~From intern Katie Haggstrom


Recently the English department hosted a workshop, “Putting the Humanities to Work,” to help graduate students explore potential career paths. As the event description explained, “one of the things we don’t talk enough about is how your English graduate degree prepares you for a wide range of interesting careers.” The common myth is that English majors have a narrow career choice, forced to decide between writing or teaching. But the field, and the career possibilities, have only expanded with the increasing need for people who can think critically, write, and communicate, and do so effectively.

Using LinkedIN Professionally

To begin the workshop, representatives from the CSU Career Center went over some of the features and networking tools available on LinkedIN. Katie Russo and Barbara Valusek stressed the importance of using the connections you already have, especially the ones made through CSU.

A LinkedIN profile is a virtual way to show companies the different qualifications and skill sets you have. However, around 56% of hiring managers report that LinkedIN profiles don’t share enough information on their job descriptions. Hiring managers do value information that goes beyond your education, like volunteer experience. So take advantage of the digital format to provide extra information you normally couldn’t include on your resume.

In addition to working as an online resume, LinkedIN is a great resource for reaching out to alumni and finding job postings. First, the Career Center suggests searching by specific university to find other alumni. From there, you can narrow searches depending on degree, areas of interests, and even location.

LinkedIN is also the perfect space for gathering connections, ranging from peers to coworkers and professors. Once you’ve found connections, or people you know on LinkedIN, take the extra step and see who your connections are connected to. Using that web of connections will ultimately expand your own connection base.

If you’re graduating or beginning the job search, use LinkedIN’s job section to let recruiters know that you’re looking for a job. Click the “Update career interests” to share information about what specific skills you have and what type of jobs you are interested in, building off the information already provided with your profile.

 

MA/MFA English Alumni Panel

What can you do with an english degree? What do you do if you don’t want to adjunct or be a professor?

The workshop ended with a 9 person alumni panel from various graduate CSU English graduate programs. The panel included:

  • Whitney Dean, Owner/Head Coach, CrossFit Elevation
  • Lauren Feldman, Associate Editor at Active Interest Media
  • Shannon Dale, Assistant Director of Development, College of Liberal Arts, CSU
  • Nelly O’Connor, Academic Success Coordinator, College of Liberal Arts, CSU
  • Drew Nolte, partner at Agile League, application design/development
  • Felicia Zamora, Program manager, CSU Online
  • Jeana Steele Burton, Technical Writer, CA Technologies
  • Angela Sharpe, INTO CSU Instructor, co-founder of Mas Language Services
  • Shannon Zeller, INTO CSU Instructor, co-founder of Mas Language Services

MA/MFA English Alumni Panel

This informal panel opened a discussion between current and graduated MA/MFA students with important and valuable tips for moving forward with our degrees. Some of the key points from this discussion were:

 

Experience. Many alumni placed emphasis on internship experience and making connections. Even join an interest group to find people in the community you can connect with.

Ask for help. Take advantage of the resources offered to you while you are a student, like your advisors, mentors, department and the Career Center. Don’t be afraid to ask any one of these people for help, they are here to help you succeed.

Continue learning. Teach yourself new skills before a job interview. If you’re unfamiliar with a position you’re looking at, research it! As English majors, we are talented at researching and learning about new things. Use that to your advantage.

Persistence. Apply for things that you might not feel qualified applying for. Don’t give up easily and keep pushing for the things you’re passionate about.

Networking. Come from a genuine place. Ask someone in your dream position out for coffee. Be authentic with those connections and show your curiosity. Create a mutual relationship and even offer them to help them with a project they’re working on. This will form a relationship with that person. (English majors can be fairly introverted people, so think about these opportunities as part of your professional identity, and mentally prepare for those interview and networking moments.)

“Huddle your ducks.” This builds off the idea of networking. Through the connections you make, create a strong well of people you can ask for help. This also means recommendations! Speak and engage with mentors and professors who have helped you during your education. These are great connections for the future.

Find your passion. Some members on the panel took a pay cut to move over into something they’re passionate about. Think about your direction and where you ultimately want to go.

 

Getting an MA/MFA in English might feel like a graduate degree with a narrow scope of employment, but. But there are many interesting, and unsuspected, ways to put that degree to use.

Ultimately, the most consistent piece of advice was to continue building a network. We all have a well of people around us who are focused in different areas and pursuing different things. Maintain relationships with these people and constantly watch for unconventional ways to use your English degree!

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We recently featured English (double) major Avery Jones in an article for the Spring 2017 issue of the CLA online magazine. In the article she shared space with four other amazing English majors, and there just wasn’t enough room to share everything we wanted to about her, so we asked Avery to do a longer follow-up profile.

