Film Club takes Toronto and its International Film Festival

This September, seven Millersville students traveled with Dr. Jill Craven to Toronto to join film industry professionals at the Toronto International Film Festival, which ran September 7-17th.

Millersville Students representing at TIFF on King Street in Toronto
Millersville Students representing at TIFF on King Street in Toronto

The group arrived in Toronto on the 8th, and they immediately started to view films and take in the film culture that surrounded them.  Overall, they viewed 12-13 features plus shorts, including

  • Kodachrome, with director Mark Raso and stars Ed Harris, Jason Sudeikis, and Elizabeth Olsen
  • Verónica, with director Paco Plaza and 16-year-old star Sandra Escacena
  • I, Tonya with director Craig Gillespie and stars Margot Robbie and Allison Janney
  • I Love You, Daddy with director Louis CK
  • Gala/Premiere for Mary Shelley with director Haifaa Al-Mansour and star Elle Fanning
  • The Premiere for Brad’s Status, with director Mike White, Ben Stiller, and cast
  • Midnight Madness film Mom and Dad, with director Brian Taylor, and Nick Cage with Selma Blair
  • Suburbicon with director George Clooney
  • Woman Walks Ahead with director Susanna White and starJessica Chastain
  • Submergence, with director Wim Wenders
  • Short Cuts with discussions by various directors
  • mother! with director Darren Aronofsky
  • Premiere of 3 Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri with director Martin McDonagh and stars Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell
  • Premiere of The Shape of Water with director Guillermo del Toro, and stars Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer

Each film screening had a discussion following where the directors and cast took questions from an interviewer and audience members.  The Millersville group found Aronofsky’s insights about mother! so fascinating that they are looking forward to seeing the film again when it opens this weekend.  Overall, the group found mother!, 3 Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri, and I, Tonya the most intriguing films of the festival.

In addition to the film screenings, the group attended an industry session featuring 3 female film directors, including Angela Robinson and Brie Larson, both of whom had films at the festival.  English major Rashna Yousef posed a great question to the directors, getting an extended personal response.  See Rashna’s question to Brie Larson and the directors’ responses on YouTube.

TIFF Higher Education’s Jessica Lam also gave the group a tour of TIFF Bell Lightbox and the Film Reference Library, which is available to all film researchers free of charge.

Falls Cruise
Rashna, Kayla, and Hunter after the Honrblower Cruise into the Falls

On the way back, the group stopped at Niagara Falls to take in one of the world’s most impressive natural wonders.  In addition, they checked out the kitschy town.

Overall, the trip was tremendous learning experience.  In addition to expanding our travel experience into neighboring Canada, the group negotiated a complex festival and even got to ask questions of directors like Darren Aronofsky and Brie Larson.

Niagara WalkStudents who attended included senior and Film Club member Hunter Barrick, future English teacher Zach Richardson, Kayla Rishell, Autumn Kandrick, senior Jordan Ettien, English major Rashna Yousaf, and Film Club president Spencer Goodrich.  Trips leaders were Dr. Jill Craven, Film Professor and Chair of English, and Kevin Ghaffari, SUNY Binghamton Fly by Night and Student Association Film Series programmer.

–Jill Craven

 

The world needs the next generation of Rachel Carsons

Pennsylvania native Rachel Carson transformed the world of scientific communication by taking a technical issue and making it public like no one had done before. Carson’s evocative writing remains a gold standard for those wishing to raise the alarm about problems related to the environment and human health. In her 1962 book, Silent Spring, Carson catapulted a problem previously contained within the scientific community to the center of public discussion. This problem was the use of DDT, a pesticide in wide use. Carson and other scientists found these chemicals to have devastating effects on life, from songbirds to humans. Rather than let scientists and politicians hash out a response out of the public eye, Carson wrote Silent Spring, a clear and effective account of these discoveries in the form of an apocalyptic narrative. The “silent spring” she wrote of would be the sound of spring absent of life if we did not act.

Rather than write to the world as a scientist using scientific discourse, Carson opens her book with an idyllic scene of peace and tranquility. Her first line reads, “There once was a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings.” Describing this pastoral setting, Carson quickly shifts to a blight that falls upon the community as “some evil spell” that kills animals indiscriminately. Capturing her readers’ minds, she explains, “No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it to themselves.” So begins a book-length appeal for humans to take notice and change their ways, an appeal that made an enormous impact on the issue of DDT and environmentalism more broadly.

