Monday, December 18, 2017

Bethany Meadows Presents Honors Thesis Work at National Conference

By Bethany Meadows, English and Integrated Language Arts major

Conversations were abuzz as scholarship and research was brought to life at the National Collegiate Honors Council. This conference for Honors students across the United States brought together all disciplines for panels, workshops, presentations, poster sessions, and much more. I attended the NCHC conference from November 8-12 in Atlanta, Georgia as a presenter.

At the conference, I was on a Student Interdisciplinary Research Panel (SIRP). There were four of these panels during the entire conference, meaning that only 12 people out of over 1,000 speakers were selected to present. My panel, “Film Studies: Heroes, History, and Time,” featured two other presenters and me. One of my fellow panelist presented on the presence of Jospeh Campbell’s hero’s journey in Tarantino’s Kill Bill, and the other panelist discussed the use of time in Bergman’s Winter Light.

My presentation was an excerpt from my Honors capstone that I defended in May 2017, “History v. Film: An Examination of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Rhetoric and Ava DuVernay’s Selma.” For Ava DuVernay’s film, she did not receive the rights to King’s historical speeches; therefore, she had to create her own speeches for the film in the spirit of King. In analyzing the rhetoric of both the historical and the film’s, I shared how the archetypal metaphors of the dark/down, war, and the rising light allow DuVernay to remain rhetorically similar to King.

I had 15 minutes to present my theoretical frame, background information, and a close reading example from the “Our God Is Marching On!” speeches. Then, following all three of our presentations, we had 30 minutes of Q&A from the audience.

During this time, I was fortunate enough to get to have a discussion with three audience members about irony in King and DuVernay’s rhetoric along with how they establish and take away rhetorical agency. I know that they may not sound fun to everyone, but to me, it was amazing to get to talk academically with other faculty members about rhetoric, which is my favorite topic in the world. At this conference, my research was brought to life, and I look forward to going to more conferences in the future to continue to bring research and scholarship to life.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Public Relations Student Covers English Department High School Workshop


Contact: Kathleen Foster

Ashland University Public Relations Student


Young and Eager to Explore the World of Literacy, Language, and Writing at Ashland University

By Kathleen Foster

Ashland, Ohio – November 26, 2017

On November 6, 2017, Ashland University held its 32nd annual English Department high school workshop. Students from various high schools came together to appreciate and absorb the complications and pleasures of language, literature, and writing. Presentations and workshops were held throughout the day, closing with a tour of Ashland’s campus.

Six workshops were held in the John C. Myers Convocation Center. Each lecture was introduced and instructed by experts on that topic. Presentations focused on topics taught within the English department. Subjects ranged from short story examinations, extensive questioning of poems, understanding complex and moral questions in a story, and an introduction to the foundations of satire. 

High school students preparing for the Satire: Techniques and Traditions workshop
A workshop presentation held by Dr. Hilary Donatini introduced students to the foundation of satirical techniques. Dr. Donatini explained that the workshop benefits the community by “serving not only as a recruitment event for high school teachers and students, it also gives the individuals new perspectives on literacy. We are drawing students from a 100-mile radius, bringing them to Ashland University to educate them and let them explore what the campus has to offer.”

Dr. Donatini is the Associate Professor and Chair of the English Department. In her presentation, she introduced contexts from an excerpt of Gulliver’s Travels and connected it with satirical terminology. Students were given study questions to stay connected throughout the workshop.

This workshop strongly benefits Ashland University as well as the Ashland community. Bringing in Ohio students from around the state gives them the chance to experience a community that is close to home yet different and unique in many ways. The event introduces the students to the community and campus, potentially sparking an interest in attending Ashland University in the future. Bringing students to Ashland who are passionate about education and eager to learn are beneficial qualities. Ashland University and Ashland as a community should continuously be searching for these assets in students to better the community. The community will benefit from having successful students, residents, and potential workers in the near future.

Sophomore students from Wadsworth High School described the future benefits of visiting the workshops and Ashland University in various ways. “It gives us the chance to be introduced to a higher level of thinking,” said Aniya Harris. Ann Wolfinger said, “visits and workshops like this help us get into the college mindset.” Other students specifically spoke about the benefits of the workshops. “Workshops and experiences like this teach us how to critically think,” said Jena Lambright. Sarah Scobee explained that the workshops “help us create new ways to answer and study critical questions in literature, language, and writing.”

