Friday, June 26, 2009

New English Majors, Vol. 6

Three new English majors joined the ranks on Friday. Introducing....

Logan Halsey is from Hermitage and attended McGavock High School in Nashville. Logan is a good sport and was willing to change his name to Melanie for the purposes of Towering Traditions advising, in order to avoid any confusion.

Melanie Bond

Melanie "B," from Bowling Green, Kentucky, participated in The Academy Tutorial in Nashville. She's an English major because English (and especially Literature) relates to all fields of learning and engages all areas of life. Literature can be "expressive and beautiful as well as useful and timeless." Melanie likes reading almonst everything by C. S. Lewis and Charles Dickens. As you can see from her photo, Melanie B is blessed with a head full of curls, which she loves!

Melanie Meriney

Melanie "M" attended Mt. Lebanon High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In elementary school, she "was the kid who sat in the corner of the playground reading during recess." Melanie has always loved to read and write, and realized in high school that "teaching it could be pretty cool, too." Her favorite book of all time is The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson. And while she didn't enjoy being force-fed Milton's Paradise Lost in high school, she has come to a grudging admiration of his poetry. Melanie is also a singer/songwriter, plays guitar, and hopes to sing professionally. (Welcome to Nash Vegas!) She loves sports and loves to play both ice hockey and field hockey.

And in response to this session's poll question, "Who is your favorite Romantic poet?", Melanie M chose Walt Whitman, while Melanie B went for John Keats.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New English Majors, Vol. 5

Three new English majors signed up for classes on Wednesday:

Betsy Coughlin
Betsy hails from Jackson, Tennessee, where she attended Trinity Christian Academy. She plans on pursuing the writing emphasis in the English major to explore the richness of the written word as an expression of her faith. Her favorite reading material includes novels by Francine Rivers, Jane Austen, and C.S. Lewis. Also a figure skater, Betsy's secret ambition is to audition for "Disney on Ice" upon graduation!

Steve Gallo
Steve attended James Caldwell High School in West Caldwell, New Jersey. He is comfortable with words, and loves the flexibility and power of language--especially its capacity to change people for the better. Steve enjoys fiction and poetry and writes poetry, song lyrics, and fiction. He also plays guitar and sings--welcome to Nash Vegas, Steve!

Caitlin Kelley
Caitlin is a proud member of the second graduating class of Ensworth High School here in Nashville. She has always loved reading and writing, and counts among her favorites Malcolm Gladwell, Hunter S. Thompson, Richard Rohr, Tom Wolfe, Ayn Rand, David Foster Wallace, and Ernest Hemingway. Caitlin always makes an effort to grow intellectually in all directions, so the flexibility of the English major should fit her perfectly.

To our poll question, "Who is your favorite Shakespeare character?" , Betsy answered "Hamlet," while Steve chose Iago from Othello. While Caitlin professed herself "not to be" a huge fan of the bard, she does like the Fool from King Lear.

Monday, June 22, 2009

New English Majors, Vol. 4

Monday two new Enlish majors joined us, viz:

Jennifer Beckwith

Jennifer, originally from Keokuk, Iowa, comes to us from Nashville State, where she discovered a love for the written word (encouraged by some incredible teachers). She likes reading a writing poetry and loves reading a good story, especially works by Gregory Maguire, Jane Austen, the Brontes, and Charles Dickens. Jennifer also likes "non-fiction that challenges and strengthens my faith like the works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, C.S. Lewis, and Anne Lamott." Jennifer is possessed of a dark sense of humor and an encyclopedic knowledge of pop music history (so when she writes, there's always good music going).

Rachel Chaney

Rachel, a native of Lebanon, Ohio, joins us from Miami University. She loves the written word's capacity to enable self-expression, creativity, and critical thinking. She likes reading poetry and romance novels.

In response to this week's poll question, "Who is your favorite Shakespeare character?", Jennifer cited Katherina from The Taming of the Shrew, while Rachel chose Ophelia from Hamlet.

Friday, June 19, 2009

New English Majors, Vol. 3

Friday brought us another pair of new English majors:

Cassie Hawkins

Cassie comes to Belmont from Mayodan, North Carolina, which she will tell you is north of Greensboro--but growing up she spent much of her time in Eden (North Carolina, that is). Cassie has always loved language, and wanted to be an English major because "there is so much power in well chosen words." She's a fan of British literature (particularly fiction).

