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Penn State’s English department is the historic home of American literary studies. In the early twentieth century, Fred Lewis Pattee became the first English professor in the country to teach classes exclusively devoted to American works. The Penn State Center for American Literary Studies aims to be similarly ground-breaking. Founded in 2006, CALS seeks to advance the study, teaching, and reading of American literature, making Penn State an internationally-recognized source of pioneering work in American literary and cultural studies.

CALS provides a vital forum for new ways of reading and thinking about American literature. We realize this mission in two primary ways: 1 through academic programs and 2 through public reading programs.

In its dual scholarly and public mission, the Center generates promising new forms of community and intellectual exchange.

There is much to celebrate in the study of American literature and culture at Penn State. English professors are engaged in momentous works of scholarship with wide-ranging consequences, such as Sandra Spanier’s Hemingway Letters Project, supported by the National Endowment of the Humanities and published by Cambridge University Press; James West’s Cambridge Edition of the Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald; and Christopher Castiglia’s edition of Walt Whitman’s only published novel, to name just a few. Penn State has major library holdings in American literature, including the Kenneth Burke Collection, the Fred Lewis Pattee Collection, and the Arthur O. Lewis Utopia Collection.

These resources are just the start. In recent years, scholars have begun to revisit the long-standing notion that early American authors generated a national literature in splendid isolation. The question of how transnational and circum-Atlantic exchanges have shaped American literature and culture over the centuries has led to an evolving body of scholarly work that considers American literature in a variety of exciting new contexts. In this spirit, the Center for American Literary Studies is dedicated to producing innovative approaches to questions of imagination, textual production, aesthetics, community formation, and ethical democracy.

At the same time, CALS encourages and supports the study of works by American authors beyond the Penn State campuses and reaches out, as Fred Lewis Pattee did, beyond the ivory tower to make the case for the vital importance of American literature to American life. Shared texts constitute a key form of community building. The Center for American Literary Studies offers events designed to engage readers, draw them together, and position American literature as an important public space.

Miriam Gonzales

Miriam Gonzales, a past CAL Graduate research assistant, has accepted the position of Associate Director of will (a nationally recognized gender and social justice program) and affiliate faculty in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) at the University of Richmond. In her administrative role, Miriam will mentor and advise student leaders and supervise will's internship program; in her faculty role, she will help expand WGSS course offerings to include queer studies and environmental humanities, among other areas. As a founding co-coordinator of Penn State's English Grad Futures initiative, Miriam has helped prepare graduate students for diverse career opportunities just like this one—congratulations, Miriam, on your own job market success!

Rob and Gabe

Robert Nguyen and Gabriel Lorenzo Aguilar have been awarded the Raymond E. and Roberta Lombra Outstanding Graduate Research Award from the College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State. This award acknowledges "high-quality contributions" by graduate students in the humanities and social sciences whose work has been published in peer-reviewed journals or books. Rob was recognized for his article "Middle-out from Bottom-up: Engineering and Close Reading Code in HBO’s Silicon Valley," recently published in Configurations. Gabe was recognized for his article "World-Traveling to Redesign a Map for Migrant Women: Humanitarian Technical Communication in Praxis," recently published in Technical Communication. Congratulations, Rob and Gabe, on this great achievement!

Smith Headshot

Justin Smith, a past CALS Graduate Research Assistant and recipient of CALS travel funding, has accepted a position at Randolph-Macon College, where he will serve as an Assistant Professor of English and Black Studies. Congratulations, Justin, on this fantastic job market success!

Evans Headshot

Sabrina Evans, winner of the 2022 CALS Summer Graduate Fellowship, has accepted a faculty position at Howard University, where she will serve as an Assistant Professor of English specializing in African American Literature. Howard is home to the Moorland Spingarn Research Center, whose archives are central to Sabrina's research. Congratulations, Sabrina, on this outstanding job market success!


Ray Rosas has accepted a tenure-track position at Northern Arizona University, where he will serve as Assistant Professor in Rhetoric, Writing, and Digital Media Studies and direct the university writing program. He looks forward to the opportunity to research and develop Latinx perspectives in writing program administration at NAU, which recently became a Hispanic-Serving Institution. Congratulations, Ray, on this phenomenal job-market success!

Gabriel Aguilar

Gabriel Lorenzo Aguilar has accepted a tenure-track position at the University of Texas at Arlington, where he will serve as an assistant professor in the Technical Writing and Professional Design program. The position will begin in Fall 2024 to enable him to complete his fellowship with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholars Program. Congratulations to Gabe (and his advisor, Stuart Selber) on this outstanding success on the job market!