Tag Archives: Ellen Brinks

CSAL Roundtable Discussion 

Sue Doe wishes to announce that the Center for the Study of Academic Labor (CSAL) will host a roundtable discussion of the CSU “Proposal for Re-Envisioning Faculty Appointments” (authored by the Committee on Non Tenure-Track Faculty –CoNTTF) featuring leaders of the academic labor movement on April 27 at 3 PM. Visiting campus will be Maria Maisto of the New Faculty Majority, Joe Berry, faculty member in the Chicago Labor Education Program and  author of Reclaiming the Ivory Tower, John Curtis, former research director of the American Sociological Association, Marisa Allison, founder of the Women & Contingency Database and doctoral candidate at George Mason University’s Public and Applied Sociology Program, and Jim Walsh, University of Colorado-Denver Political Science Professor, social justice activist, and founder/director of the Denver Romero Theatre Troupe.


English Department Awards Reception TODAY!!!

Monday, 4-6pm in the LSC North Ballroom – Presentations at 4:30pm.

  • Matthew Cooperman and Aby Kaupang recently gave a reading & talk at Colgate University in New York. Matthew has an essay up on Hart Crane at At Length on “the poem that won’t leave you alone.” http://atlengthmag.com/poetry/the-poem-that-wont-leave-you-alone/
  • On Saturday, April 29, 4pm, Old Firehouse Books, Dan Beachy-Quick, Matthew Cooperman and Bill Tremblay will read from their work as part of National Independent Bookstore Day, and the closing of National Poetry Month.
  • Roze Hentschell was invited to speak at The Senior Center in Fort Collins, where she spoke on “Shakespeare and the Sonnet Tradition.”
  • Jaime Jordan invites everyone to explore how she uses the Serial podcast to tackle unconscious bias in her CO150 class. Those interested can check out the display in the northwest corner of the 3rd floor at the “lunch counter.”
  • Todd Mitchell recently conducted a full day of fiction and poetry workshops with teens at Fort Collins High School, where they have several outstanding writers (who might hopefully come here). He also conducted virtual visits (via Skype) to high school and middle school students in southern Colorado.
  • Karen Montgomery Moore presented “Affect, Anxiety, and the Abject Corpse in A Study in Scarlet” at the Popular Culture Association/American Cultural Association conference in San Diego on April 15. This paper was advised by Ellen Brinks and Debby Thompson (for her master’s final project).
  • Rebecca Snow will give a brief talk along with other local authors at the Quid Novi book fair, April 27th, 6-9 pm. She can get CSU authors table space to display/sell their books as her guest for 1/2-price ($25.00) and free registration, up until the day of the event: https://www.quidnoviinnovations.com/Spring-Innovation/
  • Mary Crow has had four poems accepted for publication: “Theory” and “But You Came anyway” by New Madrid and “Taking the Heat” and “The Necessary Existence of the Old World” by The American Journal of Poetry.
  • The Writing Center and the English Department were well-represented at the Colorado and Wyoming Writing Tutors Conference. Here is a list of presenters and presentations:
    • Kiley Miller & Wendy-Anne Hamrick
      “Is that an effective question?”: Meaningful and Interactive Grammar Feedback in Multilingual Consultations
    • Leah White & Katherine Indermaur
      Mindfulness for Tutor Resilience
    • Shirley Coenen & Leslie Davis
      Bridging the Gap Between Undergraduate and Graduate Student Writing Support
    • Jennifer Levin, Tiffany Akers, and Alina S. Lugo
      Strategies for Increasing Engagement in Tutoring Sessions
    • Sheri Anderson, Sue Doe, and Lisa Langstraat
      Student-Veterans in the Writing Center: Dispelling the Myths and Providing Genuine “Military Friendly” Support

English Department Career Event: Freelance Editing Panel

Please join us for a special panel on working in the world of freelance editing. Panelists Ann Diaz (M.A. 17) and Nathan DelaCastro (B.A. 15) will share their experiences working as freelance editors and making a living!

When: Friday, May 5, from 3:00 to 4:15pm
Where: Location TBA

More details and information are forthcoming, so stay tuned! Please contact Mary Hickey, English Department Internship Coordinator, with any questions.

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~from intern Haley Huffman

Ellen Brinks is the graduate program coordinator for the English Department, but her passions extend far beyond the scheduling, staffing and training that make up a large portion of her responsibilities. She thinks of herself “first and foremost as a teacher, advisor and mentor for undergrads and graduate students.”

Brinks grew up in Michigan in the suburbs of the Detroit Metro area. While she was in high school she studied abroad in Germany and that opened everything up for her. Brinks loved the vibrant, cosmopolitan atmosphere of Germany so much she ended up completing her Masters at a German university. At that point, she had been in a classroom for her entire life and decided that she needed to do something a little different.

She really wanted to do something for others because she has always been very service oriented, so she spent six years doing social work. Brinks returned to her academic roots after realizing that “deep down, [her] nature is that [she’s] an intellectual.” She likes to study, learn, and loves the classroom, and that’s where she wanted to be, so she went back to graduate school for a PhD.

For six years Brinks lived in Manhattan and worked on her PhD at Princeton. She became accustomed to her metropolitan lifestyle and fell in love with the diverse people that also inhabited the city. Ironically, when Brinks completed her PhD she applied for a position with a university located in a small town in Colorado.

Ellen and her wife, Julie

Ellen and her wife, Julie

The adjustment to life in Fort Collins was an interesting one. The hustle and bustle of Manhattan was a long ways away. “I thought I was in some post nuclear zone. I would look out of the house I was renting on Remington and I wouldn’t see a single person walk by,” said Brinks. The charms of CSU and the English Department in particular convinced Brinks to stay. “This department is wonderful. They let you explore and develop in the ways that you feel compelled to do.”

