Author Archives: Jacket Copy Creative

The hits keep coming: English MVPs

Two months of good news means double the accomplishments for our #BSUEnglish faculty, students, and alumni! Please note the actual baseball references below.

Faculty Good News

On April 20, four English faculty were nominated as BSU Softball’s MVPs (Most Valuable Professors): Adrienne Bliss, Kathryn Ludwig, Katherine Greene, and Brianna Mauk.

Prof. Katy Didden won a Junior Faculty Creative Arts Grant to pursue research and develop work for her manuscript in progress, The Lava on Iceland. Three poems from The Lava on Iceland were accepted for publication by Tupelo Quarterly, and two additional poems were accepted by Denver Quarterly. At this year’s Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference, Prof. Didden moderated and presented a paper on a panel titled “Writing Assignments for the Anthropocene.” Prof. Didden was also recognized with an Excellence in Education award from the BSU Student Government Association.

Prof. Ben Bascom was awarded an NEH/American Antiquarian Society long-term fellowship, one of the most prestigious awards for literary scholars, to conduct research on his book manuscript “Feeling Singular: Masculinity and Desire in the Early United States.” Prof. Bascom was also awarded an Aspire Junior Faculty Research Award through BSU in addition to a fellowship at Penn State’s Center for American Literary Studies First Book Institute. This past March he presented a portion of his second book project at C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists. Continue reading

Benefits of the English Major: Straight from the Seniors

Prof. Emily Rutter shares some of her Senior Seminar students’ reflections on their learning in the English Major.

This semester, my English 444 students were asked to write autobiographical essays about their experiences as English majors. As a fitting close to the semester for some and to college for others, we wanted to share a few excerpts from those essays, which showcase the many lessons English courses impart and the varied ways in which our students will apply them in the future.

Vanessa Haro-Miracle: When I first signed up for English 308 course, I dreaded the idea of reading poems. As the semester progressed, one of the assignments was to pick a poet and read and analyze their work. I chose Erika L Sanchez because she wrote activist poems about Mexico. Her poems tend to be vivid and gruesome. Moreover, I knew there was a deeper meaning and I was able to grasp it because it was about the ugliness in her and my native country. Reading her poetry was a springboard to find other poems and poets like her.

Kelsey McDonald: Knowing that I can complete complex research papers, comprehend difficult texts, and confidently apply my skills to other aspects in my education and professional pursuits is extremely rewarding.  However, the best lesson I have learned is that the magic of the other worlds I have explored through literature has enabled me to be confident and adventurous in my own world. Reading has played such an important role in my life, and I hope to share my love of it with many students by teaching high school literature after I graduate and join the professional world. Continue reading

Remembering Dr. Ruvoli

On Friday, March 17, 2018, Dr. JoAnne Ruvoli lost her battle with leukemia, leaving behind many loved ones, and leaving the English department poorer from her loss.

I was a new professor at Ball State the same year as JoAnne. We became fast friends; both of us enjoying deep conversation, good books and films, Chicago and Chicago food, and good jokes. Her compassion during my times of need made her irreplaceable when she gently prodded me to come over so she could order what passes for pizza in Muncie. Her kindness, understanding, and good company will be greatly missed.

JoAnne was an accomplished scholar whose contributions to the field of Italian-American literature reach beyond adding to the body of scholarly writing. As a doctoral student at UIC, she diligently navigated a legal maze to bring the late Italian-American writer Tina De Rosa’s papers to the library archives—a feat unheard of for a student. This preserved the unpublished writing of a woman whose body of work explored the neighborhood that once existed where UIC campus rests today. Continue reading

What four moms talk about when they talk about “the talk”

Prof. Rani Crowe’s new film looks at what happens to a non-traditional family, comprised of four lesbian moms and a 15-year-old daughter, when it comes time to talk about sex. BSU student Tynan Drake reports on the film and Prof. Crowe’s vision of honest, helpful talk for young people on the verge of exploring their sexuality.

When 15-year-old Heather decides she is ready to lose her virginity, it is up to her four moms to decide how and when to give her ‘the talk.’ Mom Four is all on board for teaching Heather about sex, but first she must convince the other three moms that it is necessary. As the moms bicker amongst themselves, Heather moves forward with her decision only to discover that even a mature teenage girl still needs her mothers.

Crone Heights Productions’ short film, Heather Has Four Moms, was written and produced by BSU creative writing Prof. Rani Deighe Crowe, directed by her creative partner Jeanette L. Buck, and edited by Bonnie Rae Brickman. The film had its first screening at the Athens International Film and Video Festival in Athens, Ohio, on April 11. The production company’s mission is to put women in front of and behind the camera to produce the diverse stories that more commercial producers are not telling. Continue reading

Jessica Carducci: Service work, halfway around the world

Jessica Carducci graduated from BSU with a BA in English Studies in 2016. During her time here, she worked on the Broken Plate and the Digital Literature Review, and was the design coordinator for Reacting Out Loud. As an avid hockey fan, Carducci has volunteered as an editor for the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. She served as a secondary English teacher with Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan in the rural community of Asky rayon, Jalal-Abad Oblast. In this post, she recounts her experience with the Peace Corps and how it has impacted her life.