Avery Jones
English Double Major: Literature and English Education

What inspired you to get a degree in English? I decided to get a degree in English education at the age of 11. I was in the 7th grade, and I stole my mother’s copy of The Kite Runner, which had been explicitly forbidden to me. As I read through those pages, I realized two things: first, my mother was absolutely right to ask me not to read that book quite yet; and second, literature is capable of inspiring empathy beyond anything I’d ever experienced. Here I was, a young girl sitting in my mother’s Escalade with my hair braided in pigtails, weeping uncontrollably for the pain experienced by a fictional Afghani boy. I’ve always felt like the world would be such a better place if we could all take Atticus Finch’s advice: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” In this moment when I was 11 years old, I discovered a way to climb into someone else’s skin: through literature. I knew then that I wanted to be an English teacher so that I could show others how magical it was that books could put you in someone else’s life and make you feel the things they felt. I wanted to teach other kids just how powerful and important empathy is in this world.

Why CSU? I grew up in Greeley. From the time I was 14 I wanted nothing more than to get away from Greeley. I wanted to go to college far away and branch out on my own, away from my parents, away from my high school friends, and away from that terrible cow smell that permeated my childhood. But as the time came to tour college campuses, I looked all around–different cities, different states–and I came to realize something: people come from all around the country to go to school at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains at a campus that is a leader in renewable energy in a town that is so full of life and history. The place where I truly wanted to be was only 40 minutes from where I grew up. It wasn’t quite as far as I had hoped to branch out, but it was the most beautiful and welcoming place that I could find, and it was just far enough away from that awful cow smell.

How did you choose your concentration? It was always education for me, but I’ve always adored reading. It is literally the only hobby I can come up with when people say, “So what do you do for fun?” The literature seemed like an awesome way to learn how to look at lit more critically, and I figured it would make me a better teacher anyway if I could more thoroughly analyze texts. It required me to take a few extra credits every semester, but it seemed totally worth it to me to get a double concentration and take as much away from my college experience as I could as long as I’m here.

We are always trying to debunk the myth that the ONLY options for an English major are to become a writer, teacher, or work in publishing. What sort of possibility, potential do you see for yourself as an English major? While I do want to teach–one of those stereotypes you always hear in regards to English majors–I think a degree in English makes a person much more globally aware, critical-thinking, and empathetic. Who wouldn’t want to be these things? These characteristics help in every field, certainly not just teaching, writing, and publishing.

Knowing what you do about it, how would you describe the CSU English department to someone? The English department at CSU is jam-packed full of the most incredible people I have ever met. Every one of the professors I’ve had in the English department are so friendly and welcoming. You could knock on any one of their doors and just walk in to talk to them about literature, writing, theory, and definitely just about life in general. Of course, you’d have to catch them when they’re not slammed with work which is fairly rare because all of them are so involved in their work as professors and as professionals in their fields and as active community members. It seems impossible, but every semester I leave saying, “I think I have a new favorite professor!” As for the students, I have found a community so welcoming and friendly and nerdy and fun and hilarious that it often blows my mind that these people exist at all, let alone in such high numbers right here on this campus. I have truly found a place that I belong here with my fellow English majors.

Why do you think the humanities are important? See answers about empathy–forming well-rounded human beings, capable of sharing insight and beauty and kindness in this world.

What would you like to tell prospective CSU English Department students? Don’t second guess yourself. Join. Join right now. It will be the best decision you’ve ever made. It was for me. It’s a lot of writing, and even more reading, but you will improve yourself in ways you didn’t know were possible, and you will have an absolute blast along the way.

What advice do you have for current CSU English Department students? Read the material! Do it. I know it’s a lot. I know you’re taking four other classes and you are absolutely swamped. But this is what you came to college for! We get to read the greatest works ever written and talk about them in class every day with other people who are passionate about literature and writing! We have professors that care about us as students and as people; take advantage of that. Go talk to them and get help when you need it. Find ways to enjoy what you’re doing, even though I know you’re busy and stressed out. This stuff is so much fun, and we have such an awesome community around us to do all of it with.

Avery volunteers with SLICE Adaptive Swim, (for three years, with the same partner for the past two years).

What are you currently reading? I just took a capstone course this semester on the short story, so I’m slightly obsessed with short stories right now. At NCTE’s book auction I bought a set of Mark Twain’s books of short stories that I am very excited to dive into now that I have time to read for fun!

What are your hobbies or special interests, what do you enjoy doing with your free time? I love playing tennis and being outdoors. If you can’t find me, look for the nearest sunbeam, and I’ll probably be there with a good book. I also really enjoy traveling. I’m all about widening your horizons, whether that be traveling in your mind by reading different experiences, or by physically exploring the world. You can learn so much by going places you’ve never been and searching out sights and experiences that jolt you into realizing how grand this world is and how connected all of us are in it. So far I’ve traveled to Italy, Greece, Turkey, Mexico, Scotland, England, France, and Spain. This summer I’m heading off to Iceland to live in a van and travel around exploring the island for three weeks. I’m very very excited about this trip!

Where will we find you in five years?  Hopefully in 5 years I’ll have a few years of experience under my belt and really know what I’m doing as a stellar high school English teacher. By this time, I hope I’ll be getting my Masters in English as well. I love school–enough that I want to be in it the rest of my life–both as a teacher and a student.

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CLA Dean Ben Withers opens the Spring 2017 CLA Awards Ceremony

Recently, the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) held their annual awards ceremony. Five members of the English department were honored. Sheila Dargon received the State Classified Award, Zach Hutchins and Kylan Rice were awarded for Excellence in Teaching, Tony Becker was presented with the Faculty Development Award, and Bruce Ronda was presented with the John N. Stern Distinguished Professor Award.

