Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

October 1, 2015

Meet the Consultants: First Edition

So, you’re coming to the Writing Center. And you want to choose the consultant who will be the best fit for you– but how can you know who that is, from the meager information provided by the WC scheduler? You could choose by which name you like best– but then how to decide between, say, Will H and Will C? Sarah M or Sarah C?? Or you could use the dropdown menu to choose a consultant who specializes in the subject of your paper… but that’s ridiculous. You don’t want to know if they’d get along with your paper, you want to know if they’d get along with you. Luckily, I’m doing the footwork, and I’ve been interviewing the consultants, asking the following hard-hitting questions:

What is your best skill?

What state are you?

and What question should I have asked you?


Alyssa

I’m pretty good at beatboxing.

Plasma.

You should’ve asked which US state I most identify with emotionally (Florida)


Dani

Procrastinating but still doing really well.

New York (because I’m rude and liberal).

Why are you Dave’s favorite person at the Writing Center?


Taylor

Probably the ability to interact with hugely diverse groups of people.

Solid.

What made you really mad at your parents when you were a kid? (In 4th grade I discovered I was colorblind, and I blamed them for it.)


Sarah M

Getting things done right before the deadline.

Michigan.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever written in a paper? (Violent conflict is better.)


Mackenzie

Drinking a lot of water.

This might be boring, but I’m Missouri.

What’s your worst skill? (College algebra)


TJ

Being the best Dungeon Master there ever was– and I’m willing to put that to the test.

My heart will never leave Oklahoma.

You probably should have asked me something about the F15’s combat performance.


Lauren R

First, procrastination. I also read the last Harry Potter book in 6 hours.

I’m gonna go with state of mind– this is my 6 word memoir: “Adult age, mind of wandering child.”

There’s lots of things you should have asked me. What is the weirdest thing that you’ve ever done? (I’m just a weird person, so I embarrass myself a lot and then I go curl up in a corner and cry.) What kind of coffee are you? (A grande vanilla caramel chai tea latte with soymilk– meaning I’m complicated yet I have different flavors.)  What is your favorite thing to do to Dave? (Sass)


Marisa

My best skill is barking like a dog.

Rhode Island.

Which president served two nonconsecutive terms? (Grover Cleveland)


Chloe

I am very good at acting like I know what I’m doing in another country when I’m actually scared to death.

Oregon.

What are you going to get at the farmer’s market this weekend? (everything)


Antonio

I can make my hand look really crippled and arthritic.

Vermont, I really like ice cream.

What’s your favorite book? (Peter Pan)


Emily

Either empathy or eating pizza.

Tired.

Have you ever written 3 different papers about prostitution simultaneously without planning to?


Sarah C

Sarcasm.

California.

Do I have a coffee addiction? (Yes.)


Corbin

My greatest skill is being all-around delightful.

Virginia.

Is this my natural hair color? (Yes.)

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February 26, 2014

Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History

English majors often look at literature through theoretical lenses.  Each theory is equally unique and thought-provoking but often times English majors favor a certain theory just a little bit over the rest (kind of like parents do with their children).  We never really admit it, but the favoritism is printed in black and white.  I will admit that I often take a psychoanalytical approach to most of what I read and write, but this semester that seems to be changing.

At the beginning of the semester, I walked into Dr. Woodcox’s Restoration and 18th Century British Literature class not knowing what to expect.  Originally, when I thought of literature from this era, scientific documents and dry diaries came to mind.  This class has proven me wrong on so many levels and it all has to do with the women from the 18th century.

The women of the Restoration and 18th century era were revolutionary bad asses, not only fictionally but literally as well.  Women like Margaret Cavendish, Mary Wortley Montagu, and Eliza Haywood publically voiced their opinions through essays, short stories, and plays.  They faced ridicule from both men and women during their lifetimes but are now well-known and respected authors of their time.  I have been blown away by the amount of girl power that can be found in the literature from the 18th century.

A fantastic example of “girl power” in the 18th century is Eliza Haywood’s “Fantomina”.  For those of you that have not read this particular short story, I strongly suggest it.  It is a saucy tale about a young woman who becomes enamored with a fellow courtier while disguised as a prostitute.  The two become lovers, but the man in question quickly becomes disinterested.  Our main character, Fantomina, continues to pursue the same man through different disguises until she becomes pregnant and is sent to a French monastery.  Essentially, the story is an earlier and more risqué version of the chick flick John Tucker Must Die.

Although this particular short story seems to follow the typical layout of a novel during the 18th century on the surface, it really has more feminist undertones than many of the works before its time.  Not only is this piece written by a woman, but the main character—also a woman—has full control over her lover.  She has her lover hoodwinked throughout the entire story, up until the very moment she confesses her scheme during childbirth.  This level of female power was never depicted in everyday life in the 18th century.  Haywood is bold in suggesting that women could actually be the seducer in a romantic relationship or ever have the upper hand.  These revolutionary ideas were taken with much criticism by the public, but they were still widely read during the era.

Female authors were not the only ones with powerful female characters.  In Daniel DeFoe’s Moll Flanders, main character Moll has complete and utter control over her life.  She calls the shots and does not let her husbands or children hold her back from what she wants.  Many dislike Moll Flanders and her self-absorbed approach to life, but I think she is a ballsy woman that doesn’t get as much credit as she deserves.

All of these real and fictional women from the 18th century have shown me that a feminist outlook on life has existed for an extremely long time.  As I said before, I often prefer to look at literature through a psychoanalytical lens.  This course has made feminism so much more intriguing for me than it ever was in the past.  Thanks to the women of the 18th century, my favorite theoretical approach to literature may have some competition.

February 13, 2014

Kate Turabian and the Footnotes Hit the Scene

A new band has appeared on the McClain hall music scene: Kate Turabian and the Footnotes, formed entirely out of musicians from the Writing Center. Taking their inspiration from Turabian’s uncompromising, high-flying Chicago Style, the group featured lead, rhythm guitar, and vocals by Alexus, tambourine and vocals by Lacy, and First Act drumset/water cooler by Dave, violin and mandolin harmonies by Conor, ukulele accompaniment by  Kevin, and occasional grooves on the toy xylophone by Jamie. The set list included “Wagon Wheel,” “Brown-Eyed Girl,” “London Calling,” and “Home.”

Early reviews of KT and the Footnotes have described their sound as “acoustic, rough-cut and punchy, like pre-Beatles John Lennon” and “like a smashup of John Cage, Van Morrison, and the Roots (when they ironically play toy instruments with Jimmy Fallon [but really well because they care about their music] ).” Reviewers particularly praised the polyrhythmic percussion between the water cooler jug and the tambourine.

Much speculation surrounds the next performance of Kate Turabian and the Footnotes, who plan to continue playing at off-the-path venues to develop their Chicago Style sound. However, sources indicated that the next session could be within the month. Get cited, folks.

October 30, 2012

Shelby’s Paper Plate Poem

Tuesday morning breakfast in the WC became an opportunity for poetry. Click photo to enlarge.

September 29, 2011

One Writer’s Brain: Joshua Kehe

1. What was the most difficult writing situation you’ve had to deal with?

First semester of my Freshman year in college I had to write an annotated bibliography in Turabian for an Art History course. Having no idea what either an annotated bibliography or Turabian style was, I was a bit in over my head. To this day, I still have an unhealthy fear of Turabian. Slightly less fear for annotated bibliographies (this particular class had some extensive requirements for the annotations; so much so that I haven’t seen such requirements since), but it’s still there.

2. Do you write to learn, or do you only write to communicate with others?

I don’t think it’s possible to write without learning something about yourself. Writing is such a strange mix of conscious intentions and unconscious revelations blending together even as you pour the words out onto the page. I’ll start out writing something with certain thoughts in mind, and then halfway through I’ll look at it and think “Where did that come from?” It’s exciting when I can see what I truly think, feel, and believe rising up out of whatever detritus I initially found compelling.

3. If you could improve the world’s writers, what specific area would you address first?

Reading. Everybody needs to read. Constantly. This stretches from improving literacy rates in developing nations to encouraging people in the West to make time for books. Reading seems to have been regarded as an unnecessary luxury when compared with work, family, food, shelter, video games, and movies, but continued interest in the written word is essential to our development as both individuals and as a society.

Now, more in accordance with the question: Stephen King says, in his book On Writing, “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or tools) to write. Simple as that.”

That parenthetical statement is so key. I firmly believe that writing is best learned implicitly, absorbing the rules and idioms through our surroundings, rather than explicitly through grammar lessons. I’ll agree that grammar is necessary to learn, but it’s not where you start, and it’s also not where you go to deepen your knowledge of writing. Understanding the difference between a subject, a verb, and how they relate to one another does not show you the effects that placement can have upon the reader. It does not explain how you should construct a well-reasoned argument. It does not teach you how to evoke certain emotions or memories in the reader. Grammar is the skeleton of writing — dry and lifeless without the muscles of word choice, the nerves of a well-structured organization, and the heart of evocative imagery. These things you learn by reading.

4. What is a weakness you have as a writer?

Confidence in my own work. Almost every time I try to write something — whether for class, work, or my own pleasure — I spend almost as much time judging, critiquing, and worrying over my writing as I do actually writing. More often than not, the concern is unfounded. Sure, it’s bad on the first draft. That’s as it should be. But there’s always a solid foundation  there that usually excites me to continue working on the piece, making my earlier stress a bit pointless in the end. After all, that’s why we invented the second draft.

5. What question would you have liked us to ask you (about writing or reading)?

Nothing comes to mind.

September 28, 2011

Consultant Biography: Dave Leaton

Dave is the Director of the Truman state University Writing Center.  That is the most interesting thing anyone can say about him.  He was born long ago, before facebook, before Marxism came into fashion for the ninth time, before the internet, before laptops and desktops, before Light Beer from Miller, before the widespread consumption of turkey bacon, before Marxism fell out of fashion for the eighth time, before the Iran Hostage Crisis, before That 70s Show, before disco, before Phyllis and David York’s Tough Love, before Watergate, before Woodstock, before Armstrong skipped to my Luna–right around the time the War in Vietnam stopped being a “police action” and the beatnik identity was finally exhausted.

Dave is from Kansas (the good little bit north of Johnson County, south of the river, and east of everything else). Dave was educated successfully, despite periods of failure, such as the complete rejection of high school in 11th grade.

Dave enjoys doing cooking, cleaning, picking up after the kids, mowing the yard, doing laundry, and daydreaming about doing other things.  He is the occasionally proud father of twins (Dominic, after Steig’s dog, and Olivia, after the pig), but is increasingly channeling his inner Red Forman.

Dave enjoys books by William Steig, China Mieville, Kim Stanley Robinson, Ursula K. LeGuin, Isaac Asimov, J.R.R. Tolkien, Philip K. Dick, Richard Russo, Neal Stephenson, ok, fine, this is going to take forever–I enjoy hundreds, perhaps thousands of authors, and I eagerly await additions.