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An English major provides a return on investment
“What is the ‘return on investment’ for an English major?” Like the stock market, success must be measured over the long term. Key findings from a recent report, “Liberal Arts Graduates and Employment”, by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems and the Association of American Colleges and Universities establishes the real value of a liberal arts major like English.

Earning Potential
By their mid fifties, liberal arts majors with an advanced or undergraduate degree are on average making more money than those who studied in professional and pre-professional fields and are employed at similar rates.

Four out of five employers agree that all students should acquire broad knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences.

Employers want both broad knowledge and specific skills.

Ninety-three percent of employers agree that candidates’ demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major.

A degree in English helps students gain the knowledge and skills employers want and leads to a strong return on investment. As our mission states, “Through the study of literature and writing, the English Department prepares students to communicate effectively, think imaginatively and live wisely in a diverse world.” English graduates develop the knowledge and skills necessary to become the civic, cultural and business leaders who will solve the complex problems of our communities and world.

The full report, “Liberal Arts Graduates and Employment”, is available at the Association of American Colleges and Universities website.

Dr. Montz publishes book on young adult fiction

Dr. Amy Montz is a co-editor of a new book collection, Female Rebellion in Young Adult Dystopian Fiction. The collection focuses on novels with young female protagonists who struggle against cultural assumptions and expectations. The book is available through Ashgate Publishing.

Creative Writing Students Perform Works

In the RopeWalk class (ENG 459), students have the opportunity to study the works of our visiting writers in the RopeWalk Reading Series, and try on those authors’ styles and techniques in order to discover their own voices. They also undertake a project of illustrating—through whatever medium they wish—the writing of one classmate in an effort to enhance the written word, just like the fully illustrated chapbook A Man Worthy of Your Attention (RopeWalk Press, 2012). During the spring ’13 semester, students illustrated through dance, song, radio drama, and visual art. 

Not all can be reproduced here but these can and they are truly wonderful.   

Grant Writing Students Serve the Community

As a part of English 319, Introduction to Grant Writing, students work with community organizations to assist them in writing grants. According to Audrey Hillyer, the course instructor, Jess Durkin was paired with Historic Newburgh as her organization during the class. The grant proposal she authored on their behalf for her final class project was funded. As a result of Jess’s work, Historic Newburgh will receive a $1,500 grant. To express her appreciation, Carol Schaefer, Director of Historic Newburgh, invited Jess and Ms. Hillyer to their Preservation Party in May to celebrate.

Keely Muench, another student in ENG319, has been awarded an internship with Wildlife Alliance in New York City.This non-profit organization works to preserve wildlife in Southeast Asia, particularly in Cambodia. Keely will be doing grant writing and editing as part of her internship. Students taking English 319 can have a positive impact on the community while gaining valuable hands-one experience.

Middle Ages
Middle Ages

USI Students Experience the Middle Ages

A group of USI English majors attended the Society for Creative Anachronism event, Rendezvous at the Bridge XXIV, at Lincoln State Park on October 12, 2013. The SCA is an international organization interested in the culture of pre-17th-century Europe. Members, dressed in clothing of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, attend events which feature tournaments, royal courts, feasts, dancing, various classes & workshops, and more.

USI students, Adam Booher and Julie Huffman wore period dress and met the current king of the Middle Kingdom (middle of North America), Cellach. Students watched single combat matches, participated in a two-hour dance class, watched a “bridge battle,” attended Cellach’s court, and joined the medieval feast. The court included a procession of the dogs that had participated in the “coursing of the hounds” earlier in the day, several of which earned awards of service from the king. King Cellach also handed out awards for volunteer service, efforts in medieval arts and crafts, awards of arms, and general recognition for a job well done.

According to USI’s Medieval Studies Society advisor, Carrie Wright, “The feast was gloriously delicious, with Sur la Table and five courses, served to us by members of Riviere Constelle. We were sad to leave, and we’re looking forward to participating in future SCA events.” Contact Carrie Wright if you are interested in participating in the Medieval Studies Society.

Professor Matthew Graham Discusses Writing in an Interview with WNIN

Watch Writing: Margaret McMullen-UE & Matthew Graham-USI on PBS. See more from Art Futures.

Wicker Nominated for NAACP Image Award

Our own Marcus Wicker has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award for his new book of poetry, Maybe the Saddest Thing.

The full list of nominees has been announced in the LA Times.

Marcus will be sharing the spotlight with the likes of Halle Barry, Denzel Washington, Bruno Mars, and Alicia Keys. One of his fellow nominees in poetry is Natasha Tretheway, Poet Laureate of the United States.