Students attending the workshops all have at least one characteristic in common, their enjoyment and appreciation for literacy, language, and writing. The workshops and presentations all cover separate topics, yet all have the same goal of educating students in their interests. The event is not required for students. They only attend if they want to. Since the high schoolers are allowed to make their own decision on what presentations to attend, they seem to be more engaged and enjoy the experience. It also makes the event more successful with students interacting and focusing during the presentations.

Events like the Annual High School Workshop prepares students for the future. It helps them create a sense of comfort in their academics and provides a better understanding of the college atmosphere. Students from multiple schools having the opportunity to gather, socialize, and share similar interests are of great importance.

Ashland University continuously expresses the importance of “accent on the individual” and it was no different for this event. Students were permitted to choose what workshops they found interest in, which seems to be a major reason as to why it is still so successful after thirty-two years running.

For additional information on this event and future high school workshops, contact the Ashland University English Department.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Final Open Mic Night on December 6 in Writing Center

Students gather at the previous open mic night to share work and support one another in their creative endeavors.
Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society, will be hosting an open mic in the University Writing Center on Wednesday, December 6th, from 9-10 p.m. 

This event is a chance for students of any major to read their own work or even a poem or short story that speaks to them, even if it's by someone else. 
Readings for each person will be 5 minutes.

Sign ups are on a first come, first serve basis here.

Sigma Tau Delta Members Deck the Halls of the Student Center

If you're walking through Hawkins Conard Student Center and notice the festive holiday atmosphere, our Sigma Tau Delta members joined other student organizations to "deck the halls" for the season. The windows near the King Road entrance evoke a winter wonderland, thanks to our Sigma Tau Deltans. 

Co-President Bethany Meadows in the midst of drawing a Christmas tree.

Jakob Demers contemplates the festive designs.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Teacher Induction Includes Integrated Language Arts Majors

Zoe Jenkins, Morgan Phillips, Corinne Spisz, Liz Bucci, and Sydney Ross after English 406: 17th c. Lit. class. Not pictured: Bethany Meadows
Six Integrated Language Arts majors "completed all the requirements to admission into the teacher education program," as Dr. Carla Abreu-Ellis, Director of the Field Office in the College of Education, explained at the fall 2017 Teacher Induction Ceremony. The ceremony, which welcomed majors in all educational specialties into the program, was held November 14 in the Ronk Lecture Hall in the Dwight Schar COE building. Dr. Jason Ellis, Co-Chair of the Teacher Education Department, noted, "It's a nice milestone." Referring to each candidate entering his or her signature into a ledger dating back to 1998, Ellis added, "It's a piece of history." Each candidate received a certificate as well as a pewter pin engraved with an image of the Schar COE building. The English Department inductees are as follows: 
Bethany Meadows
Elizabeth Bucci
Zoe Jenkins
Morgan Phillips
Sydney Ross
Corinne Spisz

Congratulations to these future educators!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sigma Tau Delta Welcomes Inductees

Susanna Savage, Sara Ludwig, Zoe Jenkins, Darion Holmes, Sydney Ross, Schuyler Kunkel, and Jakob Demers

On November 16, seven students were inducted into the Alpha Beta Phi chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honor society. Congratulations to the new members listed below:

Jakob Demers
Darion Holmes
Zoe Jenkins
Schuyler Kunkel
Sara Ludwig
Sydney Ross
Susanna Savage

Faculty advisor Dr. Hilary Donatini welcomed the group, noting this this was her tenth year advising the chapter at AU. Co-President Bethany Meadows then explained how students could become involved in our chapter activities. Co-President Corinne Spisz gave a heartfelt introduction to the speaker, Dr. Russell Weaver, whom the inductees chose for the event. Dr. Weaver explored his reasons for teaching and studying literature before leading a thought-provoking discussion of Emily Dickinson's poem, "My Life Had Stood a Loaded Gun." While taking photos after the ceremony, it was discovered that the mother of inductee Sydney Ross had Dr. Weaver for a class when she attended AU in the 1990s! 

Dr. Weaver expresses his passion for literature.
Teaching two generations: Suzann Ross and daughter Sydney both took Dr. Weaver's classes at AU!


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Fall Poetry Workshop Set for November 18

On November 18, 2017, Ashland University and the Ashland Poetry Press will present a one-day poetry workshop on the campus of Ashland University. Workshop leaders will be Columbus-area poet Charlene Fix and Ashland Poetry Press director/editor Deborah Fleming. The event also includes a reading by the presenters and an opportunity for participants to share their own poetry in an open-mic event.

