Guilherme D. Garcia on language, linguistics, and critical thinking

Guilherme D. Garcia began teaching linguistics at BSU in January. A native of Brazil, Prof. Garcia has a PhD from McGill University in Montreal. He specializes in Phonology and Phonetics, both of which focus on the speech sounds that make up languages. Among other things, his research focuses on how speakers learn pronunciation patterns and how meter–the sequences of weak and strong syllables–contrast in different languages. Beyond linguistics and teaching, Prof. Garcia is passionate about guitars and photography. In this interview, he talks about his current research, about avoiding biases, and about his role models.

How would you describe your teaching perspective?

I think that the most important skill a student can acquire these days is critical thinking, and that’s the underlying objective of my classes. Once you learn how to filter all the information available, you can be sufficiently autonomous to build your own path in a particular field of study. Since I teach theoretical and experimental linguistics, I often emphasize that our conclusions about a particular theoretical framework should be guided by the data available—and not by our subjective biases towards a particular theory. One important question to ask when we examine linguistic data is whether a different explanation could also account for the patterns we observe. Naturally, that question should be considered outside the classroom as well.

Who are your biggest role models?

My parents taught me all those things you don’t learn at school. Most of everything else I learned from amazing professors and my wife. My PhD supervisor is certainly my academic role model.

Tell us a little about your current projects.

Right now I’m working on a couple of things. I have a paper under revision on whether or not we can generalize patterns in our language which may be inconsistent with what’s observed cross-linguistically (I’ll present this paper at the 41st annual GLOW conference, held in Budapest this year). I have another paper under way (joint work) that compares English and Portuguese, and argues that even though these languages look very similar in terms of their metrical structure, they are actually fundamentally different. I’m also working on an upcoming presentation in Chicago  where I show that a Bayesian approach to data analysis can be particularly useful in the study of Second Language Acquisition. Finally, I’m working with some researchers at McGill University on two projects: one that investigates how prosodic factors can affect how we interpret pronouns in Italian, and one that examines how patterns of vowel deletion in Quebec French can help us better understand the underlying metrical pattern(s) in the language. This project was recently presented at the Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America, held in Salt Lake City this past January.

How did you decide on the work you are focusing on now?

I’m curious to see how we can acquire and generalize subtle aspects of our native (or second) language. By “subtle,” I mean facts about language that we don’t really know exist in speakers’ grammars, but which emerge in carefully designed experiments. This can help us better understand how powerful our language acquisition mechanism is at learning and generalizing linguistic patterns. In the context of second language acquisition, this can help us identify with precision underlying differences between native speakers and second language learners. I also really enjoy analyzing language data and assessing how accurate standard assumptions are given what we actually observe. So my research connects these two worlds: data analysis and linguistics (phonology).

Madisen Ray Petrosky: succeeding with “a positive attitude and a well-written sentence”

Madisen Ray Petrosky graduated from BSU with a BA in English Literature in 2011. After attending the University of Denver Publishing Institute in 2012, she started a career in social media management and nonprofit marketing. She’s managed #GivingTuesday campaigns, website redesigns, and lots of hashtag holidays. She recently took a position in Public Relations. In this blog post, she recounts her journey from an internship to her first job to her exciting new position. And she highlights how her education in English was crucial at every step.

“You do you.” It’s often a throwaway line on social media, but what better way to succinctly affirm individuals who are doing what they love because they love it?

The last time I wrote for the Ball State English Blog was the winter of 2012. I had recently attended the University of Denver Publishing Institute and hoped to go into publishing as an editor or marketer. As optimistic as I was at the time, I knew I needed more experience.

In January 2013, I started a marketing internship at a law firm in downtown Indianapolis. Five months there gave me a crash course in email etiquette, how to navigate an office, and what it’s like to commute in every weather scenario the Midwest can throw at you. I also realized that I didn’t want to move to New York just to enter the publishing industry when I could do a lot of what I enjoyed – writing, researching, posting on social media – right here in Indy. (A trip to NYC a couple years later that laid me out with the flu confirmed that New York is a fun place to visit, but not somewhere I want to live.)

