Friday, April 30, 2010

Five Questions with Chris "Chainsaw" Pliny

Today's graduating senior profile is with Chris "Chainsaw" Pliny, English Club regular and Literacy Day organizer extraordinaire.

What were the most valuable experiences of your English major (and of course, why)?

Perhaps my most valuable experience as a major was taking Dr. Wells' Shakespeare class. I had no confidence in reading the Bard beforehand, but upon finishing the course I was able to critically analyze his work. Later that year, something happened when I read As You Like It that really solidified for me what it meant to read a text. It was the first time I used critical articles to look at a text when I wasn't reading it for a class or paper. Very nerdy, but very enlightening as well. I sum up Shakespeare this way:

Reading him is like the weight that baseball players put on their bats during warm-up. Shakespeare makes reading other texts feel lighter than air.

What are your immediate post-graduation plans (including educational/professional ones)?

My immediate post graduate plans are to write for Dish Magazine, a small, online publication. I do their health section and will also be doing a sex and relationships column (hopefully). The battle of the sexes fascinates me. This job will only be part time so I will take other jobs to help make ends meet. Already have another lined up, so I should be set. I will also be working on my first book. And doing research for it.

Have your favorite writers changed since you’ve been here? Who are they now and why?

My favorite writers really haven't changed. During my junior year of high school, I was introduced to Mark Twain, Robert Frost, ee cummings and Edgar Lee Masters and I love all of them, still. Mark Twain, especially. But I have also added a considerable amount of favorites, particularly Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, William Carlos Williams, Shakespeare, Tim O'Brien, Cormac McCarthy, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, David Sedaris, and Michael Crichton (though, he has been a favorite since I was a child). I would say that college really solidified my love of American literature. I thank Dr. Trout for that--and her American Lit II class.

True or False: "April is the cruellest month."

April has always been my favorite time of the year in Nashville. Call me sentimental.

Any shout outs on your way out?

I would love to give shout outs to Dr. Trout first and foremost. Thanks for everything. It was one of the greatest blessings to have you as my advisor. Thanks for harassing me, too. But I still disapprove of your reading US Weekly.

Dr. Wells: Thanks for all of your encouragement last Spring. And for your wit. Some of my favorite characters in all of literature came from your classes (Feste, Volpone).

Dr. John: What can I say? Your poetry class changed my life's course. I may be broke for the rest of it, now, but as Fiddler Jones says:

And I never started to plow in my life 20
That some one did not stop in the road
And take me away to a dance or picnic.
I ended up with forty acres;
I ended up with a broken fiddle—
And a broken laugh, and a thousand memories, 25
And not a single regret.

Bon Bons: We will always have Africa. Thanks for just being cool. And always supportive. I don't think I'll ever know you as anything else but Bon Bons.

The English Club: Thanks for thinking "Let's Get Textual" was cool. I'm the innuendo king. Call me next year for ideas.

What would it have been valuable for you to know as you were starting your English major? Would you have done anything differently, knowing what you know now?

What would have been valuable to know? That it would have turned EVERYTHING into a text. Even people. Oh, and that authors don't count. Only narrators. That has been great in dating. "Honey, that wasn't me telling her she was sexy. That was just the narrator. BIG difference."

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Five Questions with Will Hoekenga

Today's graduating senior profile is of Will Hoekenga, Carl Chaney Award winner as the outstanding male BU English Major.

What were the most valuable experiences of your English major (and of course, why)?

Peer-tutoring was definitely a valuable experience because it showed me how difficult it is to teach writing. All of the lit courses I took were valuable experiences since they broadened my view of writing and literature. Senior seminar was valuable because it helped me begin to better my understanding of the role of the humanities within society and the academy.

What are your immediate post-graduation plans (including educational/professional ones)?

I'm starting a professional writing company. I have a client that I will be working pretty much exclusively for full time for the next year or so. He is the business manager for an author who is published by Thomas Nelson. I hope to use his connections to build my list of clients and grow business. Outside of work I will be devoting most of my time to my own writing.

Have your favorite writers changed since you’ve been here? Who are they now and why?

