Missouri State University
Department of English Blog

Dr. James Baumlin named Distinguished Professor

The department of English is very pleased to announce that Dr. James Baumlin has been promoted to the rank of Distinguished Professor.

Promotion to the Distinguished Professor rank is the highest honor that the University bestows on a faculty member. It identifies a select group of faculty members who are leaders in their respective fields, as attested by national and/or international reputation, and who also have a sustained record of excellence in both teaching and service.

James has written and co-edited a dozen books and more than 100 articles, book chapters, notes, and reviews on subjects within seventeenth-century English literature, the history of rhetoric, critical theories, creative nonfiction, and composition pedagogy.

Congratulations to James for earning this well-deserved recognition.

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Dr. D. Leigh Henson Leads Issue of the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association

DLHenson5-14-350wThe lead article in the recently published issue of the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (JALA) is an 11,000-word composition by D. Leigh Henson, professor emeritus of English at Missouri State University. The title of the article is “Classical Rhetoric as a Lens for Reading the Key Speeches of Lincoln’s Political Rise, 1852–1856.” JALA “is the only journal devoted exclusively to Lincoln scholarship.” JALA, published twice a year by the University of Illinois Press, selects only a few article submissions, and articles published have been revised by their authors according to critiques provided by several anonymous scholars. Henson, a native of Lincoln, Illinois, attended Lincoln College and earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in English at Illinois State University.

Henson’s article discusses communicative elements in several of Lincoln’s speeches just before, during, and after he began his celebrated, second political career in 1854. Lincoln returned to politics after his undistinguished one term in Congress ended in 1849, so that he could oppose efforts to expand slavery into new territories and the free states. Lincoln’s return to politics involved him in helping to establish the Illinois Republican Party in 1856. His party leadership in turn led to the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates, then to his 1860 presidential election. 

The communicative elements Henson discusses in Lincoln’s speeches derive from classical rhetoric—the work of Greek and Roman writers who established the field of study dealing with the theory, practice, and instruction of discourse. Henson explains that familiarity with classical rhetoric enables readers to gain a better understanding of how Lincoln adapted the content, organization, and style of his speeches to suit his political purposes and audiences. Some of Lincoln’s key speeches of this period refute Senator Stephen A. Douglas’s position that local governments in new territories should decide whether to allow slavery. Lincoln argued that slavery is a national, not a local, problem. Lincoln found the solution to slavery grounded in the principle of the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.” Lincoln insisted that slavery should be confined to Southern states, where the Constitution allowed it and where it would eventually die out. Lincoln’s political rhetoric benefited from his lawyerly ability to expose contradictions and fallacies in his adversaries’ positions.

This article pays special attention to Lincoln’s strategies of organizing his arguments. Henson explains that Lincoln’s two-hour, 1854 Peoria address is a textbook example of how to organize a political speech according to classical rhetoric. Lincoln’s subsequent speeches of this period demonstrate flexible use of classical organization to suit his message and audience. These speeches were the first indication of Lincoln’s growing communicative power that enabled him to advance to the White House. His presidential writing eventually distinguished him as a statesman and world-renowned man of letters. 

This article also explores sources of classical rhetoric that may have influenced Lincoln’s communicative knowledge and skill during his life-long efforts of self-education. Those sources include textbooks and anthologies he read in his youth and the speeches he later studied of Senator Daniel Webster, whose formal education included the study of classical rhetoric. Henson also notes that today’s students continue to study rhetoric as an academic field to help them analyze, evaluate, and create written and spoken discourse, including communication on the job. He maintains that this study benefits from the use of writing models with traits derived from classical rhetoric. 

