By now most of you have heard about the upcoming Practical Criticism Midwest (PCM) conference that happens each year within our department. This year PCM is going to be Friday February 7th, starting at noon at the Virginia B. Ball Center. Some of you may have even submitted some work to the conference. However, there may also be some of you who don’t know much about PCM, what it’s for, or why it’s important. Queue this blog post.

PCM, or Practical Criticism Midwest, was started 25 years ago by then graduate student Patti White, a student of Creative Writing. Since it’s inception, PCM has become a forum for graduate students and their work. Simply put, PCM is a conference for graduate students that is organized and run by graduate students (with the necessary help from wonderful faculty advisors).

As you may have deduced, this year is the 25th anniversary of PCM, and we hope to make it an even stronger event within the department. Each year the committee running PCM tries to highlight a certain area of study (PCM 2013 focused on Linguistics and TESOL). This year, as fate would have it, we are celebrating Creative Writing. Thus, we have invited now Dr. Patti White, the brains behind the first ever PCM conference, to give the keynote address. And we have come full circle.

Yes, yes, I’m sure you now understand that the PCM committee has been working tirelessly to make this year a very special occasion, but that still doesn’t explain why you should care, right? So then, why is PCM really important? Simply put: professional development and scholarly community. We, as English graduate students at Ball State, are lucky enough to have a department that wants us to improve our professional development, and is willing to help us do so. Conferences are one of the most important venues for the development of scholarly work, where scholars come together, most often for days at a time, listen to each other’s work, and provide feedback that then creates a community within academia that centers on the scholarly pursuits of each person. PCM has, throughout the years, helped bring the English Department at Ball State, and especially the graduate student body, closer together by being that venue at which people can share the work they are doing in their day-to-day lives. Though PCM is working on a smaller scale than a conference like the Modern Language Association conference, the experience of presenting your work, listening to your colleague’s work, and being a part of that communal moment in scholarship is no less valuable. And a conference like PCM will even help to prepare you for those bigger venue conferences where you will hear and be heard by many well-known scholars in the field.

Please consider joining us on Friday, February 7th starting at noon for Practical Criticism Midwest 2014, the 25th anniversary. For more information and to see the full schedule of events please visit And feel free to live-tweet the event the day of using the hashtag #PCM14.

We hope to see you all there!