I’m Lovin’ It; But Should I Be? a guest post by Ethan Arlt

Ethan Arlt is a graduate student in his first year of the Masters in Teaching program at SOU. He grew up in Southern California, and completed an undergrad degree in Business and Creative Writing at the University of Oregon. He loves it here in Southern Oregon. In his spare time, he likes to hike, write poetry, and play volleyball and board games.

“Love” is a strange, complicated word. In some respects, it is frivolous (McDonald’s, “I’m lovin’ it”) and in other contexts, such as between partners, it can be one of the most powerful expressions of affection toward one another (“I love you”). How can these two very separate instances be connected by a simple word? What could be the dangers and implications of loading such a semantically powerful word with so many meanings? In this paper, I will seek to understand the meanings of the word “love” by tracings its history of meaning and comparing it to one of its most similar counterparts, “like;” in doing so, I will seek to understand the implications of its widespread use in media, especially advertisements, and the potential dangers associated with using “love” when it relates to products or brands.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “love,” comes from multiple origins, and multiple meanings; the noun form traces its origins to Old Frisian, Old Saxon, Old High German, and also Gothic, and the verb form derives much of its use from Old English. Evidently, the word has a variety of origins, which match up with its variety of meanings. There are many root words, and therefore many meanings, some overlapping, so for the purposes of understanding the complexity of the word, I will highlight the root meanings that I feel are most pertinent and contain a semantically significant meaning. Some of these meanings of the noun form include: inclination, piety, willingness, hopefulness, agreeableness, friendship, and the pleasure one experiences for or through an act of goodwill. Its verb form consists of meanings such as: to desire, to cherish, and to become dear. Likewise, the current definitions reflect this array of meaning, as the primary definitions for the noun form include: senses relating to affection or attachment, affection toward a spiritual ideal or entity, a strong liking of something, and an intense passionate feeling toward something or someone (often including sexual desire). Most notably, the verb form contains meanings such as: “to show love towards…to caress..,” to love reciprocally, and “To have a strong liking for…to be devoted or addicted to” (Love, n.1.). While the most common definition seems to relate to the idea of desiring and cherishing, what’s interesting is what sets “love” apart from “like” – the idea of love as connected to piety, that it can be action, that love can be addictive, and that love is a form of reciprocal trust .

To further understand the complex idea of love, researcher Robert Sternberg delineates the word into three separate marking components: Intimacy, Passion, and Commitment. From each one, he describes eight different types of love, based on whether the three previously mentioned categories are fulfilled. These types include Nonlove, Liking, Infatuated Love, Empty Love, Romantic Love, Companionate Love, Fatuous Love, and Consummate Love, which represents the most “complete form” in which all three aspects of love are represented (Sternberg & Weis 119). Sternberg’s definition of love then attempts to break down the word, however it only does so in a relational, person-to-person sense, as the word still maintains its connotations of piety, and generalized feelings of inclination toward an object or brand. What’s interesting in Sternberg’s definition is the idea of commitment. To include commitment into the three categories of love is to elevate and highlight this notion that to love implies a bonding, one that persists over time. If a person is to love something, that person’s commitment toward it is just as important (definition-wise) as that person’s feelings of intimacy and passion toward it. Again, this is developed mostly for a person-to-person relational sense, but its implications should not be understated, as they may impact the efficacy of the word’s use, especially in marketing situations.

In Sternberg’s model, “liking” is included as a form of love, but it is absent of those important qualities of passion and commitment. In a purely definitional sense, too, it only relates to an indication of similarity (“I like to be around like-minded people), and overlaps with love in how it indicates agreeability or pleasure (“I really like that chocolate”) (Like, n.1.). “Like” is often used as a precursor to love, and it seems we also have the capacity to love without liking (“I don’t like my brother, but I still love him”), perhaps by hitting either one or both of the passion and commitment aspects of Sternberg’s model. What then can these slight differences tell us about the power of the word, and also about the effect of its usage?

In his study, Zick Rubin sheds light on this issue. He also attempted to define love, but chose to do by comparing it to “like.” People we like, he found, are those that we have admiration for, appreciate their company, and want to do things with. The connection for loving, however, had some other, deeper connotations. He found that couples in “love” tended to gaze into each other’s eyes more, included desires for contact and intimacy, and also included caring about the loved one’s needs as if they were one’s own (Rubin 265). Rubin’s research then highlights and confirms one of the important differentiations, which is also touched on in the formal definitions – love is not only a process of attachment, but when we attach via love, we are connected to the desires and needs of the other. In this way, love is a reciprocal act, as opposed to liking, which is absent of this kind of reciprocity. This idea of reciprocity also has the implications of action. If one is to care about another’s needs as much as one’s own, then this could be a prelude to loving action. Love, then, as opposed to like, carries more inclination toward action.

There is, along with an action-orientation to the word, also a connection to trust. In their study, Hatfield and Rapson distinguished and two types of love – passionate love, and companionate love. Passionate love is love that begins with intense feelings of emotion, as well as sexual attraction. Companionate love, on the other hand, is love that is based on mutual respect, caring and affection, and trust. Essentially, then, semantically, love can connote both a feeling of energy, and also of long-term trust (Hatfield & Rapson). Love then, unlike its pseudo-synonym “like,” is not simply a word of agreeability or sameness, it connotes commitment, energy, action, reciprocity, and trust.

If this is true, then how can we begin to understand the word’s usage in our current everyday lives, and the effect it might have? On a micro-scale, its overuse has the potential to dilute its meaning. If the word is frequently used in its sense of agreeability, it has the potential to reduce its meaning when its other connotations are needed most, in conveying the deepest form of affection for another. On a broader scale, we can postulate and examine the influence that the usage of this word might have on people as it connects to brands and objects.

In her book, Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel, Jean Kilbourne discusses this very effect; she states, “Advertising encourages us not only to objectify each other, but also to feel that our most significant relationships are with the products we buy. It turns lovers into things and things into lovers and encourages us to feel passion for our products rather than our partners. Passion for products is especially dangerous when the products are potentially addictive, because addicts do feel that they are in a relationship with those products” (Kilbourne 27). These kinds of connections of loving relationships to brands are prominent. Take for example, McDonald’s popular slogan “I’m lovin’ it.” Because of those various connotations with love – trust, action, attachment – through its use of language, the brand is subtly developing a relationship with the audience. It’s not simply that the brand is agreeable or enjoyable; rather, the slogan encourages the audience to feel connected to the brand on a deeper level, to care about its well-being, and to take action to ensure that well-being.

One study proves that people can indeed feel a type of love toward a brand (and that love is delineated into multiple aspects), as it shows that both US and French consumers show aspects of love toward brands, specifically in the realms of passion and pleasure. However, what’s interesting to note is that French consumers relate to their brands by saying they “like” or “adore” them, while American consumers explicitly use the word “love.” In the same study, French consumers were more likely to align with the memory (inciting positive nostalgia) and trust aspects of their relationship to the brand, while American consumers were more likely say they feel attached to a brand (Albert, Noel, Merunka, & Valette-Florence 13). While this data is not entirely conclusive, it is interesting to note “love’s” usage toward brands in the US, as opposed to the French words such as “like” and “adore,” and what implications that might have for what level of attachment (or addiction) we have to our products. It is entirely possible that “like” and “adore” connote different meanings, and therefore foster a different kind of brand relationship.

Love, then, is evidently a semantically powerful word, connected to action, trust, and deep attachment. Because of its power, it seems worth considering its current usage, especially in forms of media and advertisement; it is a word that can be so ambiguous, so apparently surface-level, and yet, one that we desperately need to describe our deepest affections.

Works Cited

Albert, Noel, Dwight Merunka, and Pierre Valette-Florence. “When consumers love their brands: Exploring the concept and its dimensions.” Journal of Business research 61.10 (2008): 1062-1075.

