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Cheryl Chaffin MFA, Ph.D.
Phone: 831.479.6350
Email: Send a Message
Office Hours: Spring 2018 (this schedule may change to Porter Gulch Review production; any changes will be posted here)

Monday 12:45-1:45 (458B)
Wednesday 12:45-1:45 (458B)
Tuesday 12:40-1:40 (2501)
Thursday 12:40-1:40 (2501)
Location: 458B Aptos (450 Bldg)

Distance EducationEnglishFaculty SenatePuente Project


Cheryl Chaffin MFA, Ph.D.
English Faculty

BA, MFA Writing, Ph.D. Humanities
With Cabrillo College since 2002

Cheryl Chaffin has published essays, poems, and book reviews. Cheryl has an MFA in Writing from Goddard College and a Ph.D. in Humanities from Union Institute and University. She is a professor of English composition, literature, and creative writing. In 2014 she travelled to Poland on fellowship with Auschwitz Jewish Center Fellows. Her book, After Poland: A Memoir Because of Primo Levi, is currently in peer review with University of Illinois Press.


California Acceleration Project (CAP) through BSSOT Grant
Reading Apprenticeship, Campus Coach & Literacy Leadership
Communications Committee, English Department


Cheryl's course schedule Spring 2018: (Jan 29 - May 26)

English 2-3 (102831)
Fully online Canvas classroom


English 2-13
MW 9:30-10:50 a.m Room 317


English 1B-4 (Porter Gulch Review Editorial Staff)
MW 11:10 am - 12:30 pm Room 407


English 1B-5
TTh 11:15 am - 12:35 pm Room 2501

**************************Current Course Offerings (SP18):

English 2 Composition and Critical Thinking Course Focus:

This course is on the writer as thinker. That means both the published writers we will read as well as each student as a burgeoning writer, thinker, critic! In the first part of the course we will study forms of argumentation and rhetorical analysis. The readings for the rhetorical section of the course are provided as (electronic) PDF documents in the Canvas classroom. Please download or view the documents online. I’ve also given you a choice of two articles from which to choose for your first rhetorical analysis paper. Second, we examine autobiographical essays in Readings for Writers: Critical Thought, Ethics, and Autobiography (custom course reader available only at the college bookstore on the Aptos campus), focusing on how the writer uses narrative as a mode of critical thinking. We’ll observe the linkages between creative and critical thinking, and analyze how writers build convincing, thoughtful, rational, even poetic (metaphorical), arguments in their work. Third, students will read Italian Jewish writer Primo Levi’s autobiographical Survival in Auschwitz. In his account, authored in 1946 and successfully published in 1958, the author examines what it means to be human given the existence of and his experience in the World War II German death and labor camps of the Auschwitz-Birkenau and Monowitz camp compounds. As the course concludes, student writers will complete a final thematic paper and short exam.


ENGL 1B Composition and Literature Focus:

Our class will explore the different genres of literature (poetry, drama, fiction, and nonfiction) as we consider through literature a range of topics essential to the human experience. We will read works by authors from the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. We will engage close readings of many poems, two plays, several short stories, and a novel to create deep skills or reading and literary analysis.

Introduces literature through reading, writing, and discussion to develop critical and analytical skills; satisfies Humanities and Fine Arts requirement for UC/CSU. Students write a minimum of 6,000 words, focusing on literary interpretation and research. Prerequisite: ENGL 1A/1AMC/1AH/1AMCH. Recommended Preparation: LIBR 10 (may be taken concurrently). Transfer Credit: Transfers to CSU;UC Not open to students who have completed ENGL 1BH/1BMC. C-ID ENGL 120


Porter Gulch Review, Editorial Staff
English 1B: Composition & Literature

In this course, you will be spending the first third of the semester reading submissions from instructors, students, and writers in the wider Santa Cruz/Watsonville community that have been submitted to the Porter Gulch Review. In the second third we will be editing the final selections, formatting them for the publisher, and choosing the artwork. In the final third we will be critiquing books for the online version of PGR, and writing essays about your favorite pieces as well as interviewing the authors for the online version. In a culminating final project, you will create a play, short story, memoir fragment, and/or series of poems.

****************Past & Future Course Offerings:


English 1A College Composition Course Focus:

This transfer level writing course focuses on how writers use stories and essays to reflect on, explore, and critique life experiences and issues from personal, cultural, social, and political viewpoints. We examine the ways writers, in exploring the material of their lives and the environments and conditions they encounter, use language to convey stories, arguments, and original ideas. You will read a number of shorter essays in this course, as well as your choice of one book-length work, either Wild by Cheryl Strayed (2013) or Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (2004). In response to your reading, you will author three papers and a final research paper. You will also post a research presentation for fellow students. Study hard, organize, focus, and self-motivate and you will successfully complete this writing course by our final paper due date.(My teaching makes college academic skills as transparent as possible, and we work together in the classroom to develop and mature these skills as you pursue your educational and professional goals). I teach this course in classroom, online, and hybrid formats, depending on the semester.


English 12B/14B (Poetry Workshop) course focus:

12B: For those new to the poetry workshop course at Cabrillo.

Teaches techniques of poetry writing using in-class discussion of writing by students and published poets. Students write, revise, and edit a minimum of 6,000 words, which may include short and long poems, and reviews and analyses of poems and poetry readings. We will be steeped in the craft of writing various poetry forms, experimenting with rhyme and meter, and playing with the depth and breadth of free verse. Students bring new and revised poems each week to share in small group and class workshop. We conclude our semester with a reading and celebration of our creative development and production!

14B: For those students who have taken 12B and would like to continue developing their poems.

Develops poetic skills and knowledge in a workshop format through writing, discussion, and appropriate reading. Students write, revise, and edit a minimum of 6,000 words, which may include short and long poems, and reviews and analyses of poems and poetry readings. May focus on a special theme.

Transfer Credit: Transfers to CSU; UC, with limits: ENGL 12ABCEF maxi- mum credit - 6 units per college.


English 100 Elements of Writing Course Focus:

This pre-transfer level writing course focuses on how writers employ personal life narratives to shape critique of social and political circumstances. In preparation for transfer-level college courses that require academic papers, we examine the ways in which writers use language and thought to convey ideas for social change through exploring the material of their lives. 1) We will begin our class with a personal response to your reading and writing experience after reading Stephen King’s “Reading to Write.” 2) You will compose a narrative or a critical examination of an author’s narrative that examines the larger social, even political, implications of personal experience. In our textbook, 50 Essays, you will read narrative essays by Sherman Alexie, Frederick Douglas, Audre Lorde, Richard Rodriguez, and Maxine Hong Kingston. 3) We will continue in 50 Essays, reading historical declarative documents authored by Thomas Jefferson, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Martin Luther King. From these readings you will craft a social analysis paper that examines how activists have argued for change. 4) We will also read a memoir by Jimmy Santiago Baca, A Place to Stand (2001). Baca’s narrative allows us to explore social issues and to examine what it means to write and to make statements/claims from memory and from life material. Simultaneously, we will also read Baca’s poems in Immigrants in Our Own Land (1977) to compliment our discussions and writing on his memoir of becoming a poet through his difficult years in prison. There will be a thematic essay on Baca’s memoir and an essay exam on Baca’s poetry. 6) Finally, you will choose from two of the three papers you've composed, extending your ideas and adding to your themes, in creating a final portfolio project.

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