Rachel Carson, Environmentalist and Science Writer
Rachel Carson, Environmentalist and Science Writer

Rachel Carson is a paragon of scientific writing. She both effectively communicated within her domain and, when the stakes were high, shaped public perception of issues that were otherwise invisible to people using rhetorical tactics well outside of the scientist’s typical set of strategies. Take this excerpt from Silent Spring that directly engages the ethical dimension of scientific progress:

“Some would-be architects of our future look toward a time when it will be possible to alter the human germ plasm by design…It is ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray.”

Is this any less resonant today? Substitute “insect spray” with any number of technical hazards created by “would-be architects of our future” and you can see the need for communicators that know how to engage citizens. Alternatively, we have many technologies to cherish that are the fruits of scientific progress, truly deserving of positive public attention. Like Rachel Carson, and perhaps like you, science writers shape public perceptions of scientific progress.

Not only do science writers shape public understanding of scientific progress, they also communicate effectively with other scientists. To advance your career as a biologist, meteorologist, physicist, chemist, or in any other science discipline, you must be able to write. The gears of career and scientific progress turn through published research findings and research grant proposals.

To help Millersville’s students achieve success as scientists and to open new doorways for students interested in being a liaison between scientists and the public, the English Department is proud to offer a new Advanced Writing course in Science Writing. This course will cover both the demands on scientists as they communicate within their fields and as they reach out to the public. If you find this particularly compelling, Millersville is also offering a new Multidisciplinary Studies (MDST) degree in Science Writing.

The world needs effective communicators of scientific progress and threat so that members of the public can be well informed of the issues that shape all of our lives. Just as Rachel Carson used writing to challenge an industry by making a technical issue a public one, you too can shape the world through science writing.

Have you always been fascinated by scientific discovery? Are you a scientist yourself? Would you like to learn about an up-and-coming field of study that could lead to internships and job opportunities? Are you looking to take care of that Advanced Writing requirement in a way that will directly impact your career prospects? If so, consider signing up for ENGL 319: Science Writing.

— Justin Mando

Update from Dr. Tim Shea in Kenya

Am I crazy or just adventurous?  Maybe a little bit of both, I suppose. After more than a decade since living abroad, I decided it was time for a new international adventure. In March I requested a two-year leave of absence from teaching English at Millersville University and I moved my family in July to Nairobi, Kenya, and it has been a whirlwind ever since! I am teaching secondary English and social studies at Rosslyn Academy, an international school that was built on a former coffee plantation. From the moment I arrived, I have felt at home here.

poets3I am surrounded by an array of wildlife from various kinds of monkeys to colorful hornbills and hummingbirds, from massive indigenous trees to dazzling flowers of all shapes, and I haven’t yet gone to see “The Big 5” yet (lions, elephants, buffalo, leopard,and rhino)!  I look forward to exploring Kenya with my family, as we discover this amazing country together, starting with a visit to the baby elephant orphanage and visiting The Great Rift Valley teem to life at sunrise. I even get to go on a 3-day school field trip to a volcanic lake!

Then there’s my new professional life. In the past three weeks since I have been back in the secondary classroom, I am both exhausted and inspired. I forgot how much energy 12-year-olds have and how I must teach them differently from the young adults with whom I usually work.

Nevertheless, I have found the work to be rewarding and fun. So far we have learned about anthropology by creating our own cultures and burying the artifacts for future excavation. We have been crafting board and video games around global explorers’ travels, and we have examined the world of mythology through superheroes and dramatic interpretations. I am already more sympathetic to our teacher education students now that I have stepped back in their shoes.

Besides my work at the school, I look forward to working with medical school students on their academic writing in a program with John Hopkins University and a local university. I also will lead local groups of Montessori and Kenyan teachers in professional development using drama-based pedagogy. Shortly, I also hope to assist teachers in Nairobi slums.

Needless to say, there is so much to do here –both personally and professionally–that my time here will fly by! I look forward to learning and growing and bringing a taste of my adventures back to Millersville when I do.

