English adjuncts start dialogue on creativity

Jessica Guerrucci — Managing Editor

When Garret Dell’s father passed, he said he found ways to heal through “ekphrasis,” or telling stories with his art and creating a sense of identity for Dell, but it was also what inspired his research.

“I plan on using it as a kind of reverse forensic sketch of figuring out who my father was,” said Dell, an English adjunct professor. “So it’s a process of identity, telling a story, but therapeutic for myself and my family.”

Dell was one of three English adjunct professors to share ideas at the English Department Creativity and Research forum on Oct. 30.

The forum included informal presentations by adjunct faculty,
and their scholarly and creative projects, followed by both feedback and a
dialouge on creativity.

As the professors listened, Dell spoke of how his father was a Vietnam veteran who suffered from PTSD that caused him to withdraw from his family and throw himself into his paintings. Due to his father’s lack of communication, Dell said he not only wanted to tell his father’s story, but also celebrate the artistic talent of combat Veterans.

Suzanne LaCroix, an English adjunct professor, shared her ideas about a book she wants to write. Abortion, dystopia and a split nation – were the general concepts she spoke about regarding her book.

“I want to make an argument about women’s rights to choose that is cohesive and explores all of the different viewpoints in a very honest way and doesn’t necessarily give more weight to one side,” said LaCroix.

She said she wanted to create a story where all different types of pregnancy issues arose and the overall premise would be that, in the not too distant future, the argument over a woman’s right to choose to terminate a pregnancy causes the states to split almost 50-50.

“In order to prevent further loss of life and a potential civil war over this issue that has become so divisive, congress agrees to a federal split,” said LaCroix, “so there is two different countries, essentially, because of this one issue.”

While still in the “discovery phase” of her research, other professors engaged in a dialogue and offered suggestions about what she might add to her story. One
of these professors was Shelley Stoehr- McCarthy, an English adjunct professor who also shared ideas of her own.

Unlike the other professors, Stoehr- McCarthy’s research was more focused on students and being in the classroom. She said she uses games to teach her students to improve sentence mechanics by going through different steps, similar to a building plan starting with forming a foundation.

“They’re really getting lectures in all of these games, said Stoehr-McCarthy,
“it’s just through the unpacking of the answers rather than giving it ahead of time for each game.”

According to the Adobe State of Create global benchmark study, it was found that more than half of those surveyed felt that creativity was being stifled by
their educational systems. However, through games such as “Grammar Go Fish” and “Sentence Hot Potato,” Stoehr- McCarthy said she has seen that errors in students work go down by 33 percent, based off errors that were made in their first and last papers.

McCarthy said these games help her build a sense of “classroom community.” She
said, by the time she asks them to create sentences on their own, she hasa lot of compliance when it comes to participation.

Overall, through the use of games, she said she just wants to show students that English can be enjoyable.

“One of the reasons I use games is to shake them up and make them feel uncomfortable,” said Stoehr-McCarthy, “and uncomfortable in a way that leads to laughter and fun.”

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