College of Humanities & Fine Arts

MA in English

Program Highlights


Recruitment video for the MA Program in English at CSU, Chico: This video outlines the benefits of CSU, Chico's MA program in English and features interviews with faculty, staff, and students.

Notable Alum

Marta Shaffer (center)

Marta Shaffer

Photo: Ahmad Boura, VP of Advancement; Tracy Butts, Chair, Department of English; Marta Shaffer, recipient of Lt. Rawlins Merit Award; Jeanne Clark, Faculty, Department of English; Robert Knight, Dean, College of Humanities and Fine Arts

Prior to entering the MA program in English, Marta Shaffer (BA ‘15, MA ‘17) received one of the prestigious Lt. Robert Merton Rawlins Merit Awards as well as an academic and performance scholarship from the School of Graduate Studies.  Her work has appeared in Califragile, (B)oink Magazine, The Finger, and The Chico News and Review.  In addition to working full-time as a vice president of client services for Methods for Management, a consulting company based in San Francisco, Marta is pursuing a single subject teaching credential.  To read some of Marta’s poetry, click here.


Sylvia Bowersox and her service dog, Timothy

Sylvia Bowersox

Photo: Veteran and MA alum Sylvia Bowersox (‘16) and her service dog, Timothy, read from her first book Triggers (Jerkpoet Press, 2015). 

Sylvia Bowersox served in the U.S. Army as a broadcast journalist. She served three tours of duty in Iraq.  Her work has appeared in the journal 0-Dark-Thirty, The Chico News and Review, The Synthesis, Tethered by Letters, and The Washington Post and has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her chapbook “Triggers, published by Jerkpoet Press, and her master’s thesis, “Catherine Talbot’s Two Days in Iraq,” blend prose and poetry to express the savage and poignant extremities with which she and her fellow soldiers coped.” Following graduation, Sylvia “entered the Veteran’s Writing Project in Los Angeles offered by the Writers Guild Foundation, where she had the opportunity to collaborate with film and TV writers to work on her writing and explore ways it could be adapted to the screen.”  She is currently pursuing an MFA at the University of New Orleans.  To learn more about Sylvia and the English department’s impact on her development as a writer, read “A Way With Words: Sylvia Bowersox finds solace, understanding through creative writing.”


Martin "Marty" Salgado with presidential candidate Hillary Clinton

Martin "Marty" Salgado

Photo: MA alum Martin “Marty” Salgado (‘15) with presidential candidate Hillary Clinton

Martin “Marty” Salgado (BA ‘13, MA ‘15) was selected as the student speaker at the 2015 graduate commencement.  Marty teaches courses in literature, rhetoric and writing, and composition at Cerritos College.  During the 2016 presidential campaign, Marty worked as a field organizer for the Nevada State Democratic Party, organizing communities in Las Vegas to vote for democratic candidates, most notably Hillary Clinton for president.  Marty is currently running for a seat on the board of trustees for the Huntington Beach Union High School District.  To learn more about Marty and the impact of the English department on his development as a writer, read “Oh, the Places You’ll Go: Alumnus Marty Salgado, ENGL 2013.


Nicholas Monroe
Nicholas Monroe
Nathan Sandoval
Nathan Sandoval
Matt Skripek
Matt Skripek
Kris Wheat
Kris Wheat

Nicholas Monroe (BA ’13, MA ’15), Nathan Sandoval (BA ‘ 13, MA ’16), Matt Skipek (BA ’13, MA ’16), and Kris Wheat (BA ’12, MA ’14), Department of English and Watershed Review alum, created Weatherbeaten Literary Magazine.  The inaugural issue (Summer 2017) offered a timely and very necessary “refuge" for its world weary readers “seeking asylum from the storm.”


Michael Fitzpatrick

Michael Fitzpatrick

Photo: Michael Fitzpatrick in Petersen Rose Garden

Before enrolling at Chico State, Michael Fitzpatrick (’11) served for 5 years in the U.S. Army, where he made the rank of Sergeant, and was twice deployed to Iraq.  Michael received the Outstanding MA Thesis Award for “‘To Stand Upright Will Ask Thee Skill’: Freedom in John Milton’s Late Poems.”  Upon receiving his MA from Chico State, Michael entered the MA program in philosophy at Stanford University, where he is currently pursuing his Ph.D.  He plans to have his doctorate by 2020 and to go on to a career in academia teaching both English and philosophy.  To learn more about Michael and his experiences in the English department, read “Mind Wide Open: Vet Uses Higher Education to Help Answer Big Questions.”


Dr. Allia Homayoun Griffin

Dr. Allia Homayoun Griffin

Photo: Allia Griffin (‘09) on the campus of Santa Clara University.