Professor Brinks is using that creative freedom to study international fairy tales at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, and how that shaped understandings of a globalized childhood. In particular, Brinks studies the way these fairy tales were reviewed and the conversations that surround these tales. “Those stories invite children to journey to other cultures and other places that they can never physically go, but they can imaginatively go — so what view of the world are they presenting and what understanding of the child as an international or global citizen are they projecting in those works?”

To research this, Brinks spends a lot of time sifting through archives, which happens to be one of her passions. She will be traveling to London in a couple months to the British Library to scavenge for fairy tales from the 19th century. “I love exploring all of those things and not knowing what I’m going to find,” said Brinks.

Children’s literacy is not just a topic that Brinks is exploring in her academic world, but also in her personal life. She spent some time traveling solo and ended up in Livingstone, Zambia on the Book Bus, a mobile library dedicated to increasing children’s literacy across the globe. “That’s when I absolutely fell in love with the place. There were other volunteers who were with me on the Book Bus, who were like in their 20’s or even younger. There was one guy who was 18 from England and he had never been to Africa before. He just on a whim decided to do it and he was great. I thought ‘wow!’ I can so imagine CSU students doing this and getting so much out of it and finding it very rewarding.”

When Brinks returned to CSU, she met with the Education Abroad office and began to develop the Zambia Study Abroad Program. She found an organization that could accommodate a larger group of volunteers, working in community health and education. Students from all over the university, representing all different majors, participate in the Zambia program and have said it’s been one of the most transformative experiences they’ve ever had.

Professor Ellen Brinks with Linda Farm Community children making ecobricks for the CSU compost project. Zambia, Summer 2015

Professor Ellen Brinks with Linda Farm Community children making ecobricks for the CSU compost project. Zambia, Summer 2015


Professor Brinks working in a clinic in Zambia

Ellen Brinks working in a clinic in Zambia

Students spend three weeks working in Livingstone, Zambia and can choose from several different tracks. For example there is the community health track, where students have the opportunity to provide health care through home visits, or there is the education track, which gives students the opportunity to teach a classroom of elementary-aged students.

Students will be challenged during their visit to Zambia and there will be tough moments, but Brinks said, “it’s also rewarding because you see how you can make a small difference in a child’s life.”

The trip to Zambia isn’t all work and no play; there are weekend excursions and plenty of free time for fun. Chobe National Park, in Botswana, is on the weekend excursion itinerary and there is a very large animal population. Rafting on the Zambize river and swimming on the edge of Victoria Falls are other pastimes.



Livingstone, Zambia has a very warm and welcoming feel, full of cafes and restaurants, as well as shopping and nightlife. This trip is a chance to be immersed in Zambian culture, without the prepackaged “African” experience.

Brinks has been leading this program for three years now and it has been one of the best experiences of her teaching career. “I am with them in the neighborhoods when we go to visit people, when we go to visit a young person who has cerebral palsy or an old woman who is really in pain because of a stroke. We’re problem solving on the ground together. We are giving each other emotional support. We’re just hanging together having a good time, sharing a beer at the end of the day.”

To find out more about this program, contact Ellen Brinks, Ellen.Brinks@Colostate.edu or visit the program page. Or come to the information session, November 2.


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~from English Department Communications Intern Joyce Bohling

Thinking about applying to graduate school in English or another liberal arts field?

Last Friday, a panel consisting of Academic Success Coordinators Joanna Doxey and Sarah Wernsing, along with Professor Ellen Brinks, presented to an audience of undergraduate students to address questions and concerns about the application process.


Academic Success Coordinators Joanna Doxey and Sarah Wernsing along withProfessor Ellen Brinks present at the recent undergraduate professionalization workshop, “Is Graduate School Right for You?”

Here are 9 key tips from their presentation:

  1. Be prepared to write a lot. In order to be successful in a humanities graduate program, “you have to love writing and be a stickler for perfection,” said Professor Brinks.
  2. Know what kind of program you’re looking for. If your goal is to become a professor, applying straight to a Ph.D. program is a smart choice. On the other hand, Wernsing and Doxey added that for those interested in a career outside of the academy, and for those who are considering an academic career but aren’t certain, an M.A. or M.F.A. is often the better option.
  3. Do your research. Talk to your professors about programs they’d recommend. Look for programs that have faculty with whom you’re interested in working and preferably at least two or three faculty in your field of interest. If you can, visit campus
  4. Think about the kind of community you want. Wernsing explained that, while there are many benefits of highly-ranked, prestigious programs, they can also be very “cut-throat.” Depending on your goals and priorities, you may have just as much success in a less-prestigious program that nonetheless offers a quality education and lots of collaboration and camaraderie among its students.
  5. Save your English papers. Not only is a writing sample required in many applications, but it can help the instructors who write your letters of recommendation recall your work. Keep copies of papers with your instructor’s annotations and revise according to their suggestions. Having a strong writing sample is key to being accepted into any liberal arts program, Professor Brinks emphasized.
  6. The personal statement should be about your future, not your past. Use the personal statement to discuss your academic and career goals and explain the steps that you’ve taken towards those goals. Do not tell stories about your childhood, or mention your childhood at all, for that matter. “Any time you can talk about scholarly discussions in the field,” talk about them, said Professor Brinks.
  7. Know how much money you’re willing to put down. The panelists discussed various approaches to funding graduate school. Whereas many Ph.D. programs have funding for most or all of their students, funded positions such as graduate teaching assistantships can be harder to find in master’s programs. Doxey shared that she chose to attend CSU for its location and sense of community, even though the program didn’t offer her funding; however, she had worked for six years before coming to graduate school and had savings to pay for her M.F.A. Think carefully before taking out loans.
  8. The job market is tough, but not as dire as you might think. You will likely be able to obtain a variety of jobs with your degree, both within and beyond academia. If you want to teach and do research at a college or university, there are tenured and tenure-track positions, as well adjunct teaching positions, at both 4-year and 2-year institutions. Currently, about 80% of people with Ph.D.’s are eventually able to find tenure-track jobs. In the private or non-profit sector, employers often consider an M.A. a more generalized degree that nonetheless shows a high level of commitment, and applications with master’s degrees often stand out as candidates.
  9. Look for programs that offer professionalization opportunities. Internships, such as that offered here at CSU at the Center for Literary Publishing, can offer gateways into careers, especially for those who aren’t looking to become professors.

