Monthly Archives: October 2015

Spring '16 Course Highlights

November is just around the corner, and you know what that means.

Now that you’ve survived midterms, the next daunting task approaches: scheduling your classes for the spring. For some of you, you’re seasoned professionals. You set your schedule in ten or fifteen minutes and don’t think about it for another two months. For others, scheduling this next semester might be a bit more difficult.

If you’re stressing out and having trouble picking your classes (there are a lot to choose from, after all) then check out these awesome courses below. You won’t be disappointed.

Eng 351: Contemporary American Literature with Dr. Emily Rutter

Tuesdays, Thursdays from 3:30pm-4:45pm

Eng 351

Eng 310: Introduction to Screenwriting with Professor Kathryn Gardiner

Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 10:00am-10:50am or 11:00am-11:50am
Tuesdays, Thursdays at 8:00am-9:15am or 11:00am-12:15pm

Eng 310

Eng 491: Intro to African American Literature with Dr. Emily Rutter

Tuesday, Thursday from 9:30am-10:45am

Eng 491

For questions about Eng 310, contact Professor Kathryn Gardiner. For questions about Eng 351 and Eng 491, contact Dr Emily Rutter.

For general advising/scheduling questions, please consider attending one of the open Advising Lab sessions, led by Lyn Jones or Todd McKinney.

Tuesday, Nov. 3 – 11:30 to 1:00 in RB 286

Thursday, Nov. 5 – 9:00 to 10:00 in RB 361

Monday, Nov. 9 – 1:00 to 3:00 in RB 361

Thursday, Nov. 12 – 11:30 to 1:00 in RB 286 

Recommended Reads: Isabel Vazquez

Anne Rice’s The Wolf Gift (2012) follows Reuben Golding, a young reporter with the San Francisco Observer, whose assignment is to write an article in order to sell a magnificent mansion set deep in the redwoods of Northern California, high above the cliffs and waters of the impeccable Pacific Ocean. He is invited to spend the night by the owner of the grand home, an older and elegant woman by the name of Marchent Nideck. He inevitably spends the evening and night in the company of the grandiose home filled with a mysterious family history, all painted against the wicked, cold beauty of the western coast. It is during this night that a tragedy occurs, and his transformation into a werewolf begins to take place, forever shifting the course of his life and destiny as a young man in modern times. With his wolf-like state of being, Reuben takes it upon himself to rid the world of “evil”: murderers, rapists, etc.

Werewolves have always, in general, been feared. The image of the werewolf was representative of the other, the “monster” as Gothic theory would state. Especially when it comes to the physical aspect, the body of the monster reflected innate desires such as sexual freedom, social freedom, and violence. They represented a sort of seductive liberation, and their new freedoms ultimately led to the destruction of themselves and to those around them. Older movies and books featuring the grotesque descriptions and scenes of vampires, werewolves, witches and any sort of supernatural creature reinforced this idea of what not to become, showing what happens when one succumbs to these desires.

Anne Rice, especially in The Wolf Gift, completely eradicates the notion of these desires as evil through her examination of the body of the werewolf. She gives Reuben Golding, both man and wolf, the best of both worlds. Reuben is fully conscious of his transformation and actions, able to make decisions and intelligently act upon them. He is not some simple savage beast incapable of controlling himself. He is an intelligent and purposeful creature as a werewolf that Wolf Gift borderembraces his newfound transformation and his desires, all the while being conscious as a man.

If you remember, Anne Rice single-handedly rewrote the vampire genre through her publication of Interview with the Vampire (1976). She gave a new purpose to the vampire, who is also a monster exemplifying “evil” desires through the vampiric body. She challenged the notion of the vampire and his desires as evil, and created an intelligent vampire, a beloved vampire. So it comes as no surprise that, nearly half a decade later, the author delved into the essence of the werewolf. The book is entirely Gothic in nature, done in a fantastical way that redefines the evil nature of the mystical “werewolf.” The concept of the werewolf and its animalistic implications are nothing new in the literary world, but Anne Rice, as she did with the figure of the vampire, completely revolutionized the definition of it.

But why, you may ask, has the romanticizing of monsters become so drastically popular in more modern times? It is because we now live in a culture more open-minded, a culture detaching itself away from the grip of religion that analyzes life as being either black or white, evil or good. Simply put, modern culture has drifted away from the notion of absolute good and evil and has decided to embrace the desires that used to be categorized as evil on more neutral ground The embracing of the monster, along with its its desires that once used to represent sin, is now quite common. Topics such as sexual freedom, feminist movements, homosexual issues–all of these used to be categorized as evil and reserved exclusively as characteristics of the old monster. Nowadays, because these topics are no longer seen as wrong or evil, the image of the monster has become more human and more relatable.

