Friday, November 20, 2015

Monday, November 9, 2015

Dr. Deborah Fleming will give a reading for her new book, Towers of Myth and Stone

Ashland University Professor of English Dr. Deborah Fleming will give a presentation about her new book, titled “Towers of Myth and Stone: Yeats’s Influence on Robinson Jeffers” on Monday, Nov. 9, at 4 p.m. in the Ronk Lecture Hall in the Dwight Schar College of Education on the AU campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Fleming’s book, which was published by the University of South Carolina Press, was released in mid-September.

In this critical study of the influence of W. B. Yeats (1865-1939) on the poetry and drama of Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962), Fleming examines similarities in imagery, landscape, belief in eternal recurrence, use of myth, distrust of rationalism and dedication to tradition.

Although Yeats's and Jeffers's styles differ widely, "Towers of Myth and Stone" examines how the two men shared a vision of modernity, rejected contemporary values in favor of traditions (some of their own making), and created poetry that sought to change those values.

“Jeffers's well-known opposition to modernist poetry forced him for decades to the margins of critical appraisal where he was seen as an eccentric without aesthetic content, yet both Yeats and Jeffers formulated social and poetic philosophies that continue to find relevance in critical and cultural theory,” Fleming said. 

Engaging Yeats's work enabled Jeffers to develop a related, though distinct, sense of what themes and subject matter were best suited for poetic endeavor, according to Fleming.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

AU Mourns the Passing of Dr. Gary Levine

Gary Martin Levine
7/3/1966 – 11/1/2015
“Clever, Caring, Iconoclastic” is how friends and colleagues remember Gary Martin Levine upon his passing in Medina, OH after a brief illness. His sharp wit, keen intelligence, and loving heart kept us laughing heartily and thinking creatively, and we are all the richer for it. He is survived by the wife he loved, Floralyn C. Morata, and the children he adored—daughter Sonoma Michelle Levine (16) and son Carlos Michael Levine (12), in addition to his parents and his brother.
Gary was born in Norfolk, VA to parents Ina Rae Sandler Levine and Robert Nathan Levine. His family, including sister Dina Michelle Levine Zauderer (Marvin) and brother Lee Levine (Tracy), moved to Virginia Beach, VA and Tampa, FL before finally settling in Belvedere, CA, a suburb of San Francisco.
Early in life, friends and teachers noted the humor, intelligence, and literary gifts that would become Gary's hallmarks, both personally and professionally. His academic journey took him first to UC Berkeley (B.A. English) then to Washington University in St. Louis (MFA, Creative Writing) and the U. of Iowa (Ph.D. English). Gary and Floralyn met as students at Berkeley, where they later married in 1998.
After a few years in Boston, the Levines relocated to Ohio, where Gary joined the English Department faculty at Ashland University. At once demanding and compassionate, dedicated and questioning, Professor Levine made a lasting impact on students and faculty alike. As Director of the Composition Program, Gary put heart and soul into helping students find their voices and hone their ideas in writing. He taught a wide variety courses ranging from British Literature and American Studies to Literature and Film. And, as one student noted, he could bring humor to anything, even grammar. His Ashland colleagues speak of Gary’s commitment to academic rigor, his creative leadership, and his verbal repartee that livened up every faculty meeting.
Though Gary lived in his head, as they say, he led with his heart. Nowhere is this more apparent than in parenting Carlos and Sonoma.  He championed their unique gifts and encouraged their curiosity in everything from soccer and tennis to science and spelling bees. He taught them to think for themselves and to love deeply. Friends from all stages of his life also remember his love and loyalty, served up, of course, with a side of humor. As a father, friend, spouse and colleague, Gary Martin Levine was one of a kind, and will be forever missed by those he loved.
A memorial service will be held November 14, 2015, at 10 a.m. at the Ashland University Chapel, Upper Chapel, 527 College Avenue, Ashland, Ohio.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Leaving the Comfort Zone: Creative Writing Major Explores the Writing Process

By Maria Cardona, Creative Writing major

As the blank page stares back at me, I once more exit out of the program in frustration. Millions of bits and pieces of ideas float around in my head, but I can’t even pin one down on the page. I struggle to find the right words, to find the right place to start, to paint a picture with my words. Many times writer’s block has gotten to me, and it wasn’t until my sophomore year here at AU that I figured out what my problem was. I was stuck wanting to do the same thing over and over again, and that’s why everything felt so generic. Yet, when I began trying new things, sometimes writing came much easier to me.

My first attempt at breaking away from my usual first person fiction tales came during my Fiction/Nonfiction workshop. I had a story, 52 pages long so far, but I hated it. My characters felt flat and the plot was beyond generic. Two high schoolers, one boy and one girl, best friends since they were little. One of them falls in love but the other doesn’t feel the same way until the end. Possibly one of the least creative things I’ve ever written in my life. Don’t get me wrong—that formula can work great, but if your heart’s not in it, it’ll be a fantastic flop like those 52 pages were.

I ditched the draft and went in a completely different, new and unexpected direction. For starters, I cast my first person safety net aside and went for third person, I know scary! It felt strange to leave I behind, to refer to every characters by their name, to be in multiple minds at once. But then I realized something wonderful! I could be in multiple minds at the same time! This gave my story much more life and different perspectives, and I could do more with my characters because I could leave one of my main characters, go to another, and have a different story line that would soon connect.

Perhaps my favorite discovery while writing in third person was the freedom I had with description. No more was I constricted by the first-person descriptions of setting that always felt vague and superficial. A third-person narrator gave me the freedom to fully paint the landscape—to show the sky, the shops, the streets, the people. To explore with sounds and smell that the I might have never known. Needless to say, I fell in love with writing in third person because the descriptive language gave my story life, a breath of fresh air, and a beauty that I could have never achieved with first person.

