Taking Advantage of Academic Opportunities- Mary Miller

One of the aspects of higher education that I was underprepared for was the opportunity to apply myself outside of the classroom. As an undergraduate speech communications major, I joined a few clubs and worked hard in class, but I wasn’t too concerned about how my time in college could cultivate my professional experience.

Now, as a student in the English master’s program, my peers and professors have been so supportive in making sure I’m not only aware of all the opportunities I can have to showcase my research and my academic work, but that I’m comfortable and prepared to do so. I recently was able to travel to Philadelphia for the 2023 Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Association conference, and through the process of working with my fellow students and Dr. Pfannenstiel on our roundtable discussion presentation, it let me practice a lot of important skills that I don’t always get to work on.

Weekly meetings to prepare for the conference helped us put together a cohesive presentation, and talking out loud really helped me put my thoughts into words. In undergrad, I preferred to work alone and didn’t go out of my way for peer feedback, but over the course of this semester, my peers in the English department have been so inviting and supportive that it has allowed me to be more comfortable with collaboration as a necessary and constructive activity. Hearing their feedback made me feel more confident in what I was going to share at MAPACA, and hearing what they had researched gave me some ideas of my own.

These meetings and working together also gave me a structure each week, one built on making connections and spending time with others. Graduate school can be lonely – it can feel like it should be a solitary effort and like there aren’t a lot of moments to spend quality time with others outside of the classroom. I’m so glad to be a part of the English program at Millersville, because it’s been clear that while I’m here, everyone who’s a part of the department wants to see me succeed and wants to help me along the way. It can also be a little nerve-wracking (or, for me, downright terrifying) to present your own work in front of strangers, but working with such understanding classmates has helped me overcome that fear bit by bit.

Apart from the opportunity to travel to MAPACA as a way to learn more about what other academics in English studies are working on and willing to share, this whole experience has been an incredible way to build on my public speaking and research skills. Additionally, it helped solidify the fact that English is such a diverse field of study, one that has room for everyone and everyone’s unique interests. I feel very lucky to be a part of a department that understands this and allows room for us to pursue our interests, and a department that encourages me to attend events like MAPACA, even if initially I believed them to be outside of my comfort zone.

Faculty Feature- Dr. Farkas

This week, the department of English and World Languages would like to highlight the accomplishments and academic pursuits of Dr. Farkas. Dr. Farkas, who uses she/her pronouns, is a current professor of Writing Studies here at Millersville University. Currently, she is teaching courses such as Editing for Publication, Business Writing, and Special Topics in Writing Studies: Rhetoric, Writing, & Social Justice in Educational Settings. She currently has one book published about writing studies titled The Transportable Writing Tool: A Guide for Writing and Revising which provides different tools and perspectives on how to write and produce more effective texts. Her application of lifelong learning in her research and publications shows her dedication to not only her understanding of writing, but also her students. Outside of the classroom, Dr. Farkas helps students with their writing through her position as Coordinator of the Writing Center.

Dr. Farkas connects her other field of study, civic discourse and civic engagement, through her other role as the co-editor of both the Engage for Change and Made in Millersville Journals. She further states:

“I have a wide range of interests as far as my scholarship, but most of it focuses on civic discourse and the extent to which everyday citizens have access to and can contribute to decision-making that affects their communities. My scholarship overlaps with and informs my teaching, and I love getting students interested and involved in using writing to advocate and create change in their communities.”

When she isn’t participating in civic discourse or academia, Dr. Farkas enjoys reading or watching some of her favorite shows. Some of her favorite books include Little Women, The Grapes of Wrath, The Color Purple, Sarah’s Key, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Invisible Man, Seabiscuit, and any of Ken Follett’s books. Her favorite shows are Breaking Bad and the Walking Dead.

Faculty Feature: Dr. Pfannenstiel

Dr. Nicole Pfannenstiel (she/her/hers) is an Associate Professor of English and the Graduate Coordinator. Dr. Pfannenstiel received her MA in English and PhD in Rhetoric, Composition, and Linguistics both from Arizona State. Her research revolves around “Sense of belonging and Graduate Pedagogy” and she has been working in graduate education for over 20 years. As the Graduate Coordinator, she states that “I want to work with student-centered pedagogical theories from undergraduate education to improve the graduate student learning experience. I work to bring high structure to graduate education, to draw attention to the hidden curricular pieces. My aim is to break down silos and barriers so our program supports all students, including marginalized students even more underrepresented in graduate school, attending, completing and succeeding in our graduate program.”

