Sunday, December 13, 2015

December sweets

Thank you, Morale & Motivation, for organizing a cookie exchange on the last day of classes. The sugar will come in handy during finals week!  Folks came by for sweets but they stayed for a little sweetie: two-month-old Arlo made a guest appearance.  Never before has such cooing been heard in the department library.  Thanks, Marianne, for sharing him.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Publications, poetry, prizes and the press

Literary News
Miguel River’s article “Recuperación de la ciudad y de la fiesta en Antonio José Ponte” was published in Chasqui: Revista de Literatura Latinoamericana.

Mary Stone’s poem "Perhaps Too Many Poems End with Hangovers" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by the I-70 Review. 

Mike Cadden presented “Peritextual Elements in Children’s Chapter Books” at the fall meeting of the Northwest Missouri Council of the International Literacy Association in St. Joseph.  

The submission period for The Mochila Review's undergraduate writers' contest, the Undergraduate MoRe Prize, was Oct. 1, 2015, to Dec. 1, 2015. The journal's editor-in-chief, Dr. Marianne Kunkel, and its staff are pleased to announce that national interest in the contest increased this year, the contest's second year in existence. Seventy-one undergraduate writers across the country submitted to the contest, which is 12 more than last year's submission total. This year's contest is exclusively open to fiction writers and the winning story will be selected by guest judge Ellen Hopkins ( The winner (and possible runners-up) will be announced January 1, 2016, on The Mochila Review's website ( and be featured in the 2016 issue of the journal.

In the media
Liz Canon was recently asked “Why is elder a good word, but elderly a bad word?”  Her reply will appear in the Venice Gondolier Sun newspaper. Here it is, for your erudition:

Liz: Tell me about the process through which the connotation of some words changes. 

Pejoration is what linguists call the process by which a word’s meaning becomes less positive. This is something that happens quite a bit in language. For instance, the word,lewd, originally had the meaning of "layperson." It moved a bit toward "ignorant," and then "common," and then "obscene." Over time, the positive nature of the word eroded and it went from something you wouldn't mind being called to something you definitely would not want to be called.

Does the process require individuals in a society to undergo personal, long-term change in their thought process about a certain word? Or does it happen more quickly than that? 

The speed at which the change occurs will happen based on attitudes of the speakers toward what they are talking about. It really all comes down to frequency and usage - if the term is used often by a lot of people, the change may occur more quickly. If the word is fairly obscure, the change will probably happen more slowly. Human events can cause a rapid shift in meaning. The word, swastika, was a Sanskrit word that meant "well-being," but human events very quickly change the meaning of the word. The Oxford English Dictionary dates its first English usage in 1871 - and at that time it had no negative connotations. But usage by the Nazis changed the meaning of the word. It no longer has the meaning of well-being, but now means the symbol on the Nazi flag - something far more negative.

Does the media play a role? Current events?

The media can play a role. Input in general plays a role. In other words, the more we hear a word used in a particular way, the more likely we are to admit that it no longer means what it used to and we have to adjust. Consider the word "gay." Our grandparents used it to mean "happy." But it is now used even by our grandparents to mean "homosexual." I can't think of a context where it is still used to mean happy.

I believe the current events part of the question was answered above.

Pejoration was happening long before political correctness, but has PC sped up the process for some words?

Not exactly. The sad thing is that focusing on language usage and not addressing the underlying attitudes that affect the usage of particular words just perpetuates the cycle. Consider the notion of replacing "housewife" with "domestic engineer." Does anyone really think that that will elevate the status of a person who works only in the home? Consider also the word "retarded," which was regularly used to identify a person with a learning disability of some sort - a person whose learning was delayed. In other words, it had a concrete, object meaning with no negative connotation in and of itself. Ultimately, it was used as an insult to describe people without any sort of learning disability, and "retarded" became a victim of pejoration. So in order to avoid causing offense we began to call people with learning disabilities "special." And then the cycle repeats. The underlying attitude toward those who fall in the category described by that word has not changed and so every substitution you make will likely suffer the same fate as "retarded" did.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fall Faculty and Student Accomplishments

Susan Martens’ chapter, “Move the Writer, Move the Pen, Move the Mind, Change the World: Writing Marathons for Place-Conscious Teaching in Suburbia” was recently published in the edited collection Writing Suburban Citizenship: Place-Conscious Teaching and the Conundrum of Suburbia by Syracuse University Press. 