Registration is $25. RSVP by Monday, November 13, as space is limited. Open to poets of all levels, including students. This is an opportunity to get feedback on your work and connect with other poets in the area.

For more details, contact Cassandra Brown at 419.289.5098 or email
Schedule of Events
  • 9 a.m. Check-In and Coffee/Light Refreshments - Schar College of Education Central Lobby
  • 10 a.m.-Noon Workshops - Schar College of Education
  • Noon-1:30 p.m. Lunch Break
  • 1:30-3:00 p.m. Reading and Q&A Charlene Fix, Deborah Fleming
  • 3-4 p.m. Social Hour with Snacks - Schar College of Education Central Lobby
  • 4-5 p.m. Open-Mic - Schar College of Education, Ronk Lecture Hall

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Creative Writing Major Encounters Ashland's Poetic Legacy in the Snyder Collection

By Jakob Demers, English and Creative Writing major

Libraries are a sum of knowledge, a bank vault of ideas. A university's library is even more so, specific and concise in order to cater to the various needs of faculty and undergraduates. On the fifth floor of the Ashland University library is a space that meets these requirements but is set apart. From its olive-colored walls and inviting rug to the wooden bookshelf housing the Snyder Poetry Collection, it feels less like a library and more like a slice of home. For the English Department, of course, it kind of is. Dedicated to the memory of long-serving English professor Richard Snyder, the walls contain no less than six pictures of the man at various points throughout his tenure. Appropriately enough for the co-founder of both Ashland University's Creative Writing major and the Ashland Poetry Press, his wit and warmth are preserved in multiple forms within this nook. A case that sits in the left hand corner displays Snyder's own words, both in the form of poetry and correspondence chronicling the start of his employment at Ashland. 

The shelves meanwhile are armed with a startling variety. Poems by Lisa Mueller and Grace Paley sit across from those by William Carlos Williams and Joseph Brodsky. Embossed with its identification as a Snyder poetry collection piece are Jay Wright's Transfigurations collected poems. In its 1981 binding, the complete poems of Anne Sexton has also earned its spot. Perhaps the most fascinating thing about this seemingly timeless corner is the knowledge that Snyder's legacy continues and endures. The historical brilliance of this corner flows through into the current English department. The Snyder Poetry Prize has been active since 1997 and recently awarded to poet and professor at Goucher College Elizabeth Spires. The Ashland Poetry Press continues to operate out of the English Department with a full editorial board. The Creative Writing Major thrives as its students involve themselves with all things literature. The Snyder Poetry Collection is not simply a piece of history, it is very much a piece of the present: a place where the past and future - founder and legatee - become one.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Writing Center Tutor Wins Business Scholarship

By Hilary Donatini

Click here to read about Laurena Shick, a Writing Assistant in the Writing Center, who has won the 2017-18 Business Advisory Council Endowed Scholarship presented by the Dauch College of Business and Economics at Ashland University. I had the pleasure of recommending Laurena for work in the Writing Center after she had taken my freshman composition course. Her commitment to the writing process, hard work on essay revisions throughout the course, and professionalism made Laurena a wonderful candidate for helping others bring out the best in their own writing. 

Congratulations, Laurena!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

First Open Mic Night a Success

By Corinne Spisz, Integrated Language Arts major

On Wednesday October 4, 2017, a group of Ashland University students met in Eagles Landing for the first Open Mic Night. Open Mic Night, sponsored by Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society on campus, is a monthly gathering of Ashland University students to read their creative work. On October 4, four out of the six students who gathered read their creative works. Three read short stories that they wrote and one shared a poem. The students discussed what they liked about the works read and what they plan to work on in the future. The intimate gathering was a lot of fun to be a part of. It was a great experience to hear creative work from students that would not normally be heard. Sigma Tau Delta invites all Ashland University students to join us for the next Open Mic Night on November 1 at 9pm in Eagles Landing. Come share your flash fiction, short stories, poetry, creative non-fiction, or a piece by your favorite author. Not only may you read your work, but you also are able to engage in an academic and creative discussion about writing.

