Get to Know: Technical Communication's Online Program
Every May, PhD students in Technical Communication and Rhetoric's online program gather on campus. They've come from across the country to meet face-to-face with faculty and peers whom they have met in their hybrid courses. The May Seminar, what Associate Director Dr. Christiana Christofides calls the "it" factor for Texas Tech's online Technical Communication and Rhetoric (TCR) program, provides students opportunities for professional development, research presentation, and cohort-building activities.
The online program, entering its fourteenth year, allows more flexibility than a traditional graduate program. In addition to the online PhD program, students also have online options for the Masters of Art in Technical Communication and Graduate Certificates in teaching technical writing and grant writing. But the strongest advantages seems to be the ability to participate in coursework without having to relocate. Dr. Kelli Cargile Cook, Associate Chair of TCR, explains, "Students who are employed full-time can maintain their employment while they earn their PhD, rather than moving to Lubbock and working as teaching assistants." Dr. Greg Wilson, Director of Graduate Studies for TCR, agrees, adding "[it] offers advantages to those students who are at a point in their careers where relocating for an onsite graduate program isn't feasible because of work, family, etc." Students have the option of online courses, as well as hybrid courses offered during the evening. Using a variety of telecommunication softwares and technologies, online TCR students enter the classroom with onsite students. With the exception of the annual May Seminar, students enjoy an equivalent education to an onsite graduate program, while completing their coursework from online.
A final advantage to an online TCR program is accessibility. Dr. Christofides notes that "the online program also enables individuals with disabilities or individuals with limited mobility or access to participate fully in a rigorous academic program that would be difficult to do otherwise." Accessibilty is something that potential graduate student Kirsten Morris has noticed. In addition to her praise for the cost and advantage of location, Morris says, "[the TCR online program] has also taken steps, ahead of other departments at Tech, to make their online content fully accessible."
Applications for the online TCR program are due January 1, 2018. Learn more about the online TCR program on the FAQ page, or email Dr. Kelli Cargile Cook, Dr. Greg Wilson, or Dr. Christiana Christofides.
Banned Books Week
Banned Books Week is an annual event held during the last week of September, and this year, the Department of English came out in full force to celebrate our freedom to read.
On Wednesday, September 27, the Book History Club hosted an Alice in Wonderland public read-in. The event was held in the Free Speech Area between the Student Union Building and TTU Library. For two hours, the club and other interested faculty and students participated in reading Alice in Wonderland aloud.
Carlos Peraza, a mechanical engineering major passionate about bookbinding, attended the read-in. "The outdoor reading was great to listen to. I came out to see how the reading would be organized and was pleasantly surprised by how calm the atmosphere was," Peraza said. "It meant a lot that people could just relax at the event and not worry about grades for a little while. Books are great like that."
Alice in Wonderland was once banned because people objected to the animal characters speaking with human language, thus placing them on the same level as humans. Censors also objected to derogatory characterizations of teachers, religious ceremonies, and references to drug use within the novel.
Dr. Marta Kvande, faculty advisor for the Book History Club, also participated in the read-in. "Banned Books Week is important because I think it helps remind people that ideas matter," Kvande said. "It's perfect evidence that what we do in English can really make a difference because we help people learn how to think and read critically."
On Friday, September 29, Dr. Julie Nelson Couch helped organize an event for book lovers in the newly revamped atrium. Professors and students alike were invited to come talk about books while enjoying coffee and snacks. The event coincided with Texas Tech's Family Weekend, which gave us the opportunity to meet several incoming students as well.
During the atrium event, professors had on display a table full of books that were banned at one point in time. Jose Garcia, an astrophysics major who stopped by the event, was stunned to learn favorite reads such as Diary of a Young Girl, Harry Potter, and To Kill A Mockingbird are among books that have been banned or challenged.
