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Institute 2016 - Faculty Bios

Program Co-Director, Dr. Susan Shillinglaw

Dr. Susan Shillinglaw

Susan Shillinglaw is a professor of English at San José State University and Director of the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas. A noted Steinbeck scholar, she has published several articles on the author and edited Steinbeck’s journalism (America and Americans and Selected Nonfiction) and collections of essays. She also wrote introductions to Penguin editions of Cannery Row and Of Mice and Men, A Russian Journal, and The Winter of Our Discontent (2008). Her most recent book is A Journey Into Steinbeck’s California (2006).


Program Co-Director, Dr. William Gilly

Dr. William Gilly

William Gilly is a Professor of Biology at Stanford University based at Hopkins Marine Station and was Director and Chief Scientist of a 2004 retracing of Steinbeck and Ricketts’s Sea of Cortez trip. He has engaged in numerous outreach projects involving print, television, radio and web media. His current research focuses on the ecology and physiology of the Humboldt squid and on impacts of decreasing oxygen in marine systems, including Monterey Bay and the Sea of Cortez.


Presenter, Dr. Mary Alder

Mary AlderDr. Mary Adler is a Associate Professor in English and Education at California State University Channel Islands, where she specializes in English education, classroom discourse studies, writing development and processes, and literacy practices. She is a former middle school English language arts and social studies teacher. In 2007 and 2009 Mary co-directed, with Susan Shillinglaw, the NEH Summer Institute John Steinbeck: "Voice of A Region, Voice for America." She is the author of Writers at Play: Making the Space for Adolescents to Balance Imagination and Craft (Heinemann, 2009) and co-author (with Eija Rougle) of Building Literacy Through Classroom Discussion (Scholastic, 2005).


Presenter, Pete Barraza

Pete Barraza

Pete Barraza is a graduate of UCLA. During the last three years, he has served as a faculty member in the English Department at the Punahou Academy in Honolulu, HI, teaching an Honors American Literature course that functioned as a seminar focusing on the works of John Steinbeck, as well as teaching a Jazz Era Literature course developed to provide students with interdisciplinary and experiential opportunities to explore the relationship between literature, history, visual arts, and music.

While working at Santa Monica High School in Southern California, in 2007 he developed the California Literature Experience, a University of California approved innovative English course for high school students. In reading the kaleidoscopic literature of the Golden State, particularly the works of John Steinbeck, students realized that CA is made up of a multitude of voices, experiences, histories, and enclaves. An essential component to the course was to lead students on a literary journey through Steinbeck country, a 4-day curriculum-guided expedition through the Central Coast, provoking students to explore the literature read throughout the year in a tangible way. For many of the students, it was their first time away from Los Angeles, experiencing what Gerald Haslam refers to as the "many Californias" of our state. Students visited places such as The National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, Corral De Tierra (Steinbeck's landscape for The Pastures of Heaven), Cannery Row, the Pacific Biological Lab of Ed Ricketts in Monterey, and Point Lobos. Along the way, students were visited by several speakers who provided lectures on various issues related to California, including the life and works of John Steinbeck.

In a recent Steinbeck Review article entitled “Teaching and Living Steinbeck’s Stories,” Barraza writes: “Teaching Steinbeck’s works connects students to their own lives, regardless of where that life is taking place...somewhere in the pages of California’s most revered writer, we can discover some element or our times---of ourselves.”


Presenter, Dr. Robert DeMott

Dr. Robert DeMott

Robert DeMott received his Ph.D. in American Literature from Kent State University, Ohio. He is the Edwin and Ruth Kennedy Distinguished Professor of English at Ohio University. Author of Steinbeck’s Typewriter: Essays on His Art, he also edited Conversations with Jim Harrison; Steinbeck: Novels, 1942-1952; and John Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath and Other Writings 1936-1941. Steinbeck’s Typewriter was a co-winner of the Nancy Dasher Book Award from the College English Association of Ohio. He is a past director of the Steinbeck Research Center at San Jose State University.