Towards the end of my internship, I interviewed for a marketing coordinator position with Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation. The job description seemed ideal: strong written and verbal communication skills, experience with social media and website management, and knowledge of Greek life, which I had as a previous Sigma Kappa at Ball State. After a short interview process, I was delighted to be offered the job on the second-to-last-day of my internship. I enthusiastically accepted (which is a low-key way of saying I jumped up and down in my tiny apartment and called my mom, screaming).

When I started at Theta Foundation in June of 2013, I had no idea that I was beginning an incredible four-year journey that would teach me so much – and see me rely on what I learned from Ball State so often.

Project management was a huge aspect of my job at Theta Foundation. Coordinating multiple vendors when designing, printing, and mailing an annual report, or being part of a multi-member team designing a website from scratch–these projects require keeping tabs on the project, the deadlines, and how you can ferry it along. I didn’t always love group projects at Ball State, but unless you work in an office of one, most of what you do will be a group project. You’ll learn quickly that not asking for help when you need it or trying to do too much yourself can be detrimental to your mental health and your career.

In four years of working with incredible individuals at Theta Foundation, I began to think about what was next. I could write about nearly every aspect of Theta Foundation in my sleep, and as comforting as that was, it was time to infuse some variety into my daily work. After having dinner with a friend who worked at a public relations agency, I started to think about working in an agency environment.

No matter what type of agency you work in, there are a few things I can guarantee: it’s going to be a lot of work, you’re going to be busy, and you’re never going to be bored. I was ready for that next step. After submitting my writing samples and navigating the interview process, I was thrilled to accept an account executive position at Dittoe Public Relations in September of 2017.

Now you may be thinking, “Ball State has a public relations major. Shouldn’t you be a PR major if you want to work in PR?” I wondered that myself and said so during my interview. But my interviewer, now my office mentor (and a fellow Ball State grad), said to me: “We can teach you the techniques and the tools used during PR, but the most important skill you’ll use every day is writing.” And writing is something I can do thanks to my English degree.

In addition to writing everything from media pitches to press releases to technical articles, I do a lot of research to be able to write all those items. Being on four account teams for four clients in four different industries, I don’t always know the nuances of the subjects I’m writing about. As was true in Ball State classes or my internship, being able to take a deep dive into a new subject then distill that information succinctly is a vital skill.

Time management and structuring my days are two skills I learned at BSU that I’ve relied on most in my change from Theta Foundation to Dittoe. At Theta Foundation, everything I did was for and about Theta Foundation – every email I sent, blog post I wrote, file I sorted, or brainstorm session I was a part of was for Theta Foundation. But at Dittoe, because it’s an agency, everything I do is divided between four clients and Dittoe itself. You have to able to structure your day, switch tasks – or buckle down – as needed, and have a great attitude during it all. A positive attitude and a well-written sentence will get you far.

I didn’t expect my career would lead me to PR, but I’m completely enamored with it. It takes everything I love about marketing and social media and adds a renewed focus on writing and digging in to my local community. Every single day is different and keeps me on my toes. My English degree gave me the tools to succeed in PR, and I’m delighted that I can be a part of the Dittoe PR team today.

I’m doing me with my English degree. You do you.

 

 

Originally written by Madisen Ray Petrosky

New professor Elisabeth Buck on making the most of PhD studies

Elisabeth Buck received her PhD in Rhetoric and Writing from BSU in 2016. During her time here, Elisabeth worked as a graduate teaching assistant and as the Graduate Assistant Director of the Writing Program and Writing Center. She is now Assistant Professor of English and Faculty Director of the Writing & Reading Center at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. 

In this installment of Grad School Confidential, Elisabeth talks about how her experiences at Ball State readied her for the academic job market.

One of the best aspects of my job is the opportunity to mentor and advise students. Just the other day, one of my students asked me, “So… how do I go about getting a job like yours?”