The Letterpress Studio also took part in this event. They loaded up their replica Civil War-era Campaign press on a cart and rolled it down to the atrium, where those in attendance were allowed to pull a letterpress print. Nilsandra Silva, a geophysics major, was among the people who got to print a broadside. "The different kinds of technology in this room alone are so cool," Silva said. "There are books, of course, and letterpress machines, and our phones as well."
It is certainly worth noting—at Texas Tech, especially—that the evolution of technology has made it nearly impossible to ban any book completely today. We are all the better for it.
Through the summer of 2017 two folks on our department team, Ashley Olguin and Eleanor Mode, began work on what has become our revamped Atrium space in the building. Since the new English building was completed in 2002, the Atrium has really been a great opportunity never realized, thousands of square feet of open area on the second floor of the building, right by the west-facing balcony, where countless students every day walk through or by.
We wanted students from around campus, including English undergrads and grads, to feel like they had a safe, relaxing space to hang out. So Ashley and Eleanor went about ordering chairs, tables, and couches, and then eventually coffee and snacks, so that the Atrium took on the vibe of a coffee shop. We love the fact that every day now we see students stretched out on couches, or sitting at tables, by themselves or with friends, even faculty, enjoying free coffee and snacks as they relax a little bit or get caught up on work.
We've already held a few events in the Atrium, such as National Literacy Day, and we look forward to holding more. When you contribute to the Department Excellence Fund, you help us keep the Atrium thriving as a respite for TTU students.
LHUCA Literary Reading Series Showcases Local and Visiting Writers
The Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts, or LHUCA, Literary readings series has become a fixture in Lubbock's literary scene. Jeremy Tow first approached LHUCA about setting up a graduate student reading space. He brought Chad Abushanab and Jessica Smith on board. The reading events were initially an opportunity to feature graduate writers from Texas Tech and Lubbock.
Jessica and Jeremy have shaped the LHUCA Literary reading series into an avenue for open discourse on social issues. Jessica approached Dean Lindquist about securing funds to bring in visiting writers. Each invited author is asked to prepare a statement about their political interests. When asked about this direction they wanted to take the series, Jessica explains, "specifically what responsiblity literature has in combating discrimination and encouraging ideological transparency." She invites writers to explore literature's power to engage with social discourses. The variety of topics, from global warming to empathy to dismantling white supremacy, bears witness to the ways these authors address the world around them. Writers from Texas Tech and Lubbock have shared the stage with visiting writers, including Tomás Q. Morín, Matthew Yeager, Tarfia Faizullah, Layli Long Soldier, Allegra Hyde, Christopher Soto, and Brooke Ellsworth.
The LHUCA Literary reading series is hosted at the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts' Firehouse Theater (511 Ave. K). This month's event will be October 27th, starting at 7 PM, and will feature readings from Lance Evangelister, Nancy Dinan, and visiting writer Laura Van Prooyen.
Dr. William Wenthe Named Lubbock Poet Laureate
The English Department's William Wenthe has been named the first Poet Laureate for Lubbock. The position is a one-year term, after which it will be rotated annually among the diversity of writers in the Lubbock area. This announcement will be officially made at the first Lubbock Book Festival, on the weekend of October 27th. The role of Poet Laureate involves readings, and visits to local schools to support the literary arts. Wenthe says that the position is more about Lubbock than himself: it is a way of signaling that Lubbock deserves its place in the literary landscape of Texas, the Southwest, the country. Wenthe is also quick to point out that though this official title of Poet Laureate is new, the de facto unofficial Poet Laureate of Lubbock is Professor Emeritus Walt McDonald, founder of the creative writing program, and Texas State Poet Laureate in 2001. Through a long career spanning many books and awards, Walt imagined the life and history of the South Plains into the realm of poetry.
