Poudre River, image by Jill Salahub

Poudre River, image by Jill Salahub


  • EJ Levy was a Visiting Writer at Wabash College in Indiana on February 12-13, 2015. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in both fiction and nonfiction and will be a Fellow at the Aspen Summer Words conference this June.
  • Todd Mitchell was recently interviewed by The Denver Post for a piece on ghost stories published on 2/15. He also did an interview for the Northern Colorado Writer’s Podcast that’s now available, he did a reading that will air on KRFC next Tuesday, and (in an odd turn) he’s quoted in an article on YA post-apocalyptic fiction that will go out next week in Stylist Magazine (a U.K. magazine with a circulation of over 400,000). For a link to any of these articles, interviews, or podcasts, please visit www.ToddMitchellBooks.com.
  • Tatiana Nekrasova-Beker and Tony Becker will deliver a paper presentation titled, “Project-Based Learning in ESL Classrooms: Planning Goals and Outcomes,” at the 2015 TESOL Convention (http://www.tesol.org/convention2015) held on 25-28 March 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • Debra Lewis was invited to present a small collection of poetry at Sigma Tau Delta’s national convention over spring break (coming up in a couple of weeks). Sigma Tau Delta is the English Department’s Honors Society. She is the only representative from CSU. Read more about Debra in our “Student Success Stories” series.


  • Creative Professionals Panel, GenFKD presents a moderated panel of Fort Collins professionals discussing ways to monetize creative and artistic passions — Stephanie G’Schwind, editor at The Colorado Review, and Todd Simmons, founder of Wolverine Farm Publishing, and Dulcie Willis, Fort Collins theater producer, and Booger, First Friday poetry slam host. Tuesday, March 3rd at 7:30pm, Clark C238.
  • Spring 2015 Reading Series – Kyle Dargan – Poetry -7:30pm CSU Art Museum University Center for the Arts. Free and open to the public.
  • Grant Writing Workshop for English department graduate students: Grant writing is a terrific skill to acquire, though it’s unnecessarily shrouded in mystery. Not only can it be a means to locate or secure funding for your own projects, but prospective employers would love to know that you have an interest and/or experience in grant writing. We’d like to demystify grant writing for you with a workshop on Monday, March 9, from 1-2 pm, in Lory Student Center 324. Two accomplished grant writers are leading the workshop, and they’re looking forward to introducing you to the world of grant writing: Tobi Jacobi is an English faculty member in the Rhetoric and Composition Program and director of the Center for Community Literacy, and Stephanie G’Schwind is the Director of the Center for Literary Publishing here at CSU, which publishes the nationally renowned Colorado Review. Tobi and Stephanie are looking forward to sharing their expertise with you and answering all your questions.


Outstanding Literary Essay Awards: The English Department’s Literature Program announces the 12th annual Outstanding Literary Essay Awards contest, which recognizes outstanding critical writing and interpretive work in literary studies. Applicants must be registered graduate or undergraduate English majors.  Awards of $100 for first place, $75 for second place, and $50 for third place will be offered at both the graduate and undergraduate level.  Winners will be honored at the English Department Awards on Monday, April 27, 2015.

Submission Guidelines: Students should submit an essay that represents their best critical work in literary studies. Undergraduate essays should be no longer than 15 pages and graduate essays should be no longer than 20 pages. Shorter papers are welcome. Only one submission is allowed per student.

Submission deadline is Monday April 6, 2015, at 5:00 p.m. Please submit TWO clean copies, with no name, address, or instructor’s comments. Only a title and page numbers should appear. Include with your essay a separate cover letter with your name, address, phone number, e-mail address, university ID number, and title of your essay. Also indicate the course for which the essay was written (if it was composed for a course) and the professor who taught the course. Indicate whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student at CSU. Address your cover letter to: Professor Aparna Gollapudi, Department of English, Campus Delivery 1773, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1773. Cover letter and submissions can be dropped off at the Behavioral Sciences Building, Room A104.

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Colorado State University holds its Celebrate Undergraduate Research and Creativity (CURC) Showcase every year in the Lory Student Center Ballroom. Students from every discipline — including English! — come together to present their work to other students, faculty, and professionals. This event allows the community to celebrate and learn from their hard work.

The upcoming CURC Showcase will include a poster exhibition, writing competition, art exhibition, and will culminate with an awards ceremony. The showcase features outstanding performers and award winners from all disciplines. Following the showcase, an awards ceremony recognizes all participants and honored awards winners from the various events.

English majors may be particularly interested in submitting work in the Writing Competition category. Both creative writing (including, but not limited to fiction, nonfiction, poetry and multigenre works) and nonfiction writing (including, but not limited to, essays, academic writing, journalism and multigenre works) can be submitted. The Highest Honor recipient will be published in the Journal of Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Excellence, and receive a $250 gift certificate to the CSU Bookstore!

Recent English department Writing Competition winners:

  • High Honors 2013: Chelsea Hansen for “The Road to Nowhere” and Lee Hutchinson for “In the Moonlight.”
  • High Honors 2014: Krista Reuther for “Starving Artist,” (Faculty Mentor: Todd Mitchell).

“CURC is an excellent way for students in the English Department to share their creativity as a writer or researcher with the larger CSU community.”

~Mary Swanson, Associate Director of the Office for Undergraduate Research and Artistry

This year, the CURC is offering several awards for students who receive top honors in the five categories. The awards are as follows:

  • 6 $250 travel awards are available for students who receive top honors in the research poster category
  • 1 $250 travel award is available to a student who receives top honors in the service learning category
  • 1 $250 travel award is available to a student who receives top honors in the oral presentation exhibition
  • 1 $250 award is available to a student who receives top honors in the writing competition (in the form of a gift certificate to the CSU Bookstore), and publication in the Journal of Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Excellence
  • 1 $250 award is available to a student who receives top honors in the Art Exhibition, this award will be put toward framing the winning piece and displaying it in our offices in Johnson Hall

Registration and submission of abstracts are due no later than 11:59 pm, March 24, 2015, and can be submitted online. All undergraduate research, design, or other creative projects are appropriate for CURC. For more information, visit the CURC website or contact the CURC Directors.