Earlier this year Dr. Pfannenstiel was recognized for her outstanding commitment to students on this campus with the 2023 Sarah Lindsley Person of the Year Award, presented by Millersville’s Student Government Association. She remarked about this honor that “there is no greater honor at a teaching focused institution than to be honored by the students.” She was also recently nominated for the EVA awards for her EPPIIC Professionalism for her continued commitment to helping students understand and take-on professional roles.

She carries the remarkable ethos that brought her these awards and recognition into her scholarship. Dr. Pfannenstiel’s new book Web Writing, which is published as a peer-reviewed Open Educational Resource (OER) on paadopt.org, is part of an ongoing grant to remove financial barriers to studies by creating OER textbooks to alleviate one of the hidden costs of education. Web Writing itself explores a rhetorical approach to web writing, content management, and meaning making in contemporary social media. This book works alongside her WRIT 318 curriculum focused on building an understanding of the rhetoric and content strategy of writing online. You can access the entire book for free here: (https://paadopt.org/bookshelf/web-writing/ ).


Here are some of Dr. P’s favorite Media!

Favorite book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and so much P&P fanfiction.

Favorite movie: Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

Favorite TV show: Bones (2005)

Favorite videogame: AFK Arena – I am obsessed with casual games – this is my favorite mobile casual game with RPG elements.


What does it mean to Dr. Pfannenstiel to be an English and World Languages Scholar?

“When I stepped in as Graduate Coordinator there were several external pressures on graduate programs and graduate education. In the last five years those external pressures remain, but have shifted. In collaborative work with Dr. Kaitlin Mondello, we’ve found a focused attention on PhD programs and preparing PhDs for the reality of the professorate profession AND alt-ac positions. However, there is very little attention on regional, public, master’s granting institutions. We know our graduate programs are an important public good, we also know that students need different supports to support their work through the skill development required at the graduate level. When I began graduate school, the mentality was sink or swim. This doesn’t have to be the pedagogical approach. I was required to complete assignments, that I now see align with skills I’m using on a daily basis as a professor – bringing transparency to these assignments and overall curricular design is one of the most important decisions I’ve made as an educator. My goal is to work with all faculty, especially graduate faculty in the English & World Languages department, to bring transparency into our curricular design in ways that support graduate-specific skill development and professional development. Then, to continue collaborating with Dr. Mondello on publications and presentations so we raise scholarly awareness about the need to rethink approaches to graduate pedagogy. Essentially, I identified a need in a student population. I’ve devoted countless hours to research, presentations, grant funded projects, and hopefully in the near future publications to research and enact new pedagogical approaches to benefit learners. I think this is a really important way English and World Languages scholars carry our focus on the human experience into the real world. All areas of the English & World Languages department center the human experience in their research – I am extending those in specific ways. I see my research questions centered in the human experience. I see my research, presentations and grants as reflecting the scholarship valued by peers in the professorate. I see being a scholar as connecting my research to benefitting a community – specifically graduate students!”


Thank you Dr. Pfannenstiel for sharing your knowledge and commitment to your students!

Seth Ring Interview: Moving Towards Hope

Full-time fantasy author Seth Ring was able to join us this past week for a Q&A session to meet with students and answer questions about being a writer, building community, and to share insider knowledge about traditional and indie publishing methods. Seth has been publishing since 2018 and in 2021, he became a full-time writer. Now, with 25 books published and more on the way, Seth reflects on what he has learned, the communities he’s helped to build, and the sense of hope that is central to his works.

Seth is a Lit-RPG (Literary role playing game) fantasy author, drawing his stylistic and thematic design from conventions of game theory to shape his world-building and plots. He was initially drawn to this genre because he read a bad Lit-RPG novel and realized – “I can do a better job than this.” Seth leverages his base in Lit-RPG fantasy to expand into various other genres including traditional fantasy, horror, and western (as well as upcoming forays into Regency romance and utopian thriller) drawing inspiration from stories he read as a child that helped him learn to both escape and navigate the world. Seth describes his writing and publishing journey as initially “so much harder than he thought it would be” stating that there was a huge learning curve but that having a firm understanding of what you want, determining “where am I actually trying to go?,” is critical to creating an writing identity that is fulfilling. Whether you are mainly focused on commercial sustainability or artistic expression, Seth reassuringly asserts that “there are a million different ways to become an author.” Seth balances his ideals of writing between practical considerations and artistic sincerity, describing the reality of writing as a career occurring along a “sliding scale of money to craft” because there comes a time when a writer realizes “I wish I could eat this manuscript but I can’t.”

