Category Archives: Regular Features

Welcome Prof. Roman Lesnov

Dr. Roman Lesnov is a Visiting Assistant Professor who will teach TESOL and Linguistics courses. He received a PhD in Applied Linguistics from Northern Arizona University in May of this year. He has over 10 years of experience teaching English and linguistics in the US and Russia.  He will be teaching in our MA and PhD programs in Linguistics.

What led you to Ball State University?

Before joining Ball State, I worked on my dissertation at Northern Arizona University. I investigated the validity of video-based L2 academic listening tests, so I was preoccupied with collecting and analyzing data and writing up the results. I also worked part time as an ESL teacher and ESL assessment specialist in the local intensive English program for about 4 years in Arizona. I was both a high school English teacher and a college linguistics instructor in Russia for several years, before my time at Northern Arizona. I see Ball State as a great place where I can continue to grow as an applied linguist and enjoy the company of talented students and colleagues.

How would you describe your perspective on teaching?

I strive to be a learner-centered teacher. With the goal of enabling students to become their best as scholars and educators, I try to be supportive and transparent and have students share their voices through interaction.    Continue reading

Welcome Prof. Sarah Domet

Sarah Domet

Sarah Domet’s debut novel, The Guineveres, was released from Flatiron Books in October 2016. She’s also the author of 90 Days to Your Novel (Writers Digest Books, 2010). She holds a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing from the University of Cincinnati and will be teaching courses in fiction writing in our creative writing program.

Learn more about her on her website.

What are you currently reading, if anything?

I’m fortunate to have a job that requires me to read. It gives me the chance to conduct independent studies for my creative projects, crash courses on interesting subjects “for the sake of research.” (I put “for the sake of research” in quotes only because I once spent a full day reading about Jarts for one throwaway line in a story. It’s easy to get off track.)

My current novel project, set partly in 1910, features a protagonist who claims to commune with the dead. To better understand this era, I’m reading Through a Glass, Darkly: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Quest to Solve the Greatest Mystery of All. This book offers a fascinating glimpse into the spiritualist movement: mediums, seances, lies, frauds, sex, and scandals.

What is a text that you think everyone should read?

Continue reading

Sarah Flores: Making a Difference with an English Degree

Sarah Flores. From her Twitter: @heyitsflores

Sarah Flores graduated from Ball State University in 2016 with a BA in English studies. After graduation, she returned to her hometown of Columbus, Indiana and worked for the school corporation. In April 2017, she accepted a position with Turning Point Domestic Violence Services on the Prevention Team. 

 

How did your English major 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?

I wouldn’t say that I took a series of steps to be in my current position. After I graduated, I knew that I had one goal: get a job. I was privileged in that I had a place to stay, reliable transportation, and no other responsibilities that got in the way of my search. I knew that I wanted to work with youth, so I looked for open positions in the school system. I was quickly hired as a teaching assistant at a high school and, because of my degree, I was placed in an English classroom. Long story short, one of my current coworkers came into the classroom as a guest speaker on teen dating violence, and I knew that I wanted to do something similar. As luck would have it, they were hiring.

Full transparency, I was amazed that I was hired for my position with an English degree. In this field, it’s more common to see people with social work or psychology backgrounds. But taking a step back, it makes sense. Prevention is not intervention (i.e. working one on one with someone who is in crisis). Prevention is looking at a complex issue (which, in my case, is intimate partner violence) and finding ways to deconstruct the unhealthy behaviors that contribute to the problem. This echoes the skills I learned in the English department: analyze the situation, break down its layers, and communicate it to an audience.

(If you want to know more about violence prevention, or if you’re just a cool nerd who likes to read things, the CDC has a lot of great info: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/overview/index.html)

What’s a typical day like for you?

I’m happy to say that I don’t have a typical day. During the school year, I’m most likely in a classroom. Our prevention team does programming in all of the middle and high schools in our county. Sometimes I’m in an 8th grade class doing an activity on consent. Other times I’m with high schoolers having a discussion about break ups. Maybe I’m at an in-patient facility helping teens brainstorm coping skills for when they get angry. Regardless of my location, I’m given the freedom to be as creative as I want to be. If my main goal is to prevent and eliminate intimate partner violence, then I need to scaffold what a healthy relationship looks like in relevant ways.

(For anyone interested, www.loveisrespect.org is one of my favorite websites for information on healthy, unhealthy, and abusive relationships.)

