Texas Tech University

Department Spotlight

Posted November 1, 2019

Student Spotlight: Melissa Beal

Melissa Beal

Melissa Beal is an undergraduate English and Technical Communication student who works as an assistant in the English Department's Media Lab at Texas Tech. While there, she assists students with technical issues and projects as well as hones her technical writing and graphic design skills. You may often see her work on the English Department's social media or around campus as she explains: "Most of the posts on the English Department's Instagram account are designed by me, but any ads you see in the SUB on the TV's that are advertising Tech Esports are also made by me."

On an average day she's writing, designing, or helping students. When asked about her specific daily tasks she had this to say: "Other than interacting with students and faculty, I work on a personal project each semester that helps improve my technical communication
skills. I've worked on research projects and essays, graphic design projects, and am currently working to edit and usability test a User Guide for the Media Lab."

When she's not working, she's committed to various passions and interests. She's an avid video game hobbyist who does graphic design work for Tech Esports. Her creative streak doesn't end there however; just recently her short story "Aurora" was published in last year's edition of Harbinger. She's set to graduate this semester with a double major in English and Technical Communication after which she plans on pursuing a writing career in the video game or tech industry.


Posted October 18, 2019

TTU Alumni Spotlight: Q & A with Dr. Kylie Jacobsen

Dr. Kylie Jacobsen

Why did you attend TTU's TCR program?
I applied for TTU's TCR program at the suggestion of my master's thesis advisor. He said TTU had an impressive reputation for my research interests and a diverse faculty that would support me. He was right! I ultimately decided to attend TTU because of the efforts made during the recruitment weekend. The faculty were excited about their work and the current graduate students made a special effort to include me in their daily life so I could see what being there would be like, which made campus feel like it could be home.

What was your favorite course?
Though I genuinely enjoyed all the courses I took at TTU, one of my favorites was Dr. Still's course on usability testing. This course inspired much of my research agenda, afforded me the opportunity to TA the undergraduate course, and prepared me for an intensive cross-collaboration research project with the Math Department.

What course influenced you to choose your career path?
One course that stands out as having a particular influence in my career choice would be the course on teaching technical communication. I had taken various pedagogy classes in the past, but this course prepared me especially for the type of instruction appropriate for technical communication students. I felt like my ideas were validated, my teaching was critiqued and improved, and I was able to develop effective materials during the course. The course was even more helpful in preparing me to teach in an online environment, which has been immensely useful as I continue to pursue digital pedagogy training in my current position.

What is your current job?
My current job is as an assistant professor of writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

How did the TTU TCR program help get you where you are now?
I believe the TCR program at TTU conditioned me excellently for the rigors of a career in academia. I am still new to my current position and my mentors at GVSU are wonderfully guiding me through my first year of tenure track work, but I will always be grateful for the various opportunities TCR makes for its students. As a graduate student, I got to sit in on hiring committee discussions, serve on various curriculum development committees, participate in assessments, conduct and publish my research, teach a variety of classes, plan special events, join professional groups, and receive mentorship from top scholars. Plus, I made a number of lifelong friends along the way.

What's your fondest memory of the TTU TCR program?
One of my fondest memories of the TCR program is probably one of the most mundane. I remember my officemate and I working on some readings with our office door open and as students and professors alike walked by, they'd join us for a discussion about class or cool research topics, for some lesson plan advice, or just to check in. We could fit a dozen people in one office before we realized and made our excuses to carry on. That time was never wasted, and I can't wait to do it again (but at a conference next time!).

Any final thoughts or comments?
Don't forget to sign up or renew your student STC membership this fall!


Posted October 11, 2019

TTU Student Spotlight: Heavenly Freeman

Heavenly Freeman

Heavenly Freeman is a recent graduate and has entered the MA Program for Technical Communications at Texas Tech University. Heavenly looks forward to continuing to work towards a PhD so that one day she can profess at the collegiate level. Choosing Technical Communication was a choice that she was proud of because she was able to gain a greater appreciation for not only the Technical Communication department, but the professors at Texas Tech as well.

Heavenly chose Technical Communication originally to strengthen her career in potentially pursuing a career in Law. Once she was was able to explore Technical Communications further, she uncovered new paths she was able to take such as rhetoric and technical writing. Heavenly's favorite class that she has taken in Technical Communication has been Professional Report writing because she was able to recognize what that class had to offer for her and the fact that it presented work closest to that which she would like to produce in the future as a technical writer.