CURC Showcase
Wednesday, April 22, 2015 – 10:30AM-1:30 PM
Lory Student Center Ballroom

CURC Awards Ceremony
Tuesday, April 28, 2015 – 5:00-7:00 PM
Lory Student Center Theatre

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by English Department Communications Intern Kara Nosal

Where does a person end and her words begin? I began to wonder at the February 19th Master of Fine Arts poetry and fiction reading held at the University Center for the Arts. Each of the four writers — Kristin George Bagdanov, Mary Hill, Bryan Johnson, and M.C. Torres — infused their art with distinctive parts of their identities, and because of this, as the night went on, I could feel boundaries disappear.

First to read was Kristin George Bagdanov, an ecopoet. Before many of her poems, she explained to the audience what part of nature inspired her to write. One poem was written from her history with earthquakes as a young girl in Orange Country, California. Another was inspired by a recent fascination with YouTube videos chronicling the crumbling of polar ice caps.

Interspersed between these poems examining large swaths of the natural world were poems about bodies. Bagdanov reminded the audience that the human body is also part of the natural world, even if we often live as separate from it as possible. In her poem “Purge Body” which was also published in the Mid-American Review, Bagdanov writes about light pollution on a very small, very human scale: “Small crack/ in the door, green flare of the charger: no/ darkness. No place left wholly its own.”


Kristin George Bagdanov

Mary Hill was next to read. Recently, Hill worked as a caregiver for an elderly man with Parkinson’s and her poetry chronicles their parallel journeys: her journey from caretaker to friend and his journey to his final days on Earth. These journeys were not easy, it seemed. One series of poems from this time period was titled, “Reasons to Get Up in the Morning.” The reoccurring sound of these words created a time loop in which the audience could get lost. Hill’s use of line breaks continued this loop. I remember one line that seemed to end like this: “to fix you” but was immediately followed by “eggs.” The closeness of this relationship, between these two people who “grow cold together” is apparent in the tiniest of details.


Mary Hill

Soon it was Bryan Johnson’s turn to read from his novella, In the Eternal Shade. Like Hill, Johnson zoomed in to focus on the small details of his story. Quickly, I became engrossed in the drama happening in front of me centralized in the main character, Leon, a father and artist struggling to create the life he wants. I listened intently as Johnson drew a parallel between Leon’s interactions with his daughter, which balance on the brink of violence, and Leon’s need for literal balance up in a tree later. The tension as Leon reins in his temper toward his daughter and shifts his weight to keep from falling was revealed in the details: the accidental bonk of the daughter’s head on the back of a chair, or a quick test of a branch’s strength.


Bryan Johnson

Lastly, M.C. Torres approached the podium to read from her novel, All Things Occur in the Heights, which focuses on four characters who live in the same town, but happen to live in different time periods. “The day,” Torres recited, “never ended and perhaps it never began.” Torres read to us in a voice much like the “methodic rhythm of the bus” while leaning intently on the podium to get as close to us as she could. I’ll admit that I didn’t take very many notes as Torres read. I couldn’t tear myself away from her description of one character who hears the voice of God long enough to pick up my pen again. I simply wanted to know what was next, what was around the corner.


M.C. Torres

At the end of the reading, I felt as if I had shared the personal experiences of these writers. The line between words and writer had dissolved, but furthermore, the line between the writers and myself seemed to have dissolved as well — all because they were brave enough to allow me into their art.

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English Department Communications Intern Marina Miller recently attended the second session of the CSU Writing Project Speaker Series on the Literacies of Contemporary Civic Life and has this to share:

This session featured Dr. Ben Kirshner, Director of Community Based Learning and Research at University of Colorado. It felt a bit more relatable for someone in my position. During Dr. Kirshner’s introduction, I learned that he was an integral person during the closure of Manuel High School in the Denver Public School District. This topic was of interest to me as I was a student of Denver Public Schools until I was accepted to CSU. I remember when Manuel High School closed, and I was a freshman in high school when it reopened. This talk seemed like something I had a bit of background knowledge in so it piqued my interest.


The writing prompt for this discussion was similar to the prompt we engaged in at the last speaker series. This time we were asked to define “civic literacies.” We were not given much time to write our answers before we were asked as a group what definitions we came up with. One woman, a high school teacher who was on a leave of absence while at CSU, gave her definition: “Civic literacy is the ability to be an active participant and beneficiary of the democratic process.” An education student then said that civic literacy is “understanding social and civic topics.” Kirshner then went on to state that he believed “‘Good citizenship’ is morally agnostic because you could be a ‘good citizen’ and still do things that are morally unacceptable.”

He used this as an opener to discuss the research that he has done for his upcoming book. He and a graduate student observed one Denver high school for a year and asked them to talk about race relations in their school. He shared one essay from an English as a Second Language (ESL) class from that school. The prompt was: Describe your experiences with Cinco de Mayo. The student was a Mexican American and wrote about how going to school on Cinco de Mayo made her feel “powerless,” “worthless,” and “like nothing.” She explained that when she was with her family on that day, she felt good and proud because they had a reason to celebrate and come together as a family.

Kirshner shared this and explained that during his time observing this school, he noticed that the only time the students openly talked about race was outside of the classroom. It was talked about at the entrance of the school, in the hallways or rarely huddled around a teacher’s desk after the rest of the class had left. This made me think about my time at Thomas Jefferson High School and my experiences with race in Denver Public Schools.

