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Future Courses

Spring 2017 English courses are described below. For descriptions of all English courses, refer to the Graduate Catalog

Spring 2017 Graduate Course Descriptions


ENG 601: Research in English Studies

Section 1: Tuesday 6:30-9:10 PM

Professor: Jackie Grutsch McKinney

This section of English 601 is an introduction to the various research methods used in the field of Rhetoric and Composition. We will explore ways of researching in the field by reading published research, learning ethical and institutionally-appropriate ways of conducting research, studying the genre of research writing, and taking on mini-research projects. Particular attention will be given to the art of articulating research questions and selecting appropriate methods for answering such questions–a skill that must be mastered by students before entering the final stage (thesis or dissertation) of their degree. By the end of the course, students should have a better understanding of how knowledge is made in the field of Rhetoric and Composition historically and presently. Such an understanding is pertinent to those who currently (or intend to) study, teach, or publish in the field.

ENG 605: Teaching in English Studies: Composition

Section 1: Monday and Wednesday 5:00-6:15 PM

Professor: Jennifer Grouling

In order to teach composition, it’s important to have a broader understanding of the theory and research behind composition pedagogy. First, students will be acquainted to the rich field of Composition Studies and will learn how to look to the existent literature to put their current queries into the context of the field. Specifically, students will learn about major theories, pedagogies, and epistemologies of writing from the past half century. Secondly, students will learn how to shape a research question and conduct qualitative (teacher) research to study classroom environments. Learning how to study one’s own teaching is invaluable in improving one’s craft.

ENG 605: Teaching in English Studies (Creative Writing)

Section 2: Tuesday and Thursday 12:30-1:45 PM

*Required Teaching Lab Tuesday and Thursday 2:00-3:15 PM:  You won’t be attending every class, but you’ll need to save this window in your schedule

Professor Jill Christman (jcchristman@bsu.edu)

The story goes that when Vladimir Nabokov was invited to join the English Department at Harvard, the linguist Roman Jakobson protested: “Gentlemen, even if one allows that he is an important writer, are we next to invite an elephant to be Professor of Zoology?”

Times have changed and the Creative Writing Program here at Ball State now enrolls 200 majors and almost 250 minors in our combined programs, staffing those classrooms with writer-teachers. Nicknamed “The Elephants Teach,” this course is open to all graduate students in English who wish to examine the pedagogical issues specific to the teaching of creative writing at the college level.  Our readings will range from theoretical to paper-and-pen practical and may include Anna Leahy’s brand-new What We Talk About When We Talk About Creative Writing, David Gershom Myers’s The Elephants Teach: Creative Writing Since 1880, and Stephanie Vanderslice’s Teaching Creative Writing to Undergraduates, as well as the textbook we’ll be using in our shared laboratory class of English 285 Introduction to Creative Writing students:  Janet Burroway’s Imaginative Writing (4th Edition).   

We’ve built the schedule so that we’ll have our own classroom of (very lucky) intro-level writers with whom we can work throughout the semester.  In other words, we’ll talk about methods, lessons, readings, exercises, strategies, and grading rubrics—and then bring them into a classroom of beginning writers to breathe real pedagogical air; you’ll each attend ENG 285 an average of once/week.  By the end of the semester, in addition to having some Introduction to Creative Writing teaching under your belt, you will have articulated your teaching philosophy for the creative writing classroom, reviewed an ever-expanding range of teaching materials, developed inventive lessons and exercises, evaluated creative work, and produced a teaching portfolio of sample syllabi, course policies, writing exercises, and assignments.

ENG 613: Workshop in Poetry Writing
Topic: Generative Genres: Elegies, Odes, and Civic Poems
Section 1: Tuesday and Thursday 9:30-10:45 AM
Professor: Katy Didden

In this course, we will study three poetic genres that have rich literary traditions: elegies, odes, and civic poems.  Together, we will test the theory that having a strong knowledge of literary genres can be extremely generative for our own work, and can help us diversify our creative writing repertoire, as each genre offers unique writing strategies and tools.  How do dialogue and repetition function in the context of elegy, for example?  What do we mean by pastoral elegy, self-elegy, anti-elegy, public elegy?   How do turn, counterturn, and stand function in the ode?  How are odes versatile enough to inspire soldiers and athletes to greatness (like the odes of Pindar), but also to praise the small miracles of daily life (like Neruda’s “Ode to My Socks”)?  What do we mean by the civic poem, and how does the civic poem relate to current trends in the poetry of engagement and documentary poetics?   Studying elegies, odes, and civic poems, we will also consider ongoing questions about the private versus public functions of poetry, and how the notion of the public poem continues to evolve.  For this course, we will read articles to help us define each genre.  We will also read selections of historical examples, and at least one collection of contemporary poetry for each genre (possible texts include Marie Howe’s What the Living Do, Max Ritvo’s Four Reincarnations, Ross Gay’s Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, and Solmaz Sharif’s Look).  Students will write a portfolio of poems inspired by our study of genre, write critiques for their peers, co-facilitate class discussions, and participate in a roundtable presentation at the end of the semester.

