Texas Tech University

Spotlight Archive


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.


Posted April 27, 2018

BREAKING: TTU English Re-Opens Masters Degree Admissions

Graduate students relaxing outside the English building.
Graduate students relaxing outside the English building.


We have a few spots still open! As an on-site MA student you will have the opportunity to teach in the university classroom!


Submit applications directly to: https://texastechgrad.liaisoncas.com

For more details please go to: http://www.depts.ttu.edu/english/grad_degrees/admissions.php

Posted April 23, 2018

LSJE's Spring Roundtable on DACA Draws Community and Local Media

The round table panelists (left to right): Dr. Lee Bebout, Brandon Darby, Saba Nafees, and Dr. Jorge Ramirez.
Round table panelists (left to right): Dr. Lee Bebout, Brandon Darby, Saba Nafees, and Dr. Jorge Ramirez.

On Wednesday, April 18, campus and community members gathered for the Literature, Social Justice, and Environment's program's spring round table, "Tensions Rising: DACA, Dreamers, and the Face of America." This semester's round table featured Dr. Lee Bebout (Arizona State University), Brandon Darby (Breitbart Texas), Saba Nafees (Doctoral candidate and Dreamer), and Dr. Jorge Ramirez (Texas Tech Law School). Dr. Lawrence Schovanec opened the round table. In his remarks, the university president reaffirmed TTU's commitment to Dreamers and stressed the resources (Dream Resource Center) available for them.

While each participant shared different perspectives on DACA, they all agreed on one thing: it is unwise to send undocumented Dreamers back to their nations of origin. Dr. Bebout argues, "DACA is a temporary, imperfect moral solution to a long running political problem." Perhaps surprising to some in the audience, Mr. Darby agrees. He likens deporting Dreamers to "leaving them in the desert with no water." As a Dreamer, Ms. Nafees provides personal narratives to the debate, including relating when someone reported her family to ICE. Dr. Ramirez also shared a personal story, waiting outside the consulate to hear whether or not his fiance would receive a visa to enter the U.S.

After their opening remarks, panelists fielded questions from the audience. When asked how to open up dialogue, Mr. Darby said, "If you call someone a racist, they will dig in," before suggesting that people find common ground. Dr. Bebout offered the following opinion: "This will seem counterintuitive, but I don't try to convince anyone. I give nudges." Ms. Nafees was a little more direct: "This is not a blue or red issue. This is a human issue. ... Go out and vote: be engaged. You have the right to vote. Be a part of this."

Several local organizations covered the event, including Fox34, Telemundo Lubbock, and the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Panelists also spent time talking with audience members afterwards, sharing stories and resources. Megan Cervantes, a political science major, said, "I am a minority here. I was born in Lubbock, Texas, but I think [this roundable is] absolutely crucial, especially in a placed where it is predominantly Republican and red that we address something as important as this." Dr. Ramirez too identified the round table's importance for the community at large. "Panels like this," he explained, "benefit Texas Tech and the community at large by simply informing individuals about what DACA is all about. I think you know - we heard it today from many people in the audience - they weren't even aware that DACA existed. They didn't know that there was a process by which individuals who have been here since children could become normalized in the immigration process, and I think that's really important." In addition to the Dream Resource Center, students can join the university's chapter of Define American. For more write ups on the event, visit the following pages:

Posted April 19, 2018

Society for Technical Communication Wins Multiple Awards for Excellent Services

This is a group photo of us on World Usability Day (November 9th) with our presenters.
Undergraduates, graduate students, and presenters pose on World Usability Day.

The Society for Technical Communication (STC) student chapter in the English Department has received numerous awards from its parent organization and from Texas Tech. Established in 1985, STC offers professional development opportunities to undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, alumni, and interested community members who are interested in technical communication. For associated students, President Kylie Jacobsen points out that they can receive Professional Certification. She explains, "This Certification gives a technical communicator an extra degree of credibility, encourages continuous learning throughout a career, and is highly regarded among professionals. Our student members have access to all of these perks [including mentorship and early access to job boards], but as members of a local chapter, they also get free programming and networking opportunities at the university that build on the nine core competencies needed for certification." These networking opportunities have included a planned World Usability Day event (pictured above) and an upcoming meeting with Salesforce. On Friday, April 27th, the organization will host a Spring Showcase; participants can enter to win a $ 200 scholarship or $ 100 People's Choice Award.

