Saturday, December 16, 2017

Winter 2017 Commencement

Enjoy these images of our MAA graduation Friday night and our full commencement Saturday, December 15-16.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

2017 Spanish Theses Defenses

This Fall 2017 semester we have five students defending their theses as their final requirement for their degree in Spanish. Here in the picture 4 of them present among three members of the faculty. From right to left is Dr. Rivera Taupier, Mr. Eduardo Cruz, Mr. Ronald Wilson, Dr. Caroline Whiteman, Miss Carel Price, Mr.  Deir Montiel, and. Dr. Castilla Ortiz.  

Absent here is Mrs. Elizabeth (Erks) Delaney who defended in the previous week and is currently teaching in Mid - Buchanan Senior High.  

They worked under the direction of Dr. Castilla Ortiz and were supported by the rest of the faculty of Modern Languages.  Congratulations to all of them and the best wishes toward their future.  

Friday, December 8, 2017

A New Mural for EML

Please see the story in the Griffon News about the unveiling of our new mural for the entrance to the EML suite.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Janovec Defends Thesis

Dr. Charlton, Dr. Martens, Ms. Janovec, and Dr. Jeney
Laura Beth Janovec successfully defended her thesis on December 4th. 

Ms. Janovec was pursuing the MAS in Assessment of Writing, having previously completed the Graduate Certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders.  She studied teacher attitudes on freewriting and other invention strategies in a local district where she is also a fourth grade teacher.  


Monday, November 27, 2017

Dr. Rivera-Taupier Becomes Citizen

He was already a Griffon, and already a professor, but this month Dr. Miguel Rivera-Taupier became a naturalized citizen of the United States of America. 

"I moved to the United States in 2003. I came here originally to pursue a doctorate degree in Spanish. I received that academic title, but now, after having lived in six different states, learned to appreciate --and preach-- the excellence of peanut butter and barbecue, and having met some of the most generous people in the world, I have another certificate, that of American citizen. I am very happy and proud!"

Friday, November 10, 2017

Day of the Dead Celebration

On November 2nd, with the support of faculty members and students, the Spanish Club hosted an event to celebrate the Day of the Dead. The traditional altar this year commemorated three Hispanic women --Celia Cruz, Frida Kahlo, and Selena Quintanilla. Attendants learned about the religious syncretism of the celebration, its traditional music, and the Day of the Dead parade that took place in Mexico City this year.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Faculty Accomplishments (October report)

Dr. Cynthia Jenéy, published the article "Politics and Horsemanship in Chrétien de Troyes' Erec et Enide" in Arthuriana 27.3 (2017): 37-65.

Dr. Marianne Kunkel's poem "Brow Pencil to Hillary" has been accepted into The Missouri Review, and her poem "Lip Liner to Hillary" has been accepted into Prairie Schooner.

Dr. Mike Cadden presented the paper “A Rhetoric of Character in Children’s Literature” at the meeting of the International Research Society for Children’s Literature in Toronto.

Autumn Festival 2017

Held on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival is the second biggest festival for the Chinese right after Spring Festival. The festival is all about giving thanks for nature’s abundance and a joyful reunion with families and friends.

Students and faculty at Missouri Western State University gathered at Enright on Monday, October 9th to celebrate the Chinese Tradition. The event was organized by Department of English and Modern Languages and sponsored by the Division of Students Affairs and the Department of English and Modern Languages. 

University president Dr. Robert Vartabedian and EML chairperson Dr. Stacia Bensyl gave opening remarks for the celebration. The celebration started with a drama about the legend of Mid-Autumn Festival performed by students from Chinese classes. 

As the theme of this year's theme was culture exchange and friendship, students and faculty from different countries recited poems about the moon in their own languages. People also experienced a unique ceremony of worshiping the Moon. They were treated Chinese traditional games and authentic food as well. 