Over the course of the past year, Heavenly has been able to work closely with Dr. Rich Rice, Director of Technical Communication and Rhetoric. Dr. Rice has served as a mentor and has helped guide Heavenly through countless efforts to help her in her career as a Technical Communicator. Heavenly is looking forward to continuing her education at Texas Tech in the Technical Communications MA program.

Posted October 4, 2019

TTU Student Spotlight: Brianna Rico

Brianna Rico Holding Books

Brianna Rico was recently accepted into the English Department's MA program in Literature. She tells of her journey to choosing English as a major and how the English Department's outstanding faculty and the study abroad program in London have benefited her undergraduate career.

Brianna Rico is a double major in both English and Psychology. She added an English major fairly late in her college career, the beginning of her third year at Texas Tech, because she realized she can have a career doing the things that she loves: reading and helping people. She credits her major addition to her employment with the University Writing Center, where she has held different positions over the past 3 years. She currently serves as a tutor and social media coordinator, and she says working for the UWC is the best job she has ever had. She speaks of her employment with the UWC: "It is so rewarding to be able to help students every day, and get to push them to be confident in themselves and in their writing."

Brianna is also one of the first students to participate in the Texas Tech English Literature in London study abroad program. Last summer, Brianna and five other Texas Tech Students traveled to London with Dr. Marta Kvande for five weeks. Brianna expresses her admiration for British Literature: "Going to London and reading some of my favorite authors and walking the same street they walked or seeing landmarks they wrote about made the literature really come alive." She also speaks on the benefits of the program: "Going to London gave me a new outlook on my education and helped me feel more connected to the things we were learning about." Brianna says her favorite part of the London trip was the culture and food. She was able to try many foods she wouldn't have tried in Texas, and living with a host family allowed her to truly experience the culture of London.

As her undergraduate career comes to a close and she prepares herself for graduation in May, she thanks the English Department for everything it has provided for her and will continue to provide for her during her graduate studies. She speaks highly of the English instructors: "The English Department faculty is truly incredible. So many of my professors were so encouraging and helpful. I am truly grateful to everyone in the English Department."

Posted September 26, 2019

TTU Student Spotlight: Yoana Duran

Yoana Duran

Yoana Duran, a senior with a major in English and minor in Spanish, debunks the idea that an English degree is only for teachers. She claims: "I always hear the myth that English majors are only for future English teachers. However, my English degree has served me well in my preparation for law school. Every professional field requires writing, and an English degree teaches you how to write concisely and effectively. My degree has also helped to improve my creative problem-solving skills and has helped me develop a great work ethic."

In addition to preparing her for law school and a professional career, Yoana explains how English classes have helped her serve the community. She really enjoyed Dr. Min-Joo Kim's "Language and Community" course, where Yoana was able to volunteer with Literacy Lubbock. She says that Dr. Kim's incorporation of linguistic theory with community service helped her and her classmates tutor adult ESL (English as a Second Language) students.

For students currently taking or planning to take an English course, Yoana recommends keeping up with assignments and readings and being creative. She further explains that English classes have required her to cite unique sources and create original theses for research papers. Yoana also expresses the importance of asking questions and building relationships with professors. She remarks: "Professors in the English department are nice, accommodating, and want to see their students succeed beyond the classroom."

Posted September 23, 2019

Peer Mentors Live Out the "One Home" Mission

Peer Mentors

Pictured, from left: Regan Ball, Unknown, Julian Banuelos, Dr. Marta Kvande

Undergraduate Peer Mentors gathered in the atrium on September 9th, 2019, for a mixer with students majoring or minoring in English to provide them with leadership and advice. The mentors are senior English majors enrolled in ENGL 4390: Internship in Literature, Creative Writing, and Linguistics, a course with a service-learning designation.

Taught by Dr. Marta Kvande, the class takes a two-pronged approach to enacting a mission of mentorship. First, Peer Mentors will offer guidance to individual students interested in making the most of their English classes—including the professional paths that might open for them after declaring an English major or taking up one of our eight minors focused on everything from Film & Media Studies, to Book History and Digital Humanities, to Asian Studies, Linguistics, and more. To kick off those individual relationships, mentors and mentees gathered to play cards, share snacks, and get to know each other.

The second focus of the course is to serve and support the community of the English Department at large by offering a range of activities aimed at helping students excel both in and out of class. Some of the events in the works include thesis statement workshops, library tours, alumni panels,and other opportunities to help English students apply what they learn in their classes to their real lives both at Tech and after graduation.