Hatfield, Elaine, and Richard L. Rapson. Love, sex, and intimacy: Their psychology, biology, and history. HarperCollins College Publishers, 1993.

Kilbourne, Jean. Can’t buy my love: How advertising changes the way we think and feel. Simon and Schuster, 2012.

“Like, n.1.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, June 2017,

www.oed.com/view/Entry/46809760. Accessed 26 November 2017. “Love, n.1.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, June 2017, www.oed.com/view/Entry/110566. Accessed 26 November 2017.

Rubin, Zick. “Measurement of romantic love.” Journal of personality and social psychology 16.2 (1970): 265.

Sternberg, Robert J., and Karin Weis, eds. The new psychology of love. Yale University Press, 2006.

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An Interview with Asya Pereltsvaig, co-author of The Indo-European Controversy

Asya Pereltsvaig received a PhD in Linguistics from McGill University in 2002. Specializing in Slavic and Semitic languages, she has taught at Yale, Cornell and Stanford University and is the author of three books: Copular sentences in Russian, published by Springer and Languages of the World: An Introduction and, with Matin Lewis, The Indo-European Controversy, published by Cambridge University Press.

Ed Battistella: I really enjoyed reading The Indo-European Controversy. What prompted you and your co-author Martin Lewis to write this book?

Asya Pereltsvaig: Thank you for your kind words about the book, Ed. Martin and I were driven to write this book by what we saw as an assault on the entire scientific discipline of historical linguistics, arguably the oldest field of linguistic science. We strongly believe that true scientific progress can be achieved only building upon previous work. Yet, there’s an entire body of work now whose starting point is a wholesale dismissal of what historical linguistics has achieved in the preceding two and a half centuries. Not paradigm change, but dismissal. That trend worried us. Even more so, we were concerned about the popular appeal of said body of work, the popularity it had gained in the media. In the era of “fake news”, this is a prime example of “fake science”. That’s why we wanted to sound an alarm, and why we intended the book to be read not only by specialists in the field, and not even primarily by specialists, but by the general public as well.

EB: You note that the history of IndoEuropean has been steeped in race and ideology since its inception. Could you discuss an example or two?

AP: The prime example is, of course, what happened to the idea of Indo-Europeans, or Aryans, in the twentieth century. This scientific construct was taken out of context, in fact out of the academic environment, misinterpreted and placed as a cornerstone of the racist ideology of Nazism. For Nazi ideologues, Aryans were not just speakers of a long-ago dead language, a scientific construct of sorts, but a race, and a superior one at that. We all know what tragedy that instance of ideologizing a scientific concept led to. But the conflation of race, or blood, and language started long before Nazism. Already in the middle of the nineteenth century, people like Arthur de Gobineau claimed that Aryans were a race, one that founded many civilizations in the Old World, and perhaps a few in the New World as well. According to Gobineau, the Aryan race later mixed with other races and consequently was in danger of losing its purity and, with it, its superiority. It is easy to see how these ideas led to the ideology of Nazism. In the book, we warn time and again against the conflation of language and “blood” (be it construed as race or DNA), echoing Max Müller’s sentiment that “an ethnologist who speaks of Aryan race, Aryan blood, Aryan eyes and hair, is as great a sinner as a linguist who speaks of a dolichocephalic dictionary or a brachycephalic grammar”. But while “race science” pretty much ended (at least in the West) after World War II, the conflation of biological attributes (the “blood”, DNA, or “race”) with cultural attributes such as language or ethnicity continues to this day. It’s become very popular to get tested for one’s genetic ancestry, but I think many people completely misinterpret the results of such tests as showing one’s ethnicity, a cultural rather than biological concept. Similarly, most people who speak an Indo-European language today are not biological descendants of the original Indo-Europeans, but the cultural importance of the latter cannot be underestimated.

EB: Your book also offered a fascinating discussion of different theories of the spread of Indo-European, including one related to cannabis cultivation, which was new to me. What was that about?

AP: I don’t know if I’d call it a “theory”, but there is this idea, originally from the anthropologist blogger Al West, that the spread of Indo-European languages was stimulated by trade or exchange of such intoxicating substances as cannabis or what the Rigveda calls soma. Geographically speaking, West’s idea aligns with what we called the Revised Steppe Theory: that the Indo-European languages originated in western Eurasian steppes (roughly, present-day southern Russia). Most scholars who subscribe to some version of the Steppe theory describe the contacts between the original Indo-Europeans and their non-Indo-European neighbors, who were probably sedentary farmers, as driven either by violent attacks on the part of the Indo-Europeans or by trading horses (presumably, domesticated first by the Indo-Europeans) and other animal products. West suggests that the spread of cannabis, and of other recreational or spiritual drugs, could have been a factor in the contact between the original Indo-Europeans and their neighbors. We mention this idea in the book in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek manner, but the goal is serious: to show that the Steppe theory does not automatically mean that the Indo-Europeans were marauding warriors brandishing blood-drenched swords. Maybe they were much more peaceful pot-smoking proto-hippies.

EB: You mention several misconceptions in the modeling associated with Russell Gray and Quentin Atkinson, which proposes an Anatolian homeland. What is the biggest flaw, in your view?

AP: The biggest flaw of the Gray-Atkinson school of computational phylogenetics, we think, is exactly what prompted us to write this book in the first place: their wholesale dismissal of foundational facts about language change and language relatedness. As far as we can tell, their work is driven by the idea that a computer can give a better answer than two centuries of research by human scholars ever could. While we are not against computational linguistics in general, or computational methods in historical linguistics in particular, we strongly believe that a computer can give an answer only as good as the algorithm it uses and the data that serves as its input. In our book, we stayed out of discussing the computational algorithms—there’s a separate body of work that deals with that issue—but we discuss in great detail the kinds of data that the Gray-Atkinson school uses, be it linguistic data or geographical data. One of our biggest criticisms is that the Gray-Atkinson research program relies completely on lexical material. While they claim to take into account lexical borrowing, we show that a fair amount of it might have slipped between the cracks of the model anyway: it is exactly those languages that are known to have borrowed many words from other languages that are misanalysed as differentiating earlier than we know from the historical record, from analyzing grammatical changes, or from genetic findings. A prime example of that is Romany, the language of the Roma people. According to the Gray-Atkinson model, it differentiated from other Indo-Aryan languages around 1500 BCE, while other research in linguistics and genetics points out to a much later date, around 1000 CE. That’s a gap of two and a half millennia! The biggest reason for this erroneous dating of the Romani split, we think, is that this language borrowed a great deal of its vocabulary, including basic vocabulary, from other languages: Greek, Armenian, Persian. In other words, it’s distinctive because of extensive horizontal transfer, not early diversification. Other languages that the Gray-Atkinson model erroneously treats as having separated too early include Russian and Romanian, both of which also borrowed heavily from other languages.

EB: With respect to Indo-European studies, what stills needs to be done? What are a few of the key open questions?

AP: It is fascinating that the Indo-European question has been studied for so long and so extensively, and yet so much still has to be figured out. One of the key open questions, I think, is the mid-level organization of the family. Since the late 1700s, it’s become pretty clear that this wide range of languages, extending geographically from Icelandic to Sinhala in Sri Lanka, all belong to one language family. Low-level organization of the family—within the so-called “benchmark groupings” such as Germanic, Celtic, Romance, Slavic and so on—is also pretty well-understood. However, there’s less agreement as to how these benchmark groupings relate to one another: for example, are Slavic languages more closely related to western European groupings like Germanic or to Indo-Iranian languages? How do Greek, Armenian, and Albanian (each of which forms a benchmark grouping of its own) relate to the rest of the Indo-European family? And so on… This is the area of Indo-European phylogenetics where novel approaches are most welcome. However, approaches such as that of Gray and Atkinson, which fail to reproduce the low-level organization of the family, are hardly reliable to give us answers about the mid-level organization.