While in the MA program at CSU Chico, Allia Griffin (née Homayoun) received one of the coveted Graduate Equity Fellowships for Under-Served Groups (GEFP).  Upon the completion of her MA in 2009, Allia entered the Ph.D. in English program at the University of California, San Diego.  She successfully defended her dissertation, “The Radius of Loss : Readings on Contemporary African American and Iranian American Literature and Performance,” in 2015.  Allia currently serves as an academic-year adjunct lecturer in the Department of Ethnic Studies at Santa Clara University, her undergraduate alma mater, where she teaches courses in Race & Mass Incarceration, American Theatre from the Black Perspective, Iranian American Women Writers, Introduction to Race & Ethnicity in the US, and Introduction to the Study of Muslim & Arab Americans. To learn more about Dr. Griffin, check out her faculty profile


Notable Alum and CSU, Chico English Department Faculty

Dr. Kim Jaxon

Dr. Kim Jaxon (BA '97, MA '00)

Photo: Faculty marshall Dr. Kim Jaxon and her daughter, Ashley Penning, at 2017 CSU Chico Commencement

Dr. Kim Jaxon (BA ‘97, MA ‘00) received her Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Berkeley in 2009.  In fall 2010, she gained a tenure/tenure-track position as an assistant professor in composition and literacy.  She currently holds the rank of associate professor.  In addition to numerous articles, book chapters, invited talks, and conference presentations, Dr. Jaxon is the co-author of Composing Science: A Facilitator’s Guide to Writing in the Science Classroom (Teachers College Press, 2016).  In 2012, she was voted Best Professor in Chico by the readers of Chico News and Review


Dr. Kendall Leon ('05)

Dr. Kendall Leon ('05)

Photo: Dr. Kendall Leon standing before board which reads, "I teach to educate changemakers."

Dr. Kendall Leon (MA ‘05) received her Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Writing from Michigan State University in 2010.   Prior to returning to her alma mater in Fall 2016, Dr. Leon held tenure track positions at Purdue University and Portland State University.  An assistant professor of Rhetoric and Composition, with a specialization in Chicanx/Latinx/@ Rhetoric, Dr. Leon teaches courses on rhetorical theory, professional writing, literacy studies, and composition.  She has published in a number of journals as well as various edited collections. To learn more about Dr. Leon, visit her faculty profile


Dr. Laura Sparks

Dr. Laura Sparks (BA '04, MA '08)

Photo: Headshot of Dr. Laura Sparks

Dr. Laura Sparks (BA ‘04, MA ‘08) received her Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition from Indiana University, Bloomington in 2014.  She joined the faculty in the English department at CSU Chico in Fall 2014 as an assistant professor of Composition and Rhetoric.  Dr. Sparks’s research interests include rhetorical theory, political rhetorics, digital rhetorics, and composition/writing studies.  Her recent publications and conference presentations include research on Kenneth Burke and Abu Ghraib, cynic rhetoric, and post-human approaches to digital delivery.  Dr. Sparks serves as the Honors Thesis advisor, supervises the graduate teaching associates, and works closely with the ENGL 30 mentor program.  To learn more about Dr. Sparks, read her faculty profile


Sarah Pape

Sarah Pape (BA '03, MA '06)

Photo: Sarah Pape and Watershed Review editor Javier Lopez (BA ‘17) at the 2017 English Graduation Celebration.  Lopez is currently pursuing an MFA at California State University, Fresno.

Sarah Pape (BA ‘03, MA ‘06) received her MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific Lutheran University in 2016.  Sarah Pape teaches courses on Editing & Publishing, as well as Advanced Composition for Future Teachers. She works as the Managing Editor of Watershed Review, CSU, Chico's literary publication. Her poetry and prose have recently been published or are forthcoming in Ecotone, Crab Orchard Review, The Pinch, Smartish Pace, The Collapsar, Full Grown People, Pilgrimage, The Rumpus, Mutha Magazine, California Northern, The Superstition Review, The Southeast Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Cadence of Hooves: A Celebration of Horses. Read some of her work here


Our MA graduates have gone on to pursue M.F.A.s and Ph.D.s from the following institutions (selected list):

  • California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA
  • Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA
  • Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, NJ
  • Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
  • Northeastern University, Boston, MA
  • Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK
  • Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, WA
  • Stanford University, Stanford, CA
  • Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
  • University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
  • University of California, Davis, Davis, CA
  • University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA
  • University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
  • University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
  • University of Missouri, Columbia, Columbia, MO
  • University of Nevada, Reno, NV, Reno, NV
  • University of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA
  • Utah State University, Logan, UT
  • Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI

Our MA graduates are teaching at the following institutions (selected list):

  • Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
  • Butte Community College, Oroville, CA
  • California State University, Chico, Chico, CA
  • California State University, Sacramento, Sacramento, CA
  • California State University, Channel Islands, Camarillo, CA
  • Chico Unified School District, Chico, CA
  • College of the Siskiyous, Weed, CA
  • Mira Costa College, Oceanside, CA
  • Modesto Junior College, Modesto, CA
  • Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA
  • Shasta College, Redding, CA
  • Western State Colorado University, Gunnison, CO
  • Yuba College, Marysville, CA

In addition to gaining professional experience teaching lower division general education courses in composition and rhetoric, creative writing, and literature, our MA students are afforded the opportunity to present their scholarly research and creative works at the English Graduate Student Council (EGSC) annual symposium.  Through the generosity of Carol Burr, professor emerita, and the Carol Burr Research Grant, students can apply for funding to help offset the costs of presenting at national conferences. 