When presenting the CLA State Classified Award to Shelia Dargon, Roze Hentschell said,

The College of Liberal Arts State Classified Award recognizes outstanding contributions and achievements by state classified employees. This year, the award goes to Sheila DArgon, who has been with the Department of English for the last 10 years. Sheila’s nomination letter celebrates her exemplary leadership in supporting faculty and students to ensure their success. She anticipates problems before they manifest, can handle a crisis with composure, and is a careful listener who guides students to make the best decisions about their academic careers and helps them feel welcome, comfortable and confident. She is the first point of contact for all students who come to the third floor of Eddy (thousands of students, since all Composition students come that way as well) and a fine example of the excellence of State Classified employees. Congratulations, Sheila!

CLA Dean Ben Withers presents Sheila Dargon her award

Sheila Dargon
Undergraduate Program Assistant

What brought you to CSU?

I moved to Fort Collins in 2005. My sister and her family had lived here for years and I needed to start over, so I came out here and started working for a temporary agency while applying for jobs everywhere! I remember when filling out the application for a job here at the University, that I really liked the energy of being on campus, and thought it would be a great place to work. I actually got the offer from the English department on the day I would have been hired by the company I was temping!

What’s your favorite thing about working in the English Department?

My favorite thing about working in the English department is that every day is different. Some days I see and speak to a lot of students and faculty, and the next, I am working on the computer.

What’s one thing you’d like students in the English Department to know about you?

I want English students to know that I’m here to help and really want them to succeed here at CSU.

What’s your secret? By which I mean: what makes you so good at keeping track of so much information and so many people?

I have no idea, I guess when you like what you do and the people you work with, it makes it easy.

CLA Dean Ben Withers presents Kylan Rice his Excellence in Teaching Award (GTA)

The Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes one outstanding teacher in each of the following categories: Tenured Faculty, Tenure-Track Faculty, Special & Temporary Faculty, Graduate Teaching Assistant.

CLA Dean Ben Withers presents Zach Hutchens his Excellence in Teaching Award

Zach Hutchins
Assistant Professor of English: Literature

Professor Zach Hutchins received the Excellence in Teaching Award for his hard work as a tenure track with the English Department since joining in 2013.

Associate Dean for Faculty and Graduate Studies Bruce Ronda introduced Hutchins’ award, calling him a “curricular innovator, brilliant scholar, dynamic classroom presenter, mentor and role-model” who is known for his “witty, relaxed and deeply informed teaching.”

From faculty to student support, Hutchins has made an impact within our own English Department. Bruce reminisced that his colleagues praised his “ease in front of the class “and his “invite interaction” coupled with “evident joy in teaching the class.”

But first person testimonials from his students speak louder than those. Bruce explained that these students “drew the attention of the Committee on the Liberal Arts.” One student said “Professor Hutchins is a no-brainer when it comes to being recognized as an excellent teacher in the College of Liberal Arts, and I’m all too happy to officially give him my personal seal of approval.”

This award will not slow Hutchins down. We were able to ask him a few questions about his time in the English Department and how he plans to continue doing what he’s doing.

 

What has been the most rewarding moment(s) at the English Department, or in Eddy?

I think my most rewarding moment here at CSU came in the spring of 2016, when students from my fall 2015 senior capstone course, “Your Success Story,” emailed me to say that assignments completed in the course had helped them secure the dream job they had targeted. I love to see student work find a second life, outside the classroom.

Do you plan on working on any projects this summer?

I’ve got too many projects this summer, but the most exciting is an essay on Herman Melville’s epic poem Clarel that will take me to London in June, for the International Melville Conference.

Who (or what) had the greatest influence on your career path?

Probably a high school teacher who was willing to talk books (and play chess!) with me after school—not just during class hours. He helped me see that literature mattered and that teacher/student interactions could be more meaningful than an exchange of paperwork.

In one word, how would you describe Eddy/the English department?

Energizing!

CLA Dean Withers presents Tony Becker with his Faculty Development Award

The Faculty Development Award, presented to Assistant Professor Tony Becker, provides support for outstanding research and/or creative activity, and is funded by participants in the Great Conversations Speaker Series.

Tony Becker
Assistant Professor, English: Applied Linguistics and TESL/TEFL

What do you enjoy most about working in the English Department or Eddy? 

Without a doubt, I enjoy working with our students. That is why I entered into this profession: to engage with students, to create knowledge together, and to strengthen the notion that they can make meaningful contributions to our world. I thoroughly enjoy the fact that we have relatively small (i.e., manageable) class sizes whereby we can interact very closely with our students and work with them to make connections between what we learn and what we experience out in the world beyond the classroom.

Also, it would be an understatement to say that I really enjoy the colleagues that I work in the English department. I have only been here at CSU for five years, but I have interacted with enough units across campus to know that the faculty and staff in the English department are among the most caring and collegial people at CSU. There is an incredible sense of community among many of the faculty and staff, and that resonates throughout our department, even to our students. It is easy to come to work when you know that your colleagues are genuinely interested in the happenings of your life and are willing to listen to what you have to say.