EB: What else are you working on?

AP: Lately, and partially as a result of working on this book with Martin Lewis, I got interested in language contact. As I mentioned above, contacts between languages cannot be overlooked when one examines language change. And yet, contact linguistics is a relatively new field and there’s still a lot to be done there. Being a syntactician by training, I’m particularly interested in the effects of language contact on grammatical changes. The specific empirical problem that caught my attention is the historical changes in the syntax of Yiddish, a language that my grandparents spoke but which, sadly, got lost somewhere between our generations. Besides this personal connection to the language, my research was driven by the fact that Yiddish is a prime example of language in contact. The specific phenomenon I’m investigating is the extension of the Verb-Second model from embedded to main clauses. Like so much that’s happened in Yiddish once it spread to Slavic-speaking territories in Eastern Europe, this phenomenon was suggested to have originated from contact with Slavic languages. But… Slavic languages do not have the Verb-Second model in either main or embedded clauses, so it seems paradoxical that they would produce such an effect on Yiddish. Also, I was intrigued that this happened only in Yiddish but in no other Germanic variety spoken in Slavic-dominated areas. This research led me to build bridges between historical linguistics and historical, geographical, demographic, anthropological, and genetic research, again linking with the Indo-European book that Martin and I wrote earlier.

EB: Thanks for talking with us.

AP: Thank you for inviting me to speak about the book. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.

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Grad School: An Interview with Jenean McGee

Jenean McGee

Jenean McGee was a graduate student and First-Year-Writing Instructor at UMass Boston. She was a Ronald E. McNair scholar at Southern Oregon University, graduating in 2015 and completed her Master’s degree in American Studies in 2017.

Ed Battistella: Tell us a little about your graduate program?

Jenean McGee: My graduate program was a two-year Master’s program at the University of Massachusetts Boston in the interdisciplinary subject of American Studies. The program is centered around six core courses that that focus on the ideas that surround the meaning of culture, citizenship, race, gender, sexuality, class, and politics in the context of the United States.

EB: What sorts of things are you reading and working on?

JM: I have recently graduated, however, as a grad student I was introduced to a wide variety of scholarly text. In my first year I on average I read three books a week. Out of the relatively long reading list I have narrowed down three texts that I enjoyed the most. The three are David R. Roediger’s Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class, Eric Avila’s Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles, and Peggy Pascoe’s What Comes Naturally: Miscegenation Laws and the Making of Race in America. I have selected these three texts because of their interdisciplinary scholarship that traces systemic racism in the United States through cultural history that focuses on legislation, popular culture, and democracy.

EB: How has your experience so far—-at SOU, as part of the McNair program, and at UMB–shaped your career goals?

JM: My experience so far has been rather challenging, and exciting. As a student I have always struggled with my writing. I have picked disciplines that I am passionate about, but have all been writing intensive. At SOU as an English major I often struggled when it came to writing my papers. I have always been able to understand course material and verbally communicate however, articulating my thoughts on paper has been my biggest challenge. At UMass Boston I have experienced similar issues. The McNair Program along with my mentor Prof. Alma Rosa Alvarez encouraged me to continue on my academic journey by believing in me, when I found it hard to believe in myself. They showed me that my challenges are part of my journey, and that I have nothing to be ashamed of. Thus far my academic journey has shown me that I belong in academia. As for my career goals I wish to earn my PhD and continue on in academia as a professor in the field of Cultural Studies. Beyond teaching, my goal is to mentor students. I am passionate about helping others see their true potential and aiding in an academic journey that is unique to them. No two students are the same, and my aim is to continue to promote an academic culture that is inclusive and supportive of “non-traditional students.”

EB: You were also a graduate assistant. What did that entail?

JM: Yes, I was a graduate assistant. For my first year at UMass Boston, I was a teaching assistant for several lower division courses. As a teaching assistant my role in the classroom varied depending on the professor I was aiding. Most of my job as TA entailed grading papers, and holding office hours to help students with their papers and understanding the course materials. For my second year I was given the opportunity to work for UMass Boston’s Center for the Study of Humanity, Culture, and Society. The Center put on events that showcased various aspects of interdisciplinary work within the Humanities. There I aiding in organizing and hosting events, and managing the website.

EB: What has been the most interesting part of your graduate work?

JM: The most interesting part of my graduate work thus far has been working closely with professors and cohort members to further develop my research interests. I have found that brainstorming with my peers and professors allows the creation of more innovative research all together.

EB: What’s been your academic focus? How it changed at all since you began?

JM: My academic focus in my Master’s program has been centered around African American history particularly African American popular culture. Throughout the program my focus has developed to encompass researching social media platforms and the role they play in forging bonds between African diasporic women.

EB: You lived most of the life in California and Oregon. How did you like Boston?

JM: I enjoyed my time in Boston. I particularly enjoy the academic atmosphere and the rich history; however, I could do without the cold weather.

EB: What’s next for you?

JM: My next to is a PhD program. Last spring I was accepted into the Comparative Ethnic Studies PhD program at the University of Colorado Boulder. They were unable to secure funding for me for the 2017-2018 academic school year. However, I deferred my acceptance and am currently waiting to hear about funding for the 2018-2019 academic year.

EB: Any advice for potential grad students?

JM: My advice for potential graduate students is to have confidence in yourself, build strong relationships with faculty and peers, and enjoy the journey; it is not a sprint, it is a marathon.

EB: Thanks for talking with us.

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An Exit Interview with Bill Gholson

Bill Gholson is from Hoopeston, Illinois. He graduated from Eureka College and came to Southern Oregon University in 1994, after completing a Master’s and PhD in English at the University of Oregon. A former high school English teacher, he has served as English Department Chair, directed the University Writing Program and the Master’s in Management program and has published on Kurt Vonnegut and on rhetoric. In 2017 he was a winner of the Outstanding Teaching Award at Southern Oregon University and he retired at the end of 2017.

Ed Battistella: How did you make your way to Oregon and to SOU?

Bill Gholson: My wife earned her PhD at the University of Illinois and took a job at the U of O. We moved to Eugene. I continued teaching high school for three more years in Monroe, Oregon and then made the decision to apply to the English PhD program at U of O.

EB: Do you remember what you taught in your first year at SOU?

BG: I had a two course releases for directing the writing program, so I taught one course in Wr. 122.

EB: What else stands out from your first years?

BG: One of the things that most graduate programs in composition and rhetoric will teach you is that you should never direct a writing program before getting tenure. But, Don Reynolds, Chair of the English program called me up and asked if I would direct the writing program right away. Of course I said yes. Taking the job meant that my wife and I would both get to teach in Oregon, although we taught in separate towns for the first seven years I was here.

EB: How has your teaching evolved over the years?

BG: I am not afraid of letting a class go where it goes.

EB: You recently turned to writing poetry? How is that going?

BG: Well, I hope to spend more time on it now that I am retired. I love playing around with the lines and the language.

EB: You are known—renowned actually—for continually developing new courses. Is there anything you still wish you could teach? Or teach again?

BG: I love teaching topics courses for the very reason that I can teach new topics every term. I’d love to teach Moby Dick again.

EB: What were some high points of your time at SOU?

BG: Directing the University Colloquium; working with students; winning Distinguished Teaching Award. Teaching with an amazing group of professionals who are way out of my class. Surviving, barely, my term as chair, and developing rhetoric courses for the creative writing program; along with Tom Nash, designing the Decker Writing Studio; petitioning for and creating the new position of Creative Writing Director; joined WPA; held state-wide composition conference on the SOU campus.

EB: What’s your favorite thing about the academic life? Your least favorite?