Receiving a tenure-track job offer is like finding a unicorn, or catching a foul ball, or *insert other appropriate metaphor about luck/scarcity here.* There are so many super-smart, hard-working, enthusiastic people who, for a variety of reasons, may spend years applying for and never receiving such a job offer. The reality is that working full-time in academia is an increasingly tenuous pursuit, and I remind myself constantly how lucky I am to be here. If you decide then to attend graduate school, I believe strongly that you should be open to many post-grad paths: a graduate degree in English can be versatile and marketable. That said, the specific opportunities and training offered to me at Ball State absolutely prepared me to take on my role at U Mass Dartmouth, for three primary reasons:

Fantastic Faculty Mentors

If you have—or are considering—moving to attend grad school, the community you’re able to build is critically important. Graduate school can be tough on mental health. Seriously tough. It’s important that anyone considering this path do their research about this topic, and know what resources exist on campus. Even if you’re commuting locally, I cannot emphasize enough that to be successful in graduate school, you must have support.

On this note, I met Dr. Jennifer Grouling on my first day at Ball State. During my time there, she epitomized supportive—from her first role as my teaching mentor, through her supervision as my dissertation/exam chair, and, more recently, as my co-teacher and co-author. Dr. Jackie Grutsch McKinney too is one of the most well-known and well- respected scholars in writing center studies. (She’s a three-time winner of the International Writing Center Association’s Outstanding Book Award!) Both Jennifer and Jackie are incredibly encouraging mentors, and I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from them. Dr. Rory Lee and Dr. Mike Donnelly also helped me engage critically and meaningfully throughout my exam and dissertation process. Even English faculty outside of my area stepped in to help prepare me for the job market—from offering workshops on personal statements and CV design, to attending mock job talks and research presentations.

Teaching/Administrative Opportunities

One thing that I believe made me successful in my job search is the variety of teaching and administrative positions I was able to hold at Ball State. I served as  the Graduate Assistant Director of both the Writing Program and the Writing Center. In these roles, I explored strategies for programmatic evaluation, supervision, publicity, and assessment—all key to developing a comprehensive administrative philosophy.

Ball State also afforded me the opportunity to teach a variety of classes, including first-year English courses, a Digital Literacies class, and, as co-teacher with Dr. Grouling, a graduate level course, Teaching in English Studies. These pedagogical experiences supplemented my administrative roles, especially with regard to the opportunity to work closely with and mentor fellow graduate students.

Rigorous Research Preparation

When I was a student in Dr. Grouling’s Teaching in English Studies class, I began a research project that eventually became my first peer-reviewed publication. Have I mentioned that Jennifer is supportive? Well, she was there during every stage of this process.

I think that most current academics will tell you that it is always advantageous to emerge from grad school with at least one refereed publication, if a job in academe is the end goal. Navigating the publishing process can be hugely scary, but my coursework at Ball State—especially the Writing in the Professions course—helped me take important steps that would make my work legible within disciplinary contexts.

It was also this advanced preparation that helped me navigate how to pitch and revise my dissertation into a book, Open-Access, Multimodality, and Writing Center Studies.

In short, I am enormously thankful for my time at Ball State. The combination of highly engaged faculty, unique teaching and administrative opportunities, and an encouraging and thorough research program undoubtedly helped me make it to this point.

Editor’s Note: Elisabeth indicates that she would be happy to hear from students considering graduate school at Ball State. You can reach her at ebuck@umassd.edu.

Jolene McConnell: “Do things you’re afraid of doing.”

Jolene McConnell graduated from BSU in 2006 with her MA in TESOL and Linguistics. She is now an English Language Fellow in Albania with the US Department of State. Jolene has taught at a private language school for adults in Poland, at public schools in Korea, and on cruise ships teaching ESL. Upon her return to the US, Jolene worked for ELS Language Centers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Kansas State University before taking a leave of absence to do her fellowship.  

In her current role in Albania, Jolene is conducting workshops for English teachers throughout the country.  She conducts the Regional English Language Office Belgrade Facebook page and works with a division of the Ministry of Education in Albania.

How did your English major lead to your current position? What skills did you learn as an English major that helped you transition into that job?

I am on sabbatical from my job as an ESL instructor at Kansas State University and I currently do teacher training for English teachers in Albania.  I majored in English, not only because I love how language works, but specifically because I wanted to learn more about the world.  Having a degree in English has opened so many doors for me and I have had opportunities to travel that I would never have had otherwise. English didn´t just help me with my job; it is my job.  

