CoAL Previous News: Spring 2018
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College of Arts and Letters

Previous News - Spring 2018


Professor Karen Sorenson

APSU French professor Sorenson is Tennessee's Foreign Language Teacher of the Year

Austin Peay State University Professor of French literature Dr. Karen D. Sorenson has been named this year's Jacqueline Elliott Award for Service in Higher Education recipient by the Tennessee Foreign Language Teaching Association (TFLTA).

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APSU and school system team up for Kennedy Center's Partners in Education program

The Clarksville-Montgomery County School System and APSU's Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts (CECA) were selected to join the Kennedy Center's Partners in Education program.

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Radio Drama

APSU Arts and Letters students collaborate on new Shakespeare podcast

At first, it sounds like the set-up to a joke—a voice actor, a Restoration-era drama scholar and a sound engineer walk into a bar (or coffee shop, in this case). But instead of hijinks, these three Austin Peay State University professors discuss a bold collaborative project to connect students from different disciplines and provide an entertaining resource for the community.

Earlier this semester, Talon Beeson, assistant professor of theatre; Dr. Jane Wessel, assistant professor of languages and literature; and David Ellison, assistant professor of communication, began teaching three separate classes in their fields. The courses, however, require the students to collaboratively produce a four-episode podcast on Restoration and 18th-century adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays.

“This is the moment when Shakespeare becomes Shakespeare,” Wessel said. "The class asks how people played with his material to make it their own, to make audiences interested again a century after his death. He’s old news, but because of all these adaptations, people are paying attention to Shakespeare again.”

While Wessel discusses this subject with her literature students, Beeson is leading a special topics class on radio dramas and Ellison is teaching a radio theater workshop. The three classes meet separately at the same time, but on certain afternoons, they come together to work on the project.

Students working the sound boardFor the podcast, Wessel’s students have selected a scene from an original Shakespeare play and a scene from an 18th century adaptation. They then give those scenes, along with narration they’ve written and some historical context, to Beeson’s radio drama class.

“For the first several weeks, my students have been learning Shakespeare, going in and pulling research, and then I’ve been teaching them how to work a microphone,” Beeson said. “It’s starting to come together. We’ll have auditions, a table read, work the scenes and then go into the booth and record them.”

That’s where Ellison’s class comes in. His communication students have read the plays, and they’ve made notes on how they should record the final podcasts.

“We’ve been paying attention to the surroundings in these plays,” he said. “What is the background noise going on in Venice? They know the actors are going to know their lines. How are we going to create this ambiance and this feel for every scene?”

At the end of the semester, the public will be able to download three podcasts pairing scenes from “The Merchant of Venice,” “Macbeth,” and “The Tempest,” with their Restoration-era adaptations.

“We’re talking about the public humanities these days and making what we do go beyond the university and connecting to broader communities,” Wessel said. “I think this is a great way to do that because our students are producing a product that will go up on the web and is aimed to be accessible for non-academics.”

The students will also receive professional experience they can take with them when applying for jobs in their fields.

“Radio drama is having a huge resurgence with podcasting in the last 10 years, but it’s a style most of my actors aren’t familiar with,” Beeson said. “At the end, we will have a show we produced that will go out into the public. That will serve as a credit for my actors on IMDB, a credit for writers, a credit for producers.”

The podcast is also helping students move beyond their comfort zones. All three professors work within APSU’s College of Arts and Letters, but they don’t often interact on projects.

“My communication students are not versed in the 18th century in any way,” Ellison said. “Many of them are sports journalism students, and they wouldn’t normally read ‘The Merchant of Venice.’ It’s been pushing them well beyond their norms. I love it, and they’re loving it.”

“I love that your sports journalism students are reading ‘The Merchant of Venice,’” Wessel said.

The three episodes, along with a fourth “making of” podcast, will be available later this spring on iTunes.




Award-winning textile artist Sonya Clark is the 2017-2018 Acuff Chair of Excellence

Award-winning textile artist Sonya Clark will return to the campus of Austin Peay State University as the 2017-2018 Acuff Chair of Excellence. Clark was selected as this year’s Acuff Chair by the faculty of the APSU Department of Art + Design after an overwhelmingly positive response to her first APSU visit in March 2017 as part of the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts (CECA) Visiting Artist Lecture series.