BG: I love the freedom of designing courses and of more or less having the freedom of my own classroom. So, freedom is my favorite thing. Second would be having inquisitive students. My least favorite thing is the new mania for measuring and monitoring outcomes. I consider this a low point for education. Students should understand what the expectations for a class are, but the kind of evaluations going on today are more complicated than ever. I think the complicated nature of the outcomes and the forms for outcomes and the forms for the forms for the outcomes becomes the reason for teaching. I really hate that administration has less and less faith in their faculty and more and more faith in the mathematization of the world. Also, I think it is too easy for bullies to cause internal problems in programs without any recourse for the bullied. I speak from experience.

EB: What are your plans, post-SOU?

BG: My plans are nebulous. The decision to retire a little early came so quickly. I have a million books I want to read. I really would like to publish at least one book of poetry and I hope it is my book of morning consolations.

EB: Thanks for talking with me. Don’t be a stranger.

BG: Thanks for talking with me. What was your name again?

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We’re All Victims of This Unavoidable Internet Trap: What You Need to Know…A guest post by Elizabeth Raynal

Elizabeth Raynal is a senior at Southern Oregon University, studying English and Outdoor Adventure Leadership

As the internet expands into a virtual marketing front, businesses are shifting their outreach tactics subtlety, yet more aggressive and effective. Any social media sight open to advertisers is littered with click bait headlines, and as technology advances, the headlines are getting harder to resist. Linguistically, there are a multitude of click bait approaches, often accompanied by digital attractions intended to maximize reader curiosity. This paper dissects the psychological appeal to click bait, and what journalists are doing to increase reader interest.

We’re All Victims of This Unavoidable Internet Trap: What You…

This statement is just an example of what many psychologists and linguistics have studied in order to understand why certain online headlines and posts become so dire to read (or watch) by online users. The internet has become a leader in communication and is constantly advancing to share more information to more people. And through the invention of social media, an immeasurable number of businesses and media networks have developed a new way to increase consumers and revenue—Clickbait. According to the Journal of Social, Technological, and Environmental Science, “Click Baiting is one of the many strategies used by online news journalists with the intent of making their headlines more attractive and, therefore, obtaining more clicks” (Alves 197). This new phenomenon shows little academic research or well-developed data; however, scholars have concluded that the formula behind clickbait includes forward-reference strategies and relatable terminology which urge readers to satisfy their curiosity and succumb to headline links.

While we scroll through various forms of information-based social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, there is one factor that predicts our next click: Curiosity. According to the Educational Psychology Review: “More than half of definitions [on curiosity] included the need for knowledge or information as a defining feature of curiosity. This suggests that thinking and reasoning about the knowledge one has and the knowledge one desires may be required at either a conscious or automatic level in order for curiosity to arise” (Grossnickle 52). One must measure the information they know in accordance with what they want to know, then the level of curiosity will be determined. This is where journalists publish articles that appear like never before seen information to intrigue readers. For example, W Magazine posted an article titled: “The 25 Most Daring Dresses of All Time” (Petrarca 2017) in reference to celebrity award shows. The awards had already been aired, but the article was posted just after the season was wrapping up in January, so it was still a relevant topic. Readers may have seen an award show and wanted to relate to what they had seen, or were curious about what they may have missed. An article as menial as this, in relation to hard news, still catches the attention of readers. This is a concept psychologist George Loewenstein explores: “The key to understanding curiosity seeking lies in recognizing that the process of satisfying curiosity is itself pleasurable” (Loewenstein 90). This means that by coming to a resolution, one experiences relief and gratification. W Magazine readers likely have shown interest in similar media genres, and journalists used linguistic tactics to heighten their curiosity and lure them into reading such articles.

The most common form of click bait occurs in what linguists refer to as forward-reference. Jonas Blom and Kenneth Hansen explain that, “forward-referring headlines are considered phoric because the reader needs to locate the entities that are being referred to later in the full text or discourse, i.e. ‘needs to look elsewhere’ in order for the headline to make sense” (Blom & Hansen 92). Most headlines point readers in a specific direction, but intentionally omit the main point of the article. This arises curiosity and urges people to read further. The art of forward-referencing is separated into two factors: Deixis and cataphora. Both are similar tactics pointing to a discourse, only in different ways. Deixis is when, “the pronoun can be regarded as a sort of teaser, an information gap (88). For instance, This is How to Save Money While Traveling, engages readers on wanting to know what this is; how to save money. Cataphora, though also employs the use of pronouns, points readers to a single conclusion: ‘The greater ‘the distance’, so to speak, between 3PP [third person pronoun] and NP [nominal phrase], the greater an effect of suspense and anticipation (88). If an article were to say, He Traveled Around the World for Three Years, and Never Spend more than…,” he is the cataphora. Readers firstly want to know who he is, then how he did it. As a bonus, ellipses act as a form of deixis; a sort of cliff-hanger to increase suspense. The more ambiguous the relationship between the prnoun and the event is, the greater the information gap and the more change of readers submitting to click bait.

In addition to forward-reference, journalists use trendy language to connect with their readers. Slang words, although too unreliable to deem academic, make up the dialect in groups of a particular environment. According to Connie Eble in her book, Slang and Sociability, “slang is within the ordinary competence of a language user. Second, the social potential inherent in language is actuated and intensified in the use of slang” (Eble 2). Essentially, slang words are expected to be understood by the speaker and receiver due to common group association, and, slang elevates the semantics of a word. In social media, where posts are generally informal, journalists use slang as a tactic to relate to their readers. In Refinery29 Magazine, one headline reads: “83 Dope Things Coming to Netflix in December” (Farley 2017). In this statement, Dope, Things, and, Netflix could all be considered current slang words as of 2017. Readers of Refinery29 are generally young adults who qualify to fit in to the group associated with these terms. Therefore, young readers could find this article relatable enough to click on. If readers find it beneficial to their life, they will consider reading it.

Another emerging online marketing tactic is the use of emojis. Anyone with access to a smartphone knows the digital symbols indicating a smiley face, a cup of coffee, or a thumbs up. Media sites engage in small phrase communication and emojis help readers understand the tone and emotion behind a writer’s intentions. Additionally, “For all their creative potential, emoji were intended to normalize and then capitalize on the collective strength of affect in human social relations online. (Crawford & Stark 4). By including digital representations of emotions and actions, readers can more directly understand and engage with other writers. Journalists know this and have started to capitalize on its effectiveness. Businesses implement tracking emoji trends on social media users to direct them towards buying into certain products. Researchers have discovered that, “sentiment-analysis firms like Lexalytics are also working to incorporate emoji into their business models, providing data profiles grounded in emotion and mood to their customers” in order to “better monitoring and modulating the flow of consumer desire” (Crawford & Stark 8). Similar to using slang, emojis are both trendy and hyperbolic, which can strongly engage certain audiences. The likelihood of online browsers clicking a link with a picture or comment using an emoji is greater now with the advancements of technology.

On the current news side of things, two name-brand news broadcasters report on the same incident; however, their click bait tactics vary. BBC news writes: “North Korea Say Missle Can Hit entire US,” (BBC 2017) while CNN states: “North Korea Missile Launch: The Most Important Things to Know” (CNN 2017). BBC shoots for a more direct approach, informing readers what North Korea, the subject, is doing. The curiosity lies within the audience affected by this statement—evidently, the entire US. Likely, readers will want to click the link to find out more about what North Korea said, and what can be done. However, there is no guarantee their questions will be answered. CNN upped the ante by implementing deixis in their headline. Things, is the information gap from the headline to the article, and the readers alerted by the missile launch will want to find out what they “need” to know—need also used as a hyperbolic tactic to rise emotion.

Click bait is a fairly new concept that online journalists and marketers have already mastered. From a psychological perspective, curiosity is a key component that moves readers to click on a headline, but it’s not without complex linguistic strategy that the headline becomes interesting. Forward-reference in the form of deixis—pronouns with an information gap, and catophora—pronouns alluding to a direct answer, most effectively lures readers to succumb to the click. Other strategies include linguistic relatability such as slang words and emojis. These tactics intended for capitalizing on consumers, may be the difference between someone reading an article or not, and it’s up to the reader to decide if what they read will truly benefit them, or if they are just another victim of click bait.