These monsters, due to their transformative state, were able to move freely across boundaries normal humans were unable to. It is with this ability that Reuben, our main character, exemplifies an important shift of thought in today’s society. Both human and animal nature is a theme common throughout our protagonist’s epic journey in search of his purpose with his newfound abilities. Reuben purposefully begins to rid the world of the so-called “evil” we see today. Instead of wallowing in sorrow and being labeled as evil, he continues his daily life and flourishes under his new desires, his new abilities. His transformation enhances him rather than isolates him (as the older literature of monsters often tended to emphasize). And instead of his transformation branding him as a killer, he is viewed as a savior by the media within the book, which fondly nicknames him as the “Man Wolf” who brings justice. Not to mention that Reuben is a complete gentleman, a likable young man who saves victims from their oppressors rather than some aged monster that often appears in older works. All of this is indicative of the “new,” in the shifting of the main character being treated and recognized as a savior rather than a monster both within the book and by readers.

The “old” paradigm of monstrosity still exists within the book, in order to form a contrast to the new. The “old” is very much represented by Reuben’s brother Jim, a Catholic priest. As Reuben confesses his sins, Jim responds (as typical of the old paradigm) in the following way: “You killed them, Reuben. You killed them in their sins! You terminated their destiny on this earth. You snatched from them any chance for repentance, for redemption. You took that from them.”

The importance of this quote is immense in the context to the book. Father Golding, Jim’s brother, argues from a traditional perspective that everyone can be redeemed, no matter the sin. It is precisely because Reuben represents the new image of the monster that a comparison to the conservative old needs to be addressed. By arguing from a very Catholic viewpoint, Jim creates a tension, a struggle that is indicative of and mimics modern life. Once again, we return to the fictional monster representing a freedom associated with modern times in terms of sexuality, feminism and social justice.

The Wolf Gift is an indelible work that reforms the image of the traditionally “evil” monster through detailed Gothic prose.

The work allows for a reorientation of the old monster, which has occurred due to society becoming more open-minded. Readers will ultimately be challenged by Anne Rice’s conception of monstrosity in The Wolf Gift, a fantastic and literary masterpiece that asks readers to embrace open-mindedness and to reflect on the status quo through the unforgettable body of the monster.

Niki Wilkes

Grad School Confidential is a series featuring students who have made the transition from undergraduate to graduate school. Niki Wilkes, an English major as an undergrad, is now a graduate student getting her MA in London. 


I am not the traveling type. I am a Hoosier girl through and through, and a homebody at that. I ended my junior year thinking I would finish my degree and look for a job in a small publishing house in Indianapolis… maybe Chicago if I was daring. I knew next to nothing about how to be a publisher, but I figured most publishers started that way.12108217_10153091389636837_315434360069056146_n

Then senior year approached, and I suddenly thought, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if you decided to leave everything you were comfortable with to get a Masters degree in England?” It was probably meant to be just a daydream, but my brain took it seriously, and before I knew it the question became less hypothetical. On Saint Patrick’s Day I received the email from University College London offering me a place on their Publishing Studies course. Continue reading

Tim Macy

Photo provided by Tim Macy.

Photo provided by Tim Macy.

Before he started working at FXFOWLE Architects in New York City, Tim Macy majored in English at Ball State.

He was a freshman in 1981– the first year Rai Peterson ever taught at BSU. He also came back to Ball State to teach while he got his master’s degree in architecture.

Today, Tim tells us how his education not only helped him get a job, but helped him see the world in an entirely new way.


English majors aren’t only interested in English. Continue reading

Katy Didden

Dr Katy Didden earned her BA from Washington University in St. Louis, her MFA from the University of Maryland, College Park, and her PhD from the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO. This semester she’s teaching one section of ENG 285 and one section of ENG 408. 

How would you describe yourself as a teacher?

One of the things I want the most, as a teacher, is for my students to have confidence in their convictions. I also want them to know how to use dialogue as a means of expanding ideas and testing assumptions, and to see the benefits of respecting and understanding other points of view. I want to convince students that because they each have unique life experiences, their contributions to class discussion and peer review are not just valuable but essential to helping the class articulate complex ideas. In my classes, I want to create an atmosphere that fosters students’ creativity, curiosity, and responsibility. I want what they learn in my class to help them succeed in all of their classes.

