Liberal Arts News


Posted on January 21, 2015

The faculty and graduate students in the English department engaged to produce three volumes of the works of playwright Terrence McNally have completed the first volume, which will appear  later this year from Grove Press.  In 2013, Dr. Frontain received the first installment of what would come to a $24,000 grant from McNally’s publisher, which has supported the work of three graduate students over two years.  Selected Plays will contain eight plays with introductions by McNally, while Vol. 3 of McNally’s Collected Plays will be published by Smith and Kraus.  Dr. Frontain and his current graduate assistant Darby Burdine expect to complete the remaining volume, which is an edition of McNally’s essays on the theater, in summer.

McNally is one of America’s most honored playwrights.  The winner of four Tony Awards (Kiss of the Spider Woman, Ragtime, Master Class and Love! Valour! Compassion!), he has most recently been represented on Broadway by the Tony Award-nominated Mothers and Sons, and by the record-breaking revival of It’s Only a Play.  Previews will begin in March for his new musical with John Kander and Fred Ebb titled The Visit and starring Chita Rivera, which opens April 23.

FrontainUCA graduate student Eliza Killey (right) chats backstage with four-time Tony Award winning playwright Terrence McNally (center) and six-time Emmy Award winning actor Tyne Daly (left) following a preview performance of McNally’s new play, Mothers and Sons.  The production, which stars Daly, is McNally’s twentieth Broadway play.  While pursuing her M. A. in English at UCA, Killey has worked on the team producing three volumes of McNally’s plays and prose.


Posted December 11, 2014

ANTH CADRON PR_2During the fall 2014 semester, UCA anthropology students gained glimpses into Conway’s past by examining archaeological artifacts excavated from Cadron Settlement Park, a National Historic Site located west of Con-way along the Arkansas River. The students, enrolled in the Archaeology of North America course offered by the Department of Sociology, evaluated the Faulkner County Museum collection to learn about some of the earliest Euro-American settlers who ventured into the western frontier of central Arkansas in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Megan Stane, a student in the class, enthused, “I’ve learned a lot about the process it takes to record artifacts by working on the project. This experience makes me want to intern at the Faulkner County Museum to help record more of the county’s history.”

ANTH CADRON PR_1The project is planned as a multi-semester, collaborative effort be-tween the UCA Department of Sociology and the Faulkner County Museum under the instruction of Dr. Duncan P. McKinnon, UCA anthropology lectur-er, and Lynita Langley-Ware, the Director of the Faulkner County Museum. Through an analysis of artifacts housed at the Museum (ceramics, glassware, armaments, buttons, beads, nails, etc.) and analysis of literature and historical documents, students are using these data in their final projects to address questions related to trade, exchange, identity, ethnicity, socio-economic sta-tus, and cultural change at this important site in the history of Arkansas. As Ms. Langley-Ware explains it, “Through the process of examining small, seemingly insignificant objects and referencing historic documents relevant to the settlement of this area, UCA students are gaining a better understand-ing of the global influences on the early development of today’s Faulkner County and the importance of history to inform on the present.”

Dr. McKinnon added, “This hands-on experience facilitates instruc-tion in the methods of conducting archaeological research, but it also offers a new perspective for students and a better understanding and visibility about the community in which they live.” Dr. McKinnon and Ms. Langley-Ware expressed excitement about getting more students interested in community awareness and social identity tied to the conservation and preservation of the history of the greater Conway area.

Philosophy and Religion

Posted on December 16, 2014

Dr. Tanya Jeffcoat has had a chapter published in the book  Aesthetics and the Embodied Mind: Beyond Art Theory and the Cartesian Mind-Body Dichotomy (Vol. 73 of Springer-Verlag’s Contributions to Phenomenology).  The article is titled “Ecological Embodiment, Tragic Consciousness, and the Aesthetics of Possibility: Creating an Art of Living.”

Posted on December 4, 2014

Dr. Clayton Crockett had a co-edited book published in October 2014 by Wipf and Stock Publishers: The volume is entitled Theology After Lacan: The Passion for the Real, and is co-edited with Creston Davis and Marcus Pound. This book includes chapters by some of the leading Continental philosophers of religion working today. According to the Israeli theorist and artist Bracha L. Ettinger, “This volume, Theology after Lacan, contains essays from some of the world’s most recognized theology and cultural theorists implicated in contemporary psychoanalysis and rigorously advances the conversation about the intimate intersection that binds religion and psychoanalysis intriguingly together.”

Posted on December 3, 1014

Dr. Jesse Butler received a National Endowment for the Humanities Enduring Questions grant for the development of a new cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural course on the perennial human pursuit of self-knowledge. Stemming from the enduring question “Who Am I?”, the course will explore diverse conceptions of self-knowledge and identity across ancient texts from Eastern and Western culture, classic and contemporary works in American literature, and cutting-edge developments in philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience. The course will be taught for the first time in the upcoming Spring 2015 semester as a PHIL 3395 “Topics” course and is open to all interested students regardless of major.

