Charlotte Kupsh is an Assistant Professor of English and the Director of the Writing Center. Her research focuses on ecocomposition or the relationship between place and writing. She’s also interested in place-conscious education, materiality, and first-year writing.
What English classes do you teach?
This semester, I’m teaching English 103: Rhetoric and Writing. I also teach in the Professional Writing emphasis and I teach graduate courses in Rhetoric and Composition, so next semester I’ll be teaching English 336: Writing for Community Action, and English 689: Writing Center Research and Administration.
What attracted you to teaching at Ball State?
When I first visited Ball State, one thing that stood out to me was how passionate the faculty in the English department were about teaching. Whether they were teaching first year courses or graduate seminars, faculty were excited about their classes and always had good things to say about their students. The students at Ball State are curious, engaged, and driven to do well, often while balancing a lot of commitments. Working with students here makes me feel energized about my work—when I’m having a bad day, teaching always turns it around.
How would you describe your teaching style?
One of the most compelling metaphors I’ve ever heard about teaching at the college level is that it’s about providing fingerposts. As a teacher, I try to help students see options and pathways that might be useful, interesting, and intellectually stimulating to them—but ultimately, as the learner, I want them to be able to exert agency over their learning process and choose what path they go down. For example, when I teach writing, I help students understand how writing is a process, rather than just a final product. But I also acknowledge to students that I know they won’t always have the time or the need to write a rough draft, revise, and create a second draft for every assignment in college. Nonetheless, they learn and practice those skills in my class so that they have the strategy and can keep it in their back pocket for a time down the road when they’re in a complex writing situation where they do need these skills.
What’s good advice that you might have for a student to succeed?
First, I think one of the most important keys to success in college is finding ways to engage with everything you learn, even when it’s not the most interesting to you personally. So, even if a course or reading isn’t in your wheelhouse, try to find something in it that you can get excited about. Alternatively, try to think about the broader context: how does what you’re learning or reading fit into the broader scope of that disciplinary area or field? One individual concept might not be all that compelling to us—but if we know that it helps us understand a larger concept, it gets easier to find the exciting pieces. The second thing I’d say is that universities want you to be successful, so there are a lot of resources available to you as a student—make use of things like the counseling center, your advisor, and academic success services. This includes your professors! When students have trouble in a class or their grade starts slipping, sometimes their tendency is to withdraw inward. They stop coming to class, they don’t respond to emails, and they feel embarrassed about falling behind. But your instructors can only help you if they know you’re struggling! So, if you ever start having problems, don’t ghost—communicate!
Are you currently reading anything/Are there any special projects you’ve been working on?
This isn’t a scholarly text, but I’m currently reading The Gulf by Rachel Cochran. Rachel was a colleague of mine at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. One thing I love about working in English departments with vibrant creative writing programs (as at Ball State!) is getting to read my colleagues’ work for fun! I love being surrounded by people with so much passion for creative work and writing.
An interesting hobby you have?
I’m a long-distance cyclist! I’ve completed RAGBRAI, a 7-day bike ride across the state of Iowa, twice.