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CSULA Department of English | Department Alumni Highlights

Photo of Norman Fruman

Coleridge, The Damaged Archangel

Norman Fruman

It isn't often that a book on a 19th century English poet rocks the academic world, but the 1971 publication of Norman Fruman's Coleridge, the Damaged Archangel did just that. Unmasking the public secret of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's unacknowledged "borrowings" from a wide-range of texts, Fruman, at the time a member of the CSULA English Department, offered an honest yet sympathetic portrayal of the great Romantic poet's motivations: "Intellectual dishonesty in a man of genius seems bizarre, as does petty greed in a man of great wealth. Yet compulsive acquisition of reputation or power derives from overmastering personal needs, the ultimate sources of which are always obscure."

Norman Fruman, Coleridge Scholar, Dies at 88 (New York Times, May 1, 2012


Joseph Wambaugh

CSULA Centurion

Joseph Wambaugh

The first recipent of CSULA's Outstanding Alumnus Award, novelist Joseph Wambaugh was lauded for combining the realism of the police procedural with the harrowing psychology of modern fiction. Besides working in both fiction and non-fiction, Wambaugh also helped develop the influential mid-70s crime drama Police Story. Always prolific, Wambaugh recently published Harbor Nocturne, the fifth novel in his Hollywood Station series. For CSULA's 40th anniversary, Wambaugh commented on his time at CSULA: "I don't know that I would have ever been bewitched by the magic of literature had I been left to my own devices, that is, without the absolutely wondrous atmosphere I found at CSLA . . . If I'd never had a word published, I wouldn't have traded my formal education for anything. It was nothing less than magical."
YouTube Icon Wambaugh on Writing
(Open Road Media Video)


Photo of Maxine Morisaki

Attorney and Distinguished Alumna

Maxine M. Morisaki

Born and raised in Boyle Heights Maxine Morisaki received undergraduate and graduate degrees in English from CSULA before attending Loyola Law School. Like many CSULA students, Maxine worked full-time while attending college, but still managed to graduate with distinction: her master's thesis on the twentieth century American writer Walker Percy was awarded the Alumni Scholarship Award. As an attorney she has specialized in civil litigation specializing in medical malpractice defense of hospitals, physicians, and affiliated heathcare providers. In 2006, she was honored by CSULA as Distinguished Alumna of the College of Arts and Letters.


Sketch Drawing of Christopher IsherwoodA Single Man

Christopher Isherwood

Christopher Isherwood's novel, A Single Man, was recently adapted into an award-winning film. The novel tells the story of a day in the life of George Falconer, a middle-aged professor at a state university in Los Angeles. Isherwood, a prominent British novelist who came to settle in Southern California after World War II, was certainly familiar with Falconer's world. For several years in the 1950s and early 1960s, Isherwood taught courses in modern English literature at Los Angeles State College, soon to be renamed the California State University at Los Angeles.

Poet Michael Harper and others discuss Isherwood's Los Angeles years (Chronicle of Higher Education)


Book Cover for O'Brien's Zeus

Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes

Cory O'Brien

Recent graduate Cory O'Brien turned his irreverent online retellings of ancient and classical myths into a well-received Penguin paperback. Readers of his Myths Retold website and now his book particularly enjoy the in-your-face humor but also the touches of humanity in these modern "translations."

Cory O'Brien's Myths Retold website