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 over three decades, we’ve continued that mission with a host of readings, conversations, seminars, and workshops featuring authors of exceptional vision and voice. Thank you for your interest in the literary arts. 

Click to download our 2021-2022 CLA Brochure.

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. 

"To be a leading literary arts organization, you have to innovate with the way you do everything—from selecting readers to putting together an event.


Of all of the readings I have attended or performed at in my career, including those in cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston, this one stood out as one of the warmest, most exciting and most important."

—Analicia Sotelo, author of Virgin, about CLA