Friday, October 6, 2017

100% Pass Rate for Integrated Language Arts Majors on State Licensure Exams

The English Department is pleased to announce that 100% of the test takers in the Integrated Language Arts and Bachelor's Plus programs passed both exams required for licensure by the state of Ohio in the 2016-17 academic year. The Ohio Assessments for Educators required for our teacher candidates include the Assessment of Professional Knowledge, as well as a subject test in Integrated Language Arts. Our Middle Grades Language Arts students garnered an impressive 94% pass rate on the subject test. 

We are proud of our students' achievements, as well as our academic program. We offer preparation for future teachers that is both broad and deep, working with the College of Education to offer students content and methods courses that prepare them not only for exams but also for careers and lifelong learning. 

Click here for more information about Integrated Language Arts at Ashland University. 

Click here for more information about the Ohio Assessments for Educators.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Freshman English Major Strives for Balance in Her Student-Athlete Life

Sophia Davis and fellow freshman student-athlete Maureen McKeown at their graduation from Wooster High School
By Sophia Davis, English major

For some, sports consume our entire being. Whether watching, coaching, refereeing, or competing, some students become so involved in their sport(s) that they compromise time in other aspects of their lives. Though the collegiate level of sports is demanding, coaches make an effort to make sure their athletes maintain the “student-athlete” mindset over the “athlete-student” mantra. Maureen McKeown, a fellow graduate of Wooster High School, is a freshman here at Ashland and is competing on the Cross Country Team under the freshly positioned coach, Jacob Sussman. McKeown is majoring in Early Childhood Education which, like all majors, requires work outside of the classroom. Her interest in the minds of children sparked a passion for teaching and helping children grow through their early years; however, McKeown also wants to continue growing and developing her gift of running.

McKeown ran all four years in high school, developing a love of running in pursuit of continuing at the collegiate level. School for her often came second, a distant second, thus engraving the “athlete-student” mindset into her as well as other friends who were in the same situation, pursuing similar dreams of competing in college. McKeown continues by stressing the importance of finding a balance in order to perform well academically as well as on the cross country course because the level of intensity is much higher when making the transition from high school to college.

I swam all four years in high school, waking up four mornings a week at five to jump in the pool by 5:30 a.m., then continue on with the school day, following another practice from 3:30-5:30 each day. Twelve-hour school days for five months of the school year made for a busy and draining schedule. While not seeking to continue a swim career at Ashland, I am on the cross country team with Maureen, and am majoring in English. To pursue a Division II sport in college as well as focus on your major is a challenge, yet provides structure, friendship, and a balance between working the mind versus working the body.

By competing in a sport, not only are you able to continue a passion for something physical, but it introduces you and allows you to bond with a group of people with similar interests, making the transition into college easy. For Maureen, she especially looked forward to this aspect of coming to Ashland, but was also forcing herself to readjust to the academic workload. McKeown and I, like many others, anticipated more studying, longer essays, and thicker textbooks. By finding a balance with studying, practicing, and hanging out with friends, we realized the importance of being a successful “student-athlete” in college and hope to inspire friends and family at home to find a similar balance in life to be both happy and successful their freshman year in college.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Open Mic Nights Planned

Sigma Tau Delta will be hosting an open mic event each month in Eagle's Landing. Please sign up to read your own creative work or even a poem/short story that speaks to you, even if it's by someone else. Readings for each person will be 5 minutes. Here are the dates: 
  • Wednesday, October 4th9-10pm
  • Wednesday, November 1st9-10pm
  • Wednesday, December 6th9-10pm
Sign ups are on a first come, first served basis here

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Intern Learns Day-to-Day Operations of Department Publications

By Julia Swanson-Hines, English and Creative Writing major
Julia Swanson-Hines (center), along with Emily Wirtz (left) and Amanda Wise (right)

Most people think of publishing as simply just the process of getting a manuscript from screen to a book in print, but there’s much more to it, especially when it’s a journal such as River Teeth ( or a publishing establishment such as the Ashland Poetry Press ( There are the smaller, but just as important pieces to the puzzle, without which the whole picture is lost.

One of the more surprising things when I first started working at my internship was the process of subscriptions. For some reason, it hadn’t occurred to me that, of course, someone would have to manually enter each subscription into a database that then forms a list of who will receive the upcoming issue of River Teeth. There’s the check requests, deposit forms, refiling cabinets, shredding paper, sending out mail, and preparing the large shipments of River Teeth once the issue is ready to be sent out, which involves taking one of the shrink-wrapped books and sticking on a label with an address. Rinse and repeat one hundred times, making sure to keep the books in numerical order by zip code.

