Friday, February 27, 2015

English Department Course Offerings for Fall 2015

ENG210A:  Bible as Literature
MWF 9:00-9:50
Core Humanities

Possible Texts (in addition to the Bible):
Richard Elliott Friedman, Who Wrote the Bible? or
Gabel, Wheeler, and York, The Bible As Literature or
Bart Ehrman, Jesus, Interrupted.  

This is a course in the Bible as literature, not the Bible as Revealed Truth.  Students who come to the Bible with strong preconceived notions about what it "means" may find themselves frustrated with the class.  For example, in Christian tradition, the serpent in the Garden of Eden story is thought to be Satan.  However, the actual text of Genesis makes no reference to Satan.  If we can approach the text with fresh eyes and read it on its own terms, we may find other interesting meanings in addition to the traditional Pauline doctrine of "original sin"-- it may also be an allegory for growing up and leaving the Eden of childhood!   We will also read the Bible in its historical context, which means learning about the Near Eastern society, culture, and politics that produced it.   We will assume that the Torah, or “Five Books of Moses,” has at least four distinct authors whom we call J, E, P, and D, each with his or her own style and socio-religious agenda.  We will look at issues of translation (a little Hebrew grammar) and genre, including the appeal of apocalyptic texts (Ezekiel, Daniel, Revelation).  And yes, there will be some movies, from Samson and Delilah cartoons to clips from A Night With the King to the full film A Serious Man (the Coen brothers' version of the Book of Job translated to Jewish Minnesota, circa 1968).

English 301A:  Writers' Workshop, Poetry
Dr. Deborah Fleming
MWF 10:00-10:50
Fulfills requirement in Creative Writing major and minor and ILA major elective

The course objective is to write and critique students' poetry.  Students write every week.  The class format is seminar-type discussion.
Text:  The Norton Anthology of Poetry, any edition

ENG 306A: The Essay
Dr. Maura Grady
T/TH 10:50-12:05
Fulfills Genre Requirement for CREW, ENG

In this class, you will study examples of the Essay form and write your own essays, which will be developed and workshopped throughout the semester. 

Probable text: The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present by Phillip Lopate.

ENG 332A: Global Film
Dr. Maura Grady
TTh 9:25-10:40 AM
Core Aesthetics, Core Border Crossings

In this class you will meet the core requirements for Aesthetics and Border Crossings through an in-depth analysis of German films.  Our focus this fall will be on German filmic reactions to war (WWI, WWII and the Cold War).  The course requires students to learn about film techniques, aesthetic movements, and historical and cultural context. 

1. German Culture Through Film by Reimer, Zachau and Sinka.  Focus Publishing, 2005

2. A Short Guide to Writing About Film, 8th edition by Timothy Corrigan, Longman, 2011, ISBN-10: 0205236391

English 338A: Themes and Topics in Literature: Dystopian Literature
Dr. Linda Joyce Brown
MWF 2:00-2:50
Core Humanities, Elective for the English major, Elective in the English and Creative Writing minors

What would your ideal world look like? What would make the world unbearable? In this course, we will explore how writers have imagined ideal and far-from-ideal worlds. A premise of this course is that by studying dystopian literature and thinking deeply about the ideas that dystopian texts pose, we can gain new insight about contemporary social problems. Thus, in addition to addressing texts within their specific historical and cultural contexts, we will also connect them to contemporary issues, such as environmental degradation, technological dependence, and debates surrounding sexuality, marriage, and family. We will also consider the recent surge in popularity of dystopian fiction among young adult readers.

Eng 365A: Greek Literature
Dr. Russell Weaver
MWF: 1:00-1:50
Core Humanities; elective for English Major and Minor, elective for Creative Writing minor

In this course we will read some of the great masterpieces of Greek Literature. This particular semester we will be reading Homer’s Iliad along with ten plays by Sophocles, Euripides, and Aeschylus:
Sophocles–Antigone, Oedipus the King, Ajax, The Women of Trachis, and Philoctetes
Euripides–Medea, Hippolytus, Iphigenia at Aulis, and Electra
There will be two take-homes, one on either Antigone or Medea and one on The Iliad and one presentation on two of the other plays.

ENG410A: The Romantic Era
Dr. Russell Weaver
TTh 9:25-10:40
Elective for English major and minor, Creative Writing major and minor, and Integrated Language Arts major

We will read four poems from Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience; Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey” and “Intimations Ode”’; Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”; Keats’s “The Eve of St. Agnes,” “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” “Ode to a Nightingale”, and “Lamia”; Jane Eyre; Byron’s Manfred and two books of Don Juan; and Frankenstein.
There will be two papers (Blake/Wordsworth and Keats) and two presentations (Coledridge and Bronte/Byron/Frankenstein).