Marcus Wicker selected for feature in Poets and Writers Magazine

Marcus Wicker, Assistant Professor of Creative Writing, will be one of twelve poets from 2012 selected for the Debut Poets feature in Poets and Writers Magazine in the January, 2013 issue. In October, Marcus was a featured reader and panelist at the Devil’s Kitchen Literary Festival in Carbondale, IL. Marcus’s book, Maybe the Saddest Thing, was published in October by Harper and is now available on Amazon and in bookstores. Marcus has recently published several poems, including: “Call” in Ninth Letter; “A Game of Chicken,” “My Problem with Description,” and “False Start” co-written with Ryan Teitman, in Pinwheel; and “To You,” reprinted in the  Cave Canem Anthology XII. Marcus has poems forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Poetry, Hayden's Ferry Review, Cincinnati Review, The Journal, and Third coast.

Nicole Reid reads at Wordstock Festival

Nicole Reid recently gave a reading and led a workshop at the Wordstock Festival in Portland, Oregon. Ms. Reid was also a the keynote speaker at the Sigrid Stark / Charles Tinkham Writing Contest Awards Ceremony at Purdue University-Calumet.

Dr. Susanna Hoeness-Krupsaw has been named Professor of the Year

Susanna Hoeness-Krupsaw Dr. Susanna Hoeness-Krupsaw has been named the Helen and Bill Sands Professor of the Year.

The award is given each year to a faculty member who exemplifies the highest-quality of teaching in the classroom, ongoing professional scholarship and/or creative work, and service activity; promotes and supports the importance of a liberal arts education to students and the external communities; serves as a role model and positive influence on students in the development of their liberal arts education; and demonstrates a positive attitude and enthusiastic commitment to their work and the USI academic community.

Matthew Graham publishes poems in Currency

Read the poems >>

Matthew Graham, professor of English, has published two poems in Currency: "Catskill Lullaby" and "Ronald Beaver".

Chris Dickens

English Alum Wins Fellowship

Since graduating from USI, Christopher Dickens received his MFA from University of North Carolina-Greensboro, published fiction in Epoch, and won The Florida Review Editor's Award for nonfiction. He was recently awarded a MacDowell Fellowship. He is currently at work on a memoir about his family's relation to horseracing, motorcycle gangs, and senility.  He is working on the memoir in the cabin where Michael Chabon wrote The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.


USI English Teaching Students Excel

English Teaching majors at USI continue to excel and pass licensure exams at high rates. The passing score for the Praxis II Exam in English Language, Literature, and Composition is 153. USI’s institutional score on the exam last year was 173, which is tied with Indiana State University and Purdue University West Lafayette. This places USI’s English teaching program in the top 15 scores out of 43 institutions of higher education in Indiana, ahead of seven other state institutions. USI’s score is very close to the University of Evansville’s score, 176. All USI students taking the Praxis II in English Language, Literature, and Composition passed the exam.

Alice Shen's Play to be Staged

Alice ShenYu-Li Alice Shen's original play, End of the Line, will receive a staged reading and panel discussion at Stevenson University's Comparative Drama Conference in Baltimore, MD, March 29-31, 2012. 

Composed of five monologues, End of the Line, is a snapshot of “the moment before” – the fantastical flash preceding a person’s death, during which decades of triumphs and pitfalls squeeze themselves into a split-second montage.  A teenage girl regrets the time she intentionally lost her little sister in a subway station.  A young woman justifies manipulating her boyfriend into a marriage proposal.  An unscrupulous businessman unabashedly admits to taking his friends down on his way to the top.  An aging nurse weighs the decision to honor a proud, dying man’s last request, at the expense of his worried family.  An old man works through his resentment towards his dead wife and finds he cannot forgive her.  In the earth-shattering moment before, these five vignettes are the last judgment and redemption for the crimes we all commit in our lives – big or small.

English Alumna completes Masters

Description: Susan RyanSusan Ryan, an English graduate from USI, recently completed her MA at the University of South Carolina and is now pursuing a PhD in Rhetoric at Carnegie Mellon University.

Susan’s scholarly interests include classical and modern rhetorical theory, the relationship between trauma and narrative, and discourses in human rights. Her current work focuses on the recent American political climate and the demand for a more civil discourse in light of violent speech and action. At USI Susan was and English and creative writing major.

English graduate teaches at St. Louis University

Nathaniel RiversNathaniel Rivers, a 2003 graduate from the University of Southern Indiana’s English Department, completed his MA in English and PhD in Rhetoric and Composition at Purdue University. While at Purdue, Nathaniel served as a Graduate Instructor in the First-Year Composition Program and in the Professional Writing Program. Additionally, he served as the Assistant Director of Professional Writing for two years. The Kenneth Burke Society named Nathaniel an Emerging Kenneth Burke Scholar for his work as an editor of a collection of all of Burke’s previously uncollected literary reviews.

Following the completion of his doctorate, Nathaniel accepted a position as an Assistant Professor of English at Georgetown University, where he taught writing courses at the undergraduate level and rhetorical theory courses at the graduate level. Nathaniel has recently accepted an appointment at St. Louis University, which has a PhD program  in his area of scholarship. He and a colleague at St. Louis are the coeditors of the Kenneth Burke Journal.

