Monthly Archives: November 2016

An Interview with Elizabeth King

Elizabeth King is a MA student at Ball State in the English General Studies program. She received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) to Taiwan for the 2016-2017 school year. Since August 1, 2016, Elizabeth has been in Taitung, Taiwan, a rural county popular with tourists for its beautiful landscape. She has been spending part of her time working with local Taiwanese English teachers in elementary or middle school classrooms, and also improving her language skills and investing in the local community.


Winning a Fulbright is a big deal. What do you think made your proposal stand out?

I think there were two main things: one, I knew Taiwan was the right country for me to apply to, and two, I knew how my past experiences added up to make that the right place, and the ETA the right grant. I studied abroad in Xiamen, China back in 2011 and moved there to teach English for a year after I finished undergrad in 2012. After I came back to Indiana, I was a substitute teacher and was able to do some long-term subbing before I came to Ball State, where I have been a TA for the Writing Program. It was a lot of haphazard teaching experience, but when I started my application for Fulbright, I could see how it all added up, and how to demonstrate that experience in my essays.

Also, I worked with Dr. Andrea Wolfe to revise my essays, which taught me so much about that genre of writing. I’m not sure my application would have been successful without her help.

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Stars to Steer By Presents Paula Langteau

Paula Langteau, newly named interim dean at Northwest Technical College, has almost 30 years of higher education experience. She began her graduate education at Ball State, completing her Master’s degree and her doctoral coursework in English here. Keep reading to learn more!
Paula Langteau

Tell us about your Humanities degree. What was it in? When you first got to the university, did you always want to study the Humanities, or was there something else at first?

I received my Master’s degree from Ball State University in English, and I also completed my doctoral coursework in English at BSU. I knew from the time I was a preteen that I wanted to teach English. Following my undergraduate years, I decided to pursue a graduate education in order to teach Composition and Literature at the university level, and I picked BSU because my favorite undergrad professor had gone there. My major and career choice were driven by my joint passions for helping others and for the strength and beauty of the language, in general, and of narrative, in particular.

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Billi MacTighe Recommends "Bad Feminist" By Roxane Gay

English MA student Billi MacTighe recommends Roxane Gay’s nonfiction collection, Bad Feminist.

Why should we read this, Billi?

“I resisted feminism in my late teens and my twenties because I worried that feminism wouldn’t allow me to be the mess of a woman I knew myself to be” Roxane Gay, “Introduction; Feminism (n.): Plural”.

Roxane Gay’s recent book, Bad Feminist—a collection of essayscontains a sassy vigor reminiscent of grade-school war-stories told in ten-year retrospect; just enough time has passed to make the nostalgia wane into humor, but all of the details are still there, still potent. But the book is more than recollections and reflections, it’s a commentary on Feminism and Feminists, and, as Gay so eloquently puts it, the idea of an “Essential Feminismone true feminism to dominate all of womankind” (and the lack of existence of such an all-encompassing feminist community). Gay gives an insider’s view of what it means to be an outsider. As we follow the catalog of her experiences- tackling being an upper-middle class black woman in academia- we take a journey through cultural shifts and pop culture highlights (or low-lights, depending on where you think Chris Brown and Robin Thicke fall on the musical spectrum).

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Lisa Kemp: Partner Relationship Manager at Ontario Systems

Lisa Kemp is a partner relationship manager at Ontario Systems in Muncie. She graduated from the Ball State English Department in 1990. In this post, she discusses her work and how it connects to her studies in the department.

Lisa Kemp (STSB)

How would you describe your job?

I am currently a partner relationship manager with product management responsibilities at Ontario Systems, LLC in Muncie, IN. My job involves managing the day-to-day partnership activities for more than thirty partners. Most of these partners provide data services to our mutual customers. I also manage the product that provides our customers access to these services.

What’s a typical work day like for you?

My days are far from typical. My most stressful days involve acting as a liaison between our partner and our own support team when one or more of our mutual customers experience issues with a service. Other days I juggle writing user stories (requirements) for software enhancements, managing the product through all aspects of the product development and rollout of new product features and services, communications with partners, influencing our partners to support our annual user conference and facilitating that portion of the event, and much more.