Any questions regarding the internship course or the Peer Mentor Program can be addressed to the English Department's Director of Undergraduate Studies and the course's current instructor, Dr. Marta Kvande, at marta.kvande@ttu.edu.


Posted September 19, 2019

Rhetorics of Belonging: Sororities and Sisterhoods

Dr. Charlotte Hogg

Dr. Charlotte Hogg discussed "rhetorics of belonging" in historically-white sororities, using rhetorical and feminist frameworks to share how gendered rhetorics of belonging serve to disperse, maintain, and sometimes disrupt privilege.
Dr. Hogg is an associate professor at Texas Christian University and specializes in women's literacies and rhetorics, rural literacies and place, composition theory, and creative nonfiction. Her publications include From the Garden Club: Rural Women Writing Community (2006), Rural Literacies (2007), and Reclaiming the Rural: Essays on Literacy, Rhetoric, and Pedagogy (2012).


Posted September 12, 2019

TTU Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Min-Joo Kim

Dr. Min_Joo Kim standing in front of chalkboard

Dr. Min-Joo Kim is an Associate Professor of Linguistics in the Department of English. Since beginning her teaching career at Texas Tech in 2005, Dr. Kim has taught a variety of Linguistics courses covering the topics of Syntax, Semantics, and Linguistics Typology. Dr. Kim enjoys teaching these classes and says it's hard to choose the one she enjoyed the most: "I'd say that the graduate seminar on the syntax and semantics of noun modifiers that I taught in Spring 2012 is my favorite, since it helped me to write a book in the end."

Linguistics, the study of language structure, is a very extensive subject, and Dr. Kim has an abundance of published texts resulting from her research into various aspects of linguistics. She plans to continue her research, and she speaks on her current and future research as a linguist: "My goal as a linguist is to help uncover how linguistic structure maps onto linguistic meaning. And in my own areas of specialization, I'm currently interested to look at cross-linguistic variation on the syntax and semantics of demonstratives, pronouns, and complementizers..."

Dr. Kim's passion for linguistics and love for teaching makes her a successful linguist and professor. She shares what she enjoys most about teaching: "I love imparting knowledge and helping students learn and grow as intellectuals and individuals, thereby growing as an intellectual and an individual myself as well." As an effective instructor, she aims to help her students in their every-day lives: "I hope to have my students see that attitudes towards languages reflect attitudes towards their speakers, so we should try to be free from such prejudices, thereby treating each other with more respect."

When asked what advice she would give to a student taking an English class, Dr. Kim imparts some final wisdom: "Read widely and never take anything for granted, but always try to contribute to the advancement and well-being of human society."


Posted April 16, 2019

TTU Student Spotlight: Samantha Smith

 Samantha Smith

Samantha Smith was recently accepted into the English Department's MA program at Texas Tech University. She tells her story of success and how TTU's English Department has guided her to where she is today.

When arriving at Texas Tech as an undergraduate, Samantha recalls enjoying English but not knowing what she wanted to do for a career. She chose to major in English and minor in Technical Communication. She enjoyed her English classes – especially Dr. Alison Rukavina's nineteenth century literature courses. In addition, she loved Dr. Rachel Wolford's grant and proposal writing course, which has helped her enroll into the English Department's MATC program and submit a proposal to the Lubbock Animal Shelter. She credits Dr. Wolford and this class as the reason for her wanting to pursue a career in technical writing.

Regarding the department, Samantha remarks:

"This department has no doubt been the reason for my success as a young adult. The English Department faculty and staff have got to be the most helpful, genuine group of people on campus, and I'm not saying that because I'm biased. Every single professor I had from the first semester to the last had the sole intention of ensuring I would succeed in life and pursue my passions; which happened and is still happening... I would be lying if I said the English Department isn't a reason why I have a good, full-time paying job now. For that, I am incredibly thankful."

Do you want to take an English course at Texas Tech? Check out our current course offerings here: Current Course Descriptions

Stay tuned for descriptions of our upcoming courses for Fall 2019!

Posted April 8, 2019

Texas Tech English Wins $25,000 Departmental Teaching Excellence Award

Elissa Zellinger accepts Teaching Award

The TTU English department is thrilled to announce that we recently received Texas Tech's prestigious Teaching Academy Departmental Excellence in Teaching Award. According to the teaching academy, the recipient of this award must have "made unique and significant contributions to the teaching mission of the University." This award comes with a monetary prize of $25,000 that will be used for enhancement of teaching in the English program.

