Tag Archives: Zach Hutchins

CLA Dean Ben Withers opens the Spring 2017 CLA Awards Ceremony

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

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

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

CLA Dean Ben Withers presents Sheila Dargon her award

Sheila Dargon
Undergraduate Program Assistant

What brought you to CSU?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zach Hutchins
Assistant Professor of English: Literature

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Do you plan on working on any projects this summer?

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

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

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

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


CLA Dean Withers presents Tony Becker with his Faculty Development Award

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bruce Ronda with his John N. Stern Distinguished Professor Award

Bruce Ronda
Associate Dean for Faculty and Graduate Studies

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

What will you miss most about working at CSU?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What course have you enjoyed teaching the most?

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

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

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

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Assistant Professor Zach Hutchins and his E630D Special Topics in Literature: Gender Studies – Witchcraft class.

Assistant Professor Zach Hutchins and his E630D Special Topics in Literature: Gender Studies – Witchcraft class.

  • Zach Hutchins has been awarded a 2016 Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Humanities. NEH support will facilitate research on Hutchins’s current book project, a prehistory of the North American slave narrative. For his research, Hutchins is reading thousands of issues of early American newspapers and transcribing every news item related to slavery, from slave-for-sale advertisements to discussions of enslaved African princes and news of runaway slaves. Those transcriptions contribute, Hutchins argues, the rhetorical framework for subsequent representations of the African American experience and the generic codes of the slave narrative.
  • This past Tuesday, Doug Cloud gave a workshop for SoGES Sustainability Fellows titled “Communicating Science to Skeptical Audiences: Some Rhetorical Strategies for Scientists.”
  • Kristina Quynn’s personal essay, “My Brother, My…,” about growing up in an interracial family is to be published in the collection What Does It Mean to Be White in America? by 2Leaf Press.
  • Mary Crow has had her poem, “Tomb at the Village of the Workmen,” accepted for publication in Indianola Review. Her book of poems, Jostle, is a finalist for the T. S. Eliot Publication Award. Her history of Colorado poetry has been posted on the website of The Poetry Foundation (Poetry Magazine); it was originally written for the Academy of American Poets (and now is a bit dated).
  • Steven Schwartz’s Madagascar: New and Selected Stories will be published by Engine Books in Fall 2016. His play, “Stranger,” was selected as one of three from a national playwriting competition and received a staged reading in Los Angeles.
  • Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri’s 101 word flash-fiction piece, “Motherland” has been accepted for publication in Crack The Spine!

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~by English Department Communications Intern Ashley Alfirevic

Approaching the entrance to department chair Louann Reid’s house, I felt a sense of ease and confidence after noticing the door had been changed from screen to glass for the winter. I could handle this. No door fiascos this time around.

Aside from how to properly open a door, the last colloquium taught me that a 7:00 p.m. start time meant more of an open house style arrival and fashionably late appearances, and I entered into a room already abuzz with warm conversation.



Compared to the last colloquium, this one had considerably more wires. Before we all settled into our chairs, a few people fussed with the laptop and the projector and the HDMI cords. This time around, the projects our English faculty carried on outside the classroom centered on the world wide web, with new tools and new strategies that either enhance in-person conversations or help bring new forms of knowledge to anyone with an internet connection.

Zach Hutchins presented first, showing us his online database for early American religious sermons. He explained that previously, people interested in religious studies or colonial histories simply had to work with published sermons, which had specific political motivations in order to make their way to print. The real sermons that impacted day-to-day life for Americans, the non-published pulpits from Sunday services, were inaccessible, even if people knew they should be studying them.


Zach Hutchins, between slides

Enter TEAMS – the searchable online archive of hundreds of early American sermons. Zach is working with faculty members and graduate students all over the country to help transcribe these writings and bring them to the light of a computer screen. Each entry contains a name, religion, transcription, and PDF of the original text (which, once you see the old-timey handwriting, makes you truly appreciative of the actual transcription). Zach showed us the “end is nigh” homily of Catholic priest Ignatius Matthews, who later retracted that homily and admitted that parishioners had more time than he originally thought.

