Author Archives: tnwicker

Alum Kelly Kriner on Dr. Richard Whitworth

Kelly Kriner graduated from Ball State in 1989. You can learn more about her through her blog, or you can follow her on Twitter

Ah, anything Walt Whitman brings a smile to my heart. I can thank more than one person for that.

My parents and grandparents talked to me. Seems simple, but they truly gave me my first words. (They will tell you, as would anyone that knows me, that I have a lot of words!) My parents put books into my hands consistently and constantly. I realize just how lucky I am to have grown up in a world where words and books were loved and respected. Over the years I visited many libraries. Mrs. Haycock, Triton Central High School librarian, put books, MANY books, into my hands when my brain wanted more, more, more. She is responsible for my unending love of Rebecca, but also gave me Death Be Not Proud and historical fiction.

Then came Ball State. I remember many days and nights of reading and David__Daniel_and_Molly-_AJ_and_K_schools_visit_Apr09_023writing-comfy leather chairs in the library and learning in the Teacher’s College and the Bell building.

While none of my professors literally pulled a John Keating and jumped to his or her desk to proclaim the joy, or sorrow, of teaching and learning, I would say there were a few that did so metaphorically: some insistently, some through simple prodding, one because she did the exact opposite of what she taught. (“Do as I say. Not as I do.”)

Dr. Richard Whitworth, English methods professor, wrote a letter of recommendation for my BSU Career Center file. In it he notes that I was “fairly regular in my attendance.” I have always loved this reference letter. He is so succinct. So truly, brutally honest in simply stating the facts that when he says he has found me to be “very personable, cooperative and well prepared,” I am thrilled. Still. Today. More than twenty-five years later. And yes. I have a copy of the letter.

Dr. Whitworth taught the power of words.

He taught that we must think and use our words, and our actions, with great precision and care. If Dr. Whitworth wrote it, it must be true.

I am sure we learned much beyond what I can attribute to that class and my professor. But isn’t that always the way? As teachers we know that our words, our actions, will likely outlive our students’ memories of where the thoughts were first planted. And that is okay. Whitman’s poem acknowledges a fallen hero who captained a ship that still sails despite the loss of its leader and begs the captain to rise and see the ship riding the very waves he helped fight. Mourns the loss, but also celebrates the victory. Luckily, as teachers of English we do not have to fall to push our students out toward the horizon to set their own sails. Our purpose is to help them sail, fair or foul seas.

Dr. Whitworth taught the content, but what I really remember about his class was he taught us to think, not to judge. He taught a love of words, but he also taught that words belong to the people, all people. He taught me that we should respect our students and their words- where they and their words came from and would take them. It was in his class that I truly came to understand and respect that there is a time and place for formal English but also for informal language; language is a living thing. It changes. It evolves. It fits our purpose if we know it well enough to command it as we will.

Dr. Whitworth taught us to be wary of being too quick to judge our students, and their backgrounds, based on their use of informal language. Instead he proposed that teachers should use students’ vernacular to help them understand and learn that words are powerful, and as such should be used with thought and care. Today we reference that as author’s purpose, word choice, style.

My American Fiction professor made us swear with our hands on the book that as English majors we would one day read- swallow whole and completely- Moby Dick. My Old English prof had the patience of Job. He got us through challenging texts and allowed one student to bring her child to every single class. I took a summer class (maybe Shakespeare?) in which I hung out with grad students talking about the old bard and many other things besides- I don’t remember what I learned, but the feeling of being there and the joy I found in books, writers, and talking about them remains…but it is Dr. Whitworth whose face I see most clearly.

“O Captain! My Captain! rise up and hear the bells;

Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;

For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;

For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;”

I am not sure how long after each class went through he remembered specific students. I am okay with that. Happy actually, as I don’t feel so guilty for not being able to remember each student and when I had them. But I know that I, like Dr. Whitworth, put my all into my teaching day by day, student by student. I am present in the moment and use my thoughts, my words, my actions, most carefully. I remember Dr. Richard Whitworth as pretty stern, but I also remember he smiled. I remember not word for word what he taught but that he taught me to think for myself. He gave me power. He wrote, “I believe that Kelly has considerable growth potential.” He continues to inspire me to be all that I can strive to be. I can not think of a better tribute to my professor than to write that I too believe I have considerable growth potential and believe that my students benefit every day from what he gave me in my time in his classroom at Ball State University.

