Author Archives: Cathy Day

Becca Wolfley: Marketer and Freelance Copywriter

Becca Wolfley graduated from Ball State University with a B.S. in Advertising (and a minor in Creative Writing) in 2015. After graduation, she worked as a content writer and manager for tech company Lesson.ly until May of 2016, then became the digital copywriter for The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis a month later. She continues to work as a creative for the museum’s marketing department while moonlighting as a freelance copywriter.

How did your major and minor lead to your current position? What series of steps did you make after college to get there, and what skills did you learn with us that helped you in that transition?

From my experience as an Ad major, many of my peers didn’t know how to tell a single story in various ways. I suppose that’s how I got here—I was one of the few that could. I thank my creative writing classes for that.

Screenwriting, poetry, English literature…the combination of these classes (and then some) taught me to write practically, write concisely, and interpret critically. Between literature courses and rhetorical analysis with Rai Peterson and abstract, post-modern poetry with Pete Davis, I got the hang of how to write for the perception I desired from multiple audiences without compromising creativity.

By the time I finished college, I had a portfolio of various types of work. In cover letters, it didn’t hurt to show the similarities between a commercial script and a screenplay, or how poetics play a big role in commercial scripting.
Continue reading

Survey Says! Tell us how we’re doing

We need your help, #bsuenglish. Please take our survey!

Please do this…

  • Whether you’re a prospective, current, or former student.
  • Whether you’re a faculty member in this department or elsewhere.
  • Whether you’re a parent keeping tabs on your progeny.
  • Whether you’re a fan of all our literary and scholarly events.

We need feedback to learn how you engage with us.

Tell us! We want to know!

Take the survey now. And tell your friends to take it too!

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.

Continue reading

What can you do with an English major? We'll show you!

Instead of Career Week, the English department will host monthly career workshops all year long.

You know you need this, right?

Right.

The first one is coming up fast and we want to tell you all about it. Let us know if you’re coming!

Put these dates on your calendar right now, people.

Fall 2016

Tuesday, August 30 at 6:30 PM in RB 290

“Stars to Steer By: Finding Your Way with a Humanities Degree”

To kick off our “Stars to Steer By” series, we’ll talk about both personal and professional development and help you discover your passions.

Tuesday, September 27 at 6:30 PM in 104 Bracken Library

Continue reading

"Literature gives life a story": Sean Southern on finding your path

Alum Sean Southern

Alum Sean Southern

Sean Southern graduated from Ball State University in 2000 as double major in English and History. After college, he earned an M.A. in English at DePaul University in 2002 and a J.D. in Law at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Law in 2007, where he graduated cum laude.

Following law school, Sean practiced law in both the public and private sectors. First, he joined a large Chicago law firm where he focused his practice on commercial leasing and other real estate matters. Thereafter, Sean represented indigent criminal defendants at the Office of the State Appellate Defender, obtaining favorable decisions on both direct appeal and in collateral proceedings.

Then in 2011 he joined the Office of Professional Development at Indiana University’s School of Law, where he now serves as Associate Director. Sean’s responsibilities include developing and maintaining effective relationships with legal employers and the greater legal community, assisting alumni and students with job search strategies and resume design, and administering the on-campus interview program.

How did your English major lead to your career in law–as well as your job as a career counselor? What skills did you learn as an English major that helped you transition? 

Continue reading

Alum Matt Gonzales on Dr. Lauren Onkey

A New Series

We’re starting a new series here at #bsuenglish: O Captain! My Captain!

Maybe you recognize it as the title of this Walt Whitman poem?

Maybe you recognize the phrase from the pivotal scene of Dead Poet’s Society?

In this series, we want alumni to talk about a transformative educational experience they had with our faculty (past or present), similar to what New York Times columnist Frank Bruni does here. 

Why are we doing this?

Because the humanities are not “impractical,” and we need to start telling stories like this as loudly and as effectively as we can.

We need you to start standing up on desks. 

We hope every single alum of our department had a transformative experience in Robert Bell. If so, please write to us and describe it. We’ll publish your answer on the blog, including a comment from the faculty member.

If that faculty member has retired or moved on, we’ll provide an update on “where are they now?” If they have passed away, we’ll tell you all about them. It’s important to share the history of the department.

