Why We Love Our Classes

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Creative Writing: Fiction

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Creative Writing: Fiction

 

 

 

 

Our classes range from critical lectures to fun and exciting workshops here at Chadron State. Each professor is different and it provides for a range of classes and not just straight lectures. We can go into discussions about the meaning behind Wordsworth’s poem “Nutting” or discuss Gareth Hinds’s graphic novel version of “Beowulf.” We can learn about how John Smith really acted or about writing stories.

Our classes also use a range of different instructional methods. You may be asked to tweet about what you have read or discussed in class. You might get to blog about education and English. Don’t be surprised when tables are moved and you are sitting in a square to review a classmates story.

We love our classes because they provide a variety of different styles and teach us what we need to know. Variety is a great way to break the monotonous task of going from class to class. Each professor is different and the classes reflect that. You will be excited to go to class just to see what the professor has in store for you!

As a college student, there will be classes that you love and classes that you hate, but as an English major, I love almost all of my classes.

One of the reasons that I absolutely love my classes is the OPEN DISCUSSION. When you are discussing a piece of literature in class, your professor wants to hear your interpretations and what you think about what you read. They want you to share your opinions and ideas. I don’t know about you, but I like this idea of a classroom as opposed to having someone lecture at you for an hour and put you to sleep.

I also love our classes because our professors are excited about what they talk about! When a teacher is not excited about the material they are covering, class is so boring and awful to sit through. When your professor comes into the room ready to dive into a deep and interesting conversation about the material that you are covering, you want to go to class. Especially when you really have no idea what in the world the conversation can lead to. The professors always seem to have the element of surprise when it comes to class discussion.

Another ginormous reason that I love my classes is that there is not any homework that I find is pointless. As a pre-med major I was constantly doing worksheet after worksheet after worksheet for my classes and I abhorred it, with a passion. It was even more frustrating when the homework did not seem to make sense or correspond with what we were learning. As an English major, I have never done homework for a class that I thought was pointless and did not make sense. Most of our homework is simply reading the assigned piece of literature for the next class period so that we are ready for class discussion. Some of our teachers even have us Tweet what we thought about the reading, and that is pretty exciting stuff.

Being an English major is exciting and fun, especially when you have classes this great.

Why We Love Our Professors

Dr. Coughlin

Dr. Coughlin is a new professor here at Chadron State College. He is just finishing up his first semester of teaching, and the students love him. He is a teacher that doesn’t just stand there and lecture or just holds group discussions. He is always walking around, he breaks up lecturing, discussions, and activities, and he likes making things interesting. When thinking about why people liked Dr. Coughlin so much, I talked to a couple other students about what they liked about him.

Holly A. describes Dr. Coughlin as enthusiastic, happy, and encouraging to new writers. This is definitely the truth. He genuinely loves what he teaches and is always happy. He will joke around and bring up random facts, stories, or even music videos to liven things up and make everyone happy too. Dr. Coughlin is always very encouraging for new writers. He doesn’t tear a story apart when he reads it, he provides genuine feedback. He also never tells a student that their story is bad.

Maryah H. describes Dr. Coughlin as passionate about what he does, really supportive, always willing to help, and he goes out of his way to make sure you’re confident and willing to do what you need to do. Again, so true. He is always there to help and willing to answer questions. He is so supportive, especially when it comes to writing. You can always go in and ask him questions and he will help you with whatever he can. Dr. Coughlin pushes his students, but always thinks about them too. In Creative Writing: Fiction, we do many writing workshops where different students present their work to the class and the class discusses the work. While he knows reading your own work aloud can be terrifying, he does require it on a minimal scale. He is very considerate of the authors and students.

Dr. Coughlin is an awesome professor who will go far here at CSC. If you have the chance try to take one of his classes. You learn a lot and have fun at the same time!

Dr. Tucker

Dr. Tucker is one of the professors at Chadron State College in the English Department, one of the many teachers that we love to have in class. Dr. Tucker teaches Humanities. I had no idea what to expect when I read the syllabus for his class before arriving at class. And I really did not know what to think when I saw the list of books we had to buy,  but Dr. Tucker’s class was definitely one of the best classes that I have taken.

Dr. Tucker was an enjoyable teacher because he made things interesting. He taught you how to analyze a reading in order to find the subtext behind what was actually written. He asked questions that really made you think. There were many times that I walked out of that class with a headache from trying to wrap my head around the things that he asked us in class.

