Tag Archives: Susanna Benko

Prof. Scalzo Publishes Book (And other March Good News)!

We’ve got a lot of good news this month, so we’re dividing it into faculty and student/alum accomplishments. Check out all the amazing things your friends and colleagues have done!

Faculty Good News

Prof. Emily Scalzo’s new book The Politics of Division was published on Mar. 27!

The Indiana Writing Project was awarded a $15,000 grant titled “2017-2018 SEED Invitational Leadership Institute to Invest in Developing New Teacher Leaders.” The money from this grant will be used to support summer programming for teachers.

The Indiana Writing Project was also thrilled to send two local teachers to Washington D.C. in March for the National Writing Project’s Spring Meeting. In their time in D.C., teachers Jeri Tarvin and Katrina Gibson met with legislators to increase awareness about the work of NWP/IWP. They shared student writing and examples of professional development happening at our site.

Prof. Carolyn MacKay was awarded an NSF/NEH Documenting Endangered Languages Fellowship for her project:  A Grammar of Pisaflores Tepehua, an endangered language of Mexico.  It is a one year fellowship.

Prof. Susanna Benko and her colleagues Emily Hodge and Serena Salloum have had their work featured in Ed Week on the blog, “Curriculum Matters.”  The blog post highlights major findings from their study that was published in AERA Open.

Prof. Mark Neely has poems out or forthcoming in spring issues of FIELD, Passages North, Birmingham Poetry Review, Southern Indiana Review, and Timber: a Journal of New Writing.

Prof. Mary Lou Vercellotti published “The Development of Complexity, Accuracy, and Fluency in Second Language Performance: A Longitudinal Study” in the most recent issue of Applied Linguistics (the flagship journal of her field). It is listed in the top 5 most read articles of the journal. (Also, she will be dancing later this month in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Dance for Kid’s Sake event, so come out and support her!)

Prof. Emily Rutter’s article “‘Straighten Up and Fly Right’: A Contrafactual Reading of Percival Everett’s Suder and Bernard Malamud’s The Natural” was published in the recent issue of Aethlon, the journal of the Sports Literature Association. Her monograph Invisible Ball of Dreams: Literary Representations of Baseball behind the Color Line is also now under contract with University Press of Mississippi.

Prof. Frank Felsenstein spoke at the annual day conference of the Harry Friedman Society at the Jewish Museum, New York, where the title of his talk was “From Shylock to Fagin: Jewish Caricatures in English Prints.” He also lectured on “What Middletown Read: Rediscovering Late Nineteenth-Century American Reading Habits” at Ball State University.

Prof. Cathy Day was just featured on the CitizenLit podcast, which is produced by Aubrie Cox, who got her MA with #bsuenglish in 2013.

Prof. Jennifer Grouling was awarded as a finalist for the Outstanding Graduate Faculty Mentor Award.

Prof. Megumi Hamada’s paper “L2 Word Recognition: Influence of L1 Orthography on Multi-syllabic Word Recognition,” was accepted to the Journal of Psycholinguistics Research.

Prof. Rani Deighe Crowe’s short film script Heather Has Four Moms is an Official Selection for the Austin Comedy Short Film Festival Spring 2017. She is also directing the short film Welfare Check by screenwriting faculty Kathryn Gardiner this April. The film will star Muncie native and Ball State alumna Cynda Williams and Golden Glove Champion William Lee. The cast includes additional members of the Muncie community, and the crew includes many Ball State TCOM students.

Students and Alumni Good News

Daniel Brount (2016 graduate) was just featured on the Dear English Major blog.

Student Amanda Byk is the new Content Manager at the Facing Project.

#bsuenglish grad Rachel Hartley-Smith published her essay “Dumb Blonde” in feminist journal So to Speak.

Rachael Heffner (2014 graduate) was recently featured in the Daily Mail. Currently she’s working at a marketing firm in Indianapolis, Dominion Dealer Solutions, as their Social Media and Reputation Specialist.

#bsuenglish grad Abby Higgs recently published the final installment of her series “My Life with Annie Lennox” on The Rumpus.

Brittany Means has been accepted in the Nonfiction program at the University of Iowa.

Elyse Lowery had three poems (“Blood and Diamonds,” “Crosshatch,” and “Five Cigars”) published in the 3288 Review this month.

#bsuenglish grad Robert Young had his piece “11 Useless Kitchen Appliances: Crock Pots” published in Midwestern Gothic.

Current #bsuenglish students Kathryn Hampshire and Nikole Darnell, as well as recent graduate Lauren Birkey, all received Academic Honors in Writing.

Hannah Partridge was offered a summer internship in acquisitions from Wiley Publishing.

