Friday, June 23, 2017

Alumni Update: Scott Hazen

Scott Hazen was one of the first Alumni Spotlight subjects that I profiled on this blog when I became Department Chair. Below is an update of this original profile:
http://englishatashland.blogspot.com/2013/09/alumni-spotlight-scott-hazen.html
—Hilary Donatini

By Scott Hazen, Class of 1993, Creative Writing major


In June, 2015 I accepted a position with Avita Health System in Galion, Ohio as their IT Applications Manager. I manage all the inpatient systems, business systems, and integration. I have an excellent team of 11 analysts from various disciplines, and we manage over 30 systems, including the top of the line EPIC system, through a collaboration with Ohio State University. I was part of a team of 50 people from vendors and Avita that brought 9 brand new systems live on the first day of operations for the brand new Avita Hospital at Ontario. As the lead IT operations manager for Avita, I was tasked with coordinating support efforts, interfacing, and workflow. I get great satisfaction, knowing I do my part with technology to help the talented care providers at Avita save lives.

Sitting on my desk is the Ashland Eagle. I’m proud of my work and my team, and the root of this success started with Ashland. The collaborative environment, the teaching and coaching mentality of the staff, and the willingness to go above and beyond for student success, imprinted a philosophy that I still use to this day. Leading with integrity and values is an imperative, just like the professors and mentors I had at Ashland.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Terry Tempest Williams to Open 2017 Ashland University MFA in Creative Writing Summer Residency Reading Series

Terry Tempest Williams

from the AU News Center
 


Ashland University’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program will welcome a host of talented writers to the AU campus for its Summer Residency Program that will be held July 15-29. Evening readings and afternoon writing classes for the program will be open to the public, thanks to support from the Ohio Arts Council.

The first visiting writer on this year’s schedule is Terry Tempest Williams, author of several books including the environmental literature classic, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place and her most recent publication, The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks. Williams’ reading is scheduled for Sunday, July 16, at 7 p.m. in the Ashland University Richard E. & Sandra J. Dauch College of Business & Economics Ridenour Room. The reading will be followed by a book signing. She also will present a lecture and Q&A session on writing Monday, July 17, from 1:30-3 p.m. in the Dwight Schar College of Education Ronk Lecture Hall.

Visiting writer in fiction Rebecca Makkai is the author of the short story collection Music for Wartime, and the novels The Hundred-Year House and The Borrower. Makkai’s work also has appeared in The Best American Short Stories four years in a row. Makkai reads on Wednesday, July 19, at 7 p.m. and presents her craft talk on Thursday, July 20, from 1:30-3 p.m. Both events will be in the Ronk Lecture Hall.

Dexter L. Booth is this year’s visiting writer in poetry. He is currently a contributing editor for Waxwing, and a Ph.D. candidate and Provost Fellow at the University of Southern California. His poetry collection, Scratching the Ghost, received the Cave Canem award and his poems have been included in The Best American Poetry 2015, Blackbird, The Southeast Review, and many other publications. Booth reads on Monday, July 24, at 7 p.m. and presents his craft talk on Tuesday, July 25, from 1:30-3 p.m.

In addition to these featured visiting writers, the award-winning MFA faculty will present readings and writing courses throughout the two-week residency. MFA faculty members are all respected published authors in their genre, who also enjoy teaching. Topics for the afternoon sessions focus on more specific subjects such as line breaks in contemporary poetry, different approaches and forms for nonfiction writing, and considering point of view for fiction writing, timing of scenes, writing good dialogue, researching for memoir and literary.

The Ashland University MFA program is a two-year low-residency program. Students work toward the completion of a manuscript in their chosen genre by attending the summer residency and working with faculty mentors online during the fall and spring semester. Graduating students will read from their work on Thursday, July 27, from 1:30 – 3 p.m. The program will also welcome several of its published alumni back to present a reading on Sunday, July 23, at 7 p.m.

Additional readings and presentations by MFA faculty and visiting writers are scheduled throughout the two-week event.

For more information on this year’s schedule, visit ashland.edu/summerreadingseries or contact the MFA office at 419-289-5098.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Kaiser Wins Award for Outstanding Undergraduate of the Year

Emily Kaiser, an English and Creative Writing major with a minor in Business Administration from New Bremen, Ohio, won the award for Outstanding Undergraduate Female of the Year at the AU Leadership and Service awards ceremony on April 23. Erin Mitchell, the Area Coordinator for Clayton Hall and the Senior Apartments, nominated Kaiser for her work as a Resident Assistant and Assistant Resident Director in Clayton Hall. Mitchell's nomination letter enumerates Kaiser's achievements in her position: "As a member of the Staff Selection Committee, she has created innovative marketing initiatives to attract strong applicants. Although she will graduate this spring and will not be directly affected by the new team, Emily can see the importance of leaving a strong legacy behind. Emily’s ability to relate to and challenge others makes her effective in policy enforcement, crisis management, and community building. Emily has a unique talent for relating to many different people. When confronting a difficult situation, this allows her to speak to the needs of those involved and still complete the necessary administrative tasks. In community building situations, she can use this same skill to unite others who wouldn’t normally form a team." 

