Gathering, Writing, and Publishing Senior’s Personal Stories and Triumphs of Resistance and Resiliency

Ageism in our contemporary society is a problem. Seniors are perceived from a deficit instead of being realized as a rich repository of history, wisdom, experience, and stories. Seniors deserve our respect, to be valued, and to have their voices heard. The African proverb of “When a man dies, a library burns down” holds true. Ball State students stand to gain more than stories to compose, but also knowledge, wisdom—perhaps even life lessons.

If you have an interest in working with the local senior generation or writing stories about acts of resistance and grit, sign up for special topics course ENG 400: Sitting at the Feet of our Muncie Elders: Stories of Resistance and Resiliency in Fall 2019. This course requires no prerequisites. ENG 400 is a 3 or 6 credit hour course open to all majors interested in working with:

  • senior citizens
  • storytelling
  • writing
  • editing and design
  • book publication
  • spoken word

Previously, the Spring 2018 Creative Writing in the Community course opted to gather stories of weird and whimsy from Muncie community residents. In our story gathering, two senior citizens stood out in our 75 story collection. They were full of chutzpah and had so much to say about how they have resisted and remained resilient survivors. Prof. Lyn Jones says, “I was so enamored with them and thought, “We need a collection of just these stories.””

Students can sign up for either Fall 2019, Spring 2020, or both semesters. During the first semester of the course in Fall 2019, Ball State students will learn about creative narrative nonfiction and community writing. Participants will then translate those skills into practice, engaging directly with senior citizen community partners at local Westminster Village and the Muncie Senior Center.

In the Spring 2020 section of the course, students will edit and design a book with the composed stories. The independent book press in the English department used by ENG 409, Creative Writing in the Community, will publish the book. Students will engage with local photography artists, spoken-word artists, and YART—a local group of music artists. Through this, students will collaboratively create visuals for a published collection of stories, as well as a spoken-word piece featuring the stories set to live music.

Recruitment: All majors but particularly English, creative writing, journalism, media (for design and layout), psychology, and health and wellness areas (for senior physical and psychological health).

If you have questions or are interested in learning more, please email Dr. Darolyn “Lyn” Jones at