This spring, Clark will facilitate a course for APSU art students, titled “Measuring Histories,” which will be an in-depth extension of her featured PBS Art Assignment episode of the same name. The course will be co-taught by Clark, APSU professor Billy Renkl and Michael Dickins, APSU director of galleries. A culminating exhibition of the work created during the course will take place at the end of the semester and will be announced once more details are available. 

Clark is known for using a variety of materials, including human hair, flags, currency and combs, to address race, culture, class and history in her work. She is a distinguished research fellow in the School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University. From 2006–2017, she served as chair for the Department of Craft/Material Studies. She was previously named to the Emily Mead Baldwin Bell-Bascom Professorship in the Creative Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Clark is the recipient of numerous awards and has exhibited her work in more than 300 museums and galleries in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas. Her work has been favorably reviewed in several publications, including the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Italian Vogue, Los Angeles Times, Hyperallergic and Huffington Post.

Clark holds a Master of Fine Arts from Cranbrook Academy of Art, and in 2011 she was awarded their first mid-career Distinguished Alumni Award. She also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Art Institute of Chicago and a Bachelor of Art from Amherst College. In 2015, she was awarded an honorary doctorate.

In 1985, country music legend Roy Acuff generously established an endowment to enrich the arts community at APSU and in Clarksville-Montgomery County. The result was the Roy Acuff Chair of Excellence, which brings regionally and nationally acclaimed artists to APSU to share their artistic innovation with students and the community in a dynamic atmosphere of unrestricted experimentation. The Acuff Chair of Excellence is administered by the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts at APSU. The prestigious endowment rotates through the four arts departments on a four-year cycle.

For more information on Clark, visit For more information on the Acuff Chair of Excellence, visit




Professor Marcus Hayes

APSU dance faculty member concludes a year-long collaboration with the Frist Center for the Arts in Nashville

Marcus Hayes, Austin Peay State University associate professor of dance, has been engaged in a year-long collaboration with the visual artist Nick Cave and the exhibition of his work at the Frist Center of the Visual Arts in Nashville.

Cave is a Chicago-based artist who produces work in a wide range of media, including sculpture, installation, video and performance. While his creations are optical delights, a deeper look reveals that they speak to issues surrounding identity and social justice, specifically race, gun violence and civic responsibility. His trademark human-shaped sculptures—called soundsuits because of the noise made when they move—began as a response to the beating of Rodney King by policemen in Los Angeles more than 25 years ago. As an African-American man, Cave felt particularly vulnerable after the incident, so he formed a type of armor that protected him from profiling by concealing race, gender, and class.

The first part of Hayes’ collaboration was the contribution of a quote to the tapestry of photos of Cave’s art work and quotes by notable artists from Middle Tennessee, as well as nationally known artists from various art forms produced by the Frist Center. The tapestry is titled “Spreadsheet” and is available for purchase in the gift shop of the Frist Center.

The second collaboration involved contributing to the audio tour for the exhibition, “Feat.” Hayes was able to do a walk-through of the exhibition with Cave, gather notes, and have the reactions professionally recorded.

“This part of the experience was fantastic,” Hayes said. “I truly enjoyed my time with Nick Cave and learned so much about live audio recording and was honored to have my reactions shared with the public.”

The audio tour is available on the Frist Center for the Arts app.

The collaboration will culminate with two live performances on Friday, April 6, at the Schemerhorn Symphony Center. The sold-out, live performance includes elements of dance and performance art and will feature Hayes, along with eight current APSU students, in the piece, “Up Right,” which is a staged rite of passage ceremony.

The APSU students include Maurice Anglin, Corey Finley, Cordarius Talley, Sammie Hall, Nicholas Gunter, Samuel Spewer, Jared Little and Raymond Ivory Roberts. For more information about the performance or to watch the livestream, go to




Celeste Malone

APSU Communication graduate student lands highly competitive Twitter editorial internship

 Since 2009, Celeste Malone has been an active Twitter user. From watching live broadcasts to simply tweeting, there is always something for her to explore. This summer, the APSU communication graduate student will be using her Twitter and news reporting skills for Periscope — a Twitter subsidiary — as an editorial intern in San Francisco, California. She was selected out of 65,000 applications for the position.

