Film Class: Take One!

Luckily for film and English majors, Dr. Ted Hovet extended what Western Kentucky University offers when he began teaching here in 1995. Devoted to the craft of English as well as the flair of film, Hovet’s involvement with the English department put WKU and Kentucky on the map for film students.

Dr. Hovet in front of the English Department's movie collection. Photo by Sara Ann Alexander

Dr. Hovet in front of the English Department’s movie collection. Photo by Sara Ann Alexander

When Hovet began teaching at WKU he spoke with Professor Joe Boggs, his mentor and the author of The Art of Watching Films, about beginning a film minor at WKU. At the time, a film major or minor did not exist in any college-level Kentucky school.

According to former department head Dr. Karen Schneider, she and Hovet began teaching the first two film classes in the English department. As those classes grew in popularity, more film courses were added.
The film minor became official in 2000 and focused on film studies, theory, and criticism. Meanwhile, WKU’s School of Journalism and Broadcasting continued to teach and refine more hands-on courses geared towards film production. “Over time, we realized that an interdisciplinary film major would have great appeal and, since film is the dominant narrative mode of our time, would serve our students well. … Dr. Hovet, working primarily with faculty in Broadcasting, spearheaded that effort,” Schneider said.

“So,” Hovet said, “we sent [a proposal] on through the channels and all the way up to the state Council on Postsecondary Education, and got it approved, and [we] got the film major in spring of 2010.” Hovet stressed that this accomplishment was a very cooperative effort and couldn’t have been completed without dedicated work from several people.

Hovet brings fervor and gusto to his classes making the subjects he teaches enjoyable, especially to students who share his passion for film. “He does a great job of showing up to nearly every film set that the film students have. He will even show up to some that are not class related,” said Michael Cheser, a junior and film major from Mt. Washington, Kentucky. He adds that Hovet is always willing to help students with their scripts or brainstorm solutions for projects. “Really if you have any questions you can always ask Dr. Hovet,” Cheser explained.

Hovet’s expertise not only expanded film but other aspects of the English major as well. He and Schneider developed a gateway class which became what we all know as ENG 299, “partly as a way to evaluate the effectiveness of the English major. Our experience with that, and student feedback, made us realize that some sort of introduction to the study of English as a discipline would be beneficial,” said Schneider. Hovet described ENG 299 as a way to “benefit [students] not only in the classroom, but as an encouragement to be involved in things outside of the classroom—whether it’s English Club, Study Away, Study Abroad, Sigma Tau Delta… all those opportunities students have to take their work outside of the classroom.”

Hovet himself is very involved outside of class. He was a co-advisor to the English Club for the better part of a decade, but his proudest accomplishment was developing the annual

Dr. Hovet at the 2014 Undergraduate Conference on Literature, Language, and Culture. Photo by Lizzy Davis

Dr. Hovet at the 2014 Undergraduate Conference on Literature, Language, and Culture. Photo by Lizzy Davis

Undergraduate Conference on Literature, Language, and Culture in 2001. “I’m really happy that’s continued and been a big event in the department every year,” he said of the annual occasion for students to publicly share their analytic papers.

What Hovet likes about teaching is the chance to teach students who are just beginning their English journey in ENG 100 and those who are at the end of the road in Senior Seminar. “What I have enjoyed the most about working at the English department is working with students at all stages,” he said. The same is true for his film courses as well.

“A recent example of a stellar contribution to the Film major is the creation (along with Dr. Dawn Hall) of the Sundance Film Festival Winter term ‘study away’ class—an incomparable opportunity for students serious about film,” said Schneider. According to Hovet, showing students the premiere American film festival, “the real, high-level film world, has been just great!”

WKU Students at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014. Photo courtesy of the WKU Sundance Blog

WKU Students at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014. Photo courtesy of the WKU Sundance Blog

Besides the study away class, Hovet developed partnerships with the Louisville International Festival of Film and the Nashville Film Festival. During these nearby events, students can volunteer and meet filmmakers in order to network and become familiar with the industry.