When are your office hours?

My office hours are Tuesdays from 2-3pm, and Wednesdays from 1-2pm, but I also meet with students by appointment.didden

What are you reading?

I’m often in the middle of several books at once, and right now is no different. Here’s what’s on my desk at the moment: Inger Christensen’s Alphabet, Ross Gay’s Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, Elaine Showalter’s Teaching Literature, George David Clark’s Reveille, Stanley Plumly’s Orphan Hours, and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad. I highly recommend these books! They were highly recommended to me, which is why I have them.

Truly, though, I am spending most of my time thinking about Marianne Moore’s poem “An Octopus” (her poem about Mt. Rainier). I am writing an essay about the importance of place in poetry, and about how Moore has influenced and continues to influence my writing in that respect. Soon, I will turn my attention to Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric—I’m presenting a paper on that book for a conference in November. I’m interested in how Rankine uses photographs and other visual images in Citizen to help her navigate difficult subjects such as race relations and the subjugation of women’s bodies.

What do you think everyone should read?

One short story that has stayed with me over the years, and one that has generated a lot of thoughtful discussion with my students, is Ursula Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.” A quick list of poems I love would be: “At the Fishhouses,” by Elizabeth Bishop, “The City of Light,” by Larry Levis, “A Small Needful Fact,” by Ross Gay, “What he Thought,” by Heather McHugh, “Rain Effect” by Mary Ruefle, and “The Layers,” by Stanley Kunitz.

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

The first thing that comes to mind is “eye-rolling,” though I’m also intrigued by it. On some level, people roll their eyes as a form of protest, and maybe more importantly to form a bond with their classmates (the ones for whom the eye roll is performed). What I don’t like about it is that it sets up the teacher/ student dynamic into clichéd, antagonistic roles, and that doesn’t interest me. I prefer to think of the classroom as a collaborative space. That is to say, I appreciate students who take responsibility for creating an engaged, positive environment in the classroom—it makes more of a difference than most students realize.

What are you working on right now?

Currently, I am working on two new manuscripts of poems. The first project builds upon and advances work I began in my first book, The Glacier’s Wake. That book includes persona poems where I write in the voice of a glacier, a sycamore, and a wasp to confront the contrary impulses of consumerism and conservation. For “The Lava on Iceland,” I am erasing a series of source texts about Iceland, from a variety of disciplines (from literature and history, to politics and pop culture) into a lyric voice of lava. The project is multi-modal, and collaborative; I am working with graphic designer Kevin Tseng to set the erasures over a series of photos, alternating between the archival photos of Frederick Howell and color photographs by numerous contemporary artists and writers. The final texts are a palimpsest of photographs, source texts, and erasures.

Even while I am working on more experimental poems with the erasure project, I have been steadily working on a series of sound-driven poems, some in blank verse, and others in looser, rhyme-dense forms. These poems address a range of subjects from super derechos, to opera, to Dante’s “Divine Comedy.” I see one theme emerging among the new poems, which is that many poems are in dialogue with other writers and artists, from photographers like Travis Dove, to writers like Cavafy, Dante, and Shakespeare. I have also recently returned from the Pilgrimage to Compostela in Spain, and have begun a series of poems inspired by my research of medieval Christian iconography and Spanish mystics like Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and the hermits who lived at Montserrat.

What are your other hobbies?

I love to be outdoors, so some of my favorite hobbies are running, hiking, swimming, and cycling. I also love yoga, especially Iyengar, or alignment-based, yoga. I enjoy playing the guitar, and I’m currently taking guitar lessons for the first time in fifteen years!


Please join us in welcoming Dr Katy Didden to our department!

Guest Post: Isaha Cook on The Infinite Museum

“Where can’t an English major take you?”

This is a question that many English graduates have been hard pressed to answer, considering how versatile the degree really is. Last year, senior Amory Orchard’s journey with three other English majors took her to a special experience at the Virginia Ball Center, where she and her team joined their skills to help create The Infinite Museum app. Now, you might be asking: how could the English major be useful in the creation of a web based application? The ability to write and work within a team setting represents just two of the many skills that English majors develop and learn to use in their future careers.