Next Jaime Jordan presented her analytics conducted with different online word tools. She tracks frequently used words and character relationships for class discussions on Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The facts and figures don’t answer questions as much they as they raise them. For example, Horatio has the second most character interactions throughout the play, only just behind Hamlet. For a minor player we very rarely study, he certainly affects the play’s dynamics. Setting up such queries by using charts, word clouds, and character webs help students come up with fresh and compelling theories for their essays and class discussions.


Jaime Jordan

One tool Jaime makes frequent use of – Ngrams from Google – allows you to see how many times a word comes up in books through the centuries. As long as the books are catalogued into Google’s corpus, the program can detect the frequency it appears. Combined with catalogues from roving libraries, Jaime hopes to conduct further research regarding Victorian literature and reading patterns.

Finally, Tim Amidon explained how to use digital visualization tools to plot out data, making such information easier to understand and more visually appealing for students. Different websites can plot the particulars of statistical input, making easy-to-understand graphics out of the most complex of charts. One such demonstration used diamond-like arrangements to plot relationships between actors and directors, reminding me of a graphic designer’s ultimate visualization of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

Tim Amidon

Tim Amidon

The tools are useful for far more than parlor games, however. Tim explained how these charts can be used to give sociological perspectives to word usage. For example, firefighters use joking a lot in their work culture, so words relating to such jocular activities would be more prominent in whatever visual was constructed, cluing the viewer into an intimate aspect of workplace relations and improving cultural literacy. These glimpses into word preferences and cultural tendencies extend into the classroom for both professors and students.

Impressed as always by our faculties’ outreach, this colloquium showed that CSU is able to extend its research beyond our campus and beyond the limits of the Fort. The globalized age means we can both access and produce contributions from all over the interwebs. Our interactions are beyond person to person; they’re screen to screen with anyone who’s curious about the world around them.

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  • The SpeakOut! writing program won the “Program of the Year” award last night at the Larimer County Jail volunteer awards banquet.  Congrats to the facilitators and writers!
  • Two of Dan Beachy-Quick’s  essays, “Heraclitean Thirst” and “Circles” are featured at the online journal Fogged Clarity: http://foggedclarity.com
  • Doug Cloud presented a paper titled “Coming Out Queer, Coming Out Atheist: Building Rhetorical Infrastructures for Marginalized Speakers” at the Conference on Community Writing in Boulder on October 14.
  • Next week, Doug Cloud will be leading a workshop on talking about difference in public and professional contexts for the oSTEM chapter at Colorado State University. oSTEM, which stands for “Out in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics,” aims to “identify, address, and advocate for the needs of LGBTQA students in the STEM fields.” The workshop will take place in Eddy 100 at 6:00PM on Wednesday, November 11.
  • Sue Doe presented at the recent, national Community Writing Conference in Boulder where she and former graduate students Vani Kannan, Lydia Page, and Sarah Austin presented a panel entitled “Conversations on Labor: Report on a Cross-Campus/Regional Organizing Approach Using Participatory  Theatre.”  In their presentation, Sue and her colleagues engaged in participatory methods during the panel itself, querying traditional panel models and demonstrating how engagement works for not only social justice efforts and community engagement but also for enlivening and deepening the meaning of conference presentations themselves.
  • Tobi Jacobi presented an interactive workshop focused on remixing archival documents from the 1920s NY Training School for Girls with contemporary justice reform efforts at the 10th biannual Feminisms and Rhetorics Conference in Tempe, AZ on Friday, Oct. 30, 2015.
  • EJ Levy’s short story “I, Spy” has been accepted for publication by The Missouri Review, where it will appear next spring.
  • EJ Levy also spoke at the NonfictionNow conference in Flagstaff, AZ, last week on the subject of women’s bodies, sex, and sexuality in writing nonfiction.
  • Mary Ellen Sanger, Tobi Jacobi and the Community Literacy Center are pleased to announce that we’ve been awarded a $1500 engaged scholarship grant from Campus Compact of the Mountain West.  The award will support an assessment project for the SpeakOut! writing workshops in Spring 2016.
  • Eleven of our English department faculty members will be working at this year’s Senior Scholarship Day on Saturday, November 14, 2015, 9:00-4:00 PM: Dan Beachy-Quick, Pam Coke, Ashley Davies, Katie Hoffman, Kathryn Hulings, Tobi Jacobi, Ed Lessor, Tatiana Nekrasova Beker, Sarah Louise Pieplow, Jeremy Proctor, and Lynn Shutters.  This committee has been developing writing prompts for a writing workshop and a writing competition for high-achieving Colorado high school seniors.  Thanks to all of them for their hard work!
  • Communications Coordinator Jill Salahub is leading two final workshops before the end of the year at Om Ananda Yoga. “Wild Writing, Crazy Wisdom: Yoga, Meditation, and Writing” on Saturday, November 28th, 1:30 – 5:30 pm, and “Wild Writing, Crazy Wisdom: Meditation and Writing” on Sunday, December 6th, 11:30 am – 1:30 pm. You can find out more about these workshops and preregister at http://omanandayoga.com/. She also teaches a weekly Hatha Yoga class at Om Ananda Yoga every Tuesday at 7 am and would love to see you there.
  • Meghan Pipe first-year MFA student (fiction) was awarded a residency at Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts in May 2016.
  • Garrett Marquez (English Education, Class of 2015) is working as a special education teacher at Alamosa High School.