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The trees in front of Eddy Hall are starting to get a few golden leaves. Fall is on its way! #greenandgoldforever

The trees in front of Eddy Hall are starting to get a few golden leaves. Fall is on its way! #greenandgoldforever

  • On June 23-24, 2016, Pam Coke participated in an international, interdisciplinary conference titled “The Cultural Landscape of Teenagers” in Le Mans, France.  Scholars from around the world, including South Africa, New Zealand, Austria, and the United States, gathered to share research and “to shed light on those cultural artifacts that target not only teenagers but an increasingly wider public – including television series, films, young adult novels, among others – and explore the images of teenagers.”  Pam presented her paper, “What Are They Selling? What Are We Buying?:  Eating Disorders as Cultural Artifacts,” where she shared findings from her qualitative research study examining how eating disorders have become an intricate part of the web of American behavior patterns, a way for teenagers to perform adolescence.
  • Over the summer, Sarah Louise Pieplow’s poetry manuscript was a finalist for the Ahsahta Sawtooth Prize. She also had 5 ghazals accepted for publication in Denver Quarterly. Sarah Pieplow would also like you to know that the GLBT Resource Center’s Safe Zone training is back! It’s fun! (And she is one of the trainers!) The purpose of Safe Zone is to reduce homophobia and heterosexism at CSU, thereby making our campuses a safer environment for all members of our community regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.  The Safe Zone program prepares members of the CSU community to serve as a resource on LGBTQ issues, and also strives to educate the organization about the Safe Zone program.  If you would like to better learn how to support students, faculty, and staff in the GLBTQQIA community (and figure out that acronym), these trainings can help you do that. To sign up for a training, go to http://www.glbtrc.colostate.edu/safe-zone. To ask more questions about what the heck this involves, go to Sarah.
  • Over the summer Dan Robinson gave a fiction reading, presented a paper, and moderated a round table discussion at the International Hemingway Conference in Oak Park, IL; He also had a couple of radio interviews on writing about and on the science and art of wildfire fighting.
  • Shoaib Alam received an Honorable Mention in the Glimmer Train May/June Short Story Award for New Writers contest.
  • This summer, Felicia Zamora (’12 MFA) has two poems in the newest issue of Poetry Northwest, was interviewed on the Indiana Review website as runner-up to the 2015 1/2K Prize, had poems accepted to Witness Magazine and Michigan Quarterly Review, was a finalist for the 46er Prize with The Adirondack Review where three poems are featured, and her second chapbook, Imbibe {et alia} here, was released from Dancing Girl Press.
  • Leslee Becker received the 1st-place Award in the 2016 Moondance Film Festival’s Short Story category. She also had stories accepted by Carolina Quarterly and Fifth Wednesday, and was awarded a writing fellowship/residency at the Anne LaBastille Foundation in the Adirondacks.
  • Ellen Brinks gave a plenary talk in early July at the University of London, Birkberk College, on the forgotten geographies of the transnational fairy tale in late 19th- and early 20thC fin-de-siecle literary culture.
  • Matthew Cooperman’s long piece “Difference Essay” was accepted recently by Seattle Review. This summer he gave two readings in California, at the Sacramento Poetry Center, and Poetry Flash/Moe’s Books, Berkeley. He and Aby Kaupang will be reading at Mountain Folds, in Colorado Springs, Sept 24. Two upcoming readings Matthew and Aby suggest for your radar. First, hosted by Cole Konopka and Sam Killmeyer for the Fork Socket series, September 14, Julie Carr, Amaranth Borsuk and Sam Killmeyer, 7:30 pm, The Forge. Second, for EveryEye, Sept. 21, Susan Briante and other luminaries, tea.
  • Sue Doe’s article, “Stories and Explanations in the Introductory Calculus Classroom: A Study of WTL as a Teaching and Learning Intervention” which was co-authored with Mary Pilgrim, Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Director of the Calculus Center, was accepted this week for publication in the The WAC Journal.  
  • Beth Lechleitner will read a few of her poems at a community reading in celebration of autumn.  The event is from 1 to 3 on Sunday, September 18 at the Loveland Museum and Gallery on Lincoln in downtown Loveland.
  • Dana Masden’s poem “The Missing” appears in the Fall Issue of the Adirondack Review.
  • In two weeks, Airica Parker will be a featured reader and workshop leader at a regional poetry retreat hosted by Wendy Videlock in Palisade, Colorado. All are welcome to attend: tickets available through: http://coloradawendy.wixsite.com/mysite
  • Barbara Sebek kicked off sabbatical with some research in London at the Guildhall Library and the National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum.  Sebek’s paper, “Temporal and Geographical Mash-Ups in Jonson and Shakespeare” was part of a seminar “Of an Age: Shakespeare and Periodization” at the World Shakespeare Congress, which convened in Stratford-upon-Avon and London in July and August.  In addition to seeing five plays in seven nights by Marlowe, Shakespeare, and Jonson at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Globe, she met the British Sign Language interpreter for Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, visited the British Library’s stunning “Shakespeare in Ten Acts” exhibition, and saw the Royal College of Physicians exhibition of the library of alchemist/scholar/global navigation promoter John Dee, regarded as one of the inspirations for Shakespeare’s Prospero.
  • Rebecca Snow’s poem “Sestina for Adjuncts” is in the current issue of Rattle: http://www.rattle.com/print/50s/i53/
  • The Contractor, a historical western by James Work, professor emeritus, is now available in hardcover from FiveStar Publishing. The reviews have been unanimously positive, and the publisher has submitted The Contractor as a nominee for the Spur Award from the Western Writers of America. Prof. Work’s next western, The Grub Rider, Number 8 in the Keystone Ranch series, will be published by FiveStar in April of 2017.
  • Lots and lots of good news from Tim Amidon, who had a very busy summer:
    • In May, Tim Amidon presented a research talk at Computers & Writing in Rochester, New York on the ethics of disclosing geospatial knowledge through Instagram titled “#nolandmarks: technorhetorics, watersheds, & de/coloniality.”
    • In May, Tim Amidon led a mentoring roundtable at the Graduate Research Network, a one day workshop for graduate students concentrating in computers, writing, and digital rhetoric at Computers & Writing in Rochester, New York.
    • In May, Tim Amidon was appointed to the faculty of the Colorado School of Public Health in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health.
    • Tim Amidon traveled to Heifei, China, with a delegation from the Natural Resources Ecology Lab (NREL) to envision how the composition program might best support English language learners from Anhui Agricultural University who will be coming to CSU as part of a 2X2 program.
    • In May, Tim Amidon helped to coordinate (and, participated in) an exciting two-day professional development workshop lead by UD Composition Admins Ed Lessor and James Roller. Participants spent time working with digital composing tools such as cameras, audio recorders, as well as photo, audio, and video editing software, and theorized how pedagogies and assignments can scaffold multimodal literacy learning in their Upper Division composition courses.
    • In June, Tim Amidon and W. Michele Simmons (Miami University, Oxford, OH) had a peer-reviewed paper on research methodology in community based research accepted in the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on the Design of Communication. Tim and Michele will give a research talk on their paper at SIGDOC ’16 and the paper will be published in the proceedings thereafter.
    • In June, Tim Amidon spoke at and participated in a one-day workshop hosted by an interdisciplinary research team and lead by Dr. A. R. Ravishankara to envision a National Smoke Warning System. Stakeholders from the EPA, US Forest Service, CDC and researchers discussed challenges and opportunities associated with attempting to design and implement a warning system that could effectively alert publics to the health and safety risks associated with wildfire.
    • In June, Tim Amidon gave short-workshop on ethnographic and naturalistic field-based research methods for exploring and writing about place for students affiliated with an exchange program between CSU and Tomsk Polytechnic University (Tomsk, Russia) led by Dr. Tatiana Nekrasova-Becker and Dr. Tony Becker.
    • In August, Tim Amidon participated in a one-day educator institute at InWorks in Denver hosted by Hypothes.is, a web-based annotation tool that allows students to tag, comment, and offer meta-level commentary on any web-based content. Participants from both secondary and post-secondary levels envisioned and shared ways of utilizing the tool to support learning in their courses. Dr. Jaime Jordan was one of the leaders of the excellent workshop.
    • In August, Tim Amidon was invited by Dr. Lori Peek to consult on the design of a digital survey-instrument that FEMA is developing to help U.S. property owners, businesses, and government actors conduct cost-benefit analyses about the value of building or re-engineering structures to meet performance-based engineering standards for seismic activity.
    • In August, Tim Amidon participated in components of the weeklong graduate teaching assistant orientation organized and led by Composition Admins Nancy Henke, Amanda Memoli, Kristina Yelinek, Hannah Caballero and Composition Director, Dr. Sue Doe.