This year, our chapter was nominated for a Raiders Who Rock award. Here, Michael McCarthy, secretary, and Kylie Jacobsen, president, accepted the nomination at the banquet.Because of its efforts on the local level, STC at Texas Tech has received many accolades. In 2018, STC recognized the student chapter with the Platinum Community Achievement Award and Pacesetter Award, which they will receive next month at the annual STC meeting, Annual. Earlier in April, STC was nominated for a Raiders who Rocks award. In the picture to the right, president Kylie Jacobsen (left) and secretary Michael McCarthy (right) accept the award. Those interested in joining STC at Texas Tech can check out the local chapter's blog or Facebook page.

Posted April 11, 2018

50th Annual Comparative Literature Symposium

Distinguished guests from Jamaica and India debate perspectives.
Distinguished guests from Jamaica and India debate perspectives.

On April 6-7, Texas Tech University's 50th Annual Comparative Literature Symposium attracted scholars from near and far—India, Jamaica, Florida, Michigan, New York, Missouri, New Mexico, and right here in Texas—to present their work on the moral, political, social, and literary ramifications of the debates that revolve around human rights. This year's symposium, titled "Human Rights Now: Texts, Contexts, Comparisons," was also livestreamed so that students and scholars at a distance could participate as well.

Dr. Kanika Batra, director of the symposium, stressed the importance of this year's topic for raising awareness about the unjust distribution of rights across the world.

"There are millions dispossessed of their homes and families because of sectarian conflict, there is the rise of economic capitalism which blatantly disregards the rights of workers and indigenous populations around the world, there are the still unfulfilled promises of equal citizenship to migrants, refugees, exiles, and sexual minorities," said Dr. Batra. "Literary and cultural representations engage with these realities in trenchant ways. The symposium speakers addressed the importance of discussing these crucial issues now and connecting them to long historical processes."

Audience members listen to one of the symposium's many keynote addresses.
Audience members listen to one of the symposium's many keynote addresses.

In addition to contributing to the important discussions about human rights that must continue to take place, the symposium also presented the opportunity for burgeoning scholars to engage with their work in new and unexpected ways.

Wesley Jones, a first-year English literature M.A. student at Texas Tech, shared how his experiences preparing for and presenting at the symposium influenced the way he views the potential for academic scholarship.

"I think that a lot of people both in and out of academia (myself included until recently) don't necessarily see scholarship as activism or as inciting social change, despite many examples to the contrary," said Jones. "It's important to not only display this side of academia, but also to introduce the notion to a wider academic community who can continue to work on their interests with a new awareness that scholarship can make a difference when applied to real-world problems."

Jones, who presented a paper on the theme of homosexual rights to the city and the way that urban spaces can facilitate sexual and identity formation, added that the 50th Annual Comparative Literature Symposium was also a great opportunity to meet scholars from around the world. "Everyone was very friendly and encouraging, and I found the entire experience enriching and uplifting. I would definitely participate again and will encourage anyone to do so as well."

Guests from India and Midland converse in the department lounge.
Guests from India and Midland converse in the department lounge.

This symposium began in 1968 as a collaborative venture between various departments at Texas Tech. In his opening remarks at the symposium, Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec noted, "Its 50-year history is quite impressive, considering this university is less than 100 years old." Symposium attendees took an extra moment to celebrate this achievement with a special cake during lunch on April 6.

Echoing President Schovanec's remarks, Dr. Batra added, "It showcases the university's commitment to interdisciplinary humanities and puts Texas Tech on the map of cutting edge theoretical work. There is also the tradition of publications arising out of the symposium proceedings. I hope to continue this by bringing out a special issue of the Journal of the TTU Ethics Center on Human Rights."

Texas Tech's commitment to hosting this symposium every year also offers graduate students the chance to take part in organizing it. This year, the symposium's co-director was Kenna Neitch, a second-year English literature PhD student at Texas Tech.

