Tuesday, July 30, 2013

AU's Writing Studio: The Hub of Academic Writing on Campus

By Susan Guiher, Director

What is the Writing Studio?
Ashland University established a Writing Center, now called Writing Studio, 25 years ago.  It was created for students to have a place to write papers on word processors and to get writing advice at the same time.  Throughout the years, the Writing Studio has become the hub of academic writing, and we continue to welcome all student writers to the RIGHT place to WRITE, 104 Bixler, where students are advised on writing assignments by Writing Assistants (WAs) who have written papers for courses across the curriculum (see WA expertise).  The Writing Studio averages 1,000 appointments per semester, so there must be some good reason students come to 104 Bixler!  

Who are the Writing Assistants?
Writing Assistants (WAs) are sophomore, junior, and senior students who are skilled writers and represent a variety of majors/minors and core courses; they are hired upon recommendation from professors; WAs work in the Writing Studio as writing advisors for courses they have completed; WAs share strategies on how to read and synthesize a text, take notes, outline, gather information, cite sources, and craft papers.  Best of all, WAs are voices of experience, able and willing to guide all writers through the process of developing college papers.  WAs also are lab assistants for English 110, a one-hour credit taken concurrently with English I & II.   (English 110 is in the University catalog and can be added as an elective via Web Advisor; contact the Director to learn more about the Writing Lab.)

How to Make an Appointment:
Appointments are scheduled in the Writing Studio in 104 Bixler, Center for the Humanities (across from the student center).  As soon as a writing assignment is given, the student should go to the Studio to make an appointment with a WA who has taken that course and accomplished its writing assignment(s).  The voice-of-experience WA knows what the professor expects and can coach the process of writing.   Each WA posts a list of courses and professors so a student can easily match her or his assignment with the appropriate WA.  Appointments must be made 24 hours in advance; the Studio’s door is open 8-9 M-Th; 8-4 F. 

Writing Studio Intent:
Our purpose is not to improve grades, but to assist student writers in their efforts to improve and to polish writing skills.  We want accomplished writers as well as less confident writers to make appointments in the Writing Studio; because WAs are top-notch writers who enjoy sharing their expertise with other writers, WAs will challenge the best writers to be even better.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

English Majors— "Hot New Hires"?

By Hilary Donatini

The value of an English major has long been a heated topic of conversation, and recently members of the business community have been weighing in on English majors' contributions to the workplace. Bruna Martinuzzi's "Why English Majors are the Hot New Hires" offers several reasons why English majors are an asset in the business world. Martinuzzi suggests a strategy for making the English major more marketable: "The trend of employers looking for both field-specific skills and broad skills indicates that employees who combine a liberal arts major—especially an English major—with another major degree, such as business, science or technology, will have a competitive advantage."

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Chair's Corner: Getting Schooled on Leadership

By Hilary Donatini
Greetings from the chair of the English department! I've been quietly performing my duties since the middle of May, taking care of matters large and small and settling into the role. I look forward very much to helping students discover the opportunities within our majors and supporting faculty in their missions of teaching, scholarship, and service. 

This past weekend I was fortunate to attend the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences Seminar for Department Chairs in Indianapolis. The conference was a useful venue for reflecting on what it means to be a department chair and formulating big-picture goals, in addition to providing some practical strategies for handling day-to-day tasks. I met a number of wonderful people from around the region.

As the school year approaches, I am preparing to teach English 406: Seventeenth-Century English Literature, organizing Sigma Tau Delta events, responding to registration and enrollment queries, planning various department activities, and much more.

After spending the beginning of the summer cleaning out my previous office and moving down the hall, I am now in 117 Bixler. Please stop by or make an appointment! 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Fleming Wins Award for Manuscript

Dr. Deborah Fleming, professor of English and editor of the Ashland Poetry Press, has won the Asheville Award from Black Mountain Press of Asheville, N.C., which carries with it a $500 honorarium. Her novel, "Without Leave," was chosen by the editors from more than 1,000 manuscripts. There were eight semi-finalists. The publication date for the novel is August of 2013.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Gearing Up for the MFA Summer Residency

By Hilary Donatini

Our faculty and staff in the MFA in Creative Writing at AU are busy preparing for its July 27 start date. Read an interview with the director of the program, Dr. Stephen Haven, below. 

HD: What would you like to highlight about the upcoming residency? What would you like to share about particular visiting writers or faculty?