Henson is a fourth-generation link in a chain of historians and Lincoln buffs from Logan County, Illinois, who passed their interest in Abraham Lincoln to the next generation. As a student at Jefferson School in the early 1950s, Henson heard stories of the Lincoln legend told by E.H. Lukenbill, county superintendent of public instruction. Henson’s interest in Abraham Lincoln further stems from a course he took as a freshman at Lincoln College in 1960–61. That course on Lincoln’s life and times was taught by the renowned historian James T. Hickey. For many years Hickey was the curator of the Lincoln Collection at the Illinois State Historical Library, now the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Hickey was a protégé of Judge Lawrence B. Stringer, author of the encyclopedic History of Logan County, Illinois, 1911. It features a chapter on Abraham Lincoln’s legal and political activity in central Illinois that has been cited by major Lincoln biographers. Stringer drew upon the friendship and reminiscence of Robert B. Latham, one of the three founding fathers of Lincoln, Illinois (1853)—the first namesake town. Abraham Lincoln was the attorney for the town’s founders, and the town was founded before he became famous. Latham was also a founder of Lincoln University, now Lincoln College. Latham was a personal and political friend of Abraham Lincoln and a Union colonel in the Civil War. Stringer was the first major benefactor of the newly relocated and enhanced Lincoln Heritage Museum of Lincoln College. 

The Lincolnian seed that Lukenbill and Hickey planted in Henson’s education lay dormant for forty years. It did not germinate until after he had completed his formal education at Illinois State University, had taught high school English for thirty years in Pekin, Illinois, and was well into his fourteen-year career of teaching technical communication at Missouri State University. In 2004 the Illinois State Historical Society gave a Superior Achievement Award to Henson’s community history website of Lincoln, Illinois. In 2008–09 he was a member of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission of that town. He researched and wrote the play script for the 2008 re-enactment of the 1858 Republican rally in Lincoln the day after the last Lincoln-Douglas debate. Lincoln delivered a stump speech at the rally, but no copy of it has been found. Henson’s play script features a “reasonable facsimile” of that speech and rally, including give-and-take with the audience. The re-enactment was accomplished through collaboration with Paul Beaver, professor emeritus of history at Lincoln College; Ron Keller, director of the Lincoln Heritage Museum; and Wanda Lee Rohlfs, civic leader.

In 2008 Henson proposed erecting a statue of Abraham Lincoln the 1858 Senate candidate and a corresponding historical marker, both to be installed on the lawn of the Logan County Courthouse, where the 1858 rally took place. Presently a local committee is raising funds for those purposes. In 2012 Henson’s book titled The Town Lincoln Warned: The Living Namesake History of Lincoln, Illinois, received a Superior Achievement Award from the Illinois State Historical Society. In 2013 he proposed several additional statues of Lincoln in Lincoln to expand its namesake heritage, strengthen civic pride, and increase heritage tourism. Also in 2013 the Lincoln Elementary School District #27 honored Henson as one of four distinguished alumni. Henson continues to research Lincoln’s political rhetoric. 

Henson is an elected member of the Society of Midland Authors. He is also a member of the Illinois Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Library of Congress. He shares information about his Abraham Lincoln research, Illinois history, historic preservation, and heritage tourism on social media at Facebook and LinkedIn. His LinkedIn site has links to his various online publications: http://la.linkedin.com/pub/d-leigh-henson/16/1a5/923. Access the JALA website athttp://www.abrahamlincolnassociation.org/Journal.aspx. JALA publishes its articles online six months after they appear in print. Access an overview and pictorial supplement to Henson’s article about Lincoln’s rhetoric athttp://findinglincolnillinois.com/dlhjalaarticle.html.

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English professor becomes beta tester for Google Glass

No cyborgs in Siceluff Hall, it’s just Lanette Cadle, associate professor of English, with her new Google Glass. Cadle jumped at the opportunity to become a beta tester for Glass and used her social media savvy skills to do just that.Lanette Cadle

Becoming a beta tester

Cadle saw a great potential for Glass, especially since she publishes about social media; particularly the rhetoric of identity. However, Cadle couldn’t apply to be in the first group of beta testers. “I had to wait until Glass was offered integrated with traditional eyeglass frames. That happened on January 28,” said Cadle.
She immediately went to the Explorer site and applied. “I wanted a chance to make my case and also have fun checking to see if Google was as social media aware as they appear to be. I wrote a blog entry at lanettecadle.com and titled it Pick Me! I wanted no ambiguity. To make sure, I posted the link on Facebook, tweeted the link and posted the link on Google+. The next morning I had an acceptance email from Google welcoming me to the Explorer program,” said Cadle.