"Dr. Batra has allowed me to co-direct the symposium the last two years. I had the opportunity to communicate with dozens of other universities about our call for papers, as well as the accepted presenters, before the symposium began," said Neitch, whose research focuses on transnational and women of color feminisms, Central American literature, and the praxis of resistance. She added, "I was especially excited for the focus of this year. It's incredibly urgent that we create spaces to analyze and discuss the conditions of human rights discourse and social justice, and it was wonderful to help co-ordinate an event that joins pro-social theory and practice."

Dr. Kanika Batra examines a rare book from the Remnant Trust.
Symposium attendees examined rare books from The Remnant Trust.

This year, The Remnant Trust also stopped by the symposium to share some of the rare books available for perusal at Texas Tech's Special Collections Library. Among the books featured were a third American edition of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein from 1869, an edition of the Fables of Aesop from 1692, an illuminated Arabic manuscript of Ibn al-Hajib's A Grammatical Miscellany that dates back to 1672 or 1673, and an edition of The Works of Shakespeare from 1757.

The symposium was supported by the Ethics Center, the College of Visual and Performing Arts, and the Departments of English and Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures. Dr. James Whitlark, Dr. Wendell Aycock, Dr. Ann Daghistany, Dr. Bruce Clarke, Dr. Yuan Shu, Dr. Roger McNamara, Dr. Curtis Bauer, and Dr. Kanika Batra are some of the faculty members from the Department of English who have been involved in its long history.

This year marks the last year that Dr. Batra will direct the symposium. "In the spirit of interdisciplinary collaboration, the Directorship of the Comparative Literature program and the responsibility for organizing the symposium shifts between the Departments of English and Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures," Dr. Batra said. "Faculty from both departments decide on the theme for next year's symposium. To encourage participation, my goal has been to think of broad ranging themes such as 'Performing the Social' (2015), 'Translation/Transnation' (2016), 'The Word in the World' (2017), and 'Human Rights Now' (2018). I expect that the committee will come up with another timely theme for the 2019 symposium."

View the gallery below for some choice photos from this year's symposium, and click here to view symposium programs from previous years.

Posted April 4, 2018

Texas Tech to Display Digital Stories During West Texas Salute to Veterans

Texas Tech to Display Digital Stories During West Texas Salute to Veterans

The following is a press release from Texas Tech University:

As Lubbock celebrates the West Texas Salute to Veterans on Saturday (March 31), a team from Texas Tech University will help share digitally the firsthand experiences of some of these brave individuals.

From 12:50-1:50 p.m. at the Clarion Grand Park, 3201 S. Loop 289, attendees can see the story of Katherine Royalty, a 104-year-old Texas Tech alumna who served in WAVES, the women's branch of the United States Naval Reserve, during World War II; the story “Cathedral Out of Nowhere,” which focuses on the late Lee Roy Herron's experience during the Vietnam War but also is a larger portrait of the challenges Marines faced there and the paradox of faith and violence; and the story of David Nelson, a Texas Tech alumnus who served during Vietnam and endowed a Texas Tech scholarship in memory of his friend, Herron, a posthumous Medal of Honor recipient.

Nelson will be present at the event.

The presentation of digital storytelling is funded by a grant from The CH Foundation.

"Veterans are a vital and necessary population," said Jacqueline Kolosov, a professor in the Department of English and the recipient and director of the grant. "Our aim is to educate the community about veteran experience and to give veterans the opportunity to give a shape to their service in the military. And given that Texas is second only to California in terms of veterans, Texas Tech's involvement feels very natural.

"In addition, given the prevalence of war and endemic violence, I believe everyone should come and see how the student artists, guided by me and working with veterans and the community, are creating art forms that speak to the experiences of the women and men who continue to serve our country."

For more information, please view this video spotlight, which highlights the vulnerability of current veterans.

Posted March 28, 2018

English Minors Fair

English Minors Fair
Students enjoying free pizza at the English Department's Minors Fair.

The English Department hosted an English Minors Fair on Tuesday, March 27, in the Atrium. Faculty, staff, and students worked together to host the event. They served up free pizza for lunch and informed over 200 students in attendance about the 8 different minors housed within the department.

