Monthly Archives: September 2015

Morgan Aprill

Grad School Confidential is a new series featuring students who have made the transition from undergraduate to graduate school. Morgan Aprill, who studied literature as an undergrad, is now a graduate student in the Intensive English Institute here at Ball State University. 

When I first graduated in May of this year, I didn’t think I’d be coming back to school right away. I applied to jobs that seemed related to communications or editing or teaching. I had some interviews and even got close to a job offer. But over the summer I thought I’d ask the Ball State faculty about good programs to look into in the future for linguistics and teaching English to speakers of other languages. Little did I know I’d be running off later the same day I chatted with Dr. Seig to figure out how to take the GRE.

Fast forward and here I am back at Ball State pursuing a double masters in those very two programs I was interested in. Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 10.10.47 AMSome might say I’m putting off the real world. I say I’m pursuing what I actually want to do with my life. Though writing tweets for businesses or government offices pays the bills, I couldn’t see myself wanting to do that for the rest of my life. I knew I wanted to try this teaching idea I’ve had for a while now.

It’s only been a few weeks but so far I feel like I made the right decision. I am working as a graduate assistant at the Intensive English Institute here on campus. This department is a special one. Through it come international students working to improve their English skills in order to take classes in their chosen field here at Ball State. It’s a perfect place for someone who is thinking about teaching English to speakers of other languages to get practice. Last week I started my first class observation of a writing class in the institute. It made me even more excited to start teaching my own classes. Language is my passion, and I want to help others learn to use it and understand how powerful and interesting of a tool it is that we have as humans. I’m not teaching classes yet, but I might next semester. I’m so glad that I get to take this opportunity and that I will maybe, someday, be teaching English abroad. Continue reading

Michael Begnal

Michael Begnal received his BA from Penn State University, and went on to earn his MFA from North Carolina State University. This semester he is teaching four sections of Eng 103: Rhetoric and Writing. 

How would you describe yourself as a teacher?

I tend to combine a number of different modes, variously employing Socratic seminar-style discussion, in-class writing or group work, handouts, videos, and yes, even lecturing occasionally.M.Begnal.recent

When are your office hours?

M/W 4:00-5:00pm and TH 12:30-2:00pm, at RB 393.

What are you reading?

I recently finished Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, and now I’m beginning to re-read Everything’s an Argument (Lunsford, et al.), a composition textbook.

What do you think everyone should read?

Haniel Long’s documentary poem Pittsburgh Memoranda (1935), a forerunner to Muriel Rukeyser’s Book of the Dead and William Carlos Williams’s Paterson. Long’s focus is the relation between the personal and the political in the face of economic exploitation, and Pittsburgh Memoranda can be approached both as a response to its own time (the Depression) and as a possible way forward in our current context.

What’s your biggest pet peeve in the classroom / what is a big mistake students tend to make?

I’d like to slightly reframe this and simply remind students that they are here for a reason, which is to learn and therefore to better themselves, that even today attending a university is still a privilege not everyone in the world is able to have, and that they are (or perhaps someone close to them is) paying a lot of money for the opportunity. Thus, it behooves all of us to be focused on the work at hand, to take it seriously, and to seize every available moment. That tweet or text can wait for an hour—learning how to sustain one’s concentration is a good and valuable thing.

What are you working on right now?

Some last minor edits to a chapbook-length collection of poems. I also recently completed a rewrite of an academic article I’ve been working on.

What are your other hobbies?

Music, film, baseball, Gaeilge (the Irish language).

Please join us in welcoming Professor Begnal to our department. We’re very grateful to have him! 

Career Week 2015

Next Monday (9/28) is the start of our annual Career Week, five days of informative sessions, visiting stars to steer by, and future-altering talks that are sure to boost your confidence and further prepare you for the real world. There’s something for everyone, from day one’s session with Professor Day, where she’ll offer an overview of what you can do with your degree, to a pretty awesome alumni panel on the last day, where a very diverse group of alumni will be speaking about all kinds of job fields.

Even if you can’t make it to all of the sessions (we’d be impressed if you did), look through the following dates/times and figure out which of them you can attend. This is the week you need to take your future seriously. There are a ton of opportunities for English majors out there; let us show you some. Continue reading

Alum Tyler Gobble on Professor Todd McKinney, pt 2

Todd McKinney serves the Ball State English Department in a number of ways: as a teacher, an English Majors adviser, and as faculty adviser for the Writers Community. He works on his poems line by line and a nonfiction project regarding Family sentence by sentence. His work has appeared in The Cimarron Review, The Greensboro Review, Smartish Pace, Split Lip Magazine, Puerto del Sol, and other journals. Last year, he and his wife, Jackie (aka Dr. Grutsch McKinney, aka Director of the Writing Center), along with their two sons, moved to a small farm in the country where they garden, keep chickens, and attend to a small orchard of baby fruit trees. Their dog, Bert, is their family mascot.