How do you plan to spend the summer? Is there a new project you’re excited to start?

Not surprisingly, I like my summers to be as stress-free as possible. I am hoping to devote a bit more time to getting outdoors with my wife and son, and just being more active in general (more than I typically am during the semester). We will take a short trip to the Gulf of Mexico this summer – nothing quite like the beach in the summer. I also like to do some hands-on projects when the semester finishes up. This summer, I am planning to replace the gutters on our house – how exciting, right!

In terms of my work, much of my summer will be spent on writing up my most recent research project. I am currently working on a project that examines the decisions that ESL students (approximately 50-75) make as they participate in a series of activities used to assess their writing (e.g., developing a scoring rubric, assessing peers’ work with the scoring rubric, and viewing the scoring rubric). Depending on the results of the study, I believe that the findings for this qualitative investigation can help to raise greater awareness regarding the importance of including students first-hand in the assessment process, resulting in improved writing performance and instruction.

What was the last piece of writing you read or wrote? Or what are you currently reading or writing?

I know that it is strange for me to say this, but, even though I am in an English department, I am not an avid leisure reader. It takes me forever to read things, especially when the sun is shining and there are so many things to do outdoors in Colorado; I get distracted easily. With that said, aside from reading children’s books with my son (although, secretly, I love them too!) and journal articles, I am hoping to finish Alan Moore’s Watchmen and then jump into one of his later books, V for Vendetta. I am a huge fan of graphic novels – must be all of the pictures that accompany the text!

In one word, how would you describe Eddy/the English department? 

Transformative

Bruce Ronda with his John N. Stern Distinguished Professor Award

Bruce Ronda
Associate Dean for Faculty and Graduate Studies

Bruce Ronda was presented the John N. Stern Distinguished Professor Award, which recognizes faculty who have demonstrated exemplary accomplishments in all aspects of their professional responsibilities over an extended period of time. As he’ll be retiring this year, we took the opportunity to ask him a few more questions about his experience at CSU and what his plans are for after.

What will you miss most about working at CSU?

Despite its many challenges and difficulties, colleges and universities like Colorado State are still very special places.  They provide an opportunity to reflect, create, analyze, propose, and converse in company with people who are also committed to those tasks.  So I will miss spending my days in the midst of such a community of thoughtful people: students, faculty members, administrators, and support staff.

Now that you’ll be retired, what are your plans?

I have several plans for the near future, some of which will start happening even before June 30.  I’m working on two book projects, one a biography of early-mid twentieth-century American poet Stephen Vincent Benet, the other a biography of Robert Coles, child psychiatrist and cultural commentator.  Then, I’ll be away for two weeks at the end of May for a trip to Scotland.  After I truly retire, I plan to keep working on those book projects, travel to Cape Cod for our annual post-Labor Day week there, see my family in Michigan, Oklahoma, and California some more, work in the garden, and spend more time playing the piano. . . and the banjo!

What wisdom do you have to offer about working and/or studying at CSU?

Maybe the most important advice I’d give to students at CSU is to appreciate and work with the faculty. We have amazing faculty members in English, in Liberal Arts, and throughout the university, and all the ones I know are eager to talk with their students. So: cultivate your teachers, talk with them about your questions, ask about their research or creative work, see if you can serve as a grader or intern in some capacity. As for working at CSU, I’ve found that the most important relationships to nurture have been with support staff. They are the true historical memory of our departments and colleges and are truly important contributors to the teaching/learning and outreach mission of the university.

Why do you think it’s important to study the Humanities?

I want to include the social sciences, too, in my response. This is a hard question, because it goes in so many ways. I’ll limit myself to two big reasons: the first is to understand better our “moment” in time by understanding history, economics, politics, society, and forms of expression in the arts. We come into a world not of our own making, and it’s enormously important to understand the forces that made the world the way it is and how those forces are expressed. Knowing where our “moment” comes from empowers us to live in it and change it. The second is to grow in empathy. While we cannot live in another’s skin or experience, we can grow in appreciation of the vast diversity of life, human and more-than-human. Here the arts and humanities have particular value, since they present us with the lived experience of people very different from us, and yet also strangely recognizable. Empathy, I’d say, is strikingly missing from our political and social discourse these days.

What project/paper/book have you most enjoyed working on?

All my projects have provided moments of pleasure and satisfaction, as well as frustration and anxiety. In many ways, my most recent project, the book called The Fate of Transcendentalism, has given me the most satisfaction because it brings together so many of my interests explored over many years.

What course have you enjoyed teaching the most?

That’s another hard question to answer, since courses differ so much in content, students, and the whole “feeling” of the course. Several CSU courses come to mind: a graduate authors course on Faulkner and grad topics courses on Hawthorne and Stowe, American Transcendentalism, and Terrorism and the Novel, and this most recent course on pragmatism.

What was it like teaching the Pragmatism course as your last course at CSU?

