Department of English News

Student Harbison lands breaking news bylines

English department M.A. student Cammy Harbison has recently landed publications in Digital Times and in Newsweek.

Her Newsweek story discusses data security in the wake of the AshleyMadison.com hack.

Her story in Digital Times was a breaking news piece about Seagate NAS vulnerabilities discovered by hacker OJ Reeves. This article made a notable impact in the security community.

“The researcher [Reeves] was nominated for a Pwnie Award at Black Hat this year,” Harbison said, “So I was happy to have helped raise awareness for his work.”

Harbison is working to complete a graduate certificate and M.A. with a concentration in technical and professional communication. She earned her B.S. in Elementary Education from ECU in 2007. Harbison is a prolific journalist on digital technology and related subjects.

 

 


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.

 

 


Alumna Spotlight: Jamie Johnson

IMG_9184Jamie Johnson

 

Jamie is a recent MA graduate who started ECU as an undergrad pursuing a major in nursing. Despite the seeming practicality of choosing such a major, Jamie soon discovered that her real passion was in English. After earning her BA, Jamie decided to further her education here at ECU, and enrolled in the English MA program. With so many years of experience to draw from, we decided to ask Jamie a few questions about her time at ECU.

Why did you choose ECU?

I completed my undergraduate career at ECU. I applied for several different schools for grad, but staying at ECU just felt right. I had such a great experience with my undergrad career that I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else!

What is the best part of the program?

The best part of the program is the support. I truly felt like everyone was on my side and wanted to help. The faculty was always encouraging and allowed me to explore areas of interest. The PhD students were like older siblings (the good kind) and could relate to my struggles and offer valuable advice. My classmates evolved into great companions; someone was always there to help me brainstorm, vent, or review one of my papers. Finally, the administrators and office assistants were always quick to assist me with making copies for my classes and answer any questions I had. I consider myself lucky; not many programs have such a great support system.

How has your major benefited you since graduation?

After I tell my story of starting as a nursing major and eventually getting my MA in English, sometimes people will assume that it wasn’t practical; but the opposite is true. The graduate program challenged me to think in different ways and apply my thinking to every situation. It has also given me the comfort of knowing I have lots of options; I could apply for PhD, I could teach at the college level, I could teach high school, or I could have any type of writing/communications job.

Is there any advice you’d give other students in the program?

I want current students to know that they deserve to be there. Sometimes when I was surrounded by extraordinarily bright people, I felt like I wasn’t good enough. But that wasn’t true for me, and it’s not true for anyone in the program. If you’re graduating soon, you have the right to feel incredibly proud of yourself and it is okay to be afraid of the next step. You’re never alone!

What were your favorite undergrad and graduate courses?

My favorite undergraduate class was English Grammar taught by Ms. O’Neal (rest in peace, Ms. O. You had a huge impact on me). It was my favorite because I went into the course thinking it would be easy and maybe boring considering the title. But I was actually very challenged in the course and learned several concepts I will use for the rest of my life.

My favorite graduate class Writing Systems taught by Dr. Aceto. There weren’t many students enrolled so the course was more like a conversation than a traditional instructor-led class. Similarly to my undergraduate experience with English Grammar, Dr. Aceto challenged my thoughts and taught me how to think critically. But you should know it’s hard to choose just one favorite graduate course. I had excellent experiences in every course.

What was the most influential work you read during you time at ECU?

The most influential work I read during my time at ECU were pieces by Christina Rossetti explored in Dr. Mallory’s British Literature course. I believe Rossetti was an early feminist and I can identify with her tones of sarcasm and wit in much of her poetry.

Jamie Johnson graduated in 2014 and has been working hard to build up her resume with teaching experience since then. Last semester, Jamie taught eight sections of English through four different schools, and though she would not recommend teaching more than six sections if possible, she appreciates the fact that teaching so many sections allowed her to work with a wider variety of students than she otherwise might have. She is also grateful for the early teaching experience she gained while in the graduate program.


Alumna Spotlight: Laura Wright

wright.lauraLaura Wright

ECU Alumna Dr. Laura Wright is the Department Head of English at Western Carolina University, where she currently supervises around 200 students and 30 faculty while teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in World Literature in English, gender studies, environmental literature, and postcolonial theory.

After receiving her undergraduate degree from Appalachian State University, Laura came to East Carolina University to pursue her MA in Literature. After graduating, she continued into the PhD program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Since arriving at Western Carolina University, Dr. Wright has been the recipient of several WCU awards, including the Arts and Sciences Teaching Award, the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award, and this year’s University Scholar Award.  She is also a long distance runner and an ethical vegan with two amazing dogs and two lovely cat.

As part of the Spotlight, we also asked Dr. Wright about her time at 
ECU. Here’s what she had to say:

 What drew you to English as your Major?

I became an English major because I loved to read — and I was good at writing about literature.

I also chose English because that major gave me an immense amount of freedom to take courses that were interesting to me.  I had been a psychology major first and then a biology major, but I loved literature, and I made the decision to study it because it was the thing that I was the most passionate about.

What was the best part of the program?

Being in graduate school at ECU was one of the best experiences of my life.  At ASU, I had tried to carve out a niche for myself as a student who was focused on women’s literatures and minority literatures.  When I came to ECU, Dr. Gay Wilentz had just established the Multicultural Literature concentration in the MA.  I knew immediately that this was the focus that I wanted to pursue, so I studied with her, and she directed my thesis, which was on three works of African literature by women authors (Tsitsi Dangarembga, Flora Nwapa, and Buchi Emecheta).  I also got my first opportunity to teach at ECU, and I worked as an assistant editor for the student newspaper.  All of these experiences were incredibly valuable in terms of my future career.

How has your major benefited you since graduation?

Well, my MA and teaching experience at ECU helped me land a job at NCSU after graduation.  I taught as a lecturer there for four years prior to moving to Massachusetts to pursue at Ph.D.  At the University of Massachusetts, I focused on African literature and wrote a dissertation on South African author J. M. Coetzee.  My dissertation later became a book.  My experience at ECU gave me the foundation to do this work, and the faculty at ECU — particularly Gay and Dr. Roberta Martin — were amazing advocates for me in terms of my getting into graduate school and getting a teaching assistantship while I was there.

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Dr. Laura Wright has written three monograph studies and been the lead editor of another book; my next book is forthcoming from the University of Georgia Press in the fall.

More information regarding her latest work can be accessed at:

http://www.ugapress.org/index.php/books/index/the_vegan_studies_project


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/.