Past Events


On Thursday, March 1, at 7pm in the Center, former Steinbeck Fellow Jasmin Darznik returns to SJSU to read from her new novel, Song of a Captive Bird, a fictional account of Iran’s trailblazing woman poet, Forugh Farrokhzad. Darznik was born in Tehran, Iran, and came to America when she was five years old. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life. Her essays have appeared in numerous periodicals, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. The event is free and open to the public.


Steinbeck's Women Exhibit Poster

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

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 Jose State's new Veterans Resource Center. Read More

New books by Steinbeck Fellows:
Posada: Offerings of Witness and Refuge (poetry) by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, Sundress Publications, 2016
Deceit and Other Possibilities (fiction) by Vanessa Hua, Willow Publishing, 2016
Under the Stars: How America Fell in Love with Camping (nonfiction) by Dan White, Henry Holt, 2016
Man and Wife (fiction) by Katie Chase, A Strange Object, 2016

The story "The Letician Age" by Yalitza Ferreras appears in Best American Short Stories 2016
The story "The Thomas Cantor" by Sara Houghteling has won the 2016 Narrative Prize

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.

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.


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. Read more.

New Major Biography of Steinbeck To Be Published in 2019

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.


Khaled Hosseini


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.






Ken BurnsDec 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.

Rachel MaddowFeb 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.

Michael Moore 

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.

Carol Birch

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.

Skip Horack 

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). Horack Interview Online.

 Dolores Huerta

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 Jose 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. 


 Thomas SteinbeckMay 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. 

Katie ChaseSkip HorackAndrew MilwardMay 5 , 2010   The 2009-2010 Steinbeck Fellows, Katie Chase, Skip Horack, and Andrew Milward (in that order below) 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.  

Peter Nathaniel Malae

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.

Sara Houghtelling

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.

Pete Seeger

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.

Studs Terkel

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).

Jackson Browne 

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 Jose; 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 Jose, the Center co-sponsors a seminar on Of Mice and Men, in conjunction with performances of Carlisle Floyd's opera, Of Mice and Men.

Art Ring, Martha Heasley Cox and Bruce SpringteenArt Ring, Martha Heasley Cox, and Bruce Springsteen at the presentation of the Steinbeck Award in 1996.

26 October 1996The 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."

 1992: The Center sponsors the world premiere of Gary Sinise's film Of Mice and Men at the Town and Country Theatre in October. 

Elaine Steinbeck and Gary SiniseElaine Steinbeck and Gary Sinise on location during the shooting of Of Mice and Men.

Elaine Steinbeck and Robert DeMottElaine 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.

1989: To mark the 50th anniversary of The Grapes of Wrath, an interdisciplinary conference was held at San Jose 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 Jose 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). 


1987: The Center begins distributing The Steinbeck Newsletter, its award-winning publication, issued twice yearly (renamedSteinbeck 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 Jose.

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.  

Marhta Heasely Cox Doctor Martha Heasley Cox circa 1966, probably near time when she became Full Professor at San Jose State University.