Mitchell continues, "What sets Emily apart is the harmony between the excellent qualities found in both her heart and her mind. Personally, she is a kind, empathetic, and gracious person. Intellectually, she remains diligent in her work, brings innovation where it is lacking, and makes every effort to maintain a positive, success-driven attitude that is infectious. She is taking every opportunity at AU to learn how to become an active, contributory member of her community. We are fortunate to have such a committed, capable individual who is willing to share her time and talents to enrich the Ashland University community."

Congratulations, Emily!


Friday, May 12, 2017

Cardwell Wins Prizes for Senior Thesis

Emily Cardwell receiving the Howard O. Rowe Scholarship from Dr. Christopher Swanson, Director of the Honors Program
Emily Cardwell's senior thesis, "To Dissolve the Barbarous Spell": The Significance of Female Education in Eighteenth-Century English Literature, won two prestigious campus prizes: the Howard O. Rowe Scholarship from the Honors Program, and the Charles E. Parton Award from the Ashbrook Program. According to the Honors Program Senior Cording and Reception program, "The Howard O. Rowe Scholarship is awarded annually to the graduating student whose Honors Capstone Project is considered to be the best among his/her peers." Cardwell shared the award with Grace McCourt, a Mathematics and Integrated Mathematics Education major from Wadsworth. The Charles E. Parton Award, according to the Ashbrook website, is awarded as follows: "Each year, the Director of the Ashbrook Center, in consultation with the faculty from Ashland’s Department of History and Political Science, selects one or more theses to receive the Charles Parton Award for Outstanding Thesis." Click here for a list of all winners, as well as links to the theses themselves.



Emily Cardwell and Dr. Hilary Donatini at Emily's thesis defense
According to Emily's thesis director, Dr. Hilary Donatini, "Emily was a consummate professional throughout the writing process, meeting deadlines and working well independently. The final product shows evidence of careful thought, as well as the ability to synthesize complex information and present it clearly. It was a joy to work with her. Emily opened me up to books in my field I had never read, and she gave me new perspectives on ones I'd read multiple times."

Emily Cardwell was born in Norwalk, Ohio. She grew up in Norwalk and attended St. Paul High School, graduating as valedictorian in 2013. At Ashland University, Emily majored in English and History with minors in Political Science and Religion. She worked as a writing assistant at the Undergraduate Writing Center for five semesters. Emily was a member of the Catholic Campus Ministry leadership team since her freshman year and served as student campus minister in 2016. Academically, she was named to the dean's list every semester and was a member of the Ashbrook Scholar Program, Alpha Lambda Delta, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Sigma Tau Delta.

Emily will attend Kent State University to obtain a master's degree in Higher Education Administration and Student Personnel with the intention of pursuing a career in academic advising.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Department Seniors Defend Theses

Four seniors in the English Department defended theses this semester. The descriptions below are adapted from the Honors Program Senior Cording and Reception program.

Dr. Russell Weaver, Emily Cardwell, Dr. Hilary Donatini, and Dr. David Foster at Emily's thesis defense
Emily Cardwell presented her Honors/Ashbrook Capstone titled, "To Dissolve the Barbarous Spell": The Significance of Female Education in Eighteenth-Century English Literature, on Wednesday, April 26th.

Emily Cardwell was born in Norwalk, Ohio. She grew up in Norwalk and attended St. Paul High School, graduating as valedictorian in 2013. At Ashland University, Emily majored in English and history with minors in political science and religion. She worked as a writing assistant at the Undergraduate Writing Center for five semesters. Emily was a member of the Catholic Campus Ministry leadership team since her freshman year and served as student campus minister in 2016. Academically, she was named to the dean's list every semester and was a member of the Ashbrook Scholar Program, Alpha Lambda Delta, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Sigma Tau Delta.

Emily will attend Kent State University to obtain a master's degree in Higher Education Administration and Student Personnel with the intent of pursuing a career in academic advising.

Dr. Hilary Donatini, Associate Professor of English, served as Cardwell's mentor for the project.
 

Megan Heckman presented her Honors/Ashbrook Capstone titled, War and Peace: Reason and Religion​, on Monday, May 1st.

