Book Launch – Alum David Jackson Ambrose


State of the Nation Bookcover

State of the Nation
David Jackson Ambrose

Please join the author – David Jackson Ambrose – in celebrating the release of his debut work of fiction!


Where: Wooden Shoe Books

704 South Street.  Philadelphia PA

When:  Saturday, May 5, 2018

Time:  7 p.m. –  8:30 p.m.

There will be readings from the novel, free giveaways, refreshments and a book signing.

For more information about the novel, enter the author portal.

For inquiries about the event, contact Wooden Shoe Books: 215-413-0999



Publication Date: April 3, 2018

Author: David Jackson Ambrose (SJU Writing Studies Alum ’15)

Publisher: The TMG Firm

Format: Paperback, 978-0-9987-9939-1 ($17.95)

STATE OF THE NATION follows the day-to-day experiences of three friends as they navigate through a society that does not see them, at best, or at worst, sees them as degenerate bodies deserving extermination. The Atlanta Child Murders of the late 1970’s to early 1980’s serves as the undefined albatross that inhibits and prescribes behavior. The murders loom in the background of the story, hovering over the lives of three friends coming of age during a moment in American history that in many ways mirrors the present, as police violence perpetuated against Black youth continues to generate press. STATE OF THE NATION highlights the fact that missing black bodies were not an anomaly, it was the media attention of those particular bodies that was the anomaly, as black bodies were being defaced, defiled, and extinguished all over the country during that time. The Atlanta Murders were a continuation of neo lynching, a replication of an age-old American tradition reminding black youth that they are expendable. STATE OF THE NATION links elements of the Tuskegee Experiment of the 1940’s to the ever-present vulnerability of the black body, making use of the era in which the story is told, the cusp of the 1980’s, to hint at the beginning of the AIDS crisis, which began on the tail end of the Atlanta Child Murders.

Please come out and support David. Word has it our fearless leader, Tenaya Darlington, will attend.

Fall 2018 Writing Studies Course Offerings

We have a great lineup for you this fall! Take a look:

ENG 550: Practice of Writing (Core Class)

(CRN 40668)

Mondays – 6:30 – 9:15 p.m.

Professor Tom Coyne

This course is designed as an Introduction to the Writing Studies Program, and it allows students to explore a variety of genres while they explore career options within the writing/publishing world. Students will literally “walk in the shoes” of different writers, playing the role of columnist, reporter, editor, poet, and fiction writer. At the end of the course, students will reflect on these different roles and begin brainstorming a possible thesis project in one area. Core Course

ENG 620: Special Topics in Literature: Literature of Place (Area I)

(CRN 40669)

Tuesdays – 6:30 – 9:15 p.m.

Dr. Owen Gilman

The role of place looms large in a wide range of American literary texts—the South of James Dickey (Deliverance) and Eudora Welty (Golden Apples); the New England of Stephen King (Carrie), Edith Wharton (Ethan Frome), Emily Dickinson, and Robert Frost; the West of Gretel Ehrlich (The Solace of Open Spaces) and Norman Maclean (A River Runs Through It).  Texts such as these show how the details of life experience in a given place add hugely to the shape and spirit of the narratives and poems created within those places.  As the concept of place takes hold, we will look to identify place-specific details and patterns that could be used in writing reflective of Philadelphia and its environs.  There will be both creative explorations of place and analytical responses to the assigned texts. This course fulfills Area I.

ENG 680: Writing for Nonprofits (Area III)

(CRN 40672)

Tuesdays – 6:30 – 9:15 p.m.

Professor Maureen Saraco

Open to grad students with permission from the director.

Precise, exciting, accessible, and emotive writing is central to the success of any nonprofit organization. Writing is how these organizations explain their missions, make people care, and raise the money they need to keep the doors open and advance their causes. This course will teach you the basics of how to write for a nonprofit organization, and how to tailor your message and style to various audiences. Focusing primarily on grant writing, you will learn the basics of how to ask for money from organizations in writing and how to navigate the grant-making process from the initial research to the submission of the final proposal. You will also practice writing other important pieces for any nonprofit, like appeal letters, blog posts, social media outreach, performance reports, and more. Through hands-on practice with real Philadelphia-area nonprofits, you’ll learn how to write for the different audiences a nonprofit organization needs to reach. By the end of the course, you will have learned about writing’s relationship to the nonprofit fundraising and donor outreach processes. You’ll also have completed a portfolio of professional pieces designed to positively impact local communities in need. While this course is geared towards the writing skills suited to nonprofit organizations, many of these skills are also transferrable to writing at other kinds of professional organizations. This course fulfills Area III.

