In the fall of 2012, the Ball State English Department began a short series to celebrate and profile our newest faculty members. This week, the department continues the series of new faculty profiles by featuring Jeff Frawley, who joined our department this year. Jeff earned his M.F.A. at New Mexico State University in 2009 and was a Fulbright Scholar in Budapest, Hungary in 2011. Continue reading below to see Jeff Frawley’s interview conducted by English department intern Liz Palmer.
How has teaching abroad helped shape you as an educator?
The experience was fantastic in so many ways. I was teaching at the largest and one of the oldest public universities in Hungary, so even simply walking into the stately entrance of the main building in the center of Budapest felt like a magical experience. But more importantly, the opportunity to work with Hungarian students along with students from all over Europe and the world, often in their second or third language, required the development of different ideas for teaching writing and encouraging collaboration. I taught writing, creative writing and journalism there, and the ideas and writing that were shared were truly fascinating. It was a humbling experience as well, given that I certainly had my own anxieties about teaching in “my” language in another country, not to mention that I stood out as that bumbling foreign guy.
Do you have plans to teach abroad again? If so, where would you like to teach and why?
I would love to at some point in the future. I would really go anywhere, although I have always held a particular interest in and affection for Central and Eastern European countries.
You’ve had short fiction, reviews, and non-fiction work published. Can you tell me about which publication was you favorite and why?
It feels a little strange to say which is my favorite. I can say that I was honored to have a piece in the online journal Segue a few years back. I really like what they do: the magazine’s focus is in part on the teaching of creative writing, so with each piece they publish they ask the writer to include a brief essay explaining the origins of the piece, the approach to craft taken, the process of revision, etc.
What kinds of writing projects are you currently working on?
While living in Hungary I was also involved in research for a writing project that has been ongoing for a few years now. I’m working on a novel that is (loosely) based on a period in Hungarian history, namely the stretch of days during the Christmas holiday in 1944, just days before the Russian and German armies collided in the capital Budapest, which was ravaged during the battle. But I’m more interested in how the daily lives and rituals of the civilians proceeded during that usually festive week–when, in 1944, fighting could literally be heard going on beyond the hills surrounding the western part of the city.
I’m also pretty far along with another longer project as well, set in the Southwest, where I’ve also lived.
What other kinds of hobbies and interests do you have?
I love to get outdoors as often as possible, to hike, run, bike, etc. I’m also really passionate about all sorts of music, and actually have a music show on WCRD 91.3 on Wednesdays from 11 am-12 noon (yes, that was a shameless plug).
As far as writing-based interests go, I’m particularly fascinated with early 20th century Central and Eastern European writers, along with photography-embedded literature. I also am really interested in writing center scholarship.