Works Cited

Alves, Liliana, et al. “Click Bait: You Won’t Believe What Happens Next.” Fronteiras: Journal of Social, vol. 5, no. 2, 2016, pp. 196–213.

Blom, and Kenneth Hansen. “Click Bait: Forward-Reference as Lure in Online News Headlines.” Journal of Pragmatics, 2015, pp. 87-100

Crawford, and Like Star. “The Conservatism of Emoji: Work, Affect, and Communication.” Social Media and Society. 2015, pp. 1-11

Farley, Rebecca. “83 Dope Things Coming to Netflix in December.” Refinery29 Magazine. 20 Nov. 2017.

Griffiths, James. “North Korea Missile Launch: The Most Important Things to Know.” CNN. 29 Nov. 2017.

Loewenstein, George. “The Psychology of Curiosity: A Review and Reinterpretation.” Psychological Bulletin. July 1994, pp. 75-98.

“North Korea Says New Missile Can Hit entire US.” BBC News. 29 Nov. 2017.

Petracarca, Emilia. “Oscar Red Carpet: The 25 Most Daring Dresses of All Time.” W Magazine. 25 Jan. 2017.

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An Interview with Harley Patrick of Hellgate Press

Ed Battistella: How did Hellgate Press come about?

Harley Patrick: In the late 1990s, Emmett Ramey, the owner of PSI Research, Inc., a Grants Pass-based publishing company specializing in business-related titles under the imprint Oasis Press, wanted to establish a second imprint that would focus on military history and veteran memoirs. Emmett was a Navy veteran, and was personally interested in both military and historical topics. So he founded Hellgate Press, named after the Rogue River’s Hellgate Canyon.

EB: What does Hellgate specialize in today?

HP: While veteran memoirs and military history are still Hellgate’s main topics of interest, over the years we’ve expanded our catalogue to include adventure travel titles as well as historical fiction.

EB: Tell us a little about some of the books you’ve published.

HP: We currently have almost 100 titles in print, the majority of which are veteran memoirs and biographies. Most of those are Vietnam War related, with WWI, WWII and Iraq also well represented. A few of our titles deal with lesser known conflicts as well.

EB: What do you look for in an author and in a book?

HP: When it comes to our military-related titles, our mission is to help veterans—or the family of veterans—tell their stories. We don’t need an author to be previously published or to be the next David McCullough or Ernest Hemingway. We look for interesting stories well told, and if they’re a little rough to begin with, we’ll help polish them into shape for publishing. For our fiction titles, it’s about the same—an interesting plot, with well defined characters and a topic appropriately related to our genre.

EB: How has Hellgate Press evolved over the years?

HP: When I first joined the company in 2000, Hellgate Press was only a couple of years old with roughly 15-20 titles. I worked for the company until 2007, when I purchased it from Emmett and his wife Ardella. Over the last decade, it’s grown to be one of the best recognized military history publishers in the country, with almost 100 titles and a slew of award-winning authors.

EB: Who are some of the local authors you’ve published?

HP: Hellgate currently has 5 local authors:

T.B. Smith has penned two police procedural novels for us: The Sticking Place and A Fellow of Infinite Jest. Both center around a San Diego police rookie named Luke Jones, who has a reputation for quoting Shakespeare at appropriate, and occasionally inappropriate, moments. T.B. Smith is a retired SD policeman living in Ashland.

Paul Fattig is a well-known journalist/columnist for the Mail Tribune, among many other news outlets. His first Hellgate title, Up Sterling Creek Without a Paddle, tells the story of his wife and his often humorous adventures buying and remodeling a 100-year-old homestead just outside of Jacksonville. It was released in 2017. His second book, Madstone, which will appear in March of 2018, is about his two uncles, Alfred and Charlie Fattig, who were WWI draft dodgers that hid out in the area now known as the Kalmiopsis wilderness. His third book, scheduled for a 2019 release, will tell the story of the smokejumpers based in Selma, Oregon, and their adventures fighting fires in Oregon and elsewhere.

Dennis Powers’ book, Where Past Meets Present, contains 140 stories and photographs that tell the fascinating and occasionally odd history of the Rogue Valley. It was our bestselling book of 2017.

Richard Seidman has written a delightful YA (Young Adult) book titled The Secret of Ebbets Field (Paloma Books). Set in New York in 1958, it tells the story of a young boy, Eli, a devoted fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who hunts for a treasure buried beneath the Dodgers’ stadium, Ebbets Field, and along the way encounters bad guys, a mysterious homeless man, and baseball great Jackie Robinson.

Dr. Sylvia Chatroux. Her children’s book, Zucchini the Dog (Paloma Books), follows the adorable adventures of Zucchini as told to the author.

EB: What does the future hold for book arts? It seems to me that people are increasingly interested in the aesthetics of print and books.

HP: I feel we’re in a “golden age” of publishing in that there are so many opportunities today for an author to get his/her book published. From self-publishing to print-on-demand to traditional publishing arrangements, if someone has written a book, they can get it published and out into the marketplace. As far as the future goes, I see augmented ebooks—ones with embedded videos and various interactive apps, as a growing industry. And although we sell many more ebook versions of our titles than print, I don’t believe that print is dead, as some have suggested. I think you’re right in thinking that aesthetics will play an ever increasing role in the types of books we’ll be seeing on the shelves in years to come.

EB: Tell us a little about your background? How did you get interested in publishing?

HP: I left a 25-year career in marketing and public relations, all of it spent in Southern Cal, to move to Eugene, OR and pursue a master’s at the UofO in Literary Nonfiction in 1998. After graduating in 2000, I came to Ashland where I answered a small ad in the Mail Tribune for someone with editing and marketing experience to join a local publishing company. And, no pun intended, the rest is history.

EB: Hellgate also has imprint for Grid Press and Paloma Books. Can you tell us a little about those?

HP: Often we get manuscript submissions that don’t quite fit the usual Hellgate genres, but that we feel warrant publication. So, we created Grid Press to fill that niche. Primarily those have been politically-oriented and/or self-help titles. Paloma Books is a new children’s book imprint that we started about three years ago. It currently offers 19 titles that can be found at www.palomabooks.com.


EB:
Thanks for talking with us.

HP: My pleasure, Ed. Thanks for asking.

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Grad School: An Interview with Brenda Nicole Shelton

A 2015 graduate of Southern Oregon University, Brenda Nicole Shelton completed a Masters of Library and Information Science University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2017. She works at the Beaverton City Library.

Ed Battistella: What did your graduate studies involve?

Brenda Nicole Shelton: My program was focused on preparing students for their careers as “innovative information professionals.” I don’t think a lot of people realize librarians are information professionals and not just book jockeys. My program also served other information professions such as archivists and IT. There was a basic core curriculum that focused on digital trends, collection development, HTML coding, metadata, and database organization and operation, to name a few. I learned how libraries are organized and operated, as well as the preservation and cultural skills that archivists need. We also learning HTML coding and metadata markup, which are so vital in any information profession, whether you go on to work in coding or museum work. You could navigate through the program with no chosen focus, or you could choose a path, such as Archives, Public Libraries, Academic Libraries, etc. Since I knew I wanted to work in public libraries with youth, my studies also involved learning about early literacy and teaching skills. Another key facet of study, particularly for library science, is intellectual freedom and equitable access, so we also studied some identity politics and about social inequities, as well as barriers to information and materials access that make libraries so necessary and vital.

EB: What sorts of things were you reading?