How did your English major affect your career path?

I graduated with a B.S. in English, Secondary Education, but after graduation, I had no firm plans to pursue a teaching career. Now, with Ball State’s immersive learning initiatives and opportunities for students to dive into real-life career simulations early in their degree work, I would have realized sooner that I did not want to teach and would have pursued a different concentration with my English degree. Early in my career, I was a technical writer and later managed that team.

What skills did you pick up in your major that have proved useful in your job?

In every position I have held, I have used my English education. Most positions involve writing skills and communications skills, valuable to anyone in any position. I have gravitated toward opportunities to use those skills. Analytical thinking skills have helped me in projects where I need to analyze financials, industry trends, and data that will help influence decisions. I can scarcely think of any aspect of any position where my English background has not proven useful.

Is there a particular class or professional opportunity that you remember having a big impact on you?

I had a couple classes that had a great impact on me because of the professors’ passion for the topics. Those included any classes I took with Dr. Koontz including my favorite, Black Literature. I enjoyed a film literature class and a linguistics class with Dr. Sidney Greenbaum. While not in the English department, I enjoyed my folk dance class with Ya’akov Eden. Even though some might balk at general studies courses, they can be very fun and memorable.

What advice would you give current English majors?

I have four major areas of advice for current English majors:

  1. Hone your writing skills so that you can write in any way (not only academic) to any audience (for example, technical, beginner, or child).
  2. Force yourself out of your comfort zone. A lot of English majors like to hunker down with a good book or the keyboard and not speak outside of our friend group. If something makes you feel uncomfortable or gives you butterflies, practice it and put yourself in situations where you do it so that you can overcome your fears (or at least lessen them).
  3. Participate in extracurricular activities. Go to Ball State sporting events (there are hundreds!). Join a club (again, hundreds!). Grow your leadership skills by taking on an office in a club or organization.
  4. Network. Make eye contact. Smile. Shake hands. Learn people’s names. Talk to your classmates and professors. Get to know people. Keep in touch with them after your time at Ball State.

Brittany Ulman on Interning at International Floral Distributors, Inc.

#bsuenglish Senior Brittany Ulman reflects on the valuable experience she gained as the marketing intern at International Floral Distributors, Inc. in Richmond, Indiana this summer. During this time, Brittany created numerous marketing materials, wrote the scripts that would be featured in IFD’s annual Flower Trends Forecast, and served as a guest blogger for

My internship at International Floral Distributors, Inc. was definitely a whirlwind to say the least, but that doesn’t mean it was not worthwhile. Even though I wasn’t completely prepared for the way in which I was propelled into the previously foreign world known as the flower industry, that exact phenomenon is one of the reasons why I enjoyed my time at IFD.

Despite the fact that my internship placed me in an unexplored environment, I enjoyed the challenge. I love the fact that as an intern, I wasn’t simply doing busy work or carrying out small errands for my co-workers. Instead, I was in the middle of nearly every project, voicing my opinion and being one of the main team members.

Due to being an active member of the IFD team, there’s no doubt in my mind that my internship will prove to be an invaluable experience in terms of the knowledge I gained about a new industry, myself, and my future.brittany-ulman

As an intern, my main objective was to boost the efficacy of IFD’s marketing strategies and ensure they were reaching their intended audiences, specifically Millennials. In order to do so, IFD’s Executive Director, Jeff Lanman, assigned me the tasks of writing press releases and video scripts for their Flower Trends Forecast, generating monthly email campaigns, constructing order forms, assisting in a project aimed at enhancing relations between IFD’s members and their vendor distributors, and creating marketing material for an upcoming convention. And these were just a handful of my day-to-day tasks.

The articles in particular required me to create several images to complement the articles’ content and IFD’s goals of extending a certain amount of information to the public. Additionally, I worked on several aspects of IFD’s annual catalog including trend descriptions, a short bio for IFD’s trend forecaster, as well as advertising value pages.