On a typical day I’m doing what we call “chasing the squirrel,” which is having a Jimmy Neutron-esque brain blast and then running with the idea. There’s a lot of crafting (which I’m not good at), document designing (shout out to Eva Grouling Snider), and supporting our very talented and beautiful grant writers.

Many moons ago I slapped together a presentation for one of Rory Lee’s courses all about working at a nonprofit with no intention of ever doing it and behold—here I am. Spooky.

Do you have any advice for English majors who are trying to figure out what comes next in their lives?

My advice: APPLY FOR WHATEVER JOB YOU WANT. Seriously. Just do it. Here’s the little secret that I learned pretty early on: your major doesn’t define what you can and can not do. Employers are looking for people with relevant skills and, baby, no one can put you in a corner. Your English major is a skeleton key to any career field.

Can you write? Heck yes—and in different genres!

Can you research? You bet! Your Google search history is probably alarming, but you know your facts!

Are you organized? Not only have you learned how to effectively communicate in a logical flow, but you have also juggled multiple deadlines. You got this.

Are you a critical thinker? You kick so much butt when it comes to analyzing information, distinguishing the relevant from the irrelevant, and communicating possible solutions that they call you Truth Lee (this is a Bruce Lee pun and I am sorry).

This is just a short list that doesn’t even cover half of your magical abilities you’ve EARNED.

Honestly, the best advice I can give is just to take chances. So what if you don’t have the “experience required”—you’d be very surprised on the calls you get back. Oh, and try to work at a place that allows dogs because it rules.

You can find Sarah on Twitter at @heyitsflores.

Ellie Fawcett: Creating Social Media Content

Ellie Fawcett. From her website: www.elliefawcett.com

Ellie Fawcett graduated from Ball State with a BA in English Literature in 2017. In college, she served as a member of the marketing team for the 2015 Digital Literature Review and as a strategic communications intern for Jacket Copy Creative. Fawcett now works for Englin’s Fine Footwear as a content creator for their blog and as a manager of their social media.

What is the most interesting part of your job?

I love getting to spend everyday creating. Figuring out what problems customers have, researching how to solve those problems, and creating new information resources is really, really fun!

If things develop as you would like, what does the future hold for your career?

If all goes according to plan, I would eventually like to transition to a position as a content creator for an agency where I’ll have the opportunity to work on more content topics.

What skills are required in your position on a day-to-day basis?

My position requires research skills, the ability to write in specific tones for specific audiences and to determine who the audiences are, the creativity to find new and interesting content topics to cover everyday, and the ability to work with a team. A good foundation of what sometimes get called soft skills is pretty essential to my job. Continue reading

August Good News

We were really busy over the summer, writing and researching and submitting and job hunting. So we’ve got a lot of good news to share this month!

Faculty News

Prof. Michael Begnal  

  • His article “‘Bullets for Hands’: Witter Bynner, Arthur Davison Ficke, and the Spectra Poems of World War I” was published in Twentieth-Century Literature, vol. 64, no. 2 (June 2018).
  • His article “Modernist Mythologies: The Turquoise Trail Anthology and the Poets of Santa Fe” was published in Western American Literature, vol. 53, no. 2 (Summer 2018).
  • He had five poems (homages to Archie Shepp, Bill Evans, Peggy Pond Church, Leroy Carr, and Richard Realf) published in Penumbra  and another in Smithereens Literary Magazine (Ireland).
  • Additionally, he gave a presentation of poetry at the Sport Literature Association Conference on June 20, 2018, at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, titled “Baseball Poems/Baseball Images,” and was interviewed on Bangor, Maine’s AM620 WZON radio on August 8, 2018, and read some poems on the air

Prof. Brent M. Blackwell attended three conferences this year (The Benjamin v. Cohen Peace Conference at Ball State and the Mid-East Honors Association at Central Michigan), the third of which will be the National Collegiate Honors Council Annual Meeting in Boston, MA in November, where he will chair a roundtable discussion on incorporating STEM issues in honors humanities courses.  

Continue reading

Allison Tourville: Telling Stories for Vulcan

Allison Tourville. Photo taken from Tourville’s profile on LinkedIn.

Allison Tourville graduated from Ball State with a BS in History and Geography in 2007, and later received her MA in History in 2011.  While Tourville was working on her MA, she worked at the Boys and Girls Club of Noblesville as the Assistant Manager of Athletic Operations. After graduating, she accepted a position as the Resource Development Coordinator of the Boys and Girls Club of Bellevue, Washington.  Tourville started her current career in Seattle, Washington at Vulcan Inc. as a writer and editor.  She worked her way up to Senior Digital Media Strategist where she helps develop different kinds of social strategies and digital content campaigns in order to share the compelling story of Vulcan.

