Monthly Archives: October 2014

Creative + Writing: Aaron Nicely on selling your degree

Say hello to Aaron Nicely, an alumnus of the Ball State English department.


Photo provided by Aaron Nicely

Originally from Cincinnati, OH, Aaron currently resides in Noblesville, IN, though he has also lived in Boston, St. Louis, Muncie, and Ingalls, IN. He graduated from Wabash College in 2006 with a BA in English and a minor in theatre. He then came to Ball State, where he completed his MA in Creative Writing in 2008, and his MA in Literature in 2010.

Currently, Aaron serves as the Director of Digital Marketing at Elbert Construction.

Below, Aaron shares his advice on what employers are really looking for, how to “pitch yourself,” and what you can really do with a BA in English.

Tell us about your collegiate journey.

My timeline went kind of like it’s supposed to.

College years

I went to Wabash College to get an English degree and write, which I did.  I won a grant to write a novel.  I got an internship with an ad agency. As a kid I ripped my favorite ads out of magazines and tucked them away in boxes, in books, and dreamed of copywriting.  I wanted to know why and how it worked.  I was incurably curious.

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#NaNoWriMo is coming. Let’s get ready to write!

Photo provided by Sarah Hollowell

Photo provided by Sarah Hollowell

It’s almost November. If you’re novel savvy, you know what that means: it’s almost time for National Novel Writing Month, known affectionately as NaNoWriMo.

Interested in competing in a #bsuenglish Face Off? Check out information at the bottom of the post!

To get us ready for #NaNoWriMo 2014, we’ve asked creative writing undergrad and NaNo verteran Sarah Hollowell to share her experiences.

So tell us, Sarah, what’s up with NaNoWriMo?

Every November since 1999, hundreds of thousands of novelists all over the world have taken on the challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

Since 2006, I’ve been one of them.

I was a sophomore in high school that first year, battling social anxiety and depression. Books and writing had always been my escape. National Novel Writing Month was just what I needed. For 30 days, I escaped into a fantasy world that was imaginative but not expertly constructed (I was, after all, 16.) I wrote 50,000 words that November, and finished the draft at 70,000 words in December.

The draft…was horrible. Really, truly, never-again-will-it-see-the-light-of-day bad.

But to sixteen-year-old me, it was beautiful. It was the largest project I’d ever taken on, and I finished it. I made a novel – a bad, bad novel, but a novel nonetheless – out of thin air. I felt magical. All of my dreams of being a writer seemed more real than they ever had before.

At this point you might be thinking: “That’s nice, Sarah, really, quite lovely. Inspiring, even. But I’m in college, not high school, and November is very near to college hell. I don’t sleep as it is, or I sleep too much. My dining plus is depleted, all used on Starbucks. I eat Lucky Charms out of Tupperware because the bowls are all dirty and doing dishes is too much work. How can I possibly write a novel?”

You make a fair point, hypothetical reader. These are real concerns. Signing up to do NaNoWriMo when you’re in college is radical, especially if you’re an English major. You’re in literature and creative writing classes already, right? You have 300 pages to read and six stories to workshop every week, not to mention that HIST 150 test. Writing 50,000 words on top of that seems impossible.

Here’s the thing: I’m lazy. Ask anyone. I’m a desperately lazy person. I’m going to nap after I finish this blog post, assuming I can stop binge watching Gilmore Girls – and I’ve won NaNo three times since starting college. If I can do it, trust me. So can you.

Spend your free time locked in your room, typing faster than you’ve ever typed. Scribble in notebooks between classes. Type notes on your phone while riding the shuttle and damn autocorrect more than you’ve ever damned it before. The worst that can happen is that you don’t finish, and I’ve done that, too. I haven’t finished NaNoWriMo since 2011.

I’m looking to change that, and I think you should join me.

Announcing: #bsuenglish Write Ins!

If you’re a NaNnano_12_new_Come_Write_In_Logo1o veteran, do it again. Write more this year. If it’s your first time, you’ve chosen a great year to start, because for the first time the Ball State English Department is going to be holding Write Ins.

They’ll be in the Letterman lobby from 9 PM – 10 PM on all the Mondays in November – that’s the 3rd, 10th, 17th, and 24th.

Oh, and did I mention there’s going to be a competition?

Announcing: #bsuenglish Face Off!

In November, we’ll have a page here on the blog with a list of NaNo-ing Ball State English majors and their up-to-date word count.

Every week, the current leader will be announced in a @bsuenglish tweet (which, of course, will earn mighty praise and envy from all involved).

At the end of the month, the writer who finishes first and the writer with the most total words will win prizes.

To get involved, all you have to do is send your NaNoWriMo username and Twitter handle to Becca Austin at rkaustin(at)bsu(dot)edu NO LATER THAN Thursday, October 30th at 5:00 PM.

Current faculty AND students welcome. Alums, too.