Nathaniel is married to Jodi Rasche, also a 2003 graduate from USI’s English Department. Both were active in Sigma Tau Delta, and it is through this involvement that they met. Jodi teaches language arts. In 2008, Jodi and Nathaniel welcomed the birth of their first child, William James. The child of two English majors, William, it is safe to say, doesn’t stand a chance.

Graham Publishes Poetry in Collection

Matthew GrahamSeveral poems by Professor Matthew Graham appear in And Know This Place: Poetry of Indiana, edited by Jenny Kander and C. E. Greer. The collection features the work of 116 poets who live or who have lived in Indiana long enough to acquire a sense of the place. The book was recently released by the IHS Press. More information is available at

Stephen Spencer Publishes Poetry

Stephen Spencer“Beautiful Regret” and “Sunday Night in the Mountains,” by Stephen Spencer, appear in the current issue of The Innisfree Poetry Journal. To read the poems visit the journal’s web site: Scroll down and click on the author’s name.


USI English Majors Attend the Fourth Annual Jane Austen Festival (Louisville, KY)

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by Amy L. Montz, assistant professor of English

On July 9th, 2011, six English majors, two chaperones, and several fancy tea hats made an early morning trek to Louisville, KY for the Fourth Annual Jane Austen Festival.  Chelsea Barber, Lauren Ruggier, Amber Seibert, Allison Skillman, Alissa Tsaparikos, and Melissa Wagner arrived at Historic Locust Grove to find it transformed into Meryton, the fictional hometown of Pride and Prejudice’s Bennet family.  Shops hawking fabrics and horseshoes, parasols and blended teas, bonnets and buttons of the military persuasion appealed to Austen enthusiasts and historical reenactors alike.  Chelsea purchased a spyglass, while Amber found a parasol more to her liking.  When asked how she felt about open air shopping, Amber noted that while the weather made it slightly uncomfortable, “it was a lot of fun.  A lot of the stuff is really authentic, with the ladies with their fans and parasols.”  Amber noted that “it was really cool that they had not just stuff for ladies; they had fabric and toys and army supplies” as well.  A multi-purpose, one-stop shopping of the Regency era!

An Austen BuggyThroughout the day, students attended several exhibits, performances, and workshops at the Festival in order to fully immerse themselves in the Regency period.  Two students, Melissa Wagner and Lauren Ruggier, participated in a pincushion workshop in which they spent two hours learning embroidery and needlepoint authentic to the era.  As a group, the students saw a performance of a biographical story about Jane Austen’s life, “Cheer from Chawton: A Jane Austen Family Theatrical,” written and performed by Karen Eterovich.  Students also attended a workshop entitled “Dressing Mr. Darcy,” led by reenactor Brian Cushing, which detailed the intricacies of nineteenth-century gentlemen’s clothing.  Taking the time to stop in at the gentleman’s Hellfire Club, students witnessed what happened in male-exclusive company in the Regency era, an opportunity no polite Regency lady would have had.  Fully noting the separation of the sexes, students returned to the hotel to prepare for one of the few experiences in which the sexes could mingle comfortably: large-scale social events.

On the night of July 9th, students arrived at the Spalding University Center, which had been transformed into a Regency Ball led by the Louisville English Country Dancers and hosted by the Greater Louisville chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America.  While period dress was not required, it was highly encouraged, and USI students attended in their best.  Alissa Tsaparikos took the opportunity to try out some of the Regency dances; while she admits they were “a lot of fun and scary” at the same time, she loves Austen and the Regency era now more than ever.  When asked how attending the ball affected her understanding of herself as an English major, Melissa Wagner argued that “Just learning the experience of what these people went through in everyday life and how early they started with everything,” including learning embroidery, and the intricate details of the dances, “actually learning to connect with the characters she’s read about [has been] amazing.”  At the end of the night, Allison Skillman declared the ball “the novel of manners brought to life,” particularly in the styling of the dress and the dances.

An Austen TeaOn Sunday, students returned to Locust Grove for a four-course afternoon Irish tea, which Lauren Ruggier found to be “really neat.  It was what the ladies did as a social event, and it was really cool that we got to be a part of it.”  The ladies who hosted and served “didn’t just serve you tea; they were kind of like your friends, too, explaining everything you were being served.”  Enjoying tea sandwiches, scones, and fresh-baked desserts as well as Austen-themed tea blends, students, like their Regency counterparts, spent time in nearly female-exclusive company, displaying their afternoon tea finery in a lovely setting.  Taking some time to do some more light shopping, including picking up a few books they would need for upcoming fall semester classes, students then leaned about nineteenth-century medical and dentistry treatments from a living history exhibit, nineteenth-century domesticity in the living history exhibits inside of the historical Locust Grove residence, and Regency hairstyling from Heather Fleming, professional theatrical wig designer.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and students retreated to the cars to put on comfortable shoes and settle in for the drive back to Evansville.  But while the Festival came to an end, the experience would not.  Chelsea Barber feels she’s gained a greater appreciation for how “literature affects the world and the world affects literature, and how literature becomes a mirror for the world.”  The Society for Arts and Humanities, who generously funded the students’ attendance at the Festival, truly helped these six USI students—as well as their two faculty chaperones!—more fully understand Austen, her world, her literatures, and why her legacy lives on, two hundred years later.

