Monday, August 31, 2009

Handbook Makes Debut at English Major Meeting

On Friday, August 28, over 100 English majors packed LCVA 117 and heard about the following upcoming opportunities:

Carly Escue spoke about English Club/Sigma Tau Delta events and sponsored speakers for the fall, including Jordan Christy (Friday, Sept. 11) and Samantha Morgan-Curtis (October 30 in the second installment of what is now the Twilight Lecture Series!). The English Club will be discussing Toni Morrison's a mercy and Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping. Chris Pliny previewed Family Literacy Day for next Spring, which has taken on some exciting songwriting-inflected twists.

Professors Sisson and Stover previewed the upcoming Humanities Symposium September 13-21), and Professor Sisson read Mary Oliver's lovely poem "The Summer Day."

Several "road trips" were mentioned, including Professor Hutchins' study abroad trip to England over winter break, "Dickens and the Idea of Christmas"; Professor Wells' closer-to-home Blackfriars Theatre Trip, October 9-11; and also the Stratford Ontario trip in May (more details to come).

Professor Danielle Alexander, the new faculty sponsor for the Belmont Literary Journal sent out a call for editors and contributors.

Finally, Professor Curtis closed the meeting by handing out the first edition of the BU English Major Handbook (or "the Green book" as it quickly came to be called). A more detailed online version of the Handbook will be available soon, but the Green book has contact information and a who's who of who can help you in the English Department.

Have a great semester, English majors!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

40/40 a Trip for BU English Major

Cory Carter, an English major with a Writing emphasis, was quoted recently in a Chronicle of Higher Education story about his participation in the "40 States in 40 Days" program. You can read Cory's blog about his experiences re-discovering America here.

Happy New (Academic) Year!

The faculty and staff of the BU English Department wishes our majors a wonderful Fall Semester!

Remember that there will be a meeting of all majors and minors on Friday, August 28, in LCVA 117 (the Auditorium in the Art Building).

Monday, August 17, 2009

Job, Internship Opportunities

First,, sponsors of the Tomato Arts Festival Haiku Contest, wants you to know that they are hiring. See the details of this position at

And Claire Ploegman wants everyone to know that there are internship opportunities at _Southern Inspired_ magazine for staff writers. Contact Dr. Cox (the department Internship Coordinator) or Dr. Curtis for details.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

"Inspired" Update : BU English Alum Claire Ploegman

Claire Ploegman won the Virginia M. Chaney Award as the outstanding English major in 2008. She was recently named Managing Editor of Southern Inspired Magazine.

Tell us a little about the magazine.

Southern Inspired Magazine: The magazine has been repeatedly described as a cross between Southern Living and Real Simple with a local twist. Besides the fact that the word "twist" irks me, I am happy being a part of this Southern Living/ Real Simple hybrid even when the articles are not my dream topics, because the vision is to build community, especially in the face of economic re-evaluation. The magazine is to cater to a span of incomes, glorifying thrift shops and the satisfaction that comes with DIY projects since hiring out has become expensive even for those who are still comfortable. Reinvention, recycling, making do, paying attention --- these are all quietly present in the magazine (I try to find any resonance I can will Bill McKibben's Deep Economy). So Read LOCAL. Those are the words I prefer to describe it. The magazine is also supposed to appeal to women, ages 25-75, and building an intergenerational community is important to me. I don't mind starting with their hobbies (even if gender expectations are used to determine said hobbies - I still stand by SAGE).

What do you do as the managing editor?

Managing Editor has been an interesting title for what I have been doing so far. Let me emphasize that this is a start up magazine.... which means any one job title is problematic. Honestly I have been flying in so many different directions -- ad sales, social representing/ hobnobbing, setting up interviews, photoshoots, finding distribution sites and delivering boxes of magazines, covering local events, interviewing freelancers of all kinds, and going absolutely broke. (But everyone is broke right now. It's a good time to be broke.) For this first issue, the title of managing editor came late in the game. It came because I am the senior member, nascent as the magazine is. It came as a pay voucher. It came out of proven ability, too, though there really was no hierarchy of copy-editors this time. I suppose I did manage the other editors and try to install method to the madness of figuring out drafting schedules and editing cycles.