Yes. Cormac McCarthy has become one of my favorites. I admire his stylistic ability and range (compare Blood Meridian and All the Pretty Horses to No Country for Old Men and The Road...pretty incredible). I've found that, generally, American literature is what I like most. Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men is somewhere among my favorite novels. I read it twice while at Belmont and was amazed by how different it was the second time. Flannery O'Connor is incredibly powerful and her novels should be taught way more often. Kurt Vonnegut was one of my favorites prior to Belmont and I still think his books are great.

True or False: "April is the cruellest month."

So true. Especially as a senior. Thanks for the early warning, T.S.

Any shout outs on your way out?

Thanks to all the profs, particularly Stover and Trout for being awesome and challenging. Thanks to Dr. Cox for primo advising and DARS interpretation.

What would it have been valuable for you to know as you were starting your English major? Would you have done anything differently, knowing what you know now?

Yes, I would have become an English major freshman year instead of waiting until halfway through my sophomore year to switch. Jack Massey and the school of music business has a part of my soul that I will never get back.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Five Questions with Allison Berwald

Our next graduating senior profile is of Allison Berwald, co-winner of the Virginia Chaney Award for the outstanding female major.

What were the most valuable experiences of your English major (and of course, why)?

The most valuable experiences of my English major have been class discussions and working on my papers with the help of a professor. I have participated in so many class discussions in English major classes, particularly in the upper level courses and senior seminar, that have significantly changed and deepened my understanding of a text, of the people in my class, of whatever the text is addressing, and of how to read literature. All the complexities of the text and analysis of it come out in class discussion. I have also found great value in honing my writing with the help of whatever professor is teaching that class and sometimes of peers. Conferences with teachers have helped me understand more about how to engage in the writing process and how to write clearly and insightfully. I have come to love academic writing through this process, which I would never have imagined myself saying when I entered as a freshman.

What are your immediate post-graduation plans (including educational/professional ones)?

My immediate post-graduation plan is to find a job for a year or so in editing, tutoring, teaching, or anything I can as I apply for a Fulbright and to graduate schools.

Have your favorite writers changed since you’ve been here? Who are they now and why?

My favorite writers have not changed since I have been here, but I understand those writers better and love them more, and I have found many more writers to add to that list. I loved Shakespeare, Austen, Pullman, L'Engle, Rowling, Wilde, and Thoreau before coming here. Now that list has to include Donne, Chaucer, Sidney, and Marquez, among others of course. In most cases I love the depth, complexity, and insightfulness of their writing and their ability to place you in a moment and make you feel completely present in it.

True or False: "April is the cruellest month."

Usually true - however, this March was absolutely terrible.

Any shout outs on your way out?

To Dr. James Wells, who has his Ph.D. in throwing down.

What would it have been valuable for you to know as you were starting your English major? Would you have done anything differently, knowing what you know now?

I think that I found out everything I needed to know at the moment I needed to know it. I would not have done anything differently from the moment I started my English major. I wish I had been able to take more English classes as electives, though, instead of using them all for my freshman year as a music business major. However, that's what brought me to Belmont, so it was worth it.

Amaryah Armstrong wins Corinne Dale Award and Crabb Award

by Shannon Smith

Amaryah Armstrong, Senior BU English major, recently won the new Corrine Dale Award for Achievement in Writing about Gender. She took a gender studies class in the Fall 2009 semester with Dr. Caresse John where she wrote the paper as a final project for her class. Dr. John then contacted Amaryah asking her if she wanted to submit the paper for the award. Amaryah then edited her piece with the help of Dr. John and her advisor, Dr. Annette Sisson.

The paper is entitled "Community and Creation: Life and Survival in Tony Morrison’s Sula." Amaryah attempted to connect several things within the paper: how community is tied to creativity in the novel and how this community creates an alternative way of survival inside of an oppressive dominate culture.

Of course, Amaryah was delighted to have won the award. “It was really exciting. It’s funny because I took a couple classes with Dr. Dale, and she was always really challenging and she was always trying to prove to me I could handle the English major.”

Amaryah’s paper also went on to compete against papers from all departments across campus for the Alfred Leland Crabb Award which she also won! Congratulations, Amaryah!

