Megumi Hamada

Prof. Scalzo Publishes Book (And other March Good News)!

We’ve got a lot of good news this month, so we’re dividing it into faculty and student/alum accomplishments. Check out all the amazing things your friends and colleagues have done!

Faculty Good News

Prof. Emily Scalzo’s new book The Politics of Division was published on Mar. 27!

The Indiana Writing Project was awarded a $15,000 grant titled “2017-2018 SEED Invitational Leadership Institute to Invest in Developing New Teacher Leaders.” The money from this grant will be used to support summer programming for teachers.

The Indiana Writing Project was also thrilled to send two local teachers to Washington D.C. in March for the National Writing Project’s Spring Meeting. In their time in D.C., teachers Jeri Tarvin and Katrina Gibson met with legislators to increase awareness about the work of NWP/IWP. They shared student writing and examples of professional development happening at our site.

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Department Dialogue: What Does Linguistics Mean to You?

Ball State University professors Mai Kuha, Mary Lou Vercellotti, Megumi Hamada, and Elizabeth M. Riddle share what role linguistics has played in their life and what it has grown to mean to them.

Mai Kuha

Languages have always had a central role in my life. Three languages were used regularly in my family when I was a child. In my teens, I tried to teach myself Arabic, Malay, Mandarin Chinese, Old Norse, and Russian. I managed to get my hands on some books on linguistics somehow, even though no one I knew had ever heard of it.

I read about Washoe, the signing chimpanzee, who was about my age, and I came to regard her as a cousin I had never met. I read about the sentence “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously,” which is obviously very pleasing but was not presented for its aesthetic value, but for the purpose of showing that meaning and structure can be considered separately: the sentence is structurally fine but odd meaningwise. I began to learn that observing the precise details of how people say what they say can allow us to reach startling insights, to shed light on the inner workings of the human mind. Having always been introspective, I found it satisfying and intriguing to see a path towards understanding cognition more deeply, in a rational, systematic, evidence-based way.

For many years, I communicated with no one about most of these ideas. As an undergraduate, I tried to do the responsible thing and got a degree in computer science. Ultimately, I had the courage to come to my senses, and one day found myself in Bloomington, meeting with Dr. Kathleen Bardovi-Harlig to kick off my graduate work in linguistics at Indiana University. I remember nothing of that meeting, except that my gaze kept straying to a hanging on her office wall. There was text on it, a poem. The last line was shockingly familiar: colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

Keep on reading!

Dr. Megumi Hamada recommends “THE SCIENCE OF READING”

The Science of Reading (2010), edited by Snowling and Hulme, is a volume in the series Blackwell Handbooks of Developmental Psychology, published by Blackwell. This volume offers comprehensive coverage of most of the recent research
in cognitive and linguistic processes involved in reading.

For those who are fluent readers, reading seems to happen without much conscious attention. Although this may be true, the brain is still processing information from the given text. The Science of Reading illustrates how our mind works during reading in English and other languages. The book contains 27 chapters, which are divided among seven sections: word recognition processes in reading, learning to read and spell, reading comprehension, reading in different languages, disorders of reading and spelling, biological bases of reading, and teaching reading.9780470757635

The Science of Reading views reading from an information-processing point of view. Under this view, reading is considered an accumulation of simpler processing (e.g., letter, word recognition) built onto more complex processing (e.g., discourse comprehension).

During the 1970s and 1980s, when a top-down approach to reading was more prevalent, it was thought that readers do not need to pay attention to individual words. Reading was viewed as a “psycholinguistic guessing game” (Goodman, 1973), and the reader’s job was to hypothesize what a given text means based upon their own background knowledge. The information in the text, such as meanings of words, was believed to merely confirm the hypothesis, rather than be the main source of information for understanding the text. (more…)

Good News for April 2015

In the latest installment of the “Good News” series, the Ball State English department highlights the accomplishments of our faculty and students up through the month of April. 
Yes, we’re a little late. Finals are tough!

Faculty

Dr. Carolyn Mackay working in Yecuatla, Mexico.

Dr. Carolyn Mackay working in Yecuatla, Mexico.

Drs. Frank Trechsel and Carolyn Mackay have each received a sizable fellowship which will allow them to do a year of research in Mexico. The grant was part of a joint initiative between National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support fieldwork and other activities relevant to recording, documenting, and archiving endangered languages. Their project title is “A Dictionary of Misantla Totonac,” and it was one of just 232 humanities projects awarded in the United States and one of seven in the state of Indiana.

Dr. Pat Collier will be a Virginia Ball Center Fellow in Spring 2016. In his symposium, “Everyday Life in Middletown,” students will study and create a documentary film about everyday life in Muncie, drawing on the growing body of “theory of everyday life” and borrowing from the radical aesthetics of the revolutionary Mass Observation project in 1930s Britain. The project will thus partake in—and revise and expand—the tradition of “Middletown Studies.”

Dr. Mary Lou Vercellotti‘s article “The Development of Complexity, Accuracy, and Fluency in Second Language Performance: A Longitudinal Study” was recently published in Applied Linguistics, one of the top three linguistics journals in her discipline. This study is note-worthy because the results offer the field important evidence to inform language learning theories and will most likely inform future language-learning pedagogy.

Prof. Liz Whiteacre is the recipient of a 2015 Excellence in Teaching Award. She will be provided the assistance of an instructional development team and stipend for her project, titled “Building Community: Engaging Students through Literary Citizenship,” to redesign her ENG 308 Poetry Writing course. Prof. Whiteacre will also be recognized at the Fall Convocation.

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