ENG 618: Materials Development for Teaching English Language Learners

Section 1: Tuesday and Thursday 2:00-3:15 PM

Professor: Megumi Hamada

This course introduces students to principled frameworks in developing pedagogical materials, which builds on the theories and practices covered in ENG 616 and ENG 617. Students will analyze, modify, and create language-teaching materials that meet the needs and wants of language learners and teachers who are in various contexts, such as English as a second language, English as a foreign language, English for academic purposes, and English for specific purposes.

ENG 619: Assessment in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Section 1: Tuesday and Thursday 5:00-6:15 PM

Professor: Mary Lou Vercellotti

This blended course (with required online and face-to-face components) will explore different methods of assessing language performance in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Assessment of different language skills (i.e., listening, speaking, writing, reading, grammar) will be considered. Both quantitative and qualitative, formal and informal, measures will be covered. We will evaluate our assessments with the assessment principles of validity, reliability, and practicality so to create a strong, balanced assessment portfolio.

ENG 621: Meaning and Structure in English
Section 1: Monday 6:30-9:10 PM
Professor: Elizabeth Riddle

A critical study, from a pragmatic/discourse-functional and cognitive linguistic perspective, of aspects of Modern English grammar (including the lexicon, syntax, and semantics) important for the teaching of EFL/ESL and for further linguistics study.  Key theoretical linguistic concepts and research methodologies will be introduced throughout the course.  A major aspect of the course will be to develop your critical thinking skills and to provide you with knowledge and resources to continue to learn about the structure of English on your own in the future.  Note that this is not a pedagogical grammar course, and we go well beyond the typical treatments of English structure in ESL/EFL textbooks in order to tackle difficult aspects of English.

ENG 622: History of the English Language
Section 1: Wednesday 6:30-9:10 PM
Professor: Elizabeth Riddle

This course will give students an overview of the main features of the internal and external history of the English language, from Proto-Indo-European to the present, taking into account selected features from the areas of phonology, morphology, lexicon, semantics, syntax, and pragmatics. The course will also include study of changes that are in progress in English at this time.  In addition to developing students’ knowledge of the history of  English, the course will expand their knowledge of processes of language change, and improve their analytical, research, and writing skills.

ENG 625: Phonology
Section 1: Tuesday and Thursday 9:30-10:45 AM
Professor: Mary Lou Vercellotti

This course studies the general speech sounds patterns in natural language and the systematic relationships between the more abstract cognitive patterns and the actual sound produced. Phonology is about comprehensibility and pronounceability, contrast and predictability.  What sounds are used in a given language and which should are used to encode different words? In which contexts do different pronunciations (allophones or allomorphs) appear? The course covers traditional generative phonology, as well as earlier and later frameworks. We will learn logical techniques for solving phonological problems and discuss the theories behind the analysis. The study of phonology requires a firm knowledge of speech segments and basic knowledge of morphology. Prerequisite: ENG 623, or permission of the department chairperson.

ENG 626: Morphology and Syntax
Section 1: Monday and Wednesday 3:00-4:15 PM
Professor: Elizabeth Riddle

Grammar is “the description of how linguistic elements combine into complex expressions” (Broaccios, 2013). Morphology is the study of word-making and word-marking, while the combination of words is generally considered the realm of syntax. Morpho-syntax often reflects a balance between effective communication and efficiency. This course studies the patterns within words and the patterns within phrases and clauses. We will be learning about patterns found in languages generally, from both formal and functional approaches. A major focus will be applying the concepts to specific languages (comparing/contrasting patterns) and considering the application of the knowledge about the patterns. Prerequisite: ENG 520, or permission of the department chairperson.

ENG 647: African American Literature
Section 1: Thursday 6:30-9:10 PM

Professor: Emily Rutter

This course takes as its premise that many of the racial ideologies forged during the American eighteenth and nineteenth centuries never ended but remain deeply embedded in contemporary sociopolitical and literary discourses. Beginning with nineteenth century slave narratives and moving into twentieth- and twenty-first-century African American literary texts, we will consider the ways in which the residue of the past permeates the present. Specifically, we will focus on theories of race, nationhood, and citizenship, applying them to a wide array of African American writers, including Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Nella Larsen, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Claudia Rankine, and Danzy Senna. You will also play a crucial role in the ways that we examine and theorize these fields, actively engaging in class discussions, giving presentations, and producing a final seminar paper. No prior knowledge about African American literature is required; all are welcome.  

ENG 651: Studies in the Novel: “After the English Novel”
Section 1: Wednesday 6:30-9:10 PM
Professor: Patrick Collier

This seminar on the novel will pursue two questions, one literary-historical and one theoretical: 1) What has become of the “English novel” in an age of postmodern and postcolonial challenges to the idea of a literary tradition, and 2) what theoretical models of the functioning of narrative are best-equipped to deal with the twists and turns the novel has taken over the last century or so? Together, we will read five ambitious, large-scale novels alongside classic and contemporary narrative theory. In small groups, you will team-teach to the rest of the class a set of literary-historical accounts of the development of the novel in English from “realist” to “modern” to postmodern and postcolonial. Individually, you will complete research projects that engage with vital questions in the analysis of narrative and/or the development of the Anglophone novel.