Essayist, Memoirist, and CSU Fiction alumnus Steven Church will give a reading of his work. The reading takes place in the Lory Student Center, Long Peaks Room 302 on Thursday, September 8 at 7:30pm. The reading is free and open to the public. Steven Church is the author of The Guinness Book of Me: a Memoir of Record, Theoretical Killings: Essays and Accidents, The Day After The Day After: My Atomic Angst, Ultrasonic: Essays and a forthcoming fifth book of nonfiction, One with the Tiger: Sublime and Violent Encounters between Humans and Animals, which will be released in Fall 2016 by Soft Skull Press.

On Thursday, September 14 poets Julie Carr, Amaranth Borsuk, and MFA student, Sam Killmeyer will give a reading of their work. The reading will take place at the Forge Publick House, located at: Back Alley, 232 Walnut St., Fort Collins CO, 80524.

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The CSU Zambia Trip Members on Safari in Chobe Park (Botswana)

Dr. Ellen Brinks recently returned from Livingstone, Zambia where she led a group of CSU students on a study abroad program that focused on contributing to community education and health initiatives for the local people. For three weeks, they took part in experiential learning and internships through our Colorado State University Study Abroad program (and African Impact). The following field report is written by Madeline Kasic, who will be remaining in Zambia to continue working with African Impact for the next 9 weeks. Make sure to check out Madeline’s pre-departure post too!

William Carlos Williams states in his poem Paterson, “No ideas but in things” in regards to descriptive writing meaning that a writer should focus on physical objects instead of abstract concepts. This wisdom has been passed on to me many times in creative and academic writing classes during my time at Colorado State University. However, I have never understood how important the understanding things was until I began interacting with the people of Zambia.