For the Ashland Poetry Press, there’s also the printing of hundreds of pages of manuscripts, sifting through lists of submitters’ materials, and its own personal mail account, as well as a current job I’m working on of entering this year’s book contest winner, Michael Miller, in national contests in the hopes of garnering him some awards for his worthy piece, Asking the Names, published by the Ashland Poetry Press.

While that may sound unappealingly menial, I love it. I love being able to contribute to the smaller things that keep the machine whirring but that most people forget about.

As I went through my months working with Cassy Brown, Managing Editor of River Teeth and the Ashland Poetry Press, she eventually could give me more thoughtful work, such as contributing to the River Teeth website in the form of formatting a certain type of post that is popular on the website: the “Beautiful Things” column ( People submit a work under 250 words—so it’s a piece of flash fiction geared towards something they construe as beautiful in some way. It’s a fantastic way at getting a look at what all types of people—not just authors—think, experience, and write.

Being more interested in the copy-editing/proofreading side of publishing, I luckily have been given opportunities by Cassy to proofread many different types of things—from newsletters to article posts.

Again, while my internship may not sound particularly glamorous, it’s composed of working on separate tasks that maintain the foundation of River Teeth and the Ashland Poetry Press alike. Because I’m able to contribute in seemingly small ways while also learning so much surrounding different aspects of the publishing world, I couldn’t possibly ask for a better internship.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

River Teeth Essays on Best American Essays Notable List

From the River Teeth website:

Congratulations to the authors of the four River Teeth essays listed on this year's Best American Essays list of Notable Essays and Literary Nonfiction for 2016. 

"If Woman Is Five" by Sonja Huber (Spring 2016, vol. 18.1)
"Thieves" by Jerald Walker (Spring 2016, vol. 18.1)
"Five Autobiographical Fragments or She May Have Been a Witch" by David Lazar (Fall 2016, vol. 18.2)
"Unpinned" by Heather Gemmen Wilson (Fall 2016, vol. 18.2)

Congratulations also goes to River Teeth Associate Editor and Beautiful Things co-editor Sarah Wells whose essay "The Body Is Not a Coffin" (Under the Gum Tree, April 2016) also appeared on this year's list.

Editors for the 2017 edition of Best American Essays were Robert Atwan and Leslie Jamison.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Dr. Sharleen Mondal Publishes Scholarly Article

Dr. Sharleen Mondal’s article, “Hindu Widows as Religious Subjects: The Politics of Christian Conversion and Revival in Colonial India,” has been published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Women’s History, a publication that accepts only 8% of the manuscripts submitted and is considered to be one of the top journals in its field. 

Dr. Mondal describes the article, which takes an interdisciplinary approach: 

This project examines the social reform efforts of Hindu widows in India who converted to Christianity, and in particular, high-caste Hindu women in Maharashtra associated with widow and convert Pandita Ramabai. Drawing on a postsecularist framework which resists reading the religious as necessarily separate from the secular, the article argues that Ramabai’s reform work, articulated through Christian conversion, contributed significantly to the emergence of feminism in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century India.

Congratulations, Dr. Mondal!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Lindecamp Earns Degree; Reception Planned

Kari Lindecamp, Administrative Assistant for the Departments of English, Foreign Languages, Philosophy, and Religion, has earned her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Educational Technology from the Ashland University College of Education. We will celebrate in the second-floor faculty lounge in Bixler Hall on Monday, October 2 from 3:00-4:00.

When asked what her favorite project was from the program, Lindecamp responded, 

My favorite project from my program was definitely the Capstone course. For this course, I designed a pilot program for an online writing center for incarcerated students in Ashland's prison program. I created an entire website to showcase my research and the development of the online writing center. My web design for the center houses asynchronous tutoring, online resources, videos, web lessons, research support and training, tutor training and professional development, blogging ideas, website development, grammar help, editing and proofreading skills, and examples of great writing.

She added the following thoughts on how the degree enriched her life: 

The Capstone course and my entire M.Ed. educational journey as a whole taught me that life-long learning is one of the most important aspects of our time here on earth. While I do have an end game in sight since I've earned my degree, my love of learning and my drive to succeed will always continue. My former boss used to say, "Find out what is important and then do it." Mother Teresa said, "Do small things with great love." I think I will follow both examples.

Congratulations, Kari! We are proud of you!

