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Alumnus Spotlight: Brandon Sneed

Landing a book deal was the culmination of six years of hard work and passion for East Carolina English department alumnus Brandon Sneed.

“Getting a book deal with one of the Big 5 publishers has always been a dream,” said Sneed, who describes the project as “a crazy, fun, top-secret project for HarperCollins.”

However, this top-secret project is far from Sneed’s debut as an author. In fact, it’s just one of many projects he’s embarked on as a full-time author and freelance journalist.

“I grew up absolutely loving reading and always messed around with writing funky stories as a kid, and I still love trying to write great stories now,” he said.

Sneed was raised right here in Greenville. He graduated from Barton College in Wilson in 2009 and moved back to Greenville in 2011 to pursue his Master’s degree at ECU.

“I liked that I could finish it in a year and a half, and I thought their English department looked great. Plus, Greenville is home,” Sneed said. “I wanted a master’s so that I could teach college writing and literature classes—I very well may end up getting my Ph.D. at some point—and I focused on Nonfiction Creative Writing because I majored in journalism as an undergrad.”

Sneed earned his M.A. in English with a concentration in Nonfiction Creative Writing. He said some of his favorite parts of the program were spending time with professors who were as passionate about good writing as he is, and working with other students who were improving their writing–“that was all really fun and invigorating.”

Since his graduation, Sneed has been writing full time as well as teaching writing classes at area colleges. He’s also been publishing “longform, in-depth narrative journalism” for a variety of outlets, including CNN/Bleacher Report, ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, SB Nation, Pacific Standard, Outside, and more. His story, “The Prospect,” was named a Best American Sports Writing 2014 Notable Selection.

And besides all that, he’s also been writing books. Aside from his current project with HarperCollins, he’s written The Edge of Legend (2010) and Behind the Drive (2015). Sneed put these books out via a small publishing company that he created with his wife.

Sneed has a lot of work to be proud of, and he’s happy with the path he’s chosen.

“It’s taken tons of time, effort, and sacrifice, and my goal has always been to write stories that entertain and/or inform, sure, but also offer something that can make people’s lives better.”

“I believe in moving stories that explore the stunning things human beings are capable of.”

People wanting to learn more about Sneed’s work can visit his Facebook page, his Twitter feed, and his personal website at brandonsneed.com, where Sneed posts regular updates there about his work, hosts monthly book giveaways, and offers interviews and updates about other people doing remarkable things.


Congratulations to Meghan Bliss!

Little Universe cover

Congratulations to alumna Meghan Palko Bliss on the publication of her first book!

Bliss has had creative work published in Rust+Moth, Southern Women’s Review, A Poetry Congeries, What the Fiction, Charlotte Writers Anthology, and Mary Jane’s Farm, among others. She lives in Coastal North Carolina with her husband, Patrick, and writes at TheBlissfulPoet.com. The Little Universe can be purchased here.


Alumna Spotlight: Christina Eftekhar Mayr

ChristinaMayr2Christina Eftekhar Mayr

Alumna Christina Eftekhar Mayr is the President of a local chapter of Society for Technical Communication (STC) for the 2015-2016 term. She also recently won an Award of Distinction (and candidate for Best of Show) in the STC Carolina technical communication competition and an Award of Merit at the STC International Summit. Her current success in the field of technical communication is the product of years of hard work, determination, education and experience, many years of which came from her time in undergraduate and graduate programs at East Carolina.

Christina chose East Carolina because, out of all the colleges she visited, ECU “was the only one that felt like home.” Though she initially had some trouble during her freshman year deciding on a major, with some well-placed guidance from her friend and mentor, Dawn Keller, Christina quickly found that English was something she both enjoyed and excelled at. She graduated with her BA in 2006, and continued into the English MA program the following fall, where professors in the Technical Communications program helped her discover the greater potential of a degree in English.

Not surprisingly, Christina cites interactions with the English department’s passionate professors as the best part of her ECU experience, and time spent in the study abroad in England program and late-night discussions of Foucault rank high on her list of favorite ECU memories. She also highlights the importance of developing professional communication skills regardless of where you believe your degree may take you, those are the skills that will always be in high demand. For that reason, Christina recommends taking any available introductory courses in business and technical communication.

After graduating with her MA in English with a concentration in Technical and Professional Communication in 2008, Christina worked as a technical writer, developing her knowledge base by accepting a variety of positions across multiple fields. She believes it was majoring in English that taught her the many necessary skills to further her career. In her own words, “majoring in English taught me how to research properly, read for understanding, and think critically and logically, all of which have helped me learn and master new technologies quickly, a necessity as a technical writer.” Now she works as a technical editor, using DITA, an “XML-based open-source structured authoring architecture” for content management. She uses her knowledge and ability with DITA to enhance user experience and increase content availability as needed. Her recent award from the STC International Summit competition was for a book she wrote on DITA, called the DITA Dictionary.