While it’s true that I’ve been thinking about this course for a long time, and reading in and about pragmatism for an even longer time, teaching it, of course, was something else again. I had wonderful students from the MFA and the MA lit programs—thoughtful, articulate, interesting people doing their own work and thinking their own thoughts. Their comments illuminated the texts in ways I hadn’t anticipated, so that was a real gift. It’s equally true that I taught this last course in a very different political and cultural moment than the one in which I planned it. The entire course was inflected with our awareness of the changes brought about, and the forces unleashed, by the presidential election. I think the election made us read Emerson and James, Stein and Susan Howe, in different ways. That was painful, but good.

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The TEFL/TESL Student Association (TTSA) had another successful year filled with professional development activities, social gatherings, and community building events. As a registered GSA, TTSA strives to promote linguistic and cultural diversity, both here on campus and in the larger Fort Collins community. They do this through many activities, including the Advocacy Week, a yearly event including engaging faculty presentations and student-led colloquia, a guest speaker, and community outreach.

This year, there were many presentations, including talks led by Dr. Sue Doe, Dr. Kristina Quynn, and Dr. Fabiola Ehlers-Zavala. There were also panel presentations led by graduate students and alumni, as well as INTO CSU faculty. The keynote address given by Dr. Eli Hinkel, “Teaching and Learning Vocabulary for Academic Writing,” wrapped up the week of events.

TTSA with Advocacy Week keynote speaker Dr. Eli Hinkel

For this year’s community outreach project, TTSA collected new or gently used paperback books to benefit the Larimer County Jail library. We are excited to share that thanks to all your help they collected over 100 books! TTSA thanks you for your support and donation during this project. “We hope to keep helping the community in the following year!”

 

This year TTSA also celebrated their 10th Anniversary, and their activities were featured in the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) Newsletter — “Planting the Seeds to Grow and Nurture Future AAAL Leaders.” On May 11, 2017 the TTSA hosted their traditional end-of-semester picnic to celebrate the end of the school year and to say their goodbyes to graduating students. Congratulations, class of 2017!!!!

Class of 2017, and then some

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  • The Center for Literary Publishing’s latest nonfiction anthology, Beautiful Flesh: A Body of Essays, will officially release May 15. The production team was Cedar Brant, Dana Chellman, Cory Cotten-Potter, Michelle LaCrosse, Morgan Riedl, and Stephanie G’Schwind. The book is available from CLP’s distributor, the University Press of Colorado, or via Amazon, barnesandnoble.com, powells.com, and elsewhere.
  • Cassie Eddington’s manuscript if the garden was one of seven finalists in Kelsey Street Press’s 2017 FIRSTS! competition. Her poems will be featured on Kelsey Street Press’s blog.
  • Tobi Jacobi will deliver an invited lecture on jail volunteer training and self-care at the University of Sheffield’s workshop on the Volunteer Sector in Criminal Justice in early June in Sheffield, UK.  The workshop launches an international, multidisciplinary network of researchers, practitioners and policymakers working in the criminal justice voluntary sector led by scholars at the Universities of Cambridge and Sheffield.
  • Lauren Matheny’s short story, “The Dark”, won honorable mention (second place) in the Third Coast 2017 Fiction Contest, chosen by Desiree Cooper 🙂 Lauren says, “Don’t know if that’s worthy of the newsletter, but I’m super excited!!”
  • David Mucklow’s poem “Leaving Sediment” was published in the most recent issue of Iron Horse Literary Review.
  • Kelly Weber has poems forthcoming or now appearing in Nebraska Poetry: A Sesquicentennial Anthology, The Flat Water Stirs: An Anthology of Emerging Nebraska Poets, Triggerfish, and Grasslimb.

Eddy 300 Lab
Summer Hours
May 15th– May, 19th, 2017
(Please stop by the English Department office
for access)
May 22nd-August 4th, 2017
10:00am-3:00pm

The Writing Center
Summer Hours
May 15th– August 3rd, 2017
10:00am-12:30pm
In Eddy Hall, Room 23
Online hours TBA

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Ashley Alfirevic relaxing with a book under the trees on the south side of Eddy Hall, a popular site for such things

Today is the last day of finals week, Spring 2017. As students finish tests and projects, and teachers wrap up their grading, it’s time to turn our attention to a very important question: What are you reading this summer? We asked the same of English department faculty and staff, and here are the books they are planning to read, or recommend that you read.

 

Department Chair Louann Reid is planning to read:

  • Unflattening by Nick Sousanis (Dissertation, Graphic Narrative)
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by by Amor Towles (Fiction)
  • The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art, collection edited by by Frances Gateward and John Jennings

 

Communications Coordinator Jill Salahub wants to read:

  • Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond (2017 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction)
  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance (Memoir)
  • Hunger by Roxane Gay (Memoir)
  • Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History by Camille T. Dungy (Memoir)
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) – (intern Joyce Bohling agrees, wants to read this too)
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Fiction)

She also recommends these classics, either revisiting them or reading them for the first time:

  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

 

Intern Joyce Bohling wants to read

 

Intern Katie Haggstrom wants to read:

  • Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami (Short Stories)

She also recommends:

  • Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine (Poetry)
  • Gravity by Robert Drake (Fiction)

 

Assistant Professor Tim Amidon is planning to read

 