--Professor Jin Peng

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Celebration of Hispanic Culture

As part of the Hispanic Heritage Month, on Sept. 27th members of our campus community gathered for a celebration of Hispanic culture hosted by EML, the Student Government Association, and the Center for Multicultural Education. Our professors of Spanish did presentations on the history of the Hispanic Heritage Month, the presence of Latinos in the US population, and Spanish importance in contemporary popular culture. Also, a group of students performed musical numbers and read poems.  

The participants had a good time and enjoyed the Mexican food provided for the event.  

Thursday, September 28, 2017

21st Annual Banned Books Reading

Members of the St. Joseph and Missouri Western communities gathered once more to hear readers share selections from works that have been challenged or banned. Some reports claim that over 1,500 people were in attendance. Accurate reports have the head count at about sixty.
Dr. Kunkel, Dr. Cadden (organizer) and alumnus Jay Scott

Readers & Books
Ms. Kristina Zagame, KQ-2 News  
The Witches by Roald Dahl

Dr. Marianne Kunkel, Assistant Professor of English, MWSU
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Ms. Stephanie Spratt, Asst. Director for Technical Services, MWSU Library
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Ms. Alison Schieber, St. Joseph Public Library Board of Trustees
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Ms. Molleigh Arn, MWSU student
Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

Mr. Jay Scott, Prairie Lands Writing Project, MWSU
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

Mr. Joseph Kellogg, Student representative, MWSU Board of Governors
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Ms. Susan Braccianno, Registrar, MWSU
The Giver by Lois Lowry

Tiniest Coffee Shop Has Ups and Downs

Back for the fourth year in a row, the staff of Canvas, MWSU's creative writing and arts journal, hosted a tiniest coffee shop on MWSU's campus on Sept. 27-28. The scenery was a bit different this year; because of problems with Murphy Hall's A/C, Canvas moved the outreach event to Popplewell Hall's elevator, which is tinier even than Murphy's elevator! Nevertheless, the event was successful--Canvas staff like Megan Standley and Megan Maenner (pictured) got practice reading poems aloud to students and promoting the publication, and non-English majors like Danny Garcia-Cortez (pictured) learned more about the publication and how to submit. Also, the hot Dunkin' Donuts coffee was a big hit. Canvas thanks MWSU students, faculty and staff for their support--and especially the janitors who shared the elevator (and heard some great writing) for three days.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Come enjoy the films in the EML Foreign Film Series!

Monday, October 2: Masters in Forbidden City (in Chinese with English subtitles) Presented by Professor Jin Peng

Wednesday, October 11: Vampiros en La Habana (in Spanish with English subtitles) Presented by Professor Miguel Rivera

Monday, October 16: Your Name (in Japanese with English subtitles) Presented by Professor Caroline Whiteman 

Monday, October 30: A Chinese Ghost Song (in Chinese with English subtitles) Presented by Professor Jin Peng

Wednesday, November 8: La vie pure (in French with English subtitles) Presented by Professor Juliette Papadopoulos

Monday, November 13: The Professor's Lovely Equation (in Japanese with English subtitles) Presented by Professor Stacia Bensyl

Wednesday, November 29: The House of the Spirits (in Spanish with English subtitles) Presented by Professor Ana Bausset

All films are free and start at 6:15 PM in Hearnes Hall 102 (Theater in lower floor of MWSU library)