November is coming. Let’s write some novels, shall we?

Storify: a window into #bsuenglish

It’s time to announce Tweet of the Week!

Congratulations Jeremy Flick, your tweet about Susan Herring’s lecture won. Come to RB 297 and claim your prize!

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About the weekly Storify

Every week, we make a Storify to archive who uses #bsuenglish to tell us about what they learn and what they do in the English Department. Check out our Storify for the week of 10/17/14.

We are going to take a break from posting the Weekly Digest to see if people like this better. Let us know what you prefer!

Rename our department newsletter. Win fabulous prizes.

By Cathy Day, Assistant Chair of Operations

Let us consider the alumni magazine.

A few times a year, I receive my alumni magazine, and I always, always read it. I went to DePauw University (2000 students), and the magazine is called…wait for it…The DePauw.

A few times a year, my husband receives his alumni magazine, and he always reads it. He went to Wabash College (800 students), and the magazine is called…wait for it…Wabash Magazine.

A few times a year, you receive (in the mail or via email) your alumni magazine. You attend (or attended) Ball State University (currently 18,000+ students) and the magazine is called Alumnus.

Question: Do you read it?


Maybe you don’t feel the same attachment toward your alma mater that my husband and I do. How could you? We went to small schools. This is a large school.

What you’re attached to, most likely, isn’t your school but rather your department, your major, this building.

That’s why the English Department at Ball State publishes its own alumni newsletter. We want you to read it.

It’s called…wait for it…Department of English. 

A Digital Re-Christening

For a long time, Department of English was printed out and mailed.

Recently, it’s gone out via email as a pdf attachment.

But starting in Fall 2014, we’re going to send it out as an e-newsletter.

To inaugurate this change, we’d like to re-name the newsletter. Something creative. Something that–when you see the name–will fill you with longing and nostalgia!

My ideas thus far:

  • Sitting in the Hallway?
  • No Windows?
  • Brick?

Obviously, I’m horrible at coming up with names. That’s where you come in.

In a reply to this blog post, on Twitter to @bsuenglish, in an email to me, send us your idea for a catchy name for our new e-newsletter, and you can win fabulous prizes. 

You have one month. November 16.

Thank you.


New paths for your future. Learn about graduate degrees in English.

Are you interested in furthering your education?

Whether or not you majored in English as an undergrad, learn more about the many benefits of a graduate degree in English at Ball State at an on-campus information session on Saturday, October 25, 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM.

You might be wondering, “How can a graduate degree in English help me in the real world?”

It helped these people. Check out these stars to steer by.

  • Cole Farrell uses his creative writing degree in his career in marketing. 
  • Sarah Smith uses her PhD in Rhetoric and Composition on her job in business.
  • Jennifer Banning uses her M.A. General on her job as a Career Adviser at Earlham.
  • Nate Logan talks about using his M.A. in Creative Writing to get a PhD in Creative Writing.
  • Audrey Brown uses her M.A. in Creative Writing to get paid to write.


Registration only takes a minute. Get the information you need about graduate school before admissions deadlines in January. As an added bonus, if you attend this event, we’ll waive half of your $60 application fee.

And remember, three hours of your time could open new career paths for your future.
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Making connections: a new faculty profile of Laura Romano

Here’s a familiar face: our very own Laura Romano, who just graduated from Ball State in 2014 with her Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition. Now a member of our family as an assistant professor, she will be teaching classes in the Writing Program.

Laura was born in the state of Maine and grew up playing in rocky tide pools, eating lobster and breathing fresh pine tree-scented air. She moved to Indiana nine years ago after her husband was offered a public relations position at Ball State, and she lives in Yorktown with her husband, Anthony, her children Nicholas and Alexandra, and their new puppy, a miniature dachshund named Moxie. She enjoys baking, running, hiking and reading.

Below, Laura takes us through her interests.

How did you get interested in Rhetoric/Composition?

One of my research interests is exploring community rhetorics, particularly using the methods of oral history interviews and ethnographic observation.

This interest began when I was doing my undergraduate work at Bowdoin College. As an English major, I had the chance to write features and human interest stories for the school newspaper, and when I graduated, I was hired as a newspaper reporter. Eventually I was offered a regular column profiling the eldest members of my community, which sparked my interest in oral history.

I then earned a Master’s Degree at the University of Southern Maine, where I was fortunate to have the chance to work at their “Center for the Study of Lives” and use oral history to capture life stories.

Through my doctoral studies at BSU, I broadened this interest to use immersive qualitative research methods to investigate the rhetorics and literacy practices of community. My dissertation dealt with the intersection between digital technologies and identity within a small community in Maine, and I look forward to continuing to research the intersection of identity and digital technologies in the future.

How would you describe yourself as a teacher?

As a teacher, I try to connect with each student.

Writing can be a very personal thing, and when a student trusts his or her professor and knows that this professor has a sincere hope for that student to grow as a writer, then I think there is a greater potential for growth over the course of the semester.

