Tag Archives: Ball State English Department

Good News, Fall 2013

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 Fall 2013 semester:

Amit Baishya wrote an article titled “The Act of Watching with One’s One Eyes: ‘Strange Recognitions’ in Siddhartha Deb’s An Outline of the Republic,” which is forthcoming in Interventions: International Journal for Postcolonial Studies. Another article by Baishya titled “The ‘secret killings’ of Assam in literature” was published in November in Himal Southasian. He also has an article named “Close Encounters of the Real Kind: the Avatars of Terror in Two Contemporary Assamese Short Stories” that has been accepted for publication in a collected edition of essays titled Frames of Culture. Routledge will publish the collection in November 2014.

Baishya was also invited to deliver a presentation titled “Countryless Countries: the Poetics of No-Man’s Zones in Contemporary Militant Fictions” at the Materialism and the Colony colloquium at Bard College at Simon’s Rock on May 23, 2013. In addition, he is co-organizing a seminar titled “Differential Capital” at the American Comparative Literature Association Conference at New York University in March 2014.

Doctoral student Nicki Litherland Baker’s article “’Get It off My Stack’: Teachers’ Tools for Grading Papers” is in press, to be published in Assessing Writing. The paper was first presented at the national College English Association Conference in Savannah, Georgia last April. Litherland Baker also presented her paper “Students’ Own Engagement with Technology as Their Research Focus” at the Indiana Teachers of Writing conference held in Noblesville, Indiana in September. In addition, at the Indiana College English Association Conference in Evansville, which took place in October, she presented “College Composition and the Five-Paragraph Essay: An Example of Academic Othering.”

Adam R. Beach co-edited (with Srividhya Swaminathan) Invoking Slavery in the Eighteenth-Century British Imagination, and the book was published by Ashgate in July 2013.  Beach’s essay “The Good-Treatment Debate, Comparative Slave Studies, and the ‘Adventures’ of T.S.,” is included in the volume. Beach also published “African Slaves, English Slave Narratives, and Early Modern Morocco” in Eighteenth Century Studies.

Peter Davis’s third book, TINA, came out from Bloof Books in 2013. It has received good reviews in Fanzine and H_ngm_n. A poem from TINA was featured at Versedaily. He has done a fair amount of readings this semester for TINA, most notably at the KGB reading series, The New School, Manchester University, and Illinois State University. He is doing a workshop and reading at Columbia College in Chicago in February. Davis is also featured in a new anthology, The Incredible Sestina Anthology, which was edited by Daniel Nester.

Cathy Day published a short story, “Mr. Jenny Perdido” in Volume 9 of Pank Magazine in 2013. She also received a grant called “Publishing + BSU Students” that provided funds for 20 students to participate in the 40th annual Midwest Writers Workshop from July 25-27 last summer. It is a Discovery Award Grant given by the Discovery Group of Muncie, Indiana in 2013 for $15,398. Click here to read the department’s blog post about her involvement in the event.

Day also wrote a guest post for the Indiana University Press blog called “The Book Behind the Old Washington Street Festival” on August 30, 2013. She wrote it in an effort to publicize her neighborhood’s annual historical festival and the work of Muncie author Emily Kimbrough.

Frank Felsenstein is the joint author (with John Straw, Katharine Leigh, and James Connolly) of “Reading Library Records: Constructing and Using the What Middletown Read Database,” which has appeared as a chapter in Libraries and the Reading Public in Twentieth-Century America, published by the University of Wisconsin Press in 2013. The chapter is based on a team presentation at the 2010 conference, “Libraries in the History of Print Culture,” which is sponsored every five years by the American Library Association. Given the rarity of their survival, the editors of the volume describe the discovery of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century circulation records of the Muncie Public Library as “an extraordinary find.” Information about the project and digitized records can be accessed through Ball State’s website. The freely accessible database is now being regularly employed both by researchers and by teachers and students across the United States and abroad.

Robert D. Habich published the chapter “Biography” in Ralph Waldo Emerson in Context with Cambridge University Press, as well as the online research guide “Ralph Waldo Emerson” in Oxford Bibliographies in American Literature with Oxford University Press. His review of The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, vol. 10, appeared in the New England Quarterly in September, and his review of “Not Altogether Human”: Pantheism and the Dark Nature of the American Renaissance by Richard Hardack was published in the Journal of American History in June. Habich is completing a two-year term as president of the Ralph Waldo Emerson Society.