Continue reading

Michael Prosser: A Teacher’s Odyssey

Michael H. Prosser received his BA in English with minors in Latin and speech in 1958, and his MA in English with a minor in Latin at BSU in 1959. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois in Communications with a minor in English in 1964. He has taught at Ball State, the University of Virginia, and the University of Swaziland, and other schools across the world. Prosser is also a founder of the academic field of intercultural communication, and has written or edited books on topics ranging from classical and medieval rhetoric to international public discourse.

You are among Ball State’s most esteemed alumni. What are a few memories that stand out to you from your time here?

I was an undergraduate debater at BSU and president of the campus Newman Club. In 1978, BSU gave me an Outstanding Alumnus award. Several of my books are in the BSU library, as well as my MA thesis ‘’Solitude in the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne,” (under the leadership of Alfred Harding Marks), and my Ph.D. thesis “A Rhetorical Analysis of the Speeches of Adlai Stevenson in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Sessions of the United Nations General Assembly.”

When I was a teaching assistant at Ball State in 1958-59, I taught one quarter of American Literature and two quarters of public speaking (which included lots of vets who had fought in Korea). My supervisor was Lucille Clifton, and I had classes on Milton with Jon Loury as well as courses with Paul Royalty, Alfred Harding Marks, Joseph Sattler, and Edward Strother. The most interesting three quarter course that I took in the English Department was Shakespeare: in fall, histories; winter, the comedies; spring, the tragedies. Continue reading

Mandy Stamper : Presenter, Representative, and Educator

BSU English grad Mandy Stamper is an independent manufacturers’ representative for 10 companies in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio.  She works from home on commission with architects, designers, business owners, and general contractors, among others. Although she travels for work, she has a flexible schedule and a lot of autonomy. Previously she worked for a commercial furniture dealership, selling to corporate, healthcare, higher education, and k-12 customers.

After a few years, she decided she wanted the flexibility of working for herself. She gained her first contract by working the floors of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago at Neocon, an annual industry trade show, walking from booth to booth, asking if anyone needed a representative in Indiana.

She gives educational presentations about products and consults on specifications and designs, among other tasks.  She is married and has two children, a son at IU and a daughter in third grade.

How did your English major lead to your current position? What skills did you learn as an English major that helped you transition into that job?

I honestly just fell into this position.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but I knew I didn’t want to teach. I got into the commercial furniture industry and never looked back!  My English degree helped in so many ways. Here are just a few:
  • Sharpened my critical thinking skills.
  • Enhanced my creative thinking.
  • Built a foundation for presentation skills through class discussion and presentations.
  • Broadened my vocabulary to add interest and intelligence to conversations.

 What’s a typical day like for you?

There is no typical day but I can give a list of a few things that I do:
  • Present to architects, designers, owners, contractors, and any others that may be decision makers or involved in installation or fabrication.
  • Show samples and educate about the best solutions for the problems and needs presented.
  • Travel between locations making sure design libraries are up to date.
  • Get creative and brand myself with unique presentations or leave-behinds for architects and designers.  Reminding people you are there is key.
  • Network with representatives of non-competing products.
  • Find and chase leads for projects.
  • Work with teams at the manufacturers’ offices to come up with pricing and strategize the best way to win a project.

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

The foundation a major in English gives is invaluable.  Employers today want to know that you have drive and the ability to think critically and convey ideas in an intelligent manner.  Many positions are learned on the job and if you have the ability and desire, there are limitless possibilities.  No one will give you what you want and no one else can determine your path.  You have to decide what you want and go after it.
To learn more about Stamper and her work, visit her website www.mandystamper.com.

January Good News: Prof. Lyn Jones Receives a Provost Immersive Learning Grant (and More!)

We’ve got a lot of good news to share this month!

Faculty News

Prof. Sean Lovelace published four “Letters to Jim Harrison” in Willow Springs Magazine Winter 2018 issue.

Prof. Carolyn J. MacKay and Prof. Frank R Trechsel published “An Alternative Reconstruction of Proto-Totonac-Tepehua” in the International Journal of American Linguistics.

Prof. Michael Begnal published a review of recent books by Irish poets Trevor Joyce, Nerys Williams, and Susan Connolly in the latest issue of Trumpet, a journal of criticism and opinion published by Poetry Ireland.