Megan Heckman is from Mansfield, Ohio and graduated from Lexington High School in 2013. She attended Ashland University, majoring in English and Political Science, minoring in History. While commuting sophomore, junior, and senior year, Megan was a member of the Ashbrook Scholar Program, Honors Program, and interned for the MFA program for two years. She plans to attend graduate school in the future, eventually receiving her masters in English.

Dr. Russell Weaver, Professor of English, served as Heckman's mentor for the project.


Emily Kaiser presented her Honors Capstone titled, Decidedly Absent: A Memoir of a Totally Average College Student with a Penchant for Drama​, on Monday, April 24th.
Dr. Joe Mackall and Emily Kaiser at the Honors Program Senior Cording
Emily Kaiser is an English and Creative Writing double major with a minor in Business Administration. She hails from a small town in western Ohio called New Bremen, where she graduated from New Bremen Local High School in 2013. She served as color guard captain in the marching band; Assistant Residence Director of Clayton Hall and the senior apartments; editor-in-chief of Odyssey; and was a member of Kappa Kappa Psi, national band service honorary; Sigma Tau Delta, international English honorary. She loves few things more than sarcasm, coffee, and a good book (preferably together).

After graduation, Emily plans to unite her passions by edging her way into the publishing industry, specifically for children and young adults so that she can help improve children's literacy. Eventually, she plans to pursue her Master's and subsequently her PhD in English literature--mostly just so that she can force her friends to call her "doctor."

Dr. Joe Mackall, Professor of English, served as Kaiser's​ mentor for the project.
 

Bethany Meadows presented her Honors Capstone titled, History Versus Film: An Examination of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Rhetoric and Ava DuVernay's Selma​, on Monday, April 24th.
Dr. Maura Grady and Bethany Meadows at the Honors Program Senior Cording
Bethany Meadows, a 2014 graduate of Buckeye Valley High School, grew up in Ostrander, Ohio. At Ashland University, she majored in English and Integrated Language Arts Education with minors in Public Relations and Creative Writing. Throughout her time at Ashland, she was a member of Alpha Lambda Delta (the freshman honorary society), co-president of Sigma Tau Delta (English honor society), Assistant Editor of the Honors Bugle, and Public Relations officer of the Honors Society.

After graduation in May 2018, Bethany has no idea what she wants to do. Some of her inclinations include graduate school in English Rhetoric and Composition, teaching high school English, or becoming a bartender. With all of the uncertainty, it will probably be the bartending route while she tries to figure everything out.

Dr. Maura Grady, Director of Composition and the University Writing Center, served as Meadows'​ mentor for the project.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Cardona Wins 2017 Department Creative Writing Award

Maria Cardona won the 2017 English Department Creative Writing Award. Below she reflects on her four years at AU and what the future holds.

The Creative Writing program was the reason I decided to come to AU when I was seventeen. I still remember walking into Dr. Brown’s Comp 101 class and being terrified of my assignments because I’d never had to write a “real” paper before. Coming from Puerto Rico, I had never written very many papers in school. My English classes were mostly focused on vocabulary, reading, and speaking. I’d written a few essays for other classes but never anything big.

One of the papers I wrote for the class was interesting because my argument was about how education isn’t really about where you come from, but rather how you apply yourself. One of the things I heard a lot coming from Puerto Rico was “your English is so good!,” “how come you don’t have an accent?” “but, do you speak Spanish?” and other phrases along those lines. They were tiny things but they made me feel like it was expected that because I grew up in a small country, my education shouldn’t have allowed me to develop my English as well as it did.

That paper was interesting because when I first came here I was really shy and introverted. I was also still on my ADD medication which made me so focused I wouldn’t even speak! Writing had always been my means of expressing myself, and that class definitely helped me develop my own voice and allowed me to really start speaking up about issues that interested me.

As my four years continued, I was presented with many intellectual challenges. Postcolonial literature with Dr. Mondal was a remarkable course, but it came with many challenges. I was being asked to analyze even punctuation! Yet, it was the subject matter that really challenged me. Coming from a country that is still a colony, I could relate to the material in a very different way my American classmates did. I had so many things to say, but I also was challenged with really being careful with my wording in order to not make my opinions feel like attacks. Nonetheless, it was amazing being able to make cultural connections and help my classmates understand colonial issues.

It was the Honors section of Modern Drama that was a huge boon for me both intellectually and creatively. I had never really read very many plays. I’ve always enjoyed the theatre, but having to analyze plays was new to me. It was in this class, with Dr. Waterman, that I really made two of the biggest connections I’ve ever made with literature. Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, and Hutton’s I Dream Before I Take The Stand made me think about how great literature can affect people, touch them, and make them think. It showed me how great works don’t need to be long masterpieces necessarily, but that shorter pieces with powerful language can make incredibly strong impacts on the world.