Successful students in this class will:

  • develop an advanced critical vocabulary for analyzing fiction;
  • become conversant in the major themes and controversies of narrative theory, including questions of structure, ideology, voice, temporality, and reader response;
  • articulate an understanding of developments in the novel in English over the last century;
  • grow in critical responsiveness to fiction and ability to articulate critical and theoretical insights.


Eliot, Middlemarch

Joyce, Ulysses

Lessing, The Golden Notebook

Rushdie, Midnight’s Children

Smith, White Teeth

Genette, Narrative Discourse

Phelan, Living to Tell About It

ENG 667: Victorian Studies: Victorian Appetites

Section 1: Monday 6:30-9:10 PM

Professor: Joyce Huff

This course will examine Victorian consuming practices in both the literal and figurative senses. Throughout the Victorian period, the management of desire in all of its forms was seen as a continual problem. Consuming practices were ritualized, regulated, and compelled in a variety of ways. In this course, we will investigate Victorian eating practices, from the complex etiquette of upper-class dining to the budget recipes of the middle-classes to the problematizing political rhetoric surrounding working-class hunger; we will look at the policing of sexual appetites, including prescribed and prohibited sexual and gender identities; and we will explore Victorian consumerism in forms such as collecting, wearing mourning jewelry, and novel reading.

Possible works for study include David Copperfield, Lady Audley’s Secret, The Woman in White, Mary Barton, Dracula, Picture of Dorian Gray, and various poems and nonfiction writings of the period. Assignments will include a seminar paper, a short essay, presentations, and participation in class and online.

ENG 686: Topics in Linguistics -- Language and Gender

Section 1: Wednesday 12:00-2:40 PM

Professor: Carolyn MacKay

How do individuals project particular gender identities through language?  This course is designed to provide a detailed examination of the relationship between language and gender.  We will investigate how language use mediates, and is mediated by, social constructions of gender and sexuality.  Because language use is one of the most important factors influencing our judgments about others, it is important to understand how gender roles are involved in those judgments.  We will describe and analyze the ways that men and women use language (including pronunciation, word choice, grammar, conversational norms, politeness strategies, and narrative styles) to construct stereotypical and non-stereotypical gender identities.  In addition we will look at cross-cultural studies of language and gender and the patterns of language socialization of girls and boys.  Western European assumptions about language use will be assessed in light of this cross-cultural evidence.  This course will use the methods and analyses taken from linguistics, anthropology, and psychology in examining the interaction of gender, gender identities, the performance of gender and language use.  We will focus not only on what researchers have hypothesized about these differences, but also on original research by students that will add to the discussion.

ENG 699: Contemporary Theories of Composition

Section 1: Thursday 6:30-9:10 PM

Professor: Rory Lee

As the title implies, this course will attend to current theories in the field of Composition and to the way those theories shape the work and identity of the field as a whole and the teaching of writing in particular.  However, in order to understand the current, we must understand and thus will turn first toward Composition’s rich (albeit brief) history.  In so doing, we’ll analyze and discuss seminal moments in the field (some of which are situated as the birth of Composition as an academic field), and we’ll examine the different paradigms, including the epistemologies and historical contexts in which they’re rooted, that together form a master narrative for the field.  Along the way, we’ll also attempt to challenge this master narrative by considering what and who has been elided, how, and why.  In surveying both the master narrative and its margins, we’ll attempt to put into praxis the Burkean idea that “a way of seeing is also a way of not seeing.”

Equipped with an historical and theoretical gloss of Composition’s origin(s), we’ll then grapple with current concerns in the field (some of which aren’t so new) and the theories surrounding them.  Such theories pertain to but are not necessarily limited to:

  • notions of rhetorical situation, epistemology, invention, (post)process, audience, grammar, research methodologies, voice, genre, ecologies, literacy, collaborative learning, race, multimodality, and technology in the creation and teaching of writing; as well as
  • questions regarding what the identity and focus of the field was, is, and might be; what first-year composition is and how it has been and might be taught; who owns writing (turns out, it doesn’t appear to be experts in writing), and what it means to own writing; what the role of extracurricular writing is and might be in the composition curriculum; and how calls for the development of an undergraduate major might expand the scope of the field and its viability as an academic discipline.

In exploring the current and the way it’s molded from and informed by the past, we’ll be able not only to understand better the disciplinary histories, discussions, and work of the field but also to work with, critique, and contribute to them in meaningful ways.


Department of English
Robert Bell Building (RB), Room 297
Ball State University
Muncie, IN 47306

Hours: Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Phone: 765-285-8580
Fax: 765-285-3765
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