I distinctly remember race coming into classroom conversations about three times. Each of those times took place in either an Advanced Placement class or an Honors class, which unfortunately were composed of mostly white students. I remember in my Honors English class sophomore year, when discussing Mark Twain, the topic of the “N” word came up, as it often does when reading Mark Twain. A white male in my class groaned and said “Do we really have to talk about this?” And the one black male in the class said, “Yeah, let’s talk about it.” The room went very quiet as many of the students just didn’t know what to say. Eventually he explained that the word is used now as a reclaiming word and that they feel powerful because it is a word that only they can say. While it was enlightening to get a different perspective on such a loaded word, the problem was that was only one opinion. My class made that one student a spokesperson for his entire race.

This talk really made me reflect on my time in Denver Public Schools. I have learned much more about race relations and diversity since being in college. Race wasn’t talked about much in the high school classroom, at least not the classrooms that I was in. The topic of race was tiptoed around in one of the most diverse high schools in the district. Why is that?

The question of “why” is essentially what Dr. Kirshner was asking during his talk. He discussed that schools need spaces for these critical discussions and that teachers should own their identity and use that to help them engage in these conversations with students. He showed his plan for how teachers can get the conversation started in their own classrooms.

Ben Kirshner slide

Kirshner briefly talked about his time in Cape Town, South Africa and the use of music as literacy in their fight for equal education. He explained that “music was the vehicle to claim legitimacy in the struggle” in South Africa. He showed a poster that said, “every generation has its struggle” which was the slogan of the fight for equal education. That simple sentence, “every generation has its struggle” is so powerful, it rings true for many. In some ways, my generation has the same struggle as generations long before us, equality and civil rights for all. As important as that battle and our struggle is, many around the world are struggling for much more, some even just for a voice in their world.

Ben Kirshner slide02

The session was recorded, so even if you had to miss it, you can watch it here:

More about this series: Throughout the spring semester we’ll be hosting nationally recognized literacies-based researchers and educators to discuss how literacy and youth civic participation intersect from varying, interdisciplinary perspectives. The speakers will be presenting their work and engaging in dialogue from 5:30-6:30, followed by a brief reception. These events are free and open to the public. All of the speakers will be presenting at the CSU campus in Clark A 205.

Up next: March 31st, Bud Hunt, CSU Alumnus & Instructional Technologist, St. Vrain Valley School District.

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GradShow, a one-day conference showcasing Colorado State University’s graduate student research and creative work, will take place from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Feb. 25 in the Lory Student Center. More than 300 graduate students will be presenting their work from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., followed by presentations and a guest speaker. The GradShow is a one day graduate conference at CSU that provides an opportunity for graduate students to showcase their talents, connect with other graduate students, and enjoy the possibility of winning a cash award.

Alan Rudolph, vice president for research at CSU, will present the keynote, “Challenging Boundaries: Experiences and Opportunities in Interdisciplinary Creative Artistry and Scholarship” at 1:30 p.m. Following Rudolph, brief talks will be presented by John Simmons, founder of C3 Real Estate Solutions; Brian Ashe, director of business development at Riverside Technology Inc.; Corkie Odell, co-founder of Odell Brewing Company; Jeff Poore, president of Numerica; and Gino Campana, Fort Collins District 3 City Council member and founder and president of Bellisimo Inc.

Breakout sessions on the theme of “Expanding the Graduate Experience through Interdisciplinary and Innovative Approaches” will take place from 3 to 4 p.m. The sessions, led by guest panelists, will focus on creating and nurturing diverse teams from composition to integration and synergy.

Graduate presenters will also compete for cash awards, presented at a reception from 4-6 p.m. Awards will be given in the general two areas of “Great Minds in Research” and “Distinction in Creativity.” In addition, there will be awards for submissions in areas such as global impact, alumni and diversity/social justice. More than $9,000 will be awarded.

The Graduate Student Showcase will be held in the Grand Ballroom of the Lory Student Center on Wednesday, February 25 from 10:00 A.M. – 6:00 P.M. More specifically, the schedule is as follows:

10:00 A.M.:  Check-in for Graduate Student Presenters

10:30 A.M.:  Check-in for Judges

10:30 A.M. – 1:30 P.M.:  Poster Presentations, Artwork, and Performances

12:00 P.M. – 1:30 P.M.:  Lunch is Served

1:30 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.:  Connecting with Graduate Students, Faculty, and Community Partners. Presentations and Talks will be sponsored by the Vice President for Research.

4:00 P.M. – 6:00 P.M.: Awards Ceremony. Cash prizes and recognition to awardees. Light hors d’oeuvres and beverages.

The event is free and open to the campus and community.  For more information, read about the event in SOURCE, or visit gradshow.colostate.edu, or click here to view a PDF of the 2015 Showcase program.

We are so proud of the English department students whose work will be presented at the Showcase. Please consider showing your support for them by visiting the Showcase, talking with students about their projects, being in the audience for the creative and performing arts presentations between 11:00 am and 12:15 pm, attending the Awards Ceremony starting at 4:00 pm, and staying for the reception to congratulate and celebrate with the participants.

English department GradShow participants and their projects:

Department: English, MFA Creative Writing

The Somatic Wager: Just as the mere naming of the Anthropocene has enabled productive discussions across academic fields, naming a new category of ecopoet­ics will encourage reflection on the role of poetry in the wider sphere of environmental communication. This category is the “anthropocenic lyric.” This lyric helps us cultivate an ecological self through form and content, enacting and professing methods of sustaining this self in the Anthropocene. My critical paper expands upon this lyric by looking at contemporary poets Bin Ramke, Juliana Spahr, and Brenda Hillman, while my collection of poems, “The Somatic Wager,” engages the an­thropocenic crisis formally and conceptually.


Department: English, MA English/Literature

Performing Identity Discomfort: Writers’ identities are delicate façades, constructed from essays, po­ems, and artist statements, and performed at conferences and readings. These are spaces where we can be comfortable in the accuracy of our own self-portrayals, but I am more interested in the spaces where our pieces are open to be read (and misread) by others. By recording myself reading aloud others’ works and inviting others to read mine, I hope to create a space of discomfort to explore the intersections between our own performances and others’ perceptions of us. Here, we might see a facet of ourselves that we have not before.