Christina is grateful for the time she had at ECU, and invites recent graduates of the TPC program here to contact her at president@stc-carolina.org for more information about the Society for Technical Communication, for job search assistance, resume help, or for information about mentoring opportunities.


Campus Ghost Walk/Folk Talk

Congratulations to faculty member Randall Martoccia, whose documentary entitled Campus Ghost Walk/Folk Talk aired on Greenville-Pitt Access Television (GPAT, Channel 23) on Thursday, July 9.

Martoccia said that many people in the Department of English contributed to the documentary during the two years of its making. Mark Johnson narrated, David Wilson-Okamura provided the music, Andrea Kitta and Jim Kirkland shared their knowledge of ECU’s legends, 2014 graduate Juliette Turmelle told of theater hauntings, Anna Froula’s moon photo is featured prominently, and Ashleigh Taylor, Lindsay Canting, Esmeralda Rodriguez, and Sean Morris contributed sound effects.

View the documentary here.

 

 


Jeffrey Johnson appointed director of Voyages of Discovery series

The East Carolina University Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences has announced the appointment of a new director of the Voyages of Discovery Lecture Series. Dr. Jeffrey S. Johnson, professor and former chair of the Department of English, will lead the acclaimed series, taking over for Dr. John Tucker, who guided the series since it’s inception in 2007.

“I am honored to have been selected by Dean William Downs as the new director for Voyages, not least of which because of my knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, Thomas Harriot,” said Johnson. “The College of Arts and Sciences and the lecture series are, of course, named after Harriot, whose spirit of inquiry, exploration and discovery are the hallmarks of advanced learning in the natural sciences, mathematics, social sciences and humanities. As a scholar of the historical period in which Harriot lived, I have had the privilege of working with Harriot’s manuscript papers in the British Library. Based on that archival research, I published a paper on Harriot and Donne even before coming to ECU.”

For the entire story, visit http://www.ecu.edu/cas/.


Alumnus Spotlight: Gary Redding

Gary Redding

When ECU Department of English alumnus Gary Redding took the stage at Saturday’s department Commencement, he was also just a week away from his own commencement–from law school. He will graduate with a Juris Doctor from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law on Friday (May 15, 2015).

During his address to graduates at the ECU commencement Saturday, Redding talked about his own life and what his studies at ECU have made possible.

After earning his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees here, Redding taught for three years in the Department of English and then in New York City’s community college and public assistance systems. He quickly excelled upon entering law school, winning his school’s Earl H. Davis Award for Clinical Excellence in Spring 2014.

During that same semester, he worked as a student attorney in the HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic. In his time at the clinic, he represented several clients including two elderly women seeking estate planning services, performed local and international legal research, produced several high-quality court filings, appeared in court on behalf of an indigent Spanish-speaking client in a family law case, and testified before the Council of the District of Columbia about the concerns of residents at a local homeless shelter regarding the Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance program.

This spring, Redding has been working as an extern in the congressional office of Congressman David E. Price (D-NC). His duties included assisting Price in his role as the Ranking Member of the House Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee.

“I attended and reported on hearings, edited speeches, took the lead in researching efforts to update the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program, and much more.”

During his time in law school, Redding also served as a student attorney in the Housing and Consumer Law Clinic and he completed two summer legal internships.

“I was a legal and policy fellow at the Rural Coalition, Washington, D.C.,” he said. “My fellowships afforded me the opportunity to write and submit written testimony to Congress on behalf of the coalition regarding updating Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act and making the process for reporting voting rights violations more straightforward and practical, conduct research and write policy briefs in support of a ‘full and fair farm bill,’ document oral histories of farmers and farm workers, and much more.”

Redding’s interest in this subject area stems in part from his background. He is a native of Tillery, NC, and a third generation “Tillery resettler.”

He explained, “The Tillery Resettlment was established in 1935 as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs.  There were 113 New Deal farm projects set up mostly in the south, and the Tillery Resettlement was one of fifteen set up for African Americans to purchase farm land and become independent landowners.”

His background also inspired his dedication to learning.

“My single mother inspired my love for reading and writing at an early age,” Redding said. “I grew up in a home without a bathroom and running water, but our walls were lined with bookcases filled with books rich in all kinds of intellectual and social commentary, and political persuasions. We were regimented to reading aloud for 45 minutes a day from texts by authors as varied as Aristotle, W.E.B. Dubois, and Zora Neale Hurston. We also wrote on a daily basis about our local community and travel experiences, including our trip to Stockholm, Sweden to see Nelson and Winnie Mandela on the first trip Mandela made outside of Africa following his release from 27 years of unfair incarceration.”