ENG 641: Special Topics Writing Workshop – Bodies in Crisis: Narratives of Illness, Medicine and Hope (Area II)

(CRN 40670)

Wednesdays – 6:30 – 9:15 p.m.

Dr. Ann Green

In “Bodies in Crisis,” we’ll explore how race, class, gender, and sexuality are depicted in “medical writing,” broadly defined. By reading the writing of caregivers, medical professionals, and patients, we will consider how systemic racism, sexism, and homophobia have affected how all of us engage with the medical system.  We’ll particularly focus on the medicalization/crisis of the Black body through poetry by Bettina Judd and a novel by Writing Studies alum David Jackson. We will also consider how gender impacts access to care and perceptions of the female body throughout the U.S. Participants will write about their own experience with bodies/medicine, explore what medical writing as a profession looks like, engage in some service with people whose bodies are in crisis (during class time), and conceive of and execute a final project relevant to the course topic and the participant’s goals for his/her/they writing. We will read poetry, a novel, a memoir, and a collection of vignettes as we consider these ideas. This course fulfills Area II.

  • Brother I am Dying, Edwidge Danticat
  •  Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir, Ellen Forney.
  • State of the Nation, David Ambrose Jackson (SJU Writing Studies graduate)
  • Patient: Poems, Bettina Judd.
  • Kitchen Table Wisdom, Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.

ENG 668: Creative Nonfiction Workshop (Area III)

(CRN 40671)

Thursdays – 6:30 – 9:15 p.m.

Dr. Melissa Goldthwaite

Creative Nonfiction will explore literary diaries and journals, memoir, the personal essay, cultural criticism, and literary journalism. We’ll analyze and practice different forms of creative nonfiction with attention to both student and professional writing. This class will provide a context in which students can learn the conventions of the genre—from finding a topic to creating a structure, from scene making to fact finding and more; participate in the process of discovery and research; and work with others in crafting, drafting, revising, and seeking a larger audience through publication. Assignments include discussion of assigned readings, keeping a writer’s notebook, participating in weekly writing exercises, and writing, workshopping, and revising short (2-pages), medium (5-7 pages), and longer (20-pages) creative nonfiction pieces. This course fulfills Area III.

Registration begins Monday, April 9!




Summer 2018 Writing Studies Courses

Registration begins on February 26, 2018!

Professor Eleanor Stanford

Summer I: May 21 – June 29, 2018 (CRN 20194) Merion Hall #382

ENG 576: Special Topics: Memoir (Area III)

Mondays & Wednesdays 18:30-21:45

Instructor:  Professor Ellie Stanford

In this course, we will read a wide selection of memoirs across historical time periods and life experiences. We will explore various formal and stylistic approaches and ask critical questions about confession and privacy, about what constitutes the sometimes amorphous genre, and why it has become so popular in recent years. Students will get to try their hands at different techniques and exercises. In both student and published work, we will consider the complicated matters of memory, imagination, and questions of emotional and factual truth. We will also explore possible venues for publication, both in print and online, and how to approach the publication process. The course will consist of discussions of reading, writing prompts and exercises, and workshop. This course fulfills Area III.

Dr. Kay Cosgrove

Summer II: July 2 – August 10, 2018 (CRN 20361) Merion Hall #382

ENG 600: Poetry Today (Area I)

Hybrid class – Online/ Wednesdays in person – 18:30-21:45

Instructor:  Dr. Kay Cosgrove

This course will serve as an exploration of the current poetry scene in America, beginning with Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, and reading through the High Modernist period to present day. We will focus in particular on how 20th and 21st century poets seek to define a distinct American poetics through experimental form and narrative structure. We will undertake a close study of the schools and theoretical concepts that define these centuries. Movements covered will include Imagism, the New York School, the Harlem Renaissance, the Neo-Confessional, the Contemporary lyric, and Language Poetry. We will practice our own creative imitations in an effort to understand how to “make it new?” as Ezra Pound suggested the modern American poet ought to do. We will have a ball. This course fulfills Area I.