Another thing that I really liked about Dr. Tucker is that he was realistic with us. He knew that we would not start the paper that was due until the morning that it was due, so if we came to class that day we got extra credit points for not being worried about our paper, since we were obviously working on it. He definitely did not tip-toe around the tulips with things either. He is going to give it to you straight and I really like honesty like that from teachers.

Dr. Tucker also has a very interesting lecture style. He keeps you engaged the whole time. I never missed his class unless it was a life or death situation. I loved listening to him lecture. You could learn a lot just listening to him talk. He is a very wise man. I asked a fellow student, Garret Dockweiler why he like Dr. Tucker’s class and he said that he also like how he lectured. Another thing that Garret liked about Dr. Tucker was that he could make any complicated reading seem simple.

Dr. Tucker is one of the best teachers that I have ever had and I highly recommend his class to students.

Dr. McEwen

One of Dr. McEwen’s strongest traits is that he has a keen ability to monitor student progress, see how they can improve, and push them to strive for better results. He dispels valuable nuggets of wisdom during class that applies outside the classroom. Dr. McEwen tells odd jokes and has a good lecturing style that can be appreciated. He is eager to help his students, almost begging them to come in to his office to see him.

Dr. McEwen is a teaching veteran of about 40 years, so he knows what he is doing. He has a large collection of Native American regalia in his office. He likes hot sauces, as told by his collection of Tabasco bottles.

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Dr. Elisabeth Ellington

Dr. Elisabeth Ellington teaches the English language arts courses usually taken by prospective educators. She teaches extemporaneously, and the students are left to themselves to pursue their own learning in their own way. Don’t ask for specifics about anything because you’ll learn by doing. Prepare to stumble a few times, but the effort is all that counts.

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Dr. Evertson

 

Dr. Wilburn

Dr. Miller

Dr. Miller is an incredible teacher, along with being an amazing person. His classes are about discovering yourself as a writer, and striving to push the comfort zone once you know where you stand. Dr. Miller is invested in each individual student: their writing, their progress, and their development through it all. Dr. Miller’s always leaves students with a choice, not to say there won’t be work to get done (oh the work).

 

Top 10 Reasons To Be an English Major

1. PASSION!!! Your teachers and your fellow students will be passionate about what you are talking about in class.

2.The class sizes are very small and the students are conversational!

3. You get to explore a wide range of human emotions and experiences! Have you ever read Uncle Tom’s Cabin? Talk about emotion!

4.We learn more than just literature, its hidden meaning, and how to draft it. English is implicitly interdisciplinary through the consideration of the human condition. We leave class every day with new thoughts and an ever growing knowledge of the human condition.

5. Critical Thinking

My English classes have helped me become critical. Okay, I realize this may not seem like a great asset, but it is! I’ve learned how to look at the world critically, questioning phenomenons, beliefs, and perspectives.

After oodles of English classes (over 30 credits to be exact), I consider myself a critical thinker. I can consider perspectives, evaluate them, and then reevaluate my own beliefs.

Without reading a variety of authors and genres, I honestly am not sure if I would have the critical thinking skills that I have now. I am grateful for the skills I have gained through my English courses.

6. The Other English Majors

It is hard to find someone that doesn’t share an interest or two with you. I have made awesome friends in the English department! It is fun and exciting every day! Plus, who else would understand all of your literary jokes!!!

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7. #cats – Let’s face it. We all love cats and we all love sharing our cat pictures on Twitter!

8. Social media in class! We love to Tweet and we love to eat and we LOVE to blog!

9. Beowulf!! It is the most epic reading you will ever get to read whilst being an English major. Seriously, thank your British Literature teachers if you have this opportunity!

10. Picture books and read alouds! Every now and then you will be lucky enough to have a teacher read a great children’s book to you aloud during class.

 

Top 10 Reasons to Come to Chadron

Photo CC by Jimmy Emerson

Photo CC by Jimmy Emerson

Out on the plains, Chadron State College is an academic oasis bustling with thought and creativity. Our Youthful minds are ready to change the world. In a sense, it’s not far removed from a monastery. Chadron is an environmental change for most, and usually for the better.

As students of Chadron State College, not only do we love my school, but we love this town. This is a great place to be, so all of us have compiled a list of why someone should consider coming to Chadron.

1) The Small Town Atmosphere

The town of Chadron is extremely embracing of the students of CSC. They are welcoming and helpful! Everyone here is very friendly, and it is a close knit community. Especially inviting to the students of CSC are the local churches. They have college lunches, they offer help with move in days, and they host on campus activities. From the beginning, we have always felt right at home.

