Tag Archives: Department of English

Alumni: Jesse Heiman

From Texas State studies to star studios, Heiman shines onscreen

By Catherine Harper

Texas State graduate Jesse Heiman

Jesse Heiman

What do movie stars Kirsten Dunst, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jane Lynch and Will Ferrell all have in common? Jesse Heiman, a Texas State graduate and one of the most ubiquitous extras in Hollywood, has taken the stage behind these actors and more in both television and films.

Having graduated from Texas State in 2000 with a degree in English and mass communication, Heiman has climbed the ladder from his childhood dream of acting to stardom with appearances in more than 56 films and television shows throughout his career.

He shared his thoughts about his time at Texas State and his career in a recent interview with the author. Continue reading

Texas State Updates: Tonight Show

Texas State graduate/actor Heiman
appears on ‘Tonight Show’

Jesse Heiman, class of 2000.

Texas State graduate Jesse Heiman, who leaped into the spotlight as the “World’s Most Famous Extra” thanks to a tribute video on YouTube, appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno last night.

Heiman joked with Leno and guest Jamie Foxx and talked about working with director Stephen Spielberg and actor Leonard DiCaprio, among others. He also thanked his fan in Sweden who made the video, which as of today has been viewed more than 1.8 million times.

Heiman, who graduated in 2000 with a degree in English and mass communication, has appeared in more than 40 movies and television shows, according to his resume on IMDB.com.

Click here to see Heiman’s appearance on the show, from NBC.com.

Alumni: Jesse Heiman

Website honors graduate
as ‘greatest background actor’

Jesse Heiman, class of 2000.

The blog Hypervocal has anointed Texas State graduate Jesse Heiman as the Most Important Background Actor of Our Generation.

Heiman, who graduated in 2000 with a degree in English and mass communication, has appeared in more than 40 movies and television shows, according to his resume on IMDB.com.

Many of his roles are uncredited, but the blog lauds him for his regular appearances in both movie and television roles.

He was a semi-regular on the NBC show Chuck and also was seen on-screen in the Oscar-nominated film The Social Network.

The WolfGnards blog posted a feature about him, including a series of his TV ads, in 2009.

Rsearchers at Hypervocal found clips of him in a variety of roles and put them together in a short video:

You can follow Heiman on Twitter and become a fan on his Facebook page.

Alumni: Anthony Burns

Texas State graduate directed,
produced and wrote ‘Skateland’

By Britney Munguia

A new-age film with a vintage feel, Skateland is directed by Anthony Burns, a Texas State University graduate who studied English and mass communication.

Anthony Burns

The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2010, and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize in the drama category. The film later played at SXSW, Dallas, Seattle, Indianapolis and Edmonton Film Festivals, and isscheduled for a limited release in theaters this spring.

Set during the 1980s, Skateland follows a group of kids whose lives change dramatically when the local roller rink shuts down. Rink manager Ritchie Wheeler is a 19-year-old mess, trying to find the motivation to get his life in order before it’s too late. Continue reading

Rising Star: Christian Wallace

Honors graduate found thesis inspiration ‘beyond the tracks’

By Billi London-Gray

Christian Wallace came to Texas State University for two things: an education and an experience. As a fresh graduate, he’s already produced work that proves his attainment of both.

The gifted young writer just graduated Summa Cum Laude from the university with a double major in English and history. His Honors program thesis project, like his decision to come to Texas State, centered on one of his favorite places: Cheatham Street Warehouse.

Continue reading

Cheatham Street Warehouse: Part 1

San Marcos venue’s roots go deep into Texas music history

By Christian Wallace ‘10

Photo courtesy Cheatham Street Warehouse

Since its opening in 1974 by Kent Finlay, the “Godfather of Texas Songwriters,” Cheatham Street Warehouse has been an ideal place to watch the history of Texas music evolve. Within those tin walls, history is made nightly on the well-worn stage and also in the crowd where artists both famous and unknown mingle while drinking beer from mason jars.

George Strait and the Ace in the Hole Band had their first gig ever in the venue and continued to play weekly until Finlay and Strait took an old van to Nashville to find a record deal (more on that story later). A young guitarist, Stevie Vaughan, used to play the blues in Cheatham before he became internationally renowned as Stevie Ray Vaughan. Other artists such as, Charlie Sexton, Bruce Robinson, Todd Snider, Teri Hendrix and Randy Rogers grew their musical abilities in the fertile soil of the Cheatham Street stage. Continue reading

Spotlight: Teaching Poetry to Children

Honors poetry class helps kids, future teachers find freedom in writing

“Teaching Poetry to Children” is a course offered through the University Honors program at Texas State University. The fifteen students enrolled in the course this semester spent Tuesday mornings teaching poetry to students at Crockett Elementary School in San Marcos, Texas. The elementary students created poems and illustrations based on the work of William Blake, William Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams and other poets.

Students at Crocket Elementary in San Marcos wrote poetry with University Honors students. The kids were presented with books of their poems and illustrations Tuesday.