 “Twitter has definitely played a major role within my jobs on campus,” Malone said. “I have used it to follow interesting stories for The All State, and as a way to find interesting topics to discuss in the WNDAACC.”

Malone currently serves as editor-in-chief of The All State, student newspaper, as well as graduate assistant for the Wilbur N. Daniel African American Cultural Center. She has been editor-in-chief since fall 2016, and The All State and student staff have earned almost 40 awards at state, regional and national competitions during her time.

“As editor-in-chief, I have learned to seek out and find interesting stories, while also evaluating the news value of things,” she said. “Additionally, I have learned how to work with a very diverse team and the importance of people having a voice.”

“Celeste has unparalleled drive and passion in everything she does,” Patrick Armstrong, coordinator of Student Publications and adviser to The All State, said. “The student staff look up to her and follow her lead. This will be a big motivation to continue the drive and push she has set for social media content.”

Marcelius Braxton, director of the Wilbur N. Daniel African American Cultural Center, was delighted to hear the news of Malone’s internship. “I’ve watched her cultivate her leadership, management and communication skills while serving as my graduate assistant at the Wilbur N. Daniel African American Cultural Center,” Braxton said. “I’ve entrusted her to work independently and develop new and innovative and inclusive programming, and she has taken on that challenge and exceeded all expectations.”

Malone is currently working toward her Master of Arts degree of Marketing Communication from the communication department.

“I’ve advised her since her first year at Austin Peay, and have always known, since our first meeting, that Celeste would go on to do great things,” Robert Baron, assistant professor and graduate coordinator for the communication department, said. “In my social media classes I teach students that they need to think about social media seriously. Celeste serves as a great example of what happens when someone does just that. I’m already trying to book her as a guest lecturer for my fall 2018 social media classes.”

Malone was also recently selected by the APSU Board of Trustees to serve as the 2018-19 student representative.

“APSU has continuously challenged and pushed me to become the person I am today,” she said. “I am truly humbled and honored to represent this campus, The All State, The Wilbur N. Daniel African American Cultural Center and the APSU Communication Department to the best of my ability.”




APSU Art + Design Professor Billy Renkl has illustration featured in the New York Times


Illustration by Billy Renkl


Visit the article here



APSU Dance Students

APSU Theatre and Dance recognized at national dance conference

Earlier this month, the Austin Peay State University Department of Theatre and Dance participated in the American College Dance Conference (ACDA) in Hartsville, South Carolina, where an original piece choreographed by Margaret Rennerfeldt, department chair, was selected for the event’s prestigious gala performance.

“The American College Dance Association (ACDA) is at the forefront of dance in higher education,” Marcus Hayes, associate professor of dance, said. “To receive this type of honor speaks to the quality of Professor Rennerfeldt’s choreography and is a ‘feather-in-the-cap’ for the Department of Theatre and Dance at APSU. Presenting work at this conference and receiving the distinction of being selected for the gala performance is like winning a division championship for a college athletics team.”

A panel of judges, consisting of professional dancers and choreographers, selected the piece, “Gotta Make a Dance, The Last Gasp,” because of “Rennerfeldt’s skillful use of satire and her seamless transitions to more serious subject matter.”

The judges also acknowledged the work’s sound score, “Goodnight,” composed by Dr. Christopher Bailey, associate professor of musical theatre, and sound mixed by Sarah Michelle Bailey, adjunct faculty member, as well as the lighting design by Dale Pickard, assistant professor of theatre and dance. The dance was performed by APSU students Claire Estes, Patrick Pride, Britanie Childs, Alexandria Heide, Kelly Barrios, Janesha Boothe, Diondre Booker, Megan Cundiff and Destiny Smith.