Friday, August 18, 2017

MFA Intern Finds Creative Community at Summer Residency

By Julia Swanson-Hines, Creative Writing and English major

I spent my freshman year interning for Cassandra Brown, the administrative director of the Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing. As someone double-majoring in English and Creative Writing with an interest in pursuing publishing as a career, I valued my internship greatly. As such, when Cassy asked whether I would be willing to intern during the MFA residency, I of course said yes.

Fast-forward a few months, and the air is thick and moist, the air-conditioning in my dorm room broken, and I begin to wonder whether I made a smart decision. My fellow interns and others quickly learn how incompatible heat/humidity and I are, but luckily, the Ronk lecture hall in Schar is heavily air-conditioned, and while others shiver or turn blue, I finally reach a stable inner temperature that allows me to focus on the words leaving the lips of faculty, students, and visiting writers alike.

God, am I glad I reach that stability, because the creativity, advice, and wisdom are enough to clog my pores. I buy a notebook within the first few days simply to allow all that I’m learning to find a home for good because the file cabinets in my head are simply overwhelmed. I write poetry at the end of each day, so filled with creativity and the demand to create after the craft seminars that give me tools to expand characterization or ponder point of view choice--after being surrounded by people who care about the same thing as me; we all want to create a piece of decent creative work, whether it be nonfiction, poetry, or fiction. This atmosphere is easily the thing I appreciate the most.

Possibly the second best or worst aspect of interning at the residency are the airport runs. I am not the type to enjoy the hectic rush of I-71 or the Cleveland airport. I’m the girl who has her aux cord plugged into her phone purely to have Google maps resonate through the speakers so she has a lesser chance of making the wrong turns. However, the great thing about the drive is that it’s an hour away, which makes for an hour with either a student, faculty member, or visiting writer--the chance to pick at the brains of geniuses or at least gain a greater insight into graduate school for something I’m passionate about. Whether it’s a midnight run that turns out to be the busiest time at the airport or taking a highly-talented author to a nearby Five Guys for dinner, every time, it’s an adventure worth embarking upon.

The MFA residency is a boiling melting pot (in literal heat, but also symbolically) of creativity and knowledge, and for anyone interested in any sort of creative outlet (though, of course, especially writing), interning at the residency is a great opportunity to learn from dozens of talented people and having them at your disposal for about two weeks. It’s an inspiring experience, and I look forward to interning at many more in my future.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Student Finds the "Real Stories" in English Department Internship

By Bethany Meadows, English and Integrated Language Arts Education major, Creative Writing and Public Relations minor

Bethany Meadows (left) confers with fellow intern Emily Wirtz during the MFA residency
From May to August, I have had the privilege to be an intern for Ashland University’s Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing, which is home to a creative nonfiction journal, River Teeth, and the Ashland Poetry Press. Much of my summer was spent behind the scenes working on the logistics of these three departments.

One of the biggest tasks to pull off logistically was preparing and executing the MFA’s summer residency. Since the MFA is a low-residency program, the students spend most of the year online. However, for two weeks in July, they all come to Ashland’s campus to have on-site classes, workshops, and readings.

This residency became the highlight of my summer. There were faculty, students, visiting authors, and visiting editors all in one place; what more could I, as an English major, want! The faculty’s lectures about the craft of writing, the faculty readings of their own published work, and the visiting authors, such as Terry Tempest Williams, Rebecca Makkai, and Dexter Booth, were all fantastic experiences.

However, in these short two weeks, I was not only surrounded by people who wrote stories, but also people who became the stories for me. For example, I drove two of our faculty members from the airports to Ashland. In the time with them, they cared about me and my interests and connected them to their own experiences, both personal and professional. These conversations allowed me to see beyond their published pages and their lectures because they were the person behind the words—the person that cared about their readers.

Not only were my connections with the MFA faculty becoming the real stories, but so were all my experiences with the MFA students and interns. Over the course of two weeks, I am honored to have become friends with many of them through eating meals together, playing games, having long conversations about life, and so much more. This experiences have allowed me to forge lifelong connections with other people that care about both me and writing. Throughout the two weeks, these connections with the MFA community will be forever ingrained in my memory and in my heart.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Recent Graduates Land Teaching Jobs in Ohio and Florida

Please join me in congratulating the following 2016-17 Integrated Language Arts graduates, all of whom have signed teaching contracts for the upcoming school year.