Nicole Reid Publishes Story Collection and Chapbook

So There!, Nicole Louise Reid’s first short story collection, will be published by Stephen F. Austin State University Press in September, 2011.

If You Must Know, a single-story chapbook manuscript, won the Fifth Annual Burnside Review Fiction Chapbook Competition and will be published fall 2011.  About the manuscript, Judge Kevin Sampsell, says, “The author takes a strange premise—a cicada burrows into (and lives inside) the arm of a young girl while she’s having sex with her boyfriend under an Oak tree—and beautifully twists it into a tale that goes beyond the typical loss of innocence. ‘If You Must Know’ drips with the humid sweat of a sexy and mysterious southern gothic, but also examines our young heroine’s loneliness and despair in a way that opens up the world in a new, fantastic way. It twitches under your skin like a true living thing.”

For more information about the chaprbook, visit the publisher’s web site: (scroll down to fiction competition).

For more information about Ms. Reid’s work, visit her author web site:

'Prodigal Sunshine' reflects Pease's explorations

(Taken from the April 21, 2011, Evansville Courier & Press, by Roger McBain)

Randy Pease Sunlight radiates through his latest CD's title and cover art, but Randy Pease is no fair-weather singer/songwriter.

The Evansville native recorded "Prodigal Sunshine" amid tornado warnings and a deluge that dumped 5 inches of rain in one evening. Pease and his band, the Dust Bunnies, mopped, bailed and vacuumed to keep flash flood waters out of the Tahlequah, Okla., studio where they created his third CD.

The album's title, from a television weather forecast of "periodical sunshine" malapropriated by his daughter, Lily, when she was 4 years old, is more about the artist than the atmosphere, however.

"I've always thought of a prodigal son as one who leaves for a while to explore what's out there and then eventually comes home," says Pease in the liner notes for the independently released CD, which he'll introduce with a public coming-out party on Friday at the The Barn Abbey in New Harmony, Ind.

The 1971 Reitz High School graduate lit out for Oklahoma in 1977 with a journalism degree from the University of Evansville.

Pease played his first paid gig in Stillwell, Okla., in 1979 while a graduate student at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., where he earned a master's degree in communications.

The music has flowed through his life ever since, during writing and copy editing jobs at newspapers and positions teaching English, speech and journalism in classrooms.

In 1996, he returned to Evansville, where he worked at the Courier & Press for a few years. He continues to teach English at the University of Southern Indiana.

Pease has returned to Oklahoma to record all of his CDs, which include "Call Me Ishmael" (1997) and "Sometimes the Moon" (2003). When he has time, Pease plays in acoustic venues in Southwestern Indiana and beyond. He recently played at the Red Bull Gypsy Cafe songwriters' festival in Stillwater, Okla., in the same bar where he performed his first paid gig.

As in his earlier recordings, "Prodigal Sunshine" features an eclectic sampler of acoustic and electric arrangements backed by a half-dozen other musicians on vocals, percussion, bass, fiddle, mandolin, piano and Dobro, electric, slide and pedal steel guitars.

Except for one song by Clem Penrose and another co-written with Penrose, Pease wrote all the selections on the CD. They include wistful laments, honky-tonk bar slappers, a country rocker, a bluegrass-tinged "campfire song" and a bluesy ode. Most ring with metaphor, touching on religion, religiosity and classical mythology ("Miracle," "Take the Wheel" and "Calliope") along with odes to loves treasured ("Only Love"), loves lost ("I Need the Money") and loves betrayed ("A Lot Like Nothin'").

They all represent Pease's own journey as a prodigal balladeer, from Evansville to Stillwater and back to New Harmony, where, at 57, he makes his home now.

"I've traveled, played music and experienced a bit of what life has to offer," Pease notes. "Now I've come home to roost."

Nicole Louise Reid's story wins prize

Nicole Reid Nicole Louise Reid’s story, A Purposeful Violence, won first prize ($1,000) for the Dana Award in Short Fiction.  Ms. Reid completed the story during a summer Scholarly Writing Institute for faculty sponsored by the Center for Academic Creativity at USI . The story is part of a now complete triptych novella manuscript.  The story was previously recognized last fall when Robert Olen Butler selected it for second place in the Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards.  The story is forthcoming in the prize issue of Yemassee, which also gave it an award. 

Yu-Li Alice Shen featured in EBJ

by Connie Stambush, EBJ correspondent
taken from the EBJ (Evansville Business Journal), April 2011 issue

Yu-Li Alice Shen is nothing like the protagonist in her award winning play Entitled — a middle-aged writer struggling with the responsibilities life is throwing at him. Shen isn't shunning anything; in fact, she takes in as much life as possible: swing dancing, taking in classic and foreign films, joining a book club and a writers' group, getting to know the Asian community and practicing her Mandarin with them, going to Brew Ha Ha, poking around in antique malls, and participating in about any outing that promises to take her on an adventure.

