Category Archives: Discussions

Patrick Collier on "Everyday Life in Middletown"

In this interview, #bsuenglish professor Patrick Collier discusses his Virginia Ball Center seminar “Everyday Life in Middletown.”


What did the project entail?

These Virginia Ball seminars are semester-long projects where students get up to 15 credits for their participation, the teacher gets a fellowship, and that gets him or her out of teaching responsibility or any other responsibility on campus. The subject of the seminar was “Everyday Life in Middletown.” Middletown, I assume you know, is Muncie. There’s this history of Muncie being referred to as Middletown since the ’20s when the Lynds did their sociological study in Muncie and it became a national best-seller.

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We’ve narrowed it down to four finalists! Which do you like?

Vote early. Vote once. By Monday, Nov. 17, 2014

Get Ready for In Print 2014 by Reading These Interview Excerpts

The 2014 In Print Festival is coming next week in Assembly Hall at the Alumni Center! On Tuesday, March 18 at 7:30 PM, the visiting authors will read from their work.  The authors, along with editor Jodee Stanley, will also participate in a panel discussion on Wednesday, March 19, at 7:30 PM. By attending the Festival, you will be able to reach out to the writing community and gain insight into life as a writer from experienced authors. To get a taste of who will be speaking at the Festival, take a look at these interview excerpts from the In Print panelists.  Full versions of the interviews can be found in the newest edition of The Broken Plate, which is available for free to all who attend In Print.

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First Friday Series: Teaching Composition

The First Friday Series continues this month with graduate teaching assistants presenting on a variety of topics related to the teaching of composition. The Ball State Writing Program invites you to the 2nd floor of Robert Bell on Tuesday, October 15 and Thursday, October 17 from 12:30 to 1:45 for these poster presentations.
id601 presenters

First Friday Series: Nicki Litherland Baker

The Writing Program’s First Friday Series for composition instructors is back. Join us this Friday, September 6, for a presentation by Nicki Litherland Baker about helping students answer their own research questions—using their own data. Along with suggested readings, semester layout, and assignment descriptions, Nicki will show student work as well as preliminary results of a course efficacy study of her own ENG 104 classes. Remember to bring a laptop or a tablet to access files for better viewing. See you this Friday in the Schwartz Digital Complex in Bracken Library at 1 PM.



Dr. Beach and Tyler Fields Go to the Job Fair. Part One: Yes, They Do Hire English Majors! (By Dr. Adam R. Beach)

“It doesn’t matter what your degree is—it matters how capable you are.  You have to have good communication and writing skills.”

“We can teach a good writer how to do other things, but we can’t teach people how to write!”

“We need people who can think critically and who are able to make decisions. We don’t need black and white thinkers.”

“We want people who can write, learn, and communicate—we will teach them the rest in our training program!”

“When we look at your online profile, we want to see pictures of you reading The Odyssey.  We want serious, intellectual people who read. Readers make for good employees.”

Many people have the erroneous impression that the English major is an impractical degree that does not lead to gainful employment after graduation.  Some believe that English majors are only good for teaching jobs, or that creative writing majors are doomed to work in coffee shops while they pursue their dreams of being successful and published authors.  These impressions stem from the increasingly prevalent idea (at least in American society) that the main purpose of college is job training of one kind or another. Thus, many students feel pressured to take a course of study that they think is “practical,” by which they mean a major that is, in fact, intended for professional training in a specific field: accounting, nursing, pre-medicine, architecture, etc.

Those of us who work in the English Department like to tell a different story, one in which we encourage students to see college as a time to pursue their passions, to expand their minds, to engage in intellectual adventures, to read great books, and to develop their skills in writing, analysis, research, creative thinking, and communication.  We tell them that there is work out there for smart, hardworking English majors who have those skills.  We tell them that you cannot “major” in most of the jobs in our economy, nor can we totally anticipate what kinds of jobs will be available in the future as our economy and technology develop.  Over the years, those of us who have worked on the blog have collected enough great alumni stories to reaffirm our view.  You can read these stories here. But, we wanted to have more evidence to support this view, and, to that end, we decided to ask employers directly about their views about students who graduate with English majors.

On Thursday, February 21st, I attended the Ball State Job Fair at Worthen Arena along with department intern and graduating senior Tyler Fields.  Our goal was to pose a simple question to as many company recruiters as we could: do you hire English majors?  We talked directly with 30 company and organization recruiters, and only 4 of them told us that they were exclusively hiring people who hold specific or technical degrees like software engineering or accounting.  Every one of the rest of the recruiters told us that they would certainly hire a student who held an English major who was right for the job and showed interest in their company and field.

These recruiters represented companies that worked in the following fields: insurance (general and medical malpractice), banking, energy market brokers, financial planning, media (TV and print), large box retailer (store management training program), homebuilding, logistics and transportation, software development, international resorts, industrial manufacturing, industrial scale food production, consumer products manufacturing, and clothes manufacturing/fashion.  Every one of these recruiters said that English majors would be competitive for jobs in their companies and industries!

The quotes that lead this post were taken directly from different recruiters that we spoke with at the fair.  They express the recruiters’ sense that college is not necessarily for job training, but rather they see a college degree as only a first step towards a professional career, a place for students to develop a set of dispositions and skills that will serve them well in any number of jobs and careers throughout their lives.  Many of the most desirable dispositions and habits that employers are looking for, in fact, can be developed in the study of English and other humanities degrees!   The recruiters also offered many tips for English students about how they can make themselves more marketable.  Next week, Tyler Fields will post about the recruiters’ advice and about how English students can enhance their prospects on the job market.

First Friday Series: Mike Palmquist

The Writing Program’s final First Friday event of the semester is this week. And it’s an exciting one! Renowned Rhetoric & Composition scholar and author Mike Palmquist will visit to give two talks: a lecture on book publishing and a workshop on research writing as a rhetorical act. The event will take place this Friday, April 5, at the Schwartz Digital Complex (in Bracken Library) with the following schedule:

Part I:
10:00 am – Talk 1: “The Book, the Future of Scholarly Publishing, and the Publishing Collaborative”
Open event

Part II:
11:00 am – Lunch (RSVP needed)
12:00 pm – Talk 2: “Research Writing as a Rhetorical Act”


Graduate School for Creative Writers

Last week, Associate Professor Cathy Day convened a panel on graduate school for creative writing majorsThis panel, featuring creative writing faculty members Jill Christman, Cathy Day, Sean Lovelace, Michael Meyerhofer, and Matt Mullins, addressed common questions and concerns that prospective creative writing graduate students have. Follow the link below to see Cathy’s original post, “Graduate School for Creative Writers,” on her Literary Citizenship blog. The post contains links to resources that are relevant to students thinking about applying to graduate school as well as a complete transcript of the event.


First Friday Series: Stephanie Hedge

On Friday, March 1, Ball State’s Writing Program will present the next installment of the First Friday Series featuring English graduate student Stephanie Hedge. Stephanie will discuss ways to incorporate emerging technologies into teaching practices, focusing on mobile devices, social media, and collaborative technologies. Be sure to join us at 9:00 AM in Robert Bell 361 for this free and informative event.


Intern Tyler Fields Interviews Mai Kuha About her Work as a Linguist

In our latest post, English intern Tyler Fields interviews Assistant Professor Mai Kuha about her work as a linguist, her participation in Ball State’s Council on the Environment, and her future plans and publications. Additionally, Mai discusses her recent work in the fields of socio- and ecolinguistics. Continue reading below to see Mai’s interview.

*Photo provided by Mai Kuha

*Photo provided by Mai Kuha

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