Dr. Jesse Butler’s article “Knowledge and NOW: What Is the Epistemic Standing of the Present Moment?” was published in the online Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective. It may be accessed at the following link:

Posted on December 1, 2014

Dr. Jacob M. Held who has worked at the intersection of philosophy and popular culture for over a decade and whose recent publications include Dr. Seuss and Philosophy: Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! (Rowman and Littlefield, 2011) and Roald Dahl and Philosophy: A Little Nonsense Now and Then (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014) was recently spotlighted in The Guardian. In her article, “Terry Pratchett rethought as a philosopher in new study” Alison Flood ( discusses the philosophical themes underlying the work of British Fantasy author Terry Pratchett, and interviews Dr. Held and his co-editor Dr. James B. South (Marquette University) about their newest book, Philosophy and Terry Pratchett (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). The book is a collection of solicited essays focusing on philosophical aspects of Pratchett’s Discworld series. Essays deal with existential themes, metaphysics, ethics, gender, distributive justice, and rights. Longtime fans of Pratchett, Held and South were excited to finally find a venue to explore the work of Terry Pratchett. The book is slated to be released Dec. 3rd but has already been labeled as the #1 New Release in Philosophy on  Held and South are hopeful that the book will reach a wide audience and encourage interest in both Pratchett’s work and philosophy in general.

Dr. Jim Shelton has had his article “Li Zehou and Moritz Schlick on the Roots of Beauty” accepted for publication in the journal Frontiers of Philosophy in China.

 Dr, Charles Harvey’s article “Heidegger within the Technium: Re-viewing The Question Concerning Technology after Kevin Kelly’s What Technology Wants,” appeared in the spring edition of Philosophy in the Contemporary World.


Posted on January 5, 2015

History MA Program News

Kevin Cummings

Kevin Cummings

Graduate students in the History Department’s MA program were busy in the fall disseminating their research and working on master’s theses. Two students, Kevin Cummings and Matthew Foster, had papers accepted to the program of the Mid-America Conference on History held in Fort Smith in September.

While Kevin and Matt’s papers represented the culmination of research, other students in the program launched new thesis research projects. Aryn Denette has been carefully examining JET magazine’s portrayal of black masculinity during the 1970s and 1980s for her project, “In Search of Identity: Black Masculinity as Presented in Advertisements in JET Magazine 1974-1984.” Daniel Klotz discovered a rich archive of sources on school reform that have thus far evaded historians’ scrutiny. His thesis, “School Reform in Faulkner County, 1870-1930,” promises to shed light on the local history of Faulkner County while exploring broader trends of educational reform that swept the United States. Matt Millsap’s work, “Cotton Mather and the American Enlightenment,” traces the transatlantic flow of ideas between Europe and the British colonies. He is focusing on tensions between traditional Puritan religious teachings and Enlightenment ideas by examining Cotton Mather’s sermons and other writings. All three students plan to finish their work in the spring and present their results at upcoming conferences such as the Arkansas Historical Association meeting in April.


Posted on December 1, 2014

Graduates of the UCA Department of History social studies education program are excellent representatives of the strength of the BSE social studies degree at UCA and the quality of the graduates of that program. Even in a tight job market for teachers, most of our graduates find jobs their first year out of school at public and private institutions across the state. Some of them jump right back into graduate programs at UCA, working toward either a MA in history or a MSE in teaching or education administration.

The UCA Department of History’s reputation for scholarship has brought two recent James Madison Memorial Fellowship scholars to our graduate history program. Charles Williams, 2009 UCA graduate, received the Madison Fellowship in 2011, and is currently completing his BA history degree. Charles teaches history at Conway Junior High, where he and his students participate in the National History Day program.

Ty Hendricks, 2012 BSE social studies graduate, is another James Madison Fellow, also working toward his MA history degree at UCA. Ty teaches at Ahlf Junior High in Searcy, where he also engages his students in the National History Day program.

The 2014-15 cohort of eleven BSE social studies candidates are almost ready for their semester of student teaching. They have attended a profession teaching conference this fall, and are learning to network through membership in the Arkansas Council for the social Studies. Their internship assignments include schools in Little Rock, Conway, Maumelle and Morrilton. Next year they will be entering the great adventure of the secondary classroom. We hope to see them back in graduate classes soon.

