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Michael Prosser: A Teacher’s Odyssey

Michael H. Prosser received his BA in English with minors in Latin and speech in 1958, and his MA in English with a minor in Latin at BSU in 1959. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois in Communications with a minor in English in 1964. He has taught at Ball State, the University of Virginia, and the University of Swaziland, and other schools across the world. Prosser is also a founder of the academic field of intercultural communication, and has written or edited books on topics ranging from classical and medieval rhetoric to international public discourse.

You are among Ball State’s most esteemed alumni. What are a few memories that stand out to you from your time here?

I was an undergraduate debater at BSU and president of the campus Newman Club. In 1978, BSU gave me an Outstanding Alumnus award. Several of my books are in the BSU library, as well as my MA thesis ‘’Solitude in the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne,” (under the leadership of Alfred Harding Marks), and my Ph.D. thesis “A Rhetorical Analysis of the Speeches of Adlai Stevenson in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Sessions of the United Nations General Assembly.”

When I was a teaching assistant at Ball State in 1958-59, I taught one quarter of American Literature and two quarters of public speaking (which included lots of vets who had fought in Korea). My supervisor was Lucille Clifton, and I had classes on Milton with Jon Loury as well as courses with Paul Royalty, Alfred Harding Marks, Joseph Sattler, and Edward Strother. The most interesting three quarter course that I took in the English Department was Shakespeare: in fall, histories; winter, the comedies; spring, the tragedies. Continue reading

January Good News: Prof. Lyn Jones Receives a Provost Immersive Learning Grant (and More!)

We’ve got a lot of good news to share this month!

Faculty News

Prof. Sean Lovelace published four “Letters to Jim Harrison” in Willow Springs Magazine Winter 2018 issue.

Prof. Carolyn J. MacKay and Prof. Frank R Trechsel published “An Alternative Reconstruction of Proto-Totonac-Tepehua” in the International Journal of American Linguistics.

Prof. Michael Begnal published a review of recent books by Irish poets Trevor Joyce, Nerys Williams, and Susan Connolly in the latest issue of Trumpet, a journal of criticism and opinion published by Poetry Ireland.

Prof. Rani Deighe Crowe’s poem, My First Love, was published in The American Journal of Poetry Volume 4.  Rani’s short film Texting: A Love Story is an official selection of the Harrogate Film Festival, to be held in March in Harrogate, UK. Texting will also be screening at the inaugural Bull City International Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina and the Women’s Worldwide Film Festival in Scottsdale, Arizona this month.

Prof. Emily Rutter published “Going Back to Kansas City: An Interview with Ira McKnight” in NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture.

Prof. Pamela Hartman, with current graduate student Hannah Fulton and former BSU graduates Jessica Berg and Brandon Schuler will be presenting “Memes to Mirrors: Integrating the Visual Arts into Secondary English Language Arts” at the International Federation of Teachers of English conference in Birmingham, UK in June.

Prof. Ben Bascom published a book review in Common-Place: The Journal of Early American Life and was invited to write a response to an essay about Henri Michaux.

Prof. Adam R. Beach presented on “Olaudah Equine and the Temptations of Ottoman Migration” at the annual convention of the Modern Language Association (MLA), the premier conference in literary studies, in New York on January 7. The paper was part of a session on “Migrancy and Empire in the Eighteenth Century.”

Prof. Sreyoshi Sarkar also presented at MLA. She organized the January 7 roundtable on “Visualizing Violence in Contemporary States of Insecurity” and presented her paper, “Michael Winterbottom’s In This World and the Disjuncture/s of Globalization” at the roundtable.

Professor Cathy Day was invited to be a special guest at “Uncle Dan’s Book Nerds,” a periodic book chat hosted by renowned Hoosier author Dan Wakefield. The event will take place from 6-8 p.m. Sunday, February 11 at the Aristocrat Pub’s Oxford Room. For tickets and more information, go here.

Prof. Jennifer Grouling published “The Path to Competency-Based Certification: A Look at the LEAP Challenge and the VALUE Rubric for Written Communication” in the Journal of Writing Assessment.

