Heidi Nobles's Archive

Paul Varner Keeps Publishing Away!

0 Commentsby   |  10.03.11  |  Faculty Publications

Dr. Paul Varner spent last year seeing his Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Literature (Scarecrow Press, 2010) all the way through the publishing process.

Now he’s working on another, the Historical Dictionary of the Literature of the Beat Generation, coming from Scarecrow Press in 2012. He’s teaching a class on the topic this year, too, giving some lucky students a preview of his work on the post-WWII counterculture. I hope he doesn’t mind if the thought makes me want to buy a beret and read some poetry.

But then, as soon as he finishes working on the Beat Generation, he’s signed another contract—he’ll be writing on The American West in Film and Literature, a book to be published by Cambridge Scholar’s Press.

Thanks for keeping us on our toes, Paul, and for leading the way in scholarship. We’re excited to see your books take shape!

Cole Bennett’s Book Project!

0 Commentsby   |  09.27.11  |  Faculty Publications

Our beloved interim department chair, Cole Bennett, has been contracted to revise the next edition of Pearson/Longman’s Analyzing English Grammar, the textbook he’s been using for years in his Advanced Grammar courses.

Given recent evidence that using complex grammar contributes to mental health, Cole is giving us all the gift of more effective communication and clear thinking in our old age. Way to be a hero, Cole!

Watch for the 7th edition of the book, coming soon!


Welcoming Returning Faculty!

0 Commentsby   |  09.21.11  |  Faculty Spotlight

Our department welcomed several returning faculty members this semester:

  • Grace Hall and Julie Barcroft both finished their master’s degrees in May 2010 and taught part-time last year; this year, we’re delighted to have them teaching with us full-time.
  • Steve Weathers, who left us last year, has returned to his position, as well, and it feels great to have him back.
  • Finally, Suanna Davis is no stranger to ACU, but she has been away for quite a while! We think she ought to have a proper re-introduction for the many who have yet to discover how great she is!

Dr. Davis spent her undergraduate years at ACU, double majoring in history and English and taking enough hours to qualify for a minor in biology. She went on to earn her master’s from ACU. Shortly after finishing her Ph.D. at Purdue, Suanna came back to spend four years teaching writing at ACU before leaving to pursue other adventures for a while—including raising her two sons (now 20 and 18) and teaching at various colleges around Houston.

Now that she’s back, she’s starting out by teaching composition and British Literature. But she was also incredibly productive over the summer. An abridged run-down of her accomplishments:

Mastering target practice at a Project Appleseed weekend.

  • Attended the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, MI, where she gave a paper on Beowulf in the 21st Century to a packed room.
  • Presented in Houston at the Johnnie Harris Writers’ Conference on “Who Is a Hero and How Do We Know?” She looked at Beowulf and The Aeneid in light of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth presentation in The Hero With a Thousand Faces.
  • Wrote a chapter on Beowulf and The Aeneid for The Hero’s Quest from EBSCO. Her section is “Epic Quest II.”
  • Wrote a review of Bruce Thomas Boehrer’s Animal Characters: Nonhuman Beings in Early Modern Literature for The Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts.
  • Took part in a Project Appleseed weekend, where she learned to shoot her rifle better and discovered that even though she’s a history buff, there’s a lot about the Revolutionary War she didn’t know.
  • Moved herself to Abilene and started remodeling the new house she and her husband are making into home.

Suanna says that when she told her friends about returning to ACU as a professor, many of them responded, “Oh! Your dream has come true.” Apparently, she’s been very vocal about hoping to get back here. And we’re very glad to have her.

Welcome back, everyone. It’s going to be a great year!

The amazing kitchen was the biggest selling point of Dr. Davis's new house--if we're very good, can we come over for dinner?



Shelly Sanders’ Summer 2011

0 Commentsby   |  09.18.11  |  Faculty Publications

Now that the temperatures have plummeted into the 90s for our Texas fall (and despite the irony, we’re grateful!), it seems like a good time to celebrate some of our faculty accomplishments from the summer—starting with Shelly Sanders, assistant professor, specializing in creative writing, young adult literature, and sports literature.

Most of us know that Shelly is getting ready for the arrival of baby Heath Nathan Sanders, due in early October! She’s excited to introduce him to the department, and we’re so looking forward to meeting him.

But even while she’s been preparing for Heath, Shelly’s also been creating in other ways:

With the support of an ACU Summer Stipend, she’s been working on a project to help solidify and increase the sustainability of the Community Writers Workshop (a free, month-long writing workshop for members of the Abilene community). Her project is titled, “Incorporating Service Learning and Undergraduate Workshops at ACU into the Community Writers Workshop.” We’re really impressed with and grateful for all Shelly does to engage creative writing throughout the city.

She’s also had two pieces accepted for publication in Aethlon: The Journal of Sport Literature, so soon we’ll be able to read even more of her great work in print:

1. “Bodies in Accelerated Motion” is a short story about a lonely young woman who attempts to show hospitality to her friend and running partner, only to relive the night when she was left in the dust during a charity 5K and berated further by a drunk imbecile who looks remarkably like Albert Einstein.

Image from a production of "The Cuban Swimmer," taken from the Santa Fe Sentinel at http://santafesentinel.org/2010/04/06/santa-fe-takes-to-the-stage/.

