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Joyce Nower | Special Collections & University Archives

Name: Joyce Nower


Historical Note:

Joyce Nower was born February 2, 1932. She was a graduate of Middlebury College (B.A., English Literature), Harvard University (M.A., American Literature and Education), and the Union Institute & University (Ph.D., Sociology of Art).

Dr. Nower was a co-founder of the first Women's Studies Program in the United States at San Diego State University in 1969, and initiated the first Black American literature course in 1966. She taught women's literature, contemporary issues, and women in history courses.  Critically important, she represented faculty on the first established Women's Studies Committee for the program.  She also was instrument in founding one of the first women's shelters for survivors of domestic violence in the country in San Diego.

Her book publications include the Qin Warriors and Other Poems, Avranches Press, (Aptos, CA) 2003; Column of Silence, Avranches Press, 2002; and Year of the Fires (CWSS,1983). Magazine publications include Visions- International; Raven Chronicles; Earth's Daughters; The American Poetry Journal; Common Ground, Terminus, and others. During the Seventies, she wrote and edited articles on women poets for the feminist newspaper, The Longest Revolution.

She also published The Sister Chronicles and Other Poems. The title poem, "The Sister Chronicles," a blend of prose and poetry, was based on her experience as a writer, poet, and co-founder for the Women's Studies Program (now Department). Two other sections of the book include a sequence of poems reflecting on Hypatia of Alexandria, and a sequence of autobiographical poems called Soundings.

She conducted numerous poetry workshops, conferences, and readings in San Diego for many years. Additionally she wrote scripts for poetry-as-a-performing-art troupe and gave lectures on contemporary American poetry at Sichuan Normal University, Shaanxi Normal University, and Yanan University in the People's Republic of China. In addition to poetry, I she wrote a column called "Intersections" for the online literary magazine The Alsop Review. The topics ranged from a Dada poetry script to my most recent article on humor in poetry, called "Seriously, NowŠ."

Both her and her husband, Leon Nower, a mathematics professor at San Diego State University, were heavily involved in the radical activist and protest movements in Berkeley and San Diego in the 1960s, including a poetry reading honoring the birthday of Black Panther leader Huey P. Newton.  Leon and Joyce were advocates of the communal living movement and Leon was a published scholar on the topic of the renazification of Germany after World War 2.

Joyce Nower, died July 26, 2010, in La Mesa, CA.

Note Author: Kim Schwenk



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