BNS: I read such a wide variety of things that it’s hard to recall it all. My core classes involved a lot of reading of standards and coding rules. Some dry procedural stuff. We read about linguistics and the different methods of organization. We read a lot about the history of libraries, as well as current professional pieces about trends in libraries and best practices. Every so often, we would read things about social movements and how they affected libraries in multiple ways. In my Youth Services classes, I would read a lot of Young Adult fiction and picture books coupled with book reviews in order to learn not only how to assess materials to collect, but also how to booktalk and prepare for storytimes and reference. With my concentration I also read a lot of materials about children’s brain development, as well as teaching and learning methods.

EB: How has your education so far shaped your career goals? You minored in Gender Studies and I see that you also worked with the Guerrilla Feminism organization in Madison and served as the gender studies librarian at Wisconsin.

BNS: My activism is really what made me want to become a librarian. While I think all librarians love books, and reading is a core part of their identities, I believe public libraries at their core are champions for equity and access. At least, they should be. In library school you talk a lot about intellectual freedom, which is what libraries champion, not only by offering free materials, but in fighting against censorship and the social and economic barriers that bar individuals for accessing information for educational gain or pure entertainment. When I was in college, I worked at a Women’s Resource Center where I connected individuals with resources that either helped then grow socially and shape their identities, or that helped them navigate out of abuse or trauma. When I worked with GF, it was all about digital connection between people and information, and I did a lot of that work at the gender and women’s studies library as well. In that position, I helped compile and update an online database of free academic resources for individuals who didn’t have access to the resources higher education allows. I also did a lot of work on the library’s published annual journals that connect scholars to new publications in the field. My work in public libraries is also about connecting people to information for free. I had a passion to fight for people’s access to information and materials before I began my professional studies, and I think that interest and my experiences only amplified that desire. Information access is key not only in how we navigate the world, but also how navigate our own emotions and build our identities. Those core values describe both social work and informational institutions, so I’m glad I get to meld those two in my work.

EB: What did you enjoy most about your graduate work?

BNS: My graduate program was dedicated to us spending half our time in class and half of our time in the field. The jobs and volunteer work I did while I was in school were the best teaching experience I could ever have. You can read for years about how libraries run, best practices, and theory, but nothing beats actually being in a library and interacting with patrons. I ran a Minecraft club for kids at the Central Library in Madison for a few years, and it was the best experience I’ve had in my recent professional and academic life. I not only met a great librarian who taught me so much, but I spent my time every week learning from kids. I think those kids taught me more than anything else in my graduate work. Not just about Minecraft and how to play it, but about what kind of listener and professional I want to be.

EB: How do you like the library field so far? What does your work entail?

BNS: I’m really enjoying my work. The majority of my work involves being at the desk helping find books and materials for youth, and also often for adults. When I’m on desk I help keep the area clean, and I also create rotating displays to help showcase our materials, as well as posters that promote my programs. A big part of my work is in-house promotion and programming. I develop and lead weekly programs for young teens. My young teens really enjoy DIY crafts that help them be creative, and they also really like anything rooted in pop culture. I think a lot of people don’t realize that libraries offer free programs for all ages every day of the week, from storytimes, to free computer classes and author visits. Most people I talk to just think I sit around reading all day, and I think people still have a really outdated view of libraries. It’s not a quiet space where I sit shushing people all day. Libraries are actually a great place for kids to play and people to connect. My position also involves updating booklists, school outreach, and I’m about to begin a project to help implement more programming and inclusion for patrons with disabilities or special needs at my library. I don’t have time to sit and read a book all day. There are too many things to do and people to help!

EB: Where do you see librarianship heading in the future??

BNS: While libraries have fought against claims they are “unneeded” or “outdated” in the face of the Internet and Amazon, I think you’ll see even more emphasis on libraries in the future. In the face of “fake news” and moves to defund libraries, archives, and museums even further, libraries have become a key topic of conversation in the national spotlight. Libraries have begun to fight for information access and intellectual freedom even harder in the last year, and I think that will only increase. Issues like preserving net neutrality and fighting against censorship and the spread of false information are key core values outlined by the American Library Association. When they spoke out publicly against executive orders this year they created quite a buzz. I think you’ll continue to see libraries working locally and nationally to speak up about injustice and fight for intellectual freedom, access, and the dismantling of oppressive systems.

EB: Any advice for students considering going on for more school?

BNS: It will be hard. I’ve never been someone who struggled in school, but grad school was the hardest school experience I’ve ever had. It was a busy, challenging, and often lonely time for me, but it helped me get to where I am today. I don’t think I’ve talked to a single person who didn’t struggle at some point in grad school. Yet, I met people who inspired me and became my mentors, and I wouldn’t be who I am today, and having the enriching experiences I do everyday at work, if it wasn’t for that. I think grad school can be very competitive, and you can feel like you are not doing enough or succeeding as well as your peers. My best advice is not to compare yourself to others and to really stick with, and stand up for, your ideas. Also, I’ll always remember this answer that a grad student from another program gave at my orientation: “You don’t have to read the whole 50-page article, just read the abstract and the conclusion and you’ll survive.” Probably not what a professor would ever want to know about, but I think there’s an important truth tied to that about cutting yourself some slack while in a challenging program.

EB: What are you reading currently?

BNS: A librarian who used to talk to us about audiobooks always told us her kids would ask her if she read a book “with her eyes or her ears?” I’m reading The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez with my eyes, and Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner with my ears.

EB: Thanks for talking with us.

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Grad School: An Interview with Eric Worthey

Eric Worthey is a Graduate student and First-Year-Writing Instructor at Eastern Michigan University. He was a Ronald E. McNair scholar at Southern Oregon University, graduating in 2015.

Ed Battistella: What is your graduate program like?

Eric Worthey: Fun and intense. I am studying children’s literature and working on a creative thesis, so I get to enjoy the imaginative aspects of writing and utilize my artistic skills. Part of the intensity stems from the subject matter and complex themes found in children’s and young adult literatures, but also from the theoretical frameworks that provide a lens in which to analyze these texts. They may be written for kids, but most of the time adults do the writing and present controversial social, ethical, philosophical, religious and often political concepts. The program itself offers cutting-edge and rigorous courses in mythology and folklore, the history of children’s literature, adolescent literature, illustrated texts, as well specialized graduate classes on topics such as multicultural children’s literature and films, global children’s literature, as well as the teaching of children’s and adolescent literatures. The program’s course of study is tailored to prepare master’s level students for careers as educators, librarians, authors, editors, as well as those who desire to obtain a doctoral degree in children’s literature.

EB: How has your experience so far shaped your career goals?

EW: Recently, I received the advice that between Thanksgiving and Christmas may not be the best time to reconsider career goals. One of the reasons I chose EMU was because, like SOU, it originally opened as a Normal school. One way the University retains this heritage is through the motto ‘Education First.’ Combined with the opportunity to teach WRTG 120 and 121 for the First Year Writing Program, I also assist professors in the children’s literature lecture halls. These two positions create opportunities for me to experience diverse teaching environments and work with professors who maintain unique pedagogical approaches. EMU’s student population is much larger than SOU’s, so I have learned that I prefer the teaching and learning environments created with smaller faculty to student ratios. I still aspire to teach writing and literature, as well as produce some writing and literature myself, but I am not sure in what capacity or location these goals will manifest. I have looked into a few Ph.D. programs, but after spending the past eight years devoted to my education I think I would like to take at least a year or two off from being a student. I have learned that a big part of being a graduate student is not knowing for certain how things will unfold or where research will take you, so being open to future possibilities and job opportunities is an important way to reduce the stress associated with being attached to outcomes.

EB: What courses are you taking and what sorts of things were you reading?

EW: This semester, I branched out beyond the children’s literature discipline and signed up for an introductory course on written communication and a teaching of Shakespeare literature course. As part of my graduate assistantship benefits I receive eighteen tuition credits per year, so I am utilizing the extra six credits that I do not need to graduate to meet the qualifications for a post-graduation job opportunity. To have a chance at this job, in addition to a master’s degree in children’s literature and two years’ experience teaching first year writing, I also need at least twelve credits in literature, writing, or English.