Aaron Searcy

Aaron Searcy attended Jefferson County High School in Dandridge, Tennessee. He's an English major because he finds it the most interesting and engaging of the disciplines. Aaron is contemplating a double-major in Philosophy and is also interested in journalism. His favorite reading material has been Ayn Rand, Cormac McCarthy, and his childhood favorite, Roald Dahl.

This week's poll question, "Who is your favorite Shakespeare character?", drew these responses: Aaron likes the "tag team" of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, while Cassie prefers the sonnets to any of the plays!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New English Majors, Vol. 2

Seven new English majors registered for Fall classes today. Without further ado:

Jill Barrett
Jill joins us from Centennial High in Franklin, Tennessee. She's planning on double-majoring in English and French, and loves languages, reading, writing, and even grammar. She'd like to be an editor after her Belmont days are done. Her favorite reading material is, as she puts it, "anything," but she especially enjoyed Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible and Paolo Coelho's The Alchemist.

Becca Craig

Becca, from Richmond, Virginia, attended Hermitage High School Humanities Center. She loves the freedom an English major provides for someone like her to apply her talents and more fully express herself. Becca likes all kinds of fiction and poetry and is considering a double-major in English and Songwriting.

Rick Martin

Rick attended Hendersonville (Tennessee) High School. Rick is attracted to English as a major because of the constant change, and because of literature's capacity to free the soul. He believes in the power of writing and of music to reveal who someone is: "In a world of rules, regulations, and processes, they are the way out." He has recently enjoyed The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.

Anna Matlock

Anna, from Nashville, is our second Hume-Fogg alum this year, and is an English major because it's her favorite subject and ultimately it will prepare her well to be a lawyer. She loves to learn and to read all kinds of fiction and non-fiction. Anna refers to herself as "an imperfect perfectionist."

Natalie Merkh

Natalie, who attended Donelson Christian Academy in Nashville, loves to read and write and hopes to pursue a career in publishing, writing, or print journalism. She loves to read poetry and novels, especially historical fiction or thrillers. She has interned at a small publishing company, so she's ahead of the curve already!

Jessica Spradlin

Jessica comes to us from White House High School in Tennessee, after the last 3 years of high school English opened her up to the idea of being an English major. She loves writing and also learning from the texts others have created. As she puts it: "English," according to Jessica, is one of the few disciplines "that connect all the dots and allow us to see where we've been and possibly where we're going." Lately she's been reading anything by Jonathan Carroll and Neil Gaiman (and lots of both classics and comics). She's strangely addicted to Manga and prefers William Blake's artwork to his poetry (sounds like a job for Dr. Hutchins). She's also pretty easygoing.

Valerie Wire

Valerie joins us from Mater Dei High School in Evansville, Indiana. She became an English major because of the capacity for writing to express individuality and its ability to change the world. She likes reading novels, especially historical fiction. She loves penguins, and was in her high school marching band color guard.

This week's poll question, "Who is your favorite Shakespeare character?", elicited these responses:

While Becca couldn't decide on a favorite, Anna named MacBeth, not for what he ended up doing but for what his character can teach us. Jill favored the ever-reliable Horatio (from Hamlet), while Natalie chose Hamlet himself. Jessica couldn't decide between the Fool from King Lear and Puck from A Midsummer Night's Dream. Valerie's favorite was Bottom from AMND, while Rick liked Friar Laurence from Romeo and Juliet because of his roles as scholar and schemer.

Welcome to all of today's new English majors!

Friday, June 12, 2009

New English Majors, Vol. 1

Throughout June, you'll get a chance to meet some of the new English majors here on BU English. Going first: Hannah Baggott

Hannah is from Joelton, Tennessee and attended Hume-Fogg High School. She's majoring in English to be a part of one the great cultural influence that is literature! To that end, she's been reading a lot of Pablo Neruda lately. If you want to start an interesting conversation with Hannah, ask her about the jellyfish tattoo story.

Emily Lind

Emily is from Nolensville, Tennessee and attended Ezell-Harding. Emily is majoring in English because of her love of reading and writing and the flexibility an English major offers. Her favorite reading material lately has been short stories. Emily has traveled to Costa Rica, and she plans on teaching abroad eventually, perhaps in Central America.

This week's poll question: "What is your favorite Alexander Pope quote?" Hannah chose the ever-relevant "Created half to rise, and half to fall;/Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;/Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurled:/The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!" Emily's favorite Pope (as befits someone interested in education): "A little learning is a dangerous thing;/Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring." Welcome, Hannah and Emily!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Summer Writing Center Hours

Dr. Smith would like everyone to know that this summer the Writing Center will be open 3:15-5:15 pm, Monday through Thursday. Anyone needing help at any stage of writing can stop by the second floor of Wheeler or call x6241 for an appointment.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Summertime on BU English

June at Belmont means Towering Traditions. Over the next few weeks, BU English is going to be dedicated to introducing our new majors so you'll already feel as if you know them when you see them in the Fall. So enjoy your classes (starting today!) or your beach reading or whatever it is you're doing this summer and check back in every so often to welcome the new folks.