There are pros and cons to publishing on either side of the industry, with traditional publishers being outsold by Indie publishers but Indie publishers won’t put you in a bookstore. Seth cites the internet as a cause for the shifting industry which has “radically changed distribution but introduces some risk.” The internet is rife with pirating and AI copy-cats, but Seth isn’t worried about it mostly because even if someone reads stolen or plagiarized content, if they like it, they will most likely find their way to the source (ie Seth). In fact, this is how Seth gained his top three Patrons on his Patreon, so for Seth “Pirating is not necessarily a net loss because I’m going to keep writing better books.” He also encouraged writers to not be discouraged by the difficulties of modern day publishing, only to keep pressing on and continue writing because the “worst think you can do as a writer is to stop writing.”

Seth also emphasized that establishing a platform for engagement (like Patreon) is a key resource to building your reputation as an author and establishing a community. While Seth admits that there is an element of luck to growing an online community, he’s also found that consistency, time, and content strategy can make a big impact. For Seth, while the internet does pose some risk, the benefits are worth it because the internet offers a unique way for readers to “engage with the people who wrote the books we love.” This engagement is not only key to Seth’s strategy, but also influences to some extent the works he creates. On a practical level, Seth feels responsible for “carrying those stories forward,” creating a consistent experience for his fans by communicating with them about when to expect updates and new releases. However, on an artistic level, Seth says he has a “strong sense of ownership over all of his stories” and that a “story doesn’t have to go the way they want it to go.” In this way, Seth has built a fan-base of recurring readers, even though some may not always like his works—they keep coming back. Seth recognizes this pattern of readerly interest as something that ebbs and flows; “people enjoy something in a season of their life, not all are going to stay forever, but if they are engaging in a constructive way that’s great.” Ultimately, Seth says if something sticks with the reader after picking up one of his works, he considers it a success because “people need connection” and he feels “I can provide something at least” to help foster those connections.

It is the hope and courage drawn from connections—between characters, their worlds, or even the divine—that are at the core of Seth’s work. Some of Seth’s inspiration for writing is drawn from his own experiences with loneliness and isolation in which stories and the characters in them were his “first gateways to connection” and that “stories have tremendous power to reshape the narrative to what we tell ourselves.” For Seth, stories and later writing itelf were a way out of dark places, offering Seth a means to process the world and find hope and courage to continue moving into the future. His books now carry this purpose forward with the intention that “when we start allowing for connection in our perspective, hope naturally follows.”

Want to read Seth’s work? He recommends starting with Battle Mage Farmer: Book 1 Domestication that he describes as a really fun story and a good introduction to his style of storytelling.

You can read his books by purchasing them on his site (https://sethring.com/ ) or from alternate vendors like Amazon, or by borrowing them from the Lancaster Public Library System. You can even become a Patron (https://www.patreon.com/SethRing ) and get fast access to new chapters as they are released. You can interact with Seth and other fans on Discord (https://discord.com/invite/ygz8wfCECR ), Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/mrsethring/ ), YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/@SethRingWrites ), or even email him directly at seth@sethring.com

Events Next Week! Author Seth Ring and National Day of Writing

The ENWL Department has two events planned for next week. Come out and learn more about the publishing industry on Tuesday and celebrate Writing on Friday!

Author Seth Ring Visit

On Tuesday October 17th from 6:30-7:30 PM in the Reading Room in the McNairy Library, author Seth Ring will share his knowledge of the self-publishing industry. Seth is a successful science fiction author with a number of running series including the Titan Series and Battle Mage Farmer. You can check out his website at https://sethring.com/ and join us on Tuesday to learn more about the publishing industry.

National Day of Writing

Get ready to write! The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) has established October 20th as the National Day on Writing. We will be celebrating all things writing with an event on Friday October 20th from 12-2 in the Reading Room and Writing Center in the McNairy Library. From 12-1 we will have writing activities including word bracelet making, blackout poetry, creative writing games, and more. Then, from 1-2 we will have an open mic for everyone to share their work or the work of another author.

To sign up for the open mic, please scan the QR code on the flyer.

To learn more about the National Day on Writing click here.

Spooky Media Recommendations Fall 2023

With fall break upon us here are some spooky media recommendations from the ENWL department to bring some haunting charm to your break!