Redding continues to stay connected to his hometown. He currently serves the Chairperson of the Board of Directors for the Concerned Citizens of Tillery (CCT). CCT has been a catalyst for positive social change across North Carolina and beyond, and celebrated its thirty-fifth anniversary in 2014. Awards for their  work have included the First International Healthier Communities Award from the Health Care Forum and the Natural Community Champion Award from the Conservation Fund.

When Redding first arrived ECU, he majored in criminal justice. Later, he was persuaded by the late Dr. Gay Wilentz to become an English major. Redding earned his B.A. in English, and then his M.A. in English with a concentration in Multicultural Literature.

“After being deprived of opportunities to read literature by authors of color in the public schools I attended, with the exception of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe in the 10th grade, I jumped at the chance to be immersed in classes on Native American literature, African literature, and other literature by people of color in college and graduate school,” Redding said. “In those classes, students led intellectually stimulating debates and discussions about the inclusion of multiethnic literature in the American literary canon, students presented on violence against women in literature and in society, students from Belize, Central America offered new insights on writing and neocolonialism, and much more.”

“My training in English studies at ECU confirmed for me the power of the written and spoken word.  Invaluable interactions with faculty and classmates around the department and during my English composition and literature courses reaffirmed for me the importance of effective verbal communication with diverse persons inside and outside of my evolving adult world, the value of researching and writing skills in law school and my professional life, the limitless possibilities of a multicultural education in a multicultural world, and much more.”

“Students considering coming to ECU to study English will have the opportunity to learn from a diverse and talented faculty, take classes with students from different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds, and through hard work can become skillful writers and researchers,” Redding said. “Additionally, students who major in English at ECU can successfully enter any field of endeavor that they choose.”

“Eastern North Carolina is much richer for having a local university that is not only convenient and available to local students, but also brings many parts of the world to the region.”


Congratulations to May 2015 MA graduates

The Department of English congratulates the following students on completion of their MA degrees!

Tim Buchanan, MA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing
Title of Thesis: Bury Your Horses and Other Stories
Committee members: Liza Wieland (director), Luke Whisnant, and John Steen

D. Shane Combs, MA in English with a concentration Rhetoric and Composition
Title of CAP: Through Contradiction and Confusion: On Becoming Social and Expressive
Committee members: Tracy Morse (director), Erin Frost, and Michelle Eble

Thomas Cox, MA in English with a concentration Rhetoric and Composition
Title of CAP: Exploring Rhetorical Issues in Culture, Community, and Identity in Family and Classroom
Committee members: Matt Cox (director), Will Banks, and Mark Johnson

Rafael Gamero, MA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing
Title of Thesis: Blankets in the River with oranges and Other Stories
Committee members: Luke Whisnant (director), Liza Wieland, and Seodial Deena

Aaron Geer, MA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing
Title of Thesis: The Things We Hear in the Nighttime and Other Stories
Committee members: Liza Wieland (director), Luke Whisnant, and Tom Douglass

Catherine Gibson, MA in English with a concentration in Technical and Professional Communication
Title of CAP: Comparative Quality of Online and Classroom Instruction
Committee members: Guiseppe Getto (director), Brent Henze, and Matt Cox

Lena Greer, MA in English with a concentration in Multicultural and Transnational Literatures
Title of Thesis: Jewish Women and the Specter of the Old World in Jewish Immigrant Fiction
Committee members: Rick Taylor (director), Kristy Ulibarri, and Andrea Kitta

Colin Griffin, MA in English with a concentration Rhetoric and Composition
Title of CAP: Telling Stories, Making Meanings
Committee members: Kirk St. Amant (director), Tracy Morse, and Matt Cox

Nicholas Hall, MA in English with a concentration in Technical and Professional Communication
Title of CAP: Developing a Healthy Content Strategy: A Case Study of a Medium-Sized Health Care Organization
Committee members: Guiseppe Getto (director), Brent Henze, and Michael Albers

Jimmy Hicks, MA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing
Title of Thesis: Quietus
Committee members: Luke Whisnant (director), Liza Wieland, and Amber Flora Thomas

Lucrecia High, MA in English with a concentration in Technical and Professional Communication
Title of CAP: Content Strategy: Identifying Skills that Companies Seek and Securing Employment
Committee members: Guiseppe Getto (director), Brent Henze, and Kirk St. Amant

Ben Hogwood, MA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing
Title of Thesis: Everybody Calm Down (It’s Just Music)
Committee members: Alex Albright (director), Luke Whisnant, and Tom Douglass

Gloria Holt, MA in English with a concentration in Technical and Professional Communication
Title of CAP: Realizing the Potential of E-books
Committee members: Michelle Eble (director), Donna Kain, and Michael Albers