Kylie Jacobsen, a graduate student, attended the event in order to speak with undergraduates about the merits of earning a minor within the English Department.

"I am excited about the various ways English degrees can support or inspire students' career goals," Jacobsen said. "I talked to students from all different types of disciplines who were looking for minors that would help set them apart from other graduates. We even had a number of Technical Communication majors looking to add other English minors! For each student, we discussed ways an English minor might compliment their majors or career aspirations."

English Minors Fair
Dr. Min Joo Kim and an undergraduate student.

The Minors Fair attracted a large and interested crowd since undergraduate students within the College of Arts and Sciences are required to have a minor on their degree plans. Dr. Min Joo Kim, director of the Linguistics program in the English Department, recalls speaking with a theater student, a biology major, a mechanical engineering major, a student in education, and also students in psychology and Spanish.

Better yet, an undergraduate student currently pursuing a Linguistics minor even came to the Minors Fair to help promote the Linguistics minor. "The student showed up to help promote Linguistics without me asking," Dr. Kim said. "Prospective students surely enjoyed talking to her."

Mary C., an undergraduate student, admits the free pizza is what initially drew her to the Minors Fair, but she's glad it provided her the chance to speak with English faculty and graduate students. "Everyone was really informative and supportive. Honestly, the support and enthusiasm is what really struck me," she said. "I think studying in the English Department for a minor would be a nice addition to my college experience."

The English Department prides itself in being a space within Texas Tech University where students can be comfortable to study, hang out, and feel at home. Many students frequently spend their time working in the Atrium and/or catching up with friends over a free cup of coffee.

"Some students already have a minor but wanted to show up to the Minors Fair because they're interested to take more of our courses before they graduate," Dr. Kim said. The English Department includes courses that stretch across all of history, with topics relevant to current events and important discussions/debates.

English Minors Fair
Hundreds of students attended the English Department's Minors Fair.

Furthermore, getting an English minor might also give you the chance to earn $200. If you have 3 or more English classes left to fulfill an English minor, you will get $200 upon completion!

An English minor requires 18 hours:

  • ENGL 1302
  • 6 hours of 2000 level courses
  • 9 hours 3000/4000 level classes

"As an English minor, you'll gain critical reading, writing, and problem solving skills that compliment any major," said Eleanor Mode, the undergraduate advisor in the English Department. "Why not improve upon these skills and boost your resume for the job market?"

If your degree plan includes elective courses, an English minor would be a useful way to deal with those requirements.

If you have any questions or want to learn more, contact Eleanor Mode (eleanor.mode@ttu.edu), the English advisor. Alternatively, you may click here to view information about all of our minors.

Posted February 14, 2018

Media Lab Director On the Air for Arts & Sciences

Media Lab Director On the Air for Arts & Sciences

Dr. Kendall Gerdes recorded a radio spot for the College of Arts & Sciences that aired last October. Dr. Gerdes explains the relationship between her research in rhetoric and technical communication and her work directing the English Department's Media Lab. The radio transcript and audio is available below or at Dr. Gerdes's website:

Transcript and Audio

Hi, I'm Kendall Gerdes. I study rhetoric and technical communication, and I direct the Media Lab in Texas Tech's English Department.

“Rhetoric” isn't just empty words. The study of rhetoric is actually about the power that language has: to direct our attention, inflame our passions, and shape and change our ways of thinking.

In the Media Lab, we look at how digital genres like podcasts, videogames, and social media are amplifying and altering those powers.

Digital rhetoric is about how technology is transforming and translating the powers of language into new media environments, and how what we see, touch, and hear shapes who we think we are.

I'm Kendall Gerdes for Texas Tech's College of Arts & Sciences. We Build Innovators.

If you would like to support the Department of English, you may review donor information here. Giving opportunities for the College of Arts & Sciences can be found here.