By Katelynn Butler ‘11

I took the Teaching Poetry to Children honors class for a few reasons. I have a firm belief in the power of art in learning; art lacks limitation, and poetry is one of many ways to utilize it.  And given that Diann McCabe was teaching the class with her devotion to true learning, I knew that was going to be the theme. Learning by experience with subtle guidance is the most effective curriculum. When you share that through a medium that has few if any imitations, I feel that the most pure form of learning occurs.

I worked with fifth graders at Crockett. The poem that generated the most interesting responses from my students was “Between Walls” by William Carlos Williams.

the back wings
of the

hospital where
nothing

will grow lie
cinders

in which shine
the broken

pieces of a green
bottle

Williams appealed to them, with short and simple lines examining an image. This poem in particular drew their attention. The idea I presented with it was to write about something that wouldn’t normally seem beautiful to others but was beautiful to you. One child wrote about himself as “dirty water” and another wrote about the jagged lines and colors of rust. Their poems were all very simple, but so insightful because they took time to notice these things.

The one concept I emphasized to the children was the freedom in writing. We didn’t spell right; we didn’t make complete sentences; we didn’t have lines; we meshed everything together into 1longwordsometimes. It is communicating how the writer sees the world that is important to poetry. They got that. It doesn’t matter how boring it is. If you can see the world through the poet’s eyes by reading his or her poetry, then that is a good poem.

My appreciation for poetry has changed. I used to judge poetry; I think we all were taught to do so. But poetry is often simply for the self. I’ve always had this belief in individual quality in a poem, that there is no such thing as absolute “good” status for a poem. This class has transformed that notion into a personal philosophy that I will carry with me throughout my teaching career. I have Diann McCabe and 24 little poets to thank for it.

Continue reading

Spotlight: Texas State Honors Program

How has the University Honors program helped you find your way?


Beatriz Gomez ’11
International Studies
“It has allowed me to be very creative. Moreover, my teachers have inspired and nurtured me to really think outside the box, and to see some of the problems that exist in our society that otherwise I wouldn’t see. And not only have they helped me see the problems, they make me want to do something about it.”

Christian Wallace ’10
History, Creative Writing
“One of the coolest things about Honors: it’s expanded me in so many ways. It has broken down a lot of mental barriers and opened my perspective.”

Texas State Faces: Robert Tally

Professor pioneers geocritical approach for studying literature

By Billi London-Gray

Dr. Robert Tally, a professor of English at Texas State University-San Marcos, likes to map novels, figuratively speaking. The Dean’s Award-winning scholar is charting new territory in the field of literary study known as geocriticism.

“Geocriticism, understood broadly, offers an approach to reading literary texts that emphasizes their engagement in a spatial or geographical milieu,” Tally says. “This in turn may enable novel ways of studying literature and culture.”

The geocritical approach focuses on the role of space and place in literature, both as the influences upon a writer, as crucial elements in a story and as a way of looking at the world. The French scholar Bertrand Westphal, with whom Tally collaborates, introduced geocriticism in his 2007 work, La Géocritique: Réel, fiction, espace.

In his review of Westphal’s book, Tally says, “In a sense, all writing partakes in a form of cartography, since even the most realistic map does not truly depict the space, but, like literature, figures it forth in a complex skein of imaginary relations.”

Tally thinks geocriticism, as an emergent discipline, will bring fresh ideas to the world of literary studies and encourage interdisciplinary dialogue. The approach explores “how all ways of dealing with the world are somewhat literary” and establishes “fruitful connections to other areas of cultural and social theory.”

In his paper Geocriticism and Classic American Literature, Tally writes, “Space has had a timely reemergence in literary and cultural studies in recent years. The discourse of postmodernism has especially emphasized the importance of space, geography and cartography, as the hyper-hurly-burly experience of the postmodern condition calls for the orienting and reorienting efforts of mapmaking.”

Tally is working hard to promote geocriticism among literary scholars and students. He organized a panel on geocriticism for the 2009 MLA convention and featured the approach prominently in his book, Melville, Mapping and Globalization: Literary Cartography in the American Baroque Writer. His current projects include editing a collection of essays on geocriticism and writing a book on the subject.

Tally’s English translation of La Géocritique: Réel, fiction, espace will be published as Geocriticism: Real and Fictional Spaces in 2011 by Palgrave Macmillan. Tally also is a founding member of the Kurt Vonnegut Society. For more information about Tally’s work on geocriticism, check out his website, Facebook group, Wikipedia article and blog, or download his critical essays from eCommons.

Rising Stars: Ben Sullivan

Honors student ties project
to most personal of experiences

Ben Sullivan, from the Texas State advertisement in the June edition of Texas Monthly magazine.


Recent Texas State graduate Ben Sullivan’s story has been posted on the Rising Stars page of the university’s website.

Sullivan, an honors graduate in English and philosophy, will be presenting a project from a University Honors course on baseball and American culture at the National Baseball Hall of Fame this summer.

Sullivan traced the progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in the baseball legend — basing his observations on his own experiences with his mother.

Click here to read the story.