Mary Stone’s third collection of poetry, tentatively titled Deficiency, has been accepted by ELJ Publications. 

Cynthia Bartels attended the Oral History Association meeting in Tampa.

Liz Canon presented "Buried Treasure: What makes the Tyndale corpus different," at the Tyndale Society Conference, Hertford College, Oxford University.

Ms. Claudine Evans participated in the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF) meeting held in Kansas City.

Cynthia Bartels received a compass award from Alpha Chi for most influential teacher.

On October 3, the Prairie Lands Writing Project held its Teacher Consultant Gathering at MWSU, hosted by Advisory Team members Dawn Terrick (MWSU), Heidi Mick (Platte County), Valorie Stokes (Platte County), Amy Miller (MWSU), Christie Jackson (Carden Park, SJSD), Mya Ezzell (Parkhill), Josie Clark (Bode Middle School, SJSD), and Susan Martens (MWSU). At this event, eight scholars from the PLWP 2015 Invitational Summer Institute were certified as National Writing Project Teacher Consultants.  Congratulations to the following:
Quinn Whitaker (Indianola, IA)
Brandi Atha (Savannah)
Roxanne Chase (MWSU)
Stephanie Haenni (Central High School, SJSD)
Tess Kram (Central High School, SJSD)
Rachel Daniels (Lathrop)
Jamie Duddy (Osborn)
David Stroud (Union Star)

Student Excellence
EML would like to congratulate Jess Voelk.  Jess is a senior majoring in English with a Technical Communication concentration and is scheduled to graduate in December.  She recently earned a “Polished” score on her senior portfolio, which is a collection of documents created during her work at Missouri Western.  This is the highest rank possible for a portfolio student.  Her evaluator was Dawn Armfield, an assistant professor at Frostburg State University.  Dr. Armfield described documents in Jess’s portfolio as “exemplary,” “well developed,” and showing proficiency in multiple areas of technical communication, from report and research writing to visual design.  Ms. Voelk is currently looking for jobs in technical communication.

The second edition of the Study Abroad and Exchange Photo Contest garnered talented photographers. The pictures, currently on display at Blum Union, were taken in Costa Rica, France, and Ireland. Jury members were Rebbeca Foley, Laura Taylor and Miguel Rivera-Taupier. For more information, visit
Nature & Architecture:  1st place Miranda Migletz, 2nd place Rosie Lammoglia, 3rd place Mallory Prygon
People & Culture: 1st place Chloe Martin, 2nd place Mallory Prygon, 3rd place Chloe Martin
Griffon Wings: 1st and 2nd place Rosie Lammoglia, 3rd place Lanie Barnfield

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Standing in solidarity with France at the International Fair

 The International Fair on November 16th gave students the chance to experience other cultures and traditions, all in the name of peace and understanding. Our German Fulbright scholar, Paul Dijkzeul, offered games and pretzels, as well as German phrases that will liven up a conversation. Chinese exchange professor Yiming Liu served fried rice and tea with a smile. French exchange students from Angers and St. Etienne represented their country and were greeted with enthusiasm by many.  Below are images from the International Fair, including an Eiffel Tower, which students "decorated" with messages of peace and love, remembering the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13th.

Students in Action

“Voices of English 100”
 This semester, Fall 2015, in ENG 100 – Introduction to College Writing, students conducted interviews with family members and friends in order to learn about and accurately and vividly depict their “real” stories.  Through these interviews, students gained new perspectives on others’ life journeys, their struggles and tragedies as well as their successes and joys.  Through this process, students also learned about themselves.  We hope you carefully listen to the “voices of English 100.”  Here are some of the interview subjects’ own words and photographs.   Special thanks to Amy Miller for her technological prowess in setting this up.