Department: English, MA English/Creative Nonfiction

India’s Daughters: “India’s Daughters” discusses the fear of rape a woman encounters on her solo travels through India. She arrived three weeks after the world­wide media scandal of Jyoti Singh Pandey’s gang rape and subsequent death, and the author couldn’t let her story go as she made her way through the country as a solo, white, female traveler. It sheds light on the way media upholds Orientalistic ideals by covering rape in India differently than rape in the U.S., and how this shapes Americans’ in­herent fear of “other.” This essay is an excerpt from a memoir-in-essays titled, “The People We Meet.”


Department: English, MFA Creative Writing

She Took Her Power from the Water: In 1901, Michael Chabitnoy, an orphan and full-blooded Aleut, was sent to the Carlisle Indian School and subsequently married a non-na­tive, took a factory job, and settled in Pennsylvania, far removed from his Native Alaskan heritage. This body of poetry not only explores fam­ily history and the Aleut culture, but also incorporates personal and Native American myth and addresses questions of the relationship of culture, place, and the individual. Heavily influenced by research and documentary poetics, this work provides witness to and seeks under­standing of the Aleut people, the history of Native Americans, and his­torical acts of acculturation and appropriation.


CEDAR BRANT (Undergraduate Choice Award, Creative, 2nd Place)
Department: English, MFA Creative Writing

The Hidden Hinge: Mapping Memory and Myth through Poetry: Both science and poetry are organizational nets that I place over the er­ratic natural and emotional worlds and begin to track patterns, growth, and unlikely relationships. I explore the movement between external and internal experience of place, using landscape as a lens to the more difficult-to-access inner emotional world. I’m compelled by poems as a manifestation of memory and myth unearthed from the body, and as a subconscious compass that informs our actions. Using the tools of language and imagery of landscape, I seek to navigate the process of symbolic transformation through poetic storytelling.


Department: English, MA English/English Education

Science Fiction and the STEM Fields: Interdisciplinary Education: The presenter outlines his work and research in designing a high-school-level English course aimed at using science fiction as a tool for interdisciplinary learning. Taking advantage of this unique and often marginalized form of literature can open new avenues for engaging students’ existing passions and hooking student interest into learning in the science fields. Based on ongoing and existing research, this hy­pothetical course is intended to support an interdisciplinary approach to both learning and teaching by using science fiction novels, informa­tional science writing, and critical theory to foster inquiry, language skills, and science proficiency in those students.


Department: English, MA English/TEFL/TESL

Anti-Racist and Anti-Linguicist Action in the CSU Writing Center: This paper looks at the work done in the CSU Writing Center, and how racist or linguicist attitudes may manifest themselves in the interac­tions between consultants and students. While these attitudes may take the form of microaggressions, they may also show up covertly in staff discussions of working with English language learners (ELLs). While it is important to recognize the ways that we at the Writing Center may be perpetuating racist or linguicist attitudes during consultations, the CSU community as a whole must also be brought into the process of self-examination and reflection, specifically regarding academic writ­ing standards.


Department: English, MA English/English Education

Write OPEN: Developing Open- Mindedness in High School Youth: Being critically open-minded is essential to successfully collaborating cross-culturally in our increasingly globalized society and within the microcosm of multicultural school environments. I plan to experiment in pedagogy and praxis by asking if open-mindedness can be developed in high schoolers and result in increased cross-cultural understanding and civic activism. As a pilot project for developing future curriculum, I am proposing a 2-week summer course, called Write OPEN (Writing for Open Perspectives and Engagement Now), for 10-15 voluntary stu­dents at Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins, Colorado in the summer of 2015.


Department: English, MA English/TEFL/TESL

How to Eat Well in Fort Collins?: The number of international students in the US is increasing sharply nowadays. International students are coming across different difficul­ties in terms of language, culture, daily life, relationship with others and so on. Among various difficulties, food is one of the major issues for international students. In this paper, I would like to design an ESP (En­glish for specific purpose) course for Chinese students in Fort Collins in order to help them eat well and live more smoothly in such a foreign city.


Department: English, MA English/Literature

Woman as Rebel: Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac: Throughout his career, Danish filmmaker Lars Von Trier has gained a reputation for his misogynist depiction of women in his films—and Nymphomaniac Volume I & II is no exception. The examination of fe­male characters in a medium as popular and widely consumed as film creates a dialogue about current trends in culture surrounding the treatment of women, and parallels well with a study of current feminist criticism. Looking specifically at Sara Ahmed’s feminist theory in her book The Promise of Happiness, one gains insight into current issues in feminist thought and how women are depicted in film.


Department: English, MA English/Rhetoric/Composition

Reconstructing Social Futures: Current first-year composition (FYC) research proves many students write daily on digital platforms like social networking sites (SNS). As we move from a page to screen society, most SNS writing is visually ori­ented as students produce and consume digital photography. My study seeks to discover how designing and teaching an FYC class exploring SNS use develops students’ critical digital literacies. I applied a criti­cal approach to CSU’s FYC course by introducing students to ideology, and how social norms produced by systems of power can effect on their rhetorical choices when posting personal photos on popular SNS like Facebook and Instagram.


Department: English, MA English/Literature

Immigration Policies and Human Consequences in Ana Castillo’s The Guardians: Ana Castillo’s The Guardians centers on a family who is occupying the space on the U.S.-Mexico border and having to occupy that space within given rules and regulations that protect the border. This project focuses on Gabo, a sixteen year old who crossed the U.S.-Mexico bor­der illegally. I argue that the character of Gabo serves as a critique and analysis of borders, spaces and policies.


