Kellogg Writers Series course returns after three-and-a-half years

For Assistant Professor of English Barney Haney, bringing back the Kellogg Writers Series course after a three-and-a-half year hiatus was one of his best decisions he has made. Haney teaches the course and co-chairs the series with Assistant Professor of English Rebecca McKanna. The  English course is an extension of the Allen and Helen Kellogg Writers Series, created by a grant from the family estate. The series brings authors and poets to UIndy throughout the year to read and speak about their work.

Photo by Hannah Morris
From left to right, undergraduates BreAnnah Nunn, Tayah Eakle, Shauna Sartoris, Alexis Stella, graduate student Shannon Harris and Assistant Professor of English Barney Haney are part of the Fall 2018 KWS class.

In the class, students work on creating social media posts and promotional posters for the readings. They also make bookmarks and press releases to help promote the series on and off campus, according to senior professional writing major Alexis Stella.

“We created our own Instagram, so we have a lot more social media outreach,” Stella said. “This year we’ve done press releases for the neighboring high schools. I know that for our first event, we had Franklin Central’s creative writing club come. That was really fun….It’s not just that we host this event, we do a lot of preparation on getting word out to the student body.”

Junior professional and creative writing double major Shauna Sartoris said that making the posters has been one of her favorite parts of the course. By making posters, Sartoris said she was able to practice and improve her design skills.

“I think that it [designing] is a really useful skill to have,” Sartoris said. “It’s also really fun to think about ‘How are we going to present this? How are we going to match the tone of the series? How are we going to match the author’s voice in the way that we make these flyers?’”

The students in the course also work on creating interview questions for the writers, according to Haney. The students even have the opportunity to introduce the writers at events and interview them. Stella had the opportunity to introduce author John Jodizo at the first event, who is also one of her favorites.

“For the first event, when Jodizo came, I gave the introduction, so that was both fearful and exciting for the same time because I’m not a big public speaker,” Stella said. “I don’t like public speaking at all. Doing that kind of strengthened my own abilities and I got to show appreciation for an author that I truly liked.”

For Haney, one of his favorite parts of the class is seeing the students’ creativity. The students work together to create bookmarks and posters, and brainstorm potential authors to highlight for the Kellogg Writers Series.

Haney said that he came into the course unsure of what the students would want to do, but was happy to discover that they had plenty of ideas.

“They knew of the series and they wanted to put their personal touch on it and they did,” Haney said. “That was exciting for me because when they came in and wanted to do that, it did the thing I was hoping it would do: where it becomes more student agency over the Kellogg Writers Series and not just the class…I got to teach them things and they taught me things about what they want here and how they want it to look.”