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College of Arts and Letters

Student drawing

In the College of Arts and Letters students are encouraged to learn and live responsibly and imaginatively, embracing diversity and collaboration as they strive to elucidate the larger human condition and shape intentional, ethical, socially just lives.

In the College of Arts and Letters; students are encouraged to learn and live responsibly and imaginatively, embracing diversity and collaboration as they strive to elucidate the larger human condition and shape intentional, ethical, socially just lives.

In the College of Arts and Letters; students are encouraged to learn and live responsibly and imaginatively, embracing diversity and collaboration as they strive to elucidate the larger human condition and shape intentional, ethical, socially just lives.

College of Arts and Letters


  College of Arts & Letters News and Events



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 www.sonyaclark.com. For more information on the Acuff Chair of Excellence, visit www.apsu.edu/ceca/chair.



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 boxoffice@apsu.edu.



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.



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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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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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 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




Scott Raymond
Meet Scott Raymond

“At 2 a.m., when you're getting a little punchy, it's great to look up and remember that you're animating a T-Rex chasing after a country star.”