Emilia Johnson, MA in English with a concentration in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
Title of CAP: The Implementation of CLIL: Effects on Intercultural Communication and Success in Foreign Language Learning
Committee members: Lida Cope (director), Solveig Bosse, and Mark Johnson

Emily Kilpatrick, MA in English with a concentration in Multicultural and Transnational Literatures
Title of CAP: Appalachian Literature in the Secondary Classroom: Teaching Appalachian Literature as a Valuable Part of Multicultural and Transnational Literature
Committee members: Seodial Deena (director), Rick Taylor, and Kristy Ulibarri

Danielle Lake, MA in English with a concentration in Literature
Title of Thesis: A Textual Edition of Donne’s “The Cross” and the Implications of Establish a Copy-text
Committee members: Jeffrey Johnson (director), Ken Parille, and David Wilson-Okamura

Brittany Long, MA in English with a concentration in Multicultural and Transnational Literatures
Title of Thesis: Alientation and Ethnic Identities in Growing Up Ethnic in America, Borderlands/LA Frontera, and The Day Nina Simone Stopped Singing
Committee members: Rick Taylor (director), Seodial Deena, and Andrea Kitta

Jessie Marshall, MA in English with a concentration in Technical and Professional Communication
Title of CAP: Iowa Psychological Association Website Redesign
Committee members: Matt Cox (director), Brent Henze, and Kirk St. Amant

Courtney Martin, MA in English with a concentration in Technical and Professional Communication
Title of CAP: The Role of Document Design and Multicultural Studies in the K-12 Classroom
Committee members: Brent Henze (director), Matt Cox, and Rick Taylor

Justine McClarren, MA in English with a concentration in Literature
Title of CAP: Demetrius and Lysander: the Mimetic Midsummer Night
Committee members: John Steen (director) and Marianne Montgomery

Bryan Todd McMillan, MA in English with a concentration in Multicultural and Transnational Literatures
Title of Thesis: “The Tonic of Wildness”: Thoreau’s Critique of Industrial Capitalism
Committee members: Helena Feder (director), Ron Hoag, and Rick Taylor

Kourtney Moore, MA in English with a concentration in Technical and Professional Communication
Title of CAP: Marketing Material madness: Behind the Scenes of Creating Marketing Materials
Committee members: Brent Henze (director), Erin Frost, and Kirk St. Amant

Abigail Morris, MA in English with a concentration in English Studies
Title of CAP: Human Trafficking Rhetoric and Reality
Committee members: Erin Frost (director), Tracy Morse, and Matt Cox

Rosemary Nelson, MA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing
Title of Thesis: Iniquities
Committee members: Luke Whisnant (director), Alex Albright, and Amber Flora Thomas

Kevin Nosalek, MA in English with a concentration in Multicultural and Transnational Literatures
Title of Thesis: Imagining the Homeland: Myth, Movement, and Migration in Three Novels by Women from the African Diaspora
Committee members: Marame Gueye (director), Rick Taylor, Kristy Ulibarri, and Ellen Arnold

Kimberlee Jo Raper, MA in English with a concentration in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
Title of CAP: Interactive Whiteboard Use in Language Instruction: The Relationship between Perceptions and Teacher Training
Committee members: Lida Cope (director) and Donna Kain

Christina Rowell, MA in English with a concentration Rhetoric and Composition
Title of Thesis: Let’s Talk Emotions: Re-envisioning the Writing Center through Consultant Emotional Labor
Committee members: Nikki Caswell (director), Matt Cox, and Wendy Sharer

Stephanie Smith, MA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing
Title of Thesis: A Blurry Outline and Other Stories
Committee members: Luke Whisnant (director), Liza Wieland, and Alex Albright

Coley Summerlin, MA in English with a concentration in Multicultural and Transnational Literatures
Title of Thesis: From Exclusion to Inclusion – A Shift in the Perception of Native and Asian Americans through Graphic Stories: A Comparison of Political Cartoons from the 1800s to Trickster, American Born Chinese, and Level Up
Committee members: Su-ching Huang (director), Ken Parille, and Marame Gueye

Christopher Urban, MA in English with a concentration in Literature
Title of Thesis: Gothic Revolutions: Wilde’s Ekphrastic Inheritance
Committee members: Anne Mallory (director), Ron Hoag, Kristy Ulibarri, and Elizabeth Hoiem

Christopher Todd White, MA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing
Title of Thesis: The Journal
Committee members: Bob Siegel (director), Luke Whisnant, and John Hoppenthaler

Kristi Wiley, MA in English with a concentration in Technical and Professional Communication
Title of CAP: Towards a UX Workflow for Academic Websites
Committee members: Guiseppe Getto (director), Brent Henze, and Michael Albers