We would like to wish you all happy holidays and an enjoyable break! We will continue posting on our blog in the spring when classes resume on January 6. We have a lot of great posts lined up, including “Recommended Reads” posts from Katherine Greene, Todd McKinney, and Jeff Frawley, “New Faculty Profiles” featuring Diane Mooney and Emily Scalzo, and our “Good News” from the Fall 2013 semester.
Ball State University’s Writing Program is excited to announce November’s First Friday Series speaker, Tammy Conard-Salvo, associate director of the Purdue Writing Lab who will present “The Purdue OWL and the Land Grant Mission: Uncovering Invisible Innovation and Research” on November 1 at 1:00 PM in Carmichael Hall 203.
When Dr. Riddle asked me to take the lead on putting together the inaugural group of speakers for the Marilyn K. Cory Speakers Series for the 2013-2014 year, I was thrilled. Then freaked out. Then back to thrilled. I asked for input from faculty members and students. I buttonholed people in the hallways and asked them again. Lindsey Vesperry (a graduate student in the department) and I sent roughly 958 emails to potential speakers, to authors’ agents, and to each other trying to figure out what might work.
Well, we figured something out, and I’m really excited to tell you about it. This year’s series is organized around Graphic Narratives and Comic Books, and we’re bringing in speakers from all over the place to talk about them.
The Department of English Graduate Programs Office will be holding their first on-campus information session on Saturday, September 14, 2013 for those individuals seeking additional information about the graduate programs offered in English. To read previous posts from graduate program alumni, see posts by Alex Wenning and Sarah Smith-Robbins.
Register today at www.bsu.edu/english/graduate.
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.
Creative Writing is hosting an upcoming event, the showing of Sideways. This event will be open to the public and will take place on September 18, 2013 in LB 125. The feature film will be shown from 5:00-7:30 PM and afterward from 8:00-9:00 PM there will be a live Q & A video conference with Rex Pickett, the author of the novel, Sideways.
In the fall of 2012, the Ball State English Department began a short series to celebrate and profile our newest faculty members. This week, the department continues the series of new faculty profiles by featuring Eva Snider, who joined our department full-time last year. Continue reading below to see Eva Snider’s interview conducted by English department intern Nakkia Patrick and don’t forget to see past profiles featuring Dr. Susanna Benko, Dr. Miranda Nesler, Dr. Maria Windell, Prof. Liz Whiteacre, Prof. John King, Dr. Andrea Wolfe, and Dr. Jason Gladstone.
In the latest installment of our “Good News” series, The Ball State English Department highlights the accomplishments of the department’s graduate students and faculty during the Spring 2013 semester:
Graduate Student Adi Angel presented “’She Had Learned to Know Her Body Playing Ball:’ Exploring Representations of the Jewish Mother Through Baseball Fiction” at the PCA/ACA National Conference in Washington D.C.
Angel also presented “’She Remembered the Playground Games and the Dawn of her Awareness of Being a Woman’: Exploring Female Masculinity in Silvia Tennenbaum’s Rachel, the Rabbi’s Wife” at the NINE: Spring Training Conference on the Historical and Sociological Impact of Baseball in Tempe, AZ.
“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.
Last semester, the Ball State English Department began a short series to celebrate and profile our newest faculty members. This week, the department continues the series of new faculty profiles by featuring Dr. Jennifer Grouling. Continue reading below to see Dr. Grouling’s interview conducted by English intern Tyler Fields and don’t forget to see past profiles featuring Dr. Jason Gladstone, Dr. Susanna Benko, Dr. Miranda Nesler, Dr. Maria Windell, Prof. Liz Whiteacre, Prof. John King, and Dr. Andrea Wolfe.
Tyler Fields: Can you talk about what sparked your interest in Rhetoric & Composition?
Jennifer Grouling: I always wanted to teach writing, but I didn’t really realize that was a field. I was an undergraduate English education major, and I did teach high school for a little bit. But I really didn’t want to teach literature; I didn’t want to teach Romeo and Juliet for an entire quarter, which is what I was required to do. So when I went back to school for my M.A., I wasn’t exactly sure exactly where I wanted to take my interest in teaching. Once I realized that Rhetoric & Composition was an option, I thought, “that’s what I want to do. I want to teach writing.”