–Dr. Tim Shea

Lion in Winter free for MU students at Penn Cinema on Tuesday, September 6

Penn Cinema has joined up with Millersville English and the Film Club to present arthouse cinema the first Tuesday of every month.  Millersville students can get in free to these screenings by mentioning they are with the film club at Millersville.

The September 6th film is Lion in Winter, starring Peter O’Toole and Katherine Hepburn.  This is the story of Henry II, with amazing performances by both leads.  Film starts at 7 pm.Lion in Winter photo

Henry II: “Well, what shall we hang… the holly, or each other?” 1183, and it’s Christmas at the Plantagenets: Peter O’Toole’s heavily bearded king has sprung his wife, Katharine Hepburn’s Eleanor of Aquitaine, from ten years of imposed-by-him imprisonment to negotiate the succession among his sons, Geoffrey (John Castle), Richard, later the Lion-Hearted (Anthony Hopkins in his feature debut), and John (Nigel Terry: Excalibur, Caravaggio), with King Philippe of France (future 007 Timothy Dalton in his first film) on hand to kibitz – and then the scheming, backstabbing, turn-coating, shocking revelations, and nonstop barbed quips ensue. Adapted by James Goldman from his own play, Lion won three Oscars, for Hepburn (her third, and back-to-back with Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner), Goldman, and the music by James Bond composer John Barry, with nominations for Best Picture, Director, Costumes, and for O’Toole, four years after his nomination as Henry in Becket – two of his eight non-winning nominations). Eleanor: “What family doesn’t have its ups and downs?” (Film Forum)

Film Critic Roger Ebert gave the film 4 stars (out of 4) in his review, stating:

One of the joys which movies provide too rarely is the opportunity to see a literate script handled intelligently. “The Lion in Winter” triumphs at that difficult task; not since “A Man for All Seasons” have we had such capable handling of a story about ideas. But “The Lion in Winter” also functions at an emotional level, and is the better film, I think.

Discussion led by Dr. Jill Craven follows the film.

Kanopy: Free Films for MU

Millersville offers a free movie-streaming service to all faculty, staff, and students.  It has many great films, including much of the Criterion Collection (some of the best/most important films of all time in their best formats, with special features).

Check out Kanopy.  You log in with your MU email login and password and you get free films!  You can also trim films into clips for class presentations (there are a number of documentaries that would be useful).  These can be integrated into D2L forum posts, for example.  Make your presentations stand out with video.

https://millersville.kanopystreaming.com/

Millersville Noonan and SGRCA Grants Now Available

Noonan Grants

Students can earn up to $500 toward scholarly activities by applying for Millersville’s Noonan Grants.  If you have a trip, conference, or creative event  that requires funding, check out the Noonan grants to see if the activity qualifies for funding.

For more information, check out the Noonan Grant website and read the Noonan Guidelines.
The application is due on October 2, 2017 by 11:59 pm.

Please note: Typically, the committee has approved funding for active student participation in conferences and performance competitions, field trips, and programs bringing speakers/consultants/activities to the campus for the benefit of large numbers of students. Generally, grants are limited to transportation, registration, and admissions fees. The committee does not fund meals and lodging; these costs must be borne by the student or another sponsoring group. Noonan requests may not exceed $500.00.

Student Grants for Research and Creative Activity (SGRCA)

These grants are for research or creative projects for both undergraduates or graduate students.  Please review the SGRCA Guidelines for more information on the purposes, requirements, and deadlines for this grant.

The application is due September 25th 2017.

Types of Proposals Funded:
1.  Activities involving student participation, such as performances, competitions, or other presentations at state, regional, or national conferences/meetings. Admission, competition, registration, and transportation costs will be covered up to the maximum award amount.
2.  Support for travel involving a group of students to present research papers may also be requested.
3.  Computer runs / processing charges.
4.  Survey compilations / reproductions charges /mailing costs.
5.  Archival, library and museum fees for research purposes, with associated travel costs/mileage.
6.  Purchase of equipment, materials and supplies.
7.  Purchase of books, DVDs CDs, CD-ROMs, etc.
8.  Photocopies.
9.  Publishing page charges. (Attach verification)
10. Shared research or creative projects.

