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Students fight to keep LA Literature class

Professor Larry Smith teaches during his Los Angeles Literature class which will not be offered next semester. “Its been a wonderful ride, and it’s all a part of God’s plan,” Smith said. | Laurie Bullock/THE CHIMES


A group of Biola students are petitioning the English department to reconsider their decision to cancel the Los Angeles Literature class, which has been a student favorite for 12 years.

Sisters McKenna Duffy, sophomore Elementary Education major, and current student in the class and Caitlyn Duffy, senior intercultural studies major, previous LA literature student are orchestrating and presenting the LA Literature petition to administration. The petition will circulate to students later in the semester, aiming to gain 100 signatures to present to the administration as soon as possible.

“Once we stop programs that talk about Los Angeles, we are stuck inside this box of Biola,” Duffy said.  


This class taught by English adjunct professor Larry Smith explores race, gender and many other presumptions people make Los Angeles through literature. The English department decided to drop this class due to Biola’s long term-plan to accommodate to full-time faculty as their first priority, said Aaron Adams, the English department chair. Keeping full-time faculty in core curriculum classes exists as a strong department value.

Los Angeles Literature stood among other unnamed classes chosen for dropping a long time ago. The department filled the English 230 classes with full-time faculty and dropped the extra classes that the university could not accommodate for according to Adams.

The decision to cancel LA Literature was the lack of opportunity in the department — there were no classes available for adjuncts in English 230, Adams said. Although the department recognizes the students’ loss, they do not have the control to change it. Adams also expressed his respect for Biola’s adjunct professors and their flexibility, especially Smith.

“I respect how they are here serving our students, Larry has made a huge impact,” Adams said. “There are not many classes at this university that push students in the way that LA Literature does. Professor Smith’s class has been incredibly valuable to the university, what he has done has greatly impacted not only the students, but the staff as well.”


Students acknowledged that they felt more connected to Los Angeles through this class.

“I forget that Biola is LA county. It gave me a deeper appreciation for my surrounding environment,” said Janelle Paule, junior sociology major.

Other students feel saddened at the cancellation because they felt that LA Literature provided a unique learning experience.

“I’m disappointed in Biola and really bummed because this is a class that students need to take. It brought joy back into learning for me,” said Summer Stabe, sophomore communications major.  

Smith also shares the disappointment he has toward the class’ cancellation, but maintains a positive outlook.

“Its been a wonderful ride, and it’s all a part of God’s plan,” Smith said.  

Smith mainly felt disappointed about his desire for students to explore Los Angeles. Biola students need to return to LA, because that is where the university began, he said.

Biola students who previously took the Los Angeles Literature class made their concerns evident, and express what the class taught them.

“It made me realize how much I held on to the beliefs I came from and how I found identity in that,” said Thomas O’Brien, senior communications major.


Your Turn.  Post a Comment

  1. Tyler Knight

    We can't hire professors full time!
    *builds restaurant in the library* October 23, 2014

  2. AJ

    Larry was quite possibly the best professor I've ever had the privilege of learning from. LA Lit was one of those classes that reminds you why you chose Biola. It was an amazing experience, and I am disappointed that future students will not have the opportunity to take this class.

    Thanks for everything Larry! October 23, 2014

  3. David Tracy

    When I first heard about the canceling of LA Lit, I was upset that Biola would take away one of its best professors and classes. After awhile, I realized that Biola doesn't deserve this class, and it doesn't deserve the unbelievably awesome Larry Smith. I sleep better now. October 24, 2014

  4. Megan Beatty

    I don't know the whole background behind this decision, and from the article it sounds like a lot of it is out of the hands of the English department...but what a LOSS for the student body! Taking LA lit and learning from Larry was by far one of the most valuable experiences of my whole time at Biola. Larry Smith is one of the best teachers and role models I've ever known and the way he pushed us to engage the city and culture around us was priceless. I'm so thankful I got to be one of the lucky students to take LA lit! October 24, 2014

  5. jerry lewis

    Perhaps this is blowback about the gay influences & gay marriages. It's inconvenient that so many authors are homosexual or supportive. In fact, why have any literature class anywhere near that God school; one only needs the bible as the owner's manual to the soul, right? No need for the original Milton or Dante---just teach Holy Scripture and the theological mutilation and of their poetry and prose. They're all dead now, but Wilde, Vidal, Proust, and Baldwin could marry today in Canada, Alaska, Wyoming. Christianity was awful to them when these thinkers walked and talked and wrote. Religion. pffssst. October 25, 2014

  6. James O'Hearn

    I'm saddened that my first and so far only class from Larry Smith is this semester - and I'll be leaping at that petition when I see it go around. It's too rare that we encounter anything abrasive or thought-challenging here at Biola, and let's face it: having our thoughts challenged is usually good for us. October 26, 2014

  7. Jayon Lee

    Really sad that students no longer have an opportunity to take Larry's class..
    This class was the class where diversity was really talked about; Larry did not fear to bring up the ugly reality of unresolved conflicts of diversity in the classroom. What a beautiful scene when students could safely talk about their cultural/ethnic identity and learn how to learn from each other! October 26, 2014

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