Yu-Li Alice Shen
photo by Kyle Grantham, EBJ

Alice Shen, Instructor of English at USI, and playwright, poses for a portrait in the library at USI on March 15, 2011 with a group of some of her favorite works.

Born in Taiwan, Shen immigrated to the States when she was 5 years old with her parents, who were looking for greater opportunities in life and hoping their daughter would find them, too. She did, earning advanced degrees in English and playwriting, winning an award for her work (Southeastern Theatre Conference's Charles M. Getchell New Play Award 2010), and today, teaching at the University of Southern Indiana.

As a child, Shen wanted to be a teacher but changed her mind in college. It was only after entering graduate school that she reconnected with her original dream.

"I taught playwriting at Virginia Tech as I was able to construct my own courses and grade my own papers, and I found I really liked working with college-aged students."

While Shen thrives on teaching and the connections she makes with her students, finding them challenging and rewarding, she has a secret aspiration that she has only begun acknowledging out loud.

"Deep down, I want to be an actor. I guess that is what so cool about teaching. It's a performance every time, whether I'm delivering a lecture or leading a discussion."

Shen recently did a bit more than lecture as she performed in "The Vagina Monologues" at the University of Southern Indiana's benefit fundraiser in February, playing the part of "The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy," in which she vocalized a myriad of moans.

As a playwright, Shen has written three full-length plays, four one-acts and two 10-minutes plays so far and says she is always working on a new one.

Although Shen hadn't visited Evansville before accepting a one-year contract teaching at USI, she likes living here and wants to stay on.

"I've met some pretty cool people."

What could be better than that? Maybe seeing one of her plays performed live by some local thespians in a town she's come to call home.

Matthew Graham with retirement home residents

Matthew Graham reads poetry at retirement home

On Friday, April 1, 2011, Matthew Graham, professor of English, gave a poetry reading to a delightful audience at the Holiday Retirement Center on the north side.

In the picture on the right, Graham stands with some of the retirement home's residents during a reception in his honor.

'We live in a world of color' USI professor teaches students to embrace other cultures, races

Taken from The Shield, February 24, 2011, written by Clare Pratt, staff writer

Betty HartBetty Hart is an English teacher. She is also an African-American woman. But, she does not feel like these two facts have to clash with each other.

“I do not perceive my teaching as African-American. I'm committed to helping students broaden their appreciation for the world and its cultures," she said. "I teach lots of things not pertaining to race or culture, and emphasize language as a means to represent who we are, not just our personal selves, but our cultural selves.”

Hart, originally from West Virginia, attended two colleges: the traditionally black Howard University, and the predominantly white West Virginia University.

This gave her a broad perspective of race relations in American universities, although she staunchly refuses to bring them up in class when not justified by a reading or discussion, nor will she tolerate any sort of racial exclusivity.

“I am proud of who I am, but racial pride and identity does not justify prejudice and bias towards those who are not like me," she said. "As a teacher, it would be wholly inappropriate and wrong.”

Hart is very outspoken about both eliminating racial boundaries, especially at the university level, and embracing her and other student’s cultural heritage.

In her African-American literature class, Hart teaches about literature from slavery, the Harlem Renaissance (her personal favorite) and contemporary stories about being black in America.

Hart also teaches English 497, which deals with racism in America.

“I proposed that course as an opportunity for students of all backgrounds to openly discuss and confront issues of racism in America,” Hart said.  

With the classes she teaches, plus the many other English courses offered, Hart hopes students will experience different cultures and new ways of relating to each other.

“I have not encountered any racism here at USI. It’s been quite the opposite," Hart said. "I have been asked to share my memories of life as an African-American, especially during the Civil Rights era. The university regards my diversity as a positive.”

Despite her good experiences at USI, Hart feels like there is still room to improve.

“We need to increase opportunities for encountering diversity in our classrooms and in campus life. The ratio of ethnic faculty to students is very disproportionate," Hart said. "There is a disparity between the ratio to white students and white teachers and African-American students and African-American teachers. This disparity runs across all ethnicities here at USI.”

Despite these problems, Hart is very optimistic about the future of USI pertaining to race and in general, and hopes that she can help students embrace diversity both on campus and off.

“There are too many people who still live in a black and white world, like an old TV, both of which are obsolete," Hart said. "We live in a world of color.”

