Missouri State University
Department of English Blog

A New Study Away Opportunity for Missouri Author Fans and History Buffs Alike!

Both English and History secondary education students, literature majors, and poets will love this tour of Missouri authors from the past and present.

I sat down with Dr. Cathie English to hear a little bit about her brand new intersession course ENG 565/665: Write Across Missouri. This 3-hour mixed Undergraduate/Graduate course is offered through the Study Away program (Study Away tour portion only is 1 credit hour: ENG 184) and will take Missouri State students all across the State of Missouri. From Mansfield to West Plains, St. Louis to Hannibal, Kansas City and back again, students will have an incredible experience interacting with the landmarks and contemporary authors of Missouri’s most famous writers.

“When I proposed it, it was really with undergraduates in mind,” Dr. English said, “but I always perceived the class to be more geared towards in-service teachers, or pre-service English ed[ucation]. Or,” she added, “it could actually be for people in the social sciences because there’s going to be a lot of historical stops along the way. We’re going to go to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum and when we go to West Plains we’re going to the place of the Ballroom Explosion.”

The West Plains Ballroom Explosion was a 1929 tragedy responsible for the deaths of 36 young men and women. It’s a central event in The Maid’s Version by native Missourian and contemporary author Daniel Woodrell (Winter’s Bones). While in West Plains, students will enjoy a private lunch with Woodrell where they can ask him questions about life as a novelist and what is it like to have one of your book be turned into a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence. (Seriously, what is that even like?!)

The bus trip will continue to St. Louis where students will get to visit the St. Louis Art Museum; walk by T.S. Eliot’s residence; stroll around Washington University, founded by Eliot’s grandfather, William Greenleaf Eliot; Kate Chopin’s residence at the time of her death; Calvary Cemetery to visit Chopin’s, Marianne Moore’s, and Tennessee Williams’ graves; and much more. “Of course, the stop in Hannibal, MO is all historical!” Dr. English enthused. Students will visit The Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, his father’s law offices, and other stops that readers of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn will find familiar.

The experience will end in Kansas City, MO. On the itinerary is the Kansas City Library—individuals will recognize it as the city block that resembles a row of books—and a private conversation and Q&A with former Missouri poet laureate William Trowbridge.

The thing that will particularly appeal to English students is the time spent in each place. After the tours and immersion of the history, students will have time to sit at each stop and take some time to write, reflect, and create. “There’s a sense of writing in a space and sharing without giving any kind of feedback.” Dr. English explained. Once students get back from Kansas City, they’ll have a final group dinner and a student read-aloud of their favorite works they wrote during the trip. “At this final read around, we’re also hosting a reading by Dr. Blackmon and other MSU creative writing faculty. Dr. Blackmon has agreed to give autographed copies of his book.”

ENG 565/665

The two weeks leading up to the Study Away portion will consist of several readings of each author of each destination. Assignments will be online, and Dr. English does give a warning that the reading will be “pretty intense” (although certainly engaging). The larger readings will be Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Little House on the Prairie, The Maid’s Version, and The Glass Menagerie (the play by Tennessee Williams was set in a St. Louis apartment). Shorter readings which will most likely be manageable during the trip itself will consist of the poetry of Maya Angelou, T.S. Eliot, William Trowbridge, Langston Hughes, Marianne Moore, and short works by novelists Jonathan Franzen and Jane Smiley. Obviously, the bus rides might seem a little long, so the bus will be used as a mobile classroom so to give mini lectures and play documentaries to give students a fuller understanding of the people and places they’ll be studying.

This Study Away intersession is a trip of a lifetime: multiple stops, great stays, writing on location, personal meetings with published authors, and much, much more! If this sounds like something you’re interested in, please contact Dr. Cathie English at CathieEnglish[at]Missouristate[dot]edu and register for ENG 565 (Undergraduates) or ENG 665 (Graduate or Accelerated Master’s Program Undergrads) today!

The Study Away portion will last for 5 days, beginning June 5th and ending June 9th. The cost will be $1,390 and will include travel costs, hotels, a few meals, and entrance fees. It may be possible to apply your financial aid to the cost of this once in a lifetime trip, so please contact the Financial Aid Office to discuss possibilities.

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Study Away: Write Across Missouri

Student viewing artifacts at the Wilder Museum
Exhibits at the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum

Experience our state through literature

Join Write Across Missouri and absorb the landscapes that inspired Tennessee Williams, Langston Hughes, Mark Twain, Laura Ingalls Wilder and many others.

Tap into this inspiration with plenty of opportunities to write as you travel across the state with a fun and supportive group.

Dr. Cathie English will lead this study away experience. She answered the following questions about what you can expect from it.

Why should I go?

You’ll learn about the places and spaces of some of Missouri’s most notable writers, and it’s a chance to learn more about the culture, history and geography of our locale.