Darolyn Jones was awarded the Outstanding Proposal Submission at the Diversity and Inclusivity Teaching and Research Symposium at Indiana University Southeast on October 13. She was also awarded the university-wide Excellence in Teaching (EXIT) award for her project “Rethinking Children’s Literature: Reading for Change” at Ball State University in 2013.

Jones’s work with the Indiana Writers Center has been featured on the Ball State University website since October. Also, she was featured in an article titled “TTK: Fight for your Writers” in an online publication for the Arts in Indiana called Sky Blue Window on October 12. A memoir collection she edited along with English department faculty member Liz Whiteacre called Monday Coffee and Other Stories of Mothering Children with Special Needs was released in November.

Sean Lovelace released a flash fiction collection published by Bateau Press titled The Frogs are Incredibly Loud Here. It was the winner of the 2013 Keel Prize for short fiction. Two more of Lovelace’s flash fiction pieces titled “I Roll into a Ball and they Throw me at Derek Jeter” and “Separation” were published in Fall 2013 in Quarter After Eight literary magazine. During the summer of 2013, his flash fiction piece titled “Saturday” was published in Juked magazine.

Craig O’Hara’s short story “The Corner,” which recently appeared in the North Dakota Quarterly, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Emily Scalzo had three poems, “The End of Childhood,” “The Process of Grief,” and “Comfort Food,” featured in the online literary magazine Dead Snakes. Also, her short memoir piece, “Degradation,” was published in the online literary magazine Run to the Roundhouse, Nellie.  Scalzo’s poem, “To Adam,” is forthcoming in February at Deep Water Literary Journal, and two poems, “My Reason for College, 2003,” and “Homeless Man, Purdue University,” are forthcoming in April at Eunoia Review.

Trey Strecker reviewed Evan Dara’s Flee for the TLS: Times Literary Supplement (22 Nov. 2013) and Joseph McElroy’s Cannonball for the Quarterly Conversation 34 (Winter 2014).

Mary Lou Vercellotti’s article “Use and Accuracy of Verb Complement in English L2 Speech” was published in October in the Dutch Journal of Applied Linguistics. Also, she had an article published in TESOL Quarterly titled “Examining the Impact of Self-Correction Notes on Grammatical Accuracy in Speaking” in June. In addition, she wrote a chapter called “Language Acquisition and Language Assessment” in the book The Companion to Language Assessment.

Vercellotti also presented twice at the Second Language Research Forum in Utah this November. Her presentations were titled “Not All Clauses are Created Equal: Classifying Grammatical Complexity in ESL Speech” and “Profiles of Noticing in L2 English Learners: Examining Online and Post-production Noticing Moves.”

Maria Windell’s article titled “Moor, Mulata, Mulatta: Sentimentalism, Racialization, and Benevolent Imperialism in Mary Peabody Mann’s Juanita” has been accepted for publication in J19:The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists, the journal of C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists.

Andrea Wolfe completed her Virginia Ball Center seminar entitled “Down to Earth: Small Farm Issues in a Big Farm World” this semester. Take a look at the documentary and other related materials.

New Faculty Profile: Prof. Diane Mooney

This week, the department continues our series of new faculty profiles by featuring Professor Diane Mooney, who joined our department this year. Diane earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Florida International University in 2008, and has taught both traditional and online courses at Florida International and Miami Dade College.  She also taught for two years at Shantou University in China.  Continue reading below for the interview conducted by English Department intern Nakkia Patrick.


*Photo provided by Diane Mooney

How has teaching abroad helped shape you as an educator?

The mission of Shantou University, where I taught in China, is to bring Western-style education to China. Students were used to listening to a teacher lecture for an hour with no opportunities to ask questions or work with each other on projects. Introducing the concept of the student-centered classroom was a challenge, but it reinforced my belief in Marshall Gregory’s notion of befriending, which “entails creating an atmosphere of classroom trust that can help students who are willing to take the risk of real engagement, the risk of failure and the commitment to practice that constitutes the grounds of learning.” To encourage student engagement, I developed and taught a food-writing class where students wrote memoirs, shared family recipes, and reviewed restaurants. Food and family are central in Chinese culture, and the students were very excited to share their culture with me. This experience also reinforced my belief that teachers need to be flexible to meet the needs of their students.

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Tyler Fields: How Enhancing My Degree Paved the Road to New York City

In this post, Tyler Fields, the winner of our 2013 Outstanding Senior Award, describes how his experiences and his English degree at Ball State helped prepare him for the New York Arts Program and the three internships that he currently holds at D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers, Inc., at MAGGY Poetry Magazine, and at the Lauren Cerand publicity agency.