In the written communication course, we are mostly reading academic articles which illuminate the history of the field and help us gain a sense of where we would position ourselves academically and professionally since it encompasses many different majors, ranging from technical communication to rhetorics and composition studies.

In the Shakespeare class we are reading an average of one play per week except for a few we discussed during two class periods, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Measure for Measure, All’s Well that Ends Well, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and The Tempest. I never knew that there was such a wide spectrum of gender performance and ambivalence toward gender in Shakespeare’s works until this semester. I also came to realize that queer readings of these plays are not very popular, but that they do exist.

I am also taking a multicultural children’s literature course that is cross-referenced as a teaching course, so we are reading a broad range of classic and contemporary books and discussing films that represent numerous types of diversities that students may experience or encounter, including age, race, religion, ability, gender, sexuality, as well geographic location: Snowy Day, Lon Po Po, King & King, American Born Chinese, The Hate You Give, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Brown Girl Dreaming, The Book Thief, George, The Hunger Games, and films such as Disney’s Inside Out and Pixar’s Up. We examine these multicultural texts in terms of their literary, aesthetic, ideological, political contexts. This class is mostly discussion based, so it helps to gain insights not only from the professor but also from my peers who are also teachers or aspiring to teach.

EB: You are also teaching. How do you enjoy that?

EW: I enjoy working with the students. The relationships I develop with my writing students differ than the ones I have with the students in the large lecture hall, but I find them both rewarding in their own ways. All writing is personal, so when teaching introductory writing I like having the freedom to create a community-based classroom that operates like a writing workshop, rather than a traditional lecture-style course. I think that the lecture-style works for larger class sizes. However, when delivering lectures in this environment, I find myself assigning class activities to encourage students to participate in small group discussions. I like being able to try different pedagogical approaches and apply this knowledge to the creation of my teaching philosophy statement.

EB: What is the most rewarding part of your graduate program?

EW: The opportunity to teach and assist in teaching undergraduate students provides one of the most rewarding experiences of being a part of any graduate program in EMU’s Department of English Language and Literatures. This invaluable experience not only covers the cost of tuition, but it also offers a stipend in exchange for twenty hours of work per week during the fall and winter semesters. It is also rewarding to have three months off during the summer, but it is a little odd to have spring break amidst a Michigan winter: February.

EB: What’s been your academic focus? Has it changed at all since you began?

EW: Focus. Focus. Focus. That was Dr. Alvarez’s advice before booting me off to grad school. Initially, I had wanted to continue my research of mythology and religion representations in contemporary young adult literature. However, during my first semester several events on campus inspired me to focus my independent study on learning about the dimensions of racism. I quickly realized that I had not diverged from my original focus, but I was still attempting to answer the research question that I had first proposed as an undergraduate in a world religions class: Why has the bible been used to usurp the power of women, children, people of color, and gender and sexuality diverse people for the past two thousand years when Jesus’ and Paul’s words create oppositions? The professor’s response to my proposal to pursue this research question for my final paper will always be a cornerstone moment for me in my educational path. Also, I will never forget that it was in this class I first heard the words mythology, non-duality, and Joseph Campbell, and learning their meanings helped shape my academic focus. I did not understand what the professor meant when he identified his religious/spiritual beliefs as being ‘non-dual,’ but I do now and am trying to find ways to encourage others to consider this worldview. Two years hardly feels like enough time to try to focus on one thing that I would like to specialize in for the rest of my academic career.

Last semester, an assignment for one of my children’s literature classes involved creating something. It could be anything if we developed a rationale for the creation. I was reluctant at first, but I took one of my old University Seminar style guides and used its pages to create a postmodern version of the Grimm’s animal fable “The Bremen Town Musicians.” I incorporated drawings and collage materials to draw attention to how the contemporary American political climate seems a lot like the early days of Nazis Germany. I decided instead of writing a traditional thesis, I was going to finally create a children’s book that incorporated mythological elements and symbolism to break down binary perceptions, going back to much of the research I conducted as a McNair Scholar.

It is funny how I am still researching the same question, but at the same time I am learning new ways to look at the trouble with duality. I finally discovered that one of the difficulties of this arises because the place where oppositional forces break down remains indescribable by our languages. Thus, I am back to square one and trying to draw pictures that are highly symbolic and open to interpretation to create a graphic novel that challenges binary perceptions and socially constructed identity markers.

EB: Any advice for students considering going on for more school?

EW: If I were to offer advice to prospective graduate students, I would draw their attention to the amount of time, or lack thereof, that is required to succeed in graduate school. The sheer volume of the reading lists is enough to overwhelm the most avid readers, especially if they desire to have a social existence (not really a reality for a graduate student). Also, don’t invest your own money. Find programs that offer graduate assistantships or scholarships that include the tuition and stipend to cover living costs while you work on your degree. There are plenty of opportunities, but keep in mind that the applications deadlines usually come earlier for these than the program of study applications. Don’t rack up a lot of student debt going to graduate school because another degree does not necessarily translate into post-graduation job opportunities.

Before applying to a graduate program, conduct preliminary research about the availability of jobs on the market by joining your discipline’s organizations, listservs, or by reading or subscribing to higher education publications. Also, when seeking a potential program and a faculty member to work with on major academic projects it helps to discover which scholars or professionals are already working in that area. What institution are they from? What is their academic discipline? What organization sponsored the journal their article appears in? Was there a co-author, an editor(s), or an academic advisor? This will help gain a sense of potential institutions and/or faculty that will support your research goals.

EB: What’s next for you?

EW: I began my postsecondary educational career when my life hinged on the space between my twenties and thirties. I lingered there and wondered what had I done with my life. Nearly eight years later, and following two degrees, I currently anticipate graduating with a Master’s degree in Children’s Literature in April, so I have began reflecting about my experiences and future possibilities. I do plan to take a year or two off before pursuing a Ph.D. program because I would like to gain some teaching experience before I hit the forty mark. While on the Oregon coast this past summer, I spoke with the dean of a community college about a potential post-graduation job opportunity. I plan to apply for this position, as well as for teaching positions at few other community colleges along the Northern California and/or the Oregon coast, and see what happens. Additionally, since I am completing the first issue of a graphic novel for my master’s thesis project, I hope to submit a copy of it along with a book proposal, like the one I created when I participated in your history of publishing course, in hopes of continuing to develop the story line into a middle-grade reader series.

EB: Thanks for talking with us.

EW: It was my pleasure, and thank you!

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Grad School: An Interview with Allegra Lance

Allegra Lance is a writer and editor from the pacific northwest who regularly moonlights as a writing teacher and burrito connoisseur. In her free time, Allegra practices circus arts and dabbles in game design. She can be contacted by chanting “Roll for perception” three times into a venti iced coffee between the hours of 1 pm and 3 am. She graduated from Southern Oregon University 2017 with degrees in English and Writing.

EB: What is your graduate experience like so far?

AL: It’s a little strange! I moved home after graduation and immediately started a fulltime job as a teacher which I did all summer, and now I’m exploring options for grad school, looking at programs for creative writing and publishing. When I finished teaching I realized I hadn’t really sat down and just done nothing for two or three years so I took three weeks to eat ice cream and sleep. Now I’m taking some lower level linguistics classes to sort of see if I’m interested in that as a career option and sort of supplementing my editing skills, and it’s weird because I feel like I went a little backwards! My classes are full of freshmen and my final papers only need to be three pages long! I’m also at a much larger school, and that is a bit of a culture shock.

EB: What courses are you taking and what sorts of things were you reading?

AL: I’m currently taking a class on the structure of English, so grammar and word classes and all that fun stuff, and then I started taking ASL in case I continue in the program. It’s very different from what I’m used to, which I’m finding is nice. Taking two classes instead of five is also pretty great.