Things are different here than in the United States; here everyday items that Americans have in abundance or consider to be disposable carry value. For example, most of my friends can go weeks without repeating an outfit and have no qualms about recycling water bottles or throwing away unwanted personal items. Zambians on the other hand may only have a few sets of clothes and it is not uncommon for them to wear the same clothes day after day. Furthermore, if a Zambian were to lose something that we might consider to be of little value, like a Nalgene water bottle, they would feel more of a sentimental loss because it was something that travelled with them daily for a significant amount of time. So when I say that things are different here in Zambia I mean that the people here interact with their personal items in a completely different way than we do in the U.S.

It may seem natural for a more impoverished group of people to have a different approach to personal items in terms of use and maintenance than an affluent group that can replace items at will, but the differences between how the Zambians see personal items goes farther than simply having less.

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Madeline Kasic teaching at Linda School in the afternoon (Photo credit: Isabell Brown)

Every morning after I walk into my fifth grade classroom at Zambezi Sawmill Community School at least four students ask me if they can borrow a pen. They ask for many different reasons. Some do not have a pen to begin with because their family can hardly afford school supplies and others ask because the pen they brought has stopped working. I carry extra pens with me just for this reason. The first day I gave one of my students a pen I thought they would keep it, which was fine with me because I figured they needed it. However, when I was packing up after class the student came up to me and returned the pen with a practiced diligence that is rare in American fifth graders.

Over the next few weeks I lent pens to many different students, carrying six or seven with me at all times just to be prepared. Each time I have lent a pen to a student they have returned it to me without fail at the end of class. And although I now expect for them to be returned to me, I still marvel at the respect my students have for such a simple item.

In the US, a pen is a disposable item. I lend pens to my classmates and usually don’t expect to get them back. I figure that any pen I lose in this exchange replaces a pen I have “borrowed” and accidently taken with me when the class ends. But here in Zambia pens are valuable.

teachingI have spent a lot of time thinking about why the Zambian children I teach are so much more respectful of my property than I expected them to be. I have come up with two reasons. The first is that as stated earlier, here, even the smallest item is valuable. The other reason is a result of the first. Because of the level of poverty and the value of simple items, there is a lot of theft in poor communities like the one my school is located in. My students, therefore go to great lengths to protect their reputation as someone who does not steal. There is no such thing as forgetting to return something at Zambezi Sawmill Community School, and the students are very aware of this fact.

The difference in the approach to personal items between Zambia and the U.S. is an unforeseen cultural difference that has begun to fascinate me. As I continue my time here I plan on learning not only the intricate details of the Zambian approach to things, but also the advantages and disadvantages of such an approach.  

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After a very successful inaugural year in 2015, Dr. Ellen Brinks will be taking CSU students to Livingstone, Zambia from May 22-June 11, 2016 to contribute to community education and community health initiatives. For three weeks, they will be taking part in experiential learning and internships through our Colorado State University Study Abroad program (and African Impact). The following pre-trip field report is written by Madeline Kasic.


As an English education major I originally thought studying abroad would take me to England to pore over the works of Shakespeare, Marlow, Beckett (who is actually Irish), Dickens, and hopefully J.K. Rowling. Studying English literature in its native country would be an amazing experience, and is something I hope to someday have the opportunity to do; but at this stage of my life I want an experience abroad that would offer me a new perspective and help me gain experience towards my goal of becoming a teacher. Unfortunately, no matter how wonderful literature is, and the inexplicable way reading allows us a window into the experience of others, there is something to be said for gaining experience firsthand.

Enter the opportunity to teach and do community service in Zambia. When I first heard of the program I did not know what to think of it. Zambia offered all the experiences I was seeking, but I did not know what I was seeking when I began looking at study abroad programs.


My realization of how incredible this opportunity might be happened slowly over Thanksgiving break after my adviser recommended the program to me for the second time. I was staying in my uncle’s town house in Frisco, CO where my younger brother was frantically filling out college applications. He inspired me to get my own computer out and start working on finding a study abroad program for the summer. I found myself taking a closer look at the organization African Impact that Dr. Brinks was working with to create her program and something sparked. Here was a program that would help me gain experience in the field of education and take me somewhere I would never have thought to go otherwise. It was the opportunity to help people, become a better teacher, and gain a new outlook on the world.

The next morning, I told my family that I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity, and they were stunned. My parents were comfortable with the idea of me fending for myself in Europe because we had taken a few family vacations there and had lived in France for six months when I was little, making Europe an easy place for them to visualize me by myself. I also have relatives in France so there would be someone relatively close by if I needed help, which helped set their minds at ease. But now I was presenting a very different idea of how I wanted to spend my summer.

My uncle started looking up facts about Zambia on his phone while my parents and aunt began asking me questions about the county and the program. We quickly discovered a couple of facts: I would be in Zambia during the dry season, the Zambian government is relatively stable; Zambia is landlocked and bordered by seven countries; that just outside the city of Livingstone (where the program takes place) is Victoria Falls, one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world; and there was the ever so slight chance that I would see my brother’s favorite animal the Pangolin.

A pangolin. Photo Credit: David Brossard

A pangolin. Photo Credit: David Brossard

The more questions were asked the more excited I became. I was planning a journey that was different from what I was expected to do, and that made me feel like I was making the right choice. I don’t identify as a rebel, but I do believe that the best things happen when we reach for the unexpected. As a teacher, I want to empower my students to think outside the box, and go take the chances they feel need to be taken, making this trip to Zambia a chance to practice what I plan to preach.

My hope is that by teaching and serving in Zambia I will gain a better understanding of what our world needs to successfully continue into the future. I believe that education is one of the best ways to help enable young people to inherit the world and to make better choices than their predecessors. 

After deciding to go to Zambia came the many stages of getting to Zambia. It started with applying to Dr. Brinks’ program. I enjoyed the shock and awe that accompanied my friends’ reactions to my summer plans, and as I looked further into the program I decided to extend the original three week trip by eight more weeks, enabling me to stay with the Zambian class I will be working with for almost their full term.