What is the most interesting part of your job?

The diversity of work I get to be involved in. We do a wide range of programs, projects and initiatives at Vulcan, [a company owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen] I’ll swing from creating storytelling campaigns around elephant conservation to launching a music festival to live-streaming a sunken ship discovery.

If things develop as you would like, what does the future hold for your career?

Continue reading

The hits keep coming: English MVPs

Two months of good news means double the accomplishments for our #BSUEnglish faculty, students, and alumni! Please note the actual baseball references below.

Faculty Good News

On April 20, four English faculty were nominated as BSU Softball’s MVPs (Most Valuable Professors): Adrienne Bliss, Kathryn Ludwig, Katherine Greene, and Brianna Mauk.

Prof. Katy Didden won a Junior Faculty Creative Arts Grant to pursue research and develop work for her manuscript in progress, The Lava on Iceland. Three poems from The Lava on Iceland were accepted for publication by Tupelo Quarterly, and two additional poems were accepted by Denver Quarterly. At this year’s Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference, Prof. Didden moderated and presented a paper on a panel titled “Writing Assignments for the Anthropocene.” Prof. Didden was also recognized with an Excellence in Education award from the BSU Student Government Association.

Prof. Ben Bascom was awarded an NEH/American Antiquarian Society long-term fellowship, one of the most prestigious awards for literary scholars, to conduct research on his book manuscript “Feeling Singular: Masculinity and Desire in the Early United States.” Prof. Bascom was also awarded an Aspire Junior Faculty Research Award through BSU in addition to a fellowship at Penn State’s Center for American Literary Studies First Book Institute. This past March he presented a portion of his second book project at C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists. Continue reading

Jessica Carducci: Service work, halfway around the world

Jessica Carducci graduated from BSU with a BA in English Studies in 2016. During her time here, she worked on the Broken Plate and the Digital Literature Review, and was the design coordinator for Reacting Out Loud. As an avid hockey fan, Carducci has volunteered as an editor for the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. She served as a secondary English teacher with Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan in the rural community of Asky rayon, Jalal-Abad Oblast. In this post, she recounts her experience with the Peace Corps and how it has impacted her life.

Why did you choose to go into the Peace Corps?

A workday selfie in a traditional Kyrgyz quilted jacket.

It sounded so interesting to me, so at least initially, it was because I’m such a curious person. It seemed like such an offhand discovery originally; I first thought about the Peace Corps because I stumbled across the blog of an RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer) who had been in the Ukraine. I was only looking for resources about learning and practicing the Russian language, but the more I read, the more I became enamored with the idea of traveling to a far-off country to do service work.

But in speaking with PCV’s and RPCV’s, it became about more than just curiosity and the world-traveler lifestyle. The Peace Corps places a lot of emphasis on both sustainable development and cultural exchange – both in learning about local cultures and in sharing the diversity of American culture. I wanted a place in that; I wanted to really be a part of whatever community I was in, and I wanted to see positive and permanent change happen. Continue reading

Black Panther: Professors’ Cut

Prof. Emily Rutter teaches African American literature and Prof. Pat Collier teaches film studies in the English Department. We brought them together for a conversation about Black Panther, which, just over a month after its debut, is the seventh highest-grossing film in U.S. history.

 

PC: Hi, Emily! Before we talk about the film itself, I’d like to hear your thoughts about the film as a cultural phenomenon. Black Panther is inspiring a lot of optimism from critics and journalists, who are reading its popularity as a sign (or an engine) of racial attitudes changing for the better. Do you share this optimism at all?

ER: Yes, Black Panther has generated an incredible amount of buzz, particularly in terms of the film’s “for us, by us” ethos. You could say that this film and its popularity are part of a black arts renaissance that has ushered in a stunning wave of black-directed films: Jordan Peele’s Get Out, Denzel Washington’s Fences (an adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play), Ava DuVernay’s 13th, and Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight (which won the 2017 Academy Award for Best Picture), and Black Panther Director Ryan Coogler’s own Fruitvale Station and Creed (and this is not an exhaustive list).

Historically, Hollywood is an industry that has not only been dominated by people of European descent, but has also been a key propagator of white-supremacist (and patriarchal, heteronormative, classist, ableist, what have you) ideologies. All of this to say that it’s positive both when white-dominated spaces like Hollywood are made less so, and when people of African descent are able to use the medium of film both to resist whitewashed narratives and to celebrate black pride. Thus, I hope that films like Black Panther, a high-grossing blockbuster which consistently conveys positive images of blackness, will become more common.