Posted January 29, 2018

Dr. Shu Encourages Transpacific American Studies during Fulbright

Dr. Shu and Students from the National University of Singapore

Dr. Yuan Shu has returned from his Fulbright fellowship in Singapore. Principally working with the National University of Singapore, Dr. Shu taught a graduate seminar on Literature of the Asian Diaspora. But he did not sit still; seeing himself as a cultural ambassador for Texas Tech, he travelled and spoke in several Southeast Asian countries. All told, Dr. Shu spoke at the University of Indonesia, the University of Philippines - Diliman, and Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. At these prestiguous universities, he lectured on transpacific American Studies and ecocriticism. "Ecocriticism," he explains, "is becoming vastly popular in transnational and transpacific literary scholarship."

Reflecting on his Fulbright experiences, Dr. Shu sees an increase in American Studies scholarship in Southeast Asia. He declares, "The Asian Pacific is not longer passive in receiving American Studies research, but there's a desire to produce new readings - to participate in knowledge production." He is currently writing an article about his experiences, and how he sees American Studies as needing to adapt for Asian cultures.

In addition to his article, Dr. Shu will return soon to Singapore. He and Dr. Kenneth Dean (National University of Singapore) proposed an international conference for American Studies, "America's Asia, Asia's America." With a grant from the State Department, Dr. Shu has the funds to bring prominent American Studies scholars. Hopefully this conference will allow Dr. Shu to see American Studies continue to flourish in Asia Pacific and beyond.


Posted December 4, 2017

Semester in Review: CMLL Presents Comparative European Modernisms Series

Comparative European Modernisms Series

On September 25th and October 9th, students and faculty from across campus gathered in the Fomby Room in the Southwest Collection Library for this fall's Comparative European Modernisms Series. Hosted by the College of Classic and Modern Languages and Literature, these events offered interdisciplinary perspectives on modernists movements. As Dr. Susan Larson, one of the organizers for the series, explains "Modernism as a cultural response to the modern condition needs to be understood within the rapdily-changing cultural marketplace, in relation to the political and social upheaval of the early twentieth century as well its connections to the other arts. ... Our work needs to be conducted in conversation with the work of scholars from other disciplines in order to place our own individual contributions within a broader context." In keeping with this broader context, the two invited professors presented research on Spanish and Portuguese modernists movements.

On September 25th, Dr. Juan Herrera-Senés (University of Colorado-Boulder) spoke on the modernist movement being the first great era mass transnational circulation. Entitled "Tangled Modernity: Intellectual Networks and Hispanic Cultural Production," Dr. Herrera-Senés' presentation used network visualizations to de-spatialize literary production sites. In doing so, his research focused on the networks built through sharing literature. "Facebook," he dryly quipped, "didn't invent networking."

On October 9th, Dr. Jerónimo Pizarro (Universidad de los Andes) discussed Fernando Pessoa's central role in the development of Portguese Modernism. In addition to introducing multiple -isms, Pessoa has become famous for creating "heteronyms," poetic voices that allowed the writer to explore different styles and themes. When asked why English majors should study Pessoa, Dr. Pizarro was quick to remind the audience of Pessoa's childhood spent in South Africa. He explained further, "He already wrote in English [when he began his writing career in Portuguese). Over 10,000 documents! He dreamed about being a great writer in English." Like Dr. Herrera-Senés, Dr. Pizarro stressed Pessoa's interest in modernisms across Europe, most notably England, France, and Italy.

Reviewing the series and its importance for courses in the English department, Dr. Curtis Bauer says, "Attending an event like that gives me new ideas for how I teach the classes that I've been teaching for a long time. It also gives me an idea of what new material I can include in a comparative lit course but even the creative writing class that might be looking at translation." The lecture series was made possible by seven units on campus: the Humanities Center, the European Studies Program, the Honors Program, the Department of History, the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures, the Charles B. Qualia Endowment and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Posted November 29, 2017

Undergraduate Bethany Pitchford Publishes in STC Notebook

Bethany PitchfordBethany Pitchford, an undergraduate senior majoring in Technical Communication and minoring in English, has just published her first article in the STC Notebook. Her article, "Ten Pieces of Advice for Science Communication Students," helps reveal some of the ways students in technical communication can prepare themselves for effective science writing.

Initially, Bethany planned to go into cancer research, but her plans changed after she worked on a biology research team analyzing compounds in oak trees. She discovered she loved science and loved writing, and technical writing allowed her to pursue both interests.