Scholarships App

Throughout our years here at Millersville, English professors have worried about how our students often have to split their time between learning and working.  As professors, we want our students to get the most out of our teaching, and it’s difficult to engage students who are tired or underprepared to do their best.  The English faculty often wished there was some way to make it so that our students didn’t have to work while taking courses.

While English doesn’t have the funding to free everyone from work, we do want to offer an opportunity that may help a significant number of you who are willing to take the initiative to find your own funding.  It’s called Scholly, a scholarship-finding application that English will now provide free to its students and that they will then have for their lifetimes (grad school awaits!).

To get this app, please email englishoffice@millersville.edu from your millersville email with your name and M#, stating that you are an English student.  You will be sent back an activation code that you can then use to set up your own personal Scholly account, customized with your unique qualifications. The rest is up to you. I do ask that if you score a scholarship, you let us know at englishoffice@millersville.edu—we want to know whether this app is useful for future students.

In addition to this app (free to you), the following sites are recommended by http://www.financialaidfinder.com:

  • FinancialAidFinder Scholarship Listings
  • FastWeb Database contains more 1.3 million scholarships worth over $3 billion.
  • College Board Database has over $3 billion in aid from 2,300 sources.
  • Sallie Mae American’s leader in college lending provides access to award-winning database with over $16 billion in scholarships from 2.8 million sources.
  • Scholarship Experts Forbes.com’s vote for best scholarship search engine.  2.4 million scholarship and fellowship programs totaling $14 billion. Customized list of scholarships that match student’s hobbies, interests and academic background.
In the hopes that this can help some of you find more time to enjoy reading, writing, viewing, learning, and culture in general.
— Jill Craven, Chair of English

Grand Opening of the Writing Center

Come join us for the Grand Opening of the Writing Center in the McNairy Library room 106 on September 18th at 4pm.  President Anderson will attend, and Associate Provost Adams will supply cookies (and Starbuck’s is right across the hall).  We hope this new location in the library will enable more students to work with Writing Center consultants to improve their prose.

The Writing Center can help with all sorts of writing, and work with students at all stages of the composition process (from prewriting to the editing phase).  Appointments with consultants last for half an hour, and students can either make appointments or drop in.  The Center also accepts online submission of papers if students want just written feedback.  For more information, see the Writing Center webpage.

The new writing center will open for business on Monday Sept. 11th.

Its hours:

    • Sun. 6:00pm-9:00pm
    • M-R 1:00pm-9:00pm

Students who are interested in becoming writing  tutors can go to the following link and fill out this application.
Find out more information by talking to Writing Center Director Dr. Bill Archibald in Chryst 104.

 

New Major: Science Writing

Millersville Offers New MDST: Science Writing (MDST Science Writing cut sheet)

Students with complementary interests in science and writing have a new path to take at Millersville, the MDST Science Writing. In this program, students will develop science specializations that they can deepen and put to use through writing. This program provides skills that are in high demand and that can help students become strong voices to support environmental causes, technological understanding, and science advocacy.

Today, many professional science organizations push their members to develop communication skills. The same is true for industries. By knowing both science and effective writing, students will graduate with expertise that is in high demand in careers as journalists, science & technology bloggers, communication specialists in medical and health agencies as well as governmental regulatory agencies. The energy industry and non-governmental organizations focused on the environment also need writers with a good grasp on science.

Science Writing On Site
Science Writing On Site

The MDST Science Writing will provide foundational understanding of two key cores. The first core provides journalism courses, including newly developed courses in Science Writing and Environmental Advocacy Writing. More English courses are also under development. The second core asks students to specialize in two of four science disciplines (earth science, biology, physics, and/or chemistry).

The MDST Science Writing draws from advisors in each of the connected science disciplines and is headed in English by Dr. Justin Mando. Dr. Mando, a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, was recently hired for his specialization in science writing. His research focuses on public engagement in scientific controversies, specifically the debate over hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania. He is also an avid fly angler and, since arriving in Lancaster County, has fallen in love with the Susquehanna River.

The MDST Science Writing will not only provide in-class skills, but also experiences in the field to work as both scientists and writers tasked with communicating findings to concerned parties. Dr. Mando plans to begin a Susquehanna River Project that invites interdisciplinary participants to engage with the river to raise awareness of threats, of its value to our community, and of the lessons it has to teach us as researchers and writers.