English 417A:  English Grammar and Usage
Dr. Deborah Fleming
MWF 1:00-1:50
Required for ILA, English major elective, Middle Grades Generalist Endorsement, English Language Arts Concentration major elective, English Minor elective

This course provides students with knowledge of grammar, syntax, and mechanics and fulfills NCATE requirements for teachers of English and Language Arts.  We will also study ways to use the vocabulary of grammar in the teaching of writing.  
Text:  Koln, Understanding English Grammar, current edition

English 427A: American Literature III: Realism to Modernism
Dr. Linda Joyce Brown
MWF 12:00-12:50
Elective in the English, Creative Writing, and ILA majors, Elective in the English and Creative Writing minors

The course explores the development of American Realism, Naturalism, and Modernism in relation to the tremendous social and economic change of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries with emphasis on increasing urbanization, migration and immigration, the influence of two world wars, new ideas about race and gender, the impact of modern technological innovation, and developments in science.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Degrees Completed and In Progress from Our Recent Alumni

Recent English department alumni have pursued varied educational paths after graduation—a testament to the broad and flexible preparation that our undergraduate programs offer. Below is a list of the degrees in progress and gained by graduates within the last five years.

MFA, Creative Writing, University of Texas-Austin (CW, ENG)
MA, English, Baylor University, TX (ENG)
MA, English, Kent State (CW, ENG)
MA, Rhetoric and Composition, Texas State (CW, ENG)
MA, Professional, Technical, Business, and Scientific Writing, Carnegie Mellon U (ILA)
Working toward MA, Art Business, Sotheby's Institute of Art, London (ENG)
Working toward MA, Philosophy, Northern Illinois University. (ENG)
Working toward MA, Higher Education, Bowling Green State University (CW, ENG)
Working toward MA, Library Science and Media Studies, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (ILA)
M.Ed., College Student Personnel, Kent State (ENG)
M.Ed., Curriculum and Instruction, DeVry University (ILA)
M.Ed, Higher Education Administration, Kent State (ENG)
M.S. in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Wellness and Human Performance, University of Pittsburgh (ENG)
Working toward Ph.D. in English at Miami University of Ohio (ENG, CW)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What Jobs Have Our English and Creative Writing Majors Landed?

The following list of jobs is a sample of those held primarily by English and Creative Writing majors (2009-2014), but some are held by Integrated Language Arts majors.

3 university lecturers (CW, ENG)
3 teaching English abroad—France, Japan, China (CW, ENG, ILA)
11 positions in higher education administration and student life (CW, ENG, ILA)
7 writers and editors (CW, ENG, ILA)

Associate Transcript and Data Specialist at American Council on Education, Washington DC (ENG)
Attorney at Brennan, Manna & Diamond, LLC, Akron (ENG)
Chef/owner, Malabar Inn Restaurant (ENG)
Children’s Associate, Wayne County Public Library, Wooster, OH (ENG)
Collections Representative, GE Capital, Bolivar, OH (ENG)
Customer Services Specialist at Columbus Metropolitan Library (ENG)
Daycare Aide (ILA)
Deputy Clerk, Ashland Municipal Court (CW)
Digital Solutions Manager at ADP Dealer Services, Mansfield, Ohio (CW, ENG)
Director of Music at Lakeview United Methodist Church (ILA)
Events Management Assistant, Institute for Humane Studies, Arlington, VA (ENG)
Hospice Volunteers Coordinator at ViaQuest, Cleveland (ENG)
Medical Sales Representative, Alcon, a Novartis company, Greater Detroit Area (CW)
Office Manager, Northwestern Mutual Life, Cincinnati (ENG)
Receptionist, WQKT 104.5 FM, Wooster (ENG)
Sales, Summers Rubber Company, Cleveland (CW)
Senior Digital Marketing Strategist at Rosetta, Cleveland (ENG)
Shipping/customer Service Representative for Ashland Industries in Dublin, OH (ENG)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Alumnus Shares Memories of AU's Creative Writing Community

By Jacob Ewing, class of 2013, Creative Writing and English major

Robert Atwan is the series editor of the wonderful Best American Essays series, a yearly anthology from Houghton-Mifflin that collects the best essays published in a given year and publishes them in a single volume. Atwan scours publications throughout the year, chooses roughly 100 notable essays, then asks that year’s guest editor to select the best 25 to be published in full. 

I was fortunate enough to meet Bob at the 2012 River Teeth Non-Fiction Conference, held annually here at Ashland University, where we both had very prominent duties to fulfill—he the keynote speaker, I the student intern for the conference. My dear friend Paul (the other student intern) and I picked Bob up at the airport the night before the conference and soon discovered how open and engaging he was, despite an immense level of fame within the literary non-fiction community. We felt honored to hear his stories and thoughts and opinions. The work of the conference was worth it just to get to talk to him.