Then after I was accepted into the program came the academic and physical preparations for the trip. To prepare academically the other students going to Zambia and I read A Thousand Hills to Heaven by Josh Ruxin, Mistaking Africa: Curiosities and Inventions of the American Mind by Curtis A. Keim, The Ponds of Kalambayi by Mike Tidwell and a number of short essays depicting the experiences of aid volunteers in third world countries. And to prepare physically we each subjected ourselves to multiple vaccinations to protect ourselves against typhoid, malaria, and yellow fever.

My hope is that by teaching and serving in Zambia I will gain a better understanding of what our world needs to successfully continue into the future. I believe that education is one of the best ways to help enable young people to inherit the world and make better choices than their predecessors. This applies to me as well as my future students. Through this trip I hope to not only educate myself, but help the youth of Zambia receive an education as well as emerge with a story and example for my future American students of how they can impact the world.

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  • Dan Beachy-Quick will be on Colorado Matters on the Denver NPR station on May 11.
  • Ellen Brinks has been invited to give a plenary talk at the conference “Forgotten Geographies in the Fin de Siècle, 1880-1920,” at Birkbeck College, University of London, in early July.
  • Doug Cloud’s article, “Talking Climate Change Across Difference” has been accepted for publication in a special issue of Reflections focused on “Sustainable Communities and Environmental Communication.” The issue will be out this fall.
  • Roze Hentschell will be leading a group of 10 CSU Honors Program students to study in Oxford, England. From late May through June, the students will take her 3 credit class, “Shakespeare in Oxford,” and they will take field trips to Bath, Windsor, Stratford-upon-Avon, and London. The students will also take a 3 credit independent tutorial with an Oxford professor in their field of study.
  • A short story from Colorado Review, “Midterm,” by Leslie Johnson (Spring 2015), has been selected for the 2017 Pushcart Prize anthology. You can read the story here: http://coloradoreview.colostate.edu/features/midterm/
  • The Community Literacy Center received a $5000 grant from the Bohemian Pharos Fund in support of the youth SpeakOut writing workshops.
  • Tobi Jacobi and Lara Roberts’s essay, “Developing Self-Care Strategies for Volunteers in a Prison Writing Program” appears in the new edited collection, The Volunteer Sector in Prisons: Encouraging Institutional and Personal Change (May 2016).
  • Larissa Willkomm’s research poster on a collaborative writing project on women, jail, and addiction won a 3rd place service learning prize at the recent CSU CURC competition.  Larissa completed this project as part of her CLC internship and work with SpeakOut.

    Larissa presenting her work at the recent CURC

    Larissa presenting her work at the recent CURC

  • Dana Masden’s short story “Exercise, a Good Book, and a Cup of Tea” will be published in an upcoming issue of Third Coast.
  • Kristina Quynn’s essay “My Brother, My….” is part of the just published collection of personal essays from 2Leaf Press on white privilege and whiteness in America.  The collection, What Does It Mean to Be White In America, includes an introduction by Debby White and an afterword by Tara Betts. While not light summer reading, it could be useful to those teaching about race in America.  You can find more information at: http://whiteinamerica.org
  • The following group presented a panel at the April 29 Writing on the Range Conference at the University of Denver, where Cheryl Ball was the featured speaker: Tim Amidon, Hannah Caballero, Doug Cloud, Sue Doe, Ed Lessor, Amanda Memoli, and James Roller. The group focused on examples, challenges, questions, and opportunities associated with integrating multimodality into writing. The presentation was entitled:”A Case of Wishful Thinking?  Our Plans for an Integrated and Coordinated Multimodal Curriculum.”
  • Mary Crow will take part in a public reception and reading for artworks inspired by poems May 19 in Loveland at Artworks, 6:30 p.m., 310 N. Railroad Ave. (Hwy 287 to 3rd, then R a block). She will read her poem. “Dear X,” and the artwork it inspired will be part of the exhibit.
  • “Food for Bears” by Kayann Short (BA 81; MA 88), an essay about the 2015 Front Range food collapse, appears in the latest issue of the environmental literary magazine, The Hopper.
  • Kathleen Willard’s (MFA, poetry Spring 2004) poetry chapbook Cirque & Sky won Middle Creek Publishing & Audio’s Fledge Chapbook Contest. Her book is a series of pastorals and anti-pastorals that “attunes its lyric eye to local ecological crises” (Dan Beachy-Quick)  & evokes “a periodic table of agitation over the continued plunder of Colorado and by extension the world.” (John Calderazzo). Her book is available online at Middle Creek Publishing and Audio, and Amazon.

    Kathleen Willard gave a reading with other Middle Creek Publishing & Audio poets in Pueblo, Colorado as part of the Earth Day Celebration sponsored by Colorado State University at Pueblo and the Sierra Club on April 23rd at Songbird Cellars, a local winery.

    She is also speaking at the Colorado Creative Industry Summit at Carbondale, Colorado on May 5th. In her presentation “Thinking Outside the Book”, she will share how receiving a Colorado Creative Industry Career Advancement Grant shifted her thinking about publishing poetry, how by using some basic business practices increased her poetry readership, and led her to pursue alternative spaces for her poetry, such as art galleries, community newspapers, installations, & the Denver Botanic Gardens CSA Art Share Project. While still wildly interested in the traditional modes of book publication, she would like to increase chance encounters that the public may have with poetry outside the book.

    She is also curating with Todd Simmons of Wolverine Farm and Publishing, a Food Truck Reading Series at Wolverine Farm Letterpress this summer, which is being supported by New Belgium Brewing Company.

    The Fort Collins Book Launch for Cirque & Sky will be June 21st, Midsummer’s Eve at Wolverine Letterpress.