Implementing Glass in daily life

 Cadle is using Glass for her daily emails, appointments, phone calls and texts, and to create media for her classroom. “One way to look at how Glass functions is to think of it as a cross between a really good butler and an iPad,” said Cadle. She even has the option to speak aloud her emails and texts through the voice recognition Glass comes equipped with.
Cadle blogs daily about her experiences with Glass via her googleglass tag stream.

Cadle is also using her Glass for photos and short videos for a digital poetry project she will be working on at The Digital Media and Composition Institute (DMAC) at Ohio State University in May.


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COAL faculty honored during recognition reception

The Dean of the College of Arts and Letters (COAL) is proud to list the following faculty honored at Missouri State’s All-Faculty Recognition Reception held April 21, 2014:

Faculty Recognition Awards

Stephanie Norander, CommunicationProvost Fellow for Faculty Development — Writing

Stephanie Norander, Communication


Steve Willis, Art and Design

Provost Fellow for Diversity

Steve Willis, Art and Design


Provost Fellows is a program designed to recognize outstanding faculty who have a special area of interest that is related to the mission, priorities and goals of the Office of the Provost. The position provides faculty with the opportunity and support to become engaged in an administrative, research or outreach activity. The term of the appointment varies with the type of assignment.


Excellence in Study Away Programming

Gwen Walstrand, Art and DesignGwen Walstrand, Art and Design

In 2014 the Study Away Advisory Committee created the Excellence in Study Away Programming award to recognize Missouri State faculty members who demonstrate excellence in developing and leading short-term study away programs. The recipient will receive $1,500 in professional development funds and an award.



Honors College Awards for Teaching, Research and Service

Larry George, Modern and Classical LanguagesMarcia Morriset Award for Outstanding Service to Honors Education

Larry George, Modern and Classical Languages

The Marcia Morriset Award for Outstanding Service to Honors Education recognizes the exceptional service, mentoring and advising accomplishments of MSU’s Honors College faculty and affiliated staff. The award was created in recognition of Marcia Morriset’s many years of service to the Honors College. The award is presented to a faculty or staff member who had contributed broadly to the advancement of Honors education at Missouri State University and has excelled at undergraduate mentorship and advising of Honors College students.



Citizenship and Service-Learning (CASL) Faculty Awards

Emanuelle Wessels, Media, Journalism and Film2013-2014 Research Stipend Award

Emanuelle Wessels, Media, Journalism and Film

The Research Stipend Awards recognizes faculty who have been awarded CASL Research Stipend Funds for direct service to the community, including community-based research involving students. Faculty selected for the CASL Research Stipend Award will present their findings at the FCTL Showcase in August.



Additional Recognitions

Margaret Weaver, EnglishA 2014 Mentoring, Support and Partnerships Program Mentor

Margaret Weaver, English

The University-based Mentoring, Support and Partnerships Program was created to increase the recruitment and retention rates of junior faculty/staff. Overall objectives of the program are for exceptional mentors to provide on-going support for outstanding faculty/staff from historically underrepresented groups to advance their success in the trilogy of scholarship, heighten their professional development and help them establish a sound identity and amiable sense of well-being at Missouri State University and in the Springfield community. Dr. Sabrina Brinson is the program coordinator and Dr. Julie Masterson is the program administrator.


Faculty Service Awards

10 Years of Service

Andrew Cline, Media, Journalism and Film
Marcus Howell, Art and Design
Timothy White, Media, Journalism and Film

15 Years of Service

Tracy Dalton, English
David Hays, Music
Michael Stowe, English
Steve Willis, Art and Design

20 Years of Service

Randy Dillon, Communication
Mary Harges, Modern and Classical Languages
Sarah Perkins, Art and Design
Margaret Weaver, English

25 Years of Service

James Baumlin, English
Mary Baumlin, English
Joel Chaston, English
Randy Hamm, Music
Jane Hoogestraat, English
Vonda Yarberry, Art and Design

35 Years of Service

Kristene Sutliff, English

40 Years of Service

Jerry Hatch, Art and Design

Service Awards honor faculty members who have reached a five-year longevity milestone in their years of service to Missouri State University. To qualify for a service award, employees must have worked full-time at Missouri State and reached a five-year milestone (10, 15, 20, etc.) within the 2013-2014 academic year to be honored at the April 2014 reception.