Though the article has only recently been published, Bethany actually wrote it in Fall 2016 during Amber Lancaster's report writing class. "[Lancaster] suggested I turn it into an Intercom article, but back then, I just had to survive my genetics class!" Bethany joked. It's a good thing she kept track of her paper all this time.

In addition to the classes she's taken at Texas Tech, Bethany also credits her great mentors for constantly encouraging her to test her academic boundaries. "In my first semester here, I took Dr. Greg Wilson's science communication course, and he's incredibly passionate and enthusiastic about science communication," Bethany recalled. "His class reaffirmed early on I was headed in the right direction, by reminding me how much I love learning and how important it is to stay curious."

Bethany also emphasizes the importance of curiosity and flexibility in her article, especially when she argues how crucial it is for beginners to grant themselves a "learner's permit," both because it's a good way to ease oneself into the field and also because it's an important part of effective technical writing. "Giving yourself a learner's permit as an overachiever is hard because you want to know all of the things well the first time," Bethany explained. "But reality doesn't work that way."

In addition to technical writing, Bethany is also a creative writer and has been published twice in Tableau, the Midland College literary magazine. She will graduate in December 2017, and in January 2018, she will begin her Master's in Mass Communication at Texas Tech. If her drive as an undergraduate is any indication, surely we can expect many more great things from her.

Posted November 16, 2017

Professors and Pastries

Professors and Pastries

On Wednesday, November 1, faculty and current graduate students gathered in the Atrium to speak with prospective graduate students about graduate programs in the English Department at Texas Tech University.

Dr. Ryan Hackenbracht, Associate Director of Graduate Studies, started the informal discussion by telling those in attendance how their undergraduate educations have prepared them for graduate school, and why furthering their educations in the English Department offers them a variety of options as far as careers are concerned.

Sebastian, a TTU undergrad in attendance, agrees that a graduate degree from the English Department would be useful. “It's about freedom of expression and investigation,” he said. “We need more critical thinking from people out in the world, and the English Department can help with that.”

Dr. Julie Nelson Couch, an Associate Professor of Literature, Dr. Jacqueline Kolosov, Professor and Director of the Creative Writing program, and Dr. Greg Wilson, the Director of Graduate Studies for Technical Communication and Rhetoric, spoke briefly about their respective programs to give students in attendance an overview of their areas. They all emphasized the distinctions within each program but also expressed that there are several opportunities to collaborate within and beyond the English Department.

The most unique part of the discussion was when current graduate students from all areas in the department shared their experiences about grad school—from applying, studying, teaching and taking classes, and balancing other aspects of their lives.

Graduate student Rachel Rayl advised undergraduates preparing applications for grad school: “Consider whose opinions matter to you, and how they would view your credentials.” It is sound advice for impressing an admissions committee or potential clients and employers.

The deadline for Fall 2018 graduate admission is January 8, 2018. Click here to find out more about graduate programs in the English Department. Click here to apply for the Literature, Creative Writing, or Linguistics programs, and click here to apply for the Technical Communication and Rhetoric program.

Posted November 13, 2017

Kamilah Aisha Moon reading at Texas Tech

Kamilah Aisha Moon

Kamilah Aisha Moon is an award-winning poet known for works that both inspire and unnerve her readers and listeners. Moon recently visited Texas Tech for a special reading of poems from her new book, Starshine & Clay. The varied subject matter of her powerful poetry includes everything from police brutality, race relations in the U.S, the legacy of the Civil War, to concentration camps in the Czech Republic. Her work shines a light on many of the issues often forgotten in today's busy news cycle.

Her work demands a response from readers, whether that be internal or external. “I like comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable,” Moon stated prior to reading one of her poems that addresses police brutality.

Michael, a TTU undergrad at Moon's reading, said, “Kamilah Aisha Moon talked about modern issues in a calm yet critical manner as opposed to the hostile nature they are discussed in the media today; that was refreshing.”

The reading drew a large crowd from across the university. Near the end of her reading, Moon urged the audience to stand hand-in-hand with those near. It was a powerful moment in which to reflect on the unity that results from our shared diversity across this campus.