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Image by Jill Salahub

Image by Jill Salahub

  • Antero Garcia has a new chapter titled “Teacher as Dungeon Master: Connected learning, democratic classrooms, and rolling for initiative” in the book The role-playing society: Essays on the cultural influence of RPGs (MacFarland).
  • Antero Garcia has been announced as a judge for the art and writing youth “Twist Fate” challenge. He will co-edit a collection of the entries to be published after the competition challenge ends. The deadline for entries is April 6th and more info can be found here: http://dmlhub.net/newsroom/media-releases/twist-fate/.
  • Sasha Steensen published five poems in the March/ April issue of Kenyon Review, two of which are featured online: http://www.kenyonreview.org/journal/marapr-2016/selections/sasha-steensen/  She was also interviewed for Kenyon Conversations.  You can read the interview here:  http://www.kenyonreview.org/conversation/sasha-steensen/ She will be reading at Mountain Fold bookstore in Colorado Springs at 7pm on March 19th.
  • Karen Montgomery Moore will be presenting “Affect, Anxiety, and the Abject Corpse in A Study in Scarlet” at the Popular Culture Association/American Cultural Association conference in Seattle on March 24. She was advised regarding this paper (her final graduate project) by Ellen Brinks and Debby Thompson, and she received NTTF professional development funding to support travel for this presentation.
  • Sean Waters published a cool piece about Seth Jansen and Poudre Valley Community Farms, which came out last week in Fort Collins’ Scene Magazine.  http://scenenoco.com/2016/03/02/poudre-valley-farms/
  • Davis Webster’s (an undergrad in creative writing) essay “Wyo.” was accepted for publication in Fourth Genre.
  • Embracing Community through Giving,” an article about Deanna Ludwin’s contributions to the English Department, is included in the February 27 issue of the College of Liberal Arts Newsletter. Jill Salahub is the article’s author. Deanna’s poem “Focus” was published in Fjords Review’s “Free Womens Edition.” (Go to fjordsreview.com and click on “Featured” then “Archives.”) Her article about attending a poetry workshop in France, “Opening the Senses in Southern France,” was included in volume 6, issue 1 of CSU’s Society of Senior Scholars Newsletter.
  • Edward Hamlin, winner of Colorado Review’s 2013 Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction, will read from his recently published collection Night in Erg Chebbi and Other Stories, winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award and one of two finalists for this year’s Colorado Book Award (short story collection category), at Wolverine Farm’s Publick House Saturday April 16, 7:30 pm. (Please note: this event was rescheduled due to weather, and will take place at the same location on May 20, 7:30 pm).


Commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death this summer in E343: Shakespeare II with Dr. Roze Hentschell. Registration begins March 22nd.

Shakespeare flyer 1.0


Tools from the Workshop: Theory and “Hands On” Practice with Multimodal Engagement in UD Composition Courses Part II

The Upper Division Composition Professional Development Workshop Series is proud to present the second installment of our spring 2016 offerings: During the week of March 21st we will hold our second workshop: The Possibility of Actually Composing a Visual Argument  (Room and Time TBA after the Doodle Poll Results are In)

Come join us as we discuss a sprinkling of theory that connects visual argument with the course goals of CO 300. The bulk of the workshop will be devoted to a “hands on” exploration of the new Photoshop software that has been installed on the computers in Eddy 2 and 4. Help us explore this rich visual editing software and envision ways that it can be effectively utilized in the classroom. A nice takeaway from the workshop will be the production of a flyer to advertise one of your upcoming classes. (Never be caught unprepared when the call for a class flyer is issued!)

All are welcome to join.

Four great incentives:

  1. Conversation with your awesome peers
  2. Certificate of Completion for those pesky Evaluation files
  3. Intellectual Engagement
  4. Snacks!  

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Professor Ellen Brinks with Linda Farm Community children making ecobricks for the CSU compost project. Zambia, Summer 2015

Professor Ellen Brinks with Linda Farm Community children making ecobricks for the CSU compost project. Zambia, Summer 2015

An important message from Professor Ellen Brinks:

Dear English students,

Are you interested in doing meaningful community education and community health work this summer – in Africa? And earning three academic credits for it?

As faculty-director of the 2016 summer Education abroad program in Zambia (May 22-June 11, 2016), I wanted to touch base with all of you. Last year we had a number of English students (as well as other CSU students) participate in Community Health and Community Education work in Livingstone, Zambia, and I’m hoping for a good representation from English again this year. It’s a wonderful experience that will challenge and empower you, and it’s takes an adventurous and unselfish person to do this kind of work.

Some of you have expressed an interest in going, some of you have already applied, and some may be hearing about the program for the first time. This message is for all of you!

Now is the ideal time to discuss the program with your family, to ponder how serious your inclinations are for boots on the ground experiential learning in Africa (this is not a vacation but meaningful, fun, and gratifying work), to decide whether you’re going to be one of our group, and to get the application process underway for the program and for scholarship money!


Do you want to know more about this program, or are you still unsure whether to commit to it? If so, here are some reasons to go:

  • You’ll be able to work on meaningful community education and health projects and make a difference in the lives of children and adults
  • ​It’s the only CSU program – period – that allows students to get a first-hand experience of life in Africa through community work in education and healthcare (this is NOT a pre-packaged tourist view of Africa)
  • ​Service-learning experience ranks very high in skills sought after in the business, medical, governmental, non-profit, and academic sectors
  • ​You will not be able to find a vacation or volunteer program in Africa as inexpensive as this one
  • ​Zambia has been called “Africa for Beginners” because of its safe, warm, friendly culture and its stable democracy
  • ​Livingstone is a bustling town with a burgeoning middle-class; while you’ll see poverty and hardship, this is not a “depressing” place to be!
  • ​Livingstone has some wonderful amenities (wifi; shops, cafes and restaurants; arts and crafts markets), and the area and our program will offer an unparalleled experience of natural wonders (Victoria Falls, Chobe National Park) and cultural experiences
  • ​We stay at a comfortable and inviting backpacker’s lodge with 24-hour security
  • ​The climate is comfortable; we travel there during their winter with daytime highs in the 80s and nighttime lows in the upper 40s