Department: English, MA English/Literature

Embodiment in Absence: Representation of Loss in the White Spaces: Carole Maso’s The Art Lover and HR Hegnauer’s Sir strategically use white space in order to represent the textually unmarked body of their subject. Such formatting is a deliberate choice which allows space to consider the physical body- whether a character or memory of a some­one known to the author- on the part of both the reader as well as the author. This space for consideration becomes temporal as well, by cre­ating a pause in the writing, and also works as a prompt: if this space is so empty, what (or who) should be here to fill it?


Department: English, MA English/Literature

Creating Public Literacy: Reading Text and Image in Broadside Ballads: This project is an exploration of how English broadside ballads of the seventeenth century are multimedia texts that create and propagate public literacy. The font, language, and literary devices used in the texts of ballads made them readable by people of varying textual literacy levels. Additionally, the text-image relations of ballads allowed illiter­ate audiences to become visually literate through “reading” the images of the ballads. Since broadside ballads were most accessible and most commonly read in the public sphere, they contributed to the creation of public forms of literacy.


Department: English, MA English/Literature

“Rise up through the words”: Postcolonial Haitian Uncoverings of Anacaona : This work analyzes historical representations of Anacaona– Columbus’ Four Voyages, de Las Casas’ History of the Indies and A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies– and postcolonial representations– Jean Metellus’ play Anacaona, Danielle Legros Georges’ poem “Anaca­ona,” and Edwidge Danticat’s young adult novel Anacaona, Haiti, 1490. Through textual analysis of these works, I argue that these three post­colonial authors are bringing Anacaona’s narrative, obscured in many narratives of first contact, to the surface in order to posit the figure of Anacaona as new symbol of postcolonial Haitian identity, one that is grounded in place and a pre-Columbian origin.


JOHN WHALEN, ALHASSANE ALI DROUHAMANE, and NATE WILL (Undergraduate Choice Award, Research, 3rd place)
(John Whalen) Department: English, MA English/TEFL/TESL
(Alhassane Ali Drouhamane) Department: English, MA English/TEFL/TESL
(Nate Will) Department: English and Foreign Languages, MA English/TEFL/TESL and MA Languages, Literatures, and Culture/Spanish

The Utilization of Web-based Resources for Computer Assisted Vocabulary Learning: Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) plays an important role in the field of teaching English as a second language. However, in­creasing specialization within the field means that CALL resources are sometimes perceived as accessible only to specialized researchers. This presentation will outline a recent migration of CALL technologies into accessible, web-based platforms and discuss how three CALL websites in particular, Vocab Sushi, Storybird, and ESLVideo.com, can be incor­porated into an existing ESL classroom with minimal teacher training. An example syllabus will be modified for illustration, and the benefits to teachers and students will be discussed.


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Bill McBride and Paul De Maret at the 2009 NCTE Convention in Philadelphia, where Bill received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Council of Teachers of English

Bill McBride and Paul De Maret at the 2009 NCTE Convention in Philadelphia, where Bill received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Council of Teachers of English

The William G. McBride Endowment honors Bill McBride, who taught for 45 years in Colorado schools, including Manzanola, Poudre and Fort Collins High Schools, and Colorado State University. Established when he retired in 1998, the endowment continues Bill’s legacy of ensuring quality English Language Arts teachers for secondary schools.

In 2014, the endowment reached the level at which it can support one public school teacher to teach a limited number of classes in the CSU English Education program biennially.

Bill selected Paul De Maret as the first McBride Teacher-Scholar.

Improving Education through Partnerships

Throughout his career, Bill McBride demonstrated to pre-service and in-service teachers the importance and possibility of seamlessly weaving research, theory, and practical experience in teaching and learning. Characteristically, he emphasized relationships and partnerships. For example, in 1973 or 1974, he and Bob Zach swapped classes in English Composition for the year in what department newsletter editors described as “an effort to insure the continuity of teaching efforts and enlarge their perspectives on high school and college students.” In 1976, Bill accompanied a group of CSU education faculty and 19 pre-service teachers on a four-day trip to Weldona on Colorado’s eastern plains to live with rural families, teach mini-lessons, and interact with teachers and students. In the late 1980s, he team-taught the methods class with Glenn Gray at Rocky Mountain High School. Before and throughout retirement, he led numerous train-the-trainer sessions for College Board’s curriculum programs, first Pacesetter then SpringBoard. Because of his long-term relationship with the College Board, teachers of CSU methods classes were allowed to use the materials as their “textbooks” for learning innovative teaching methods.

A teacher who participated in one of the exchanges with Bill wrote, “One of my ninth grade English classes was fortunate to have Dr. McBride as their instructor for one semester. In exchange, teaching an adolescent literature class at CSU during that same semester proved to be a challenging experience for me.” The endowment was established to advance partnerships in this tradition.

The McBride Teacher-Scholar and William G. McBride

Paul De Maret completed a B.A. in English at CSU in 1988, and he’s been in education since 1991, when he started as an English and social studies teacher in Houston, Texas. Following that, he completed an M.A. in English at CSU, then spent two years at the University of Wyoming, teaching College Composition, Introduction to Literature, and Technical Writing. From 1998-1999, he taught English in Japan before returning to Fort Collins and taking a position at Rocky Mountain High School as a Language Arts teacher and Forensic Speech and Debate coach. For the past 15 years, he’s taught everything from Creative Writing to Argumentation and Debate, and from English 9 to AP Literature and Composition.

Following in the footsteps of his former CSU teacher/adviser and longtime mentor/friend, Bill McBride, he also works as a writing consultant and national trainer for the College Board’s SpringBoard English Textual Power program. In fact, it’s his desire to honor Bill’s impact on his life that continues to motivate Paul to pursue excellence in the classroom and beyond. Paul’s wife, Jennifer, is a kindergarten teacher at McGraw Elementary, and his daughters Katherine (11) and Josephine (8) both attend PSD IB World Schools.

William G. McBride taught an estimated 10,000 students in his career and countless more indirectly through the teachers he prepared. His leadership in the state’s organization for English Language Arts teachers further shaped teaching and learning in Colorado schools. One of the founding members of the Colorado Language Arts Society, he served as president, conference program chair, and editor of both the journal and newsletter. He was the group’s executive secretary-treasurer for 23 years.

In 1950, Bill graduated from CSU with a BS in Animal Science. He earned a master’s degree and a lifetime certificate in teaching from the University of Northern Colorado in 1957 and a doctoral degree from the University of Nebraska in 1970. He joined the faculty at CSU in 1969. Honors and awards include Colorado Teacher of the Year, NCTE Distinguished Service Award, a College of Liberal Arts Distinguished Service Recognition, the CSU Harris T. Guard Award for distinguished teaching and service and election to the Poudre District School Board and NCTE’s Secondary Section Steering Committee. Perhaps the greatest honor for this consummate educator comes from the contact he has with the many former students who are now in teaching or other careers, raising families, and leading productive lives. What better words for a teacher to hear than these from a former student: “Long after you have quit teaching, you will still be teaching through me.”

McBride Teacher-Scholar Paul De Maret’s story in his own words.

How would you describe your work in the English Department?

As the McBride Teacher-Scholar, I’ve had the unique opportunity to work with the English Education Methods team, teaching the same class (Teaching Composition) that was the first class I took with Bill McBride 28 years ago.

What brought you to CSU?

As a professor, Bill McBride always had a foot in both the public school and post-secondary worlds. When he retired, the English Department wanted to do something to honor him, and the McBride Endowment was created with the intent of bringing in a public school teacher to teach an English Education class at CSU, continuing the link between secondary (in my case) and post-secondary classrooms.  Since Bill was my former teacher, undergraduate and graduate advisor, and mentor (a role he still fills today), I was honored to be asked to be the first recipient of the endowment.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

More than anything, I love the opportunity to mentor students. A close second, though, is the opportunity to work with people who challenge me to grow as a teacher. Last fall, I had the pleasure of co-teaching Teaching Composition with Louann Reid, and it was wonderful sharing ideas with her. I learned from her vast knowledge of current research and professional literature, and from watching her craft as a classroom teacher. The transition from teaching high school students to teaching English Ed students was significant, and I don’t think I could have managed it without Louann’s mentorship.

What is the biggest difference between CSU and where you usually teach?

I teach at Rocky Mountain High School and I’m also a national trainer for the College Board’s SpringBoard English Language Arts program. The students I’m teaching at CSU in the Teaching Composition class are a completely different audience than either of these audiences—and while that sounds kind of obvious, it’s something I’m still learning to adapt to. They’re emerging teachers, but most of them have no formal class experience yet. So their understanding of how to teach writing is largely informed by their own experience as writers and by their exploration of this subject in other methods classes. While I’ve got decades of experience with being able to read, and respond to, the needs of the other two audiences, I’m still learning how to do so with my E402 students.

Why are the Humanities important?

I think the Humanities are central to critical thinking and to understanding the complexities of culture and society.

What inspired you to pursue a degree in English, the Humanities?

In 5th grade, I wrote a 70-page mini-book on sharks, and I initially attended the University of Miami with the intent of becoming a marine biologist. But when I started taking a heavy load of science classes, I realized I wasn’t finding any joy in what I was doing. My mother was an English major—and sometime teacher—and I think that was always in the back of mind; but when I returned to Humanities classes, and my English classes in particular, I realized that I was on the right path because I was finding joy again.

What had the greatest influence on your career path?

Meeting Bill McBride. Everything I am today as a teacher, I can trace back to him and his impact on me. And that’s largely true of the kind of person I try to be, too.

What special project are you working on right now?

First and foremost, I’m trying to get better at teaching my class of prospective English teachers in E402. But I’m also, as part of the McBride Endowment, taking a class in Cognitive Theory and Learning Transfer, and I’m using it as a spring board to do research on the link between writing instruction, metacognition, and learning transfer. And I’m also involved in a SpringBoard effort to develop a computer program that analytically scores student essays to provide formative assessment feedback to the students and their teachers.

What moment in the classroom stands out as the most memorable?

I’ve been teaching for 25+ years, so there have been a lot of moments. But one recent one I’ll treasure was when Louann and I had Bill McBride visit our E402 class last semester and I got to see Bill standing in front of the classroom as he did when I was a student in the class 28 years ago.

What is your favorite thing to teach? Favorite thing about teaching?

I love doing close readings of film as a way to teach close readings of literature, but I also love teaching argumentative writing—which is probably why I’ve loved coaching debate for the past 15 years. I love that every lesson, every student, every class is different, and how I’m always surprised—and learning from—things students say and do in my classes.

What advice would you give a student taking a class in the English Department?

Get to know your teachers; most of us are in this profession because we love teaching, not just content.

What or who inspires you?

I’m always inspired by students who are eager to learn. They challenge me to do my best each day. I’m also inspired by Bill McBride. I can only dream of positively impacting as many students’ lives as he has over the course of his life.

What are you currently reading, writing?

I’m reading Scott Anderson’s Lawrence in Arabia.

When you’re not working, what do you do?

I spend time with my daughters, Katherine and Josephine, and my wife, Jennifer, including a lot of youth soccer games, gymnastics meets, ski trips, traveling, and family movie/game nights.

What don’t your colleagues know about you?

I’m the world’s biggest Jaws fan. I try to slip a clip or two from it into every class I teach at Rocky.

What will your students and/or the English department remember about you after you leave CSU?

That I was grateful for the chance to share my experience and knowledge with English Ed students, and that I tried to honor Bill McBride’s legacy every time I did so.

What will you take away from your time here?

A lot of memories of students who I hope will be able to maintain their passion and commitment as they confront the complex, rewarding, but sometimes overwhelming task of being a language arts educator.