Pat, I’m curious as to your thoughts about the choice to represent Wakanda as a monarchy, rather than a democracy. While it was not specified, I also wondered if the implication was that this monarchy was patrilineal. In other words, if this is an Afrocentric film with anti-colonialist commitments, what are your thoughts on representing a king as the hero?

PC: Great question. Overall, I think the movie’s politics are progressive, at times even radical. I love it that racial oppression in the U.S. turns out to be, obliquely, to blame for the challenge to the Wakandan throne that drives the story. The villain Killmonger (played by the awesome Michael B. Jordan) raises the genuinely explosive question of whether it would be right for black people around the world to rise up violently. True, he’s the bad guy, but if his claim had no validity there would be nothing at stake. And the great thing about Black Panther is that, for all the glitzy CGI effects, its engagement in politics is serious. The movie ends (spoiler!) on a much more conciliatory note–Wakanda is now going to become an engine for social change through diplomacy and social programs. (Arch irony in Oakland, California being the beneficiary of foreign aid!)

But I digress. You asked about the creators’ choice to make Wakanda a monarchy, probably a patrilineal one, at that. (Not to take anything away from the female characters played by Lupita N’yongo, Danai Gurira and Letitia Wright, who kick much ass.) Maybe this is one place where Black Panther can’t transcend its Superhero source material. Its otherwise sophisticated sense of political conflict and global history resolves through old Superhero tropes, including lineal politics within royal families (Hello: Star Wars!) and hand-to-hand combat between larger-than-life individuals. Individual heroism and redemptive violence still carry the day.

What’s your take on the politics of the story, Emily? Much has been written, for instance, about the image of a powerful, functional African state at the center of the story.

ER: Right, and that symbolism is significant in terms of pressuring supposedly common sense ideas about the world, both past and present. Via Wakanda, Black Panther offers another way to see and know Africa that is not polluted by Western imperialist notions of civilized vs. primitive. Wakanda has preserved its rich resources–namely, vibranium–by operating under the guise of a “third-world” nation, outsmarting the colonizers by using their own prejudices against them. Taken as a whole, the film encourages viewers to question the ways in which nations (and indeed continents) are categorized and understood.

The film also poses several related questions: What is the most appropriate way to heal the African Diasporic wounds of the past by using the technologies of the present? How does a people threatened by exploitation preserve precious resources without denying them to people in need? We could also view these questions through the lens of art. For example, in beginning and ending the film in the director’s hometown of Oakland, Ryan Coogler might have been self-reflexively considering his own role as a now famous filmmaker. In other words, how will he resist becoming a stooge for, in this case, Disney, while also using his talents and platform to empower those caught in the crosshairs of various forms of structural oppression and violence?

Pat, what kinds of questions does the film raise for you regarding the role that these blockbuster films funded by corporate giants like Disney might play in resisting neo-colonial ways of knowing? Or, if that is too leading (ha ha), what are the other aspects of this film that intrigue you?

PC: Well, your question brings me back to the limits of the genre. I already mentioned that the superhero genre more or less stipulates that the conflict will be resolved by a strong individual through an act of redemptive violence. This is a very capitalist, western, individualist trope: it’s Shane taking down the cattle barons and Gary Cooper cleaning up Hadleyville. It’s also impossible for a film like Black Panther not to be a bit semi-colonial in its own right–serving up exoticized images of distant lands which the viewer gets to enjoy from the safe, commanding view of a (reclining!) theater seat. The power of Hollywood and of Disney to bring you these images is a powerful undercurrent that goes more or less unchallenged, don’t you think?

ER: Yes, that’s true. And, let me also say that for all my of my skepticism about Hollywood and Disney I recognize the importance of fantasies, especially in the form of utopic visions of Africa. In my African American literature class, we are gearing up for a unit about literary representations of Africa, so I’m excited to see the ways in which Black Panther informs our discussions. What about you, Pat? Do you plan to teach this film, or reference it in your film studies courses?

PC: You’re so right about fantasies. Film class for me is about recognizing what kinds of fantasies we’re being offered and how they work. And, sometimes, simply recognizing that they are fantasies. (I’m thinking about rom-coms and how they re-enforce middle-class and heteronormative values, and re-iterate the cultural narrative that pairing off solves all your problems). But, yes, I do think Black Panther would be a great film to teach, precisely because I want students to discern when film fantasies are potentially transformative, or liberating, or productively critical, and when they are re-enforcing harmful beliefs or simply promoting disengagement.