Testimonials from 2015 CSU volunteers about the summer Zambia program:

  • ​“I felt honored to be able to use my privilege to help in Livingstone. They gave me more than I could ever provide them with” (Jo Buckley)
  • ​“I can say quite honestly that it was the best thing I have done in my life to date” (Nick Breland)
  • ​“Zambia forever changed my life, I couldn’t have asked for a better trip with better people. I hope to apply my experiences in Zambia to my future endeavors and daily life” (Amira Noshi)
  • ​“How was it? It was the un-debased definition of awesome. It was everything that I wanted it to be, and it was more than that too” (Jackson White)
  • ​“Though I will never be able to return to the moments I cherish from Zambia, they are now a part of my being and my future” (Adelle McDaniel)
  • ​“I learned invaluable lessons about myself, teamwork, and the world. I have become more aware of how others live and think. I know I have to go back” (Kathleen Wendt)
  •  “I met so many amazing people on my trip to Zambia. I fell in love with the culture and the people I met. Every person in Zambia had something to teach me about life. If I take anything away from my trip to Zambia, it is that I didn’t change Livingstone in three weeks, but Livingstone changed me” (Katie Wybenga)


You may also be wondering: will this be for academic credit?

  • ​All participating students will take E382, “Reading and Writing the Zambia Experience,” which will count towards your program credits
  • ​You’ll earn three academic credits doing daily community work, along with some pre-trip reading and post-trip reflective writing
  • ​The course will make your time abroad more rewarding through: 1) reading (fiction and non-fiction) and discussion about being a Western volunteer or aid-worker in Africa; and 2) self-reflective writing during and after your time in Zambia. We self-publish the essays in a volume you’ll have to keep and share. The course adds meaningful creative, intellectual, and personal components to the hands-on experience in Zambia.


The application deadline is February 15, 2016.  If you want to go, now is the time to apply! We are capping the number of students at 16.

You can access the application and find materials at the link: https://studioabroad.colostate.edu/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=11477


Still need more information?

I’ll be hosting an informational meeting on Monday, January 25 at noon in LSC 308. This will feature many photos and practical information about the program and life/culture in Livingstone, Zambia. It will also give us a chance to discuss more personally any questions or concerns you might have. I will try to get some of last year’s students to come and speak about their experiences, or I can put you in touch with them via email.

You can always – I mean always! – contact me for more information: Ellen.Brinks@Colostate.edu

In the meantime, I hope you had a lovely break with family and friends.


Ellen Brinks
Faculty Leader, Community Education and Health in Livingstone, Zambia
Professor and Graduate Programs Coordinator
Department of English
Honors Faculty

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PCMI Student Peter Garrison in Ethiopia

PCMI Student Peter Garrison in Ethiopia

Grad School or Peace Corps? Why not do both?

A student may combine a degree in any one of our five M.A. programs — Creative Nonfiction, English Education, Literature, Rhetoric and Composition, or TEFL/TESL — with the Peace Corps Masters International (PCMI) degree at Colorado State University. Colorado State University is one of the few English Departments in the country to offer this unique program.

At a recent presentation, Professor Ellen Brinks, Peace Corps Master’s International program liaison for the English department, and Aaron Carlile, an MA Literature student who just returned from his Peace Corp assignment in China, talked about the PCMI program at CSU to a group of interested students. Students who attended the session had various reasons for coming: being super excited that such a program existed, wanting to do both the Peace Corp and complete a Master’s degree at the same time, interest in being part of the human community, desire to do meaningful work, and even coming because their advisor had recommended it.


Professor Ellen Brinks and PCMI (MA Literature) student Aaron Carlile

Professor Brinks summarized some of the benefits of the program this way:

  • You get to be in the Peace Corps while also doing academic work and completing an MA, melding the two together
  • Various financial perks — such as round trip travel, a stipend, medical and dental, transition funds, deferral of student loans,
  • Learning a new language, cultural immersion
  • Access to federal jobs upon return and help with job searches, which opens up a range of careers that might not be possible without this particular experience

Professor Brinks summed it up by saying that that while it’s inherently rewarding to be in the Peace Corps all by itself, there’s a wonderful compatibility between academic work and Peace Corps work. Through the PCMI students experience “a fusion of scholarly and service work … deeply rooted in community.”

Aaron Carlile echoed Ellen’s summary, explaining that PCMI students take the abstracts of learning and apply them in a way that’s meaningful and personally gratifying, while also taking part in international development and cultural exchange. His first three months he lived with a host family, went through language and cultural immersion, and learned to speak Chinese before starting his assignment. He then taught English at a college, and also started a literary club. He talked about how his initial plan was to go to Eastern Europe, that there was a particular literary movement he wanted to study and write about, but when he was placed in China it shifted his whole perspective, in the best possible way.

Aaron shared some slides about where in the world Peace Corps volunteers work and what sorts of assignments they receive.



volunteers work in

Aaron summed up his own experience with the PCMI this way: He was initially completely out of his element, but had a lot of support and found his way. He landed on his feet and gained a lot of confidence from the experience.

To learn more, check out our PCMI page, where you can find out more about the specific of the program and what other students have to say about their experiences with it.

Update: Sadly, in 2016 the Peace Corps made the difficult decision to phase out the Master’s International program and focus on other strategic partnership opportunities. Read more here: https://www.peacecorps.gov/volunteer/university-programs/masters-international/

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