Friday, July 24, 2015

Student Spotlight: Danielle Wright, Integrated Language Arts Major

Q: You're an Integrated Language Arts major. What drew you to ILA?

A: My junior year of high school, we were reading The Scarlet Letter. We were only a little bit through the book and I was doing the readings but I wasn't truly getting the deeper meaning. Then my teacher explained how all the things actually represented something else.
I had missed all the allusions, metaphors, and symbolism. I had never known a book could hold that much depth and craftsmanship. It was an "ah-ha" moment and all of literature sort of opened up to me and I said to myself, "If I could give that moment to even one kid, how amazing would that be?" To be the person who takes the words on the page and decodes them for others became my passion and purpose in life.

Q: What have been some of your favorite classes in the major so far and why?

A: My favorite class is easily the Shakespeare class with Dr. Weaver. There are really two reasons why this class stands apart from all the rest for me. First, before that class, my entire experience with Shakespeare consisted of flying through Hamlet my senior year of high school. I felt like an embarrassment to English nerds everywhere for not having read more of his works so getting to read half a dozen of his plays and have them explaimed at a college level was like a rite of passage for me. The second reason is because Dr. Weaver is an even bigger book nerd than I am and I love it. You get used to the funny looks people give you when you start crying or laughing or ranting because of a book. Most people don't invest themselves that fully into what they read. Dr. Weaver does and it was refreshing in a semester of mostly core courses to get that passion for the material that I strive for.

Q: What else do you do on campus and in your spare time?

A: I am an Ashbrook Scholar and I work around eight hours a week in the Center as an intern. I never meant to enjoy political science courses but the philosophy side of it is extremely interesting to me. I have also been on Student Senate for three years now and am about to start my year as the Senior Class President. I like feeling like I am making a difference on our campus and helping my fellow students. Any spare time I get between all of this and mountains of English homework is spent with my friends or watching outrageous amounts of Netflix.

Q: How are you spending your summer?

A: This summer, I got a great experience to work with a local company called Abilities in Action. Their purpose is all about helping to place people with special needs into a job that is right for them and allow people who would normally be over looked to earn a living on their own. Over the summer they have a youth program where kids 16-18 get placed in a job for one month. My role as a job coach is to transport the kids to the job site and basically make sure they are doing what they should and help explain things to them if there is a task they don't understand. I am currently with a boy and a girl doing all the weeding at a KOA campsite and it has been a real eye-opening experience. Im hoping I can use what I learn at this job and apply it in my teaching career.

Q: Can you recommend some books, whether they're old favorites or recent discoveries?

A: When people ask me what my favorite book is, I tell them to think of all the boring books they read in high school and my favorite is probably in there. I love the classics like Pride and Prejudice, The Giver, and Fahrenheit 451. My favorite is definitely Wuthering Heights. It's a tragic love story that's so twisted and dark that I couldn't put it down. As for modern books, my taste is very sporadic. I really love John Green. Even though he writes for tweens, his characters are what really draw you in to the piece. I also enjoy Stephen King novels for the same reason. His story lines are dark and exaggerated and even grotesque at times but he makes me fall in love with his characters until I have to know what happens to them.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Director of the MFA Program Looks Forward to Residency

By Hilary Donatini

Professor Stephen Haven, Director of Ashland's MFA, agreed to answer some questions about the approaching residency—two weeks of intensive creative activity on AU's campus.

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

SH: For the first time since the start of the MFA Program in 2007 we have visiting writers in three rather than in only two genres. The novelist, short story writer (and poet) Patricia Henley will present a reading from her fiction on Sunday July 19 and a Craft Seminar on Monday July 20 (all MFA Summer Residency readings take place at 7:00 PM, with Craft Seminars every weekday afternoon at 1:00 PM). Then the celebrated poet, Patricia Smith, as fully known for her poetry performances as for the high quality of her writing, will read on Wednesday July 22 and present a Craft Seminar on Thursday July 23. Finally the novelist, short story writer, and memoirist Lee Martin will read from his nonfiction on Monday July 27 and present a Craft Seminar on Tuesday July 28. Patricia Smith and Patricia Henley have both been National Book Award finalists. Lee Martin has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

HD: Which events are open to the public?

SH: All 7:00 PM readings and all 1:00 PM Craft Seminars are open to the public. The only MFA Summer Residency events closed to the public are the small-group three-hour weekday-morning student workshops and graduating-student thesis defense sessions, usually held in the later afternoons.

HD: What else would you like to share about the MFA program?

SH: During the MFA Residency there are many wonderful readings and craft seminars by writers other than our three main visiting writers. There is a reading every Sunday and weekday nights at 7:00 PM and a Craft Seminar every weekday and Sunday afternoon, from Sunday July 19 through the final afternoon session, Friday July 31 (no evening reading on July 31). Some full-time Ashland University professors will be reading from their creative work, as well as Ashland University Honored Visiting faculty members who regularly teach in the MFA Program. There will also be three visiting editors who are also writers presenting readings and jointly taking part in a panel discussion on the digital age and the future of publishing, Saturday July 25, 10:00-12:00. 

Honored Visiting faculty members and Ashland University MFA students come to campus for the two-week residency from about 25 different states. Students study online during the fall and spring semesters and take part in three Summer Residencies--one at the beginning of their two years in the program, one mid-way through the program, and one campus residency after completing their second year in the program, as students are preparing to graduate.

The full schedule of the 2015 Summer Residency events can be found here:

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Renee (Fannin) Beck Featured in Alumni Video

Check out this video featuring Renee (Fannin) Beck, class of 2013, Integrated Language arts major:

Renee wrote an "Alumni Spotlight" post for this blog in 2013:

We are so proud of you, Renee!