However, using third person was not the big adventure. I had gone from a coming of age, slightly romantic novel to a piece of historical fiction. Never had I thought that I’d be writing a piece of historical fiction, but here I was, 45 pages in. While it involved a lot of research and I had to watch my words, scenery, and props for accuracy, living through this historical period along with my characters allowed me to travel back and really understand what happened. However, I did not completely stray from the idea of romance. Yes, there’s a couple who will end up together in the story, but there’s so much more to it. It’s a story about a revolution, about a struggling writer, but more importantly, about the awakening of a strong female lead who goes from a daydreamer to a revolutionary leader.

Needless to say, I fell in love with this story and I would have never met these characters or traveled to this time if I’d played it safe and “stuck with what I knew.” While playing around with point of view and time led me to this story, it was completely switching genres that led me to find my biggest passion in writing.

While I knew that screenwriting was part of creative writing and I thought the craft was incredibly interesting, I would have never thought that it would be what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. However, it wasn’t until I experienced the screenwriting workshop with Dr. Grady that I fell in love with it.

Bear in mind that I had never written or read a film script before this class, I was coming in as an innocent sophomore, completely oblivious to the world of screenwriting. A few days of class had gone by before we had to choose a genre for our script. That’s when I originally came up with my historical fiction idea that ended up being my fiction/nonfiction piece. After careful consideration and immense stress over the fact that I had no clue what to write about I chose to go with a horror screenplay.

While I love anything related to horror, be it books, movies, etc. I had never thought about writing horror. Writing this screenplay was a challenge, I had to tap into a very dark side of myself while still having some normalcy in the scenes and trying to make it believable. At the same time, I was learning about screenwriting and playing around with the genre. I learned rather quickly how much I liked this form of storytelling and the almost-finished product gave me chills. I literally had to stop writing one day and walk away from my piece because it got a little too creepy for me and I was not ready to explore such places in my mind.

Playing around with genres, points of view, time and other things may seem terrifying at first. I get it, change is difficult and it’s much easier to stay in our comfort zone, but the truth is that if we always do the same thing we’ll get stuck, we’ll get monotonous and one day we’ll be sick of our own work because it will all seem the same. Dare to try new things; you just might find your newest story where you least expect it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Find Yourself in Writing: Writing Assistant and English Major on Discovering One's Passions

By Bethany Meadows, English major
Bethany Meadows at the Coliseum in Rome
Everyone strives to find his or her passions in life, and sometimes discovering these passions appear out of no where. During my first two months at the Writing Studio, I have discovered more about myself than I could have ever imagined through my first experience being a Writing Assistant. My job is to collaborate with students and provide a voice of experience to assist them with their papers.

I use the word “job” loosely because it does not feel like work to me. Every appointment and assignment is different for each student, and there are many tasks Writing Assistants perform. We help students with thesis development, paper structure and organization, engaging with their readings, MLA and APA style, and much more. We do not proofread or edit, but we collaborate with students to make sure their paper is the best it can be. I love this aspect of “work” because every appointment is unique in its own way. These experiences lead me not only to be the best peer consultant I can be, but also to be the best writer I can be.

Throughout my first two months at the Writing Studio, I found myself. The moment came to me like the cliché, lightning bolt of discovery. I had the moment of enlightenment where I suddenly knew that I wanted to work in English-related environments for the rest of my life. I love coming into “work” every day to help others become what I know they are all capable of.

Therefore, the next day, I changed my major to English. I knew that I could not trudge through the rest of my life being unhappy in careers related to my former major. English lights a fire within me that cannot be extinguished. I never knew that kind of fervor existed until I found my calling in helping others with their writing.

The Writing Studio has become my passion, and I have learned many lessons about life by “working” here. Firstly, I learned how to help others become better writers through insight on my own strengths and weaknesses as a writer. It is reiterated to me daily that no work is ever perfect, and everything can be constantly improved and cultivated. Secondly, I knew that I had found my path in life, which is arguably one of the best experiences in the world. Finally, I learned that sometimes the most incredible experiences happen for a reason in people’s lives. I never imagined that such a seemingly simple concept could lead me to find such complex ideas of love, passion, and determination. I could not be happier for the experience the Writing Studio provides me in my writing, in my life, and in my future goals. However, the help that this experience provides for me is nothing in comparison to the benefits for other students.

If you are interested in visiting the Writing Studio, come visit Room 104 in Bixler any time Monday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Also, to learn more, check out the website for the Writing Studio here.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Writing Studio Writing Assistant Wins Best Undergraduate Paper Award

Charlie Michel, a mathematics major and Writing Studio writing assistant, won the Pat Browne Undergraduate Paper Award at the Midwest Popular Culture Association meeting in Cincinnati in early October. Michel's presentation on the film adaptation of David Mamet's Glengarry Glenn Ross had its genesis in Dr. Maura Grady's 2014 English 102 course.

Read the AU press release here:
Pat Browne Undergraduate Paper Award by the Midwest Popular Culture Association. - See more at:
Pat Browne Undergraduate Paper Award by the Midwest Popular Culture Association. - See more at:
Pat Browne Undergraduate Paper Award by the Midwest Popular Culture Association. - See more at:

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Two English Department Majors Chosen as ACN Peace Scholars

Freshman English major Ryann Crockett and junior creative writing, psychology, and religion major Emily Wirtz were among four students chosen to receive Ashland Center for Nonviolence Peace Scholarships. Read all about it in this AU press release: