Saturday, March 29, 2014

Students Create Original Genre Films for Core Class on Gender in American Genre Film


By Dr. Maura Grady, Assistant Professor of English

In Fall 2013, the theme for the Core Humanities course English 338: Special Topics was Gender in American Genre Film. Dr. Maura Grady, who designed the theme and taught the course, says, “many scholars have argued that popular films, particularly genre films (sci-fi, slasher, film noir, caper, rom-com, etc.) are better at addressing gender tensions in American culture than are so-called ‘high art’ films.” This course used a number of scholarly texts, including selections from Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film; More than Night: Film Noir in its Contexts; Melodrama and Modernity: Early Sensational Cinema and Its Contexts; The Wages of Sin: Censorship and the Fallen Woman Film; Latino Images in Film: Stereotypes, Subversion, and Resistance; and more to examine messages about gender used in the assigned films.

Students were required to read, understand and use key works of film criticism in their writing and observations. In addition to writing several essays, students worked in small groups to write, plan, film, and edit their own short genre films, which were screened for the entire class during the final exam period.

Kristen Roberts, a Criminal Justice major with minors in English and Psychology, notes: “For our film, Who Done Did It?, we decided on a mystery/ film noir genre. The process was all new to me personally, but as an English minor it has helped with the classes I am currently taking. Many of the film techniques we learned about and used to create our film have been mentioned in several of my classes” such as English 332: Global Film and Art 150: Art and Ideas.

Working with no budget and only what equipment, settings, costumes, and editing software were freely available, the students produced memorable films. One of these, Who Done Did It? (http://youtu.be/k-haIE7cp2A) used a number of familiar Ashland University locations, referenced Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950), a film studied by the class, and featured a cast of Ashland University students as actors. The film was co-written and crewed by Kristen Roberts, Miki Suzuki, Frances (Frankie) DiCaesere, and Benjamin Isaiah Black, who also directed.




Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Students and Faculty Enjoy the Humanities Hobnob

By Dr. Linda Joyce Brown, Associate Professor of English

Senior Meg Collier Presents a Birthday Cupcake to Dr. Hilary Donatini, the Chair of the Department of English and Advisor to Sigma Tau Delta
Each semester, students in AU’s chapter of the national English honors society, Sigma Tau Delta, invite students and faculty across disciplines to get together to play games and enjoy pizza and sweets at the Humanities Hobnob. At the most recent event on Wednesday, March 19, hobnobbers formed teams to play a friendly and hilarious game of Taboo.

The event was held in the lobby of the Center for the Humanities in Bixler, and the room was full of laughter and camaraderie. English and Spanish double-major Alaina Berry, who helped to organize the evening, says that the Hobnob “provides a great opportunity for Humanities students and faculty to come together in a relaxed setting where we can play games that really highlight our appreciation for words, writing, and language. It’s fun to be silly with other students and see professors outside of their classroom settings!”

English professor Dr. Russell Weaver agrees, noting that “the Hobnobs are an exciting opportunity for students and teachers to experience one another outside the classroom.” He adds that “When students can see their teachers as comrades in games or non-academic conversations, it opens up avenues of connection that enrich their relationships. If your teacher can’t give a sensible clue in Taboo, it puts them in a whole new light.”

The Humanities Hobnob was enjoyed by those in attendance, and students and faculty alike look forward to the next event that allows us to get together outside the classroom.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Association of American Colleges & Universities Report

By Dr. Deborah Fleming, Professor of English

The Association of American Colleges & Universities includes a report on long -term salaries for liberal arts graduates and how they are compared with graduates in engineering and other professional fields.  The report here claims that while liberal arts graduates have more difficulty finding jobs right after graduation, their earning power increases steadily until it reaches that of graduates of professional programs.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Professor Stephen Haven on Emily Dickinson


By Dr. Stephen Haven, Professor of English

Many writers are known at least as fully by their popular reputations as they are by their own work. Yet writers, like most people, are usually more complex and contradictory in their personal lives and in their work than the reputation that precedes them.  Emily Dickinson is one good example.  She is often viewed as an idiosyncratic recluse, the nun of Amherst, the “Queen of Calvary,” as she sometimes refers to herself in her own poetry, as if she were the sexless Monarch of Divine Suffering.  Dickinson seemed to invite this reputation in her later life, dressing in her later years always in white and behaving in such theatrical ways as refusing to come out of her bedroom to greet a family friend, sending out on a plate instead a single red rose.  Possibly this was her way of drawing public attention to herself, a provincial form of self-promotion, a way of saying that something unusual was taking place in what might otherwise seem a dull, sheltered life.  Still, Dickinson was a grown woman—36 years old—before she went into seclusion.  By then she had already written more than half of her 1700+ poems.  During her vintage years, from 1860-1865, when she was writing a poem nearly every other day, some of them among the greatest poems ever written by an American, she was regularly attending a literary salon hosted by her sister-in-law and next-door neighbor, Susan Gilbert Dickinson. 

Susan Gilbert Dickinson was Emily Dickinson’s childhood classmate, intellectual companion, and often during these vintage years the first reader of Dickinson’s poems. The editor of the Springfield, Mass. newspaper, Samuel Bowles, often attended these literary gatherings, with Emily Dickinson in attendance too, though she shyly chose to stay away the night Ralph Waldo Emerson graced Susan Dickinson’s home. Samuel Bowles published at least a few of Emily Dickinson’s poems in the Springfield Republican.  Judith Farr, one of Dickinson’s critical biographers, believes (in The Passion of Emily Dickinson) that Samuel Bowles was the object of Dickinson’s attention in the many love poems she wrote to a male lover, some of them overtly erotic.  Farr believes too that Susan Gilbert Dickinson was the object of attention in the many love poems Dickinson wrote to a female lover, many of them equally erotic.  Some of Dickinson’s love poems are so radical, even by contemporary standards, that I would hesitate to quote them here.  If Emily Dickinson likely died a virgin, deprivation in her intimate, physical love life drove her imagination. 

My hope is that all Ashland English majors will read Dickinson deeply and widely before they graduate, and will continue to read her, over and over again, for as long as they love literature. 
                                                                                                                                                                  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Fall 2014 Course Offerings


ENG 203A: American Literature
Dr. Linda Joyce Brown
MWF 12:00-12:50
Core Humanities

Banned Books
Read the books you aren’t supposed to read!  In this course, we will focus on American novels that have been banned or challenged by parents, school districts, libraries, or government agencies.

We will likely read 4-5 novels, some of which may be chosen from the following: Mark Twain. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; Kate Chopin, The Awakening; Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie; Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar; Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye or Beloved; Alice Walker, The Color Purple; Dorothy Allison. Bastard Out of Carolina; Rudolfo Anaya, Bless Me Última; Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

English 301: Writers' Workshop
Dr. Deborah Fleming
T Th 1:40-2:55
Requirement for Creative Writing major

The major work of this course is discussing and critiquing students' own poetry. 

English 310A: Literature for Adolescents
Dr. David FitzSimmons
T Th 12:15-1:30
Requirement for Integrated Language Arts major

Beginning with Jay Hosler’s highly publicized graphic novel Clan Apis (New York Times, NPR, Discover Magazine), we will examine a variety of young adult texts. We will examine graphic novels, traditional novels, short stories, and poetry. We will underpin all our literary endeavors with Peter Rabinowitz’s Before Reading.

Course Texts: cummings, e. e. Selected Poems. New York: Grove, n.d.; Faulkner, William. Collected Stories. New York: Vintage, 1995; Hosler, Jay. Clan Apis. Columbus, OH: Active Synapse, 2000; Johnson, Angela. A Cool Moonlight. New York: Puffin, 2005; Rabinowitz, Peter J. Before Reading. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1998; Silverstein, Shel. A Light in the Attic. New York: HarperCollins, 1981.

