Monthly Archives: May 2015

Dr. Megumi Hamada recommends "THE SCIENCE OF READING"

The Science of Reading (2010), edited by Snowling and Hulme, is a volume in the series Blackwell Handbooks of Developmental Psychology, published by Blackwell. This volume offers comprehensive coverage of most of the recent research
in cognitive and linguistic processes involved in reading.

For those who are fluent readers, reading seems to happen without much conscious attention. Although this may be true, the brain is still processing information from the given text. The Science of Reading illustrates how our mind works during reading in English and other languages. The book contains 27 chapters, which are divided among seven sections: word recognition processes in reading, learning to read and spell, reading comprehension, reading in different languages, disorders of reading and spelling, biological bases of reading, and teaching reading.9780470757635

The Science of Reading views reading from an information-processing point of view. Under this view, reading is considered an accumulation of simpler processing (e.g., letter, word recognition) built onto more complex processing (e.g., discourse comprehension).

During the 1970s and 1980s, when a top-down approach to reading was more prevalent, it was thought that readers do not need to pay attention to individual words. Reading was viewed as a “psycholinguistic guessing game” (Goodman, 1973), and the reader’s job was to hypothesize what a given text means based upon their own background knowledge. The information in the text, such as meanings of words, was believed to merely confirm the hypothesis, rather than be the main source of information for understanding the text. Continue reading

Alum Matt Gonzales on Dr. Lauren Onkey

A New Series

We’re starting a new series here at #bsuenglish: O Captain! My Captain!

Maybe you recognize it as the title of this Walt Whitman poem?

Maybe you recognize the phrase from the pivotal scene of Dead Poet’s Society?

In this series, we want alumni to talk about a transformative educational experience they had with our faculty (past or present), similar to what New York Times columnist Frank Bruni does here. 

Why are we doing this?

Because the humanities are not “impractical,” and we need to start telling stories like this as loudly and as effectively as we can.

We need you to start standing up on desks. 

We hope every single alum of our department had a transformative experience in Robert Bell. If so, please write to us and describe it. We’ll publish your answer on the blog, including a comment from the faculty member.

If that faculty member has retired or moved on, we’ll provide an update on “where are they now?” If they have passed away, we’ll tell you all about them. It’s important to share the history of the department.

  • Our first “Captain” is Dr. Lauren Onkey, who taught at Ball State from 1994 to 2008.
  • Our first “desk-stander” is Matt Gonzales.

Continue reading

Pat Collier: Twenty-some films I think anyone who loves movies should see

A couple weeks before the spring semester ended, one of the students in English 425 (Film Studies) asked if I would make him a list of my top twenty movies. I said I would try, but wasn’t sure what I could offer. I didn’t have one at the ready, not having kept these sorts of lists since I was in about seventh grade, making and circulating lists of my Top 10 songs around the classroom. (I recall with some embarrassment that “Hotel California” was way up there.)

The problem today is that I like too many movies, and have seen enough in the last decade or so that I barely remember colliermany of them. Shortly after I started teaching English 425, around 2004, I made a point to spend many hours each summer catching up on essential films, directors, and traditions that I had missed along the way. Once, I watched ten Bergman films in a little over a week. I was amazed and moved by them all, but only Persona and Scenes from a Marriage have remained distinct in my mind. I did the same with Antonioni, with Kurosawa. Impossible to pick a top 20 from among these, to say nothing of the much larger cohorts of 1940s and 50s Classical Hollywood and noir films that I watch again and again, or the New Hollywood films (Mean Streets, The Godfather Part II) that first showed me that there could be more to film than escapist entertainment.

I gave up quickly on the effort to make a definitive list, and instead decided just to write up short descriptions of the first twenty or so movies that came to mind when I thought about movies that seem great to me. This list is quite predictable, I suspect. It has no consistent aesthetic, though it is skewed heavily towards my classical Hollywood comfort zone and to the auteurs (Hitchcock, Kubrick) that first ignited my fanboy enthusiasm for film. They are in no particular order: “first to knock, first admitted,” as Saul Bellow put it.

If anything holds them together, it’s that even the heaviest among them (2001, Children of Men) give some sort of characteristically cinematic pleasure, and even the lightest (CasablancaHis Girl Friday) provide something to think about. Continue reading

Good News for April 2015

In the latest installment of the “Good News” series, the Ball State English department highlights the accomplishments of our faculty and students up through the month of April. 
Yes, we’re a little late. Finals are tough!

Faculty

Dr. Carolyn Mackay working in Yecuatla, Mexico.

Dr. Carolyn Mackay working in Yecuatla, Mexico.

Drs. Frank Trechsel and Carolyn Mackay have each received a sizable fellowship which will allow them to do a year of research in Mexico. The grant was part of a joint initiative between National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support fieldwork and other activities relevant to recording, documenting, and archiving endangered languages. Their project title is “A Dictionary of Misantla Totonac,” and it was one of just 232 humanities projects awarded in the United States and one of seven in the state of Indiana.

Dr. Pat Collier will be a Virginia Ball Center Fellow in Spring 2016. In his symposium, “Everyday Life in Middletown,” students will study and create a documentary film about everyday life in Muncie, drawing on the growing body of “theory of everyday life” and borrowing from the radical aesthetics of the revolutionary Mass Observation project in 1930s Britain. The project will thus partake in—and revise and expand—the tradition of “Middletown Studies.”

Dr. Mary Lou Vercellotti‘s article “The Development of Complexity, Accuracy, and Fluency in Second Language Performance: A Longitudinal Study” was recently published in Applied Linguistics, one of the top three linguistics journals in her discipline. This study is note-worthy because the results offer the field important evidence to inform language learning theories and will most likely inform future language-learning pedagogy.

Prof. Liz Whiteacre is the recipient of a 2015 Excellence in Teaching Award. She will be provided the assistance of an instructional development team and stipend for her project, titled “Building Community: Engaging Students through Literary Citizenship,” to redesign her ENG 308 Poetry Writing course. Prof. Whiteacre will also be recognized at the Fall Convocation.

Continue reading