Prof. Lyn Jones received a Provost Immersive Learning Grant for Fall 2018. Her project is “Rethinking the Stories We Publish, Shelve, and Read: Rethinking Disability in Children’s and Young Adult Literature.”

Prof. Jill Christman has two new essays coming out in prestigious literary journals this spring: “Naked Underneath Our Clothes” in Creative Nonfiction and “Life’s Not a Paragraph” in River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative.  Professor Christman’s contribution to Essay Daily’s advent calendar in December celebrated former English Department students: “Jill Christman on Essays to Pry Open Doors: Ashley C. Ford, Alysia Sawchyn, & Brittany Means.”

Speaking of Ashley C. Ford, this incredible news: Flat Iron Books will be publishing her memoir, Somebody’s Daughter, under the imprint An Oprah Book.

Prof. Kathryn Ludwig gave a talk entitled “Offred and Gilead” and led a discussion on Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale at a Muncie Public Library book club meeting at Maring-Hunt Library on Wednesday, January 24.

Prof. Guilherme D. Garcia will present “Regulating the interaction between lexical statistics and the grammar: a naturalness bias in learning weight” at the 41st Generative Linguistics in the Old World (GLOW) conference, held at the Hungarian Academy of Science in Budapest in April.

Prof. Rai Peterson is teaching at Book Arts Collaborative, a community letterpress and hand-sewn book bindery located in the Madjax Building in downtown Muncie.  You can learn more by visiting the collaborative’s website or listening to this Ball State Daily News podcast on which Dr. Peterson muses aloud about the materiality of books. Book Arts Collaborative holds an open house on First Thursday from 5-8 p.m., offers community workshops, and is available for tours and demonstrations by appointment.

Student News

Mary Carter’s essay “Returning in the Snow” was published online by Atticus Review.

Alumni News

Morgan “Mo” Smith Heldman, who graduated with a BA in Creative Writing in 2013, recently got a job writing content for Samsung mobile apps. She lives in Greenville, SC. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

Rachel Tindall, who graduated with a MA in English Studies in 2017, recently accepted a position as Project Intake Coordinator at Orchard Software in Indianapolis, which delivers diagnostic information systems to healthcare organizations. You can find her on LinkedIn.

Nikole Darnell, who graduated with a BA in Creative Writing in 2017, is working for the Lebanon Reporter in Lebanon, IN and recently became a columnist. You can find her on LinkedIn.

Kate Carnahan, who graduated with a BA in Creative Writing in December, recently got an internship as a Communications Intern at Habitat for Humanity of Evansville. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

Emily Barsic, who graduated with a BA in Literature in 2017, recently got a job working as a Camp Coordinator and doing Marketing at Share Foundation with the Handicapped in Rolling Prairie, IN. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

Faculty Reading Series: Rani Crowe and Kathryn Gardiner

At the beginning of February, the Ball State Creative Writing program will host a reading focused on two of our talented faculty members: Rani Deighe Crowe and Kathryn S. Gardiner. Aside from featuring their poetry and screenplays, the event will also screen several of Professor Crowe’s short films.

The reading will be at 8 p.m. Wednesday, February 7, in Room 225 Arts and Journalism Building (AJ). It is free and open to the public—so bring your friends and family and come support your amazing creative writing faculty!

Rani Deigh Crowe

Rani Deighe Crowe is a filmmaker, theater artist, and collaborative inter­disciplinary artist, and has been making and performing her work for more than twenty years. Her short film Beautiful Eyes was named “Best of ” at the Final Girls Women in Horror Film Festival and has screened in Berlin and Nuremberg, Ger­many, Tel Aviv, Israel, and Innsbruck, Austria. Her short film, Texting: A Love Story, has screened at more than 80 international film festivals in­cluding the Athens International Film and Video Festival, Tall Grass Film Festival, RapidLion South Africa International Film Festival, and the Valley Film Festival Los Angeles.

As a starving artist, Rani has lived in New York, Chicago, London, and Washington, DC. She has managed a bookstore, managed a restaurant, built theater sets, worked the spotlight at a nightclub, taught preschool, been a substitute teacher, been a live-in nanny, acted as a simulated patient training doctors, and much more. In her spare time she enjoys making jewelry and kayaking, and she is currently teaching herself to sew.