2) The Big Event

Every year in the Spring, the students and faculty of CSC get together for the Big Event. It’s a college-wide community service project to help local business, both in Chadron, and in nearby towns. Students volunteer their services for projects like painting, cleaning yards, planting trees. There are clean-up groups and heartfelt visits to nursing homes. It is a great way for the students to give back to the community. We give thanks for the wonderful people of Chadron’s support in our education, as well as all of the warm welcomes.

3) Cleo’s Daily Grind

If you are looking for a great cup of coffee, Cleo’s is definitely the way to go. They have handy dandy little punch cards, and if you go on Tuesday, you get two punches. Two punches people! There is homemade whip cream, chocolate covered coffee beans, and beautiful decor.

4) The Bean Broker

The Bean Broker is another coffee shop, also with great coffee. However, they have many different styles of entertainment. Open mic nights, bands, and Jazz Birds performances on a regular basis. It is a fun and relaxing environment, and a great place to hang out!IMG_1746.JPG

5) Wild’s Bar and Grill

We can honestly say that Wild’s is one of the best places that any of us have eaten in town. Visitors from home can expect to be taken here for dinner. Not only is the food fantastic, but it isn’t too expensive. Broke college students don’t have to worry about their piggy banks.

6) Chadron State Park

If you are a person of the outdoors, you should definitely come check out the State Park. It is absolutely beautiful. You can camp, hike, and do all sorts of outdoor activities.

7) Walmart

Walmart is only a few blocks away from the campus and it is so convenient! It is awesome that we do not have to travel far to get the things that we need.

8) Nature

Chadron State Park is a great asset to the area. Hiking, hunting, camping, grilling, and other shenanigans are never out of the question. We love exploring the hiking paths in both the state park and the national forest. The famous “C Hill” sits behind campus and also has hiking paths with beautiful views. Chadron brims with nature and that’s why we love it.

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9) The People

The people are great! Everyone is friendly and happy. Walking by a person who doesn’t give you a passing smile is an impossible task. It is also difficult to walk across campus and not see someone you know.

10) College Expansion

The Chicone Events Center hosts its first event, a basketball game, this weekend. The Armstrong just built an incredible weights facility for their athletes. A new housing unit, Eagle Ridge, welcomed its first students this year with three more apartments to be added soon. There is also a new Rangeland Management Complex being built. Chadron State College is expanding and growing!

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First Blood: Sacrificing Rambo to Save Masculinity

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My copy of First Blood.

In her 2000 “Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man,” Susan Faludi spends a chapter examining masculinity within father/son traditions, complicated by two wars (World War II and the Vietnam War), as it has played out in the 1972 novel, “First Blood.” Her discussion dives into masculinity and father-son relationships in the life of the novel’s author, David Morrell; in the long process in which the movie industry tried to turn the novel into a movie it could market; and in the life of the actor, Sylvester Stallone, who finally helped doctor a script that the movie industry could sell to Reagan-era men, but that also preserved some of the soul of the novel, its concern for a masculinity defined amidst father-son relationships torn apart by war. In my Gender and Literature class, we recently took a look at both the novel and Faludi’s discussion of it, and the results were interesting.

What we found was a concern for identity/identification, introduced by setting Teasle and Rambo against each other, at one point looking at one another in the mirror, coming to understand the ways in which their identities mirror one another (both are decorated war vets, Rambo of Vietnam, Teasle of Korea), and with an exploration of the role of naming in identification, but also “gazing” – how one internalizes the identity given to them by the way people look at them (the movie takes this to a completely different place when Stallone is presented with the body of a body-builder). It’s worth noting that Morrell had wanted it to be unclear in the novel who was the protagonist, and he succeeded until the movie makers determined that Rambo, the prodigal son, would be the hero, and Teasle, representing the corrupt institution that rejected Rambo, would be the villain.

But in the book, Teasle also becomes something of a father figure to Rambo, or wants to be, calling him “the kid” throughout, even after he knows Rambo’s name. Father-son relationships are important in “First Blood” and are explored in terms of fishing and hunting trips. Rambo doesn’t fish, though. His father had beaten him regularly (just as Stallone’s father did) and that symbol had lost its meaning. But Rambo knows that sort of relationship when he sees it, as he does in the forest early in the novel when he runs into a backwoods father and son drinking moonshine, the only men Rambo encounters in the forest and purposefully allows to live. But for Rambo, as with Teasle, father-son relationships have always been complicated, painful. For Teasle because his father died young, and his surrogate father, Orval, had always been something of a hard man on Teasle, their relationship often defined by competition. Rambo’s father-son relationships had been defined by violence, including when he joined the marines.