Any final thoughts, Emily?

ER: #wakandaforever

February Good News: Publications and Jobs and Plays, Oh My!

Not only was February a month full of love; it was also a month full of awesome accomplishments for our #BSUEnglish faculty, students, and alumni!

Faculty News

Professor Guilherme D. Garcia’s paper “Can you get stress without feet?” (joint work with Heather Goad) was accepted for presentation at the 36th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL), held at UCLA this April.

Prof. Kathryn S. Gardiner’s feature-length screenplay “The Regiment” won an Award of Excellence in the 2018 Broadcast Education Association’s Faculty Screenwriting Competition.

Prof. Andrea Wolfe’s round table presentation,“Storytelling across the Domestic Student/International Student Divide” (with Lizz Alezetes and Deborah McMillan), will be conducted at Indiana Campus Compact Service Engagement Summit, in Indianapolis on February 27.

Prof. Peter Davis’s poem “Touching Stuff” was recently published in The Believer. His fourth book of poems, Band Names and Other Poems, is now available from Bloof Books.  He also released a new Short Hand record from his music project. This one happens to be a rap record! Prof. Davis is also judging the 2018 Lucy Munro Brooker Prize for the University of Indianapolis undergraduate poetry prize.

Prof. Angela Jackson-Brown‘s musical Dear Bobby, with music written by Prof. Davis, will have six performances at the Basile IndyFringe Theatre beginning on March 22.

Prof. Emily Rutter’s book Invisible Ball of Dreams: Literary Representations of Baseball behind the Color Line (University of Mississippi Press, May 15, 2018) is now available for pre-order.

Prof. Cathy Day will be teaching this summer at the Chautauqua Institute in Chautauqua, NY. For one week, she’ll lead a series of master classes on the changing business of writing.

Prof. Jennifer Grouling published “Teaching Writing Teachers: An Assignment in Mapping Writing Program Values” in Prompt: A Journal of Academic Writing Assignments.

Prof. Rory Lee published “Surveying the Available Modes of Persuasion” in Designing and Implementing Multimodal Curricula and Programs.

On February 22, 2018, Prof. Victoria Barrett published an op-ed with the Washington Post entitled, “Why I will never carry a gun in my classroom”.

Prof. Michael Begnal presented a paper at The Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture since 1900 on the contemporary Irish poet Maurice Scully, titled “Immanence and Ecopoetics in the Poetry of Maurice Scully.”

Retired Prof. Bob Habich contributed an invited post about Ralph Waldo Emerson to OUPblog, conducted by Oxford University Press: “Emerson’s Canonization and the Perils of Sainthood“appeared on May 25, Emerson’s birthday. In October he led a discussion of Henry David Thoreau for the Association of Lifelong Learners.  And in January, Broadview Press published Bob’s edition of the Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Prof. Lynne Stallings was awarded a VBC Fellowship for Fall, 2018, for a project titled Promoting Assessment Literacy. This project was inspired by one of the recommendations by the 2016 Indiana ISTEP panel, and the subsequent legislation (House Education Act 1003) that was passed in 2017, calling for state funds to create assessment literacy programs that promote “a better understanding of the meaning behind assessment results.” Students from a wide range of disciplines will be recruited  to determine the message and language that would most effectively  ensure that Hoosiers fully understand assessment practices and their implications for Indiana students, schools, and communities.

Prof. Stallings also recently received the Mayor James P. Carey Community Service Award in recognition of distinction in community leadership. The award was presented by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dream Team. Her co-honorees were her husband, Daniel Stallings, Yvonne Thompson, and Susan Fisher.

Student News

Cecelia Westbrook‘s non-fiction essay, “All Babies Are Ugly, Except for Me (Just Ask My Uncle)”, has been accepted for publication by the journal Tributaries.

Alumni News

Brandon Buechley, a 2015 Creative Writing graduate, accepted a job at DK Publishing in Indianapolis. He serves as an editorial assistant for Alpha Books.

Daniel Brount (BA English 2016) recently secured a position in publishing. He’ll be a Production/Editorial Assistant at Skyhorse Publishing in New York City.

Nikole Darnell, who graduated in 2017 with a degree in Creative Writing, had her short story “When Tomorrow Comes” published in Potluck Magazine. The story was originally written for her Honors Thesis at BSU, directed by Joyce Huff.