Dr. Elissa Zellinger, Assistant Professor of English, collected materials for the award committee. Dr. Zellinger says of the teaching culture of the English department: "I think what makes us stand out is our dedication and enjoyment of teaching. In all the material I collected, what really resonated is that every single member of the TTU English community takes teaching very seriously and finds some kind of joy, pleasure, or spirit in it."

Dr. Zellinger also spoke of the implications this award has for the TTU English community. When asked what this award means for the students, parents, and supporters of TTU English, Dr. Zellinger remarked: "It means that we are a dynamic, supportive community of teachers who are dedicated to our students. It affirms, frankly, what we already knew: that our cutting-edge efforts to create inventive, inviting classroom environments are a success."

Celebrate with our award winning teachers by attending the honors ceremony in the Teaching, Learning, and Professional Development Center (TLPDC) room 151 on May, 9th at 3pm.

Posted April 1, 2019

Jess Smith's play to be perfomed by TTU School of Dance

Photo of Jess Smith

PhD Candidate Jessica Smith's play, Cub, was recently selected for performance by TTU School of Theater and Dance's “Raider Red's One-Act Play Spectacular/Raider Red's Awesome Dance Spectacular 2019” (RROAPS/RRADS).

Smith, a PhD candidate in Creative Writing, wrote scripts in high school and was excited to bring this skillset to the TTU community. English faculty member Dr. Jill Patterson encouraged Smith to submit when the call for submissions was released. Smith says: “[Dr. Patterson] pointed out that English students had entered the RROAPS contest in the past, and she knew I wrote a lot of dialogue into my poetry. Since the play was accepted, I feel like the English department has been really excited for the crossover, and I hope other students will send in their scripts next year! I've learned so much from watching the artists in the School of Theater and Dance, and I've definitely got the playwriting itch now.”

According to the description on the RROAPS website, Smith's play “traces the rapid escalation and demise of a romantic relationship, exploring the ways in which power dynamics are established early and calcify quickly. The play charts how a person can slowly subjugate him or herself to an abusive partner, and the long shadow that trauma can cast on a life.”

Smith notes the writing process was fun, but daunting: “It was fun insofar as I got to practice a new craft, but it was daunting because the subject matter is quite painful. I wanted to be sure, when writing about an abusive relationship, to resist tropes or gestures that might reinforce myths about intimate partner violence.”

Performances of Cub begin tonight, April 1st, at the Creative Movement Studio and continue through the end of the week.

Tickets for the performance are $3.50 and can be bought online at this link: https://ttutheatreanddance.tix.com/schedule.aspx?orgnum=5557.

To read about the other plays selected for performance at this year's RROAPS/RRADS, visit this website: https://www.depts.ttu.edu/theatreanddance/news/posts/2018/11/rroapsrrads2019.php.

Posted March 19, 2019

Faculty Feature: Dr. Beau Pihlaja

Photo of Dr. Beau Pihlaja

Dr. Beau Pihlaja is an Assistant Professor of Technical Communication in the Department of English. Since starting his teaching career at TTU in 2017, Dr. Pihlaja has enjoyed teaching Professional Report Writing, as well as continuing his research and publication endeavors in technical and professional communication in intercultural contexts. Dr. Pihlaja has also taught a pilot course entitled "Texts and Technologies that Connect the World" which he will be teaching again in Fall 2019.

Dr. Pihlaja says that he thoroughly enjoys his job in the English department: "As a Technical Communication professor, I have enjoyed studying language and realizing how the world is mediated to us through words." Dr. Pihlaja says that on top of assigning texts, he enjoys challenging his students with activities that the students care about. Dr. Pihlaja shared one of his main goals as an English professor: "[I aim to] figure out where the student is at and help them go to wherever they need to go next in order to be successful."

Dr. Pihlaja's research interests include technical and professional communication in intercultural contexts. Having the opportunity to live overseas in India peaked his interest in how people communicate interculturally. While working towards his PhD, he mostly studied intercultural communication using digital tools. He was able to study how companies use technologies such as "WhatsApp" between Mexico and the United States.

Posted February 28, 2019

English Department Minor Fair!

English Minor Fair flier

Interested in an English degree? Already have a major you love? No problem! Consider adding a minor in ENGLISH or one of the other 7 minors housed in the English department.