Rambo’s father-figure in the military was a distant figure, Trautman (read trout-man; fisher-man; for both father-son fishing, but also the religious-institutional idea of Trautman as a fisher-of-men). Trautman ran the base and program where Rambo was trained (“The best we ever trained”). He arrives on the scene as a representative of the military institution, but also as Rambo’s “father,” having come to bring him home, to catch him and reel him in. Trautman has created Rambo, and the institution he represents has a vested interest in keeping a hold on him. But that’s not the only institution interested in managing Rambo. It’s rather curious that, early in the novel, Teasle takes Rambo to the police station, and there’s a bit made about the fact that the police station is painted red – it used to be a schoolhouse – and that they are waiting for the blue (water, washing, purity) and white (purity, sanctity) paint to come in, to paint over the red (blood) – and all together it building represents the red, white, and blue. There will be a lot of red/blood throughout the novel, the result, it seems to argue, of institutions (police, school, but also religion) failing Rambo/male, who, as well, dies in the end (unlike in the novel) as a sort of purifying sacrifice. The institutions have trained Rambo’s body (see Foucault, panopticon), have made it into a killing machine, have done so within the context of father-son patriarchy, and have then failed to tame what they created, resulting in the eventual sacrifice of the son, seemingly to purify the whole mess.

And lest this seem to be reading too much in, follow me on this. In the final pages, Rambo is crawling away from a town he has destroyed. He crawls through a playground (boy, “kid,” son), and is followed by Teasle. Both have been carved up by brambles (thorns) on their backs and heads, both have holes in their sides, they have come to identify with one another, even as Rambo holds up his gun seeing a triple image (Trinity) of Teasle, thinking he should just shoot “Teasle’s center image.” And the final scene plays out between a Trinity – Teasle, Rambo, and Trautman – with Trautman pulling the trigger on a sacrificial Rambo.

Meanwhile, throughout the novel, Rambo had been debating with himself about his own faith. In the middle of the novel, in an effort to escape the violence he has wrought, and its consequences, Rambo finds himself down a mine, a cave, what becomes sort of a womb, that he travels through, uncertain whether he is making his way deep into the womb/cave to die (to be unborn) or to find his way out at the other in to live (to be reborn). In the end his finds his way out, is reborn, on the way to his final showdown with his mirror/center image, Teasle, and his purifying, saving sacrifice. The whole novel becomes an attempt to recover a masculinity created by institutions that then failed it, rejected it, and judged it. But the recovery fails when the institutions sacrifice Rambo in order to save the institutions and the masculinity that serves them.

Unfortunately, as much as the novel takes an interesting look at masculinity in the late 60s and early 70s, it fails to examine its own understanding of womanhood. Through the whole novel, one problem that interrupts a recovery of masculinity is the women in the lives of the men. In particular, Teasle seems to conclude by the end of the novel that his now estranged wife was largely the reason that he had lost himself, the self that had been confident, that had understood who he was, that he only recovered when he engaged in a one-on-one war with his mirror image. Unfortunately, Morrell’s women, it seems, are either caretaker wives, or problems for male identity. That element is completely removed from the film in which masculinity is heroic, anti-institutional, and, ironically, the foundation of an aggressively violent, pro-war, incredibly profitable Rambo movie franchise.

A Virtual Tour of the CSC English Department

The best kept secret at Chadron State College is the English department. Yes, I realize that this statement may seem biased coming from an English major, but it has been the highlight of my higher education experience.

As an English Education major, my college experience has been full of

reading

writing

synthesizing

researching

critical analysis

and more reading…

And I wouldn’t trade my major for anything.

The most valuable part of my educational experience has been the classes I’ve taken to fulfill my English endorsement. Sure, I’ll technically graduate with a Bachelor’s of Science in Education, but I identify with English.

Because the English department has made my experience memorable and priceless, let me give you the grand tour.

Before we begin, let me introduce myself. I’m Kelsey and I’ll be your tour guide. These are the most important things you should know about me:

I am…

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  • A cat lover
  • A CSC Eagle, through and through
  • A self-proclaimed poet. You brave souls can listen to some of my original poems:

Now that I’ve properly introduced myself, we may proceed with the grand tour.

We begin by walking down the long sidewalks of CSC. Many students who may have had late nights quickly ride to class on long boards, skate boards, and other non-motor vehicles with wheels.