Aspiring poets sometimes have trouble drawing inspiration for their pieces, and Moon offered some parting words of wisdom for them: “Read everything you can, then join the conversation”

Posted November 10, 2017

PhD Candidate Tim Elliott Works with Urban Tech

Tim Elliott (left) poses with Dr. David Driskill (right) before the Urban Tech office.Tim Elliott, a PhD candidate in Technical Communication and Rhetoric, has spent the last four semesters as an Urbanovsky Assistant with the College of Architecture's Urban Tech. Tim has held many positions there, including researcher, assistant director, writing consultant, and social media manager.

Throughout his time with Urban Tech, Tim has had opportunities to conduct research and provide writing consultations for architect students. He has co-written several publications with director David Driskill, AIA. One of these articles, "Urban Stage 2014: Navigating Relationships," investigates a collaborative urban redevelopment project, and emphasizes decision-making criteria, policies, and ordinances. A more recent article, "Transforming a City of Alleys into a City of Spanish-Indebted Courtyards," proposes redeveloping downtown Lubbock alley ways into interconnected, Spanish-inspired courtyards.

Tim has also worked on community outreach between graduate architecture students and the Lubbock community. He writes, "I provide feedback on ... presentations and posters; my feedback mostly focuses on the best way to display architectural research to the public during students' monthtly exhibits as part of Lubbock's First Friday Art Trail." (You can see these exhibits at Urban Tech, 1120 Main Street, every first Friday.) In addition to his continuing outreach efforts, Tim currently creates and manages content for Urban Tech's new website. 

The Urbanovsky Fellowship is just one of the many opportunities students in the Department of English have to engage in cross-disciplinary research. For more information on joining the Department of English at TTU, look at our department's exciting graduate programs.

Posted October 30, 2017

Want $200? Add an English minor to your degree plan!

Yes, it really is that simple. If you have 3 or more English classes left to fulfill an English minor, you will get $200 upon completion!

An English minor requires 18 hours:

  • ENGL 1302
  • 6 hours of 2000 level courses
  • 9 hours 3000/4000 level classes

"As an English minor, you'll gain critical reading, writing, and problem solving skills that compliment any major," says Eleanor Mode, the undergraduate advisor in the English Department. "Why not improve upon these skills and boost your resume for the job market?"

If your degree plan includes elective courses, an English minor would be a useful way to deal with those requirements.

If you have any questions or want to learn more, contact Eleanor Mode (eleanor.mode@ttu.edu), the English advisor.

Posted October 27, 2017

Alexander Chee at LHUCA

Alexander Chee reading at LHUCA

Last night at the LUCHA Fire House Theater, bestselling author Alexander Chee spoke about his experiences in writing his latest novel, Queen of the Night. In addition, the audience got to hear a roughly 30-minute reading of the novel, which is centered on an opera singer in the 18th century learning an entirely new culture. The reader is immediately drawn into the story through lush imagery, wonderful diction, and the complex culture the protagonist tries desperately to understand.

Alexander Chee sat down with Ryan Dimon, one of our social media strategists, and explained some of his thoughts on writing the book and writing in general. “If you're going to write a novel about an opera singer, it's going to get a little corny,” Chee joked.

Many aspiring writers often attend the English Department's creative writing events in order to gain insight into their own works as well as advice on how to write more efficiently. “I really loved the ‘100 Things About Writing a Novel' essay,” said Alexa, a TTU student. This unpublished essay resonated with many in attendance as it offers advice to aspiring writers.

Chee also elaborated on the fact that writers often have trouble putting projects away, either due to negative feelings on the work, or feelings of embarrassment. Additionally, one of the larger themes of “100 Things About Writing a Novel” is about prioritizing what—or who—is important while writing. “Sometimes we are not ready for what we want, and so we are afraid,” Chee notes in his essay. “Any time you stop because you are afraid of who is listening, you forget who is important—you.”

So, if you're having trouble coming up with a new idea or feel stuck in the middle of your writing, perhaps Chee's advice will inspire you to just write. Get your thoughts on the page, remember why you're writing at all. And if all else fails, Chee leaves us with these final words of wisdom: “Embarrassment is non-fatal.”