Upcoming Events


Please join us Thursday November 12, 7:00 pm for the second (and final) colloquium of the semester as we gather, with fine appetizers and drinks in hand, to enjoy one another’s company and hear about the work that our colleagues are doing. All department faculty and graduate students are invited.

Here’s a preview of the evening:

Drawing from an on-going scholarly webtext that is under production, Tim Amidon will share a variety of genre ecology maps and visualizations that have been created using D3 (a data visualization program). By leveraging these digital tools, Tim suggests, digital humanists might render visible the textual assemblages that are instantiated through and circulate amidst sites of production. He will discuss ways that such modeling and visualization might be leveraged pedagogically to not only support literacy learning but also to critique and reconstruct systems supported by discursive activity.

Zach Hutchins is the founder and editor in chief of TEAMS, a scholarly collective dedicated to transcribing the unread manuscript sermons of colonial and antebellum America. Those transcriptions are then coded and housed in a searchable database. Searching even the small collection of sermons currently transcribed and published by TEAMS suggests that opening up access to these texts will challenge foundational beliefs about the religious beliefs and experiences of the individuals who laid the groundwork for revolution and the new republic.

Jaime Jordan will discuss how she has used the podcast Serial in her comp class as an example of digital rhetoric and share some introductory research she’s done on the podcast as well as literary research using textual-analysis tools.

If you missed the last gathering, you really owe it to yourself to come to this one! A good time will be had by all.


NCTE Presents:  Standards-based Grading
November 12th, 2015, Eddy 5

Join NCTE@CSU for a discussion on Standard-based grading. We will be joined by local teachers to lead the conversation and end the evening with time for questions. As always, there will be free food and drinks.

Another exciting addition to the November meeting will be the officer elections. The positions of treasurer and secretary will be open.  If you are interested in running, please email an intent to run and statement as to why you are qualified for the position to both: pamela.coke@colostate.edu and ncte@colostate.edu by November 10th.

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The Tenth International Melville Conference recently took place at Keio University (Mita Campus, Tokyo) from June 25 to June 29. The five-day conference (including a day-trip to cities by the sea in Kanagawa Prefecture, reminiscent of the days of Commodore Perry’s Black Ship) invited participants to consider Melville’s deep interest in globalism, the many contexts in which his work has been and continues to be read, and the range of uses to which his writings have been put.