We're hosting an English Department Minor Fair on Tuesday, March 5th from 11am to 1pm in the English Department Atrium. We'll have free pizza, you can enter to win raffle prizes, and then meet and get information about any or all of our great minors.

You can truly tailor your ENGL classes in the minor to fit your interests and future career path. In addition to minors in English and Technical Communication, come find out more about minors like Film and Media Studies, Book History and Digital Humanities, Asian Studies, Linguistics, and Literature, Social Justice, and Environment.

If you declare any of these ENGL minors now, you can earn a $200 scholarship upon completion.

Posted February 26, 2019

TTU Student Spotlight: Marisa Carrión

Marisa Carrion

English classes are preparing students in all areas of study for their future careers.

Marisa Carrión is a Texas Tech Senior and a double major in Global Studies and Spanish. Marisa is the president of student organization Tech Model United Nations and has studied abroad at Texas Tech's Center in Seville, Spain during the spring of 2017. Marisa also currently serves as a Program Assistant for Amaanah Refugee Services.

In her undergraduate career, Marisa has taken three classes within the Department of English: Introduction to Poetry, Introduction to Creative Writing, and Introduction to Film Studies. Her favorite of these classes is Introduction to Creative Writing, because it allowed her to express herself in the form of writing. The way the class was arranged encouraged each student to give constructive criticism on other students' stories, which taught her how to critique work in a healthy manner.

Marisa believes that the English courses she has taken have prepared her for her future career because she has learned how to communicate effectively: "I will be able to communicate with people, and if I disagree with their policy views, I can accurately express what I dislike and how I think they could change them to include what I deem is needed." The English Department is proud to offer classes that teach students valuable skills -- no matter what degree they are seeking.

See more information on classes like the ones Marisa mentions in this article by checking out our current course offerings here: Current Course Descriptions

Posted February 18, 2019

TTU Student Spotlight: Blake Ferguson

 Blake Ferguson

You don't have to be an English major or minor to enjoy English classes at Texas Tech University.

Blake Ferguson is a Senior Biochemistry major from Canyon, Texas who is set to graduate this May. Blake has been accepted into UT Southwestern Medical School and intends to start after graduating with his Bachelor's degree from Texas Tech University. In May of 2018, Blake received awards for both 'Outstanding Performance in Analytical Chemistry' from the departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry and 'Leadership in Excellence, Knowledge and Performance' from Support Operations for Academic Retention.

In his undergraduate career, Blake has taken two classes within the Department of English. After taking Introduction to Technical Writing and Introduction to Fiction, Blake said that these classes will help him pursue a job in the medical field: "Connecting to people and listening to others' ideas from an objective stance is something you cannot receive in STEM courses." Blake said that his favorite part about these courses is that they gave him the ability to analyze different interpretations and meanings of themes and ideas. Blake expressed that he wished that he could have taken more English courses throughout his undergraduate career.

Do you want to take an English course at Texas Tech? Check out our current course offerings here: Current Course Descriptions

Stay tuned for descriptions of our upcoming courses for Fall 2019!


Posted February 14, 2019

Dr. Sara Spurgeon receives Fulbright Scholarship

Spurgeon photo

Dr. Sara Spurgeon recently was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for the 2019-2020 academic year to research and teach in Norway. She has studied and taught the literatures of various indigenous cultures, including those of the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Columbia, and Australia, and how contemporary indigenous art, graphic novels, films and literature contribute to the emerging field of Indigenous Futurism. She will be teaching undergraduate and graduate American literature courses at the University of Bergen and researching the Sámi, an indigenous people in Norway, who have revived current cultural and environmental activism. Like the Sámi, literature of other indigenous cultures, including those of the Americas, have frequently critiqued Euro-western ideas regarding nature and the sacred, gender roles and violence, and exploitation vs. sustainability. Dr. Spurgeon hopes to study these conversations and concepts during her time in Norway.

She remarks how the TTU English Department has helped her achieve this incredible opportunity:

“The Texas Tech Department of English has supported me as a scholar from the beginning of my work here in West Texas, offering space for me to explore new scholarly fields, to pursue admittedly eclectic and unusual avenues of study, and to provide a venue for students interested in those fields to join in by supporting the establishment of the Literature, Social Justice, and Environment (LSJE) graduate concentration and undergraduate minor.”

Dr. Spurgeon is looking forward to working in Norway and hopes to learn how other worldviews can shed light on climate change and guide us to better, sustainable living on earth.