This is the third time for an Austin Peay dance work to be selected for an ACDA gala. In 2011, student Alaina (Runyon) Deaver’s piece “Mold” was selected, and in 2012, Rennerfeldt’s “Finding Place” received the honor.

The department also presented another original dance at the conference. Student Diondra Booker choreographed “Dear Sister,” performed by Denia Hill-Tate, Kelly Barrios, Claire Estes, Alexandria Heide, and Janesha Boothe.

Fifteen APSU students and five faculty members attended the national conference, where they took four master classes a day and attended a dance concert each evening. Forty-two dances from seventeen schools were adjudicated. The students’ trip was funded through a Faculty Senate SASI grant. The faculty members were supported through the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts.

Both dances – “Gotta Make a Dance, The Last Gasp” and “Dear Sister” will be featured in the upcoming 12th Annual Spring Dance Concert, March 22 – 25, at the Trahern Theatre. For more information or tickets, please visit the Theatre and Dance website or you may contact the box office at 931-221-7379 or at




Madison Hobson

APSU English major earns graduate assistanship to Auburn University

Auburn recently awarded her a prestigious graduate assistantship for its inter-fraternity council, allowing Hobson to expand upon the skills and experiences she received at Austin Peay.

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Drawing by Professor Paul Collins

APSU’s Paul Collins exhibits new work at Nashville’s Zeitgeist Gallery this March

This March, Collins will present seven of his recent projects in a new exhibition, "Fortnight Session," at Zeitgeist Gallery in Nashville.

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Dr. Di Paolo Harrison

Dr. Di Paolo Harrison publishes fifth scholarly work on Hispanic crime fiction

Last month, Di Paolo Harrison published his fifth scholarly book, "Queer Noir Hispanico," in an effort to bring homosexual detective characters out of the margins of the Hispanic world.

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Yvette Cummings at the New Gallery

The New Gallery Presents Yvette Cummings: Splendor & Fault

Cummings is using her art to open dialogue and have sometimes-difficult conversations regarding child abuse, adolescence and maternal struggles.

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Dr. Amy Gillick

Dr. Amy Gillick, Assistant Professor of Double Reeds, has been selected to perform at the 47th International Double Reed Society Conference 2018 in Granada, Spain


APSU Music Student Hayden Gieseman

Hayden Gieseman (MM in Performance, student of Dr. Spencer Prewitt) has been chosen as the winner of the 2018 UTM Woodwind Day College Research Competition 


Professor Scott Raymond

APSU  Art + Design Professor Scott Raymond contributes to BBC animated special, "The Highway Rat"

"Toward the end of the film, in the final sequence, there are three shots I did with the Highway Rat and a couple of other characters," Raymond said.

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MF Briton

APSU Vocal Music Student MJ Britton Wins Recognition at the Great Composer Competition Series

MJ Britton was awarded Second Prize for Best Schubert Performance in the International Music Competition / Great Composers Competition for her performance of Nur Wer die Sehnsucht kennt accompanied by Tyler Saunders on piano.



Dr. Christophe Konkobo

Dr. Christophe Konkobo, APSU Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies, has published La Pratique du théâtre moderne au Burkina Faso [The Practice of Modern Theatre in Burkina Faso] (Paris: Éditions L’Harmattan, 2017).  This detailed study explores the development and practice of theatre in the West African country of Burkina Faso from a chronological and thematic perspective; examines major figures and their contributions; and looks ahead to the future of Burkina Faso’s theatre.


History Honor Students

APSU history honor students present at national conference in New Orleans

Five Austin Peay State University students recently presented their research at the Biennial Phi Alpha Theta National History Conference in New Orleans.

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APSU graduate student Mejeun receives Level 2 certification from National College Learning Center Association

APSU graduate student Emmanuel Mejeun recently received Certified Learning Center Professional - Level 2 certification through the National College Learning Center Association (NCLCA).

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Abbi Wilt

Department of Communication alumna Wilt enjoying "dream job" with Southern Living Magazine

An assistant digital editor with Southern Living Magazine, New Brunswick, Canada native — and Austin Peay State University alumna — Abbi Wilt already knows that she followed a rather unique path to her dream job.