ENG 314A: Reading Gender across Contexts
Dr. Sharleen Mondal
MWF 2:00-2:50
Core Humanities, Elective for English and Integrated Language Arts majors

How does gender affect our expectations of others--and how does gender intersect with race, class, sexuality, and religion to impact these expectations?  In this section of ENG 314, we will explore poetry, novels, and films from three historical contexts (Victorian, twentieth-century U.S., and twenty-first century Indian) to understand how gender, alongside other aspects of identity, shape the narratives people write and, in turn, how people are read.  Assigned texts will likely include Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim's Point," Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone, Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," Richard Wright's Native Son, and director Karan Johar's My Name is Khan.  Assignments will include short literary analysis papers, regular regular classroom participation in class discussion and occasionally leading discussion, regular reading quizzes, and two longer literary arguments incorporating multiple sources.

ENG 316HN: Engaging India through Literature and Film
Dr. Sharleen Mondal
MWF 1:00-1:50
Honors section, Core Humanities, Core GPS, Elective for English and Integrated Language Arts majors

In this course, we will explore the literature and film of colonial and postcolonial India beginning in the nineteenth century, when India was a British colony, through the early twenty-first century.  We will focus our inquiry on how British and Indian writers and filmmakers represented the colonial encounter, decolonization, and the postcolonial social and political world of an independent India.  This class will employ a critical reading practice which draws heavily on historical context for the literature and well as rigorous close reading of assigned materials.  Assigned texts will likely include Rudyard Kipling's "The White Man's Burden" and "Beyond the Pale," E. M. Forster's A Passage to India, Mulk Raj Anand's Untouchable, excerpts from Bapsi Sidhwa's Cracking India, director Deepa Mehta's Earth, and director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's Rang De Basanti.  Assignments include short literary analysis papers, regular classroom participation in class discussion and occasionally leading discussion, regular reading quizzes, and two longer literary arguments incorporating multiple sources.

English 319A: Modern Drama
Dr. Jayne E. Waterman
Th 6:30-9:10 p.m.
Humanities Core, Elective for the English and Creative Writing majors

From Chekhov’s trivialities, Beckett’s absurdism, and Pinter’s pauses to Churchill’s body politics, Renza’s white canvas, and Nottage’s triumph in trauma, this course will explore the key issues, ideas, texts, and contexts of European and American modern drama from the late nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. The main focus of the course will be to analyze a wide range of plays from different periods and styles. Attention will also be paid to the cultural, historical, political, sociological, and dramaturgical aspects that surround and inform the works. Themes of gender and race, the tension of illusion and reality, and the crisis of the individual and the family will also be of significance as we explore modern dramatic sensibilities and discourse. In addition to the texts, the course will, where relevant, consider the adaptations and interpretations of the plays in performance and film. Assignments: Two essays, a play review, a presentation, class participation

English 322A: Modern Poetry
Dr. Deborah Fleming
T Th 9:25-10:40
Humanities Core, Elective for the English and Creative Writing majors

In this course we will study what makes a poem "modern" and discuss examples of modern poetry from Yeats to Walcott.

English 334X: American Studies Seminar
Dr. Dan Lehman
T 6:30-9:10
Humanities Core, Elective in the English major

What do we mean when we talk about a true story? How are writers, characters, and readers implicated when a narrative claims to be true? What is the calculus between facticity and imagination in literary memoir, reporting, and essays? Building from a deep interrogation of John D'Agata and Jim Fingal's controversial The Lifespan of a Fact, the seminar builds close and theoretical readings of such narratives as Richard Hoffman's Half the House, Terri Jentz's Strange Piece of Paradise, and other particularly American texts and films.

ENG 338A: Themes and Topics in Literature
Dr. Linda Joyce Brown
Tu Th 1:40-2:55
Core Humanities, Elective in the English major, English minor, and Creative Writing minor

Utopias and Dystopias
What would your ideal world look like? What would make the world unbearable? In this course, we will read and discuss fiction that explores such imaginary worlds, utopias and dystopias. We will read four or five novels, as well as some short fiction and nonfiction. As time allows, we may also examine one or more films, such as Blade Runner, Gattaca, or The Hunger Games series.