On creative terms, all my classes presented different challenges. When I took the fiction/non-fiction workshop I originally wrote fifty pages of a story that I hated, and I freaked out because I thought maybe this career path wasn’t for me. Then I landed on what ended up being my capstone and the class the earned me the CW Award. It’s titled “Lares” after a town back in Puerto Rico where a revolution happened in 1868. The story is entered around this time period and the complications of a woman’s awakening and falling in love in times of an independence war.

Writing this piece was so challenging because I had so much research to do before I started writing. I didn’t really learn much about it in history class back home, so it was fascinating but exhausting to learn all this new information. It was also challenging to find a balance between history and my own story, but I think I managed to navigate it well by the end.

This story was also a challenge because I was supposed to have a brother who would have been twenty-five this year but my mom lost him before he was born. I wrote this story for him (naming one of the main characters after him). It was hard to write this story and even harder to finish it because how do you end that? How do you find the perfect ending for your brother? Plus, to finish it would mean to finish that chapter of my life and finish his story. I feel pretty good about the story I gave Sebastián.

The other massive challenge for this piece was how I could make the 2017 world care about an 1860s failed revolution in a tiny island. I think that having this love story plus an awakening element helped to shape this story and create a world that people could care about as much as I cared about this topic.

Another creative challenge I faced was in my short story class. Ask around the department— short is not my forte. I am incredibly wordy, so limiting myself presented a challenge for me. It was hard having to cut myself short and having to sacrifice elements of my story that I loved so much (highly influenced by Beckett, actually!) but it also showed me the importance of being open to feedback and being able to transform my story into something I can still love.

Poetry workshop was its own challenge since I am not a poet – at all! I struggled through that class but I learned a new appreciation for the form and it even ended up playing a role in “Lares.” The first line is actually from a couplet I wrote for the workshop. It was a new challenge to have to manipulate my ideas into forms and rhymes.

I’ve been working on “Lares” for three years, and when I was told it was receiving an award I was blown away! It made me feel accomplished and hopeful for my future career. I feel beyond honored to have been given this award, especially for a story I’ve been building for so long and care about so much. I think all the classes I’ve taken and everyone in the department has played a role in the birth of this story. There are so many stories I’ve read and so many assignments I’ve taken parts and pieces from that have influenced this story.

Up next is grad school in Ireland. It will be an exciting experience to go back after my study abroad. I’ll be studying Translation Studies (Spanish-English) in University College Cork. It will be so strange not being an English major anymore, but there will still be elements of literature in my program. My thesis can actually be a translation of a book of my choice, so I’m sure I’ll still be influenced by my time at AU. I’ll surely keep writing, and hopefully I can find a nice home for my novel and continue growing as a writer.

Monday, May 1, 2017

2017 Recipients of English Department Honors

On Sunday, April 23, AU held its annual Honors Convocation in the Jack and Deb Miller Chapel. Three majors from the English department won awards for their academic achievements.
Naomi Sims
Naomi Sims, a Creative Writing and Political Science major from Grapevine, Texas, won the award for Outstanding Sophomore. When asked what her favorite English department memory was so far, Naomi responded, "I got out of a class early one Friday so I stopped by Joe Mackall's office to drop off a piece of writing with him. I was not in any of his classes but he had offered to read and talk about a piece with me. Unknowingly I walked in on him and Dr. Weaver having a chat and they invited me in. It was really special to spend time with two of my professors‎ and just talk about writing and share that time together. I love moments like that because that's where some of my greatest growth as a writer happens."


Maggie Andrews
Maggie Andrews, a Creative Writing, English, and Communications Studies major from Mansfield, Ohio, was named Outstanding Junior. According to Maggie, "My favorite English department memory would have to be the fiction/creative nonfiction writing workshop with Dr. Joe Mackall. It was a great opportunity to work on a piece of my writing and receive feedback. I was critiqued by both my professor and peers, which has really changed my writing for the better. It was hard to choose just one memory because every English class has only strengthened my love for writing, literature, and the English language."

Emily Wirtz
The Outstanding Senior award was given to Emily Wirtz, a Creative Writing, Psychology, and Religion major from Youngstown, Ohio. "When I came to AU freshman year," Emily writes, "my majors were Psychology and Criminal Justice. I couldn't tell you exactly why, but that felt wrong, and I changed my CJ major to Creative Writing during orientation before classes even began. English is like that. Sometimes the literature and the craft and the words pull you in, and you're not sure why. I can confidently say that I have never since that first weekend on campus questioned whether or not I should be a Creative Writing major. The faculty and other students make the English department feel like a family and a home."

Congratulations to these excellent students!