Bill Wenthe was born and raised in New Jersey; after studying in Massachusetts and Virginia he moved to Lubbock in 1992, where he joined the English Department. His teaching areas are mainly 20th Century British Poetry, and Creative Writing. He is the author of four books of poems, the most recent of which is God's Foolishness, published by LSU Press in 2016. His previous books are Words Before Dawn, Not Till We Are Lost, and Birds of Hoboken. His poetry has won awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Texas Commission on the Arts, the Texas Institute of Letters, the Everett Southwest Literary Award, and two Pushcart Prizes. Numerous anthologies and journals have published his poems and essays on poetry, including Poetry, The Paris Review, Tin House, The Georgia Review, The Yale Review, Threepenny Review, American Poetry Review, and many others.
Study Abroad in Sevilla!
The chance to study abroad can't be missed during your college years. TTU is proud to offer a wide variety of abroad programs, including a Poetry program in Sevilla, Spain!
Under the guidance of Dr. John Poch, students will take English 2305: Introduction to Poetry, a course that allows them to explore some of the best poets of all time. In addition, Dr. Poch and students will explore their host city, Sevilla, with field trips to Granada, Cordoba, Toledo, Segovia, and Madrid.
Judging from this video shot from the 2016 study abroad, students are in for a world of sights and wonders!
Study Abroad in London!
Great news! In the summer of 2018, Texas Tech students will have the opportunity to learn about some of the greatest authors while touring London. Dr. Marta Kvande will be leading a select group of students on a trip of a lifetime from May 26th-July 1st.
Students will have the choice to take ENGL 2307: Introduction to Fiction, ENGL 3307: Restoration and Eighteenth-Century British Literature, or both! The program is open to all undergraduate Texas Tech students, and all are invited to apply. ENGL 2307 fulfills the core English requirement, while ENGL 3307 fulfills an English major or minor requirement.
On top of built-in field trips, many weekends will be free to explore Britain solo or as a group (we recommend as a group, at least to begin with!). Some of the attractions on the agenda are the Tower of London, London Underground Tour, and a performance at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. This study abroad experience is one to jump on, as spots are limited.
The opportunity to study abroad and earn class credit is one of the greatest advantages college students have, and now English students will get to experience an unforgettable trip during the summer of 2018. For further questions, contact Dr. Marta Kvande.
Click here to get a head start and start your application now!
Puppies & Pastries
Photo credit: The Daily Toreador
On September 21st, the English Department hosted our very first Puppies & Pastries event. Certified therapy dogs were brought to the second-floor atrium for students to pet and relax with. P&P was the perfect opportunity for stressed students to unwind and enjoy some down time, even if they were only able to stay for a few minutes.
It was announced on social media during the week prior to the event, and most students admitted that as soon as they heard the word “puppies” they were sold on the event. Kristen York, a Junior English Literature and Creative Writing major, commented that it was nice to be able to relax with the dogs during her short break between classes. “It's a good atmosphere here because it's pretty quiet and the dogs are really calm,” Kristen said while one of the dogs sat in her lap.
Most students asked permission to take pictures with the puppies, and in turn were encouraged to take as many as they wanted. The students were also encouraged to post their pictures to social media and tag the English Department. Dr. Abigail King tweeted: “Major crowd at puppies and pastries!!” during the event, and voiced that she was happy to see so many students had come.
Puppies & Pastries will be held monthly for the rest of the fall semester, the next being on October 12th, and the one after that on November 30th.
Literature, Social Justice, and Environment Program Hosts "Walled Up" Round Table
On October 18th, the Literature, Social Justice, and Environment (LSJE) initiative will host a round table, "Walled Up: Human and Environmental Impacts of a Border Wall." This community event will begin at 7 PM, in the English building's basement auditorium. The roundtable will feature Kevin Bixby (Southwest Environmental Center), Dr. Miguel Levario (Department of History), and Dr. Samantha Kahl (Department of Natural Resources Management). Each speaker will address the topic from their respective fields, before opening the floor to audience questions and comments.