Assistant Professor Zach Hutchins is reading

  • the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation of War and Peace (Fiction)

 

Instructor Rebecca Snow recommends:

  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Fiction)
  • The novels of Marilynne Robinson: Housekeeping, Gilead, Home, and Lila (Fiction)

 

Instructor Judith Lane recommends:

  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (Fiction)

 

Assistant Professor Todd Mitchell says that “several of my students’ favorite book from this semester, and a great summer read” is:

  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Saenz (Young Adult, Fiction)

And a book he looks forward to reading this summer:

  • Things That Are by Amy Leach (Essays)

And his wife would recommend:

  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (Fiction)

 

Graduate Programs Assistant Marnie Leonard says, “So many good books, not enough time to reread them, so I’m hoping to enjoy those that I can, at least once.” She recommends:

  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Nonfiction)

And she is going to read:

  • A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor (Nonfiction)
  • Blackbirds in the Pomegranate Tree by Mary Ellen Sanger (Associate Director of the Community Literacy Center in our English department), (Memoir)
  • Managed Care by David Milofsky (Professor Emeritus of our English department), (Fiction)

 

Some fun sites for finding recommendations:

 

Let us know if there’s anything you’d add to our list. What are you reading this summer?

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Scott receiving his recent Creative & Performing Arts Scholarship Award for Creative Nonfiction

Scott Miller
English Major: Creative Writing

Besides your current classes, what else are you doing or have you done that we should know about? Awards? Special projects? Travel? Service work?

During my two years at CSU, I’ve received two Creative & Performing Arts Scholarship Awards, for Fiction and Creative Nonfiction. I’ve also been involved with Sigma Tau Delta, the honor society for English students. As far as travel goes, last summer I got to spend a week in Rocky Mountain National Park, and it’s always such an amazing and humbling experience to be in the middle of all of this rugged and beautiful terrain that is far, far older than any of the people who are exploring it.

What inspired you to get a degree in English? Why CSU? How did you choose your concentration?

I had actually initially intended to get a degree in psychology, and then biology while I was still in community college. I sort of bounced around between all these different choices before I discovered that my strengths really lay in writing, and at that point I had this moment where I thought, well, that sounds like I should major in English. I should say here that one of my professors at Front Range, Randy McCrain, really encouraged me to take this direction.

I picked CSU because it was an in-state school with a really excellent English faculty, and I have to say, I think it was the right choice. As far as my concentration goes, I enjoy writing fiction so creative writing felt like the only real option. I may have hesitated for a second or two first, though!

We are always trying to debunk the myth that the ONLY options for an English major are to become a writer, teacher, or work in publishing. What sort of possibility, potential do you see for yourself as an English major?

This is a hard question for me to answer, because I am a writer, and so I obviously would like to continue to write and try to get published after graduation. But I have an English major friend who has just gotten a job in insurance, and another friend who has worked in advertising for a while after getting an English degree. So I would say that, for the student who has an interest in the sorts of critical thinking and communication skills that you can obtain by majoring in English but doesn’t want to write or edit or teach, you aren’t locked down to those careers. You can pursue all sorts of careers and your skill set will remain relevant.

Scott considering an alternative viewpoint

Knowing what you do about it, how would you describe the CSU English department to someone?

It’s a diverse and interesting place, where you’ll encounter a number of different viewpoints and ideas from the students and faculty. The faculty are very supportive. Any time I’ve had a question or a problem, I’ve been able to get help. People are invested in your success as a student.

Why do you think the humanities are important?

There’s a big emphasis on STEM majors today, as we all know, and they’re all about empirical data and things that can be tested. The humanities are more about how you deal with that information, and the ethical and philosophical questions that can arise from how we use information, and how we deal with other people, also. English as it’s taught at CSU is an interesting way to see how that can work, because you’re taught how to analyze, and how to communicate effectively, and how to craft good arguments and use rhetoric effectively, and so on. In an era of fake news and alternative facts, the Humanities are more important, not less, because those skills can prompt you to ask, well, where did this story come from? Is there anything to support and corroborate this information? That’s crucial.

What would you like to tell prospective CSU English Department students?

CSU has an amazing English faculty. There are so many excellent instructors here.

What advice do you have for current CSU English Department students?

If you want to have a life at all, try not to get into a situation where you have to take five or more classes at once during a semester. That was not my best moment.

What was the last piece of writing you read or wrote? OR, What are you currently reading, writing?

Recently I read House of Houses by Pat Mora for a creative nonfiction class, and I thought it was excellent. It’s a magical realist memoir about a Latino family and I don’t want to ruin it for anybody. Just check it out. As far as writing, I just finished another revision on a short story. I try to write something every week, but with Finals and graduation coming up, I may need to take a break at some point. Or not. Sleep is for the weak, right?

Scott hiking the trail between Bear Lake and Nymph Lake at RMNP last summer

What are your hobbies or special interests, what do you enjoy doing with your free time?

I’m out of shape and getting older, so last summer I picked up on hiking as a way to lose weight and exercise and actually enjoy how beautiful Colorado can be by being outside in it and not just looking out a window. The weather’s getting nice so I’m looking forward to getting out more. I also love watching movies and Imlisten to an awful lot of music. And of course I read a lot, too, which is a good thing for an English major.