  • Our first “Captain” is Dr. Lauren Onkey, who taught at Ball State from 1994 to 2008.
  • Our first “desk-stander” is Matt Gonzales.

Continue reading

Good News for April 2015

In the latest installment of the “Good News” series, the Ball State English department highlights the accomplishments of our faculty and students up through the month of April. 
Yes, we’re a little late. Finals are tough!

Faculty

Dr. Carolyn Mackay working in Yecuatla, Mexico.

Dr. Carolyn Mackay working in Yecuatla, Mexico.

Drs. Frank Trechsel and Carolyn Mackay have each received a sizable fellowship which will allow them to do a year of research in Mexico. The grant was part of a joint initiative between National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support fieldwork and other activities relevant to recording, documenting, and archiving endangered languages. Their project title is “A Dictionary of Misantla Totonac,” and it was one of just 232 humanities projects awarded in the United States and one of seven in the state of Indiana.

Dr. Pat Collier will be a Virginia Ball Center Fellow in Spring 2016. In his symposium, “Everyday Life in Middletown,” students will study and create a documentary film about everyday life in Muncie, drawing on the growing body of “theory of everyday life” and borrowing from the radical aesthetics of the revolutionary Mass Observation project in 1930s Britain. The project will thus partake in—and revise and expand—the tradition of “Middletown Studies.”

Dr. Mary Lou Vercellotti‘s article “The Development of Complexity, Accuracy, and Fluency in Second Language Performance: A Longitudinal Study” was recently published in Applied Linguistics, one of the top three linguistics journals in her discipline. This study is note-worthy because the results offer the field important evidence to inform language learning theories and will most likely inform future language-learning pedagogy.

Prof. Liz Whiteacre is the recipient of a 2015 Excellence in Teaching Award. She will be provided the assistance of an instructional development team and stipend for her project, titled “Building Community: Engaging Students through Literary Citizenship,” to redesign her ENG 308 Poetry Writing course. Prof. Whiteacre will also be recognized at the Fall Convocation.

Continue reading

Meet Your New Faculty Members!

Come fall, there will be new faces in the halls of Robert Bell. Here are three of them!

Poetry: Dr. Katy Didden

DiddenKaty Didden grew up in Washington D.C., and has lived in many cities across the U.S., including Seattle, Chicago, St. Louis, and Eugene.  She holds degrees from Washington University, the University of Maryland, and the University of Missouri, and she has taught courses in creative writing, composition, literature, and film.

Her first book, The Glacier’s Wake, won the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize from Pleiades Press and is available for purchase here or here or here. Her poems and reviews appear in journals such as Ecotone, Bat City ReviewThe Kenyon Review, Image, The Missouri Review, Smartish Pace, Poetry, and the Best New Poets Anthology (2009).  She won the Beulah Rose prize from Smartish Pace, three Dorothy Sargent Awards, and an Academy of American Poets Prize, and her work has been featured on Verse Daily and Poetry Daily.

She has received scholarships and residencies from The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Vermont Studio Center, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, the Ragdale Foundation, the Hambidge Center, and the MacDowell Colony.

Continue reading

Award-winning young adult author coming to Ball State

Eliot Schrefer is the featured speaker of the Marilyn Cory Speaker Series for Spring 2015. He will speak on Tuesday, March 10 from 7-8 PM in Art and Journalism 175.

He is the author of Threatened and Endangered, which was a National Book Finalist (2012), one of NPR’s “Best of 2012” and an editor’s choice in the New York Times. He has also written other young adult novels, such as Glamorous Disasters, The School for Dangerous Girls (selected as “Best of the Teen Age” by New York Public Library), and The Deadly Sister (earning a starred review from Library Journal).

The title of his talk is “Getting Others Into View: Crossing the Lines Between Teen and Adult, and Human and Animal, in Young Adult Literature.” Eliot’s talk will center on boundary crossings and navigating borderlines, especially in the realm of young adult literature.  He will focus on discourse by and about adult and teen readers and writers, and how such discourse parallels the ways we discuss Africa and animal conservation.

Dr. Susanna Benko has been teaching Schrefer’s work in her ENG 414 Young Adult Literature course for a number of years, and the author has been visiting Ball State via Skype. Here’s a blog post by Blake Mellencamp about one of those virtual visits.