Guest Post: Mamadou Djiguimde Presents "Bargaining in Bobo-Dioulasso"

Communities across the world have different norms and rituals. In this 36-minute documentary film, Ritassida Mamadou Djiguimde, a doctoral student in the Applied Linguistics program of Ball State University, offers a linguistic perspective on the cultural practice that is “bargaining.” Bargaining, in the context of Bobo-Dioulasso, the second largest city of Burkina Faso, West Africa, is nothing other than the price dispute that takes place between vendors and customers during service exchanges.

Bargaining is often thought of as a hassle by those who do not truly understand its economic and cultural implications. This documentary makes the case that the speech event of bargaining is not only a cultural artifact, but also an economic artifact that creates an interpersonal relationship between vendors and customers that is good for business. Through its different stages, interpersonal relationships are negotiated, established, and maintained. Ultimately, bargaining reduces the cost of attracting and maintaining customers.

The video above gives deeper insight into this Bobo-Dioulasso tradition.

Robert Young

So far there has been a marked difference between my career as an undergraduate in Ball State’s English department and the beginnings of my graduate work. With more reading to do, as well as a whole new approach to learning, graduate school expects more of me, though I knew this would be true.

I knew that it would be difficult, but already I can tell it will be immensely rewarding.

Now almost a whole semester into my Masters in Creative Writing, I’ve been challenged to think about school in a whole new way, fostering my abilities as a teacher as well as a learner, due to my position as a graduate assistant.DSC00170

One specific difference between graduate and undergraduate studies has simply been the sheer amount of reading expected of me. My classes so far have, on average, required me to do almost twice as much reading, but as an avid reader this has not been difficult for me. It does however cut down on my Netflix time. Something that has been totally new for me has been my experiences thus far in the Writing Program. Working in the writing center, being a TA for an ENG 103 class, and really submerging myself in the theories and practices of teaching have been all new experiences for me. And yet, I feel prepared to face the changes.

Having spent four years at BSU gave me a familiarity with both the campus and faculty that eased the transition into graduate school, but it was still apparent that this new level of academia would push me to the limit. Having said that, I feel prepared to face the challenge. I’ve met some wonderful new people who I will be sharing this experience with. I have also reconnected with some familiar faces. Overall, the nervousness that I’m feeling about graduate school is vastly outweighed by the sense of excitement – like entering a whole new world. Here’s to BSU and hoping that the next two years continue fostering my growth as a writer. And discovering new writers and books is never a bad thing.

What Does Literature Mean to You?

We’re launching a new series that we’ve titled “Department Dialogue.” This series offers our professors a platform they can use to discuss English-related topics that are of interest to both faculty and students alike. Our first post in this series is brought to you by our literature faculty, who all answered the same question: what does literature mean to you? 

Professor Adam Beach:

I remember my excitement when I started my education in literature as an undergraduate as my professors introduced me to a whole world of great books and also a whole new set of ways to think about those books at the same time.

They showed me that analyzing literature from different critical perspectives blurred the line between pleasure reading and school reading and that thinking deeply about what I read could actually enhance my enjoyment of books. I hope to pass on this same idea to my students!
Continue reading

Dustin Tipton on finding your passion

Dustin Tipton graduated from Ball State in 2012. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a focus in Creative Writing and Literature. He is the Chief Engineer for Hilton Garden Inn West Chester and KB Hotel Group. He lives in Cincinnati with his fiance, and they are expecting their first child, Zoe Loraine. 

Prior to Ball State, I worked at the local manufacturing TiptonBioPicfacility in my hometown. That’s where I gained a love for what most employers recognize as “technical skills.”

But, really, I just loved the process of taking something apart and putting it back together. I think it’s that aspect that also made me love studying literature and writing. The act of taking apart a story, trying to understand why something in the narrative is or isn’t working, truly isn’t all that different from taking apart a complex piece of machinery and understanding why that isn’t working.

Most people will say that communication is the biggest advantage in being an English major in today’s job market—and, for obvious reasons, there is a lot of truth in that. English majors do possess an ability to communicate much more effectively than those who graduate in an industry-specific field. It is critical thinking, however, that really sets us apart.

There is no greater companion to critical thinking than creativity.