Posted October 25, 2017

Dr. Abigail Selzer King and the Icon Library

Dr. Selzer King employs the Icon Library technique in the drawings she creates in her classes.

Meet Dr. Abigail Selzer King, a professor here in the English Department who currently teaches Rhetorical Criticism and Usability Testing. While ordinarily neither class is one that sparks a student's attention at first glance, Dr. Selzer King is changing opinions as the semester moves along, especially through her methods of teaching, which involves drawings that create a more collaborative and immersive learning experience.

Dr. Selzer King draws her illustrations for the class during the class, giving students a chance to add their own input for the drawings. She believes that this adds to the experience and helps students remain engaged in the lecture. And students agree. Students in her Rhetorical Criticism class say that watching her draw out the lecture makes it easier to stay focused. One student, Rachel Wooley, stated that it helps her to watch Dr. Selzer King draw and take notes during class because they don't have to scramble to keep up with their own notes whether they're writing or typing them. Some students even draw their own versions of her drawings (see the gallery, below).

Walker Williams, a senior Technical Communication major set to graduate in December, said that being able to visualize the sketches during a test helped him remember the concepts. “Being able to actually see how things connect and intertwine as she's drawing is really helpful to my learning process,” Wooley added. “It just really clicks in my brain better than a PowerPoint usually does.”

Dr. Selzer King believes these visuals help in more than just a classroom setting and has begun using them in the workplace as well. “I use a strategy called the ‘Icon Library,' which I've been using now with some client projects outside of the university,” she said. With this Icon Library, different icons stand for different concepts in order to help visualize the notes and ideas.

With the world of communication constantly moving forward, Dr. Selzer King's method is making waves on social media. As time wears on, more students are seeing just how interesting Technical Communication is and how it continues to shine through in the work field. For students interested, Dr. Selzer King is set to continue teaching Rhetorical Criticism in fall 2018.

Posted October 11, 2017

Get to Know: Technical Communication's Online Program

Students from Technical Communication and Rhetoric's online program take a photo during their May Seminar

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.

Posted October 9, 2017

Banned Books Week

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, mechanical engineering majorCarlos 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."

Students posing with the letterpress prints they pulled.

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.

Dr. Curtis Bauer and graduate student Kyle BassettThe 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 notingat Texas Tech, especiallythat the evolution of technology has made it nearly impossible to ban any book completely today. We are all the better for it.

Posted October 9, 2017

The Atrium

The Atrium

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.

Posted October 5, 2017

LHUCA Literary Reading Series Showcases Local and Visiting Writers

Collage from a recent LHUCA reading event

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.

Posted October 5, 2017

Dr. William Wenthe Named Lubbock Poet Laureate

Headshot for Dr. William Wenthe

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 DawnNot 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 ReviewThe Yale ReviewThreepenny Review, American Poetry Review, and many others.

Posted October 1, 2017

Puppies & Pastries

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.

Spotlight Archive

Study Abroad in Sevilla!

An image of La Giralda, at dusk.

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!

All other information can be found on the study abroad website, or by emailing Dr. John Poch.

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Posted October 4, 2017

Study Abroad in London!

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!

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Posted October 2, 2017

Literature, Social Justice, and Environment Program Hosts "Walled Up" Round Table

A flyer for fall roundtable, "Walled Up: Human and Environmental Impacts of a Border Wall"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.

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Posted September 19, 2017

Joya Mannan Wins Paul Whitfield Horn Fellowship

Joya MannanA 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."

Congratulations, Joya!

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Posted September 18, 2017

Open Mic for 50th International Literacy Day

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."

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Posted September 14, 2017

National Book Award Longlist in Poetry

Chen Chen
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."

Congratulations, Chen!

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Posted September 13, 2017

Meet Dr. Kendall Gerdes - the Media Lab's New Director!

Headshot for Dr. Kendall GerdesStarting 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).

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Posted August 22, 2017

Kate Simonian Wins Algren Literary Award

Headshot for Kate SimonianKate 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.

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Posted July 3, 2017

Great News About Grant-Making Work from TCR