- Information courtesy Missouri State University’s 2014 All-Faculty Recognition Reception program

Additional faculty/staff/student accomplishments are featured throughout the year in COAL and departmental blogs.

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Author Phong Nguyen shares from his new book on March 28

Phong Nguyen Reading flyerAuthor Phong Nguyen will be reading from his recent book, “Pages from the Textbook of Alternate History,” at 7 p.m. March 28 in the PSU Theater. Nguyen’s reading is part of the MSU Missouri Author Series, and is free and open to the public.

Nguyen will host a Q&A session from 3 to 4 p.m. in Siceluff 411 as well.

About Nguyen

Nguyen is the author of two collections of short stories: “Memory Sickness,” winner of the 2010 Elixir Press Fiction Award, and “Pages from the Textbook of Alternate History,” released in January 2014 by Queen’s Ferry Press. His stories have appeared in journals such as “AGNI,” “The Iowa Review,” “North American Review,” “New Letters,”  “Mississippi Review” and “The Kenyon Review.”

Nguyen lives in Warrensburg, Mo., with his wife and three sons. He is an associate professor at the University of Central Missouri, where he serves as co-editor of “Pleiades” and Pleiades Press.

What the experts say

“Phong Nguyen’s Pages from the Textbook of Alternate History is an astonishing and audacious book—alternately poetic and spooky, heartbreaking and hilarious, a profound examination of the way the past has shaped us.” —Dan Chaon, author of “Await Your Reply” and “Stay Awake”

View the Phong Nguyen event flyer.

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Author George Saunders speaks during public affairs

George SaundersIn this interview, best-selling author, columnist and MacArthur Foundation Fellow George Saunders will offer thoughtful insight on the conference theme.

He was recognized as one of the top 100 most influential people in the world in 2013 by Time Magazine. His books include “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline,” “Pastoralia,” “The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip,” “The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil,” “In Persuasion Nation,” and a series of essays in Braindead Megaphone.

His most recent collection of short stories, “Tenth of December,” was a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award.

George Saunders will hold his interview during the Public Affairs Conference, on April 10 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. in the PSU Theater. This event is free and open to the public.

In addition, Saunders will be reading from his works of fiction April 9 at 7pm in the PSU theater.



george saunders rea
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STC Annual Student Conference 2014

stc_mod3The 12th annual STC Student Conference will be held on Saturday, March 29 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. in the Plaster Student Union, Room 313.

The event is $15 which includes a continental breakfast and networking lunch. The event costs $20 at the door.

To register for the event visit the English Department in Siceluff Hall 215. Or contact Kris Sutliff for more information.

8:30 – 9:00
Check-in & Continental Breakfast

9:00 – 9:45
The Technical Communicator and the Importance of Working with Emotional Intelligence Sandi Harner, Senior Professor, Cedar University, Cedarville, Ohio

10:00 – 10:45
Polish Your Interview Skills and Online Presence…Please!
Jim Gomes, Senior Manager, Soucing & Procurement, The Walt Disney Company, Burbank, Calif. and Jennifer Payne Gomes, Organizational Effectiveness & Executive Coaching, JPG & Associates, Pasadena, Calif.

11:00 – 11:45
Audience Analysis for Healthcare: Tools and TipsKris Engdahl, Senior Manager of Usability, Athenahealth, Watertown, Mass.

11:45 – 1:15
Networking Lunch & Poster Session at the Union Club, PSU 400

1:30 – 2:15
Consulting or Corporate? 10 Considerations Before You Apply
Jim Gomes, Senior Manager, Soucing & Procurement, The Walt Disney Company, Burbank, Calif. and Jennifer Payne Gomes, Organizational Effectiveness & Executive Coaching, JPG & Associates, Pasadena, Calif.

2:30 – 3:15
Presentation Title, TBA
Chris Whitley, Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7 (IA, KS, MO, NE), Kansas City, Missouri

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