English Major Featured in Text Book

When Erin Schmitt was in freshman English, Dr. Hoeness-Krupsaw encouraged her to submit an essay for a new writing textbook. The editors at Bedford, a major publishing firm, liked her work so much that they requested more and eventually devoted an entire chapter in the book to Erin's writing. Erin is currently applying for law school and hopes to attend Notre Dame. Read more from Erin about what the experience has meant to her:

Erin SchmittI didn't think my essay would be chosen for publication when I submitted it to the editor of The Bedford Guide for College Writers in the fall of 2008.  In fact, I hadn’t thought about my submission for over a year when the editor contacted me requesting my permission to have my work included in the ninth edition of The Bedford Guide.  Taking almost no time to make the decision, I promptly replied to the editor and expressed my interest in having my essay published. Thus, in December of 2009 I began much email correspondence with Sophia Snyder, Editorial Assistant at Bedford/St. Martin’s.  After signing over permission for the publication of my essay, I was contacted regarding Editor Marcia Muth’s interest in the publication of even more of my works in the ninth edition of The Bedford Guide.  At the editor’s request, I compiled and submitted a set of electronic documents representing the development of my essay from start to finish.  This even involved scanning and sending images of scrap-paper brainstorming, sloppy pre-writing, and hand-written drafts.  All essay prewriting, drafting, and other materials, such as a cover letter, were included in a newly-formed chapter of The Bedford Guide, which details the writing process by following my own process of writing an essay.  For teaching purposes, several minor changes were made to my work in the publication process, such as the addition of errors in early drafts, or of words and even a sentence in the final draft.  However, I am still happy to have my work included in The Bedford Guide for College Writers, as it still represents my unique voice as a writer. 

The publication of my essay is especially important to me because its subject, Dr. Peter Hertli, a brilliant, blind Swiss man, passed away just before I was contacted by the editor of The Bedford Guide.  Therefore, I see this opportunity not only as an excellent addition to my résumé, but also as a tribute to Dr. Hertli.  “Mr. Hertli,” as I called Dr. Hertli during my time as his personal assistant, is also the title of my essay, which in many ways conveys the significance of our time together.  As an English major, I consider the publication of my work a reflection of the quality of the English department at the University of Southern Indiana.  “Mr. Hertli” was written in Dr. Susanna Hoeness-Krupsaw’s English 101 course.  Without her instruction and guidance in writing the essay, I do not believe “Mr. Hertli” would have been chosen for publication.

Howard Jones Publishes Debut Novel

Desert of SoulsHoward Jones’s debut novel, Desert of Souls, has been published by a St. Martin's imprint, Thomas Dunne Books. The book is available on February 15, 2011. A book signing event is scheduled at Barnes and Noble on Tuesday, February 22, 2011, at 7:00pm.  Howard is a founding member of USI’s River Bend Writing Project Advisory Board and a long-time adjunct writing faculty in USI's English Department. He has co-led the Scholarly Writing Institute for faculty two years running, through the Center for Academic Creativity.

About the novel, Publisher's Weekly says, “As richly textured as an antique rug, this fantasy-mystery sweeps readers into ancient Baghdad. Asim, captain of Master Jaffar's guard, and the wily scholar Dabir, who is hopelessly in love with Jaffar's niece Sabirah, track stolen golden artifacts into the shifting sands that hide the ruins of legendary Ubar, entry to the land of the djinn. Asim's dazzling swordplay, his Muslim piety, and his unwavering loyalty to his friend balance Dabir's bittersweet devotion to Sabirah as the pair battle forbidden magic that forces them to slice away layers of their own spirits. Their antagonist, evil Zarathustrian sorcerer Firouz, poses moral questions that deepen this multicolored Arabian-nights tale, as does the plight of pretty, quick-witted Sabirah, who prizes scholarship and lives for the moment while facing the fate of a political marriage. A captivating setting and well-realized characters make this a splendid flying-carpet ride.”

Alice Shen's Play is Award Winner

Alice ShenAlice Shen’s full-length play, Entitled, has been published in the Fall 2010 issue of Southern Theatre magazine.  The play is the winner of the Southeastern Theatre Conference’s Charles M. Getchell New Play Award. For more information about the play and the Southeastern Theatre Conference, visit

Alice Shen earned her MFA in Playwriting at Virginia Tech. She cowrote and acted in the Theatre Workshop in Science and Technology's Nuclear Power Play – a community outreach program to raise awareness about renewable energy options – and she moderated and presented a panel of monologues at the 2009 Association of Writers and Writing Program's conference in Chicago. Alice currently teaches English composition at the University of Southern Indiana.

Nicole Louise Reid Wins Prize

Nicole ReidFor the second year in a row, the Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards has honored Nicole Louise Reid with a prize. An excerpt of her novella, A Purposeful Violence, won 2nd prize. Ms. Reid completed the novella during a Summer Scholarly Writing Institute at USI, sponsored by the Center for Academic Creativity. Robert Olen Butler, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, judged the 2010 contest.  This same excerpt was given special mention by Ron Carlson in Copper Nickel’s fiction contest in September.
A Purposeful Violence published in Confessions: Fact or Fiction? >>

Francine Witte Wins the Thomas A. Wilhelmus Chapbook Award in Fiction

Francine WitteRopeWalk Press is pleased to present Robert Olen Butler’s selection for winner of the first Thomas A. Wilhelmus Chapbook Award in fiction, Francine Witte’s Cold June.