We don’t read much but very dense textbooks, but I’ve been reading in my spare time things like Big Magic and Swimming Lessons, so some non-fiction and some fiction and all just to get back into reading for fun and working towards being a better writer. Having time to read whatever I want again is fantastic.

EB: What has been the most fun so far?

AL: I think, really, it was teaching. There were definitely hard days and it’s the most difficult job I’ve ever had to do but an overwhelming majority of the time it was a blast. I think, even though it was insanely difficult and exhausting, having something to do that I really cared about and being able to make a path for myself and make a living that way was extremely gratifying. Also I got flowers from one of my students and it was the sweetest thing ever.

EB: What has been the weirdest?

AL: So I grew up in Portland, and now I’ve moved back to Portland, and there are so many things that I had no idea existed before or that came into being the four years I was away and it feels like I’ve stepped into an alternate universe where everything is just shifted six inches to the left, or, for example where the Freddie’s is two stories tall and has a tattoo parlor in the basement. It’s nice, though, because so many of the things I’m discovering are just things I never cared about before because I was young and it just didn’t matter to me yet, so being able to sort of rediscover the city I grew up in is neat.

EB: What’s next for you?

AL: Right now I’m looking for some kind of job or internship in publishing and then within the next year I’ll be applying for grad school and hopefully starting my master’s. I’ve also kept working on some poetry, some short stories, a novel or two, so we’ll see where those go.

EB: Any advice for students considering going on for more school?

AL: Definitely make sure that you look for opportunities outside of school. I originally was planning on going straight into grad school, but now I’ve realized there are a lot of things, like internships or partnerships with people who are already out there doing what I want to do, that are really good resources and experiences. Working and doing something other than school has helped me figure out where I am in my life now and what I want to do going forward, since before now the goal had just been to graduate! Also, just be open to possibilities, even if you have a really specific idea of what you want to do. Taking an opportunity, even if it isn’t exactly what you had in mind, can still teach you a lot and open up other possibilities that you might not have even considered before. Even if you still decide to do exactly what you wanted at first, having the extra experience and that certainty can do wonders for your confidence.

EB: Thanks for talking with us!

AL: Thanks for the questions!

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An Interview with Robert Arellano, author of Havana Libre

ROBERT ARELLANO is the award-winning author of six novels including Curse the Names, Fast Eddie, King of the Bees, and Don Dimaio of La Plata. His latest novel, Havana Libre, is the standalone sequel to his Edgar-nominated Havana Lunar. His nonfiction title Friki: Rock and Rebellion in the Cuban Revolution, will be released in 2018.

Ed Battistella: Back in 2009 you published Havana Lunar, which introduced us to the young doctor Mano Rodriguez, who was trying to practice medicine in the “special period” when the Cuba was no longer supported by the Soviets.

Can you give us a quick recap of the first book?

Robert Arellano : Manolo Rodriguez is stuck in every way: in a grueling and unrewarding job for Cuba’s socialist healthcare system, in a cycle of dead-end relationships, and in Periodo Especial 1992 Havana. Then he meets Julia, a young woman trapped in Cuba’s black-market underworld, and while trying to help her he becomes a straw dog in the police investigation to find a pimp’s killer. Like every unlikely noir hero, Mano is also an insomniac. That’s half the story of the “lunar” in the title.

EB: And the lunar is also a condition you invented? Why?

RA: It fell into place thanks to a Spanish double-entendre: lunar means both “of the moon” and “birthmark”. The lunar on Mano’s face conceals a story that’s at the heart of his predicament, and which also might hold the key to his liberty.

EB: Havana Libre, named after a hotel, is billed as a stand alone sequel. What exactly is that?

RA: It means you can read either book first without needing the other’s context. Although there are one or two cues in Havana Libre hinting at how Mano and Detective Emilio Pérez have met before, today it may actually be most rewarding to start with the sequel and, if you enjoy it, work your way backwards. I think most mystery authors try to configure their series in this way (after all, the way media works, the “new” gets a lot more attention than a book published just five or seven years ago). I’m currently reading through Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series beginning with book two, and the characters and scenarios are jumping to first light for me such that I’ll probably hopscotch through the other titles with impugnity.

EB: In Havana Libre, Mano falls for Mercedes, who had been connected with the frikis. It’s a minor mention but I know you’ve done some research on that movement. What can you share?

RA: Los frikis are rock-music fans who were targeted by the Castro government early in the Special Period for their long hair, ripped jeans, and “social dangerousness” (an actual law on the books in Cuba). They have been fined, beaten, and jailed simply for looking and behaving like rockers, and in response as many as 200 frikis took upon themselves one of the most extreme acts of resistance conceivable. For people who want to learn more, I love to this Radiolab podcast that Jad Abumrad and Luis Trelles produced with the help of my own archive and interviews.

EB: Mano is a character trying to good the right thing in a system that doesn’t encourage that. As a writer, how did you try to instill this humanity in him?

RA: This characteristic—human virtue in the face of systemic depravity—was actually one of the first things to rise from the notes that started my Cuban noir series. During trips to Cuba 25 years ago, it seemed like corruption was everywhere, the result of a black-market economy fueled by the ongoing U.S. embargo. But there were also so many very good people. The trick for me, upon meeting each new person, was figuring out what end of the exploitation-integrity spectrum they were on. Sometimes it took months, and sometimes it was a moving target, and this is where the stories arose. For instance, my friend Yorki would spend all day chasing after some frozen cutlets to feed his family, only to fry them that night and discover they were actually breaded dishtowels instead of beef.

EB: I am starting to warm to Pérez as well. Have you changed his role?

RA: I think this time we’re discovering that Pérez, too, is aware of being something of a puppet in an absurd system. He is subjugated by his own capricious controller (Daniel Caballero, the head of Cuban State Security), but he will find ways to resist the strings, if only briefly, creating moments of agency for himself and dignity, perhaps even beauty, for others around him.

EB: Were the bombing based on real events and attempts to destabilize the country?

RA: Yes. My story is mapped so closely (dates, places, perpetrators) to the actual bombings of ‘97 that to set the wheels of Havana Libre in motion all I had to do was insert Mano and one other fictional character (Mendoza) on the side of the bad guys. Anyone who would like the nonfiction account can pick up Brazilian journalist Fernando Morais’s riveting book The Last Soldiers of the Cold War: The Story of the Cuban Five, which was recently published in English translation by Verso.

EB: Another question about craft: you do a certain amount of code switching in the novel—bits of Spanish which adds to the atmosphere—how do you decide how much is too much?

We all have our ideal reader, and mine is actually a two-headed beast: Johnny Temple, publisher and editor-in-chief of Akashic Books, and associate editor Aaron Petrovich. They helped immensely with the language balance. And just this morning I’m emboldened by a quote from our Rogue Valley friend and neighbor in this New York Times article, How Pixar Made Sure ‘Coco’ Was Culturally Conscious:

“The original idea was to have the characters speak only in English with the understanding that they were really speaking in Spanish,” said Octavio Solis, a Mexican-American playwright who was a consultant on the film. “But for us, language is binary, and we code-switch from English to Spanish seamlessly.”

EB: Havana Libre and Havana Lunar seem to be not quite so magical realism as some of your other work? More noirish. How do you see yourself as a writer?

RA: I like this catchphrase that Johnny came up with 16 years ago when he published the first of my five books in the Akashic catalog: “urban surreal.” Besides that, I still cop to the genre created in part by my greatest teacher, Robert Coover (along with Angela Carter, William Gass, Donald Barthelme, and other fine writers): postmodernism.

EB: Can we expect a third Havana book?

RA: You must.

EB: I know you have a lot of other projects in the works. What are you working on this week?

RA: Friki: Rock and Rebellion in the Cuban Revolution, the nonfiction project that has obsessed me for a quarter-century.

EB: Thanks for talking with us.

RA: You’re welcome. And thank you for reading me.

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