Photos from the 17th Annual EGSC Symposium: A Celebration of Student Work

Dr. Corey Sparks

Dr. Corey Sparks delivering the keynote address in the Collaborative Space in the Arts and Humanities Building

Dr. Peter Kittle, Dr. Kim Jaxon, Dr. Erin Kelly

(left to right) Dr Peter Kittle, Dr. Kim Jaxon, and Dr. Erin Kelly enjoying the keynote speech

Dr. Matt Brown, Dr. Tracy Butts, Becky Brown

Dr. Matt Brown (BA and MA alum) talking with Dr. Tracy Butts and Becky Brown (BA and MA alum)

students enjoying refreshments

Students enjoying the refreshments during the break

Hannah Ellett

Graduate student Hannah Ellett presenting her scholarly work entitled "Lyly's Ladies: A Humanist Female Gaze"

Dr. Rob Davidson

Dr. Rob Davidson moderating the Poetry & Fiction panel

Emily Huso

Graduate student Emily Huso reading her creative work entitled "Matter of Time"

Keaton Kirkpatrick

Graduate student Keaton Kirkpatrick waiting his turn to read his creative work "Three Poems"

Jer Xiong

Graduate student Jer Xiong presenting her creative work "To Be Hmong: Short Stories"

Hannah Duran

Graduate student Hannah Duran presenting her scholarly work entitled "Code-Switching and Code-Meshing"

EGSC (English Graduate Student Council) Symposium Presentations
Fall 2017 - Fall 2011

(Entries include the presenter’s name, presentation/paper title, and session name/category)

Fall 2016: Quills to Keys: Thoughts to Texts

  • Melissa Padilla, “Poetic Justice” (“Poetry”)
  • Javier Lopez, “Morality and Its Functions on Lives” (“Poetry”)
  • Jania Johnson, “The Mirror of Gothic Spaces: Eudora Welty & Toni Morrison” (“Literature”)
  • Natalie Windt, “Edna St. Vincent Millay: Looking Back at a Woman Whose Work Shaped Feminist and Literary Discourse” (“Literature”)
  • Jer Xiong, “Americanness” (“Fiction and Non-Fiction”)
  • Jeanette Keables, “From the Trenches: A Collection of Life’s Vicissitudes” (“Poetry”)

Fall 2015: Powerful Ideas in Progress

  • Malissa Pierce, “The House in the Canyon” (“Non-Fiction”)
  • David Boyd, “Running Away” (“Non-Fiction”)
  • Alexandra Moreno, “The House that Suffered Most” (“Creative Writing: Fiction”)
  • Jania Johnson, “The Old and Wise Matriarch: William Faulkner’s Dilsey & Toni Morrison’s L” (“Fiction”)

Fall 2014

  • Molly Sullivan, “Deconstructing a Revolution: Madness and Female Radicalism in Frances Burney’s ‘The Wanderer’” ("Literature")
  • Jill J. North, “The Embodiment of Desires: Passing Off Homosexual Desire in Nella Larsen’s Passing” ("Literature")
  • Ashley Schwieger, “Finding Empowering Portrayals of Women in Science Fiction Mediums” ("Literature")
  • Alexandra Moreno, “La Casa de Fieras” (“Creative Writing”)

Fall 2013

  • Daria Booth, “Mad Man” (“Kindred Tales: Creative Nonfictions”)
  • Stan Upshaw, “5000 Peacocks” (“Poetic Ardor and Image”)
  • Rosa Scoma, “Sunny Side of Hell II” (“Finding Our ‘Selves’ in Poem and Story”)

Fall 2012

  • Janette Allen, “The Women of the Sagebrush School” (“American Women Writers”)
  • Marissa Garcia, “Five Stages of Grief” (“The Solace of Memory”)
  • Carly Caumiant, “Letters to My Fathers” (“The Solace of Memory”)
  • Brittany DeLacy, “Decoding the Classics in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’” (“Negotiations in American Literature”)
  • Marty Salgado, “Vacancy” (“The Art of Change”)
  • Rosa Scoma, “Sunny Side of Hell” (“Poetic Inspirations, Images, and Improv”)

Fall 2011: Seeing the Future in the Past: Creative and Critical Interpretations

  • Katherine Wollbrinck, “Steps to Success: A Study of Emerson” (“Figures in American History”)
  • Scott Trevellyan, “Public Moral Argument and Hunter S. Thompson” (“Figures in American History”)
  • Kristen Wheat, “Incorporating Social Media into Composition Courses” (“Composition”)
  • Travis VanderVelden, “Redemption Through Violence: Blood Meridian and the American West” (“20th Century Literature”)
  • Athena Murphy, “She Falls” (“Fiction”)
  • Michael Fitzpatrick, “Teleology in spinoza and Leibniz” (“Philosophy”)