Kathryn S. Gardiner

Kathryn S. Gardiner received her bachelor’s degree in Telecommunications from Ball State University and her master’s degree in Screenwriting from Hollins University in Roanoke, Va. As editor of special products for the Hoosier Times in Bloomington, In. from 2007 to 2015, Kathryn spearheaded The South-Central Indiana Wedding Guide, H&L, INstride, BizNet, and Adventure Indiana. The latter publication let her try out roller derby, spelunking, gymnastics, contemporary dance, and a GORUCK Challenge.

She spent more than three years as an amateur mixed martial arts fighter, “retiring” in 2011 with a record of 2-2 (or 3-2, if you count her Muay Thai bout in Las Vegas, which she likes to). She has a deep love of The Lord of the Rings, Captain AmericaStar Wars, and Star Trek, as well as Abraham Lincoln, Shakespeare, and Jane Austen. She currently teaches screenwriting at Ball State and lives with a marvelous tabby cat named Cairo.

 

Meet Prof. Alex Kaufman

Although originally from Philadelphia, Alex Kaufman comes to us from Auburn University at Montgomery, in Alabama, where he was department chair and Professor of English. This summer, Dr. Kaufman was named the Reed D. Voran Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Ball State. He teaches courses on Robin Hood, outlaws and banditry, historical literature, medieval literature, and medievalism. He is the co-editor of the book series Outlaws in Literature, History, and Culture from Routledge Publishing and is  the co-founder and co-editor of the scholarly journal  The Bulletin of the International Association for Robin Hood Studies. Click here to see his Academia page.

Dr. Kaufman will give a talk at 4pm Monday, February 5, in AJ 175 on “Robin Hood and the Outlawed Literary Canon.”

After Dr. Kaufman got settled in to Muncie, we sat down to get to know him a bit.

What led you to Ball State?

I was drawn to Ball State’s commitment to the liberal arts and the humanities, especially in the undergraduate curriculum. Both the Honors College and the Department of English underscore the intellectual and professional value of an education focused on immersive learning, critical thinking, diversity, and an engagement with social concerns.

How did you become interested in Robin Hood? 

I was very fortunate to study with Thomas H. Ohlgren at Purdue University during my graduate studies. Tom was, and remains, one of the leading scholars of the early Robin Hood poems, and his enthusiasm for the subject was contagious. With Robin Hood – and other outlaws in literature and history, from the medieval period to the present day – I am drawn to those individuals and groups who are marginalized by the society in which they live, and I seek to understand why and how society creates these outsiders, and how these marginals attempt to survive within their literary or real worlds. The outlaw will always be relevant and a presence in most contemporary contexts.

What are you reading?

I am reading Sean M. Conrey’s recent book of poetry, The Book of Trees. It is an extension of the medieval paradox of the beauty one finds in the external world and the challenge to fully describe and comprehend it. It is elegiac, contemplative, and timely.

What are some of your hobbies or interests?  

I love exploring nature, especially with others, and Indiana has so much to offer. I also love listening to music, especially King Crimson, Warren Zevon, and John Cale, and I never stopped buying vinyl. We lost count of how many boxes of books, albums, and CDs we moved to Muncie!

What advice would you offer students? 

Take full advantage of everything that Ball State has to offer now, don’t wait. And talk to your professors and advisors to create those professional connections – these can only help you when it comes to job placement, applying to graduate programs, and making sense of your studies.

 

Women in the Post-Apocalypse: An Interview with Kristen Simmons

This year’s Digital Literature Review focuses on the post-apocalyptic, including the ways gender is depicted in post-apocalyptic stories. Time and time again, women in post-apocalyptic narratives are forced back into patriarchal roles after catastrophic events. Young adult fiction writer Kristen Simmons deliberately writes stories that place young women in active, empowered roles. An award-winning author who lives in Cincinnati, Simmons has written six books and has a seventh coming out this fall. 

Simmons will read from her novel The Glass Arrow tonight at 7:30 in the Student Center Ballroom. The Glass Arrow tells the story of Aya, a girl on the run from men who hunt women and sell them at auction. 