Shannon Smith is a Junior BU English Major.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Five Questions with Carly Escue

Over the next several days, we'll profile many of the graduating seniors that comprise our biggest class ever (32 graduates!). We'll start with Carly Escue, co-winner of the Virginia Chaney Award, given annually to the outstanding female English Major.

What were the most valuable experiences of your English major (and of course, why)?

This question is a difficult one for me because I tend to think of my English major experiences as a unified whole. It's hard for me to pull out pieces that aren't somehow connected to something else. However, I can say that classroom discussions in my literature courses have been extremely valuable. Both my professors and my peers consistently offered new perspectives which always informed, if not changed my own.

What are your immediate post-graduation plans (including educational/professional ones)?

Although I haven't secured my position yet, I plan to spend the next year teaching English in Russia. I completed a Teaching English as a Second Language certification course last summer, so I'll be putting that experience to use. I took Russian here, and I really want to improve my language skills before deciding upon the if's, what's, and when's of graduate school. This summer I'll be working in Nashville, saving pennies for rubles.

Have your favorite writers changed since you’ve been here? Who are they now and why?

My favorite authors have surely changed over the past four years. I've definitely matured as a reader thanks to the brilliant people by whom I've been surrounded here at Belmont. My absolute favorite is Vladimer Nabokov, though I hadn't read any of his works before I started college. My infatuation with Nabokov was inevitable. His prose is poetry, and his insights are spot on, every time. Of course, my interest in Russian literature and culture fuels my passion for him, especially since he translated much of his own work that wasn't originally created in English. Finally, I love to love him because I can I think of him as "mine": I didn't discover him through any course or reading list.

True or False: "April is the cruellest month."

False. It is cruel in its constantly reminding me of the brevity of my time left here, but this specific April has already been full of experiences which I know I'll carry with me for the whole of my life. It's been the most beautiful April I've known.

Any shout outs on your way out?

The utter selflessness of the English faculty here is reason enough for me to shout out to all of my professors. Thank you for your time and your minds. They weren't wasted on me.

What would it have been valuable for you to know as you were starting your English major? Would you have done anything differently, knowing what you know now?

I definitely would have tried harder to complete an internship. That's the one academic regret I have.

Friday, April 16, 2010

New Bookstore Downtown: Sherlock’s Book Emporium and Curiosities

by Shelly Reed

Don’t be fooled by the name. Sherlock’s Book Emporium and Curiosities is not just a mystery bookstore. It has a little bit of everything. Owner Steve Guynn compares the store to “shopping in a Hard Rock Café, but where you can buy everything you see.”

Since opening on January 22, 2010 the store has made three times the amount it expected to. After visiting the bookstore myself, this comes as no surprise; they sell a wide selection of unique items. Book topics range from reference, travel, cooking, Christian fiction, rare first editions, signed by the author, young adult, science fiction, and horror. There are large selections of erotic horror and black interest books. The store is also considered a hobby shop, as it sells movies, cards, board games, planners, journals, scrap booking supplies and even lunch boxes.

Sherlock’s is known for its selection of classic films and Guynn suggests buying one of these films and a matching lunch box to make a “one of a kind present.” I personally came home with a small bread recipe book and a DVD birthday card for my father. The DVD shows important events and people from the year he was born.

Another special quality of the store is its dedication to finding rare and out of print books. Guynn believes he plays the role of Sherlock Holmes by searching for these books. His investigative method involves a book search that encompasses four different continents.

The downtown store is a miniature version of the giant Sherlock’s bookstore in Lebanon. The thirty-minute drive is well worth it according to Guynn, as it is the largest independent bookstore and hobby shop in America. This store includes a theater, a café, and even an outdoor racecar track.

If you are looking for rare books, unique collectables, or just a different shopping experience, check out Sherlock’s Book Emporium and Curiosities at 235 Fifth Avenue North. Open Mon-Fri 10-4 pm.

Shelly Reed is a Senior BU English Major.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

BU English Major a National Champion Debater

by Shannon Smith

English Major Kate Tully is a valuable asset to Belmont’s Speech and Debate Team. Since enrolling at Belmont this past fall, she has won numerous awards at competitions around the country. On March 5, 2010, Kate was awarded first place overall for the novice group at the National Christian College Forensics Invitational held at Cedarville University in Ohio. She competed in multiple events, including individual and group, where she was judged on all aspects of her performances.