15 English graduate students were recognized at a graduate student recognition ceremony. (Ceremony attendees pictured from left to right: Nuha Alsalem, Hayat Bedaiwi, Andrew Wurdeman, Matthias Raess, Mary Carter.)

Profs. Scalzo and Manery Publish Poetry Books (And More November Good News)

Prof. Emily Scalzo had four poems accepted to Scarlet Leaf Review, including “To My Father,” “If the Human Race is the Only Race, Why Does this Shit Still Happen,” “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” and “The Reason I Blocked You on Facebook.” They are due to be published in December. Also, her poetry chapbook, The Politics of Division, was accepted by Five Oaks Press for publication in 2017.

Prof. Rebecca Manery’s book of poems, View from the Hôtel de l’Étoile, is just out from Finishing Line Press. Individual poems from this collection have been published in Rhino, Bennington Review, and The Body Politic. Becca is a new faculty member at Ball State. Learn more about her here

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Student Blake Mellencamp discusses young adult literature after Skype session with author Eliot Schrefer

In Dr. Susanna Benko’s ENG 414: Young Adult Literature class this past Spring semester, students read Eliot Schrefer’s novel Endangered. Afterward, she asked him to speak to the class on Skype. In this post, student Blake Mellencamp discusses the visit and his views on young adult literature. 

Young adult literature has achieved a troubling reputation in academic culture of being seen as less than literary. If you’re one who’s settled into this mindset, though, then think again, because young adult literature may just be some of the most dynamic writing of today. The books digested by adolescent readers are anything but watered down. In fact, many esteemed novels of the genre are pushing literature to new frontiers. These books deal with real, tough issues and diverse settings across the world ranging from the little-studied Balkan Genocide to futuristic dystopias to the dismal conditions of American Indian reservations.

On April 8th, Ball State’s Young Adult Literature course was fortunate enough to Skype with author Eliot Schrefer about his popular novel Endangered, a finalist for the National Book Award. This novel takes us to a setting remarkably foreign for the average American young adult reader: the war-torn Congo. While in academic circles we may find most of our cursory knowledge of this region coming from Heart of Darkness, I must admit that Schrefer’s well-researched portrayal of Congo might trounce Joseph Conrad’s. In our “classic” literature, we are provided a biased view of imperialism that gives no consideration to the African mindset. We are confronted with a limitless savagery that in no way resembles the world as we know it to be. Endangered turns this view on its head, giving us an immersive cultural experience in which the reader can be exposed realistically to an unfamiliar setting.

When Schrefer first proposed the title, his agent asked if the author was writing a dystopian novel. With The Hunger Games and Divergent dominating book sales, the agent made a fair guess. However, Endangered is distinct from its peers in terms of subject matter. Endangered follows Sophie, a young Congolese-American girl visiting her mother’s bonobo sanctuary who rescues a baby ape named Otto from a vendor on the streets of Kinshasa, the capital of Congo. When military conflict surges through the nation, Sophie and Otto must escape through the dangerous jungle. Through the story of Sophie and Otto, the audience absorbs the tangled geography and political conflicts of Congo. We are shown the consequence of imperialism firsthand and are guided by empathetic characters.

Schrefer told our class that the first inkling of Endangered was born when he purchased a pair of pants from an online retailer called Bonobos. At first, he thought that the brand was just a nonsense word, but after searching online, Schrefer became acquainted with the bonobo: a great ape closely related to the chimpanzee and sharing a great deal of its DNA with human beings. Indigenous only to the Congo, the biological research on bonobos led to a great deal of historical research on the country itself. Eventually this research brought Schrefer to a bonobo sanctuary – and you can find some YouTube videos of this experience that are to die for.  A few internet searches led to the creation of Eliot Schrefer’s Great Ape Quartet, the second of which, Threatened, was released in March. Threatened deals with chimpanzees, and there will be an additional two novels revolving around gorillas and orangutans.

Schrefer left our class with a remarkable insight. For years, evolutionary psychologists studying chimpanzees have looked at the apes’ war-like social structure and have deemed human conflict as perhaps being inevitable. However, we are equally related to the bonobos, who curiously lack war and live in peace. Amidst the most violent region in the world, Endangered offers hope in the form of an alternative view of humanity’s heritage. If this is what our young adults want to read, I’m all for it.

To learn more about Eliot Schrefer, visit his website or follow him on Twitter.

New Faculty Profile: Dr. Susanna Benko

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. Susanna Benko. Continue reading below to see Dr. Benko’s interview conducted by English intern Nakkia Patrick and don’t forget to see past profiles featuring Dr. Miranda Nesler, Dr. Maria Windell, Prof. Liz Whiteacre, Prof. John King, and Dr. Andrea Wolfe.

*Photo provided by Susanna Benko.

*Photo taken by Kelley Bedoloto, Little Heroes Photography.

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