El Dìa de los Muertos
As in previous years, the Spanish Club organized a celebration of the Day of the Dead. Students met in Spratt Hall to paint skulls, drink horchata, and hear presentations by professors Eduardo Castilla, Ana Bausset, and Miguel Rivera about the past and present of this Hispanic celebration. There were shrines, music, and, just maybe, some invisible visitors.

Bon appétit!

Students in French and their guests enjoyed a traditional French meal on the evening of November 13th in the President's Dining Room. The menu included cake aux olives, gougères, bœuf bourguignon, fromages français, followed by dessert, including mousse au chocolat and clafoutis. The dinner party included musical performances between courses.  Merci to all those who prepared food and entertained!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Fond Farewell for Dr. Betty Sawin

Dr. Elizabeth Latosi-Sawin graced the classrooms of Western for forty years. Her accomplishments as a teacher, researcher and writer are more than an accumulation of awards, however. Yes, she won the Jesse Lee Myers award, the Alumni Award for Distinguished Faculty, the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, Distinguished Professor of English, and countless other accolades, but Dr. Sawin is more than the sum of her awards.
Most importantly, Betty deserves our gratitude for introducing interdisciplinarity to her colleagues.  As Leah Spratt Chair for Writing Across the Curriculum, Betty opened our eyes to the wonders of using writing to aid learning and foster critical thinking in over 20 disciplines.  She showed us how to use writing to teach critical thinking long before this became a catchphrase for effective pedagogy. In addition to making us better practitioners, her WAC workshops invited us to collaborate with our colleagues and find pleasure in professional growth.
Those who joined Betty in Outdoor Semester also understand the impact of interdisciplinary learning. By designing programs that combined physical education, geography, psychology, and music, Betty led students (and faculty) on a veritable odyssey of discovery as they traveled across the American West, journals in hand, hiking, camping, meditating in sweat lodges and canoeing the upper Missouri River. 
Another interdisciplinary hat worn by Betty was that of the Honors Program Director. Although she never said it was like herding cats, the challenges of wrangling such a diverse group of students and interests could not have been easy. Nonetheless, we can measure her effectiveness by the dramatic growth of participation in Alpha Chi and the trees that were planted on our campus as a token of the group’s appreciation.
No doubt the majority of students will remember Dr. Sawin in the classroom, where she taught composition and rhetoric, Native American literature, English literature from Beowulf to the 20th century, and every genre from poetry to creative non-fiction.  Many have described her as passionate, honest and caring. Many have said: “One of the best teachers that I have ever had.”   
She was met by comments like “your strength is your heart” and “I think know you are the best teacher I have ever had.”  One student remarked that “she has taught the things that are important for our lives while teaching us about literature.”
The interdisciplinary theme stems from Betty’s passion for the planet. She has always seen the connections between what we say, how we live, and how those things affect our world. We are grateful for all she has done. We wish her a long and happy retirement.  

Monday, October 26, 2015

Autumn Awards 

Retired English professor and former chair Dr. Ken Rosenauer received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the Missouri Western Alumni Association during Homecoming weekend.  Congratulations, Ken!

 Erica Cook, BSE English and French major, is the first recipient of the Future Foreign Language Teacher Scholarship. The scholarship was created to support future teachers of a foreign language during a semester abroad. Erica will study at the Université d'Angers in Angers, France during the spring 2016 semester. We look forward to her reports on life at a French university. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

October News

Mary Stone performed her own poetry at The Writer's Place in Kansas City, along with Marianne Kunkel, as part of their reading series. 

Mary’s poem "I Can't Stop Writing About Men" was published in Word Riot -  Two of her poems, "When the Doctor Finally Prescribes Lithium" and "Perhaps Too Many Poems End with Hangovers" were published in the I-70 Review.