2. “‘Mi Carne, Mi Sangre, Mis Ilusiones’: The Collision of Words and Worlds in Milcha Sanchez-Scott’s The Cuban Swimmer” is a critical paper centered on Hispanic playwright Sanchez-Scott’s 1985 experimental one-act play The Cuban Swimmer. I explore the way that the teenage swimmer Margarita’s physical body collides with the world of lo real marivolloso (the marvelous real), a term coined by Cuban essayist Alejo Carpentier, and how the miracle at the end of the play helps Margarita escape her father’s obsession with her mental concentration. Ultimately, breaking from the world of the present athletic struggle and into an alternate world of marvelous physicality—of dolphins, fish and her blood-drinking ancestor—resurrects her body in a new form that ripples with the play’s Latin Catholic imagery.

Congratulations on a wonderful summer, Shelly. We’re proud to know you!

Alumnus Update: Kris Heiderich, Teaching in Uganda

0 Commentsby   |  07.26.11  |  Student Spotlight

Kris Heiderich grew up in Brazil, where his parents have been missionaries for thirty years. Attending international schools K-12 (with one disorienting year in the U.S. during the 8th grade), Kris learned to love education, travel, and diverse community—but he didn’t know how those things would continue to play out in his own life.

"We are all kind of in the same boat, and we have an easy time communicating," says Kris of himself and his students at Heritage.

ACU was fortunate to be Kris’s home for college. He enrolled in 2006, and he says the school was an easy place to transition and find a sense of home. After his first year, he realized he wanted to join the English department, crediting his choice to the top-tier faculty and his lifelong passion for language arts.

While building his expertise in writing and literature, Kris also joined the education department to earn his teaching certification. By the time he graduated in May 2010, he was poised to take the world by storm as a dedicated and well-rounded teacher, following the example of his own teachers in Brazil.

“Once I graduated from ACU, I sent out my resume to schools around the world and also in Texas,” Kris says. But with high levels of uncertainty surrounding employment for Texas teachers, “I began to pray for direction about starting off my career abroad. In the last few weeks of summer, I received an email from Heritage International School in Kampala, Uganda. Two weeks later, I was starting my first day of school in Uganda!

“I am thankful to the ACU English department for how much they prepared me for the real world. The faculty is not only bright, but also very sincere in their approach to education. Not many other people I know left their undergraduate program knowing they had life-long mentors available to them back at college, but at ACU, I feel that I have support even now as I trek around Eastern Africa.”

At Heritage International School, about fifty percent of Kris’s students are Ugandan and the rest are international. “It feels great,” he reports. “We are all kind of in the same boat, and we have an easy time communicating.” Kris is returning to Heritage for his second year of teaching this fall. We look forward to hearing more updates soon.

The Republic of Uganda's National Flag

*We always love to hear from our graduates! If you have an update for us and your ACU English peers, drop us an email, and we’ll post details to the blog. For the next few months, you can email those details to Heidi Nobles at heidi.nobles@acu.edu. (And in the future, you can email those to our administrative coordinator, just as soon as that person joins us!)

ACU Faculty Work Together on Faith, Science, and the Arts

0 Commentsby   |  07.15.11  |  Faculty Spotlight

Fast Take: ACU professors in English, Theater, and Physics partnered this spring on an exciting project to promote interdisciplinary conversation—an important opportunity for both faculty and students.

* * *

For more than thirty years, the Christian Scholars’ Conference has hosted faculty from Christian colleges and universities across the country, welcoming rich conversations and important scholarship that those faculty members carry back with them to their classrooms. This year, the conference took place at Pepperdine University, themed around The Path of Discovery: Science, Theology, and the Academy. Keynote speakers included renowned physicist and theologian John Polkinghorne and Francis Collins of the Human Genome Project and the National Institutes of Health (and even the Colbert Report).

ACU faculty from across the campus presented on panels and participated in discussions that considered critical issues in contemporary science related to their disciplines—everything from theology to music to theater to, yes, literature.

Nancy Shankle, associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences, chaired a panel of five other faculty members from ACU and beyond: Matt Hearn and Kim Reed of Lipscomb University, Lisa Siefker Bailey of Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus, and Dawne Swearingen and Heidi Nobles of ACU. The panel, “The Uncertainty Principle: Teaching Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen,” promoted discussion of how faculty had engaged principles of physics in various non-science classrooms.

Nancy Shankle, Dawne Swearingen, and Heidi Nobles

To prepare for the conference, faculty members spent the spring 2011 semester teaching science-based courses in literature, writing, and theater. All the classes taught the play Copenhagen, a historical “what if?” drama playing with the science and metaphor of quantum physics in the WWII era.

At ACU, Dawne Swearingen and Heidi Nobles partnered to teach the play. Swearingen’s advanced directing students spent the early part of their semester directing scenes from the play for film and live performance; they then presented original and fascinating interpretations to Nobles’ first-year composition students. Nobles’ students grappled with the foundational elements of the play, including genre, characterization, and metaphor; many ended up writing research papers on issues related to nuclear physics and memory, two key elements in the play. A guest presentation from physics professor Paul Morris helped both groups of students better understand the intricacies Frayn works with in the drama.

The panel itself was the first time the faculty members were all able to sit down and discuss their experiences together. They compared successes and challenges and questions for the future. All emphasized the invigorating nature of taking on outside subject matter in their classrooms. Science and the arts are too often kept separate, but bringing them together allows for new grounding and energy in both.

The field of science writing itself is a rich one for students to explore in terms of career options. Schools like Johns Hopkins and MIT offer master’s degrees in science writing, and the job opportunities for strong writers who also know science well are fascinating—writers and editors are needed for scientific journals, research agencies, medical groups, and more. Based on job projections for the coming years (which reflect high needs for people working in the sciences, including in roles such as teacher and technical writer), students in the arts who also have facility in science should take seriously these interdisciplinary possibilities.

This panel opened up new opportunities for students and faculty to recognize those significant intersections, and we hope the work of the past few months will promote further scholarship from faculty and a new sense of possibility for students.