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Previous News

Spring 2018

Dario Robleto

Art + Design welcomes visiting artist Dario Robleto on March 13

Robleto, invited by the Acuff Chair of Excellence Sonya Clark, will give a public lecture at 6 p.m., Tuesday, March 13, in Heydel Hall

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APSU Chamber Singers

APSU choral program thrives during busy year

With events such as The Big Sing, Choir Fest and the Chamber Singers Tour, APSU's choral program has had a big year.

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Taming of the Shrew

Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew" gets comic book makeover at APSU

This February, APSU is bringing the bard's comedy to campus, and the production will feature animation and a pop art sensibility.

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Eve Ensler

APSU students present 17th annual production of "The Vagina Monologues"

This month, the Women's and Gender Studies Program and the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance will present the 17th annual production of Eve Ensler's award-winning play.

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Øystein Baadsvik, Tuba Virtuoso

The Department of Music and CECA Present Øystein Baadsvik, Tuba Virtuoso

February 20th, 7:30 PM
Mabry Concert Hall

Øystein Baadsvik is the only tuba virtuoso to have carved out a career exclusively as a soloist, rather than becoming a member of an orchestra or accepting a teaching post. His multi-faceted musical career as a soloist, chamber musician, lecturer and recording artist has taken him all over the world. The unique virtuosity and musicality Mr. Baadsvik’s brings to the tuba have established him as the exemplar of the instrument.


Professor Virginia Griswold moderates discussion on women in sculpture at Zeitgeist Gallery in Nashville, TN

Professor Virginia Griswold

The artist discussion moderated by APSU Sculpture Professor Virginia Griswold featured artists Kristen Jensen, Kylie Lockwood, Ellie Krakow, and Vadis Turner. The panel discussion at Zeitgesit Gallery in Nashville, Tennessee centered on contemporary women artists whose practice includes sculpture. It was presented in conjunction with the exhibitions "States of Matter" at Zeitgeist and "The Fingertip Is an Image-Forming Organ of Sight" at Coop Gallery. The discussion was held on February 3rd but the corresponding exhibition at Zeitgeist runs until February 24th. You can find more information about that exhibition here.


Plait by Professor Susan Bryant

Plait by Professor Susan Bryant is on exhibit at SE Center for Photography

Professor Susan Bryant is exhibiting Plait, from the series “Presence and Absence” in "Shades of Black & White" at the SE Center for Photography in Greenville, South Carolina.

This image is a digital print made from a scan of an original 4x5 wet-plate collodion glass negative made in a 4x5 camera. The exhibition was juried by Susan Burnstein and runs from February 2 – 24, 2018.

For more information please visit the website at



Carrie Meadows Poetry Reading

Zone 3 Press and CECA Present a Reading by Carrie Meadows

February 15 - 8 PM
Art + Design Building Room 120

Carrie Meadows is the author of Speak, My Tongue (Calypso Editions, 2017), a poetry collection celebrating self-taught artists of the American South. Her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, North American Review, Mid-American Review, and The Common, among other publications. In the past couple of years, Carrie has completed several residencies for both the Rivendell Writers’ Colony and the Sundress Academy of the Arts. Her work has multiple Pushcart Prize nominations, and in 2008, she was named winner of the Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of Virginia Prize. Outside of writing, she also teaches creative and professional writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.



APSU Guitar Fest

APSU Guitar Fest - February 12 - 14, 7:30 PM

Austin Peay State University and the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts present the annual APSU GuitarFest featuring guest artist concerts and workshops.  The concerts will be held February 12-14 at 7:30pm in the Music/Mass Communication Building’s Mabry Concert Hall and are free and open to the public.



College Art + Design Day

APSU hosts College Art and Design Day on Feb. 10

High school art students, as well as their art teachers and parents, are invited to participate in this daylong experience of college programs and careers in the visual arts.

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APSU alumnus Cory Schantz to perform Guest Artist Recital on Feb. 8

The Austin Peay State University Music Department will present baritone Cory Schantz in a Guest Artist Recital on Thursday, Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in the George and Sharon Mabry Concert Hall.

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