I’m on sabbatical, please check back here in the Fall of 2021.

“This class rekindled my passion for writing.”

“I’ll never read stories the same way again.”

“Class felt like a conversation everyday. I enjoyed it… diverse learning techniques — discussion, Powerpoint, video, field trips. It was a healthy mix. Great feedback on written work. Interesting themes and discussions.”

“This course was tough but the level of commitment made me think and see the craft of fiction in ways I’ve never seen and thought about it before. Prof. Chihara’s passion and personal commitment is very rare and forces students to want to care about writing and reading.”

“I thought this class was incredibly well organized. Professor Chihara was beyond enthusiastic about teaching us how to become better people through our writing. Her hands-on approach was also very helpful.”

— Student evaluations at UC Irvine & Whittier College, 2012-2014




ENGL 302: Advanced Fiction

Digital Creative Writing

Spring 2016

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 7.01.51 PM

This course is an advanced creative writing workshop, with a twist. Students in this course make creative written projects, but we work with digital technology as a means of exploring our own creative boundaries. We read print work that’s in conversation with digital forms, like Jennifer Egan’s famous “PowerPoint chapter” in A Visit From The Goon Squad, in a wide array of idiosyncratic voices, creative approaches and techniques. The final project for the class is both creative and digital. The class is broken into small groups, and each group will learn one technical means of creating digital work. Each student writes a creative final project in that medium. Students use software like Scalar, Canva, Twine, or PowerPoint, Prezi and platforms like Twitter. The class assumes a serious commitment to creative writing, some experience with the workshop format and a willingness to be open-minded. We use the digital technology to explore the relationship between our own creative work and form. This is not a film or video class: The work created will have to be meaningfully written. But we explore the relationship between new forms of digital writing and creativity.

Digital Creative Writing Syllabus

ENGL 410: Senior Seminar

Capitalist Realism?

Fall 2015
Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 3.52.31 PM

 This course is the senior capstone course in the major. It is designed to give seniors the chance to pursue in-depth inquiry on a topic of their choosing, within a particular sub-field.
Is it easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism? What is gained or lost by imagining an alternative to the globe’s dominant social system? If late stage capitalism is the water we swim in, can contemporary fiction register that surround? Is it “realistic” to imagine something outside? What do we mean by “realistic”? How does this relate to the novelistic genre of “realism”? This year’s seminar will ask how contemporary American authors interact with the late capitalist surround. We will question the frame of realism, to ask whether it tends to accept the status quo, and to ask how to criticize power structures in ways that matter. In light of critical work like Mark Fisher’s “Capitalist Realism,” we will interrogate the role of fiction in our reality. Can generic experimentation force us to think about other cultural categories? Where does “the economy” begin and end? David Foster Wallace’s terrifying corporate spaces and Colson Whitehead’s zombie apocalypse will help us ask these questions, alongside Deborah Eisenbergs meditations on 9/11 and Chang-Rae Lee’s speculative post-apocalypse.

Capitalist Realism Syllabus

ENGL 375: 

Chican@ Literature — Border / Home

Spring 2016

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 4.06.27 PM

This is a course in Mexican American literature. I have taught it a number of times here at Whittier College, and twice I have brought my class to the Mexican border to meet with activists and artists there. This academic year (Spring 2017), the class will be paired with Prof. Jose Orozco’s Border Histories class, and both classes will visit the border.

Within contemporary U.S. culture, young people know what it means to struggle with one’s individual identity within a fractious, multicultural landscape. In this course, we assume that the questions asked within critical race studies—about the nature of identity, authenticity, culture and belonging—are relevant and pressing for people of all races. This is a class, in other words, for anyone who has a racial identity (which means everyone).

In this course, students gain an appreciation and understanding of the growing body of critically-acclaimed and trail-blazing Chican@ literature, and an awareness of the significance of Chican@ cultural production to the field of American literature. We approach the literature from an interdisciplinary perspective and will examine assigned texts within their larger historical, social, and political contexts. We interrogate the term “Chicano”: Where does it come from, who uses it and why, and how does it define, and not define, the body of literature produced by a dynamic and evolving culture? How does a body of literature relate to a set of socioeconomic experiences? I present literary canons as ongoing conversations, and invite my students to participate in them.

Chican@ Lit syllabus Spring 2016