English 365A: Greek Literature
Dr. Russell Weaver
T Th 9:25-10:40
Core Humanities, Elective in the English major

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

English 372A: Nietzsche and the Problem of Values
Dr. Russell Weaver
MWF 10:00-10:50
Core Humanities and Elective in the English major
We will be reading Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Conrad’s Lord Jim, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Dostoevksy’s Crime and Punishment, and Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons.Two papers and two presentations.

English 408A: Eighteenth-Century British Literature
Dr. Hilary Donatini
MWF 12:00-12:50
Elective in the English, Creative Writing, and Integrated Language Arts major

Love and Passion in the Age of Reason
The eighteenth century is often referred to as the “Age of Reason”—a time when philosophical inquiry and scientific discovery blossomed, when the human mind and natural world were scrutinized with empirical methods, many of which endure today. English 408 will examine poems, novels, and plays that both reflect and resist the rational and empirical—often in the same work. Texts will be chosen from the following list and are subject to change: John Wilmot, Lord Rochester, “Satire Against Reason and Mankind”; Alexander Pope, Eloisa to Abelard, The Rape of the Lock; Jonathan Swift, selected satirical poems; John Gay, The Beggar’s Opera; Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling; Frances Burney, Evelina, or, The History of a Young Lady’s Entrance into the World; William Hogarth, Marriage à la Mode; Oliver Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer

English 418X: History of the Language
Dr. Deborah Fleming
Th 6:30-9:10
Elective in the English, Creative Writing, and Integrated Language Arts major

In this course we will read and discuss literature in English representative of different eras, the ways in which political history influences language, and the differences between spoken and written forms.

English 425X: American Literature
Dr. Dan Lehman
M 6:30-9:10
Elective in the English, Creative Writing, and Integrated Language Arts major

Native tales and legends; Colonial stories of the New World; Indian captivity narratives; true stories about slavery and brutalization; the stirrings of Enlightenment and the Revolution; the first ideas of the American renaissance. Read with and against these initial American stories, tales, essays, and poems. How did its early literature help to create and complicate the idea of America? These questions and ideas become the work of a fast-paced and surprisingly interesting seminar. 

English 432A: Teaching English/LA Grades 7-12
Dr. David FitzSimmons
T 6:00-8:40
Requirement in the Integrated Language Arts major

This course will help language arts teachers with classroom management and instructional skills, as well as methods and strategies in teaching English in grades 7‑12. Course Texts: Burke, Jim. The English Teacher’s Companion. Fourth Edition;
Levin, James and James F. Nolan. Principles of Classroom Management. A Professional Decision-Making Model.
Prerequisite(s): EDUC 230, 250, 287, PSYC 218, or permission



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Kathy Fagan Poetry Reading at Ashland University March 17, 2014

By Deborah Fleming

Kathy Fagan is the author of four collections of poems, most recently Lip (2009).  Work from her new manuscript, Sycamore, appears in publications such as FIELD, Poetry, Ninth Letter, and The Awl, among others.  She is the recipient of grants from the NEA, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the Ohio Arts Council.  Fagan teaches in the MFA program at Ohio State University where she also serves as series editor of the OSU press/The Journal Wheeler Poetry Prize.  Find her on the web at http://www.kathyfagan.net.

Monday, February 24, 2014

English as Preparation for Legal Studies

By Deborah Fleming, Professor of English

A major in English or Creative Writing is excellent preparation for a prospective law student or lawyer because language is the chief tool of the lawyer. A lawyer must have a masterful vocabulary, appropriate diction, and impeccable command of English grammar and usage and must be articulate and persuasive in all the forms of discourse: description, narration, exposition, and argumentation. A lawyer must be imaginative and understand stories because litigation between a plaintiff and a defendant is a conflict between two different stories. Lawyers and judges must interpret the language of statutes, constitutions, contracts, agreements, and case law decisions, sometimes deciding or arguing a case based on the interpretation of a single word. Lawyers must be able to translate English into legal language when addressing judges and other attorneys and to translate legal language back into standard English when addressing juries and clients. The grounding that an English major provides in language study, rhetoric, critical analysis, and the imaginative arts is excellent for students who wish to pursue a legal career.