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Students know they are near the food (aka The Student Center) when they see the Tower Clock, a hallmark of Chadron State College. They also know how punctual or late for class they are based on the time provided by the giant clock.

imageOld Admin stands on the west side of campus, a building that houses Criminal Justice, English, and Education courses and professors.

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Students know they are outside of Old Admin as they see The Three Muses:

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The doors of Old Admin invite us in, calling us to learn.

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Once we enter the building, we must head up the stairs to second floor…


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On the second floor, we find navigation posts to guide our trip.

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The second floor is THE place to be in Old Admin. Visitors easily identify the second floor with English because it oozes literacy.

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People support literacy by donating their books.

If we look to our left, we can see the portal that connects students and professors:

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Before we enter the portal, visitors are met by catchy English major propaganda and FREE books!

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Enticing, right?

If we are courageous and step through this portal, we first see Brenda. Although Brenda declined an opportunity for a photo shoot for this blog, she graciously allowed me to take a picture of her work station.

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Students love Brenda because she is facetious and has a stapler for our many essay papers. For those of you who use Brenda’s stapler or stop to chat with her, she wanted me to include a warning: DO NOT PUT CRAP ON HER DESK. It makes it dirty:

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Brenda’s dirty desk and handy stapler.

Around the corner, there is a break room complete with a copier, mailboxes, and coffee.

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It’s true: English professors drink coffee.

The offices of our lovely English professors are down the hall.

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This year there is a new student lounge with audiobooks, comfy chairs, ambience, and FREE BOOKS!

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The student lounge.

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Audiobook collection and comfy chairs.

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Free books.

Some of our professors enjoy interior decorating…

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Interior decorator or English professor? You be the judge.

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You could say English professors have an abundance of flavor.

I think the students enjoy it too.

This concludes our time together and now you have seen all you need to see of the English department at CSC. You have been a lovely group and I hope to see you on campus soon! I accept tips…

3,193 Beautiful Beginnings (NaNoWriMo)

by B. Lee Miller

For those who don’t know, every November is National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo (http://nanowrimo.org/). Every year, over 300,000 people around the globe certify having written a 50,000-word novel in thirty days. Now, the point is not quality, although the one previous time that I participated, I produced a draft of a novel that now runs around 65,000 words and that I am still revising and from which I’ve sent out excerpts for publication. The point is the process. Getting used to putting words on paper, whatever may come of it.

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This year is my second year to participate. My class, Gender and Literature, is spending much of November writing. They are to write a critical essay and some sort of literature. It is up to them whether to complete a lengthy, messy draft of something, or a more finished, and thus necessarily shorter draft. We will then read one another’s work and look at gender in this newly written literature. It should be fun.

Those who participate in NaNoWriMo know that you must average 1,667 words per day to reach the 50,000-word goal. I don’t know that I’ll make it this year. I have too much on my plate. But I did start today on a project I have tentatively titled “Beautiful Beginnings.” It will be made up entirely of journal entries by the two main characters. I began today by writing 3,193 words, 328 of which I’ve pasted below. For a little context, the writer of this journal entry is exploring a long term fascination with the number 28, and the numbers 4 and 7 that, when multiplied, make 28. Anyway, here you go:

I walked between home and school all through my four years of Elementary School. It was a long walk, so I had a lot of time to think. I would count to four, or sometimes eight, over and over in my head. I counted to four in my head a lot in those four years. And I would make short humming noises with each step. Four at a time. Hm. Hm. Hm. Hm. It was a tick that I sometimes still have to keep myself from doing. It started up again four months and four days ago. The whole day today I counted to four in my head. Sometimes hummed. Hm. Hm. Hm. Hm. Four steps at a time, just like in marching band during my four years in High School. Left. Right. Left. Right. Four steps and four beats at a time. For the four beats for every bar. Most music is structured four beats per bar, four bars at a time, and in sixteen-bar sets – four times four is sixteen, four times sixteen is sixty-four. I will never see sixty-four. You wouldn’t need me if I did reach sixty-four. There were four Beatles.

Four is a pretty common number. There are four corners of the earth. Four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Four Gospels. There are four sides to a square. Four seasons. For directions. North. South. East. West. In Buddhism, there are Four Noble Truths. I was forty-four, with the dash, when my life changed forever. The day was April 4, 2014: 4/4/14. I began my walk on August 8 – 8/8, two times four is eight. You were sixteen – four times four – when I changed your life forever. If you google “living homeless for dummies” you can find a wauzoo.com page with the picture of homeless man holding a sign that says “Family Kidnaped by Ninjas Need $4 Karate Lessons.” I need to try to get eight hours of sleep tonight. Two times four is eight.