What do you like most about your job?

I am never doing the same thing two days in a row. (Although sometimes I wish I had more writerly haven days...) Also, it's a small shop, and I have a surprising amount of say in article topics and presentation, so I can make sure I evolve an assignment to a place where I will enjoy writing it.

Were there experiences during your time at Belmont that helped you prepare for what you're doing now, or is this pretty much a whole new world?

Well, I hate Associated Press style. Being an MLA literature major prepped me for that feeling. A lot of experiences at Belmont have been invaluable. I was a design communications minor, so that trained my eye and opinions when I function as a layout/ design editor. But that minor came directly out of Book Editing with Dr. Alexander. Book Editing helped me realize I could swirl all my interests into one career, and helped me realize I need the swirl -- I don't think I could take a job that was all copy editing.

I almost wish I'd done some pre-press, dead end ad sales while I was still in college, though. I used to get really wigged out about class presentations, and I think those initial ad sales helped me get over it --- especially because when it comes to literature presentations, I at least had something I wanted to say (not, "Can I have your money? NO? Really? Okay.").

Also, creative writing workshops really helped me learn how to work in groups of very different writers. Editing can turn so invasive, insultingly invasive. You can tell when people have not refined editing rapport, let alone realized they need to consider its existence. Write your own article; edit the others.

Anything else you'd like faculty, alums, or current students to know about you and what you're doing?

I have plans to move into an efficiency apartment in September.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Program Reminder: Jordan Christy on The Today Show

Remember to tune in Thursday, August 13 during the Kathie Lee & Hoda hour, as Jordan will be promoting her book, How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World: The Art of Living with Style, Class & Grace. Jordan will also be having a signing/release party at Davis-Kidd (Green Hills location) on August 27. And of course she'll be here for a couple of sessions on September 11. Set your DVRs!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What Drives Authors? You Do!

(submitted by Honors Director Devon Boan): As you've probably noticed, the Southern Festival of Books is just around the corner again and so I'm beginning to organize volunteers again who might be willing to provide rides to and from the airport for authors. This seems like a great opportunity for our English majors who might want to spend 30-45 minutes with an author picking his or her brain about writing and publishing (not to mention the chance to network a little with someone already established).

I had a great time last year talking with Billie Letts about Tracy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play and the challenges of being a writer from Oklahoma, as well as with David Wroblewski and his interesting story about getting Edgar Sawtelle published, his MFA experience, and the Oprah conversations.

The festival is scheduled this year for the weekend of Oct. 9-11, and authors might start coming in as early as a day or two before that. I imagine they'll be staying at the Sheraton again this year, so it’s quite easy to drop them off or pick them up. If you would be willing to help, email me your available days and times and I'll put you with an author or two for the weekend. If you have any questions, call me at 460-6397 or email me at

Poetry Stand at the Tomato Arts Festival

Please plan to come visit the Poetry Stand, which will be set up near the Art and Invention Gallery in East Nashville's Five Points district from 10 to 4 on Saturday, August 8, as part of the Nashville Tomato Art Festival! The festival itself promises to be just as much fun as always, with food, contests, music, art, and more. With all this plus the poetry stand, how can you resist?

Special note: **Volunteers** are also needed for the Poetry Stand on Saturday. If you can come provide your poetic talent for a 30-minute or 1-hour slot, please let Dr. Danielle Alexander know ( Otherwise, drop by, say hi, and get a special souvenir tomato-festival poem!

Special special note: Be sure to be at the main stage at Five Points at 2:00 when the winners of the Haiku Contest will be announced by Eileen Fickes!