As was always our intention, the English Department blog has finally made the leap to living full time on the English Department’s website. Please join us there for the most current news, faculty profiles, notes from the chair, alumni profiles, Humans of Eddy posts, event info, and more.
This semester, the Creative Writing Reading Series has brought some incredible authors to our campus. Dr. E.J. Levy, director of the series, did an amazing job at bringing a diverse assortment of creative writers, whose specialties ranged from poetry to nonfiction. As the end of the semester approaches, sadly so does the end of this semester’s reading series. One of final readings this semester took place on November 13th, and featured acclaimed nonfiction writer and editor Dinty Moore.
Moore has written several books including The Accidental Buddhist, Toothpick Men, and The Emperor’s Virtual Clothes. Moore is also the editor of the online journal Brevity, which publishes creative nonfiction of 750 words or less. Because of his distinguished career in nonfiction, it was a real benefit to attend the event and hear him read some of his new work.
The works he chose to read that night all had one thing in common; each essay used humor to approach the extremely profound and personal experiences in his life. His first piece delved into his family’s history as Irish Catholics, in which he used humor to approach his own father’s issues with alcohol. His father’s alcoholism put a lot of strain on his family when Moore was growing up.
Moore explained that his legal name is William Moore, after his father, but has always gone by Dinty, the name of the Irish bartender from the popular comic strip Bringing Up Father from the early 20th century. All of his works were intimate, personal, yet relatable on a human level. I felt the selections he chose to read demonstrated his talent as a nonfiction writer.
After the reading, Moore was asked about the use of comedy in nonfiction: why it is a tool that writers are employing more and more in their writing, and what humor adds to the genre of nonfiction. This question was particularly thought provoking, however Moore answered the question with only a moment’s hesitation. To paraphrase: “humor is an important tool for writers because it allows them approach very difficult subjects. Both writers and audiences benefit from having humor disarm certain situations.”
Moore provided a good answer. As a nonfiction writer myself, it can be extremely hard to write about the difficult times in life, and using humor gives you some distance from the subject. Hearing Moore explain the nature of his work, and his use of humor, gave me tools to use in my own writing. For me, that is the point of the Creative Writing Reading Series.
Looking back at the different readings this semester, I have a clear picture of the lessons each author passed along. Every author has had different experiences, and each offers their own unique approach to writing. As a student I have found that observing these amazing artists and listening to their work has allowed me to learn from them, and use that knowledge to improve my writing both in academia and beyond.
Next reading in the Creative Writing Reading Series: MFA Students, University Center for the Arts, Museum, Thursday December 4th at 7:30 p.m.
Sponsors of the Reading Series include the English Department and Creative Writing Program at Colorado State University, Organization of Graduate Student Writers through ASCSU, Mike Liggett, Tae Nosaka, and the Poudre River Library District.
All events are free and open to the public. For additional information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For a full listing of 2014-2015 Creative Writing Reading series events, please visit: http://english.colostate.edu/docs/reading-series-poster.pdf
- Last week, TEFL/TESL faculty and students attended the Annual Co-TESOL Convention in Denver (November 14-15, 2014). Three student-led presentations were delivered at the convention: Angela Sharpe, Moriah Kent and Tatiana Nekrasova-Beker discussed the benefits of Using Corpora in the L2 Classroom; Kenshin Huang and Tatiana Nekrasova-Beker shared their insights on Engaging Asian Students in Classroom Interactions, and Reyila Hadeer and Victor Kuan presented a session on Teacher’s Support during Project-based Learning. Due to the generous support of INTO-CSU, 16 graduate students attended the convention this year.
- Sarah Sloane gave two presentations, one at a roundtable and another on a featured panel at Writing on the Range, a conference held at University of Denver for college and university faculty from Colorado (and a couple from New Mexico) who do scholarship in the field of writing studies.Her roundtable participation included a discussion of state guidelines for advanced composition classes and a proposal for an advanced writing course that starts by reading Colorado prepper literature. Looking historically at the various permutations of prepper responses to a culture of fear as it has informed 1980s survivalist literature, 1990s prepper handbooks, and contemporary descriptions of potential disasters and 72-hour bug-out bags, students will examine the shaky evidence and rhetorical appeals embedded in YouTube videos, podcasts, social media, listserves like “Vegas Preppers,” and blogs about prepping. Students will then move from reading these flawed rhetorical constructions to composing their own well-supported arguments on a wide range of topics. Students will develop the rhetorical sensitivity and critical acumen necessary to compose within more typical rhetorical situations and Colorado contexts.
Her featured panel presentation discussed the Colorado State University Composition Program, its location within local, regional, and state contexts, and our program’s collaborative efforts to bring state-of-the-art facilities to support critical analyses of websites, blogs, podcasts, prezis, and new notions of intellectual property, copyright, credibility, the material and the virtual, credibility, representation, and all the many forms, genres, and questions that digital systems, digital publics, and online social networks allow.