The ability to think creatively opens up an endless amount of ways to come up with a solution. Once you become known as the go-to person for a quick, creative solution, then you’ve already set yourself apart. David Foster Wallace spoke about this (and did so much more eloquently) in his This is Water speech. English majors are being taught to think rather than being taught how to think, and I’ve found the former to be a distinct advantage over the latter in my life.

I majored in a number of areas before realizing that I had to follow what I truly love. Somewhere beyond the halfway point of a business degree (and hating every minute of it) I decided to enroll in an intro to literature course. I believe it was a 200 level course designed specifically for non-English majors who may  be interested in English studies. That course was with Dr Rai Peterson. In the classroom, the discussions, the learning environment, I felt so at home that by the third class meeting, I walked from the classroom to across the hall and picked up a “Change of Major” form.

That course made me realize not only could I study what I love, but it was imperative.

I was a silent fixture in the corner of Rai’s classrooms for the next few years until graduation.

Here’s my advice: Do what you love, but don’t be afraid to try new fields (careers) to figure out what you love. Whatever you do, do it with passion. You have every right to bounce around until you find something that brings you passion.

Help Us Reach #1000for2016

Listen up, folks. We are on the cusp of a milestone, a breakthrough in BSU English history. With just fifteen more Twitter followers and forty-four Facebook likes, we will have reached 1,000 BSU English supporters across our social media platforms, but we need your help. If you have a Twitter, find us and follow. If you’re on Facebook, like our page. We promise we won’t bite!

You might be asking, what’s in it for you?

What a silly question! You’ll get updates on department happenings, reminders of recently published blog posts, descriptions of upcoming courses, and an inside look into what your fellow English majors are up to!

erin hutt

#bsuenglish student Erin Hutt looking very happy with her new literary boyfriend (and while we’re not matchmakers, this could be you…just saying!)

But if that’s not enough of a reason, maybe this is: if you follow us or like our page, we’ll enter you into a drawing for several different prize packs, which will include:

-signed copies of the following books:

-The Glacier’s Wake by Katy Didden
-Drinking From a Bitter Cup by Angela Jackson-Brown
-Circus in Winter by Cathy Day
-Darkroom: A Family Exposure by Jill Christman
-Fog Gorgeous Stag by Sean Lovelace
-Building Their Own Waldos by Bob Habich
-Dirty Bomb by Mark Neely
-Strategies for Writing Center Research by Jackie Grutsch-McKinney
-The Creation of Narrative in Tabletop Role-Playing Games by Jennifer Grouling
-Stomping Ground edited by Lyn Jones 
-Monday Coffee and Other Stories edited by Lyn Jones and Liz Whiteacre
-TINA by Pete Davis

-gift certificates to various local businesses, which include:

Greek’s Pizzeria
Let’s Spoon Frozen Yogurt
White Rabbit Used Books
Insomnia Cookies

-donations given to us by The Cup, Ball State’s Bookstore, and TIS Bookstore include:

-a portfolio
-a picture frame
-a poster

If those incentives don’t send you on a clicking frenzy, maybe these will: if you follow us or like our page, we’ll give your blog or website a shout out! And, for some more immediate gratification, our graphic designers can also photoshop your lovely faces onto a famous book cover.

And for those of you already following us, don’t fret.

All you need to do is refer a friend! Once they like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter, all they need to do is send us a message with your name, and we’ll enter both of you into the drawing.

And, of course, we’d greatly appreciate if you could use our hashtag (both #1000for2016 and #bsuenglish) so that we can continue to grow!


Jared Lynch

At my core I’ll always be a creative writer first. In the future I plan to get an MFA in creative writing, and ultimately my goal is to teach creative writing at a collegiate level. I had a wonderful and inspirational experience in the English Department, and I learned a plethora of transferable communication skills that I will take with me everywhere. That being said, I’m happy to be exploring other fields.

I’m in the MA program for Emerging Media Design and Development (EMDD) in the Journalism Department here at Ball State. I was initially drawn to this program because we would be studying (among other things) transmedia storytelling, which naturally sounded intriguing to a creative writer. Now I’m studying and learning to create transmedia stories, which are stories that are told over multiple platforms—for a really cool example of this take a look at Lance Weiler’s Pandemic 1.0.

It’s exciting to be studying this fascinating facet of the future of storytelling.

In a class assignment for The Broken Plate, I had to give a presentation about the fAlley Tall (Cropped)uture of publishing, so I was already aware of self-publishing, ebooks, Issuu, and other opportunities. But the EMDD program has exposed me to a whole new horizon of storytelling that I was entirely unaware of before, and now I’m studying to become an Experience Designer and learning how to create effective transmedia experiences.

