Congratulations Dr. Jennifer Grouling! You win Tweet of the Week for sharing what you learned from Shelly Rodrigo’s lecture. Come to RB 297 to claim your prize!
Congratulations Jeremy Flick, your tweet about Susan Herring’s lecture won. Come to RB 297 and claim your prize!
Every week, we make a Storify to archive who uses #bsuenglish to tell us about what they learn and what they do in the English Department. Check out our Storify for the week of 10/17/14.
We are going to take a break from posting the Weekly Digest to see if people like this better. Let us know what you prefer!
Photo courtesy of Michael King. Michael graduated with a B.A. in English studies in May 2012.
Before delving into “life after the English major,” I think it’s important to establish the path that led me to it in the first place.
Prior to my college years, my educational journey was marked by a fascination with stories. At a very young age, maybe eight or nine years old, I declared my plans to grow up and become an author. As my high school years drew to a close, however, I felt the tug to be a bit more pragmatic. As I settled on Ball State as my college of choice, I opted to declare a major in Magazine Journalism, a path that – to me – reconciled my passion for storytelling and the expectation to declare a major clearly associated with a job.
During my early teen years I made it a challenge to see how difficult of a book I could read successfully, partly out of a genuine interest in improving my reading abilities but mostly out of the misguided belief that I could brag about having read such a book, as if my peers would marvel at my intellect.
Though I look back and groan at that attitude, my old habit of choosing the dustiest and least approachable books did have its benefits, especially after I ventured to read Beowulf (700–1025?). I first picked up Seamus Heaney’s side-by-side translation of Beowulf expecting what many might from the oldest surviving epic written in English: something antiquated and unrelatable; a hack-and-slash warrior adventure written in the dead husk of Old English.
What I found was a poignant and haunting story about meaning and mortality in a world where death is glory. Continue reading
Last week, Dr. Frank Felsenstein recommended a series of books dealing with the Holocaust. In part two, he reviews John Gilstrap’s High Treason, and describes a fascinating close encounter with the author. He also reviews two titles by William Boyd.
Just before the end of semester, I was invited to a Ball State “Town And Gown” dinner, and, over a delicious meal, found myself sitting next to John Gilstrap, a well known thriller and screen writer, who was to be the after dinner speaker. In lively conversation, Mr. Gilstrap showed an uncanny knowledge of guns and armory.
In part one of this recommended reads post, Dr. Frank Felsenstein reviews books he considered for two holocaust-themed courses he taught, discussing which titles proved to be the most enriching and inspiring, and which titles might have missed the mark.
During the spring semester of 2014, I taught two classes – ENG 402/2 and HONORS 390B – on the theme of “Remembering the Holocaust.” This was probably the fifth or sixth time that I have taught this class, and, because of the nature of the subject matter and the emotional impact, it is a class that I would only elect to teach at most every two years or, shall we say, eighteen month at the shortest.
Several texts appeared on my syllabus for the first time this spring, and the last one we read and discussed in class, Krystyna Chiger’s The Girl in the Green Sweater, a memoir published as recently as 2011, greatly appealed to the students in both groups. Chiger is the last living survivor of a small group of Jews, including her parents and younger brother, who hid from the Nazis for over a year in the sewers of Lvov (Lemberg), now part of Ukraine. Their survival was made possible by the courage of a gentile sewer worker, Pan [Mr.] Leopold Socha, who smuggled food and other necessities to them. Pan Socha had been a petty thief, and, on paper, would not have seemed the kind of person who would be willing to challenge the authorities by saving the lives of Jews. Had he been caught – and several times he nearly was – the punishment would have been instant death.
The Polish film maker, Agnieska Holland, made a remarkable film, called In Darkness (2011), which tells the same remarkable story. Curiously, she did not know that Krystyna was still alive when she made the film, and the two met shortly after. A copy of the film, which has as additional material the wonderful moment of meeting between the two women, is in Bracken, and it’s well worth watching. It may also draw you to the book. Continue reading