CSU’s own Kylan Rice (pictured below) presented his research, “Knotted Up in Place: Melville and the American Spatial Subject,” and was asked to do a write-up on the conference for the journal Leviathan (which will likely be published in the fall issue).

kylan presenting

CSU Assistant Professor Zach Hutchins (pictured below, second from the left) also presented a piece titled “‘Kith and Kin to Noble Benjamin’: Imitation and the Autobiography of Ishmael,” an extract from one of his current book projects, Melville’s Representative Men. Hutchins also chaired a panel on “Capitalism.”


Hutchins reflected that the most valuable part of his time in Tokyo was the opportunity to meet with likeminded scholars and to make personal connections that will persist beyond the conference.

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Three students from Assistant Professor’s Zach Hutchins’s Spring 2014 section of E440: How Books Get Published submitted work to the Center for Documenting the American South which was later published. We caught up with another one of those students, Lauren Cofer, to ask her about that project, as well as her experience as a CSU student and a writer.

Lauren Cofer
English: Creative Writing
Graduated Spring 2014


Tell us a bit about yourself.

Huh, let’s see. I’m from Chicago and like most out-of-state Illinoisans who say this, I don’t really live in Chicago. You know the film Wayne’s World? It’s set in Aurora, Illinois. That’s where I’m from and it’s pretty much just a miniature version of Chicago without the lake and just slightly (read: much) shorter buildings. That sounds like a big difference, but actually it’s not.

I guess I’m your average brooding writer type who secretly has a heart of gold and hair in various shades of purple. When I’m not writing, usually due to soul-shattering bouts of writer’s block, I’m putzing around with my other hobbies. I’ve gotten really interested in baking, especially with miniature pastries, but I also dabble in French, Japanese, and Chinese cuisine. I’d like to say that painting and drawing are hobbies of mine, seeing as I was an art major before I had switched to English, but I’ve taken a hiatus of sorts. I’ve only done one painting in the last year and it’s a big (24×30″), disembodied, psychedelic cat butt. It’s a long standing joke and honestly I don’t know what to do with it.

I enjoy long walks on the beach, poetry, and Korean TV dramas.

And video games.

And books. Obviously.


What brought you to CSU?

My initial reason for even considering CSU was because of my aunt and uncle who live in Fort Collins. I had come out to visit them in high school and during my trip I was able to see CSU’s campus. The traditions of CSU that brought the whole Fort Collins community together were so different from those of the other schools I had even begun to consider and that was appealing. Once I was ready to transfer colleges, I saw that CSU had a great English department and that was enough to convince me to change my major, drive seventeen hours across the country, and suffer altitude sickness every winter and summer break. I don’t think I ever regret my decision and I enjoyed every moment of my student life at CSU.

In fact, I love Fort Collins so much, I made my parents take that same seventeen-hour drive with my non-sedated, very upset cat in the backseat so I could continue living here after I graduated.


Favorite English class? Favorite English teacher? Favorite assignment or project?

Oh, there were so many classes I just adored, but if I really had to boil it down to one, I’d say E412A: the fiction writing workshop. The class was amazing because of my teacher and classmates equally. Professor Leslee Becker is a super knowledgeable woman with great insight and she knows just how to encourage a student to do their best work. Then, by a stroke of luck, all of my classmates were really just fantastic people who were all well read and full of great ideas and critique. Everything combined just made the perfect environment for all of us to grow so much in our writing. In the end, we all became pretty good friends and still stay in contact.

In regard to my favorite teacher, as much as I’d like to say Leslee, I really loved having Dr. Lynn Shutters as a teacher. I had her for Literary Criticism, as well as her Marriage Plot capstone, and both of the classes were incredibly enjoyable and informative. Dr. Shutters is always so straightforward and yet polite to her students that it was easy to participate in class or get feedback on a paper. The fact that she specializes in medieval literature is awesome, too.

As for my favorite assignment, it’s a tie between the final project I had for Marriage Plot, or any of the work for the creative writing classes. The former because it was open to anything and I ended up making a hat out of leather scraps and it took forever. The latter because, well, I was studying English purely for creative writing, so being able to write creatively was fun.


Why is it important to study English, the Humanities?