Mike Kelley successfully defended his thesis entitled Quick Start Guides and Tabletop Role-Playing Games: Lessons Learned for Technical Writers on Tuesday, October 13th.  Mr. Kelley's thesis involved studying how users learn the rules of games and how this information can be used in technical communication.  He is currently teaching English and other subjects at Highland Community College and previously worked as a composition instructor for Missouri Western.  Mr. Kelley should graduate with his MAA in Written Communication in December.  His committee: Dr. Michael Charlton, Dr. Kaye Adkins, and James Carviou. 

Arlo Leo, son of Marianne Kunkel and Dave Nall, came into the world recently, weighing in at at 7 lbs, 9 oz., and 21 inches in length. Mom says he has a TON of hair. We'll take her word for it.
Welcome, Arlo, and congratulations to your mom and dad!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Banned Books and Pop Culture in the Classroom

The nineteenth annual Banned Book Reading was hosted by Mike Cadden on Tuesday, Sept. 29th.  Courageous readers of risqué books included: 
Ms. Angela Claywell • Drama by Raina Telgemeier
Dr. Michael Charlton • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Dr. Douglas Davenport • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Ms. Shelley Nordquist • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Ms. Emily Wearing • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Ms. Kelly Lock-McMillen • Cut by Patricia McCormick  
Ms. Sarah McCumber • Harry Potter by J. K. RowlingMs. Tess Kram • The Prince by Machiavelli


On Tuesday, Sept. 29, EML faculty gathered for the Morale & Motivation Committee's quarterly brown bag session, this time focusing on "Engaging Students with Contemporary Themes." Panelists Michael Charlton, Paul Dijkzeul, and Dawn Terrick shared fascinating and useful advice for incorporating pop culture references into the EML classroom. Topics ranged from using graphic novels in class, to thinking philosophically as teachers about escaping our cultural "bubbles," to inviting students to bring in contemporary applications of traditional texts. A lively Q&A session followed, with many great ideas and challenging questions. Thank you to all who attended--and a big thank you to Michael, Paul, and Dawn!


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Student Fair on Founder's Day

On Saturday, September 26th English and Modern Languages participated
in the student fair during Founder's Day.  Kaye Adkins, Michael
Charlton, Marianne Kunkel, and Miguel Rivera-Taupier were on hand to
discuss majors with prospective students for next fall.  
Chris Pankiewicz, a senior English major and current managing editor for the
Mochila Review, and Rachel Stancliff, a graduate of the MAA program in
Technical Communication, were
also on hand to talk with visitors.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival

Liu Yiming hosted students, faculty and community for the annual harvest celebration on September 25th.  Poetry, music, games and mooncakes made for a memorable event.

 A highlight of the event: Yiming sang a love song, accompanied by Fred Weems on guitar. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Conferences, Institutes and Symposia, Oh My!

Marianne Kunkel attended the North American Review Bicentennial Creative Writing and Literature Conference in Cedar Falls, Iowa June 11-13. She presented on four panels, two of which also featured Mary Stone: "Writing the Hard Thing: A Reading by Three Women Authors (Poetry and Creative Nonfiction)" and "Writing the Hard Thing: Advice for Creative Writers with Ambitious Subjects." 

Joining Marianne on two  other panels were Mochila and Canvas undergraduate staff members Crystal Crawford, Lindsey Lucas, and Chris Pankiewicz. These panels were titled:  "The Beat of the Drum: Drumming up Campus-wide Interest in a University Literary Journal" and "How a Literary Journal can Catch up and Stay Ahead in a Digital World."

Mike Cadden presented “The Real, the Exaggerated, and the Impossible Character” at the Children’s Literature Association Conference, Richmond, VA in June.  

Michael Charlton attended the Freeman Institute hosted by Japan Studies Association at the University of Hawaii May 25th--June 13th.  