- Leif Sorensen’s essay “Against the Post-Apocalyptic: Narrative Closure in Colson Whitehead’s Zone One,” on the most recent novel by MacArthur genius grant recipient Colson Whitehead is now available in the current issue of Contemporary Literature.
Professor Sorensen also attended the annual meeting of the Modernist Studies Association in Pittsburgh in early November and presented a paper, “Fragmented Ancestors,” on the literary recoveries of Américo Paredes and D’Arcy McNickle.
- Graduating English Education student Clint Pendley has accepted a position teaching seventh grade Literacy and English Language Development at Columbia Middle School in Aurora, CO. Congratulations, Clint!
- Greyrock Review is now accepting submissions! Greyrock Review is an undergraduate anthology at Colorado State University. Submissions are open from October 6, 2014 to December 1, 2014 for original work in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and visual arts. Any undergraduate at CSU may submit their work at https://greyrockreview.submittable.com/submit for free and will be notified by December 15, 2014. Any questions may be sent to email@example.com
It has been so much fun to work with Communications Intern Tim Mahoney this semester. He has done some really great work — endeavored to build community, grew the audience for department publications, shared lots of interesting ideas, is a good writer and so enthusiastic — but the semester is almost over and he’s graduating, so it’s time to find two new interns. Maybe one might be you?
English Department Communications Internship
Number of positions: 2
Internship term: Spring 2015 Semester, 15 weeks, January 20th – May 8th, 2015
Total credits: 2
Hours: 80 hours (40 per credit hour), approximately 5 per week
Application Deadline: Friday, November 21st by 12:00 p.m.
The English Department is looking for two engaged, self-motivated, responsible, creative, and enthusiastic CSU students, undergraduate or graduate, with good communication and writing skills to help tell the story of the English Department. The interns in this position will help facilitate communication and community with students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the English Department.
Interns will spend most of their time researching, interviewing, attending events, writing, and developing content — both for print and online. A major responsibility of this internship will be creating content for the department’s blog, https://englishcsu.wordpress.com/. Interns will work directly with the English department’s Communications Coordinator to meet departmental communication needs and complete various content development projects as assigned, including but not limited to creating profiles of people (alumni, faculty & staff, students), programs and projects; conducting interviews; providing event coverage (which would include attendance and photos, along with other modes of recording where relevant); and reporting departmental news and upcoming events.
For these internship positions, some prior reporting or blogging experience and/or education is preferred, as well as an understanding of principles for writing for the web and strong communication skills, both in person and in text. We also prefer applicants who are familiar with the English Department, its programs, people, and events – and who are willing to learn more. Content will be developed in various modes, and therefore skill with technologies such as sound recording and photography, as well as image and sound editing experience is preferred. We are also looking for interns with good people skills, the ability to participate in effective verbal and written exchanges, understanding that as they attend events and conduct interviews and such, they are acting as a “goodwill ambassador” for the department.
Applicants should email or hand deliver to the English Department main office the following: a cover letter, résumé, contact information for three references (phone and email), and three writing samples (plus multimedia samples, if applicable) by the application deadline to:
c/o Jill Salahub: Communications Coordinator
A105 Behavioral Sciences Bldg.
1773 Campus Delivery
Ft. Collins, CO 80523-1773
- SueEllen Campbell ran a workshop on teaching climate change in literature classes at the Western Literature Association conference on November 7 in Victoria, B.C.
- VCU’s literary journal, Blackbird, has published three of Camille Dungy’s poems: http://www.blackbird.vcu.edu/v13n2/poetry/dungy_c/index.shtml
- Ecotone, a literary journal published by the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, recently published “Differentiation,” an essay that chronicles some of the highlights of the trip Camille Dungy took to Barrow, Alaska this February: http://www.ecotonejournal.com/index.php/articles/details/differentiation
- Sasha Steensen will be reading in Iowa City at Prairie Lights Books on November 18th and in Chicago at Danny’s on November 19th.
- Debby Thompson’s “Strange Rays, Indeed,” a personal essay about radioactivity, has been nominated by Chautauqua for a Pushcart Prize.
Recently, I attended the College of Liberal Arts Donors Brunch. This annual event honors the many scholarship donors who support CLA and the students who benefit. It is fitting that it occurs in November, a month when we are reminded to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for and remember those who need our help. This year’s brunch made me think again about why I give to CSU because I was the featured speaker.
I was a first-generation college student who would not be here now without the encouragement of my parents and the generosity of scholarship donors. Dean Gill introduced me by saying that I would speak about a new chapter in my story as an educator.
Here’s the story I told.