Prof. Rani Deighe Crowe’s poem, My First Love, was published in The American Journal of Poetry Volume 4.  Rani’s short film Texting: A Love Story is an official selection of the Harrogate Film Festival, to be held in March in Harrogate, UK. Texting will also be screening at the inaugural Bull City International Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina and the Women’s Worldwide Film Festival in Scottsdale, Arizona this month.

Prof. Emily Rutter published “Going Back to Kansas City: An Interview with Ira McKnight” in NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture.

Prof. Pamela Hartman, with current graduate student Hannah Fulton and former BSU graduates Jessica Berg and Brandon Schuler will be presenting “Memes to Mirrors: Integrating the Visual Arts into Secondary English Language Arts” at the International Federation of Teachers of English conference in Birmingham, UK in June.

Prof. Ben Bascom published a book review in Common-Place: The Journal of Early American Life and was invited to write a response to an essay about Henri Michaux.

Prof. Adam R. Beach presented on “Olaudah Equine and the Temptations of Ottoman Migration” at the annual convention of the Modern Language Association (MLA), the premier conference in literary studies, in New York on January 7. The paper was part of a session on “Migrancy and Empire in the Eighteenth Century.”

Prof. Sreyoshi Sarkar also presented at MLA. She organized the January 7 roundtable on “Visualizing Violence in Contemporary States of Insecurity” and presented her paper, “Michael Winterbottom’s In This World and the Disjuncture/s of Globalization” at the roundtable.

Professor Cathy Day was invited to be a special guest at “Uncle Dan’s Book Nerds,” a periodic book chat hosted by renowned Hoosier author Dan Wakefield. The event will take place from 6-8 p.m. Sunday, February 11 at the Aristocrat Pub’s Oxford Room. For tickets and more information, go here.

Prof. Jennifer Grouling published “The Path to Competency-Based Certification: A Look at the LEAP Challenge and the VALUE Rubric for Written Communication” in the Journal of Writing Assessment.

Prof. Lyn Jones received a Provost Immersive Learning Grant for Fall 2018. Her project is “Rethinking the Stories We Publish, Shelve, and Read: Rethinking Disability in Children’s and Young Adult Literature.”

Prof. Jill Christman has two new essays coming out in prestigious literary journals this spring: “Naked Underneath Our Clothes” in Creative Nonfiction and “Life’s Not a Paragraph” in River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative.  Professor Christman’s contribution to Essay Daily’s advent calendar in December celebrated former English Department students: “Jill Christman on Essays to Pry Open Doors: Ashley C. Ford, Alysia Sawchyn, & Brittany Means.”

Speaking of Ashley C. Ford, this incredible news: Flat Iron Books will be publishing her memoir, Somebody’s Daughter, under the imprint An Oprah Book.

Prof. Kathryn Ludwig gave a talk entitled “Offred and Gilead” and led a discussion on Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale at a Muncie Public Library book club meeting at Maring-Hunt Library on Wednesday, January 24.

Prof. Guilherme D. Garcia will present “Regulating the interaction between lexical statistics and the grammar: a naturalness bias in learning weight” at the 41st Generative Linguistics in the Old World (GLOW) conference, held at the Hungarian Academy of Science in Budapest in April.

Prof. Rai Peterson is teaching at Book Arts Collaborative, a community letterpress and hand-sewn book bindery located in the Madjax Building in downtown Muncie.  You can learn more by visiting the collaborative’s website or listening to this Ball State Daily News podcast on which Dr. Peterson muses aloud about the materiality of books. Book Arts Collaborative holds an open house on First Thursday from 5-8 p.m., offers community workshops, and is available for tours and demonstrations by appointment.

Student News

Mary Carter’s essay “Returning in the Snow” was published online by Atticus Review.

Alumni News

Morgan “Mo” Smith Heldman, who graduated with a BA in Creative Writing in 2013, recently got a job writing content for Samsung mobile apps. She lives in Greenville, SC. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

Rachel Tindall, who graduated with a MA in English Studies in 2017, recently accepted a position as Project Intake Coordinator at Orchard Software in Indianapolis, which delivers diagnostic information systems to healthcare organizations. You can find her on LinkedIn.

Nikole Darnell, who graduated with a BA in Creative Writing in 2017, is working for the Lebanon Reporter in Lebanon, IN and recently became a columnist. You can find her on LinkedIn.

