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CLA's Reading Series

The San José State College of Humanities and the Arts founded the CLA in 1986 with a mission to bring writers of contemporary literature to the South Bay community. For nearly four decades, we’ve continued that mission with a host of readings, conversations, seminars, and workshops featuring authors of exceptional vision and voice.

The 2023-24 season of readings includes Hua Hsu, Percival Everett, Leila Mottley, K-Ming Chang and more. Events will feature one or more of these acclaimed authors reading from and discussing their most recent books, followed by an onstage conversation with an invited guest, plus a book sale and signing. 


Excitingly, CLA will host our first ever Writer-in-Residence week during the months of November and May. The Writer-in-Residence will provide one-on-one feedback to community members and SJSU students and give a reading on campus. 

Join us in celebrating some of the most innovative, most decorated writers working today.

Click to download our 2023-2024 CLA Brochure.

Click to download our 2023-2024 CLA Bookmark.

“The Center for Literary Arts is an absolute jewel, bringing a diverse range of writers and readers together for conversations that enrich the artistic and cultural life of the Bay Area. The Center facilitates authentic community through gatherings that invite people to be reflective and to deepen themselves emotionally and intellectually. Its work is vital, and should be applauded and supported.”

— Jamel Brinkley, author of A Lucky Man

The Martha Heasley Cox Lecture

A generous endowment created by San José State Professor Emeritus Martha Heasley Cox established an ongoing series to bring celebrated and influential authors to San José.


Previous Cox lecturers include J.M. Coetzee, E.L. Doctorow, Maxine Hong Kingston, Norman Mailer, Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates, Michael Ondaatje, Jayne Anne Phillips, Wallace Stegner, and Tobias Wolff. 

CLA/Mt. Pleasant Series

Each year, the CLA brings presentations by contemporary authors to Mt. Pleasant High School in San José’s East Side Union High School District.


Past authors include Dorothy Allison, Ernesto Cardenal, Andrew Sean Greer, ZZ Packer, Ishmael Reed, Mary Roach, Gary Soto, and Susan Straight. 

The James D. Houston Memorial Lecture 

To honor the California author and former Lurie Author-in-Residence, the annual James D. Houston Memorial Lecture brings emerging writers from diverse backgrounds to San José State.


Past Houston lecturers include Daniel Alarcón, Lan Samantha Chang, Yiyun Li, Chang-rae Lee, and Karen Tei Yamashita. 

The Lewandowski Family Poet

In honor of Frank and Dr. Mary Lou Lewandowski, the CLA celebrates poets whose work inspires and influences the next generation of poets.


Past Lewandowski Family poets include Claudia Rankine, Carmen Giménez Smith, Maggie Nelson, and D.A. Powell. 

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