Kaye Adkins was selected to participate in the iFixit Technical Writing Symposium that met at iFixit's international headquarters at San Luis Obispo, California, May 21-23. The symposium, offered by iFixit's education department, supports technical writing instructors who want to include real-world documentation in their classes. Dr. Adkins will be using the materials in her Introduction to Technical Communication and Technical Documentation classes, as students create repair manuals that will be published on iFixit's web site. 

Susan Martens gave a presentation titled "Adapting Ecocritical Approaches to Mapping Techniques in the Writing Marathon" at the Biennial Conference of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment at the University of Idaho on June 24th.

Applied Expertise
Elizabeth Canon served as abstract reviewer for the national conference of the Linguistic Society of America.

Marianne Kunkel served as guest judge of The Northridge Review's annual Rachel Sherwood Poetry Award, selecting from the literary journal's 2015 issues a winning poem and runner-up. The Northridge Review is based out of California State University-Northridge.

Susan Martens served as Adjunct Retreat Leader at the New Orleans Writing Marathon Retreat, hosted by the Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project and Southeastern Louisiana University on July 13-17.

Congratulations to Dawn Terrick, who received the annual Chairpersons Award for the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. 

Cynthia Jenéy published "Horses and Equitation" for the Handbook of Medieval Culture, edited by Albrecht Classen and published in Berlin with de Gruyter Publishers.

The Prairie Lands Writing Project's work in the National Writing Project’s College Ready Writers Program has entered its third year.  Funded through an i3 (Investing in Innovation) grant, the program this year involves several Teacher Consultants working in new partnerships with administrators and teachers in the Osborn, Trenton, and Winston school districts as well as in sustainability partnerships with districts in Braymer, Breckenridge, and Hamilton.  This work is being coordinated by Program Manager Jane Frick, Lead Facilitators Tom Pankiewicz and Kathy Miller, and professional development leaders Amy Miller, Janet Jelavich, Terry McAvoy, Maridella Carter, and Valorie Stokes.  

The Spoken Word
The First Thursday Open Mic at Café Acoustic kicked off on September 3rd with a potluck that This monthly event is organized by Mary Dockery.

The Writers Place Reading Series at UMKC featured Marianne Kunkel and Mary Dockery reading their poetry on September 18th.

Community Outreach
The Prairie Lands Writing Project hosted the Summer Writing Project for the Saint Joseph School District May 19- June 11.  Approximately 130 students in grades 3-8 attended daily sessions at MWSU and gave readings to family and friends on the final day of the program, coordinated by PLWP Co-Director Mya Ezzell and Graduate Assistant Josie Clark.  

Monday, September 7, 2015

Breaking News!

They have arrived!
Betty Sawin and husband Fred are grandparents to Addison Marie (6 lbs 7 oz) and Kelson William (6 lbs 13 oz), both born on August 31st to the Sawins’ daughter, Jennifer. Both grandparents are already helping out, rocking the twins and sometimes changing tiny little diapers.

Distinguished Alumni Award
Dr. Ken Rosenauer has been named Distinguished Alumni by the Missouri Western Alumni Association and will be honored at the Alumni Awards Banquet on October 16th. Ken retired from our department in 2013, but racked up an impressive record of service, teaching and professional work during his time at Missouri Western.  Our collective EML heart swells with pride to have a former colleague and department chair recognized in this way.

Among his accomplishments, Ken created the convergent media degree. He was a founding member of the AIM graduate faculty, leading that group for a time. He was EFLJ chair for six years, he was newspaper adviser for 14 years and yearbook adviser for 3 years.

Ken has been honored with the Mehl award for scholarship and was national president of the College Media Advisers organization. Ken is a recipient of the Golden Key award from Columbia U. and is in the College Media Advisers Hall of Fame. He also won the Scanlon service award (his list of community activities is impressive, not least of which is being president of the Apple Blossom parade since 2000 and serving on the Savannah school board. Ken even served as mayor of Savannah from 87-91.  As a MWSU alumnus and former faculty member, his accomplishments are emblematic of dedication to the discipline and service on many levels.  Congratulations, Ken!