Read part one of this O’ Captain! My Captain! post here

I met Tyler in the fall of 2007 when he walked into a Writers Community meeting. One of his pals (Andrew, I think) encouraged him to go.. I’m not really sure, but maybe he heard Matthew read some David Berman poems, and Emily read Screenshot 2015-09-16 at 8.58.39 AMsomething by Joan Didion, and Nate and Shaun read James Tate in unison, after which Rebecca probably shared a story by J.D. Salinger, and then Laura told a story that made Ashley or Layne laugh real and loud, and then Elysia introduced the next reader, and then Brittany read some poems she had been working on followed by Austin and one of his short stories. At some point in there, I read a Dean Young poem (maybe his poem, “Frottage,” the one that begins, “How goofy and horrible life is.”) and Tyler looked like a late-autumn bonfire.

Turns out Dean Young poems are the kindling of what has become our friendship. Turns out poetry is the bonfire. Continue reading

Alum Tyler Gobble on Professor Todd McKinney, pt 1

Tyler Gobble graduated from Ball State with a degree in English/Creative Writing in 2011. While there, he was a member of Writers’ Community, editor of The Broken Plate, and tutored in The Writing Center. He is currently a poetry fellow at Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas, and he returned to BSU last spring for the In Print Festival after publishing his first book, MORE WRECK MORE WRECK. You can learn more about him at He’s standing on his desk to honor Professor Todd McKinney. 

I’m in-between desks right now and my knees seem to be melting alongside the polar ice caps, so I’ll be doing this hollering sideways on this bed. I’m so stoked to chatter a sec about a transformative educational experience I’ve had with my former professor / my poetry mentor / my now good pal Todd McKinney (I never know which distinction to use on resumes and introductions! Let’s use them all here!).

But which oh which educational experience to delve into here? The four years of camaraderie and poetic tutelage through The Writers’ Community? The eye-thumping crash course in creative nonfiction? The generous and solidifying independent study?

Yes and yes and yes. Continue reading

The Faces Behind #bsuenglish: Meet Our Public Relations Team

You love #bsuenglish, don’t you? We tweet funny things, introduce you to new literature loving friends, keep you updated on events happening in/around the department. We’re like that somewhat off-her-rocker Aunt who pops up occasionally to give you really good advice, except we don’t ask a million questions about your love life.

But when @bsuenglish tweets at you, when you read through this week’s blog posts, when you admire an intricately designed poster hanging outside of your classroom, where exactly did those things come from? Who exactly are you talking to? While the great Wizard of Oz wants you to “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain,” we’re pulling the curtain back, and introducing you to the four awesome interns, as well as our new intern coordinator, who are running the show for the 2015-2016 school year. Continue reading

Emily Rutter

Dr. Rutter received her BA in History from UNC-Chapel Hill, then went on to earn her MA in English from North Carolina State University. She then earned her Ph.D. in English from Duquesne University. This semester, she is teaching one section of ENG 230 Reading and Writing About Literature and one section of ENG 250 American Literature 2: 1860 to the Present. 

How would you describe yourself as a teacher?

In the classroom, I am committed to helping students forge connections between the literature we read, discuss, and write about and the world beyond the classroom walls. Thus, a lot of my teaching focuses on concrete strategies for rutterstrengthening students’ analytical thinking and writing skills—skills that are transferable to students’ personal and, ultimately, professional lives. Also, as a teacher and scholar of Multi-Ethnic American literature, I am often asking students to leave the comfort of their own experiences and think across boundaries of gender, race, sexuality, class, and culture. Sometimes this means leaving the classroom and visiting an art museum or taking a walking tour of historical sites; other times, these cross-cultural exchanges might happen as we share our thoughts on a poem or novel in a Socratic-seminar style discussion. Whatever the structure of the lesson, my goal is for students to view themselves as astute cultural critics capable of making original insights and teaching me a thing of two in the process.

When are your office hours?

Tuesday and Thursday: 1-4pm; or by appointment.

What are you reading?

I recently read Adam Mansbach’s Angry Black White Boy, a fascinating novel about race and performance (and baseball history thrown in for good measure). And, I am about to begin Fran Ross’s Oreo, which takes up similar issues.

What do you think everyone should read?

Claudia Rankine’s recent collection Citizen: An American Lyric (2014) and Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved (1987).

What’s your biggest pet peeve in the classroom/what is a big mistake students tend to make?

My aim in the classroom is to create a safe and productive space, where every student feels comfortable taking intellectual risks. I think it is important to remember that we are a collective striving toward a common goal, rather than a group of individuals striving to make the “best” comment or to score the highest grade. Thus, my proudest moments are when students build on each other’s comments or give a classmate a constructive idea of how to revise an argument. We achieve the most intellectually, I believe, when we work together.

What are you working on right now?

I am working on a monograph about literary representations of African American baseball experiences. I suggest that writers use their representations to trouble the myths about baseball as an athletic and distinctively masculine manifestation of the American dream. Moreover, I contend that playwrights, poets, and novelists play crucial archival roles by filling in the gaps in the historically whitewashed records of the “national pastime.”

What are your other hobbies?

I enjoy listening to music, cooking, and, of course, reading and writing. When given the opportunity, I also really love traveling.