Dr. Sara Spurgeon, one of the organizers for the round table, explains why these events are community-oriented. She writes, "The Literature, Social Justice and Environment initiative is an inherently outward-facing concentration, and the LSJE Roundtables seeks to convene the brightest minds to focus on the challenges shaping our world today, not just within TTU, but in the community of which we are part. This is why the Roundtables are organized as discussions, driven by audience Q and A, rather than a simple lecture series. The voices and concerns of community members is vital in helping LSJE make Texas Tech the hub for innovative, world-changing scholarship. We want LSJE students and faculty to become connectors, not just scholars. This is how we help to turn TTU and Lubbock into a world-leading center for world-changing ideas."
In addition to these community round tables, the LSJE program hosts monthly lunchtime speaker series, in which faculty and graduate students share research. And like the round table, these lunchtime events are free and open to the public. For more information on the lunchtime series, see the department calendar for times and location.
Joya Mannan Wins Paul Whitfield Horn Fellowship
A hearty congratulations to PhD candidate Joya Mannan for winning the 2017-2018 Paul Whitfield Horn Fellowship. The fellowship is awarded each year to a deserving woman scholar working towards a graduate degree at Texas Tech University.
Mary Elkins, the fellowship committee chair, says, "We had the distinct privilege of awarding the fellowship to Joya this year due to her outstanding academic ability and professional achievements. We very much enjoyed learning of her academic endeavors and appreciate her involvement in university activities in addition to her devotion to completing her degree in a timely manner. We are delighted to offer her our support."
Applicants for the Paul Whitfield Horn Fellowship are required to complete an application, submit their transcript and resume/CV, a letter stating personal and professional goals, and two letters of support from professors in their major field of study. They should also demonstrate an awareness of Texas Tech University's core values in teaching, research, and service.
Dr. Curtis Bauer, one of the professors who recommended Joya for this fellowship, offers the following on what qualifies her for this award: "Joya impresses me with her deep and broad knowledge of technology in its many incarnations, and she continuously demonstrates her conviction that diversity in an educational setting is just as important to nurture as an awareness of different cultural backgrounds."
And Dr. Kanika Batra, Joya's dissertation chair, shares, "Among those I have taught over my decade long career at Tech, Joya stands out for being one of the most diligent, conscientious, and hardworking students."
Open Mic for 50th International Literacy Day
To celebrate the 50th International Literacy Day, the English Department hosted an open mic in the 2nd floor atrium on Friday, September 8 from 1:00-3:00pm. Students were invited to share a favorite poem or prose piece, and the event was an opportunity to celebrate literacy efforts all over the world—including right here at Texas Tech University.
Dr. Brian Still, chair for the Department of English, was especially moved by the variety of students and works present at the event. "I saw a student stand up, in the middle of the event, ask if it was okay to read any poem, and then read a poem that clearly meant a lot to her, something she decided pretty spontaneously to read," Dr. Still recalls. "Because we had the event, and because we had the atrium to welcome students to hang out, she felt like it was a safe, inspirational place to participate."
Throughout the open mic event, students signed a banner with their names and the poetry and prose they chose to share. According to Dr. Julie Nelson Couch, "The crowd included several non-English majors who were already studying in the atrium or who had heard of the event through TechAnnounce."
In addition to being a liberating experience for those who shared poetry or prose, the open mic encouraged students and faculty alike to appreciate what can come from exchanging ideas in a receptive environment.
"We need poets, creators, writers, thinkers. It's okay to be an English 'person,'" Dr. Still shares upon reflecting on the event. "I want to build on what was done today to continue to encourage students to feel like it's okay to be like us, to add to the world through talents that our discipline cultivates."
National Book Award Longlist in Poetry
Photo credit: Jess Chen
We are so proud to announce that one of our family members in the TTU Department of English has been longlisted for the National Book Award in Poetry.
Please join us in congratulating Chen Chen, whose book When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions, 2017), winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, is one of ten books selected for this prestigious award.