Monday, June 1, 2009

BU English Alum Raja Founds New Journal

Poet, novelist, scholar, blogger--Dr. Masood Raja, Assistant Professor of Postcolonial Literature and Theory at Kent State University, is now adding "journal editor" to that list. Raja, who did his B.A. and M.A. in English at Belmont (winning the Graduate Writing Award among others while he was here), not only has a book forthcoming from Oxford University Press (Constructing Pakistan: Foundational Texts and the Rise of Muslim National Identity 1857-1947), but also has founded a new journal, Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies. I took the opportunity recently to ask him a few questions about his life and writing.

So in the retrospect of several years, what were the most valuable experiences of your B.A. and M.A. years at Belmont?

I think Belmont has a direct bearing on all that I have accomplished so far in my academic and professional career. I came to Belmont immediately after quitting the Pakistan Army. The two years as an undergraduate did not only train me to think critically but also gave me a chance to experience life with other undergraduates. This second part now enables me to understand the problems and trials of my undergraduate students better as my own undergraduate expertise is not so removed from theirs.

The Masters program at Belmont, through the close and attentive engagement with the faculty, provided me a sound foundation for my future work. I learned how to learn but I also learned how to be a mentor to my own students. Now as a graduate faculty member when I m directing a Masters thesis or administering a PhD exam, I find myself thinking: “How would Dr. Paine handle this, or what would Dr. Pinter say about this idea.” So my teachers at Belmont are my role models in defining my own role as a teacher and a mentor.

So, in a nutshell, I would not be where I am today as a teacher and a scholar without Belmont.

I remember when you graduated with your M.A. you said something about coming back to the University with something to say. You came back last Fall as a featured speaker in the Humanities Symposium. How was that experience, and what seems to have changed most about Belmont?

Coming back to Belmont as a speaker was one of the most exhilarating experience of my life as a scholar. I mean, just the honor of interacting with my teachers and to share my thoughts with young Belmont students was fascinating. I found Belmont to be busier, which is understandable, as it has grown since I left, but I still felt the same spirit of a nurturing community especially amongst the faculty. So, to say it in other words, while Belmont has grown in terms of its student body and its infrastructure, I am happy to know that it has not lost that feel of a caring community that makes it so special.

How did you get started blogging? What do you think about it as a mode of writing/communication? Did it in any way contribute to the founding of Pakistaniaat?

What I like about blogging is the freedom and the democratic immediacy of it. I mean anyone with access to the Internet can now put his or her ideas out there. I started blogging a few years ago on my personal website, a website provided to me by two of my Belmont/Nashville friends Audra and Mike. Their hosting company ( provides amazing web tools especially created for writers and artists.

So the blogging experience was crucial in my decision to startan online academic journal about Pakistan. I mean the technological means were there; all I needed was the resolve to do it.

Tell me about the journal—what’s its scope, why this journal, why now?

I started thinking of starting a journal about Pakistan last year, mainly because I felt Pakistan was still being covered and represented in the US media in a stereotypical way as a dark place etc.

The journal’s mission is to offer a space on the Internet for all those from Pakistan or interested in Pakistan to publish their work. I was lucky to have some serious scholars and writers join me from the very start. We launched our first website on January 12, 2009 and received our first submission on January 17.

We then moved to a new hosting company to use Open Journal Systems (OJS) software, the best software available for online academic publishing. Last week we published our first issue, which, of course, was made possible by a group of volunteers who offered us their labor and the writers who trusted us with their work.

The journal does not have much institutional support, so we rely heavily on donations and sale of our print copies. Blogging has helped here too as I was able to create a blog and provide a link to that on the journal website. Now if I get any questions, all I need to do as the editor is to point the person to our blog to find any additional information about the journal. The blog also helps us in requesting for donations through a donation button provided on the blog.

What are you reading these days? Are you writing anything else soon?

This week I am reading Delillo’s Libra for a graduate course on postmodernism that I'm teaching this summer. I am also working on my third book, Secular Fundamentalism, which basically challenges the Eurocentric readings of postcolonial texts and attempts to articulate a more culture-specific method of reading the postcolonial works about Islam.