—-Dr. Justin Mando, Assistant Professor of Science and Technical Writing

 

Writing Summit 2017

What Happens after Freshmen Composition: A Writing Summit Focused on Transfer

Our goal for first-year composition, like the field’s collective goal, is to help writers develop and prepare students for the writing they will do in other college courses.

~Kathleen Blake Yancey, Liane Robertson, and Kara Taczak

On February 10th, 2017 the English Department held a Writing Summit to discuss and share approaches to teaching writing with the Millersville University community. For an ambitious first goal, we engaged with the question of transfer – how can freshmen composition support writing practices transfer to help students excel at writing tasks in their disciplinary courses?

The idea for this event began after a Spring 2016 Writing Across the Curriculum survey found that most disciplinary faculty feel students are underprepared for W courses. To address these findings, Writing Studies held a Writing Roundtable sponsored by the Center for Academic Excellence Fall 2016. This well-attended Roundtable provided space for disciplinary faculty to discuss the writing needs of students, especially in upper level writing courses.

To further this conversation, Kara Taczak, whose co-authored work Writing Across Contexts: Transfer, Composition, and Sites of Writing earned a 2015 CCCC Research Impact Award, shared her work on Teaching for Transfer as the keynote speaker at the Spring 2017 Convocation. She then furthered her discussion of key writing studies terms during the first workshop of the Writing Summit. Following her discussion Drs. Farkas, Archibald, Mano, Halden-Sullivan, Corkery, and Pfannenstiel worked with faculty to develop assignments to support students at Millersville University.

Each of the Roundtable Workshops offered suggestions for introducing assignments, discussing assignments, and working with student drafts to help faculty support writing within their courses. For all presenters, the goal was to assist faculty using writing assignments with helping students recognize their prior knowledge. These workshops generated amazing conversation about ways of helping students recognize writing situations. We discussed ways of helping students reflect on their previous learning – of the writing practices they developed in freshmen composition and other writing courses.

Dr. Taczak’s workshop pushed us to consider how to help students develop strong theories of writing, recognizing their prior knowledge that would actually support their academic writing during college.

Dr. Farkas built on that idea emphasizing key terms from her Transportable Writing Tool text that resonate with students at Millersville. Dr. Archibald explained the ways the Chryst Writing Center supports writing theory development, especially when students begin attending as soon as a writing assignment has been assigned. Dr. Mando discussed ways key terms from Teaching for Transfer in combination with science key terms can help STEM majors develop strong theories of writing that support science writing. Dr. Halden-Sulliven explored ways of helping students devel

Writing Example
Students Deja Scott, Heidi Furman and Cindy Sanchez designed a working definition of the Rhetorical Situation to support their writing development in Pfannenstiel’s ENGL 110 Spring 2017.

op an open mindset to support exploration and writing. Dr. Pfannenstiel provided ideas for incorporating digital writing assignments. Dr. Corkery described ways of helping students imitate disciplinary writing style. For each of us, the goal is to help students know which prior writing practices would best support their writing for a given writing task, to help students develop their own theories of writing. Discussing and implementing assignments that support a naturalized transfer of strong composition practices is just one way of supporting student writing on our campus.

As we move forward from this great event with new ideas and discussions, we’ll continue to consider how to develop strong curriculum to support writing practices transfer. I am developing a freshman composition curriculum that draws on the principles of Teaching for Transfer attending to the specific needs of Millersville students. As Dr. Mando and I explore this focus on key words to support student development of their own theory of writing, we’ll also help students develop multimodal practices to further support good writing. We continue to address the question that influenced the Writing Summit design, can freshmen composition help students recognize their own writing practices so they are more effective disciplinary writers.

We also recognize the need for this to be a collective effort. As a community, we must recognize writing as a practice, as ways of thinking and being that must be practiced regularly to help students attend to each writing situation they encounter. Strengthening students control over their own theory of writing in Freshmen Composition is just a first step to supporting and graduating strong writers from all our bachelor’s degree programs. We are excited for the possibilities and welcome the challenges that lie ahead!

—-Dr. A. Nicole Pfannenstiel, Assistant Professor of Digital Media

 

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