In the interview below, Simmons talks about The Glass Arrow, about reproductive rights, about young adult fiction, and about why post-apocalyptic fictions feel timely right now. 

What inspired you to write this book? What sources did you draw inspiration from? 

I had many inspirations for this book, including Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and my own experiences as a woman. Writing has always been a way of processing events in my life, and so the beginnings of Glass Arrow are rooted in my childhood, and my transformation to teenage life, when I quickly realized the beliefs that I could do anything would be stunted by a glass ceiling, and a societal shift of values. Girls are often given the message that worth is defined by physical beauty, and how others perceive them. I wanted to write about that world, and about a girl trying to break out of it.

Why do you think there is trend in our media towards post-apocalyptic/dystopian themes and worlds? 

I think there are many writers, like me, who see dystopia as a way of examining current events. I never feel like I’m writing about the future–I feel like I’m writing an altered view of the present. Misogyny is not a concept defined by time; the media is reporting on this kind of oppression every day.

Did Aya (or other characters) ever point you to a different direction in the story than you had planned?

Oh yes! Without giving away too many spoilers, there was definitely one scene in the book I did not expect at all. I bawled when I wrote it.

Why did you focus this story on women and reproductive rights? 

Because I believe this is a current issue we’re still facing. If we don’t keep talking about it and challenging the existing constraints of our society, we’re going to find ourselves stuck, or reverting. We all need to make our voices heard. The Glass Arrow is how I’m sharing my story, and my feelings on the issue.

Why did you decide to write in the young adult genre? 

Writing to a young adult audience has never been a deliberate decision of mine. I always write the story in my head, and it often ends up that those characters are in their teen years, a time when people first experience true independence. My stories always seem to gravitate toward characters forced to make decisions they’ve never had to contemplate before–they’re young on the page, but hopefully feel relatable to any age reader.

Why did you pick a post-apocalyptic world as the setting of this novel?

I see a post-apocalyptic setting not as a future possibility, but my own processing of the present. Dystopia is the lens through which I view the world now, as is. We all process experiences in different ways, but when I think of many of the things we are facing today, I see a world in disarray, and fierce, tenacious survivors carving their way through it.

Can you tell us a little bit about your new book? 

I’m so thrilled to say that Pacifica, my next book, will be out on March 6th. It’s about a pirate girl and the son of the president, thrown together to search for their missing friend in a trash-filled world after the last of the polar ice caps have melted. Due to the environmental impact, there is tremendous strain among the people in this story–a dynamic inspired by my grandmother’s stories from her internment in a Japanese internment camp during WWII. Because of that, this book is very personal. I hope people enjoy reading it!

Original interview done by Bailey Shrewsbury.

Jared Linder: From English Degree to Career in Technology

Jared Linder is a two-time Ball State graduate, once as undergrad with the English department, and again as a graduate student earning an M.S. in Information and Communication Sciences at the Center for Information and Communication Sciences (CICS). He is a recent graduate from the MBA program at Butler University. He also serves as the Chief Information Officer for the State of Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration.

Most people would assume that a student who majored in English would never have a job as a Chief Information Officer. How did you move from English to a career in information technology?

When I graduated from Ball State in late preview-full-Jared Linder.JPG1998, the world was heavily focused on IT jobs, especially Y2K and the possible issues we would face if things did not go well. I honestly had a hard time finding a job. I did not really know what I was looking for, and had not prepared well for what my post-college life was supposed to look like. I started a job working at the lowest rung at an IT company when soon someone realized I could write and communicate. That was when I became confident in my liberal arts background as a positive force for my success. I began to change my career mindset to focus on solving problems and helping people vs merely working in IT. That made all the difference; I just applied my learned skills to the reality of working in a 21st-century growth industry. I used to tell my mom I worked around computers; now I tell her I help people get things done. I started to gravitate towards client relationships and working with project teams and management.

Continue reading

Meet Prof. Sreyoshi Sarkar

Sreyoshi Sarkar comes to us from Baltimore, Maryland. She earned her doctoral degree in Postcolonial literature and media from George Washington University D.C. this past summer. She specializes in South Asian studies, gender, and eco-criticism, and has published works in journals like Commonwealth Essays and StudiesSouth Asian Review, and Green Letters Journal. She will be teaching courses in world literature and film studies here at Ball State.