My new chapter opens with a bequest that my husband and I recently decided to make to the English department. But the story behind it is a story of the encouragement of parents who wanted for their children the education they could not have and the generous support of scholarship donors.
When I was two years old, my parents bought the first of many Series E US Savings Bonds and started a college savings account at the bank.
When I was four years old, they bought a set of the American Peoples encyclopedias that my mother had in her home until she moved to assisted living at age 84.
Before I started school, my parents found an old wooden school desk with a flip top lid so that I could play school with my younger siblings and dolls. At least the dolls were cooperative.
Neither of my parents had gone beyond high school and our family of five lived on what my father earned as an auto mechanic, but college was never a question. Paying for it was.
I chose a liberal arts college not only for the education but because the combination of scholarships and financial aid made it possible for me to go. When my parents dropped me off at school, I knew they were proud. Later my mother confided that my father cried as they drove away.
A few months later, my father died suddenly, and I didn’t know if we could afford for me to stay in school. Financial aid, work-study grants, and the generosity of scholarship donors made it possible for me to stay.
After college I went on to teach junior and senior high school for 19 years and earned 2 more degrees. When I successfully defended my dissertation, my mother sent flowers to Dr. Reid. She never tired of telling the story of correcting the florist when the florist asked for his address. “Dr. Reid is my daughter,” she said.
When I took the position at CSU, she turned to the encyclopedias they had bought so long ago to learn about where I would be teaching, but if you think a minute about the age of those encyclopedias, you’ll know what she found instead. She called and said “Did you mean you are going to Colorado A&M?”
Education mattered to my parents and it matters to us. Dave and I have always believed in giving to what matters, and we believe in the future of CSU. We want to ensure opportunities for generations of students to get an education that matters to them and to society.
I am thankful for the generosity that made my education possible.
Dr. Tatiana Nekrasova-Beker is currently teaching graduate courses in the TEFL/TESL program and working with INTO-CSU to help support students in the Pathway program. Tatiana received both her M.A. and Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from Georgia State University and Northern Arizona University, respectively. Her research interests include usage-based approaches to L2 acquisition, the role of formulaic language in fluency and syntactic development, interactionist approaches to SLA, project-based methods in L2 instruction, and corpus-based analyses of ESP texts. When she is not working, Tatiana likes to travel (AKA attend conferences), go hiking with her husband Tony and their son Mikhael, and do yoga.
How would you describe your work in the English Department?
Very satisfying. I love being in academia and working with students. The grading part is not my favorite, but it is important, too.
What brought you to CSU?
My husband. He started his new position at CSU, so we moved to Fort Collins a few years ago. When a new position in the English department opened up, I felt it was meant to be…
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I like seeing students become excited about their profession, their projects and future prospects.
Why do you think English and the Humanities are important? They help you to understand life in a larger context.
When I was about to submit my college application and could not decide between Chemistry and Philology (Literature + Language), my high school Biology teacher told me this: When you study Literature, each year you feel you expand in what you know in many areas that are related yet different. That helps you to get a more holistic picture of the world you live in and you can talk to people about that. When you study Biology (or Chemistry), you expand your knowledge about a specific topic within the discipline. My teacher was studying rats and their behaviors. As she said, nobody wanted to talk about rats at parties.
What inspired you to pursue a degree in English and teaching?
My very first English teacher. She was sophisticated and very kind, and I liked hearing her British accent.
What had the greatest influence on your career path?
My professors and mentors from Northern Arizona University. I look up to them and hope to be as good as they are one day.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
Up until I turned 10, I wanted to be a singer or an actress. At 10, when I started learning English in school, I decided that I would be an English teacher.
Can you describe your experience at CSU so far? What do you want to accomplish while you’re here?
My experiences have been very positive. Since the very first summer we came to Fort Collins, colleagues in the department have been extremely supportive and welcoming. It felt nice to have people around who care about your well-being, remember your birthday, and are always happy to help. While I am at CSU, I am hoping to help the TEFL/TESL program grow.
What is your favorite thing about teaching what you teach? The topics we discuss in my classes are complex, but have direct practical applications. I like both – the complexity (as it exercises your brain) and the application (which helps you to stay level-headed).
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
One of my mentors gave me professional advice: Do not do (or publish) sloppy work. It is a waste of time.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Being able to build a life in a foreign country.
What is the last great piece of writing you read? What are you currently reading?
I just finished a co-authored manuscript about the complexity of listening sub-skills. I have read a few great studies with excellent research design, which made them pleasurable reading pieces for me. Outside of academia, I am reading Jo Baker’s Longbourn.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do?
I like to travel, hike, and do yoga.
Which three people, living or dead, would you invite to dinner?
My family (dad, mom, and my sister). We live so far from each other and don’t get to see each other very often, so I would rather enjoy my dinner with them.