Why did you choose to go into the Peace Corps?

A workday selfie in a traditional Kyrgyz quilted jacket.

It sounded so interesting to me, so at least initially, it was because I’m such a curious person. It seemed like such an offhand discovery originally; I first thought about the Peace Corps because I stumbled across the blog of an RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer) who had been in the Ukraine. I was only looking for resources about learning and practicing the Russian language, but the more I read, the more I became enamored with the idea of traveling to a far-off country to do service work.

But in speaking with PCV’s and RPCV’s, it became about more than just curiosity and the world-traveler lifestyle. The Peace Corps places a lot of emphasis on both sustainable development and cultural exchange – both in learning about local cultures and in sharing the diversity of American culture. I wanted a place in that; I wanted to really be a part of whatever community I was in, and I wanted to see positive and permanent change happen. Continue reading

Dead Shakespeare Society Reading Friday

Three years ago, a small group of undergraduates banded together with me to adapt and reduce Shakespeare’s Macbeth for a performance in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death (April 23, 1616). We joined students from the Spanish Department and Professor Stephen Hesselm as it was also the 400th anniversary of Cervantes’s death. They translated a Cervantes play for their portion of the evening; my group produced a dramatic reading, complete with audience participation, to a lovely crowd at the Kennedy Public Library. The event was a success and several of my students decided this should become an annual event. We dubbed ourselves the Dead Shakespeare Society, and this week we are preparing for our third-annual dramatic reading.

The group has expanded to include undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni from various Ball State departments. Each year, a devoted crew works tirelessly to reduce our chosen Shakespeare play to an hour or less. The actors, with the exception of a few lead roles, take on multiple characters. This year, we once again join forces with the Spanish Department to present a night of Renaissance drama titled “Calderón & Shakespeare: Dreams & Nightmares.” The Spanish Department undergraduates are presenting their translation of Pedro Calderón’s La vida es sueno/Life is a dream (1635) and the Dead Shakespeare Society will be reading our reduced version of Richard III. Together we will serve up dramas that ask you to reflect on power structures, history, propaganda, fitness to rule, and fake news—the stuff of dreams and nightmares! The performances will be held from 5-7 p.m. this Friday at the Kennedy Public Library. All ages are welcome.

–Dr. Vanessa Rapatz

Kaveh Akbar shares songs of recovery and rediscovery

Akbar speaks to students during book-signing after his reading. Photo by Prof. Mark Neely.

One of the most celebrated young poets on the scene visited Ball State this week. Kaveh Akbar, a professor at Purdue University and author of the poetry collection Calling A Wolf A Wolf, read from his book and from some new work before a large, rapt crowd in a tightly-packed AJ 175 on Tuesday, April 10.

In Calling a Wolf a Wolf, published by Alice James Books in 2017, Akbar explores himself, inside and outside, the mind, and ideas of religion, recovery, and rediscovery. Akbar is open about this collection being a recovery narrative, and the poems invite readers to experience the recovery with him.

On his visit, in addition to reading from the book and from new work in progress (including a poem written Tuesday morning!), Akbar shared personal stories and lingered for more than an hour talking with students and signing books. The line for autographs and hugs stretched outside the lecture hall.

Akbar’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The New York Times, The Nation, Tin House, Best American Poetry 2018, The New Republic, The Guardian, Ploughshares, Georgia Review, PBS NewsHour, Harvard Review, American Poetry Review, Narrative, The Poetry Review, AGNI, New England Review, A Public Space, Prairie Schooner, Virginia Quarterly Review, Poetry International, Best New Poets 2016, Boston Review, and elsewhere. Akbar founded and edits Divedapper, a home for interviews with the most vital voices in contemporary poetry.

 

Skills in the city, or how I discovered my career path in the Big Apple

Natali Cavanagh is a senior creative writing major. Last semester, she ventured to New York to do two publishing internships as part of the NY Arts Program.  After graduation, she will be working as a publicity and marketing intern for Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. In this guest post, she describes her work at a journal and a literary agency and talks about how the skills she learned in English classes came to life in this jobs.

My junior year, I, like many of my peers, was wondering where my English degree would take me and what I would pursue after college. I knew I liked books and I enjoyed reading, analyzing, and interacting with stories, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a writer or teach English. In Cathy Day’s Novel Writing class, though, we learned a little bit about how the book publishing industry worked and the process a manuscript goes from beginning to end; the more I learned, the more I wanted to know! So last semester, I went to New York through the NY Arts Program and was offered 2 dream positions: working as a social media intern for Guernica literary magazine (which has published pieces by some of my favorite authors like Roxane Gay, Rebecca Solnit, and Zadie Smith!) and an editorial intern at Writers House literary agency (who also represent some of my favorite authors like John Green, Grace Lin, Ingrid Law, and Neil Gaiman!).