“Francine Witte has her own brilliant take on the short short story, now instantly recognizeable to me as hers.  She seamlessly weaves together the outer life and the inner, events in the world and the actions of her characters, the tenor of the times and the yearnings of individuals.  And she does this with stunningly fresh language and a compression that not only feels natural but inevitable.  This is a very fine book by a very talented writer indeed.”  --Robert Olen Butler

Butler singled out two other manuscripts for special mention:  Ron Tanner’s Driven:  Stories and Soma Mei Sheng Frazier’s Face.  Contest finalists were:  Joseph Bathanti’s Burning Bush, Soma Mei Sheng Frazier’s Face, Peter Leach’s Children of the Caves, David James Poissant’s Lizard Man and All Fall Down, Ivan Rodden’s Natalie Touches Upon the World, Paul Takeuchi’s The Heart Is a Lonely Drummer, Ron Tanner’s Driven:  Stories, and Francine Witte’s Cold June.

Thank you to all who entered the contest.  The competition was fierce and we enjoyed reading so many fine manuscripts. 

Black Lawrence Press Interviews Nicole Reid

Nicole ReidBlack Lawrence Press publishes Weekly Publishing Tips. Recently, for their week's feature article, they interviewed Nicole Reid of RopeWalk Press.  You can read the article below.


Black Lawrence Press: RopeWalk Press is an extension of the RopeWalk Writers Retreat. What inspired you and other people at RopeWalk to found a press?
Nicole Reid: RopeWalk Press was created without any plans for a future beyond publishing the 20th Anniversary Retreat Anthology, however our former editor, Ron Mitchell, had plans.  At the time, he was managing editor of Southern Indiana Review and had already witnessed the powerful catalyst that holding a contest can be.  Via contests judged by authors of great acclaim and a complete redesign, he transformed SIR from a regional unheard-of to a fine journal of national importance.  The quality of our submissions jumped a few pegs so our content did as well; suddenly we were receiving work by not just published authors, but folks with books from strong literary and trade houses.  RopeWalk Press became a sort of extension of Ron's work with SIR.  He collaborated with one author, then another and another on poetry chapbooks and poetry chapbook contests for the press and those were our first publications.

BLP: Although RopeWalk is a new press, do you think that it already has a clear aesthetic?
NR: That's hard to say.  We've published only poetry thus far, poetry selected by Ron and by contest judges.  And it's so hard to know what judges will end up choosing.  Our next project is a fiction chapbook for which Robert Olen Butler is currently reading the nine finalists I selected.  I think commonalities exist among our chapbooks--risks taken in language, for example, but my heart will always be with character development and hard consequences to action.

BLP: Does RopeWalk Press only publish work created by alums of the retreat or are you open to submissions from other people as well?
NR: No, in fact, aside from the anthology, none of our publications are by retreat alumni.  We are open to all authors.

BLP: Right now you publish chapbooks and anthologies. Can you see a time in the future when RopeWalk Press might publish full-length collections, work of non-fiction, or novels?
NR: I would love that but I don't see it happening.  The Press is basically one person (once Ron Mitchell, now me) here at University of Southern Indiana and funding and support are minimal.  Not only would the economy have to improve but we'd need a bit of a climate change here.

BLP: What are your goals for the future of RopeWalk?
NR: I want to publish work that stops the heart, then restarts it with a little different beat.  I want these books' design to measure up to the writing--as a novelist and short story writer, I'm always so excited to receive contributor's copies of a journal or anthology I'm in and crestfallen when the design is amateurish or just doesn't fit.  I want RopeWalk Press authors to tear in to their contributors' copies and love what they find there.

BLP: What is your favorite thing about your work as an editor? Your least favorite thing?
NR: My favorite task as editor is reading something new--some new treatment, some exciting turn of what many other writers can't seem to break free from.  My least favorite is reading all those exasperatingly tired renditions. 


Nicole Louise Reid is the author of the novel In the Breeze of Passing Things. Her stories have appeared in The Southern Review, Quarterly West, Meridian, Black Warrior Review, Confrontation, turnrow, New Orleans Review, Crab Orchard Review, and Grain. She is the winner of the 2001 Willamette Award in Fiction, and has also won awards from the Pirate’s Alley William Faulkner Short Story Competition, the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Society, and Glimmer Train. She teaches creative writing at USI, is fiction editor of Southern Indiana Review, and co-directs RopeWalk Reading Series. Of all the things that bring her pleasure, building a career on the art of telling lies is one of the finest.

WNIN Aired Talks with two Ropewalk Participants

Ropewalk Press to Publish Posthumous Poetry Collection

June 9, 2010
This summer the Ropewalk Press at the University of Southern Indiana will release the poetry chapbook "Max," a collection by the late, young poet Joshua Vinzant. Vinzant committed suicide in 2007, and his work is being published with the help of his former professor Rodney Jones, a poet and professor of English literature at Southern Illinois University.

