Several hundred professors, scholars and students from all over the world will gather in Fresno from Thursday through Sunday, March 22-25, for the annual conference of MELUS, the society for Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States. The conference is being hosted by the English Department at California State University, Fresno.

Luis Valdez, a central San Joaquin Valley native who is widely considered the godfather of Chicano theater, will be the conference’s keynote speaker. Valdez, who was born in Delano, is the celebrated playwright and film director of “Zoot Suit” (1981) and “La Bamba” (1987).

The other featured speakers will include longtime Fresno State faculty Lillian Faderman, a pioneering author in the field of gay and lesbian studies; UC Santa Barbara faculty Shirley Geok-lin Lim, a transnational Asian American poet and scholar; and former Fresno City College faculty Wendy Rose, a Native American poet and anthropologist.

This is the first time MELUS has chosen to host its annual conference at a California State University campus. Last year’s conference was hosted by Florida Atlantic University. In the West, previous MELUS conferences have been hosted by research institutions such as UC Berkeley, UCLA and the University of Washington.

MELUS is a scholarly society founded in 1973, to expand the definition of American literature through the study and teaching of multi-ethnic literary works, authors, and cultural contexts. Its influence has expanded the canon of American literature worldwide, and has significantly broadened the curriculum of literature taught in classrooms everywhere.

This year’s national conference, which will feature nearly 50 panel presentations and readings, will be held both on campus and at the Piccadilly Inn University, 4961 N. Cedar Ave., at the corner of Cedar and Shaw avenues. Participants are coming from all over the United States, as well as from Brazil, Canada, Finland, Japan, Puerto Rico and Taiwan.

Conference registration is required to attend the presentations, with the exception of several events open to the public:

Reading with Shirley Geok-lin Lim and Wendy Rose, Thursday, March 22, at 7:45 p.m. Lim is a noted anthology editor and literary critic, and is the winner of the American Book Award and the Commonwealth Poetry Prize. Rose is a frequently anthologized poet and expert on Native American literature. The students of the San Joaquin Literary Association will host the event. Location: Waldorf Ballroom, Piccadilly Inn University.

After-lunch speech by Lillian Faderman, Friday, March 23, at 1 p.m. Faderman has published 11 books and is the winner of the American Library Association Award and the Lambda Literary Award. Her speech is entitled: “American Literature Before MELUS: A Personal Story.” Location: Waldorf Ballroom, Piccadilly Inn University.

MELUS open mic reading, Friday, March 23, at 7:45 p.m. Location: Waldorf Ballroom, Piccadilly Inn University.

After-dinner keynote speech by Luis Valdez, Saturday, March 24, at 8 p.m. Valdez is the Chicano playwright who founded the farmworkers’ theater troupe El Teatro Campesino in the 1960s. His keynote speech is entitled: “Migrant Dreams: To Whom Does the Future Belong?” Free tickets for Fresno State students, faculty, and staff only will be available at the Satellite Student Union box office. The Students of English Studies Association will host the event. Location: Satellite Student Union on campus.

The conference is being organized by a committee of Fresno State faculty and English Department graduate students. Financial support for the conference has been provided by the College of Arts and Humanities, the English Department, the Henry Madden Library, the Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures Department, the Women’s Studies Department and Associated Students Inc.

For more information, contact Dr. C. Lok Chua in the English Department at or 559.435.8106.

(Press release by Jefferson Beavers.)

For more information contained in this release, please go to the following Web site(s):

Full Conference Program