It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown (1966)

Recommended by Dr. Nicole Pfannenstiel, this Charles M. Schultz Peanuts classic follows the shenanigans of Charlie Brown and company as they go trick or treating and await the arrival of the Great Pumpkin on Halloween Night. Directed by Bill Melendez, the movie first aired on TV in 1966. Dr. P writes “So, it’s not spooky – but it is a great story about belief and care for our fellow human when our beliefs don’t match. It includes the usual subtle existential dread of most Charlie Brown stories making it incredibly relatable. My son always gets so excited for trick-or-treating, only to be let down when the whole event only lasts about an hour and a half. He can empathize with Charlie every year, while also seeing the care that others extend Linus while he awaits the Great Pumpkin.”

And while until 2020 it aired for free on TV for over 54 years every fall, Apple TV+ has now made it exclusive to their streaming service. So now you can access it through Apple TV+ for a fee and while they are having a free weekend to watch it (Article on how to watch for free 2023 ) you must possess an Apple affiliated device to access it.

You can also get it out from the Lancaster Public Library on DVD for free: We can wait for the Great Pumpkin together:)


Les Diaboliques (1955)

Recommended by Dr. Jill Craven, this 1955 film directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot is a psychological horror/thriller that “takes place at a French boarding school where the headmaster has an ill wife and a mistress who conspire to murder him, but things go awry….” Dr. Craven let us in on the cool fact that “this film was optioned by director Clouzot before Hitchcock could get it!” She also states that “it has a number of twists and turns that really make the film stand out, and the performances are super!” and that it is spooky in the similar way to the The Turn of the Screw, a novella by Henry James first published in 1898. You can access the film (with complete English subtitles since the movie is in French) for free on YouTube Watch it here!


What Moves the Dead

This novel, written by T. Kingfisher and recommended by Dr. Emily Baldys, strikes a balance between horror and humor. “Published in 2022, this novella offers a modern twist on Edgar Allan Poe’s classic story ‘The Fall of the House of Usher.’ Kingfisher cleverly updates Poe’s tale by adding ecological themes and an engaging nonbinary protagonist, Alex Easton. Alex must unravel a mystery to discover the unsettling secret that’s possessing not only their childhood friend, but the local wildlife and landscape, too.” Dr. Baldys writes that “I really enjoyed this book’s Gothic vibes, as well as its witty, bold protagonist. Plus, there are zombie rabbits, bleeding fungi, sleepwalkers, and a cranky British mycologist — what’s not to love? Hat tip to my student Liana Ockenhouse, who recommended Kingfisher to me; now I’m passing on the favor.”

It is available as an ebook through the Millersville McNairy Library Read me!

or as an ebook, physical copy, and audiobook through the Lancaster Public Library Check it out!


“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”

Heather Verani recommends Joyce Carol Oates classic short story that depicts a casual encounter with the uncanny. “Set in the 1960’s, this short story preys upon every woman’s worst fear. Filled with tension and female terror ‘Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been’ recounts 15-year-old Connie’s interaction with the odd and frightening Arnold Friend. With heavy imagery and symbolism, along with an ambiguous ending, this short piece of literature will leaving you guessing about what actually happened between Connie and Arnold. I first read this short story during my Sophomore year at Millersville in Dr. Rineer’s Stranger Things literature course. The fact that the buildup of terror and fear is palpable in the book is what scared me so much during my first reading of it, and it quickly became one of my favorite spooky stories.”

Here is a free pdf copy: https://www.npsd.k12.nj.us/cms/lib04/NJ01001216/Centricity/Domain/118/Where_Are_You_Going_Where_Have_You_Been.PDF


Over the Garden Wall (2015)

This one season animated TV show produced by Cartoon Network presents vignettes of two brothers lost in a mystical woods as they try to navigate (and survive) their surroundings, relationships, and fate itself. Combining whimsical storytelling and creepy characters with soulful jazzy musical numbers, this cult classic is a great watch on a fall weekend. From zombie pumpkin scarecrows and a horrible mythical beast, to bossy bluebirds and crooning bullfrogs, this exploration of unreality has it all. I’m drawn back to this show every time the weather starts to turn –it’s like a glowing lantern in the dark that helps keep the beast away.

Over the Garden Wall is currently available to stream on Hulu and on DVD from the Lancaster Public Library: Borrow me!

We hope you like our recommendations and have a wonderful, restful Fall Break!