Kate started out as a member of the team at the beginning of the school year competing only in individual events such as literature interpretation, in which she would act out monologues from literary works, and speech competition, in which she would present prepared speeches.

Kate’s talents as an individual competitor led her to be recruited to compete in group/partner events. Each debate group is composed of two people, although the entire team is allowed to prepare together since they have the same case. They are allotted fifteen minutes of preparation time and given a legal pad on which to brainstorm thoughts, ideas and main points. A fifty-minute debate process follows in which the groups break up and argue their cases.

“My favorite part is being on the team because we [have] all become so close. It’s like we’re a second family,” Kate notes.

Kate believes that she is a better speaker because of her background in writing—and vice versa. “Being on the Speech and Debate Team has helped me develop as a writer,” she says, because during some events we’re forced to speak on the spot. These events help me quickly and fluently articulate my thoughts. Writing the speeches has helped me grow because they are very structured and precise—the organization allows me to efficiently and effectively catalog information.”

Shannon Smith is a Senior BU English Major.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Advising and Course Number Changes

Hey, all you English majors. Please make appointments with your advisors for the advising period, April 12-21. Priority Registration begins April 26.

A couple of course changes for this year: Senior Seminar, formerly ENL or ENW 4900 is now listed as ENG 4900 on the "English" tab in Classfinder. Junior Seminar, formerly ENL or ENW 3000, is on the same page, listed as ENG 3000.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cheryl Glenn to Give Two Talks Next Week

(submitted by Dr. Cynthia Cox): Please join the Belmont University English Department for two talks by Dr. Cheryl Glenn, Professor of English and Women’s Studies at Penn State University.

On Monday, April 12, at 10:00 in Massey 104, Dr. Glenn will present "Rhetoric, Gender, and the Possibilities of Moving Beyond Women." In this talk, Dr. Glenn, an award-winning teacher and prominent scholar, will discuss innovations in the field of rhetoric, a millenia-old discipline that interrogates persuasion and its role in our culture. The presentation will trace the trajectory of a research agenda in rhetoric studies, one that includes "doing" rhetorical history, theory, and pedagogy (teaching).

At 5:30 on the 12th in Wheeler 102, Professor Glenn will discuss "Developing a Career in Rhetoric and Composition: Preparation and Possibilities." This talk will lay out the preparation necessary for developing a career in this field, a broad academic discipline with many different possibilities. The emphasis will be on conversation, question-and-answer, and deliberation about the future. Come for all or part of this discussion!

Cheryl Glenn is Liberal Arts Research Professor of English and Women’s Studies and co-director of the Center for Democratic Deliberation at The Pennsylvania State University. She has been Visiting Professor at University of New Mexico, University of Cape Town, and University of Alberta and has lectured widely throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Africa. In the summers, she teaches at the Bread Loaf Graduate School of English. In 2008, Glenn served as Chair of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC). Her publications include Rhetoric Retold: Regendering the Tradition from Antiquity Through the Renaissance, Unspoken: A Rhetoric of Silence, Rhetorical Education in America, The St. Martin’s Guide to Teaching Writing, The Writer’s Harbrace Handbook, Making Sense, and The Harbrace Guide for Writers. Glenn’s rhetorical scholarship has earned her National Endowment for the Humanities and Mellon fellowships, the Richard Braddock Award from College Composition and Communication, and the Outstanding Article Award from Rhetoric Review. She has received four teaching awards.

Lakota Poet Ron Colombe Reading April 7

On Wednesday, April 7 at 10:00 Ron Colombe will perform his poetry in Beaman A&B. On the back of his first book of verse, Silent Shouting, Quiet War, the Lakota poet, speaker, powwow dancer, and feather and bead artisan declares: “I was born into tragic circumstances, a child of tragic people, loved like a tragic child—what else, but a poet, could I become?” He was referring to the fact that in 1954, at the tender age of two, he was taken from his parents on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota and put into foster care in an attempt by the federal government to end Native culture by assimilating its children into mainstream American life.