Ty Hendricks speaks at a Veterans Day event at Ahlf Junior High

Ty Hendricks speaks at a Veterans Day event at Ahlf Junior High


Arkansas Model United Nations

Posted on December 1, 2014

 The University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Arkansas hosted the 49th Arkansas Model United Nations (AMUN) Conference on Friday, November 21ST and Saturday, November 22ND.  Some 425 delegates and faculty advisers from 24 high schools throughout Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Tennessee participated in the Opening Session of the AMUN conference in Ida Waldran Auditorium at 1:00pm on Friday.  President Tom Courtway welcomed the delegates to UCA during the Opening Session in Ida Waldran Auditorium.  Stephanie Gray served as Secretary-General of the 2014 AMUN Conference.

Committee sessions, involving simulations of the Security Council, Economic & Social Council, Human Rights Council, and League of Arab States, was held on Friday afternoon and Saturday.  The Plenary Session of the General Assembly, including three committees of the General Assembly, convened in Ida Waldran Auditorium at 10:30am on Saturday.  The Closing Session, including the awards ceremony took place in Ida Waldran Auditorium at 4:00pm on Saturday.

The Keynote Speaker during the Opening Session was Mr. Jose Guzzardi, a 2007 graduate of UCA with a B.A. degree in International Studies.  Mr. Guzzardi, who served as Secretary-General of the AMUN in 2006, is currently employed as a Sourcing Manager for Wal-Mart (E-Commerce) in São Paulo, Brazil.  Previously, he worked as Manager of Institutional Relations for Wal-Mart in Brazil from January 2011 to August 2014.  In 2009, Mr. Guzzardi earned a Master’s degree in Public Service at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock.

The AMUN program was established by Professor Simms McClintock, who taught political science at Arkansas State Teachers College (ASTC), in the Fall of 1966.  The first AMUN conference was held at renamed State College of Arkansas (SCA) in Conway in January 1967.  David Gruber from Heber Springs served as Secretary-General of the 1st AMUN conference.  Brett Newcomb from North Little Rock served as President of the General Assembly during the 1st Annual AMUN conference, and he served as Secretary-General of the 2nd and 3rd AMUN conferences held at SCA in 1968.  Professor Simms McClintock served as Coordinator of the AMUN for more than 25 years.  Dr. Mark Mullenbach, an Associate Professor of Political Science at UCA, has served as Coordinator of the AMUN since August 2001.

Next year, UCA will host the 50th AMUN conference on November 20-21, 2015.  A reception and planning session for the 50th anniversary will be held on Friday, November 21, 2014, UCA Student Center #205A, 6:30pm to 7:30pm.  Former AMUN secretaries-general and others who were involved in AMUN are invited to attend the reception and planning session.

For more information about the AMUN, please contact Dr. Mark Mullenbach, AMUN Coordinator, at or 501-804-0618 (cell).

Please visit the AMUN webpage at:



2014 Department of World Languages Faculty Symposium

Posted on November 21, 2014

IMG_2225On Tuesday, October 21, 2014, at the inaugural installment of the Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures’ Faculty Symposium, Associate Professor of Spanish Dr. John Parrack raised a provocative question: how can (and should) language teachers respond when students make astute observations about the language and ask “why”? Do they tell the truth? He argues that despite objections that giving a “truthful” answer takes away valuable class time better spent on activities in the target language, responding truthfully can, in fact, positively impact learner motivation, intuition, confidence, and interest. He presented some of the preliminary findings from a quantitative study he is conducting alongside UCA Assistant Professor of Spanish, Dr. Travis Sorenson to the audience of 20 students and 11 faculty. His study offers an intriguing suggestion: non-communicative historical linguistic activities, when incorporated in a structured and deliberate manner, can have communicative outcomes. Ultimately, Dr. Parrack’s presentation, “Telling the Truth: Historical Linguistics, Learner Motivation and Outcomes in Beginning Spanish,” sparked larger, fruitful discussions between students and faculty regarding both students’ and instructors’ considerations in the language classroom—discussions that will, no doubt, continue to shape how UCA faculty approach language teaching.

EDGE Francophone Film Night

Posted on November 21, 2014
Edge Francophone Film Night_4On Monday, November 3, twenty-nine UCA students joined Dr. Katelyn Knox, Assistant Professor of French in the Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures for a celebration of sub-Saharan African culture held in EDGE residential college. After preparing a feast of tomato, corn, and avocado salad; chicken and beef brochettes (skewers); peanut soup; rice; tropical fruit salad; and fried plantains, the group watched by Burkinabe filmmaker Dani Kouyaté’s Keïta! ou, L’héritage du griot [Keïta! Voice of the Griot] (1997)—a modern retelling of the myth of Sundiata Keïta, founder of the Malian empire. Though set in a time and place far from our own, the young Mabo’s struggles to find his own balance between recognizing his cultural heritage and affirming his individuality raised those very questions central to the EDGE mission: Where do we call our home? What roles do familial, regional, and national histories, cultures, and values play in our daily lives? And what discussions unite us as humans across geographical, historical, and cultural lines?