The Future of the William G. McBride Endowment

We are grateful to the many donors who have helped us achieve the first of the endowment’s goals. Continued growth is necessary to reach the remaining goals: 1) to provide tuition for the teacher-scholar’s use toward an advanced degree; 2) to increase the frequency of the teacher-scholar from biennial to annual teaching at CSU; and 3) to provide more salary support as school districts are less able to do so. Contributions can be made to https://advancing.colostate.edu/GIVE (browse for funds in the English department in the College of Liberal Arts and select McBride Endowment) or contact the Colorado State University Foundation, 410 University Services Center, Fort Collins, CO 80523. Phone: 970-491-7135.

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Poudre River at Lee Martinez Park, image by Jill Salahub

Poudre River at Lee Martinez Park, image by Jill Salahub

  • On Tuesday 2/24 9:30 a.m.-12 p.m., Tim Amidon will be facilitating a workshop titled “Demystifying Fair Use: Classrooms and the Affordances of Copyright for faculty, administrators, students, and curriculum designers as part of  the Association of Research Libraries “Fair Use Week.” Preregistration is appreciated but not required, and there are still spot left for those who wish to participate.
  • Dan Beachy-Quick is giving a talk at University of Illinois at Chicago titled “Quietness” this Friday.
  • The following interview with Camille Dungy appeared in this week’s Collegian, http://www.collegian.com/2015/02/qa-professor-camille-dungy-talks-african-american-nature-poetry-and-how-it-relates-to-writers-today/113263/
  • Leif Sorensen’s essay “Dubwise into the Future: Versioning Modernity in Nalo Hopkinson” is out in the most recent issue of African American Review. The essay is an analysis of two novels by an important figure in literary Afrofuturism (science-fictional writing by authors from the African diaspora).
  • Darcy Gabriel was accepted to present “Teaching with Visible Bodies in the Classroom: An Embodied Pedagogy” at the Inter-mountain Graduate Conference at Idaho State University, April 17-18 2015. I received funds from the English Professional Development Grant to be able to attend.

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English major Debra Lewis recently had her convention submission “The Other Side of Two” accepted for presentation at the 2015 Sigma Tau Delta Convention. This year’s convention will be held March 18-21 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Before she goes, we asked her to share her story with us, and she promises an update when she returns from the convention.

Debra Lewis

Debra Lewis

Year in school? Program of Study?

Senior* in English Literature with a Creative Writing Concentration plus a History minor. (*Double meaning. True, I am a senior undergrad at CSU and excited to be graduating with diploma in hand come May. It is also true that I am a senior as in crone, though in actuality how can that be because my AARP discounts don’t even kick in for another 7 years?!!)

You recently had your convention submission “The Other Side of Two” accepted for presentation at the 2015 Sigma Tau Delta Convention, whose theme this year is “Borderlands and Enchantments.” Congratulations! Can you tell us something about your submission and why you chose to submit for this conference?

The submission is very raw. The only reason I put anything together was because about a month before the deadline a professor-poet sent me a tiny little email with a tiny little prompt suggesting that I should put something together. I worried and waited until two days before the deadline and then panicked and scrambled.

I wish I could say that my submission was a well-thought out compilation of inspired verse. Well, the verse was inspired – as verse usually is – but I’m not sure at the time that it was well thought out. I had recently come out of a period of mad grief at the loss of my husband and mother. Once that grief began to wane, the creativity started flowing. So, it was more of an impulse really, a mad fleeting compulsion to see what would happen, what-if, why-not, share some poems, belong to a community of similarly-interested people.

What are you expecting from this conference? Any particular hopes or concerns?

Nothing really, and everything. I heard from a past attendee that it is like the best English class ever on steroids. That would be sweet. The conference itself is so brief. Just a few days during spring break and the brevity of it sorta gives it the pit-a-pat feeling of a fling – short, sweet, relatively uncomplicated and most likely completely disrupting. Fleeting literary crushes, though, can invigorate reader and writer alike. I hope overcome my innate intimidation and actually flow into my fears and spark up a conversation with Leslie Marmon Silko.

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

CSU’s English Department presents a rich language experience in both theory and application – I like that. And I love that the faculty consists of many published authors and poets. This school is really a hot-bed of talent all working together to help students find our scholarly and creative fit. Oh, and don’t miss the deadline to get in on the undergrad student publication team of Greyrock Review.

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

If what you love is language and story – that is, you read more and write more than even a full semester’s load of sadistic brilliant professors can assign to you – then ignore the cultural cross-fire you find yourself in between conservative speculation about your major’s merits on the one hand and tirades about the effectiveness of fine arts reading and writing on the other. When it came time for me to make that decision the first time 30 years ago, I chose the side of common sense and ignored my personal passions. Guess what? The so-called secure route was not so secure anyway. Every venture takes risks. Do what makes you feel most alive.

Favorite quote, book, or author?

While of course I have many favorites, I do continue to go back often to Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. I think that is primarily because of his two leading characters, he let the female heroine simultaneously disappoint both the Devil and the Christ. Who couldn’t love that, again and again?

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

Grandchildren, three of them, grace my life. I’m planning a hike to the headwaters of the Saint Vrain soon. There’s also the gray whales off Depot Bay to visit. They don’t need me but I need them. Off the coast of Maine, there are these puffins on an island that sometimes let humans come and care take them for a while. I’d love that.