As Schneider said, “[Dr. Hovet’s] efforts in program development have strengthened the English major and, of course, resulted in creation of the only Film major in Kentucky, one that has been lauded by film professionals. In large part because of his mentoring, our students have gone on to pursue graduate degrees in Film and to find success in both

teaching and film-making.” Thanks to his hard work and those around him who share a passion for film and arts, the English major is a multifaceted discipline here at WKU.

If you’d like more information about the Sundance Film Festival Winter term Study Away class, click here. It’s too late this year, but it’s never too late to plan for a great class and excursion next year!

All Good Things…

What a semester. Interviews with students from different tracks and departments, two published authors from WKU (and they haven’t graduated yet!), videos, and giant white squirrels. Like all good things, my internship has to come to an end.

My name is Jacky Killian, and I am an English major. I’m graduating on Saturday the 13th, 2014. This is my final finals week. I’m going to answer a few questions I frequently asked in my interviews with people throughout the semester. Continue reading

Making Movies with Zach

Zach Puckett is a friend of mine, and we both happen to be graduating this Saturday. Zach is a film major with a concentration in TV production and interned at County Music Television (CMT) in summer of 2014. He shared with me some of his opinions on English and his experiences as a film major, intern, and student. Oh, and read on after the break for some fun movies Zach has made during his time at WKU!! (A good break from finals week blues.)

Zach Puckett: Film buff, intern, friend

Zach Puckett: Film buff, Bender fan

Jacky Killian: How is English important to you as a film major?

Zach Puckett: With me having a creative writing minor also, really is more about film is about storytelling. Part of the reason why I took the creative writing minor was to make films and write films. English is a big deal with that because it includes grammar and story structure because with a lot creative writing classes I’ve taken, there’s been an emphasis on story structure. Beginning, middle, end, rising action. It’s something you need to learn, and you learn this in film but there’s so many parts of film that you need to learn that [storytelling] gets pushed to the wayside sometimes, so English makes up for it.

Jacky: What does it mean to be a film major?

Zach: Some people use film to make a statement or tell a story. Film is just another part of art. To me, it’s about the magic of making a movie. There are still stories to be made, and the production of a film itself can be interesting. It’s an interesting field that I enjoy a lot. It’s about the love of film; that’s what it means to be a film major. Continue reading

Some Studying Oppurtunities

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The History Department’s going to study the history and science of brewing at Harlaxton, England this summer. To register, visit this site.

Hey, kids…you wanna publish some books?

For those who want be publishers and maybe visit the Big Apple, try applying for New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute. Click here for more information.

Professor and Poet

Dr. Tom Hunley has been with WKU for twelve years. He obtained his doctorate in English with a Creative Dissertation at Florida State University, and minored in Composition Studies and Creative Writing Pedagogy. Dr. Hunley currently has two books under contract titled Plunk—a collection of poetry—and Creative Writing Pedagogies, that he co-edited with Alexandria Peary of Salem University.

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Jacky Killian: What does it mean to  be an English professor to you?

Dr. Tom Hunley: It means I have the best job in the world.  I’m constantly re-invigorated when I see people fall in love with reading and writing, and it’s great to be able to view and sometimes facilitate that.
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Arty Marty

Today, I bring an interview with Martin Lucas Kenny from the Art Department. He runs a webcomic called Just Another Superhero Story (JASS for short).

We are the Literary Type

As English Majors, specifically us literature concentrations, a love for books is an essential part of who we are. I recently met someone who asked me to tell him about myself. As usual, I mentioned my go-to: I love to read. I hadn’t thought very much of this response till I considered the fact that this is the one answer I always respond with. In Spanish class: Me gusta leer. First days of class: My name is Katie Hanson and I love to read. This is such an important part of my personality. Think about how often you read and how many times you have used that fact as an indicator of your personality. The reading community is vast and varied, but one that is closely knit. The bogging site Thought Catalog is one I have bookmarked on my browser. They present a wide variety of authors, many of whom are avid readers. Here are some links to interesting articles for the literary type in each of us. While you are digesting your turkey this break, check out these blogs written by fellow readers and pass them on to others who share our passion.

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