While working on my various projects for IFD, I found myself utilizing many of the skills I have developed during my time at Ball State and previous internships. Because several of my projects involved creating marketing materials, I found myself continually referring to the information I had learned during my professional writing and digital literacies courses. During these classes, my professors taught me about numerous design aesthetics and textual styles to best appeal to general and specific audiences. In particular to this internship, I referred to my English 213 and 231 classes when I created the table cards and handouts for the convention IFD attended in September.

Between the skills I have obtained at Ball State and my internships, I am more aware of what I want out of a career and have a better understanding of the relationships between my courses and my professional life. Prior to this internship, I did not view all of my Ball State classes as pertinent to my specific career goals–only the ones that have a connection to editing and/or marketing. However, during my time at IFD, I was able to utilize many of the skills I acquired in my creative writing classes when working on marketing materials for the business. Furthermore, I used these classes as a basis when I was writing the scripts for the Flower Trends Forecast videos and my guest blogs for

This connection between my academic and professional lives opens even more doors for me when it comes to what I am looking for in a future career. Even if a job does not initially seem to coincide with my initial expectations, my internship at IFD has taught me that Ball State has prepared me for the unexpected aspects of a job.

When my internship finally ended, it was all bittersweet. Yes, I left a team I’d grown accustomed to and will miss, but I left a more confident, strong, and informed young woman ready to take on another semester, graduation, and whatever the future holds for me after Ball State.


Two #bsuenglish Faculty Publish their Books (and More October Good News)

October was filled with spooktacular achievements. Keep reading for some scary good news!

Dr. Jackie Grutsch McKinney‘s new book, The Working Lives of of New Writing Center Directors, is officially out.

Professor Patrick Collier had his book Modern Print Artefacts: Textual Materiality and Literary Value, 1890-1930s, published by Edinburgh University Press. A big congrats to you both!

In other news…

G Patterson was awarded a $2,000 ASPIRE New Faculty Start Up grant that will allow them to update Bracken’s collection of resources in queer and gender studies. G Patterson is one of the three active scholars who researches transgender rhetorics in the field of Rhetoric and Composition. Having access to these funds will allow them to build a scholarly library and collaborate with other scholars on this area of study.

Rani Crowe was also awarded a $2,500 ASPIRE Start Up Grant to make the short film “Finding Grace” by screenwriting faculty, Kathryn Gardiner.

Professor Akira Negishi completed his Japanese translation of Professor Frank Felsenstein‘s adaption of Tobias Smollett’s Travels through France and Italy. The translation took nearly ten years to complete and includes a further piece that Frank wrote to commemorate the two hundred and fiftieth year since the original publication of the Travels in 1766.

Professor Robert D. Habich published the annual review essay “Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller, and Transcendentalism” in American Literary Scholarship 2014 (Duke University Press, 2016), pp. 3-20.

Professor Emily Rutter just received the Jerome Stern Award for the Best Essay in Studies in American Culture. Also, she has been selected as a Ball State Diversity Associate for Research for 2016-2017.

Professor Emily Jo Scalzo had two poems accepted to be included in Disarm: A Gun Sense Anthology through Black Heart Magazine. The two poems they’ve accepted are “After Charleston,” a senryu, and “Gun Control.”

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Meet Dr. G Patterson!

How would you describe your perspective on teaching?

Whatever class I teach, I really like to focus on social justice. For example, a professional writing class doesn’t seem like it would have anything to do with social justice, and yet, in my classes students are working with campus groups and nonprofits to make a difference in their communities. Even in introduction composition courses, I want to he11156378_1624207644462444_9146109308537578909_nlp students understand the consequences of the stories they’re telling, and the stories they refuse to hear. I think that’s the crux of what I do: I think about the tangible impact that I’m making in students’ lives. I want to empower students to write into existence the world they want to see; I want them to really feel like they’re agents of change when they leave my class.

When are your office hours?

My office hours are on Tuesdays from 2:00-3:00 pm and Thursdays from 2:00-4:00 pm, and by appointment any other time.

What are you currently reading, if anything?