Thursday, September 7, 2017

EML major Cami Pendleton featured in Western Magazine

France: Cami PendletonCami Pendleton had such a great experience when she studied in France last year, she decided to make a video about Missouri Western’s Study Away Office as an assignment in her Multimedia Authoring class last spring.
“I could have made it about anything, but I’m so passionate about study away,” said the St. Joseph, Missouri native. “France was an incredible life-changing adventure.”
The English technical writing major with minors in general business, literature and French studied in Saint-Étienne, France for a month during the summer of 2016. She lived with a host family and took French classes at Jean Monnet University.
“Everything I learned in the classroom came to life over there,” Pendleton said.
She said she learned a tremendous amount about French culture, but also about other cultures by studying together and taking weekend trips with students in her class that were from around the world. In fact, a student from South Korea stayed with the same host family as she did.
Although Pendleton says the food was incredible (“The French take their food seriously”), her most memorable takeaway was meeting new friends and learning about their cultures.
For her video, which now resides on Missouri Western’s Study Away page, she interviewed two other students who had studied overseas and Tammy (Glise) Norris ’79, who coordinates the University’s study away and exchange programs. She also asked professors to give advice for travelers in the language they teach on the video.
And her advice to fellow students who are considering foreign travel? Keep an open mind and take a lot of photos. “Don’t be ashamed of having a selfie stick,” she added with a laugh.
Pendleton says her French trip gave her the travel bug, and this past summer, she traveled to Norway and Italy to visit friends. “All I want to do now is travel.”

Two Visiting Faculty Arrive in EML

This year we welcome two new visiting faculty to EML. One is a Fulbrighter who is here to help us deliver our French curriculum, and the other is a visiting professor from Xidian University who will teach Chinese.
Welcome Professors Jin Peng (left) and Juliette Papadopoulous (right)!

Jin Peng has been teaching at Xidian University, China for 15 years.  She taught various courses in college English and won the first prize in Shaanxi State Level College English Teaching Competition. Jin obtained her bachelor’s degree in English and master’s degree in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics in Foreign Languages from Xidian University.

Juliette Papadopoulos comes to us from Paris. Her interest in languages comes from her childhood, as she was raised in a multicultural family that had two native languages (French and Greek). “I’m also very interested in history and cultural studies, so I have worked as a Museum educator in different countries for four years before coming to the US. I’m now starting to teach French abroad, thanks to the Fulbright FLTA program!”

Welcome to Missouri Western and the department of English and Modern Languages!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Stacia Studer Named Regional Teacher of the Year

The St. Joseph School District has announced that Stacia Studer has been named a Missouri Regional Teacher of the Year. Stacia, an alumna of our BSE program, teaches English at Bode Middle School and has worked in the St. Joseph School District for 15 years.
Stacia will be considered for Missouri Teacher of the Year. The winner an finalists will be honored at a banquet this fall in Jefferson City.

Congratulations, Stacia!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Bill Church helps publish local stories

The following is an article from the St. Joseph News-Press by Jessica Kopp (July 29, 2017).

Local African Americans tell their stories in recently published history book

Community members interested in learning about local African-American history were invited to attend the book release party of the recently published “In Their Own Words: An Oral History of African Americans in St. Joseph, MO” by Dr. William Church at the Black Archives Museum on Saturday.

The book aims to record the stories of people who lived through history and can give a personal account.
“We wanted to reach our youth, really, and let them hear it from the elders, how things used to be, rather than just read it in a book,” Alonzo Weston, a contributor and interviewee, said.
Weston was the one to first set out and try to preserve as many voices as he could; however, he was afraid he would not be able to interview as many seniors as he wanted to — simply because of their advanced age.
After publicly lamenting his dilemma in the St. Joseph News-Press, where Weston works as a columnist, Missouri Western’s Dr. William Church got in touch and offered help.
“So I contacted him and said, ‘Do you need help? I’ve got some students and we could form a team and we could help you with this,’” Church said.
The students and Church worked for an entire summer to interview 14 people. The book is the last part of a two-step project, which involved creating a short film first.
“Step one was to get it all on film, and to get everyone in their own natural setting if we could. So, many people were interviewed in their home, as you can see on the film,” Church said.
Afterward, Church sat down and transcribed all the interviews.
“Then it was a project of moving things around a little bit. Because, as we speak, we tend to roam and not always stay on task,” Church said.
The stories span a wide range of topics.
“It’s really heartwarming to hear the stories in there and hear what people have gone through, and the themes emerge of education and sacrifice, hard work, family,” Church said.
Church and Weston weren’t the only ones signing books: some of the storytellers made their way to the archives as well, like 88-year-old Moses Hicks.
“At my age, I thought I had a lot to give. And past history makes future history,” Hicks said.
Laraine Jones attended the event in honor of her late father, who told his story in the book.
“My dad used to tell me stories about St. Joseph and the history and all those things that are kind of lost. So, this oral history will tell us a little more about the things that have come and gone and the buildings that are torn down and no longer here,” Jones said.
The book is available in the museum’s gift shop and on Amazon. The film can be viewed on YouTube.
Jessica Kopp can be reached at or you can follow her on Twitter: @NPNOWKopp

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Four win Departmental Awards

English and Modern Languages congratulates its outstanding graduates!

