Monthly Archives: September 2016

Meet Dr. Jeff Spanke!

The English Department would like to introduce you to Dr. Jeff Spanke:

How would you describe your perspective on teaching?

I think that teaching is first of all a reciprocal enterprise. So I don’t like the idea that there’s a person with knowledge that gives that knowledge or gifts that knowl20150413_183438035_iosedge to students who are otherwise incapable of learning. I like the idea that teachers serve as guides and facilitators of students’ own learning process, and that ideally teachers are learning along the way too. So it’s a mutually beneficial and a reciprocal process that doesn’t need to take place in a classroom and often doesn’t take place in a classroom. In my experience this idea that we’re treating students as incomplete globs of clay just doesn’t make sense and it’s totally unrealistic. Students are complete individuals, they have worries and fears and motivations and goals, so within the institution of schools, teachers need to adapt to those needs and those learning styles, otherwise we’re just going to keep reproducing a system that every year leaves millions of kids feeling marginalized and othered. So I think teaching is the most noble and important and rewarding thing any of us can do, but I also think that it’s one of the most difficult, and one of the least understood professions in the world.

When are your office hours?

Right now they are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:00 until 2:00 pm in Robert Bell 246. Continue reading

Jeremy M. Carnes

Jeremy M. Carnes is a Ph.D. student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees at Ball State. He will be starting his dissertation in the fall, where he plans to research early 20th Century American imperialism in print culture artifacts, including modernist little magazines and periodicals as well as early comic strips and comic books.

Jeremy Carnes (GSC)

I remember the precise moment that I decided I wanted to go to graduate school. I was a junior at Ball State. I had decided that I wanted to learn more about American Modernism, so I had periodic meetings with Dr. Deborah Mix where we discussed some novels and poems one-on-one. During one meeting, we were discussing Willa Cather’s novel, A Lost Lady, and some of the defining features of American Modernism and modernity when I realized that I could have talked with Dr. Mix about this era of American history and literature for hours (in fact, over the years, we did talk about this stuff over many hours). As I finished my undergraduate degree at Ball State, I saw the time and care offered to me by Dr. Mix and, slightly later, Dr. Patrick Collier. These two professors especially showed me what it means to pour time and effort into students and research. The time Drs. Mix and Collier spent with me and my work over the years spurred me into graduate school all the more.

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Now Hiring! Come Join Our Department!

The English Department is currently hiring for two new positions. They are as listed:

  1. Assistant Professor for Early and 19th Century American Literature in the College of Science and Humanities
  2. Assistant Professor for Film and and Global Literatures in the Department of English

For more information, check out the flyers!preview-full-earlyand19thcentury_jobadpreview-full-filmandgloballiteratures_jobad

Meet Professor Allison Layfield!

The English Department would like to introduce you to Professor Allison Layfield

Layfield_Allison.jpg Professor Layfield sees the classroom as a time for brainstorming and collaboration. Her goal in the classroom is to get students to think and actively participate in class discussion. She also wants her students to think about the discussions at home and then write about their ideas on the subject.

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Alt-Ac: You Don't Have to be a Professor to Work at a University

By Cathy Day, Assistant Chair of English

On Tuesday, September 27th at 6:30 PM in 104 Bracken, we’re hosting our second Stars to Steer By session. The title of this one is “You Don’t Have to be a Professor to Work at a University.” RSVP if you’re coming! 

Why this title? 

I’ve been teaching in higher education for over 20 years, and all too often, I hear students say things like this:

“I want to do what you do. Teach college. I love English. I love reading and writing. I love my professors. They are my role models, and I want to do what they do. I want to stay in school forever.”

This is exactly what I wanted in 1991 when I decided to go to graduate school in English/Creative Writing instead of entering a tough, post-recession job market. When I graduated in 1995, I went on the academic job market. First I got a two-year “contract” position and then a tenure-track teaching position. I’ve been in academia ever since.

But the academic job market in the humanities has changed. You can read all about it.

This does NOT mean you should give up your dream. I am not a dream squasher!

But I do want you to consider following that dream, but from a slightly different direction.

The Alt-Ac Route

I pursued an academic teaching career because, to me, a college campus is a small utopia and because my college professors changed my life. To thank them for that, I wanted to follow in their footsteps. But since becoming the Assistant Chair, I’ve realized that teaching is NOT the only way to live in that utopia and NOT the only way to change the lives of college students.

Maybe you should consider the Alt-Ac Route.

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Stars to Steer By Presents Ethan Johnson: A Long Journey

Ball State University alum Ethan Johnson discusses his travels after graduation and his future aspirations as he looks to the journey ahead. He graduated from Ball State in 2013 with a BA in English Literature and Classical Cultures. 

In the spring semester of my freshman year at Ball State, I saw Avenue Q at Emens Auditorium. I laughed along with the other audience members at the opening song, wondering “What Do You Do with a BA in English?” thumbnail_ethan-headshotI was laughing at the puppets, but I was also laughing at myself: I knew in three short years I would be in that position myself.

I came into Ball State knowing I wanted to be an English major. I loved books, so why wouldn’t I major in literature? When I told people what I was studying, especially after I added my major in Classical Cultures, they would inevitably ask me, “So what do you plan on doing with that?”

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Come to the Stars to Steer By Lecture Series!

starstosteerbytalkThe Stars to Steer By Lecture Series was created in order to help students pursuing a Humanities Degree find their way after graduation. 

Calling all Humanities Majors! Do you feel worried that you won’t be able to find a career in your field? Are you tired of people telling you that your degree is useless? Have no fear, the “Stars to Steer By” lecture series is here! The Ball State University English Department wants you to know that there are many things you can do with a Humanities Major.

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Ace Howard: An English Major Working in the Software Field

Former English major Ace Howard describes his career in the software business. 

How would you describe your job?

I’m a technical writer for a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company.

I would describe my job as the bridge between technical information and users. I sit down with subject matter experts (SMEs) and translate their high level of knowledge into terms that our audience can easily understand. Part of this process involves deciding which medium works best for the message (shout-out to Marshall McLuhan). My work could take the form of software documentation, white papers, case studies, social media, or blog posts. Because I have a background in web development, I’m also responsible for updating the company website.

Some of this stuff sounds complicated (it can be), but all the writing and problem solving makes the job a fun and rewarding experience.

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Summer Good News

Summer has been a busy time for Ball State faculty, students, and alumni alike! Read more to find out what these Ball State affiliates have been up to.

Prof. Katy Didden earned a fellowship to attend the prestigious Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference in Middlebury, VT. She will be co-facilitating a workshop with poet Alan Shapiro, giving a craft lecture on Marianne Moore and the Great Distance Poem, and giving a reading.

Dr. Paul Ranieri published a chapter titled “Standing the Test of Time: Liberal Education in a Jesuit Tradition” in Traditions of Eloquence: The Jesuits and Modern Rhetorical Studies, edited by Cinthia Gannett and John C. Brereton, published early this summer by Fordham University Press.

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