So what problem was Amory’s team trying to address for the VBC? A general pitfall for most museums stems from the overall feeling that you can see all there is to see in a day or two of browsing. The experiences that many museums offer to visitors can grow stale quickly, despite the various special exhibits that can enter the rotation from time to time. For those concerned over how best to address this issue, an answer has been a long time coming. Amory and the team’s answer to the question comes in the form of The Infinite Museum, an interactive app that provides numerous prompts and information about the pieces within the museum

Amory discussed some of the things she and her English major cohorts were able to bring to the table, as well as take away10712734_732239086849969_3715995415968922610_n from the experience:

“I guess I was worried because I would have to work on designing an app. There were a lot of TCOM and COMM majors, but I’d never even published a blog post before! When they were designing prototypes, I edited the web content. To make an app, there need to be people who can design and those who can write. I eventually became lead editor and also learned about design.

We wanted to stand out and give the world something different. The second week of the semester, we created and tested tours each of us had made. Some of the best tours were completely crazy like English major Cooper Cox’s ‘Feet in the Museum,’ which made the museum visitors notice all the artworks’ feet. I think his tour captured the essence of what we were trying to do the whole time: to make looking at art transformative yet relatable.”

Users of the The Infinite Museum are offered more than fifteen hundred prompts that can send them to every area available in the museum to explore and experience in exciting new ways. For instance, the app might ask the viewer to decide what subjects of a painting were thinking in the scene, or how a certain technique used in the creation of the piece might be applied to other forms of art.

The app also provides users a level of customization and interaction with other users. Through their login feature, a user can post their thoughts or responses to certain prompts to the app to be viewed by other users, or vice versa. Users are also encouraged to favorite prompts they like best (like on Twitter), share prompts via social media sites, and explore favorite prompts of other users.

Another feature of the app is the map that is provided with each prompt. With a simple click, users can follow the map to the piece of art that each prompt is referencing, offering them the chance to cut down the time they need to hunt for that work of art. This fact also means that the user will have more time to interact with the prompt that led them to the piece in the first place.

Museum visitors are encouraged to utilize the app on pretty much any device since it is web based. After visiting the link, a user can save the link to the home-screen of their chosen device, and immediately have access to all the prompts The Infinite Museum has to offer. This quick and easy form of access is extremely efficient for involving a wide audience of museum visitors. Users can navigate the app by using just a few buttons, and each feature is clear and responsive considering how many pieces of art and prompts are being dealt with. Considering the whole experience, I believe The Infinite Museum has the ability to appeal to a wide range of students, not just in the Art or English departments.

If an English major could help produce such a great application, the answer to “Where can’t an English major take you?” retains its small mystery. Check out all of Amory and her team’s hard work at http://theinfinitemuseum.com/. And if you’re an English major seeking to show off your skills just take this final encouraging word from Amory:

“Go for it. Seriously. Immersive learning projects are like real jobs and will force you to learn how to work with others, no matter what your future career will be.”

Jennifer Bryan

Dr Jennifer Bryan received her BA in English with minors in Sociology and Political Science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She received an MFA in fiction from Bowling Green State University and a PhD from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This semester, she’s teaching four sections of Eng 103. 

How would you describe yourself as a teacher?

I would describe myself as balanced, and I try to be fair in the classroom while creating high expectations and standards so students can challenge themselves. I also try and introduce topics and discussions that students can engage with and be interested in. I want students to feel invested in the class and critically see their environment.

When are your office hours?

11-12:30 MW, 10-12 T, and by appointment

Gmail PictureWhat are you reading?

Kent Haruf’s Plainsong

What do you think everyone should read?

I think people should read what interests them. There are so many books and genres in the world, and in order to be passionate about reading, one has to be passionate about what he/she is reading. There is value in reading, and when students tell me they don’t like reading, I say they aren’t reading the right books. By right I mean what is of interest to them, not what they think they should read.

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

Texting in the classroom is annoying, but pretending one isn’t texting can be even more so. I tend to feel mistakes are villified in our culture. We only improve and learn about ourselves by making mistakes. We’re all afraid of failing, and yet through failing I’ve learned the most about myself and what I want. In terms of students and the classroom – I think students who miss class regularly tend to dig themselves into a hole. It gets easier to miss as the semester wears on because of sickness, cold weather, lack of sleep, lack of assignment.

What are you working on right now?

Grading papers. In my creative work, I’ve just started writing a new novel. It’s super new. Like three pages new.

What are your other hobbies?

I love to bake. Cooking comes a close second. I love to drink coffee and hang out with my family. I love binge watching Netflix series. I look at a lot of art, talk about a lot of art.


Please join us in welcoming Dr. Jennifer Bryan to our department!