Faculty Feature: Get to know Dr. Rea

The department of English and World Languages is happy to welcome the new Assistant Professor of Writing Studies, Dr. Josh Rea. Dr. Rea, who uses he/him/his pronouns, received his PhD in Rhetoric and Composition from the University of South Florida. Before this, he obtained his Master’s in English from the University of Louisville and his Bachelor’s in English with a concentration in Writing from the University of Mount Union. His field of study is the Rhetoric of space and place, with a focus on urban planning documentation and civic engagement. This semester, Dr. Rea is teaching Technical Writing, Business Writing, and Composition. Along with his teachings in writing, Dr. Rea enjoys reading in his free time. His favorite series, like many of our English majors, is the classic Lord of the Rings series.

When asked what it means to be an English and World Languages Scholar, Dr. Rea provided the insightful response that is highlighted below. He said:

“I see my job as a scholar of language as interrogating the ways that language is used to construct our lived world and to perpetuate inequities, as well as the ways that language can be used to work against those inequalities and better the world.”

We are so excited to see all the wonderful things Dr. Rea will accomplish in his new position, and the department is happy to have him as a new addition to English and World Languages.

Faculty Feature: Dr. Emily Baldys

Dr. Emily Baldys (she/her/hers) is an Associate Professor of English and our new Assistant Chair of the Department of English & World Languages.  She received promotion and tenure this summer and we offer our sincere congratulations! Her areas of interest and expertise include Victorian British literature, Critical Disability Studies, and popular romance. You can read her most recent publication “Imagining the ‘Survival of the Unfit’ in the Novels of Olive Schreiner and Mona Caird,” published this past spring in Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies here: http://ncgsjournal.com/issue191/baldys.html . She received her BA in English from Bryn Mawr College and her MA and PhD in English from Penn State.

Dr. Baldys is a fantastic professor both inside and outside the classroom, receiving MU EPPIIC Values Award nominations for her inclusive practices two years in a row. This semester she is teaching Early British Literature, Shakespeare, and ENGL 110 courses as well as leading independent studies for others. She is also continuing her role as the faculty advisor for MU’s ADAPT chapter. We are so proud and privileged to have Dr. Baldys teaching and working with us!

Dr. Baldys’s Favorites

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë is Dr. Baldys’s favorite book – you can read it for free online through the McNairy Library by clicking the link below.

Read Jane Eyre

Normal People is Dr. Baldy’s current favorite TV show – it is currently streaming on hulu.

And although it was difficult for her to choose, Ghostbusters came out on top for her favorite movie. She said: “I will never not watch Ghostbusters if it’s on.”

Ghostbusters is currently available for free on DVD from the McNairy Library. Click the link below to reserve it.

Get Ghostbusters!


What does it mean to Dr. B to be an English and World Languages Scholar?

“Practically speaking, it means I am lucky enough to talk about the books, shows, and films that I love with brilliant people every day! I think and hope it also means that my students and I are especially well equipped to critique the many texts that we encounter in our daily lives: that we might watch Barbie or stream Bridgerton or devour the latest BookTok must-read, and while we’re doing that we can not only hear the echoes of earlier texts but also think like a literary critic about the underlying messages and values that shape our world.”





Faculty Feature: Get to know our new department chair Dr. Mando

This fall semester, the department of English and World Languages welcomed a new department chair. Dr. Justin Mando (he/him), who has been a professor for the department since 2016, has already made many positive improvements and ideas within his first month as chair. This week, the department would like to highlight Dr. Mando and provide an opportunity to get to know him beyond the classroom.

Dr. Mando received his B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Vermont. He then received both his M.A. and Ph.D. in Rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon University. There are many different fields of study that he specializes in, including environmental rhetoric, rhetoric of place, discourse analysis, and composition studies. This semester, Dr. Mando is teaching a special version of the science writing course that is paired with Meteorology students taking climate dynamics. In connection with his interest in environmental rhetoric and science writing, his favorite book is Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard, a text that details the author’s exploration of life and nature.

Connecting with the theme of exploration, I asked Dr. Mando what it means to be an English and World Languages scholar. His response below highlights the importance of this field and why students need to have humanities courses. He states:

“I find this field meaningful for so many reasons, but what stands out to me the most right now is how we study and teach effective citizenship. For a democracy to thrive, we need citizens who are socially conscious, who can read and think critically, respectfully engage and challenge people’s ideas, and who are able to argue persuasively for the common good of all. We develop these skills by studying language, literature, and rhetoric.”

The department of English and World Languages is so excited to have Dr. Mando as our new chair, and cannot wait to see all the wonderful things he accomplishes within this new position!

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