Where will we find you in five years?

Hopefully by then I’ll have a career going and be able to support myself and my writing. I’m currently planning to apply to MFA programs in the Fall, and in five years I’d also like to have published a collection or a novel. We’ll see.

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A great time was had by all at Bruce Ronda’s retirement celebration

  • Harrison Candelaria Fletcher has a lyric essay, “Family Cookbook,” accepted by Florida Review. It’s part of a new collection exploring mixed-ness and in-between-ness.
  • Camille Dungy’s poem, “Natural History,” was awarded a Pushcart Prize and will be played published in the Best of the Small Presses anthology.
  • Joanna Doxey has a poem in the latest edition of the Denver Quarterly (51.3).
  • Jaime Jordan’s Digital Humanities class (E280) has created a blog showcasing some of the digital projects they’ve worked on this semester.  Check it out at https://exploredhblog.wordpress.com!
  • Second year MFA student Claire Boyles had an essay, “Failing at Important Things: A Parallel History,” place as a runner-up in Vela Magazine’s nonfiction contest, judged by Claire Vaye Watkins. The essay is live on the site: http://velamag.com/failing-at-important-thingsa-parallel-history/
  • Cedar Brant won the Academy of American Poet’s Prize for CSU.
  • David Mucklow was accepted and offered a scholarship to attend the Squaw Valley Community of Writers Poetry Workshop this summer, and will be attending at the end of June. A few weeks ago, his poem, “where Deer Creek dies into the Gallatin,” was published on Daily Gramma. You can find it on their site here – http://gramma.press/
  • Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri’s flash story, “A Bunny’s Kidnapping” has been accepted for publication at “Gone Lawn.”
  • Come celebrate the new 2017 Fort Collins Poet Laureate (our very own Felicia Zamora!) on Sunday, May 7 from 6-8 PM at Wolverine Farm Publick House! Enjoy readings from Felicia Zamora (MFA alumnae), John Calderazzo (professor of English Emeritus), and Michelle Deschenes (MFA alumnae). For more information, please see the event calendar listing or Facebook event page.

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Cory Cotten-Potter is a second-year M.F.A. student in fiction. In addition to his academic work, he is the assistant director of the CSU Writing Center.

 

What do you like most about your work at the Writing Center?

I like being able to quickly connect students with services that will really help them. Many students come in overwhelmed or bewildered, and if we can’t help them directly, odds are I can put them in contact with someone who can.

Do you have a favorite memory of your time at the CSU Writing Center?

My favorite moments are those when clients call in or email, saying how helpful a consultation was, and I get to pass that along to the consultants. Our consultants work extremely hard–coping with less than ideal schedules and pay–and I love it when they get the recognition they deserve.

What brought you to CSU?

The Creative Writing faculty.

Describe Eddy Hall in one word.

Tiny-desk-tiny-chair

Do you have a favorite book? Why is it your favorite?

That’s hard. At the moment, I’d have to say Mathias Svalina’s I Am a Very Productive Entrepreneur.

What’s one thing you’d like students and faculty in the English department to know about the Writing Center?

We offer video conferencing consultations, and it would be great more humans utilized this resource.

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In Spring 2016, English major Alexander (Alec) Pearson did an internship where he researched department history. He graduated at the end of that same semester, earning his Bachelor of Arts in English with a writing concentration. Alec collected and wrote a lot of material that semester. One thing he did was interview some of our previous department chairs. One of his interviews just so happened to be with Bruce Ronda, whose retirement we are celebrating in a special gathering this week.

~from Alexander Pearson

Bruce Ronda, Professor of English and Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Colorado State University, March 30, 2015

Bruce Ronda was the English department chair from 2001 to 2011. He joined the English Department in 1991 as visiting faculty, and became a full-time member in 1995. Before becoming chair he started and ran a full American Studies program in the department, but it had to shut down when he became the chair since there was no one else to run it. As department chair, he moved to make the English department more interdisciplinary. He also oversaw the creation of many new initiatives and programs, such as joining the National Writing Project, establishing the Community Literacy Center, expanding the Center for Literary Publishing, and creating the Changing Climates program. Opportunities for non-tenured faculty to participate in the running of the department were also increased.

After leaving his position as department chair, he became the Assistant Dean of the Liberal Arts college, the position he’ll be retiring from this year. Aside from his academic credentials, his most distinguishing feature is his tie, which he habitually tucks into his shirt. In fact, at a speech made by one of his co-workers at the farewell party when he left the English department for his current position said that, of all the things his fellow professors said about him, the single most common was “What’s with the tie?”

Interview Transcript

Alec: So, out of curiosity, how did you join the CSU English department?

Bruce: I came in 1991, as what was then called a visiting faculty member, and I taught courses in English and I also started an American Studies program in the English Department. And then I became a full-time member of the department in 1995.

Alec: Could you tell me more about the American Studies program?