Garrett Durbin is the winner of the Mary Lee Doherty Award for outstanding BSE in English.

Gage Williams is the winner of the Outstanding Spanish graduate.

Nicole Bradley and Taylor McGrath are co-winners of the Louise Lacey Award for outstanding BA in English.

Congratulations to our outstanding graduates!

Cake? Nobody said there would be cake!

Nicole and Taylor about to dig in

EML Celebrates Spring Graduates

English and Modern Languages celebrates the graduates who marched on May 6, 2017. 

Tracey Anne Whorton received the Master of Applied Arts in Written Communication (Technical Communication)
EML chairperson Dr. Stacia Bensyl completed her post-baccalaureate certificate in TESOL

Amanda Taylor Baker, BA in Spanish
Meranda Dawn Dennis, BA in English
Samantha Duryee, BA in English
Kai Zayn King, BA in Modern Languages
Taylor Brianne McGrath, BA in English
Christopher Anthony Pankiewicz, BA in English
Rebecca Lynn Pettegrew, BA in English 

Congratulations, Class of 2017!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Canvas Launch 2017

On Thursday, April 27, the Canvas staff at Missouri Western hosted a launch of its 2017 issue. 

Taylor McGrath reads from her story in Canvas
Canvas editor-in-chief Arniecea Johnson opened the event, welcoming contributors, staff, family, and friends, and then Canvas staff members Sam Duryee and Stephaney Ferguson presented the traditional genre awards: Mariam Riddle won for her poem "Bounce" in Canvas, Britne Misner won for her story "Sweet Margaret," and Shiloh Laxson won for her art "Hold your Breath." (Canvas thanks MWSU professors Kay Siebler, Mike Cadden, and Kathy Liao for judging the awards.) The program then continued with readings by Canvas contributors and closed with a spoken-word tribute to the issue by Kansas City poet Terrance Sanders.

Terrance Sanders performs his spoken word artistry

It was a wonderful event, and Canvas wishes to thank the MWSU Foundation for making this terrific publication possible!

Poet Nikki Giovanni Visits MWSU

On Thursday, April 6, Missouri Western hosted Nikki Giovanni for a poetry reading and Q&A in Potter Hall Theatre. The event, titled "The Mochila Review Presents: In the Shadow of Nikki Giovanni," celebrated the 2017 issue of The Mochila Review, a national undergraduate literary journal made by Dr. Marianne Kunkel and her ENG 395 students. This year's issue featured an interview with Giovanni along with undergraduate poems selected by Giovanni for the Undergraduate MoRe Prize.

Giovanni meeting eager fans after her talk
 Giovanni's campus reading was a big success, bringing 400+ people out from the St. Joseph and Kansas City communities, high schools, and campuses. Giovanni read poems from her new book, Chasing Utopia, answered many questions from the audience, then signed books in the lobby where there was cake decorated like the cover of The Mochila Review.

Dr. Kunkel wishes to thank her incredible ENG 395 staff along with the generous donors who made this event possible: President Vartabedian, Provost Daffron, Latoya Fitzpatrick and the Center for Multicultural Education, Dr. Stacia Bensyl and EML, and Mary Beth Revels and the St. Joseph Public Library. Also, we thank Dr. James Carviou for organizing a dinner with Nikki and students before the event. Lastly, thank you, Nikki Giovanni, for sharing your brilliance with us!