Kate Carnahan, who graduated with a BA in Creative Writing in December, recently got an internship as a Communications Intern at Habitat for Humanity of Evansville. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

Emily Barsic, who graduated with a BA in Literature in 2017, recently got a job working as a Camp Coordinator and doing Marketing at Share Foundation with the Handicapped in Rolling Prairie, IN. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

Gretchen Stelter : Making Books Happen

Gretchen Stelter got her BA in English from Ball State in 2003. She studied in Australia before receiving an MA in professional writing from Portland State. Since then, she has worked with writers as an agent and editor for more than a decade. More than 500 books she has worked on have been published by traditional publishing houses. She’s worked on writing at every stage, from development to copyediting and proofreading. She also writes for Books for Better LivingHealthline.com, and Elephant Journal. See some of her work here.

Gretchen lives and writes in Portland, Oregon.

How did your English major lead to your current position? What skills did you learn as an English major that helped you transition into that job?

Gretchen Stelter. Image from her website: www.gretchenstelter.com.

After I finished my English degree at Ball State, I went to graduate school for a degree in professional writing with a focus in book publishing at Portland State. From there, I actually helped start a literary agency with a classmate, which I co-ran with her for five years before I started editing and writing freelance full-time. The writing skills I gained while at BSU, as well as literary analysis, have helped me in both roles as the editorial director of the agency, and as a writer and editor.

Truly, the ability to read a manuscript and discuss what makes it strong, what makes it appeal to a specific demographic or not, and what sorts of themes it contains has served me very well in my career.

What’s a typical day like for you?

A typical day for me is one when I work from home, which I do about 99% of the time if I don’t have in-person meetings with clients or colleagues. I respond to emails in the morning, because I live on the West Coast and most publishing house clients are on the East Coast. By the time I’m up and at the computer, I’ll have a few queries or check-ins I need to respond to.

After I’m done with emails in the morning, I get started on whatever my most pressing deadline is, which I devote the bulk of my day to. That could mean proofreading, copyediting, developmental editing, or writing. I like to have a variety of projects at any given time, so if I hit a wall with my concentration, I’ll start work on one of my other projects to give myself a mental refresh. For pretty much all of my work, I’m on the computer with a number of files and internet windows open to do research, update style sheets, and double-check dictionaries and style guides. I work into the evening, but how late depends on just how pressing my deadlines are. I’ve been known to work until midnight when I’ve got something due soon. On a regular day, depending on how long my lunch break was and how quickly I got to work after my emails that morning, I work until somewhere between six and eight.

Throughout most days, I post on social media any book or writing news I have, like my articles being published or books I’ve worked on having their pub days, getting good reviews, or winning awards. I set aside one day a month to put those updates on my website. Most of the time, that’s the only publicity I worry about, as I get most of my work through referrals these days. On any given day, I may have a call or online video conference with a client, but most days, I’m in front of my laptop for the vast majority of the time.

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

Don’t be afraid to explore careers that you’ve never heard of or know nothing about.

When I was approached by a classmate to see if I wanted to start a literary agency with her I enthusiastically said yes…and only then asked what a literary agent did.

Also: network, network, network. When I transitioned from agent to editorial director, and then to full-time editor and writer, I had many, many colleagues who were also agents, editors at publishing houses, production editors, publicists, etc., who were ready to recommend me to authors, both agented and published, and those looking for representation/publishing contracts. When I was starting out, it was the contacts I’d made, the way I’d treated those people, and my work that got me clients. Don’t just avoid burning bridges, but actively try to build them.

Faculty Reading Series: Rani Crowe and Kathryn Gardiner

At the beginning of February, the Ball State Creative Writing program will host a reading focused on two of our talented faculty members: Rani Deighe Crowe and Kathryn S. Gardiner. Aside from featuring their poetry and screenplays, the event will also screen several of Professor Crowe’s short films.

The reading will be at 8 p.m. Wednesday, February 7, in Room 225 Arts and Journalism Building (AJ). It is free and open to the public—so bring your friends and family and come support your amazing creative writing faculty!