That’s a great question. A mentor once told me that academics should never stop reading for pleasure–that we have to remind ourselves why we’re here. Right now I am reading a book called The Fifth Season by the author N. K. Jemisin, who is a black feminist speculative fiction writer. I’ve also been reading Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crowwhich talks about mass incarceration and how that plays into our particular history of racial injustice in the U.S. Continue reading

Stars to Steer By: Recap and Upcoming Events

Stars to Steer By is an event series hosted by the English Department to help Humanities majors find their way. The next event is November 29th in BL 104.

On October 26, we hosted our most recent Stars to Steer By event, “Personal Branding: Monica.jpgUncovering Your Authentic Self,” in BL 104. Monica Scalf, founder of The Playground Group, was the main speaker at the event.

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An Interview with Tiffany Austin

Tiffany Austin received her BA in English from Spelman College, her MFA in Creative Writing from Chicago State University, her JD from Northeastern University, and her PhD in English from Saint Louis University. She currently teaches rhetorical and creative writing at the College of The Bahamas. Her research and teaching field also includes African Diaspora literature—African American, Afro-Latin, Caribbean, and African literature. 

How would you describe your writing?

My writing has been described as one with a gendered blues aesthetic, but I don’t relate this descriptor to how we generally perceive the blues.  I’ve always admired blues music, not only for its melancholic tones, but for its protest-like and freeing qualities. I grasp its expressive possibilities because of its creative use of language and sound (especially its disguised protest element).  I’m most interested in the embodiment of langtiffany-austinuage—readers’ visceral responses—so my poetry is full of images and elliptical narratives.  The themes range from historical and personal memory to “tenderness” amongst tragedy-fraught events and experiences.  I find myself asking, “What do we desire from memory?”  Within those themes subsist the subjects of cultural belonging, dislocation, gender, and age.  I don’t overtly point to sexuality because I’m more invested in how we sensually engage with ourselves and one another.  Pondering the possibilities for poetry, it’s about how I treat you and you treat me—personally, socially, politically—and that’s what the blues delves into and how it relates.

What should potential audience members expect if they decide to attend? Is there a target audience in your mind?

I once toyed with the term “poetics of quietude” to relate the importance of silences and ellipses in the intersection of some Caribbean and Southern women poets’ works, so my poetry, and especially its engagement with social issues, is not necessarily loud but contemplative.  It often baffles me that there has been this historical argument about whether poetry should be political or not, when the political alludes to the people.  It’s not original for me to say, but we’re always writing politically—as people.  I’m trying to work out something in my poetry, and I like for audiences to take that journey with me.  I truly believe if we use new language, our perspectives and how we engage with problems change as well.  I do not have a target audience; I only hope for one that is willing to listen.

What are your hopes for this presentation?

I hope that audience members will connect language, poetry, and social justice with a new lens.  I remember having a conversation with a young feminist who conjectured that we should take control of the word “bitch.”  But I asked why couldn’t we create a new word that proclaimed the same kind of female power that she desired to express.  I want audience members to assert a type of power in listening to the possibilities for language and political/social action.  When I tell my students that, as primary and secondary students, “unequal education funding” does not violate the constitution (there is no constitutional right to equal education), they are taken aback.  Then, they have to question the definitions of “equal,” “right,” and “education,” and they express how these definitions are ambiguously enacted by political policies through their writing.  So, I continue to ask, what can we gather from the intersection of poetry and social justice?  Our most vulnerable sites can become our most powerful means for shifts.  That’s the conversation to be had.

What do you want people to walk away with? In other words, do you want them to think about your message, learn something new, gain the desire to act, etc.?

I want audience members to think about what role language plays in their perception of ideas, in how they engage with different people.  I seldom ask, “How are you?” because at times I am not prepared for the potential answer.  How do we deliberately engage with one another?  With our privileges?  With disengaging with the soundbites?  I often say, I’m not a multi-tasker because when I am listening to someone, I try to give that person my full attention, and the same applies to my encounter with a social/political issue.  What do I not know? I want audience members to ask questions that lead me to ask questions.