Author Archives: Cathy Day

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.

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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!


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.

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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.

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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.

Are you ready to take the next step?

The Career Center wants you to be ready for all aspects of your job search, so get ahead of the curve by participating in these upcoming events and offerings.

These are for both undergraduate and graduate students in English.

Wednesday and Thursday, February 4 and 5


  • 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Art and Journalism Building Atrium
  • Come have your résumé reviewed by employers and Career Coaches to ensure that you have the very best document you can put forward for an internship or job.

Wednesday, February 11

Cardinal Job Fair

  • 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Worthen Arena
  • The event brings to campus a wide range of employers that want to connect with students and alumni for internships and full-time employment.
  • Here’s the Employer Guidebook. Check it out!

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Good News, January 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 January.

All the Good News that’s fit to print!

Mary Lou Vercellotti received a grant to work with Wollo University in Ethiopia. Full details are available in the following press release. She will advise in their English language program, and Ruby Cain from Teacher’s College will advise on higher education administration. Dr. Vercellotti will visit Ethiopia during spring break.

EnglertKelsey Englert, a Ball State English alum, had her story, “Goodbye to the Karls,” published in Bartleby Snopes. This online magazine asks its readers to vote on their favorite story, which is then published in an online edition, and Kelsey’s story was the one selected. She is currently a graduate student in the MFA program at West Virginia University.

Jill Christman

Emily Scalzo published her haikus, “Dutch Alcoholics” and “A Polar Vortex,” in Cattails and Halcyon this winter. Continue reading

Road trip to UIndy to meet Young Adult author Katie Coyle

coyleNot long ago, Rolling Stone published a list of the 40 Best YA Novels.

One of the books on that list was the just-released Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle.

She’s a former student of Professor Cathy Day, and she’s coming to Indiana.

Thursday, February 5, 7:30pm at UIndy, Schwitzer Student Union 010.

Road trip?

Prof. Day is organizing a trip to UIndy to hear Coyle read from her work. If you’re interested in going, email her at cday ((at)) bsu dot. edu and she will organize a caravan. Please let her know if you’re able to drive a vehicle.

Who is Katie Coyle?

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Jessie Fudge lands internship at Indy Monthly, stalks Jim Nabors

photo provided by Jessie Fudge

photo provided by Jessie Fudge

During the spring semester 2014, creative writing major Jessie Fudge (B.A. 2014) worked as a fact checker at the magazine Indianapolis Monthly. She got a few online bylines as well, such as this piece about a Ball State immersive learning course on Kurt Vonnegut, a profile of a flask maker, as well as coverage of the gay marriage HJR-3 bill.

We just had to ask her a few questions. 

How did you go land this internship at IndyMonthly? 

Kim Hannel, the managing editor at Indianapolis Monthly, sent out an email seeking Ball State students as fact checkers for the magazine. It felt like this great opportunity just fell into my lap, so I jumped at the chance to apply for it.

I had to pass a few tests before I was granted an interview, one to show I had fact-checking and grammar skills and the other to see if I had a basic knowledge of current events. I showed Kim I’d be great for the job by focusing on which facts to verify instead of getting bogged down with every little grammatical error I saw.

The best advice I can offer is to not be shy when these internship offers come around. If you see an opportunity like working for a magazine, take it.

What did you do in a typical day or week?

  • Get coffee!
  • Check in with Kim to see if she has any extra work for me to do.
  • Read through an article (the parts that need to be verified are highlighted by the wonderful Kim).
  • Try and find as much information as possible online before calling or emailing sources.
  • Call or email all the people you need to question. These people can range from the super friendly and talkative to those who are angry for being bothered.
  • Wait for them to get back to you (this is the most horrible part of the job…the endless waiting…)
  • Type everything that needs to be fixed in an article. You’d be surprised how much needs to be changed before the article goes to the printers.  Send it back to Kim.
  • There are also many opportunities to write blog posts for the website and articles that will be printed in the magazine, as well as chances to talk to famous people like John Green (The Fault in Our Stars) and Jim Nabors (a.k.a. Gomer Pyle). He and I are now besties, and he told me to come find him at the Indy 500 so he can “put a face to my pretty voice.”

You can read Jessie’s excellent profile here: “I Stalked Jim Nabors.” 

Has this internship helped you figure out what you want to “be” when you graduate?

Not exactly, but it has helped open up quite a few options. This job involves a bit of everything: reading, writing, editing, interviewing, researching, marketing, and collaborating.

It made me confident that I could succeed at a similar job as a magazine editor, or do something else entirely like working in public relations.

Nothing helps you prepare for a career after college like working as an intern. First-hand experience is wonderful.

What courses at Ball State prepared you best? 

The Broken Plate is a wonderful way to get an introduction into editing and publishing. You get to put a literary magazine together with a class as well as work on individual publishing projects like printing your own book or making an ePub.

Cathy Day’s novel writing class will also help by showing you how important it is to get your words down on paper. After that first draft, you can always go back through and make it pretty, but the hard part is getting your great and crazy ideas from your head to the page.

If this internship sounds great to you, remember:

  1. Jessie earned credit for this internship: ENG 369 Professional Experience.
  2. If you’re interested in doing an internship for credit, check out this FAQ and make an appointment to talk with Prof. Cathy Day, Assistant Chair of the English Department.
  3. The Career Center in 220 Lucina also coordinates many internships.

Coming Very, Very Soon: It’s the English Department SuperParty

Which of these thoughts has ever crossed your mind?

[Check all that apply.]

  • “I want to belong to something. How do I get involved?” 

  • “Am I taking the right classes to graduate?”

  • “I know I like English, but what should I focus on?”

  • “I know I should do an internship. How do I make that happen?”

  • What am I going to do with my life?”

Get the answers to these and lots of other questions at our Advising Sessions! 

English Advising Sessions

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Voila! Our e-newsletter, (Re)Vision

For years, we mailed a hardcopy newsletter to alumni.

Then, for awhile, we sent them a pdf newsletter as an attachment.

And now, in 2015, we have entered the digital age and launched an e-newsletter.

We call it (Re)Vision for three reasons:

  1. Our lives are always in a state of revision.
  2. This department is looking toward the future.
  3. We need your help to rewrite the value of an English degree.

We want to revise the way that many people in our culture feel about the value of an English degree.

As you may be aware, many in the national media question the value of a college education in general, and a traditional liberal arts education in particular. We want to keep in touch with alumni so that our current students can quite literally see all the things that an English degree can help them “be.”

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 5.24.41 PMFeatures of the newsletter:

  • In the navigation bar at the top, there’s a link to our Class Notes page. Please tell us what you’re up to! If your submission meets our editorial criteria, it will appear in an upcoming newsletter and on the blog.
  • There are also links to this blog, departmental events, our weekly Storify, our contact page, and a new giving page (in case you feel like paying it forward!)
  • Spring Forward: We’ve added a calendar of upcoming events so that alums and friends can come to our cool readings and lectures. You’re always welcome. Anything that’s on that calendar is free and open to the public.
  • Fall Back: Click through and see highlights of the semester via our Facebook photo albums.

This semester we featured stories like Achievements (like Mark Neely’s NEA!), a letter from the chair, new faculty, etc.

For Spring 2015, we’re planning to feature emeritus faculty, a “Where are they now?” series. Who would you like to learn about?

Even though (Re)Vision is an alumni newsletter, it’s really for anyone who wants to learn more about our department. It’s clickable, forward-able, share-able. If you read something you like, share it! 

If you didn’t receive it, make sure you’re registered with the Ball State Alumni Association!