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!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Dr. Joe Mackall Interviewed on Literary Website

"'We Read to Discover What Meaning the Writer Has Made': A Chat With Joe Mackall, Editor of River Teeth" has appeared on the literary website The Review Review. Click here to read the interview. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Recommended Reading from AU MFA Faculty

The AU Master of Fine Arts blog has recently shared several posts in which our faculty offer recommendations on important books for the creative writer. Click on the months below to read the posts. 





Friday, April 14, 2017

Ashland Poetry Press Author Wins Award

The following announcement has been taken from the Ashland Poetry Press website. The English Department is proud to house the Press and to share in the joy of its authors' success.
Congratulations to Ashland Poetry Press author Daneen Wardrop! Her collection Life As It has won the Gold Medal in Poetry in this year's Independent Publisher Book Awards, announced Monday, April 10. 

Wardrop's manuscript was the winner of the 2015 Richard Snyder Memorial Publication Prize, selected by contest final judge David St. John. The book was published this past fall and may be purchased through Ashland University's bookstoreSPD Books, or Amazon.
The Independent Publisher Book Awards were conceived in 1996 as a broad-based, unaffiliated awards program open to all members of the independent publishing industry. The awards are intended to bring increased recognition to the thousands of exemplary independent, university, and self-published titles produced each year, and reward those who exhibit the courage, innovation, and creativity to bring about change in the world of publishing.
This year’s contest drew nearly 5,000 entries, with winning medalists in 42 U.S. states plus DC, six Canadian provinces, and nine countries overseas. The medal-winning books will be celebrated on May 10th during the annual BookExpo America publishing convention in Chicago. Read more information and a complete list of winners and finalists here.
Winning poet Daneen Wardrop has published two additional books of poetry, Cyclorama (2015), and The Odds of Being (2007). She has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, and the Robert H. Winner Award from the Poetry Society of America. Her poems have appeared in The Kenyon ReviewThe Southern ReviewAGNIMichigan Quarterly ReviewNew American WritingTriQuarterly, and elsewhere. Daneen has also authored several books of literary criticism, including most recently Emily Dickinson and the Labor of Clothing (2009, University Press of New England). 
This year's Richard Snyder Prize is taking submissions through the end of April. Please see our Guidelines for more information and past award winners.