SH: The Ashland MFA Residency is a two-week literary festival, with enrolled MFA students participating in intensive classes (closed to the public) weekday mornings and attending free-and-open-to-the-public literary readings and afternoon Craft Seminars about writing and literature.  

The literary readings and Craft Seminars are presented by visiting writers and by Ashland University's MFA faculty, some of whom are as accomplished as our visiting writers.  Cheryl Strayed may be the best publicized author among our four visiting writers this year.  Her book Wild remained at #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list for 5 or 6 weeks. The book was also endorsed by Oprah and distributed through Oprah's book club.  Other visiting writers include Brian Doyle, a Pacific Northwest creative nonfiction writer with many books, Alicia Ostriker, a venerable poet from New York and former finalist for the National Book Award, and poet Linda Gregerson, also a former finalist for the National Book Award.  Gregerson teaches at the University of Michigan.  

Among our own MFA faculty participating in this year's readings and Craft Seminars we have a runner-up for the Pultizer Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship winners, National Endowment for the Arts grant winners, a Rome Literature Prize Winner, a winner of the Colorado Book Award, an Ohio Poet of the Year winner, and winners of many book publication competitions.  All Ashland MFA faculty are dedicated teachers as well as accomplished writers.  The Ashland MFA Program places a special emphasis--as does the university as a whole--on dedicated teaching.

HD: How has the MFA grown and changed since its inception?

SH: The MFA Program has grown considerably.  We started in Summer 2007 with 17 students and 5 faculty members. We will have approximately 60 students at the 2013 Summer Residency and 16 faculty members.

HD: Which events are open to the public?

SH: All afternoon Craft Seminars (most begin at 1:00 p.m. weekdays) and all evening readings (7:00 p.m. weekday and Sunday evenings) are free and open to the public.  Most readings and Craft Seminars take place in 138 Schar.

HD: What is your favorite aspect of directing the MFA? The greatest challenge?

SH: My favorite task in directing the Ashland MFA Program has been building and maintaining a supportive, cohesive arts community that cares deeply for high aesthetic standards.  Together with the MFA Faculty Committee (the committee that oversees all MFA curricular issues and makes recommendations to the Dean of Arts and Sciences for faculty hiring) I have been very careful to invite to the MFA faculty only accomplished, well-published writers who are as devoted to teaching as they are to their own writing.

It has also been important for me to help create as much as possible an inclusive, democratic governance in the MFA faculty.  I believe Ashland MFA faculty members take ownership of the program—feel that they not only work for the Ashland MFA Program but have helped create it.  Finally, working together with other MFA faculty and with MFA Administrative Director Sarah Wells, it was a challenge to find the right students to embrace the supportive spirit of the program, and to rise to the challenge of the faculty in the program’s collective attempt to write new literature.    

HD: What else would you like the world to know?

SH: I talk openly during the recruitment process about the respect for the integrity of all human beings, without regard for demographic distinctions of any kind:  We welcome anyone who is interested in the pursuit of the literary arts, as long as prospective students have already attained a moderate level of success that enables  them to participate meaningfully as members of the Ashland MFA community.  Everyone who comes to our program, students and faculty, can expect to be challenged, in terms of constantly working to become better writers, and they can expect also the collective support of other students and faculty when they break through to new levels of achievement. 

Not even Emily Dickinson worked alone.  She had the life-long personal and intellectual friendship of her sister-in-law, Susan Gilbert Dickinson, as well as the friendship of the Springfield, Mass., newspaper editor Samuel Bowles. Hemingway shared his early writing with Sherwood Anderson and Gertrude Stein.  Thoreau had (among others) Emerson, Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller, and Bronson Alcott as literary companions.  The poets H.D., Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams, were friends as undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania, and remained life-long influences in the development of each other’s art.  More than most people realize, the creation of new literature is a group endeavor.  The Ashland MFA Program is not only an academic degree program—it is a dynamic arts community that will stimulate the growth of every writer—student and faculty alike—who comes in contact with it. The Ashland MFA Program provides a foundation for the life-long pursuit of writing better and better books.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Kari Repuyan is Now Kari Lindecamp

The English Department's Administrative Assistant Kari Repuyan and John Lindecamp were married by Ken Walther, husband of adjunct Linda Walther, on Saturday, June 29, 2013 at 6:30 pm at their home in Polk, OH.  Approximately 50 guests attended.  Among the guests were Dr. Hilary Donatini, English Department Chair, and her husband Michael and Dr. Deborah Fleming, English Professor and Editor of the Poetry Press.