Rani Deigh Crowe

Rani Deighe Crowe is a filmmaker, theater artist, and collaborative inter­disciplinary artist, and has been making and performing her work for more than twenty years. Her short film Beautiful Eyes was named “Best of ” at the Final Girls Women in Horror Film Festival and has screened in Berlin and Nuremberg, Ger­many, Tel Aviv, Israel, and Innsbruck, Austria. Her short film, Texting: A Love Story, has screened at more than 80 international film festivals in­cluding the Athens International Film and Video Festival, Tall Grass Film Festival, RapidLion South Africa International Film Festival, and the Valley Film Festival Los Angeles.

As a starving artist, Rani has lived in New York, Chicago, London, and Washington, DC. She has managed a bookstore, managed a restaurant, built theater sets, worked the spotlight at a nightclub, taught preschool, been a substitute teacher, been a live-in nanny, acted as a simulated patient training doctors, and much more. In her spare time she enjoys making jewelry and kayaking, and she is currently teaching herself to sew.

Kathryn S. Gardiner

Kathryn S. Gardiner received her bachelor’s degree in Telecommunications from Ball State University and her master’s degree in Screenwriting from Hollins University in Roanoke, Va. As editor of special products for the Hoosier Times in Bloomington, In. from 2007 to 2015, Kathryn spearheaded The South-Central Indiana Wedding Guide, H&L, INstride, BizNet, and Adventure Indiana. The latter publication let her try out roller derby, spelunking, gymnastics, contemporary dance, and a GORUCK Challenge.

She spent more than three years as an amateur mixed martial arts fighter, “retiring” in 2011 with a record of 2-2 (or 3-2, if you count her Muay Thai bout in Las Vegas, which she likes to). She has a deep love of The Lord of the Rings, Captain AmericaStar Wars, and Star Trek, as well as Abraham Lincoln, Shakespeare, and Jane Austen. She currently teaches screenwriting at Ball State and lives with a marvelous tabby cat named Cairo.

 

Meet Prof. Alex Kaufman

Although originally from Philadelphia, Alex Kaufman comes to us from Auburn University at Montgomery, in Alabama, where he was department chair and Professor of English. This summer, Dr. Kaufman was named the Reed D. Voran Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Ball State. He teaches courses on Robin Hood, outlaws and banditry, historical literature, medieval literature, and medievalism. He is the co-editor of the book series Outlaws in Literature, History, and Culture from Routledge Publishing and is  the co-founder and co-editor of the scholarly journal  The Bulletin of the International Association for Robin Hood Studies. Click here to see his Academia page.

Dr. Kaufman will give a talk at 4pm Monday, February 5, in AJ 175 on “Robin Hood and the Outlawed Literary Canon.”

After Dr. Kaufman got settled in to Muncie, we sat down to get to know him a bit.

What led you to Ball State?

I was drawn to Ball State’s commitment to the liberal arts and the humanities, especially in the undergraduate curriculum. Both the Honors College and the Department of English underscore the intellectual and professional value of an education focused on immersive learning, critical thinking, diversity, and an engagement with social concerns.

How did you become interested in Robin Hood? 

I was very fortunate to study with Thomas H. Ohlgren at Purdue University during my graduate studies. Tom was, and remains, one of the leading scholars of the early Robin Hood poems, and his enthusiasm for the subject was contagious. With Robin Hood – and other outlaws in literature and history, from the medieval period to the present day – I am drawn to those individuals and groups who are marginalized by the society in which they live, and I seek to understand why and how society creates these outsiders, and how these marginals attempt to survive within their literary or real worlds. The outlaw will always be relevant and a presence in most contemporary contexts.

What are you reading?

I am reading Sean M. Conrey’s recent book of poetry, The Book of Trees. It is an extension of the medieval paradox of the beauty one finds in the external world and the challenge to fully describe and comprehend it. It is elegiac, contemplative, and timely.

What are some of your hobbies or interests?  

I love exploring nature, especially with others, and Indiana has so much to offer. I also love listening to music, especially King Crimson, Warren Zevon, and John Cale, and I never stopped buying vinyl. We lost count of how many boxes of books, albums, and CDs we moved to Muncie!

What advice would you offer students? 

Take full advantage of everything that Ball State has to offer now, don’t wait. And talk to your professors and advisors to create those professional connections – these can only help you when it comes to job placement, applying to graduate programs, and making sense of your studies.