"Gratitude and love to my press, BOA Editions, and to Jericho Brown, who selected my book for publication," Chen says. "I'm so honored to find myself in the company of such brilliant poets."
Meet Dr. Kendall Gerdes - the Media Lab's New Director!
Starting this fall semester, Dr. Kendall Gerdes will be the new director for the department's
Media Lab. Dr. Gerdes, a faculty member specializing in Technical Communication and
Rhetoric, earned her Ph.D. in Rhetoric from UT-Austin. Her research interests include
using and making video games, and using simpler tools like Twine. She co-authored "Crossing 'Battle Lines,'" a webtext in Kairos about teaching digital literacy with alternate reality games.
Dr. Gerdes hopes that the Media Lab will inspire students and faculty alike. In addition to providing access to A/V equipment and software and helping print flyers and posters, she writes, "We can support instructors who want to incorporate creative media technology into their classrooms, even if you're not quite sure how. A big part of our mission is supporting the development of digital and new media literacies." For undergraduate students, Dr. Gerdes will continue the 2311 Instructional Design Contest, and would like to create a new award for graduate instructors.
To learn more about the Media Lab, its office hours, and upcoming events, be sure to visit the lab's site, its YouTube channel, or Twitter account (@TTUEngMediaLab).
Kate Simonian Wins Algren Literary Award
Kate Simonian, a second year doctoral student in Creative Writing, recently won the
Chicago Tribune's Nelson Algren Literary Award. Kate's short story, "Le Problem Being,"
was selected out of 3,900 entries. The story was first workshopped in Dr. Dennis Covington's
graduate fiction class.
"Le Problem Being," which follows 33-year-old Tracey Davis as she travels through France with her parents and struggles with her called-off engagement and recent HIV diagnosis, was published on The Chicago Tribune's website and printed newspaper. In addition to publication, Kate will receive a $3,500 prize.
In addition to publishing her story, the Tribune also published an article about Kate's work. You may read that article here. Kate's work has also been praised by Texas Tech's Office for Research, who also published an article.
Great News About Grant-Making Work from TCR
Chase Mitchell, TCR doctoral student, has some great news about his grant-making work
at the William King Museum of Art in Abingdon, Virginia, where he is Director of Advancement.
Through this work, he has secured $817,429 since January 2016.
Of that total, $595,380 is "new" money, grants that he generated for new projects. Five hundred thousand ($500,000) will be used for William King Museum of Art's proposed Center for Studio Art & Education (CSAE). The CSAE will be a 10,000+ square foot facility, adjacent to William King Museum of Art, that will house resident studio artists (blacksmith, glassblower, painter, woodworker, sculptor, etc.), a multimedia production lab, film screening room and lecture hall, classrooms for our educational programming, and much-needed storage space. WKMA is one of ten Virginia organizations to be recommended for such funding.
Chase reports that about $500,000 more in possible grant money is pending.
Congratulations, Chase, for this outstanding work and contribution to your community! You make us proud!
Two Dissertation Awards for TCR Alums
Two 2016 Technical Communication and Rhetoric alumni were recently awarded Texas Tech
Graduate School's Dissertation Awards in the category of Humanities and Fine Arts.
Dr. Joy McMurrin earned first place for her dissertation, "Negotiating the supermarket: A critical approach to nutrition literacy among low-income consumers." Dr. McMurrin will receive a $1500 award, and the graduate school will nominate her dissertation to the Council of Graduate Schools annual CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award competition. Congratulations to Dr. McMurrin and her committee: Drs. Sam Dragga (chair), Amy Koerber, and Kristen Moore. Upon graduation, Dr. McMurrin has worked as a tenure track position Assistant Professor at Dixie State University, in St. George, Utah.
Dr. Jeannie Bennett's earned second place for her dissertation, "An Unhealthy Drama: A Burkean Analysis of Mental Illness Rhetoric." She will receive a $750 award. Congratulations to Dr. Bennett and her committee: Drs. Amy Koerber (chair), Joyce Locke Carter, and Brian Still.
