Cheryl and son, Elias

Welcome to
Dr. Cheryl Chaffin's Web Page

Gavilan College English Department  

Contact Information

Dr. Cheryl Chaffin
Gavilan College English Department
Phone: 831.840.2842 (cell)

I'm happy to schedule phone, FaceTime, Skype, or in-person appointments with students.

Academic Background

I have an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College and Ph.D. in Humanities with Union Institute & University. My Bachelors is from San Jose State University. The first decade after college I worked in the high tech industry as a marketing professional.

I have been with Gavilan College since 2001. My areas of interest are human rights and ethics as explored in literature, particularly first person, autobiographical narratives. As a graduate student I have studied poetry, autobiographical writing, philosophy, ethics, and theories of public space, politics, and narrative.

I'm a writer, a poet, a teacher, and a mother.

Areas of Expertise
Creative writing; memoir & autobiography; contemporary literature; critical thinking and textual analysis; social justice issues and ethics; women's writing; globalization and feminst theory; second language learners; openness to multiplicity of student experiences and backgrounds; Writing Center management and directorship.
Course Information

For Summer Session 2015 I teach English 1C: Critical Reasoning & Writing (80105). June 15 - July 23, 2015.

Go to Gavilan College's website, click on Online Courses, and enter your Gavilan ID and password to log into our English 1C classroom.

The course will be available beginning M, June 15 at 7:00 a.m.

Teaching Approach
Critical Thought, Ethics, and Autobiography (English 1C)

In this course students read and engage a number of critical essays and a memoir in which writers make certain ethical arguments for socio-political change and human rights. In the early part of the course we will study forms of argumentation and rhetorical analysis as we look at current issues. Then we will read autobiographical essays and a memoir. To this end, students explore the linkages between critical thought and personal narrative. We’ll observe the close ties that creative and critical thinking share, and analyze how writers build convincing, thoughtful, rational, and even poetic arguments in merging personal experience and social critique. Students create a Writer’s Profile, compose three critical essays (one an essay exam), and compose a final revised paper as a culmination of early papers.

Required Texts

Summer Session 2015


Readings for Writers: Critical Thought, Ethics, and Autobiography

Custom published reader for our course. Available only at Gavilan Bookstore.

All students must purchase this text. Cost: approximately $34.00.


Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi

Preferred edition: Touchstone (Simon and Schuster), 1996

All students must purchase this text. Available only at Gavilan Bookstore or through Amazon.

Cost: ranges from $3.00 to $15.00.

Please budget for these required texts now. You will be required to read Levi's memoir in its entirety.

I've tried to keep book costs as low as possible for students. There will also be required readings in PDF format, which will be downloadable from our online classroom.

Students should have both of the above texts no later than June 29, 2015.