Not to sound dated or boring, but being able to express ourselves through type that’s not broken up by reaction gifs is pretty important to an intelligent conversation. Not saying that all those Buzzfeed articles aren’t intelligent, but to have the ability to describe “tfw they swipe to the next photo” in words rather than a rehashed three-second video loop is incredibly satisfying. English is necessary for every form of communication, from scientific papers to telling a story. It’s necessary for the real and the imagined, and in most cases, if you want to be taken seriously in any sort of career, being able to write competently is key. Besides, being able to understand the writing of others in more depth helps bring people and their ideas closer together.

The focus of the Humanities, on the other hand, is pretty much just like studying humanity’s entire history of trying to figure out the question “Why?”. Why are we here? Why are we conscious? Why do we so desperately need to have a meaning to life? You look at every possible avenue of expressing our tentative answers through all the years and it’s absolutely fascinating. It ends up being a never ending search that we all take part of, whether we realize it or not. We can figure out how to send astronauts to Mars (or beyond) or find a cure for cancer, but these things ultimately wouldn’t have such a great importance to us if we weren’t constantly asking ourselves why we struggle so hard to stay alive or keep pushing ourselves as a species to new heights.


How did you find out about the opportunity to publish with the Center for Documenting the American South?

I wasn’t even aware of the DocSouth collection until Dr. Hutchins talked about it in his American Prose Before 1900 class. The assignment was to write an author’s biography and a summary of a chosen work for UNC’s collection, and while the idea of publishing wasn’t our goal, it was a potential added bonus if we produced good enough work. Though, after we were given the assignment, I got really interested in DocSouth because my father’s side of the family is based in the south. Since I live so far away from most of those relatives, it was fun learning about things that were directly related to the struggles and victories that my father’s ancestors had to experience during their first few generations in America.


Why did you submit your work? What was it like preparing it? How did it feel to be selected? What advice do you have for students wanting to get their work published?

My chosen author for the project was John B. Meachum and he was a major source of educational opportunities for African Americans in St. Louis, Missouri, even when it was illegal via city ordinance for any to even know how to read or write. In my own family history, I’m only four or five generations from slavery — both sides of my father’s family had been enslaved at some point and more than likely took the underground railroad to Ohio where they found their own freedom and opportunities. I wanted to have the opportunity to submit my piece because I felt inspired by my family to do the best work I could, and I wanted to help make DocSouth a great archive of information.

Preparing my submission was just like any other written assignment for an English class, just I was a little more motivated than usual. I guess the only conscious difference for me was knowing that if I did a good enough job, some countless amount of people could someday access the information I compiled. That idea made everything a little more fun, really. I didn’t know that my bit had been accepted until sometime over the summer when Dr. Hutchins emailed me with a congratulations and a link to the page. It was nice and sunny that day, too, so I had one of those moments when you just sit there for a few seconds and admire the nice breeze coming through the windows.

Advice for students, though — I don’t even know. I guess it’s to not be so worried about rejection or acceptance. So much of a young writer’s career depends on getting as many publications as possible so you can prove to other publishers that you’re worth it, and that gets tedious and sometimes depressing. When we write to feed our own creative desires and connect to others, getting a rejection letter sucks. But, most of us who decided to study English with the desire to get published chose this path because of a love for words and writing, so it’s important to hold on to our passions and to just keep writing what we love. More often than not, we’re all going to make idiots of ourselves at least once in our attempts to get published. It’s not that big of a deal. Bite the bullet, put yourself out there, and write the best damn stuff you can manage.

Don’t just assume that literary journals and magazines are the only way to get your foot in the door, there are a lot of other publishing opportunities that, while they might not be your chosen field or genre, are still a good way to show you’re a competent writer to anyone who might have a hand in your potential future.

I feel like I sound like a Hallmark card. Sorry.


What advice do you have for current students?