—Allie (Newhouse) Crossen accepted a job at Bartram Trail High School in Saint Johns, Florida, teaching 12th-grade English 4 and grades 9-12 for Theatre 1-4. She will also be the director of the theatre department.

—Danielle (Wright) Stansbery will be teaching 7th-grade Language Arts at Lima West Middle School.

—Alyanna Tuttle will be teaching 10th- and 12th-grade English at Norwalk High School, her alma mater.

—Marissa Willman has accepted a position teaching 8th-grade Intensive Language Arts at Horizon Middle School in Kissimmee, Florida. Willman did her student teaching at this school.

We are so proud of these graduates!

Send your own job and graduate school news to 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Alumna of AU Undergraduate Program and MFA Wins Prestigious Writing Prize

From the Ohioana Library Association Facebook Page:

Congratulations to Ashley Bethard of Dayton, winner of the 28th Ohioana Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant, a competitive prize for Ohio writers age 30 or younger who have not yet published a book. A graduate of the Ashland University’s Master of Fine Arts Program, Ashley’s writing has appeared in PANK Magazine, The Rumpus, Hobart, Fanzine and others. Her essay, “Of Blood” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. A digital and new media specialist and winner of a Newspaper Association of America’s “30 Under 30” Award, Ashley is currently working on a book that doubles as a love letter to her late brother. Past winners of the Marvin Grant, named for Ohioana's second director and endowed by his family, include Anthony Doerr, Ellis Avery, and Salvatore Scibona. Ashley will be honored October 6 at the Ohio Statehouse, along with the Ohioana Book Award winners, who will be announced tomorrow. To learn more about Ashley, visit her website:

See also articles from and the Norwalk Reflector.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Alumni Spotlight: Sarah (Fugman) Wells

By Sarah M. (Fugman) Wells, class of 2003, Creative Writing major and English minor
Ashland MFA, class of 2015
Director of Content Marketing
Spire Advertising

I started a new position with Spire Advertising in Ashland as Director of Content Marketing in January 2017. In my role, I lead a team of writers, videographers, and social media marketers to tell the stories of small businesses using a variety of media. I set the tone and voicing for each web project and video script. I work closely with our broader team of marketing professionals to plan a content marketing strategy for each of our marketing customers that includes drafting email campaigns, planning social media content calendars, writing series of blog posts, and developing new landing pages.

This isn’t the work I thought I would love as an undergraduate creative writing major, and it isn’t the path I envisioned for myself as a student in the MFA program at Ashland either. And yet here I am - writing all day for over 50 small businesses, leading a team of creative people, and loving every minute of it. People in the everyday world need good writers - just scroll through the comments section of a popular article (if you dare) or your Facebook feed, and you’ll find all of the evidence you need. My current mission in life is evangelizing to MFA graduates and other great writers to convert them to the digital marketing world. Y’all should come hang out over here… it’s so fun!

As both a traditional student in the classroom and an active observer during my time as the administrative director for the MFA program, I deeply value the reading and writing of the human condition taught and practiced in Ashland’s creative writing programs. Besides the essential tools of craft, the program helped me to learn how to see and hear the world. I’ve found this careful listening to be a critical component of leadership and the creative process.

Outside of my day job, I try to make time to write my personal projects. In the early morning hours before I head to work, I’m currently writing a family devotional for Discovery House Publishers. The devotional is under contract and due to the publisher this fall. It will be available for sale fall 2018. I’m only partly kidding when I’ve said I’d like to title the devotional, Not Your Mama’s Family Devotional. These days I spend most of my time working on this project and other faith-based articles for Off the Page, a blog geared toward individuals within or outside of the church who have an interest in matters of faith. I aim to write on my own blog once a month, at

I keep one toe planted in the English Department at Ashland until someone asks me to get on out of here, as co-editor of Beautiful Things with River Teeth. It’s my regular connection to the literary world - and to Joe Mackall and Dan Lehman - and I’m hanging on to that connection with all of the twitchy muscles my big toe has to offer.

It’s been an unexpected journey since I graduated from Ashland in 2003, from working for a landscape architect as an office assistant to managing public relations for a private Christian school, from serving as the administrative director for Ashland’s MFA program for seven years to working as the senior managing editor at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management, to leaving higher education to be right in the mix of small businesses, where I have the chance to tell a new story every day.

I’ve loved all of it.

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:
—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 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!