But by the end of the conference, Paul and I had spent so much time with Bob that he actually asked us for a favor. He’d soon be leaving his large house just outside of Boston and moving to an apartment in Manhattan. After a literary career spanning decades, he had accrued a great number of books—far more than would fit in his less sizable new place. He told us that we could come for a weekend visit and take any books that we wanted as he tried to downsize his collection. Like any book lovers would, Paul and I immediately accepted his invitation. We spent the weekend in Milton, Massachusetts, got to see the beautiful city of Boston, spend more time with Bob, and left back to Ohio with our car weighed down by about 250 books that Bob had gifted us.

But Bob’s generosity did not stop with his hosting us at his home. He also gave me my first opportunity to see my name in print when he asked me to write a piece for America Now, 10th edition. This is a textbook meant to be used in undergraduate English composition courses. It collects the best short form writing from national publications, as well as undergraduate students writing on similar topics.

My assignment was to write in response to an article that Steven Pinker wrote for the Wall Street Journal entitled "Violence Vanquished," originally published in September 2011. In this article, Pinker argues that despite the fact that most people think of our society as incredibly violent, modern human beings are much less likely to die violently—that is, at the hands of another human being-- today than ever before in human history. In response, I argued that while Pinker is correct statistically, our society has the greatest potential for violent death and that really, at any moment, Pinker's point could be nullified in a number of ways—most notably in some sort of nuclear attack and retaliation. So while it’s true that we kill one another less frequently now than ever before, that fact could be rendered incorrect with absolutely unfathomable speed.

I feel an incredible debt of gratitude to Bob for his kindness, his openness, and the opportunity he gave me to be published. I am lucky to have met him, and I am lucky to still remain in touch. And I am finally lucky for the community of writers found at Ashland University and that the English Department is home to people who care deeply about creative writing, people who would bring someone like Bob to Ashland in the first place.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Where Are Our Integrated Language Arts Alumni Teaching?

The list below is just a sample of the full-time positions with public, private, and charter schools that our Integrated Language Arts majors (grades 7-12) have landed in the past five years.

Ashland City Schools 

Bellalago Academy, Kissimmee, FL 
Brunswick City Schools 
Chippewa High School, Doylestown 
Clearfork High School, Bellville 
Focus North High School, Columbus 
Granville City Schools 
Holy Name High School, North Olmsted 
Horizon Academic High School 
Kettering Fairmont High School
Loudonville High School 
Medina City Schools 
Notre Dame - Cathedral Latin High School, Chardon 
Ohio Connections Academy 
Poinciana High School, Kissimmee, FL (2) 
St. Paul High School, Norwalk 
Triway High School 
West Lake City Schools 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

English and History: A Double Major Delights in Both Subjects

By Emily Cardwell

When I began my college search in my sophomore year of high school, I knew that I wanted to major in English—I’ve always loved books, and the thought of spending my college days reading and discussing literature was very appealing. After taking and enjoying AP Government, I began to consider the possibility of a double major in English and political science. I ultimately decided to pursue a degree in English and political science and arrived at Ashland with the assumption that I would have these majors for the duration of my college career. As my first semester at Ashland progressed, I knew that choosing English had been a great decision—I loved my English class and became even more aware of my love for literature. I also had two history classes on my schedule for that first semester and as I studied the earliest days of both the United States and western civilization as a whole, I realized that history would be a better fit for my second major.

Now, having been an English and history major for two semesters, I can see how well these majors complement one another. In my English classes, I learn about major ideas of a particular time period, and in my history classes, I am able to see how these ideas were translated into action by notable historical figures. Another wonderful part of having these majors is that history is brought into discussions in my English classes and vice versa, presenting the opportunity to learn about these topics from another angle. For example, in Eighteenth-Century British Literature, we spent time learning about the politics and major events of the time period, while in a history class about Thomas Jefferson, we learned that Jefferson’s favorite novel was Tristram Shandy and examined a list of works he recommended. Not only has my double major experience been interesting, it’s also been incredibly useful—the analytical skills that I have learned from the English department have helped immensely when analyzing a primary document in a history class, and having historical context for a particular work allows me to better understand the times in which a particular work was published. I’ve had a tremendous experience with the English and history departments thus far and I can’t wait to see what the coming semester brings!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Report from China: Poets in Beijing, Saturday, April 16, 2011

By Stephen Haven, Professor of English

This post originally appeared on Amherst College's blog The Common:

During a spring 2011 guest teaching stint at Chongqing University, in Chongqing, China, near Sichuan Province, I flew to Beijing for a three-day visit. In the 1990s, I spent two Fulbright teaching years at universities in Beijing and still had many friends in the city. At dinner that Saturday night, I met a poet I had never met before: Lan Lan, 42 years old, famous in China, author of 9 books, mother of twins, a boy and a girl. The children joined us at the restaurant, caged songbirds overhead, hanging from the branches of small potted trees. The poet Wang Jiaxin was an old friend. He was there with his wife and his five-year-old son. There was another poet whose name I missed and his seven year old daughter. My old student Liu Ruiying was with us too—in the impossible position of being the only truly bilingual speaker in the room. Possibly Duo Duo was the senior statesman in the group, a poet I had long admired. Duo Duo joked that he would probably only order water. Then he ordered wine. Wine is good for high cholesterol, Duo Duo said. Yes, I said, if you can manage to drink only one glass. Yes, but we are poets: We must drink the whole bottle, Duo Duo said, and grabbed the bottle and laughed. Wang Jiaxin and I clinked glasses and toasted to 20 years. I first met him during my 1990-1991 Fulbright year.
Wang Jiaxin and his family
Lan Lan and Duo Duo
Duo Duo, Steve Haven, and Wang Jiaxin
Then Duo Duo said we have a very rare chance: we have Liu Ruiying here to help us talk to each other. Duo Duo was seated at the head of the table, Lan Lan to his left, Liu Riuying to his right. I sat next to Liu Ruiying, Wang Jiaxin to the right of me. Jiaxin talked mainly to his wife and child, and to the poet I didn’t know. I asked Duo Duo what Chinese poets he admired from the early years of the communist era. “No one.” From the early years of the Chinese Republic? “No one.” He said “I have a Chinese great-grandfather—classic Chinese poetry—but I have no father. The West is my father. There were no Chinese poets like Wallace Stevens in the last century.”

Duo Duo asked me what I thought of the difference between Continental and English poetry. I told him that—generally speaking—English poets give themselves more fully to traditional form, while continental poets are more experimental and cerebral, without making form their main concern. Maybe more like Stevens, though Stevens wrote in form. American poetry is somewhere in between. Duo Duo said, “No, that is not the difference. The difference is something else. British and American poets always have to “tell the story,” and at the end of their poems they sum up the story. In France and Germany poets don’t do that.” Duo Duo said he admired Rilke, Paul Celan, Apollinaire, Rene Char, Andre Breton. He complained that there is not enough translation in America. When he was in America he couldn’t believe that he could find only a slim volume of Rene Char’s poetry translated into English. He told me that he was utterly dependent on the translation of Western poets into Chinese and praised Wang Jiaxin for the gift to Chinese writers of 300 Celan translations. Duo Duo said he doesn’t read in any language other than Mandarin. He said he needed people like Wang Jiaxin.

I said that in good poems the story is not the full or even the real story. The poem is really about something else, as Eliot and other poets have said. The real meaning is always tangential. We talked about what can come through in translation: imagery, surrealistic effects, a poem’s story or argument at its literal level. Not the more subtle effects of form and music, suggested meaning and idiomatic language. Maybe that’s why poems that “tell the story” are not very effective when they are translated into Chinese. Maybe that is why modern, Continental poetry comes through better, because it is more powerfully built on imagery, especially when the imagery is surreal. Maybe Frost’s long narratives are untranslatable, I said, because they are so subtle, because they are that good.

We talked about American and British poets Duo Duo admires. He said he loved Roethke, Charles Wright, R.S. Thomas, Ashbery, Mark Strand, Whitman, James Tate, James Wright, Dickinson. When I brought up Jorie Graham he claimed to admire her too, and Hart Crane was also an important poet for him, many years ago. As Lan Lan speaks no English she said little to me during the course of the meal. She agreed with Duo Duo that she had little pleasure in reading poems that “tell the story.” She said that she loved Bishop and Dickinson. I found myself wondering which Bishop poems had been translated into Chinese, as Bishop often writes narratives.

Duo Duo, Wang Jiaxin, Liu Ruiying and I ended up in a beer garden for a night cap. Lan Lan went home in her family car with her children. Wang Jiaxin loves many different kinds of beer, having spent some years in Germany. We ordered mugs of German beer and took some photographs. Then I shared a cab with Liu Ruiying back to the North-Central part of Beijing, near where she lives and where I was staying at Beijing Normal University. A few days later I flew back to Chongqing to continue teaching a course on Dickinson and Frost. That was my third trip to China. Two Fulbright years, then a thirteen year absence, then six more weeks. For the third time in my life, with poets in Beijing, I eavesdropped on a conversation with the West. There is no summing up of that story…