Have fun! Join some groups outside of class, try to go to a sporting event if you haven’t yet. Never stop asking questions, especially if you’re graduating soon. Curiosity is a virtue that sometimes gets lost when we get older and set in our routines. Go to some of the events that other departments hold and see what other students are up to (you might find a new interest or friend). Read a book for fun, hang out with buddies, go say hi to your teachers sometime. If you’re stressing out, go blow some bubbles off the upper balcony at the Behavioral Sciences building. Making someone else smile is the best way to start smiling yourself.

Last, but not least, be excellent to each other.


What do you want to say to prospective students about the CSU English department?

I can’t imagine anyone disliking CSU’s English department, it’s such a great group of teachers and students. All of the professors (and advisors and office members) just want you to do your best work and have your interests at heart. If one does decide to study English at CSU, be sure to say hi to any of your teachers during their office hours because they all have great stories and experiences that more than likely can help you in your own life pursuits. I don’t know what else to say, it’s just an awesome department with a pretty tightly knit community.


What are you looking forward to most about a remodeled Eddy Hall?

Even though I’ve graduated, I’m honestly excited that Eddy’s getting a facelift. As charming as the old building was, it needed to be updated like none other. I can’t recall the floor plans, but I hope they kept the central courtyard. That was such a nice space and it really gave Eddy some good character.


Where will we find you in five years?

Assuming anything is possible, to have a masters degree, a novel or something published, and a few stamps in my passport. That would be nice. Maybe I’ll have even mastered those miniature pastries by then. I’ve honestly never been very good at figuring out long-term life goals, but as long as I’m making people happy, I’ll be content with that.

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Three students from Assistant Professor’s Zach Hutchins’s Spring 2014 section of E440: How Books Get Published submitted work to the Center for Documenting the American South which was later published. We caught up with one of those students, Colin Stevens, to ask him about that project, as well as his experience as a CSU student and a writer.

Colin Stevens
Double Majoring in English (Creative Writing) and Journalism and Technical Communications


Tell us a bit about yourself.

I love to write. I have ever since I was young. About seven years ago now, I saw a documentary called “The Pixar Story,” which went over the history of said animation company up until that point. It was a wonderful movie, but more than that it introduced me to storyboarding – which is a method used in animation and other visual storytelling mediums that allow writers to plot out an entire film with sketches, “stage cues,” and dialogue. Since that point I decided that I wanted to be a storyboard artist/writer, and one day, I hope to land that position in Pixar. Last semester, I also attended the Disney College Program in Florida, essentially working at Disney World, and that comes highly recommended to anyone with a passing interest in working at the company.

What brought you to CSU?

I initially started college by studying film at the University of Colorado, Boulder, but after taking the film writing courses they had to offer, I discovered my Junior and Senior years would mostly consist of me holding a boom mic or operating a camera rig: neither of which I felt useful for my goals. I grew up in Fort Collins, and I had many friends (some from high school, some that I met through those friends in freshman year) that encouraged me to transfer – they were all big proponents of Colorado State. So I transferred, declared my two majors, and haven’t looked back since.

Favorite English class? Favorite English teacher? Favorite assignment or project?

My favorite English courses are always writing workshops, but as far as lectures go, I was a big fan of Adolescents’ Literature (taught by Prof. Todd Mitchell) and American Literature in Cultural Contexts – The Dust Bowl (taught by Prof. Sue Ellen Campbell). I could never pick a favorite professor, though I’m quite partial to Prof. Zach Hutchins and Prof. Leslee Becker (as well as the aforementioned Professors Mitchell and Campbell). This might be a little self-focused, but I really just love writing workshops: the one I’m currently taking (Advanced Creative Writing, Fiction) has allowed me to workshop a large chunk of a novel I’m writing right now, and the feedback I’ve gotten from classmates and from Prof. Becker has been invaluable.

Why is it important to study English, the Humanities?

It’s a little unsettling how so many students are eschewing English and the Humanities in favor of majors that are currently in demand (Engineering, Micro-Biology, etc.). Humanities teach us what it means to be human and how we truly operate and understand each other. I understand the desire to go down a marketable path, though I’d encourage anyone with even a passing interest to minor in English.

