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Cedrick May Recognized for Screenwriting

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Academic year 2018-2019 saw Cedrick May, Associate Professor of English well-known for his publications in the fields of early African-American culture and the digital humanities, achieving a new type of writing success—this time in screen-writing. Dr. May was one of three grand prize winners of the prestigious and highly competitive 2018 ScreenCraft Pilot Launch TV Script Competition, with his submission The Guardian named Web Series winner. The Guardian, according to the prize announcement, features "the son of a deceased revered superhero [who] sets out to learn more about his father but quickly finds himself entangled in a dark mystery he could have never imagined. With a fresh take on the superhero genre, the series sustains itself with the deeply personal look at the people behind the cape." Dr. May received a cash prize in addition to, "consultations with the ScreenCraft team, and personal introductions via phone to top managers, agents and producers who specialize in drama and comedy TV development and production." Judges of the Screencraft Competition included executives from companies behind major television shows such as Orange is Not the New Black, Game of Thrones, The Wire, The Sopranos, and many more.

In addition, another of Dr. May’s screenplays, Home Invasion, which focuses on a man struggling with his inner demons while his family is away, placed as a top 15 finalist in the 2019 Shore Scripts Short Film Fund.

Innovative Writing Curriculum Focused on Health Professions

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During academic year 2018-2019, Timothy Ponce, Lecturer in the Department of English, transformed his technical writing curriculum into an interactive experience focused on the health professions, ideal for the many students in his classes from the College of Nursing. For instance, Dr. Ponce’s instruction project asked students to create a set of instructions for home oxygen therapy. Dr. Ponce brought empty oxygen canisters, regulators, and nasal cannulas to class so that the students could physically interact with the medical equipment as they crafted their instructions. In a memo- and letter-writing unit, the students wrote documents that explained various hospital policies as outlined in official, public hospital employee handbooks.

Student reactions to Dr. Ponce’s focus on health sciences has been overwhelmingly positive. One student, Emily Nguyen, noted, “Having the assignments related to nursing and potentially something that I would encounter in my future career is something that helps me succeed with the work in this class.” Even the few non-nursing students found the medical focus helpful. Olivia Osborn commented, “The nursing theme of the class actually allows me to see the material applied in a real-life setting, which is helpful even if it’s not my personal field of study.”

Alumni Accepted to Graduate Programs

Two alumni of the Department of English have recently been accepted to graduate programs in the region. Bianca Medina, who graduated in 2014, has been accepted to Texas Woman's University's Master of Library Science program. She plans to focus "on how to bring writing centers that incorporate technology into public libraries that serve marginalized communities." Meanwhile, Sarah Matthew, graduate of 2016, has been accepted into the University of North Texas's graduate Journalism and Library Science programs, and she plans to pursue both programs.

Shanna Swendson speaks at FIG

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Launched in Fall 2018, UTA’s new Student Success program is now organized by major. The new course in the Department of English, UNIV 1131, focuses on helping students acclimate to the university environment as well as understanding their future as English majors, both during their college experience and beyond. With so many of these first-semester freshmen interested in a Creative Writing minor , Dr. Joanna Johnson invited local published author, Shanna Swendson, to speak to her class about the writing and publishing process. Swendson earned a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin and then had a career in public relations before becoming a full-time novelist. She’s the author of Rebel Mechanics, a Young Adult series which earned a spot on the 2016 Lone Star Reading List, and the popular adult romantic-fantasy series “Enchanted, Inc.” She lives in Irving, TX. For more information, visit her web site.

Former Intern Achieves Career Success

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Lacie Davis, recent graduate of the English program, has been hired as an Account Manager with Alphalete Marketing in Arlington, Texas. While she was a student at UTA, Lacie completed a service learning internship with the Arlington Public Library as a Volunteer Recruitment Intern. As an intern, Davis worked with Arlington Public Library Volunteer Coordinator Sharon Granado on several projects, from helping prepare marketing materials for special events at the Libraries to assisting with communication with potential and ongoing volunteers. She will now bring the skills she learned during her internship to her first job after graduating.

Timothy Richardson Develops Soundscape

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The Department of English's Dr. Timothy Richardson has been exploring the rhetoric of sound in his recent work at UTA, and he has developed a "soundscape" included in Enculturation's new Intermezzo collection, Rhetorics Change/Rhetoric’s Change. According to their site, this collection includes "selected essays, multimedia texts, and audio pieces from the 2016 Rhetoric Society of America biennial conference, which spotlighted the theme 'Rhetoric and Change.'"

Dr. Richardson describes his contribution, "Polar," as "a sonic object composed solely from a sample of applause from a spring band recital in a middle school gymnasium that has been treated, mixed, and manipulated to evoke arctic apprehension. The soundscape presents an aural space for a coincidence of contradictory experiences, using sounds from a familiar and familial setting to draw connections between the small, local, wholesome, and warm and the distant, cold, isolated, but ultimately global." The soundscape demonstrates "the transformation of warm applause from proud parents—at once a subjective and communal noise—into noises that conjure tense ocean chilliness and isolation [that] insists that we hear the consubstantiality of both situations and performs an intersection of both."

You can download Rhetorics Change/Rhetoric’s Change, including Dr. Richardson's "Polar," as a free EPUB document.

Students Learn More Lost Arts during the 2018–19 Workshop Series

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Established in 2017, the Lost Arts Collaborative (LAC) has continued its successful workshop series during academic year 2018–19. A group of faculty dedicated to sharing the lost art of making things from the past, the LAC has so far this year offered hands-on workshops in “Making Early Modern Chocolate,” led by Dr. Amy Tigner, “Marbling Paper” by Dr. Cathy Corder, “Making Love Poetry in Two Languages” by Drs. Amy Austin and Jacqueline Fay, and, upcoming in March 2019, “Making Ink and Quills” by Dr. Tigner. Open to anyone in the DFW community, the workshops are held in the FabLab at the UTA Central Library and typically attract a large number of students, faculty, staff, and community members.

Karen Otto Wins Major Teaching Award

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PhD student Karen Otto has been recognized by the Texas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts as the 2019 High School Teacher of the Year. A public school teacher in Texas for over twenty years, Otto currently teaches English II GT at Southlake Carroll High School. For two decades her passionate and innovative teaching has instilled a love of reading and writing in her students. Her dissertation, supervised by Dr. Jim Warren, examines prevailing high school teaching practices in light of contemporary scholarship in Rhetoric and Composition Studies. For more information, click here .

Students Create Experimental Sound Project

As part of their discussions about sound and accessibility, students in Dr. Tim Richardson’s “Composing with Sound” course, which was offered in Fall 2018, performed Paragraph 7 of Cornelius Cardew's The Great Learning, a piece for choir written in plain language for trained and untrained singers. By not using traditional notation, the work is a composition that invites participation and experimentation instead of insisting on professional hierarchy and specialist status. A copy of the score for Paragraph 7 and more information can be found here.