Listen to Jessica Naudziunas' talk with Rodney Jones >>

Ropewalk Writer Views Literature Through Short Story Lens

June 10, 2010
The RopeWalk Writers Retreat took place June 13-19, 2010, at Historic New Harmony, Indiana. The weeklong event gives participants an opportunity to attend workshops and to confer privately with one of four prominent writers: Kim Addonizio, poetry; Kim Barnes, creative nonfiction; Joe Meno, fiction; and Robert Wrigley, poetry.  Holly Goddard Jones joined as guest reader. 

Listen to WNIN's Jessica Naudziunas' talk with Joe Meno >>

Minor in Entrepreneurship for English Majors

In partnership with the College of Business, the English Department now offers a Minor in Entrepreneurship for Non-Business Majors. The eighteen-hour minor combines English courses in investigative, digital, professional, technical, and grant writing with Business courses in idea creation, feasibility study, and business planning.  The minor emphasizes critical thinking, communication, and entrepreneurial business skills to broaden possibilities for English majors who are interested in starting their own businesses or working for organizations that value an entrepreneurial mindset.
See the minor requirements >>

Congratulations to recipients of English Department Awards and Scholarships

Please join the English Department in congratulating the recipients of English Department Awards and Scholarships announced at the College of Liberal Arts Honors Convocation on Saturday, March 27, 2010.

Andrew W. Foster, Academic Achievement Award in English 
Andrew S. Harris and Katherine L. Yoder, Beginning Creative Writing Award

Whitney J. Hickman, Billy Joe Below Award for Intermediate Creative Writing

Monica J Garlitch, English 101 Portfolio Award

Roger C. Gude and Jennifer A. Moss, Advanced Creative Writing Award

Joan E. Winkler, Sigma Tau Delta, Mu Phi Excellence in English Award

Audry M. Witty, Walter and Shirley Everett Literature Award

English graduate teaches at Georgetown

Nathaniel Rivers and family
Jodi, William, and Nathaniel Rivers

A 2003 graduate from the University of Southern Indiana’s English Department, Nathaniel Rivers completed his MA in English and PhD in Rhetoric and Composition at Purdue University. While at Purdue, Nathaniel served as a Graduate Instructor in the First-Year Composition Program and in the Professional Writing Program. Additionally, he served as the Assistant Director of Professional Writing for two years. The Kenneth Burke Society named Nathaniel an Emerging Kenneth Burke Scholar for his work as an editor of a collection of all of Burke’s previously uncollected literary reviews.

Following the completion of his doctorate, Nathaniel accepted a position as an Assistant Professor of English at Georgetown University. He teaches writing courses at the undergraduate level and rhetorical theory courses at the graduate level. He is currently working on an article length study of Kenneth Burke’s notion of “attitude” and its place at the boundary of nature and culture and an article on fostering student engagement with local publics through rhetorical action. Additionally, he is at work on a book length project expanding the realm of rhetorical action to include bodily and environmental activity.

In 2005 Nathaniel married Jodi Rasche, also a 2003 graduate from USI’s English Department. Both were active in Sigma Tau Delta and it is through this involvement that they met. Jodi currently teaches language arts at Holy Redeemer Catholic School in Washington, DC. Working with sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students, Jodi serves an at-risk population. She finds the work both challenging and rewarding.

In 2008, Jodi and Nathaniel welcomed the birth of their first child, William James. The child of two English majors, William, it is safe to say, doesn’t stand a chance.

Nathaniel’s professional website is located at:

2007 English graduate succeeds at Yale

Craig FehrmanCraig Fehrman, a 2007 graduate from USI’s English program, recently passed his qualifying PhD. Exams at Yale "with distinction."  He was the only person in his group (third-year students) to achieve this level.

While at USI Craig started Amalgam and produced the first two issues, among many other accomplishments.

Originally intending to concentrate on medieval literature in graduate school, he has decided to become an Americanist; his dissertation is about books by presidents.

Craig is also a freelance writer and lives in Connecticut with his wife Candice, who works at Rizzoli, one of the top publishing houses in NYC.

Learn more about Craig at his blog,

English major learns through internship

Kara Waggoner

Kara Waggoner

Kara Waggoner is an intern with the Center for Applied Research (CAR) at USI. Kara, an English major and a Marketing minor, talks about the valuable experience the internship is providing: "The knowledge I have gained from my English background has enabled me to be successful in my internship in numerous ways.  With the internship, I write press releases and articles concerning the events and projects we work on at CAR.  Through my internship I have learned many valuable lessons and processes.  I have also been given the opportunity to do all of the marketing for one of our projects, and I have been doing consulting work on another project.  The people I work with daily guide me when I have problems and are sure to give me meaningful work.  Previously, I had not considered a career in communications, but through my experience at the Center for Applied Research, I believe communications is a very possible career path for me."