At Guernica, my primary job was to help build social media presence. On a daily level, I made Tweets and Facebook posts to promote pieces from the magazine (new and old); for long term projects, I worked toward making materials (like cultural calendars and workflow templates) that will continue to help the staff long after my time with them. Even though the internship was predominantly remote, the staff meetings were always so much fun; listening to all the fascinating and exciting new projects people were writing, helping create and plan for a new special topic issue (Deserts!), and having the opportunity to work with so many engaging and intelligent people was invigorating.

At Writers House, I worked under Senior Agent Dan Lazar and his Assistant/Junior Agent Torie Doherty-Munro. As an editorial intern, my main job was to read submitted manuscripts and provide editorial feedback: every day when I came in to work, Torie would send me a few partials (a 50-100 page section of a manuscript) and I would tell her whether or not I’d be interested in continuing to read/accepting the manuscript, what was working, and what potentially needed to be changed. Both Dan and Torie represent primarily Children’s/Young Adult books, but I read everything from short, middle-grade manuscripts to contemporary adult, realistic and historical fiction, speculative fiction, and fantasy. Every day I was reading something different! My favorite projects to work on, though, were always manuscripts that I got a chance to see evolve; seeing a manuscript improve after helping give editorial feedback was so gratifying and worthwhile.

I was lucky to be at two places that really encouraged growth and hands-on participation. At Guernica, I was writing and composing social media content every day, interacting and engaging with their online community. At Writers House, I felt that my editorial feedback was valued and that the work I was doing to help bring manuscripts to life was really helping the authors and agents I was aiding. And ultimately, I used every skill that I learned through my English classes: understanding craft and story structure, analyzing character and audience, writing in various styles (for a social media audience, for an individual author, for an agent…), being able to communicate my ideas clearly and concisely. Overall, I’m so grateful for my time in New York, not only for giving me an insider look into the industry I want to be a part of, but also for the opportunity to collaborate, play, and experiment with skills I’ll use for the rest of my professional life.

 

 

Originally written by Natali Cavanagh

Immersive Opportunities: Gain Hands-On Experience!

Are you wondering how you can get more involved in the department? Do you want to spice up your class schedule next year? Consider one of our many immersive learning classes! Immersive learning courses provide students with hands-on, real-world experience in their field of interest.

Previous courses have included Storytelling and Social Justice, where students published a book of true stories from community members to make poverty in Delaware County more visible, and Creative Writing in the Community, where students taught writing techniques to young writers in Muncie and published a collaborative anthology.

Fall 2018 English Immersive Learning Courses:

ENG 400: Book Arts Collaborative

This community letterpress and book bindery is located in the MadJax Building in downtown Muncie. Students learn to set type and hand-bind books, and each has the opportunity to become a student manager, where they’ll learn the ins and outs of business through collaboration with community partners. To learn more, contact Prof. Rai Peterson at rai@bsu.edu.

ENG 299X: Jacket Copy Creative

Students staff this in-house marketing agency for the English Department. They manage the department’s social media accounts, blog, and annual newsletter. Students learn storytelling strategies through practices in public relations, graphic design, editing, content marketing, and more. To learn more, contact Prof. Cathy Day at cday@bsu.edu.

ENG 489: The Broken Plate

In this class, students learn firsthand the editing and publishing world, as they produce this nationally distributed literary magazine. Students field submissions in poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, screenwriting, art, and photography, and the journal is released at the annual In Print Festival of First Books. To learn more, contact Prof. Silas Hansen at schansen@bsu.edu.

ENG 400: Digital Literature Review

Students read deeply in literature, theory, and criticism on a vital topic, then produce a volume of this scholarly journal on that topic. Next year’s topic is Brave New Worlds: Utopias and Dystopias in Literature and Film. To learn more, contact Prof. Vanessa Rapatz at vlrapatz@bsu.edu.

ENG 299X: Rethinking Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Students will focus on rethinking characters in children’s and young adult literature to help shift the stigma associated with being disabled. The course culminates in the production of a comprehensive magazine/website containing resources on literature featuring disabled characters and fiction and non-fiction pieces co-created by students at BSU and the Burris Laboratory School. To learn more, contact Prof. Lyn Jones at ljones2@bsu.edu.

 

Short Film Corner with Rani: Gowanus 83

I really love this 2011 short film, Gowanus 83. At eleven minutes, it is a great example of using genre in short film. It uses the tropes and genre conventions of a gangster film while making them fresh through comedy and specificity of character, plot, and world.

I admire the dialogue in this film. Reminiscent of Tarantino’s writing, it plays with genre expectations and comically subverts character stereotypes. Through comedic dialogue, the film creates the tension of the plot and reveals necessary backstory.

Lastly, Gowanus 83 utilizes the specificity of its world. By setting it in this neighborhood in Brooklyn, it allows the possibility of the interactions of all of these characters and invites the kind of chance and coincidence that can only happen in a city like New York.

Enjoy Gowanus 83!

 

 

Originally written by Rani Crowe