Bruce: So my doctoral degree is in American Studies, which is a combination of literature and history, usually, and I taught that in my first teaching job on the East Coast, and many universities have American Studies programs, sometimes they’re free-standing, and more often they’re housed in departments, and I was asked to start one here at CSU, so I did and we borrowed faculty from English and History and some other departments. And it flourished for quite a while, but then when I moved to English full-time, and especially when I became the Department Chair in 2001, there wasn’t anyone to take over the American Studies program. So it was suspended. But I thought it was an interesting and exciting program, and there is still an American Studies course, that’s in the University curriculum, and it’s taught by a faculty member in the English department.

Alec: Interesting. So, do you mind me asking what inspired you to pursue a career in English in the first place?

Bruce: That’s a good question. So I’ve always been interested in language, in literature, in reading, and then as I went through college and graduate school I was also very interested in history, in social history, and so I found that the way that literature studies were going in those days was towards a more interdisciplinary way of thinking. So that really confirmed me in my interest in literature. So that’s what I’ve been doing, all these years.

Alec: So, more in that vein, how has the English Department changed over the years you’ve been working here, both at the college and generally across the nation?

Bruce: So do you mean since the time I came or since the time I became chair?

Alec: Well, both, preferably first since you came and then as the department chair. Like, you said that English studies in general had been becoming more interdisciplinary, could you elaborate on that?

Bruce: Sure, sure. So when I came in 1991 the English Department here, like I think at many universities, was primarily literature based. So studies of American literature, English literature, literature in translation. So in those first years when I was here in the mid to late 90s most of the faculty members were literature faculty members. There were other programs represented, but the core of the department was literature. And that was, as I said, true of many other departments as well. What has happened I think, gradually in the late 90s and especially the time that I was chair, from 2001 to 2011, was that other parts of an English Department so Creative Writing, Composition and Rhetoric, English Education, Linguistics and then in the graduate program teaching English as a second language and all those programs grew up, in a sense. They became more mature, they had their own conferences, their own journals, so many English departments changed, ours included, to be not so much literature-centered but to incorporate those aspects of English studies into the department. So that was a huge change, in those years.

Alec: Very interesting. And while you were a department chair, were you involved in a proactive way with these changes? Were you pushing for that sort of change?

Bruce: Yes, I thought it was both necessary and important so we made sure that the committees of the department had representatives from these different areas, that the assignments of graduate teaching assistants were proportional to the faculty and student population of those different areas, so yes, I was very much encouraging that.

Alec: So other than the change in inter-disciplinary programs, were there any other significant changes happening in the English department at this time?

Bruce: Yes. Yes, there were a number of changes of new initiatives that I led, or encouraged, we became part of the National Writing Project, which is a nation-wide project that encourages writing at the secondary and university level. So we’ve founded the CSU Writing Project, which is still going. I was helpful in establishing the Community Literacy Center through funding from the department and elsewhere. So that’s still going. We’ve expanded the center for literary publishing. What else, we established the Changing Climates at CSU which is still ongoing during the time that I was chair. And we expanded the representation of non-tenure track faculty members by establishing a committee for non-tenure track faculty members and including them in some of the other committees of the department.

Alec: Could you expand a bit on the ‘Changing Climates’ thing?

Bruce: Sure, sure. So that’s been an initiative of two faculty members, Sue Ellen Campbell and John Calderazzo from the English Department, and they came to me sometime in their tenures, early on I think, having department support and college support for a program that would help educate our faculty, faculty across the university really, about how to communicate about climate issues to a sometimes skeptical audience.

Alec: That’s certainly interesting. So I think that takes care of the next question I was going to ask, so could you tell me a story about what working in the English department is like, an interesting anecdote of some sort?

Bruce: What it was like during those years?

Alec: Yeah.

Bruce: Well, perhaps first not so much an anecdote but the reality is that I came in in 2001 which was the year of the WTC (World Trade Center) attacks, I left in 2011 when we were just recovering from the Great Recession of those years, 2008 through 2011, so my time as chair was kind of bookmarked by these national events. And between that time there were two significant economic downturns, so a lot of what I dealt with during my time as department chair were these challenges that came from outside. Loss of faculty positions, changing administration, changing climate in the nation, so sometimes it felt turbulent to me and challenging. On the other hand, I would say that we made some wonderful faculty hires, some of my greatest successes as chair was to hire some of the wonderful faculty members who are still here, who have contributed a lot to the department.

An anecdote, well, I always liked to dress like this, you know, to wear a jacket and tie, and I’d tuck my tie in like this, (through the second button of his shirt) because, I don’t know, it drags in my lunch or something. But when I first started at the department several people asked me if I had been to a military school, like a prep school where young men, young women too, are encouraged to tuck their ties in, and I said that I hadn’t it was just something that I learned to do. So, in the last spring that I was department chair, the department organized a kind of farewell for me, a kind of reception, and John Calderazzo spoke at that and said that he had gone up and down the halls, asking people if they could say something about me during the time that I was department chair and several people said very nice things about my scholarship and my leadership, but several people said, “What’s with the tie?” So he had to explain that it was just sort of Bruce’s quirk, so when John was done he asked me to come up to the podium and say a few words, so I went up to the podium and tucked my tie in, and people laughed. So that was an amusing little moment.

 

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