The memory is vague. My honors advisor is asking me what I think I’d like my major to be. “What are your interests?” she asks. This question seems a bit cavalier. After all, my answer could very realistically determine my future career or livelihood. I said, “books.” And with a click of her mouse, my advisor set into motion a series of events, called the Creative Writing Major, which would lead me to a number of opportunities and eventually several internships in New York City. For the next four years, many would ask the infamous question all humanities majors come to know so well: “What are you going to do with that major?” My answers would change over the years from, “I’d like to write,” to, “Maybe I’ll teach,” to, “I have no clue.” Now, as I am working at several internships in New York City and participating in the New York Arts Program, I realize that my Creative Writing degree from Ball State University is exactly what I needed to begin realizing my original desire to surround myself with books. It is because of the opportunities afforded by Ball State’s English Department that I now have a clear and confident reply to anyone who asks, “What are you going to do with that?”

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Recent Alum Layne Ransom On Her Job as a Migrant School Aide

In May, I graduated from Ball State with a creative writing degree and this plan in mind:  I’d take a year off from school to work, then start grad school to work toward an MFA in creative writing, specifically poetry.  Bam.

Now I’d just have to find a job.  Continue reading

Dr. Deborah Mix Introduces Her VBC Seminar on Vernacular Memorials

This semester, I have the pleasure of being a fellow at the Virginia Ball Center for Creative Inquiry.  The idea behind the VBC is to create space for immersive, collaborative, interdisciplinary learning.  The reality of being at the VBC is, well, flat-out fantastic.  It’s the only teaching responsibility I have this semester, and it’s the only coursework my students have (they’re each earning 15 credit hours for the seminar).  We get to meet in a beautiful house; we get to travel to Washington, DC; and we get to work together in ways that regular classes just can’t allow.

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Recent Alumnus Phil Call on His Successful Search for a Teaching Position in Secondary Education


I recently graduated with a degree in English education and a license to teach English as a second language (ESL).  After applying for 11 jobs, receiving 10 rejections, but eventually winding up with two offers, I am glad to say that I will be teaching English and English as a second language this fall at Warsaw High School.  I wrote a post in November 2010 about the English ed program generally; here, I want to share some experiences and suggestions about the job hunt.

1: Apply early and often. Most school teachers I spoke with said that I didn’t have to worry about applying until school was over. After checking the jobs posted on the Indiana Dept. of Education website, though, I learned that while some schools accept applications well into July, others stop doing so by late April. I sent out as many as I could in the time I had to schools across the state that had jobs sounding even remotely interesting.

2: Accept the rejections. Although I had anticipated a few rejections, I was surprised several times after what I felt had been excellent interviews. I tried to pry some worthwhile information during the consolation calls about my shortcomings and thereby obtained a few tips for how to improve as well as learned that some of the shortcomings they perceived in me were actually important parts of my teaching philosophy and identity, which made me feel glad I wasn’t extended an offer.

3: Read and talk about what you’re reading. One school whose rejection was particularly unexpected had asked what I was reading and required me to read Results Now by Mike Schmoker. I had an especially good discussion with the principal, who, upon my inquiry for other good reads, pulled The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner off his shelf and gave it to me. Subsequently, when another position opened up, he called and offered it to me, giving me a week to respond.

4: Show how much you want it. Although I felt good about this aforementioned position, there was another job at another school that had a course load and location I much preferred. I used the weeklong deadline to leverage a quicker interview and response time from this second school. I felt bad about being so forward and somewhat demanding, but the assistant principal assured me that it was okay and actually helpful because it let him know how interested I was.

5: Be honest about weaknesses and strengths. When I showed up for the interview at this second school, my hopes were immediately dashed after I was introduced to the ESL coordinator for the school district (20% of which is Hispanic/Latino) and then saw another interviewee go into her office and start conversing with her in Spanish, which I don’t know at all… long story. In my interview, I made it clear that I didn’t speak Spanish but was sure to emphasize my student-centered, project-based pedagogy. The artifacts and example lesson I had to present focused on these strengths as well, which were evidently sufficient since I was offered the job.

So, this fall, and for the foreseeable future, I’ll be teaching four ESL classes in the morning and two English 10 classes in the afternoon.