We’ll travel through both rural and urban spaces. You’ll learn about cultural influences upon Missouri writers, especially in the urban sites as we study art, music and literature. You will learn about Missouri history as we visit museums and historical sites associated with the writers we study.

How will this complement what I am learning in classes?

During the two weeks prior to our Study Away, we’ll read the fiction and poetry of notable Missouri writers. We typically rely on our imaginations to conceive settings, but during the Study Away, we may walk the same ground our writers walked, experiencing the settings they wrote about and learning the history of various sites.

How do I know if this is a good fit for me?

If you love to read and you want to know more about writers and what inspired their writing, this trip is for you. Also, if you love to write, we’ll be writing each day and in each space or place we visit!

And if you’re a teacher of English, language arts or history, you’ll have opportunities to collect artifacts and information to share in your own classroom.

Key details

  • What: Write Across Missouri – Study Away experience focused on Missouri writers
  • When: Course (online class + Study Away): May 22–June 9, 2017; Study Away tour only: June 5–9, 2017
  • Where: Across the state — visiting both rural and urban spaces
  • How: Access more information; Apply online
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Students chosen for Moon City Press’ fall Student Invitational Reading

The creative writing faculty has chosen seven writers, spanning four genres, to represent the student creative force at the Fall 2016 Student Invitational Reading.


Who will read?

This semester’s readers include the following students:

  • Ana Berkovich, fiction
  • Brandy Clark, poetry
  • Aundrea Davis, memoir
  • Ali Geren, poetry
  • Jessica Hawkins, fiction
  • Amy Lafferty, fiction
  • Rebecca Stewart, comics

You’re invited!

Nov. 11

7 p.m.
Plaster Student Union Theater
The event is free and open to the public.

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Tour offers glimpse into MSU’s spooky legends

folklore club logoMissouri State’s English students have collected campus ghost stories for the last 15 years, and this week those stories will be told during the MSU Folklore Club’s 9th annual Haunted Tour.

Hauntings reported across campus

The tour winds through campus for 50 minutes of storytelling. You can learn about the Fountain Ghost, the Hag of Wells Hall, the haunted rooms of Freddy, the Dorm Mom and more!

haunted tour_fountainMore about the tour

Tours begin at the Plaster Student Union and leave every 20 minutes between 6 and 9 p.m. on Oct. 28 and 29.

Tickets are $4 per person or $10 for a group of three. They can be purchased the night of the event on the second floor of the PSU, by the blue lockers under the stairs, or reserve tickets by email.  Proceeds support the Folklore Club.

Event details

Dates: Oct. 28 and 29
Time: 6-9 p.m., tours leave every 20 minutes
Tour length: 50 minutes
Location: Begins at Plaster Student Union
Admission: Open to public; $4 per person, or $10 per group of 3

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Alumna releases second novel with campus book signing

Alumna Annie England Noblin (’05, ’07) will sign copies of her recently released second novel, “Just Fine with Caroline,” on Oct. 11 at Paw Prints in the Plaster Student Union.

Photo courtesy HarperCollins.
Photo courtesy HarperCollins.

Book synopsis

From the author of “Sit! Stay! Speak!” comes a tender, terrific novel complete with long-buried secrets, a three-legged pot belly pig, and an irresistible dog—an unforgettable story about love, friendship, and community. Perfect for fans of Mary Kay Andrews and Mary Alice Monroe.

Caroline O’Connor never dreamed she’d be back home in Cold River, Missouri, the Ozark Mountain town where everyone is ‘up your business.’…they mean well as they drive you crazy. She thought she’d left town for good, but now she’s back, helping to care for her New York born mother—struck with Alzheimer’s, and prone to saying and doing anything—and her father, the beloved local doctor frustrated he can’t cure his own wife.

As for Caroline, she’s doing ‘just fine’ coping with her parents, her brazen cousin Ava Dawn’s marital disasters, her mostly-deaf dog…and with Noah Cranwell, far-flung relative of a local family mostly infamous for running moonshine, an ex-veteran who’s come to Cold River with troubles of his own.

Caroline believes she knows everything about Cold River and the people who live in its hills and hollers … but sometimes life’s greatest surprises happen closest to home.

*Synopsis provided by HarperCollins.

More about Noblin

A former MSU Bookstore employee, Annie has authored two novels published by HarperCollins Publishers. Their bio section about her reads:

“Annie England Noblin lives with her son, husband, and three dogs in the Missouri Ozarks. She graduated with an M.A. in creative writing from Missouri State University and currently teaches English and communications for Arkansas State University in Mountain Home, Arkansas. She spends her free time playing make-believe, feeding stray cats, and working with animal shelters across the country to save homeless dogs.”

Event details

Date: Oct. 11
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Paw Prints, Plaster Student Union

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