Tag: Department of English

UA graduate students and Black Warrior Review editors Mark Galaritta and Jackson Saul sit with recent copies of the Black Warrior Review journal at a table in the BWR office located in the basement of Gallaway Theater.

Black Warrior Review Receives Prestigious Grant

UA graduate students and Black Warrior Review editors Mark Galaritta and Jackson Saul sit with recent copies of the Black Warrior Review journal at a table in the BWR office located in the basement of Gallaway Theater.
UA graduate students and the 2019 Black Warrior Review editors Mark Galarrita and Jackson Saul sit with recent copies of the Black Warrior Review journal.

“The Black Warrior Review is a Southern journal,” says 2019’s Managing Editor Jackson Saul. “It’s always been a Southern journal. Even if the writers are not Southern, they find a home in the South.”

This hospitality is what sets The Black Warrior Review (BWR) apart from its peers since its founding in 1974. Despite being the oldest continuously run graduate literary journal in the United States, BWR and its staff are unfazed by romantic notions of custom or heritage. Instead, BWR nudges Southern literature forward, viewing the Southern experience through unconventional lenses. It gives voice to minorities, immigrants, LGBTQIA+ and others who struggle to find a platform to be heard from. These voices are unconventional, unapologetic and incredibly moving.

BWR receives continued refreshment each year, due largely to the annual turnover with an entirely new student editorial staff each year. A new staff continues to keep the journal’s focus fresh with new ideas.

The BWR editorial class of 2018, led by Cat Ingrid Leeches, completed the application and groundwork that resulted in receiving the 2019 Whiting Literary Magazine Prize – a print development grant that covers $5,000 per year for up to three years. While several BWR-featured writers have won awards in the past, including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, this is the first time the journal has received a national commendation.

“Receiving this award is a confirmation of what others have already known about us,” stated Saul.

In 2019, the staff heightened its commitment to excellence. Saul and his colleague, Editor Mark Galarrita, have already outlined their plan for the publication.

“In the coming years, we will use the grant to increase sales and improve the journal,” says Saul. “We have hired an online editor and waived the submissions fee – which we think will lead to better content and a larger pool of work.”

Already known for setting the career course for rising writers, BWR can now afford an additional online volume to continue to elevate the voices of marginalized writers and find new risk-taking work.

“I want to be on the right side of history,” says Galarrita. “This is our chance to get the story right and reach an all-new audience. It’s time the world heard about the real South – the South you don’t see in the media.”

Issue 46.1 of the Black Warrior Review is currently on sale. To submit work for the next issue, visit bwr.ua.edu.

The Black Warrior Review is sponsored by the MFA Program in Creative Writing and is produced through the work of graduate research assistants in the department. The University of Alabama’s Creative Writing MFA is one of two 4-year programs in the United States; many students take advantage of the fourth year to write extensive theses, pursue a second master’s degree or gain additional teaching experience.

For more information, including application submission dates and program requirements, contact the program director, Professor Wendy Rawlings. If you’re ready to apply, contact the Graduate School.

UA graduate school student, modern languages, Spanish teacher

Stacey Jacobson: A Consonant Understanding

Stacey Jacobson sits in front of a bookcase of colorful Spanish titles in the Department of Modern Languages' library at The University of Alabama.
Stacy Jacobson, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Modern Languages at The University of Alabama.

Stacey Jacobson was not a conventional graduate school applicant. Five years after completing her master’s degree in California, she was splitting duties as a part-time instructor between The University of Alabama’s Department of English and the English Language Institute. While hustling between classes, she noticed a flyer calling for submissions to what is now called The University of Alabama Languages Conference.

“I hadn’t done anything with my thesis since I wrote it. It was just sitting there, so I thought, ‘Why not?’” said Stacey. Asking that question drives much of Stacey’s decision-making and opens new opportunities for her to step into.

She presented her research, “Orthographic Influences of Spanish loans on English,” and her ongoing curiosity to understand how what is written (orthographic) is what a speaker sees but not necessarily what they say. A speaker’s native language affects their perception of what they hear and how they say something they haven’t encountered before. Stacey’s work resonated with a couple of professors who immediately approached her afterwards. They wanted to find her a place in the Department of Modern Languages as a doctoral candidate. Asking herself “why not?” once again, Stacey enrolled the next semester.

Continuing her graduate research as a phoneticist who works with acoustics, Stacey is a modern day Professor Henry Higgins (“My Fair Lady”), using computerized representations of sound. Picture the visual wave a phone shows when listening to identify a song. This is a spectrogram – demonstrating vowels as bursts at the top of a wave and consonants as lows of the wave. Most researchers and educators focus on the vowel bursts, but Stacey focuses on the lows, measuring the puffs of air for consonants in English versus Spanish.

Why do consonant sounds matter?

As an educator, Stacey works with learners of a new language every day and encounters how their native language gets in the way. Most specifically, she is looking at the grapheme/phoneme mismatch (what is seen vs. what is said) with the letter “h” in Spanish, where it is not pronounced, as compared to English, where it is almost always pronounced.

She’s using a mobile phone app with voice recognition technology to provide immediate feedback to her students, and it, too, ignores the consonants. Consonants are where the accents fall in Spanish, so for a Spanish teacher, it is particularly important that the emerging technology used by students understands computerized speech.

Stacey is learning Python code to conduct her research and find a way to address the issue. By asking “why not” again, she’s opening the door for future professional work as a computational linguist, a field she had not considered before. And she’s considering it with the support of her faculty. She credits the graduate professors for their intentionality to connect with students and have a sincere interest in their job placement and interview preparation.

Stacey expects to complete her studies in 2020, earning a doctoral degree in romance languages, specifically Spanish and linguistics, and serves as an adviser and chair for The University of Alabama Languages Conference – the same conference which opened this door to reinvented beginnings at UA.

Your research matters at The University of Alabama. Attend UA’s Three Minute Thesis competition on November 11, 2019 to learn more about the impressive research our graduate students are leading. 

Are you ready to find your place at UA? Apply today at graduate.ua.edu/prospective-students/apply-now/.