Good News from STC
Our Society for Technical Communication (STC) TTU Student Chapter was recognized with
two awards at this year's 2017 STC Summit: the Pacesetter Award and the Bronze Community
Award. The STC is "the world's largest and oldest professional association dedicated to the advancement
of the field of technical communication."
The citations read as follows:
For furthering Society and community goals by participating in your university's Diversity Week and promoting technical communication to a larger audience.
Bronze Community Award
For your dedicated work in promoting the technical communication profession by providing several educational and social opportunities each semester, and by hosting brown bag events that foster collaboration and networking opportunities among fellow technical communicators.
Congratulations to the STC TTU Student Chapter, its officers and members, and advisor Dr. Craig Baehr for their hard work and dedication to professional development. The awards will be on display in the 3rd floor TC POD.
You make us proud!!
Three Cheers for Sarah Viren!
Congratulations are in order for creative writing doctoral candidate, Sarah Viren. She recently defended her dissertation, Mine, a collection of essays that explore the idea of ownership and possession; these ideas also inform an autobiographical narrative that Sarah weaves throughout the collection.
Moreover, Mine received the River Teeth Book Prize. Upon hearing news of the prize, Sarah writes, "I screamed so loud my wife thought something had happened to me, or our baby (who was born a couple of months before I won the prize). In other words, I was pretty darn thrilled." Mine will be published by University of New Mexico Press in the Spring of 2018.
In addition to her creative work, Sarah recently published a translation of Argentine writer Federico Falco's Cordoba Skies. She began translating works from Spanish while on a Fulbright in Colombia. She studied translation at Iowa, and has continued her translation work during her time at Texas Tech.
Dr. Viren recently accepted a tenure-track position in Arizona State University's writing program. To read samples of her work, the Iowa Review published Sarah's essay, "Advise Me", in which she fluidly explores learning Spanish and falling in love. More links to essay are found on Sarah's website, sarahviren.wordpress.com.Return to Title
Postcards for Elected Officials
As a continuation of the momentum achieved with the Women's March, graduate students Joya Mannan and Bailey Cundiff hosted a postcard-writing event on Tuesday, January 31, in an effort to initiate 10 collective actions in the next 100 days as a part of the Women's March campaign.
"We hope this event inspires students and faculty to write to their senators. Elected officials represent us, and it's important they know what is important to us," Mannan says. "Maintaining that dialogue is critical both before and after an election."
The Letterpress Studio kindly donated paper and ink to help create custom postcards for this event. Cundiff printed postcards that read WHY I MARCH and LISTEN, graduate student Scott Morris printed postcards that read THIS IS NOT NORMAL, and Mannan actually hand-carved a linoleum stamp in order to create postcards with messages written in Bengali. Those who attended the postcard-writing event also added their own embellishments to the postcards or took advantage of the opportunity to design and print their own postcards using the English Department's replica Civil War-era Campaign press.
The event and postcards were free, and Drs. Curtis Bauer and Kristen Moore donated funding for stamps as well. "We wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to participate and communicate to their senators why they march or otherwise stand in the face of injustice," Cundiff says.
In the end, the event resulted in hundreds of postcards mailed to senators.Return to Title
- Get to Know: Technical Communication's Online Program
- Banned Books Week
- The Atrium
- LHUCA Literary Reading Series Showcases Local and Visitng Authors
- Dr. William Wenthe Named Lubbock Poet Laureate
- Study Abroad in Sevilla!
- Study Abroad in London!
- Puppies & Pastries
- Literature, Social Justice, and Environment Program Hosts "Walled Up" Round Table
- Joya Mannan Wins Paul Whitfield Horn Fellowship
- Open Mic for 50th International Literacy Day
- National Book Award Longlist in Poetry
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