Graduate school has reinvigorated my passion for learning and creating, which was always a driving force in my pursuit of higher education. Towards the end of my undergrad I felt pretty burnt out with school. While I was excited to begin graduate school, I was also still wrapped up in a lingering hesitancy about going back to school so soon after graduating. Then the semester started, and I had to hit the ground running. I was thrown into this fast-paced chaos, but it has kick started my drive and inspired me. I am more productive now, both creatively and academically. The workload is daunting at times, but I am thriving.

My advice for creative writing students who are contemplating graduate school—you’re a storyteller in a changing media landscape, and there are great programs inside and outside of English that offer doorways into unique and interesting ways to tell stories. Explore them.


In the latest installment of the “Good News” series, the Ball State English department highlights the accomplishments of our faculty and students.

Prof. Susanna Benko has been hard at work on a research project with Dr. Emily Hodge (Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at Montclair State University) and Dr. Serena Salloum (Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at Ball State University). Together, this team is investigating how state educational agencies (SEAs) provide support to secondary English/Language Arts teachers via curricular resources that SEAs post on websites, analyzing the major organizations to which states link. To date, the team has coded 116 webpages of English/Language Arts resources for state standards, from 51 state department of education websites, for a grand total of 2,013 resources!

Drs. Benko, Hodge and Salloum will be presenting this work at the annual convention for the American Educational Research Association (AERA)  in April 2016 in Washington, DC.  One paper, titled “Common Core Connections: A Social Network Analysis of State-level Instructional Resources” will provide an overview of all 2,013 resources.  The second paper, titled “Policy into Practice: Investigating State-Endorsed Writing Resources for the Common Core State Standards” will focus specifically on resources focused on the teaching of writing.

Prof. Pat Collier has been named co-editor of the Journal of Modern Periodical Studies beginning in January. He will share editorial duties with Barbara Green, associate professor of English at Notre Dame.

cathy day

Cathy Day at the TILT mixer with Leah Nahmias, Director of Programs and Community Engagement at Indiana Humanities.

Prof. Cathy Day gave a presentation on “The Gilded Age’s Society Pages” at the 924 Gallery in Indianapolis. The event, TILT: An Arts and Humanities Mixer, was to celebrate National Arts & Humanities Month sponsored by the Indy Arts Council and Indiana Humanities  TILT featured two rounds that paired one arts expert and one humanities expert.

Prof. Frank Felsenstein‘s work on the “What Middletown Read” project has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Humanities during its fiftieth anniversary. The project has been deemed one of fifty selected “Projects that have enriched and shaped American lives” and “shaped what we think and what we know about ourselves and our culture.”

Prof. Jackie Grutsch-McKinney‘s second book came out in October, and can be found on her publisher’s website here.

Prof. Silas Hansen presented as part of the panel “Honesty, Not Sensationalism: Creative Nonfiction After the Memoir Craze” at the NonfictioNow Conference in Flagstaff, AZ.

Prof. Lyn Jones has been very busy this month. She published “Building a Rainbow: One Writer at a Time,” (book chapter) in Living the Work: Promoting Social Justice and Equity Work in Schools Around the World, edited by Christa Boske,and Azadeh F. Osanloo. Volume 23 of Book Series Advances in Educational Administration, Emerald Publishing, October 10, 2015.

Jones was featured in

-College Planning and Management, Disability Offices, Accessibility, Privacy Attractive to Students Using Wheelchairs, October 22, 2015 (

-Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine, Students Using Wheelchairs have Thoughts for Colleges, October 22, 2015

-University Business, Students Using Wheelchairs have Thoughts for Colleges, Article featuring my research project, October 22, 2015 (

Jones also presented “Worlding: Rewriting the World and the Word in Disability Studies,” at the Diversity Research Symposium at Indiana State University.

Prof. Mai Kuha presented “Street Harassment in the Curriculum: Risks, Rewards, and Dynamics” at the Diversity Research Symposium at Indiana State University.

Prof. Sean Lovelace published “Memory,” a flash fiction in Smokelong Quarterly Magazine, which will come out November.