Giovanni with cut-out created by the staff of Mochila Review

Monday, May 1, 2017

EML Board Report

EML Board Report—March and April

Kaye Adkins
Students in the Technical Documentation course completed a project for the Pony Express Museum. The project included digitizing, editing, and cataloging 700 slides of the Pony Express Trail; creating documentation to support the project; and using the images to create multimedia projects to accompany current Museum exhibits. With the materials created by the students, the Pony Express Museum staff will be able to locate images in their collection to use in future publications and exhibits. With the documentation created by the students, Museum staff and volunteers will be able to digitize, edit, and catalog slides to add to the collection. The course is taught by Dr. Kaye Adkins.

Dana Andrews
Dana Andrews attended the College Composition and Communications Conference (4C’s) in Portland, Oregon from March 15-18.  He attended sessions on ESL and International Student Composition.

Liz Canon
Liz Canon’s article, "Blurred Lines: Does Religious Polarity Create Problematic Heroes in the Poem, Beowulf?", was accepted for publication by Interdisciplinary Humanities, the journal of the Humanities Education and Research Association. It will appear in their spring volume.

Bill Church
Dr. Bill Church, in cooperation with the St. Joseph Museum, has published In Their Own Words: An Oral History of African Americans in St. Joseph Missouri.  The book grew out of a summer PORTAL grant that provided an Applied Learning opportunity for Missouri Western students Jeremy Lyons, Ashley Snyder, and Alexis Mosley. An abridged version of the filmed interviews is available for viewing on the Museum web site. The book is available for purchase now, and the Museum is planning a public reception.

Marianne Kunkel
Dr. Marianne Kunkel organized a campus-wide poetry reading featuring the acclaimed writer Nikki Giovanni. The event, titled "The Mochila Review Presents: In the Shadow of Nikki Giovanni," took place on April 6 at 7 p.m. in Potter Hall Theatre. Co-organizers comprised her Mochila staff and donors comprised the President's and Provost's Offices, the EML department, the CME, and the St. Joseph Public Library.

Susan Martens
On March 2, the Prairie Lands Writing Project hosted High School Writing Day, an event which brought approximately 200 area high school students and teachers to MWSU for a day of writing workshops, lunch activities, and an open mic reading.  PLWP Co-Director and EML Instructor Amy Miller coordinated this event, while PLWP Teacher Consultant Terrance Sanders (Frontier STEM High School, KC) served as emcee.  Several MWSU faculty members and PLWP Teacher Consultants led workshops, while secondary English education students served as event volunteers.  PLWP would like to thank all of the MWSU faculty, staff, and students who contributed their time and energy to making this annual event so successful.
In March, the Prairie Lands Writing Project was awarded a $15,000 Supporting Effective Educator Development grant through the National Writing Project to support its Invitational Summer Institute program.  PLWP Director Susan Martens and Co-Director Amy Miller authored the grant proposal

Susan Martens gave a presentation titled "Leveraging the Writing Marathon for Community Connections" at the Conference on College Composition and Communication in Portland, Oregon, on March 18.  

Miguel Rivera-Taupier
Last month, Miguel Rivera-Taupier published his article "Aspectos goticos y policiales de Estrella Distante" in Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 94.2.

Dawn Terrick
On April 13, 2017, Dawn Terrick presented her paper, “Show Me How To Live: The Role of the Mother and Father in Monster/Horror Genre from Frankenstein to Dexter,” at the 47th Annual Popular Culture Association (PCA) Conference in San Diego, California.
On Wednesday, April 19, 2017, Dawn Terrick, Director of Developmental Writing (ENG100), held a reception to honor those students whose essays were chosen to be in cluded in the 11th edition of the ENG100 student publication Discovering the Student, Discovering the Self.  Students were in attendance to receive their awards and read from their published works.  The student essays reflect the struggle and the joy, the hard work and the rewards that these students have experienced both in their lives and in the classroom.  After the reading, students reconnected with their ENG100 Instructors and introduced their family and friends to their professors.  Faculty, staff, students, friends, and family were in attendance to enjoy the reading, food and camaraderie and conversation that carried over into the afternoon.