Best of luck,


Alumnus Katie Dittelberger on How Her English Degree Helped Prepared Her for Law School

After earning my bachelor’s at Ball State with an English Major in 2007, I took a year off from school to think about what I wanted to do next career-wise, and headed to Boulder, Colorado to work as a waitress and enjoy the mountains. As I contemplated my future career, I knew I had been shaped by my experiences at Ball State. For instance, my classes with Debbie Mix, Lauren Onkey, Pat Collier, and Jill Christman had exposed me to different ways of thinking about social inequality, which led me to contemplate centering my work around social justice. My time surrounded by the natural beauty of Colorado had also enhanced my belief in the value of environmental sustainability. I decided that becoming a lawyer would be a good way to get to work on some of the issues I care about. I entered Indiana University School of Law with a full scholarship in the fall of 2008 and graduated Summa Cum Laude in the spring of 2011. In law school, I engaged in some public service and social justice-oriented volunteer work, and I worked as a law clerk for a judge, as a law clerk for Earthjustice, and as an intern at The Nature Conservancy during the two summers. Currently, I am studying for the bar examination and plan to move to Denver to pursue a career in nonprofit lawyering.

Studying a variety of methods of thought in my English classes and learning to use reason and logic to write papers prepared me to engage in legal reading and writing in law school. English majors are taught to use both the creative and logical parts of our brains to make arguments, exactly the type of thought necessary for making legal arguments. There is room for creativity in the law, and English majors are perfectly poised to see these grey areas because we are taught to analyze texts from different angles. My English major gave me a new outlook on the world and the tools to take on the challenge of law school, and I am grateful for my time at Ball State.

English Majors Who Work At Ball State: Dr. Joseph Goodwin, Assistant Director of the Career Center

In the coming year, we will feature guest posts from English majors who work at Ball State in positions outside of the English department.   This is part of our larger effort to emphasize the many different ways that one can use an English degree after graduation.  In this post, the assistant director of Ball State’s career center, Dr. Joseph Goodwin, discusses how he has used the skills he developed in his English major and in his graduate work in folklore in his various careers.  Dr. Goodwin earned his B.A. in English at the University of Alabama in 1974, and then went on to earn a Ph.D. in Folklore from Indiana University in 1984.

During my freshman orientation, I told my advisor that I planned to major in psychology and minor in sociology with a goal of teaching high school. He told me I couldn’t because those subjects weren’t offered in high school (despite the fact that I had just taken both). Having enjoyed English, I decided on the spot to major in English and minor in sociology. As I later learned, I should have declared a social studies major to be certified to teach my original choices. 

By my junior year I’d completed all of the academic requirements for licensure except for student teaching and one follow-up course. I also realized that I didn’t want to teach in a secondary school. At the same time, I discovered a new area of study that I became really excited about: folklore. I eventually completed fifteen credit hours in folklore through independent study. 

My folklore instructor suggested that I apply for the graduate program at Indiana University’s Folklore Institute (now the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology). At the time, it was the leading program of its kind in the United States.  At I.U., I had an editorial assistantship with the journal Indiana Folklore

By the time I was finishing my Ph.D., I realized that with no teaching experience and few faculty positions available in the field, I would have to pursue another career path. I was not prepared for work in museums, arts agencies, and the like. To my good fortune, a part-time job as an editor opened up in I.U.’s publications office—just in time. I got the job and a few months later was moved temporarily to a full-time position.  Just as that job was ending and I was to revert to half-time, I applied for the position of assistant director of University Publications at Ball State. 

After I had been in that job for almost eight years, the director of the Career Center called me for advice about advertising an opening in her office. She wanted someone with editorial experience and was wondering how to get the best applicant pool. As we talked, she explained that she could teach the career development skills. She also mentioned she needed someone with a library background (I had worked in libraries and archives while in college and graduate school) and public speaking experience. Hmm. She was describing me!

 In the Career Center, along with my other responsibilities, I edit, proofread, and approve all materials and communications produced in the office (except for personal correspondence). With our technology specialist, I developed our original website in 1995, one of the first on campus. I also supervise the coordinator of our resource lab. 

Every day I use the knowledge I gained while earning my bachelor’s degree in English. In many ways, however, I’ve obtained my jobs by selling my transferable skills rather than my degrees. What does that mean? There are many skills that can be applied in a variety of jobs—skills that one develops in classes, at work, through hobbies, and in many other ways. 

For at least the last two decades employers have consistently named several key skills and competencies that they are seeking (beyond the content of students’ majors). Among these are communication, teamwork, adaptability, interpersonal skills, analytical skills, creativity, and leadership—knowledge and abilities expected of all liberal arts majors. By focusing on my accomplishments in these areas, as well as using my technical skills, I have been successful in my searches for employment.