Prof. Matt Mullins’s filmpoem “Our Bodies” was recently screened as part of a curated exhibition called Text(e)/Image/Beat at the EmmediThe Four Seasons Covera Wordfest in Alberta, Canada. The filmpoem can be found here.

Prof. Mark Neely was a featured reader/ presenter at the Pygmalion Festival in Champaign, Illinois and the Texas Book Festival in Austin Texas. New poems of his were recently accepted by Rhino, Chattahoochee Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, and DIAGRAM.

Undergrad and grad students Amory Orchard, Kathryn Hampshire, and Morgan Gross all received Aspire Student Travel Awards this month to present at the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing in Salt Lake City, UT.

Prof. Emily Scalzo
 had two haiku published in an anthology entitled The Four Seasons through Kind of a Hurricane Press.

Prof. Vanessa Rapatz presented a paper titled “Intransitive Atonement in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus” at the Sixteenth Century Society & Conference in Vancouver. She was on a panel called Remembering Antiquity: Roman Frames, Renaissance Matters.

Prof. Emily Rutter published an article entitled “‘Isolated Togetherness’: Archival Performances in Harmony Holiday’s Negro League Baseballin Studies in American Culture 38.1.

Krishna Walker: Attorney for Non-Profits and Businesses

Krishna Walker is an attorney at Bryan Cave, LLP in the firm’s St. Louis, Missouri office. Ms. Walker focuses her practice on complex transactional and business counseling matters. Her industry specialization includes financial services and non-profit organizations, and she regularly represents clients on matters including corporate governance, representation of lenders and borrowers in direct secured and unsecured loans; representation of agents, lenders, and borrowers in syndicated credit facilities, representation of lenders in fund financing facilities, representation of equity investors, sponsors, and lenders in new markets tax credit and historic tax credit transactions; and representation of a wide range of businesses in obtaining governmental incentives, including tax abatement, and other commercial transactions. Ms. Walker was active in student life at Ball State University, including being a member of the University’s Board of Trustees from 1995-1997, and being a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, Tau Nu Chapter.  Currently, Ms. Walker is the national general counsel for Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated.

How did your degree in English lead to your job? What skills did you learn that helped you do that work–and the other work that you’ve done?Krishna A Walker August 2014

Each job I’ve had since graduating from Ball State has required me to analyze written work and to summarize suggested actions based on my analysis. My degree in English gave me a strong foundation on which to build. My initial plan was to be an English teacher, but I ended up going to graduate school for higher education/student personnel administration. After graduate school, I was an admissions officer for several years, then I transitioned into business as a recruiter for investment banking jobs. After five years in human resources roles, I went to law school. I have been practicing law at the same firm since 2008. Each part of my career has required a different type of writing and analysis. The foundation I gained at Ball State prepared me to make those transitions. I took several poetry writing classes in addition to a business writing class, and all of the traditional literature classes that require intense academic writing.   Continue reading

Spring '16 Course Highlights

November is just around the corner, and you know what that means.

Now that you’ve survived midterms, the next daunting task approaches: scheduling your classes for the spring. For some of you, you’re seasoned professionals. You set your schedule in ten or fifteen minutes and don’t think about it for another two months. For others, scheduling this next semester might be a bit more difficult.

If you’re stressing out and having trouble picking your classes (there are a lot to choose from, after all) then check out these awesome courses below. You won’t be disappointed.

Eng 351: Contemporary American Literature with Dr. Emily Rutter

Tuesdays, Thursdays from 3:30pm-4:45pm

Eng 351

Eng 310: Introduction to Screenwriting with Professor Kathryn Gardiner

Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 10:00am-10:50am or 11:00am-11:50am
Tuesdays, Thursdays at 8:00am-9:15am or 11:00am-12:15pm

Eng 310

Eng 491: Intro to African American Literature with Dr. Emily Rutter

Tuesday, Thursday from 9:30am-10:45am

Eng 491

For questions about Eng 310, contact Professor Kathryn Gardiner. For questions about Eng 351 and Eng 491, contact Dr Emily Rutter.

For general advising/scheduling questions, please consider attending one of the open Advising Lab sessions, led by Lyn Jones or Todd McKinney.

Tuesday, Nov. 3 – 11:30 to 1:00 in RB 286

Thursday, Nov. 5 – 9:00 to 10:00 in RB 361

Monday, Nov. 9 – 1:00 to 3:00 in RB 361

Thursday, Nov. 12 – 11:30 to 1:00 in RB 286