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Image by Jill Salahub

Image by Jill Salahub

  • Neil Fitzpatrick was selected as one of A Public Space’s 2015 Emerging Writer fellows. Here’s the link to the announcement: http://apublicspace.org/blog/detail/the_2015_emerging_writer_fellows
  • Francisco Macías, who received his MA in English from Colorado State University in 2011, has just produced a new translation — Something Pains the Wind.  The original work, Algo le duele al aire, is by the award-winning Mexican poet Dolores Castro Varela, who was recently awarded Mexico’s highest honor, the Mexican Government’s National Prize for Arts and Sciences in the area of Linguistics and Literature.  The project was made possible through a grant awarded to Libros Medio Siglo by the Mexican government and various Mexican cultural institutions, including the Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Affairs; the National Council for Culture and Art (Conaculta); the National Fund for Culture and Art (Fonca); the General Directorate of Publications (DGP), in collaboration with the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM); the National Chamber for the Mexican Publishing Industry (CANIEM); and the International Book Fair of Guadalajara. The collection depicts the pain and angst of a country that is torn and bleeding, a victim of violence. When speaking of the work, Castro shares that she is “aghast with what is happening; this emotion is manifested in the book in the form of a choir of voices that are awakened before the tragedy. However, these voices are not cries; they do not emerge as an affront to the barbarism, nor do they wield the intention to lay blame. They are simply the expression of the distress of the innocent people who live this most unfortunate moment.”  The poetry interweaves the poetic voice with the tragedies witnessed.  The wind is the central character, which is anthropomorphized. The sufferings of the wind are interpreted by the narrative voice that aims to articulate what it is that pains the wind.  This is the second translation that Francisco has produced for this poet.

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Peter Heller reading in the Art Museum at the UCA

Peter Heller reading in the Art Museum at the UCA, image by Kara Nosal

by English Department Communications Intern Kara Nosal

“You know how it feels when prose goes, not through your head, but through some other organ, like your skin?” Peter Heller asked us, the audience at his February 5th reading at the University Center for the Arts (UCA). I recognized many familiar faces from the English department, students and professors alike sitting in the rows. We nodded. We were writers, too. He told us that he’d like to talk about craft and process tonight. I readied my pen to take notes about the ins and outs of character development, about leitmotif, about point of view. Maybe I had been in a classroom too long. Heller’s craft advice, like unseen rapids in a river, would jolt me awake.

At age eleven, Heller read Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time and it was then that he knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. I’ll give you one guess, but first, here’s a hint: it wasn’t writing.

Primarily, Heller wanted to have adventures. Hemingway wrote short stories about bullfighting and war. Heller, too, wanted to experience of life to the point that he had to grit his teeth and hold on. His love of writing would serve two purposes: it would be Heller’s way of recording his excursions as well as his means to get him there.

Heller’s most well-known book is also his debut novel, The Dog Stars. It’s a post-apocalyptic novel that follows the life of a survivor named Hig. His newest book, The Painter is about an edgy expressionist painter in Taos, New Mexico who mourns a family tragedy through violence and art. But before he was a novelist, Heller started as a contributor to various magazines, making his name as an author by primarily becoming an adventurer.

On assignment for Outside, Heller wrote Hell or High Water: Surviving Tibet’s Tsangpo River, which records the voyage of a team of kayakers determined to ride an impossible river. National Geographic Adventure set him aboard an eco-pirate ship chasing after a fleet of Japanese poachers in The Whale Warriors: The Battle at the Bottom of the World to Save the Planet’s Largest Mammals. Men’s Journal printed a piece which recounted paddling into an inlet used to slaughter dolphins as part of the filming crew for The Cove, the Academy-Award-winning documentary. Most recently, Heller took up surfing in order to write Kook: What Surfing Taught Me about Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave.

Image by Kara Nosal

Image by Kara Nosal, her copy of Hell or Highwater which she began directly following the reading

Nonfiction, for Heller, has never been an excuse for dull writing. “I wrote with as much poetry as I could,” Heller told us. He described how he writes into the music of language, hoping to find the subject at the other end. Stephen King does this too, as Heller pointed out, defending his technique. He joked that the Literary FBI might come after the two of them for writing wrong. To approach nonfiction in this way is to acknowledge and revere some guiding force, a current that pulls the writer along. Some might call it a muse. Heller spoke of hearing voices.

The Dog Stars, he explained, wasn’t fully under his control. The first lines came to him and he merely wrote down what he heard, “I keep the Beast running, I keep the 100 low led on tap, I foresee attacks.” The voice introduced itself to him and its name was Hig, “Big Hig if you need another.” Heller began scribing as the voice told its story to him in a coffee shop. Heartbreaking moments in Hig’s tale caused Heller to cry, but he kept writing, despite the wary eyes of other customers clutching their cappuccinos. “Don’t think. Just listen,” became his mantra. When Heller realized what was on the page was of the post-apocalyptic genre, he was resistant. It was not what he had planned on writing, but trusting the wisdom in the voice, he kept recording. Writing fiction, it seemed to me, required the same creative process for Heller as when he wrote nonfiction. The experience — whether it be of cool water and physical pain or of musicality and mystery — comes first. The art is only a product of it.

When Heller read passages from The Painter, I was absorbed in the character’s voice. He introduced us to Jim by reading, “I used to get drunk before interviews like this, but this was eight a.m. a little too early for even me. The interviews tended to make me feel like a rabbit or a lamb caught above tree-line at nightfall” (page 170 in the book). Instead of taking bullet-point notes about diction, I began journaling out of inspiration. It struck me that Jim, the narrator, is not an accumulation of words on the page. I had come to know him in a few pages and I felt as if I were meeting Jim face-to-face. Heller’s goes beyond detailing Jim’s physical description and mannerisms and somehow captures the sense of this person. Maybe this kind of character sketch is only possible by practicing deep, obedient listening, as Heller suggested. Jim’s philosophy on painting echoed what I had been hearing from Heller all night. Jim paints like Heller writes: “simply and to feel a cooling, the calmness of craft, of being a journeyman who focuses on the simple task: pin this one corner together and make it fit in an expanding universe” (page 147).

Peter Heller at the signing table with his novels, The Painter and The Dog Stars. Image by Kara Nosal.

Peter Heller at the signing table with his novels, The Painter and The Dog Stars. Image by Kara Nosal.


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