How did you find out about the opportunity to publish with the Center for Documenting the American South?

The Center for Documenting the American South (DOC South) submission was actually an assignment in Prof. Hutchins’ American Prose before 1900 class. In it, we read obscure slave narratives that have yet to receive an official introduction in literary databases, and wrote the introductions ourselves. It was a very interesting assignment, one that I worked particularly hard on, and once finished, Prof. Hutchins had us submit them to DOC South directly (he might have done the submitting, I can’t quite recall). A few months ago, he informed me that mine was accepted and is now the official summary/introduction of “The Life of Ben Solomon.”

Why did you submit your work? What was it like preparing it? How did it feel to be selected? What advice to you have for students wanting to get their work published?

It was the second time that I’ve been published (the first time was in last year’s Greyrock Review,) and it always feels wonderful leaving a permanent mark behind whenever you can. It’s given me a drive to submit more work, and it’s definitely encouraged me and reinforced some self-belief in my writing – though, the DOC South piece was more academic that what I normally write. My advice for submitting work is to talk to your professors. They always know of opportunities for students to submit work to. Even then, googling online publications and submitting that way is also a viable option: you can’t let rejection stop you from putting yourself out there. The English department news letter is also really great about letting students know about publishing opportunities, as well as scholarships and writing contests within CSU.

What advice do you have for current students? What do you want to say to prospective students about the CSU English department?

The English department at CSU is wonderful, and it has a wide range of interesting and genuinely life-changing classes – you just have to look through all of them to find a nice fit. Even the lower division classes have been worthwhile for me.

What are you looking forward to most about moving back into a remodeled Eddy Hall?

Next semester, I plan on studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland, so I won’t be able to see Eddy right when it gets finished, but I am excited to see it a year from now. Being scattered across campus has been a bit of a pain, though Eddy needed the remodeling, and any updates to modernize the structure are welcome.

Where will we find you in five years?

In five years, I hope to be working at Pixar. I’ve already gotten my foot in the door through the Disney College Program, and I’ve been working on my writing and sketching skills diligently in order to build a portfolio for the position. I’ll start applying for internships before too long. Though I like to think positive, if this doesn’t work out, I’ve considered doing a Master’s program at CSU. On top of that, I’d really like to get my book published (it’s called “Chien,” so if anyone reads this in five years and it’s out there – go buy it!).

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On Wednesday, April 8, faculty members from the entire college were recognized for teaching, research, and service and 3 MFA students were featured readers throughout the program.

Abby Kerstetter and Matt Truslow read their poetry and Nate Barron read from a micro-essay. Associate Dean of CLA and emcee Bruce Ronda arranged the program such that the individual works were effectively showcased and the readings marked logical breaks in the series of awards. Their work was well received by the audience and they made us proud.

Nate Barron reading

Nate Barron reading

English department faculty also made us proud as they received several recognitions and awards. The retirement of Doug Flahive was noted, as were the service milestones of Cindy O’Donnell-Allen (15 years), Sue Russell (20), and others. Zach Hutchins, Tobi Jacobi, and E.J. Levy received Faculty Development Awards, which provide a summer stipend for research and creative artistry. Pam Coke received the CLA Excellence in Teaching Award for Associate Professors, and Louann Reid received the Distinction in Advancement Award. In recognition of a career of distinguished teaching, creative artistry, and service to the university, Leslee Becker was named a John N. Stern Distinguished Professor. This award is a career milestone.


E.J. Levy (Faculty Development Award) and Louann Reid (Distinction in Advancement Award)

Tobi Jacobi (Faculty Development Award)

Tobi Jacobi (Faculty Development Award)

Pam Coke (CLA Excellence in Teaching Award for Associate Professors)

Pam Coke (CLA Excellence in Teaching Award for Associate Professors)

Dean Gill and Leslee Becker (John L. Stern Distinguished Professor)

Dean Gill and Leslee Becker (John N. Stern Distinguished Professor)

Tobi Jacobi and Pam Coke

Tobi Jacobi and Pam Coke

Leslee Becker and Louann Reid

Leslee Becker and Louann Reid

Bruce Ronda and Leslee Becker

Bruce Ronda and Leslee Becker

We thank all faculty who were willing to be nominated and prepared materials, and we thank Zach Hutchins, Sarah Sloane, and Bruce Shields for their letters and support where such nominations were required. A special thanks also to Sarah Sloane and Deanna Ludwin for the great pictures of the event.