Presenter, Dr. Chris Fink

Dr. Chris Fink

Chris Fink is associate professor of English and creative writing at Beloit College and editor-in-chief of the Beloit Fiction Journal. Since 2000, he has published more than twenty stories in various US and Canadian journals, as well as several poems and essays. He was a founding faculty member of the Master of Fine Arts program at San Jose State University and founder of the John Steinbeck Award for the Short Story. Since 2000 he has been contributing editor of Steinbeck Studies. His stories have been nominated four times for the Pushcart Prize.


Presenter, Dr. Scot Guenter

Dr. Scot Guenter

Scot Guenter is Professor and Coordinator of American Studies at San Jose State University. A cultural historian and vexillologist (vexillology is the scholarly study of flags), he is the founding editor of Raven: A Journal of Vexillology, author of The American Flag 1777-1824, and past president of both the California American Studies Association and the North American Vexillological Association. He has consulted at the Smithsonian and has most recently published on such varied topics as the effect of the Internet on interpreting national symbols, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Sarah Palin


Master Teacher, Nancy Harray

Nancy Harray recently retired from teaching literature and science at Monterey High School in a special program focusing on the marine sciences.


Project Coordinator, Maria Judnick

Maria Judnick

Maria Judnick is a graduate of San Jose State's MA program, where she focused on American literature and explored environmental concerns in everything she read - from Dickens to Shakespeare to Dana. She currently teaches English at a Bay Area Catholic high school where she schemes on ways to incorporate a little bit of Steinbeck into every class. In her spare time, Maria enjoys yoga, knitting, and reading.


Presenter, Dr. Persis Karim

Dr. Persis Karim

Persis Karim is an associate professor of literature and creative writing at San Jose State University. She teaches American, ethnic and world literature and is the editor and contributing poet to Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora (2006). She is married to an ocean scientist, Craig Strang, and she credits him with her deepened appreciation for the ocean, and the beauty of California.


Presenter, Anthony Newfield

Anthony Newfield

Anthony Newfield, originally from Northern California, is a professional actor based in New York City whose appearances on stage, film, and television have taken him from New York to California to Ireland and Russia. Broadway credits include Tartuffe and Waiting for Godot. For his work in the play Bent, he won Florida’s Carbonell Award for Best Supporting Actor. In 2002, he created his one-man show, Steinbeck and the Land, and performed it in New York and in Salinas, California, at the Steinbeck Festival. Since then, he has created new pieces for the Festival, including The Dog Ate My Manuscript: Of Mice and Men Onstage, A Box of Glory… An Armful of Garbage, and Tortilla Flat: How Danny and His Friends Found Their Way from the Page to the Stage. He is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and earned an MFA in Acting from Carnegie Mellon University in conjunction with the Moscow Art Theatre.


Presenter, Dr. Matthew Spangler

Dr. Matthew Spangler

Matthew Spangler is an assistant professor of Communication and Performance Studies at San Jose State University. He has written and directed over thirty adaptations of literature for the stage, including works by Ernest Hemingway, John Cheever, James Joyce, and Delmira Augustini (an Uruguayan poet).  Recently he produced and directed a stage adaptation of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s letters at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland and at the Avignon Theatre Festival in France. He will be joined by Elizabeth Lee Barber to present his adaptation of Steinbeck’s short story, "The Chrysanthemums." His adaptation of Khaled Hosseini's novel The Kite Runner was produced by the San Jose Repertory Theatre and Arizona Theatre Company.


Presenter, Dr. Craig Strang

Dr. Craig Strang

Craig is associate director of Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) at the University of California, Berkeley. He is founding director of MARE: Marine Activities, Resources & Education, a K-8 interdisciplinary professional development and curriculum development program focused specifically on implementing schoolwide marine science programs that increase learning and language acquisition for English Language Learners. He is the lead principal investigator of the multi-institution, NSF-funded Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence—California. He is a member of the National Marine Educators Association Board of Directors Executive Committee. He has co-led the Ocean Literacy Campaign in the US since 2003 resulting in the development of Ocean Literacy: The Essential Principles of Ocean Sciences Grades K-12. He is co-author of three multi-volume sets of science & environmental education curriculum materials for grades K-8.





Stanford University


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