Sunday, August 30, 2015

2015 Graduates Start Jobs and Degree Programs

We are pleased to announce that the following spring 2015 English department graduates are working full-time jobs and beginning graduate degrees:

Megan Scarberry is teaching English at West Holmes High School in Millersburg, OH.

These students are pursuing degrees:
Courtney Conley,  Ball State University, M.F.A. in Creative Writing
Christa Kettlewell, Clemson University, M.A. in Professional Communication
Courtney Young, Tiffin University, M.A. in English

We wish them well!

Attention All Alumni
Please send job and graduate school news to—we love to hear from you.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Professor Deborah Fleming Discusses Research and Creative Activity

By Hilary Donatini
Professor Deborah Fleming agreed to answer some questions about her active program of research and creative activity here at AU.

Q: In addition to teaching and service, you maintain an active writing and research program. Could you discuss some of your recent presentations and publications?
A: Recent presentations include "W. B. Yeats and Ecocriticism" at two conferences and fiction readings in Columbus and Mansfield.

Q: Describe your works in progress. 
A: My current work in progress is my third poetry collection.  My first collection, "Morning, Winter Solstice," was influenced by James Wright and focused on nature poetry of two local bioregions; my second, primarily influenced by W. B. Yeats, treats the themes of love, art, death, and war and uses many landscapes.  About half the poems are formalist.  

The third, influenced by Robinson Jeffers, uses landscapes as far apart as Alaska and Nepal and explores the issue of how the greatest ecological disaster in history--climate change--is related to our myth-making.  I am also working on my third novel about three rural women from different generations.

Q: What do you value most about writing?
A: What I most value about writing is the chance to use language to and metaphor to explore ideas.  

Q: How does your research and creative activity complement your work in the classroom?
A: Research and creative activity are not separate from the classroom because I teach works by the writers who are the subjects of my research; when I teach creative writing I can draw on my own experience to help students with the challenges of writing and revision.

Q: You have taught at Ashland for over twenty years. How has your research and creative activity developed over the course of your career? 
A: I had one scholarly book in press when I came here and have finished the second as well as scholarly essays and two edited collections.  I still have one article on Yeats that I want to finish.  My primary interest was always Yeats.  

I always wrote poetry but in the last twenty years I have written more of it and begun to write fiction and nonfiction seriously.  Recently I also wrote a screenplay.  Scholarly work inspires and enhances the creative work and is by far the most difficult type of writing I do because of the time research requires and the tremendous amount of organization.  

Among the creative genre, fiction is the hardest because of the difficulty of avoiding sentimentality and cliche. Although no writing is easy, I find poetry presents fewer challenges because I have been writing poetry so many more years.  Not every writer would have the same experience.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Student Intern Shares Experience at MFA Residency

By Andrew Clough, Creative Writing and English major

Ashland University offers a pretty hefty list of
undergraduate majors and minors. This list extends even further when you take into consideration the masters programs that are offered as well. One of these programs is the Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. This  is a very fun and interesting program for which I had the pleasure to be an intern. As an intern I got to drive students, faculty, and visiting writers to and from the airport, as well as shuttle them around the town. This left plenty of time for some great conversation. Anything from writing techniques and stylistic choices to the joys of everyday life as a muse, and even a certain love of cheesy poofs, was discussed in the many trips. This alone was an incredible experience. On top of the personal conversations with published writers and faculty alike, there was also the experience of sitting in on seminars for writing improvement, visiting writer and faculty readings, and thesis defenses of graduating students.

It was a refreshing experience to be surrounded by a group of writers with a passion for the creative aspects of English. As an undergrad life can get pretty busy and certain activities like pleasure reading and writing can get pushed aside in order to accommodate the vast amounts of homework and activities that go on during the school year and during the summer. Forty-hour work weeks take time and energy away from these creative endeavors, but the creativity and passion surrounding the MFA students and faculty was a great variation to the typical routines of the summer. Meal time conversations with everyone in the program revealed that they too were looking for a change of pace and to pursue the passion of writing. While the seminars and conversations were a great experience and the visiting readers were spectacular, I particularly enjoyed the faculty readings. I loved hearing them read their own personal writings and getting to see a different side to the professors that I usually only see in a classroom environment. It was great fun and I recommend to all people interested in English and Creative Writing looking into applying as an intern or eventually enrolling personally into the MFA program, it was great fun and helped to improve my own thought process and writing technique.