Jared Sexton’s Interview with Andrew Scott About His Recently Published Book! (Part 1)

Congratulations to Andrew Scott, assistant professor of English, on the publication of his first book, Naked Summer (Press 53, 2011.).   In order to mark the occassion, we asked another English department faculty member, Jared Sexton, to interview Andrew about his first full-length book and his life as a writer, editor and teacher.  Below is the first installment.

1. You’re a son of the Midwest. You were raised here, educated here, you teach and live here, and your collection, Naked Summer, reads like a love letter to this region. What do you think is so special about the Midwest and Midwesterners in general? Is there something about them that makes for good living or writing?

One of my mentors writes about a place after she’s left it, when memory mixes with imagination, and that’s what happened to me, too. I was born in Lafayette, Indiana, but when I moved to New Mexico for grad school, the physical distance teamed up with a strange longing that I couldn’t have predicted. New Mexico was as far away as I could get, after all, and I desperately wanted to live somewhere else. I’d been accepted into all of the MFA programs that actually considered my application, and all were outside the Midwest. I think I subconsciously goofed up the applications to Iowa and Ohio State — forgot to send GRE scores to one, missed a deadline for the other — because I didn’t want to stay in the Midwest. 

Susan Neville has an essay about how Hoosiers have to decide if we will stay or leave. I really wanted to leave, and it was good for me to live somewhere else for a while, especially a place as rich and weird and lively — but also deadly — as New Mexico. For many years, nearly every story I tried to write came from Tippecanoe County and its environs. I decided to embrace my place, my home state, in the service of fiction.  

All of the clichés that are heaped upon Midwesterners — that we’re simple, quiet, unassuming, honest, generally good-natured, etc. — help create tension when a writer engages them in fiction, because a lot of readers (and certainly most publishers) on the coasts don’t expect people in “the flyover” to have rich inner lives. I think that surprise factor, dumb as it is — oh, Midwesterners are complex people, too! — can often be an advantage for writers. Some of the most surprisingly brutal books of the past few years have come from the Midwest, such as Bonnie Jo Campbell’s American Salvage, Donald Ray Pollock’s Knockemstiff, or Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone

2. You and your wife are both writers and editors, partnering on the successful journal Freight Stories. What do you think you’ve learned from that different focus that has helped you as a writer or reader?

Editing is a different skill set. Many writers are also good editors, but not all. Victoria Barrett and I have been editors for thirteen years now, first for Puerto del Sol, the literary journal we edited at New Mexico State, but also with Freight Stories, the online fiction journal we founded in 2008. This year, Victoria started her own boutique press called Engine Books. Her first contracted manuscript is a story collection from Patricia Henley, whose debut novel was a finalist for the National Book Award. Not too shabby. 

For me, editing is rewarding work. It’s also work that has an end. The composition and revision stages my own fiction must go through can be exhausting. But with editing, I’m just a facilitator, a connector, the link between the writer’s vision for a story and the reader’s perception. I have to find a way to help present the best version to readers. Sometimes that means marking up every page, and many stories we’ve published have received that kind of attention from me. But sometimes it means backing off. For example, Lee Martin’s “Bedtime Stories” is only a few pages long. When we accepted that piece, I knew it was good, but I was determined to put Lee through the same editorial scrutiny as any other writer we’ve published, though he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. I spent two or three hours on those few pages, questioning every choice, but in the end, I didn’t make a single suggestion. It was like sparring with Sugar Ray Leonard in his prime. I was way out of my league, but that experience made me a better prose-maker. Often the editor changes the story. But sometimes, the story changes the editor. 

3. You’ve told me in conversation that the collection has been a work-in-progress that you’ve tooled around with for a while now. Could you take us through a brief, albeit informational, tour of the many ups and downs you’ve had with this manuscript?

I have started other projects in the years since finishing the MFA, and some of those are finally starting to gain momentum, including a few graphic novel projects that I’m excited about. But this collection was always there, and I revised it once or twice a year, top to bottom, during the last decade. A lot of writers might have abandoned it. Don’t most MFA grads ditch their thesis projects? I simply couldn’t bring myself to do that. 

I began approaching agents near the end of 2008, just as the recession really started, perhaps the worst time in decades for the book business. In short, agents often read and enjoyed the stories, but all of the ones I was interested in working with wanted a novel instead, or at least in addition to this story collection, and I wasn’t ready.  

Meanwhile, an independent press out of North Carolina, Press 53, had started publishing well-respected story collections by authors I admired, so I submitted my manuscript in the fall of 2010. Eight weeks later, I had a contract. Five months after that, you read my book. 

Along the way, I learned how to stick with a project and how to trust my judgment, but also about the role luck plays in so many aspects of publishing.