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Some of the recent publications and award winners from faculty and alumni

Some recent and award winning books from faculty and alumni

New faculty publications and awards reveal the diversi­ty of scholarly and creative strengths in this department.

  • Sue Doe and Lisa Langstraat, Generation Vet: Composition, Student-Veterans, and the Post-9/11 University
  • Zachary McLeod Hutchins, Inventing Eden: Primitivism, Millennialism, and the Making of New England
  • Tobi Jacobi (with co-author Ann Folwell Standford), Woman, Writing, and Prison: Activists, Scholars, and Writers Speak Out
  • Todd Mitchell, Backwards, winner of the 2014 Colorado Author’s League Award, and a finalist for the 2014 Colorado Book Awards
  • Sasha Steensen, House of Deer
  • Steven Schwartz, Little Raw Souls, 2014 Colorado Book Awards Literary Fiction Winner


It’s been a productive time for not only the publication of books but also for essays, poems, book reviews, and cre­ative nonfiction pieces. Current and emeritus faculty with new work include (but are not limited to) Leslee Becker, Tony Becker, John Calderazzo, SueEllen Campbell, Pam Coke, Pattie Cowell, Mary Crow, Sue Doe, Judy Doenges, Camille Dungy, Aparna Gollapudi, Stephanie G’Schwind, Roze Hentschell, Tobi Jacobi, Lisa Langstraat, Ellen Levy, David Milof­sky, Cindy O’Donnell-Allen, Airica Parker, Dan Robinson, Bruce Ronda, Jill Salahub, Barb Sebek, Sarah Sloane, Debby Thompson, and Bill Tremblay.


We are also happy to share the news of recent alumni publications.


In other publishing news, the Center for Literary Publishing’s grant request to the National Endowment for the Arts has been funded for 2015 in the amount of $15,000. The grant will go toward printing, mailing, and author payments for Colorado Review and to support the publication of two new titles in the Mountain West Poetry Series (forthcoming in June and November 2015).

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From Department Chair Louann Reid:

Five faculty members were notified on Dec. 12 that they had received an award from the College of Liberal Arts. The awards will be presented at the spring CLA Faculty/Staff Meeting.

The Faculty Development Fund provides support for outstanding research and/or creative activity. Faculty submit a project proposal and, College-wide, 5 to 7 are funded each year with a summer stipend. The recipients in the English department are Tobi Jacobi, for “Incorrigible Girls: Research Findings from the NY State Training School for Girls, 1921-32; Zach Hutchins, for “Before Equiano: A Prehistory of the North American Slave Narrative”; and E.J. Levy, for “The Cape Doctor.”

CLA awards are given in several categories including teaching, outreach, development, and service. Faculty are nominated for these awards.

The CLA Excellence in Teaching Awards recognize exemplary teaching and are given to only one faculty member in each of 4 categories. The award includes a plaque and an honorarium. This year’s award in the Associate Professor category goes to Pam Coke.

The John N. Stern Distinguished Professor Award is presented annually by the College of Liberal Arts to honor faculty who have demonstrated exemplary accomplishments in all aspects of their professional responsibilities over an extended period of time. The award includes a plaque and an honorarium. This year’s award goes to Leslee Becker.

Our department has numerous outstanding teachers, scholars, and creative artists, who give generously of their time to the department, college, and community. My thanks go to the nominations committee of Zach Hutchins, Leslee Becker, and Bruce Shields, who helped several faculty members prepare their nominations for various CLA awards. We appreciate the effort it takes to prepare a nomination packet and recognize the excellence of all who were nominated.

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