In my classes, I emphasize writing as a process and the importance of revision, as well as the usefulness of collaboration with peers.

I am proud when a student sees that his or her work, even as an undergraduate, can be useful outside of the classroom.

Welcome to the English department, Laura!

Digest: What’s Happening Oct. 13-19

Welcome to the English department digest. Published on Fridays, the department digest provides a comprehensive list of events for the upcoming week.

If you need to look further ahead, be sure to check out our calendar.

Week of October 13-19

Wednesday, October 15

Faculty: Book Orders for Spring 2015 are due to the bookstore. 

Thursday, October 16

The Marilyn K. Cory lecture series presents Susan C. Herring, who will deliver her lecture, “E-grammar, or What Digital Communication is Doing to the English Language,” in RB 125, beginning at 7:00 PM.

Friday, October 17

Susan Herring will be available to talk about her research, 12 noon in RB 361.

Faculty: Schedules for Fall 2015 due from Area Chairs.  New Deadline: Monday, Oct. 27


Don’t forget to share what you learn each week on Twitter and use the hashtag #bsuenglish. Tweet of the Week wins a flash drive or a great book. Faculty and students are both eligible to win!

Next week’s prize book is: No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy.

Mark Your Calendar

  • Fall Break: Monday, October 20 and Tuesday, October 21.
  • Visiting Author: Michael Martone: Thursday, October 23, 3:30-4:45 PM in RB 361
  • English Graduate Programs Open House: Saturday, October 25 from 10-1 in RB 292. Register here.
  • Career Week for English Majors: Monday, November 10 to Friday, November 14. Check bulletin boards and social media for details!
  • Visiting Author: Michael Poore: Wednesday, November 12, 7:30 to 9 PM in LB 125.

Check out what happened last week in our Storify.

Have a great week! Fall Break is almost here. 

Visiting speaker says that claims about e-grammar are overstated

In 2014-15 the English Department is hosting two speakers on the theme of “Public Discourse” as part of the Marilyn K. Cory Speaker Series.

Why should we talk about Public Discourse?

The public use of language has drawn increasing attention as the means of disseminating information has expanded.

With the development of the Internet and spread of new forms of personal electronic communication, information and opinions can be addressed instantly to a worldwide audience by the average person, leading to concerns about how this is affecting language use and social norms for communication.

In this light, the speaker in the fall semester will be Susan C. Herring, Professor of Information Science and Linguistics, Indiana University, Bloomington.

She’ll speak on “E-grammar, or What Digital Communication is Doing to the English Language.”

Thursday, October 16 at 7 PM in RB 125.

Who is Susan Herring?

Dr. Herring was one of the first scholars to apply linguistic methods of analysis to computer-mediated communication (CMC), beginning with a focus on gender patterns in English-language discussion forums in the early 1990s.

Since then, she has continued to adapt and innovate methods to analyze the structural, pragmatic, interactional, and social aspects of digital discourse, including on Web 2.0 sites. Her work has been published in more than 130 articles and books, and she is Editor-in-Chief of the online journal Language@Internet.

Dr. Herring’s lecture will consider changes to English as a result of digital communication via the Internet, the Web, and mobile technologies. However, while for some observers the effects are positive, for many they are negative.

Consider these quotes

[Messages posted on the Internet are] “a whole new fractured language—definitely not as elegant or polished as English used to be, but in a way, much more vital.” (Wired Style)

“The English language is being beaten up, civilization is in danger of crumbling.” (The Oregonian)

Where does the reality lie?

In this talk she will present state-of-the-art evidence from linguistic research on computer-mediated communication (CMC) concerning the nature of ‘e-grammar’–the structural tendencies of digital language, including spelling, vocabulary, word formation, and sentence structure.

She distinguishes between errors and creativity and identifies usage that has become (partially) conventionalized in CMC.

She will also address these questions:

  • To what extent is e-grammar spreading beyond the Internet?
  • Does it contribute to illiteracy in school children?
  • Is it substantially changing the offline language documented in dictionaries and grammar books?

Dr. Herring argues that that many claims about the impact of e-grammar are overstated.

She will also present evidence for the existence of online subcultures whose members intentionally and rapidly generate linguistic innovations, and suggest that these communities contribute disproportionately to e-grammar and its spread offline.

Who was Marilyn K. Cory?

This speaker series was made possible by a very generous donation in honor of the late Marilyn K. Lowery Cory, an English Education graduate of Ball State University in 1967. She later received an accounting degree from Ball State as well, and worked as a Deputy Auditor for the Delaware County Auditor’s office in Muncie, followed by 20 years in California as an executive secretary, and then retirement in Oklahoma. She passed away in 2010.

The speaker in the Spring Semester will be Eliot Schrefer, a noted author of young adult literature. Further details on this lecture will be forthcoming.