country sponsored events. Additional programs were held in Austria, Belgium, Italy, China and Japan. A traveling photographic exhibit (4 sets of 35 photographs of Steinbeck's life) curated by Susan Shillinglaw was shown at 40 libraries around the country. With Hofstra University and the John Steinbeck Society of Japan, the Center co-sponsored an international centennial conference, "John Steinbeck's Americas," held at Hofstra University in March. Over 300 attendees heard over 90 papers. On 26 February the John Steinbeck Award was given to Jackson Browne at the Capitol Club in San José; on 27 February he gave a benefit concert at the Fox Theater in Redwood City.
2001 – The Mercantile Library, the Center for Steinbeck Studies, and the National Steinbeck Center are awarded a $265,000 grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities to coordinate events at libraries around the country during the Centennial year, 2002.
22 April 1999 – The John Steinbeck Award: "In the Souls of the People" is given to Arthur Miller.
14 February 1998 – The John Steinbeck Award: "In the Souls of the People" is given to John Sayles.
02-03 November 1997 – With Opera San José, the Center co-sponsors a seminar on Of Mice and Men, in conjunction with performances of Carlisle Floyd's opera, Of Mice and Men.
26 October 1996 – The John Steinbeck Award: "In the Souls of the People" is created. Bruce Springsteen is the first to be honored. He gave a benefit concert for the Center at SJSU's Event Center. In February the second annual Cannery Row Symposium is held in Monterey, co-sponsored by The Center for Steinbeck Studies, "Working Days on Cannery Row: 1995-1996."
Pictured: Art Ring, Martha Heasley Cox, and Bruce Springsteen at the presentation of the Steinbeck Award in 1996.
1992 – The Center sponsors the world premiere of Gary Sinise's film Of Mice and Men at the Town and Country Theatre in October.
Pictured: Elaine Steinbeck and Gary Sinise on location during the shooting of Of Mice and Men.
1989 – To mark the 50th anniversary of The Grapes of Wrath, an interdisciplinary conference was held at San José State: "The Grapes of Wrath, 1939-1989: An Interdisciplinary Forum," with over 300 attending the three day event in March. Conference proceedings are published in San José Studies. The Esalen Institute of San Francisco sponsored a US/Soviet exchange, sending five Steinbeck scholars, among them Susan Shillinglaw, Director of the Center, to Moscow for a series of lectures. For Moscow's Library of Foreign Literature, the Director also curated and mounted a exhibition of over 100 Steinbeck photographs. An international conference, "Steinbeck and the Environment," sponsored by the Center and the University of Massachusetts Field Station, is held on Nantucket Island in May. Over 75 people heard 20 scholars from America and England discuss Steinbeck's ecological vision. Conference proceedings, edited by Susan Shillinglaw, Susan Beegel and Wes Tiffney were published by the University of Alabama Press, Steinbeck and the Environment (1997).
Pictured: Elaine Steinbeck and Robert DeMott at The Grapes of Wrath 50th Anniversary celebration, probably at the ‘21’ Club at 21 West 52nd Street in New York city. This party was a rager, attended by A+ listers as Douglas Fairbanks, Junior, Elia Kazan, Arthur Schlesinger, Junior; and Edward Albee.
1987 – The Center begins distributing The Steinbeck Newsletter, its award-winning publication, issued twice yearly (renamed Steinbeck Studies in 1998 and Steinbeck Review in 2006).
1984 – Under the direction of Robert DeMott, the Steinbeck Research Center publishes in a limited edition, Your Only Weapon is Your Work, a letter from John Steinbeck to Dennis Murphy.
1973 – The Steinbeck Research Center is dedicated at a conference celebrating Of Mice and Men, opera, film, play, book. The San Francisco Opera performs Carlisle Floyd's opera Of Mice and Men in San José.
1971 – At one of the first Steinbeck conferences, held at SJSU, President Bunzel announces the formation The Steinbeck Research Center, founded by Martha Heasley Cox, Professor of English.
Pictured: Doctor Martha Heasley Cox circa 1966, probably near time when she became Full Professor at San José State University.