How would you describe your perspective on teaching?

I love teaching because for me it is an interactive platform where everyone in class is a participant, including the instructor. My part in this collaborative process is to introduce students to the subject of study, its key concepts, and some important scholarship. But beyond that my classes are highly interactive – an eclectic mix of short lectures interwoven with a lot of in-class discussion, group work, and creative presentations.

The same applies to my written assignments. I always emphasize that students focus on their individual experiences of a text when making an argument about it. For me, “the experience of” is crucial. It invites us (and by “us” I mean both the students and me) to critically analyze the art and craft of the text and our own individual contexts that often inform how we receive a text.

In my experience, such deep thinking enables us to be more self-aware and also more patient with and respectful towards each other and our differences. Sometimes, such moments of teaching-learning go a long way in making us better citizens at home and in the world.

Finally, the teachers who made a difference in my life were always humble, sensitive, and truly caring individuals; they were invested in their students’ making the most out of a class. And that is what I strive to do as well. Continue reading

Meet Prof. Kat Greene

Kat Greene earned her BA in graphic design and Master’s degrees in journalism and English here at Ball State University. She’s currently working to complete her PhD in rhetoric and composition. She will be teaching classes in the Writing Program. Check out her website

When are your office hours?

My fall office hours are MWF from 10-11:50 a.m.

What are you reading right now, if anything?

I’m about halfway through Tina Fey’s Bossypants.

Are you working on any projects at the moment? What are they?

For the past year, I have been working on my dissertation. I spent fall 2016 observing three first-year writing instructors who incorporated Ball State’s (final) freshman common reader, The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas by Anand Giridharadas into their courses. My dissertation describes their their teaching practices, successes, and challenges with using the book. Continue reading

Spoken-Word Poet Mahogany L. Browne to Visit Ball State

Poet, activist, and visionary Mahogany L. Browne will visit Ball State for a performance and reading in the Student Center Ballroom on September 27 at 8:30pm. This event is free and open to the public.

Browne is a Cave Canem fellow, founder of Penmanship Books, and Poetry Program Director of Nuyorican Poets Café. She is the author of several collections, including the NAACP Outstanding Literary Works-nominated book Redbone and Dear Twitter: Love Letters Hashed Out On-Line. She is also an Urban Word NYC Poet-in-Residence (as seen on HBO’s Brave New Voices), founder of Women Writers of Color Reading Room (housed on Pratt Institute), and facilitates performance poetry and writing workshops throughout the country. Check out selections of her work at https://mobrowne.com/

This event is a part of the Marilyn K. Cory Speaker Series and is sponsored by the Departments of English, African American Studies, and Sociology; the Multicultural Center; and the Office of Institutional Diversity.

If you need an accommodation to fully participate in the event, please contact Professor Emily Rutter (errutter@bsu.edu).

Oh, the places you’ll go, #bsuenglish

Want an answer to the question “What can you do with an English degree?”

Here’s what some recent #bsuenglish graduates are doing right now!

Communications & Marketing

  • Luke Bell (BA in CW 2016) Writer & Social Media Manager, Fanning Howey Architects, Indianapolis, IN
  • Lauren Birkey (BA in English Studies 2017) Copywriter & Designer, Spotted Monkey Marketing, Muncie, IN
  • Ellie Fawcett (BA in Literature 2017) Marketing Specialist and Content Writer, Englin’s Fine Footwear, Muncie, IN

Publishing

  • Daniel Brount (BA in CW 2016) Page Designer/Copy Editor, Gatehouse Media, Austin, TX
  • Brandon Buechley (BA in CW 2016) Marketing Assistant, Cardinal Publisher’s Group, Indianapolis, IN
  • Caroline Delk (BA in CW 2017) Assistant and Remote Intern, Brent Taylor, Triada Literary Agency, Sewickley, PA
  • Audrey Hirons (BA in CW 2016) Article Editor, ZergNet, Carmel, IN
  • Niki Wilkes (BA in CW 2015) Marketing Coordinator, Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, IN Continue reading