English & Communication Department
The Department of English and Communication at UC Blue Ash College offers courses that provide students with a range of opportunities, whether you want to continue with future studies or build valuable skills for the workplace. Available courses such as reading and writing, English composition, literature, creative writing, public speaking, persuasion and interpersonal communication help build skills in analysis and critical thinking, and make it easy to complete the first two years of a four-year UC Communications or English bachelor's degree.
With three associate degree programs from which to choose, you can either:
- Complete two years of studies in one of our academic tracks in prepartion to transfer to UC's College of Arts and Sciences in pursuit of a bachelor's degree.
- Finish your program at UC Blue Ash College and receive your associate degree in Communication, English or Liberal Arts.
Transition-Oriented Associate Degree Programs
- Communication: The Communication program offers the first two years of college-level courses, allowing a student to earn an associate degree or transfer to the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) as a communication major on a bachelor's degree track.
- English: The Associate of Arts degree in English provides students with a solid foundation in literary studies and creative writing as part of a comprehensive general education. Complete the full program at UC Blue Ash to receive your associate degree, or transfer to pusue a bachelor's degree.
- Liberal Arts: The Liberal Arts program is designed for students who want to start their education at UC Blue Ash, but complete their BA or BS from UC's College of Arts and Sciences (A&S). As with our other programs, you can also earn your associate degree directly from UC Blue Ash.
- Online Communication: The fully online asynchronous associate degree in Communication provides students with the foundational and critical communication skills necessary to succeed in their careers. For students who continue their education beyond the associate degree - either now or in the future, the online degree program is designed to allow students to seamlessly transfer to the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) online bachelor's degree program in Communication.
- Public Relations: This special track within our Communication program equips students with the foundational skills and knowledge to move on to and successfully complete a four-year degree in Public Relations or Communication at UC's College of Arts and Sciences.
English & Communication Department Spotlights
We love to recognize the achievements of department faculty members, staff, and students. Take a look at some of our stories.
2022 Scary Stories Contest
Congratulations to the winners of our 2022 UC Blue Ash Scary Stories Contest, which is open to all UC students.
The Fresnel Lens
The wiry old ferryman grunted again as his leathery arms forced the oars of the two-person ferry forward, out of the waters. When his long hair swung, I could see that his eyes were clouded by cataracts, and his mouth wanted for teeth. The craft sliced across the roiling North Sea faster and with more force than I would have imagined possible from the thin old man. I could begin to pick out, through the fog, the outline of the lighthouse on the island, unlit and still.
The oars again glid through the cold air before chopping into the churning abyss. The ferryman grunted: “Previous keeper disappeared.” These were the first words he spoke since I boarded his vessel. He was a local highlander, and his raspy voice was saturated with what I thought was distaste. I shifted on the wooden boat’s-bench as he continued. “Her shoal’s here are like iron, wickie. Shear a vessel’s bottom like a fishmonger’s blade.” We were coming upon the island. He seemed to know, though he was facing away from the shore, rowing backwards. “Enough hardtack and jerky and swill in there for a man for a month yet. Ferry over everything you’d need each fortnight.” The boat collided with the side of the island. rocky and slick with growing moss, it was barely large enough for the lighthouse perched atop it.
“Begone now, sasannach, She’s threatening a storm, and I won’t be caught out, not for you.” The ferryman’s milky eyes caught mine as the waves, though short, lashed at the side of the ferry, causing it to sway. That was as calm as these waters got. Once I reached the crest of the island, I looked back to the ferryman. He was gone. The spindly granite-brick lighthouse loomed above me.
The heavy rumble of rolling thunder sent a jolt through my spine. The weather had only increased in its belligerence since I arrived at the lighthouse; Rain beat against the exterior windows of the lamp room in sheets like the blows of a wrathful deity. I wiped away a smudge on the massive glass flower-bud Fresnel lens, gently as I could, then I wound the crank that pulled the turning weight up its shaft, and the mechanisms inside the lens shuttered to life, slowly shifting the four beams of harsh light into a gentle revolution. The rain continued to buffet the lighthouse.
The rain’s assaults on the lighthouse have waxed and waned as the days have gone on, but the sky has never brightened, it remains a churning abyss of black cloud. All of my attempts to leave the lighthouse have ended the same way, with me driven back indoors by the biting bone-chill. There is not a month’s worth of food here; I must begin rationing. The weight crank will need to be wound soon. I do not think I have seen the sun since I arrived here, but the weather should be turning soon.
Another storm has rolled in from the north. On the lower levels of the lighthouse, I can hear waves crashing. I have run out of food - if the storm continues for three or more days, the supply run will have to be delayed. I have thought of fishing for fish or seagrass, but the harsh cold and the slicing hail have pushed me back to the safety of the stone lighthouse walls every time I have attempted. The Fresnel lens only accumulates more scuffs and marks and smears of dust and dirt and mildew each day despite being completely enclosed. I must only keep turning the crank and cleaning the lens and providing the lamp with oil until help arrives.
The storm has broken. When the solid sheet of cloud that had settled in the sky dispersed itself I saw the black sky lit up with stars, though I thought it would have been day. I looked out through the lamp room’s glass walls and my mind raced; where is the ferryman? He should have come to resupply me by now - I've already chewed through one of my boots, whatever I can do to keep the hunger at bay. When I'm not looking for salvation I turn and see another scuff on the lens, oil or mud or water or... I do not know.
The sun still hasn’t risen. I stepped outside… there was no moon. But the sky, it was… mesmerising. Black, completely, save for the stars. So many stars. And the Sea! There was… nothing. No waves, no fog, you could see clear out to the horizon, where the sky and the sea become one, blended together, black meets black. I stood there, enraptured, though the unnatural cold seared my flesh. By the time I came back to my senses and brought myself inside, my fingers were blackened. Every time I enter the lamp room, the massive lens is covered in streaks of some sort of oil that blocks out the light from the lamp completely. Try as I might, I cannot wipe the substance off of the lens as fast as it can… manifest more. There is nothing else to call it. The lens manifests it.
I went into the lamp room. There is nothing for me there, now, but I couldn’t keep away. I don’t think I had ever appreciated the lens before. It’s a marvellous invention, a beautiful thing, an enormous budding rose sculpted from glass, all four of it’s convex faces has a round porthole near its center, outlined by a steel bracing and cut in half by waves of glass ridges, rippling out from the centerline of the porthole, and continuing outwards. The lens’s oily secretions have given it an opalescent sheen, beauitful, like nacre. I came up to watch the colours dance as the lens rotated, but… I found myself peering into the blackness, and when I did…
I saw a man looking back at me, through the black oil. He was a keeper, in uniform, like me, but his was tattered, and his hair and beard were long and unkempt both. He had a wild look in his eyes as he stared back at me. He screamed out in desperation when I went to leave. I don’t think I’ll ever forget how he screamed.
The wiry old ferryman grunted: “Previous keeper disappeared.” He was rowing faster than his withered appearance would have suggested possible. I clambered up along the island’s stony shore. Between me and the lighthouse sat on the ground what looked to be a sodden leather book, a journal of some kind. I looked back to the ferryman. He was nowhere to be seen.
Ian Stigar: I'm not much of a writer, but I am a ravenous consumer of stories, so I like to think that I know how they are constructed and what makes them work.
It was the first block party post-covid. Also, the first since Dana’s husband Rick died three years ago. Standing in front of the dessert table with neighbors discussing the baking contest and the incredible lime cake of which there wasn’t enough, she couldn’t help but feel a bit forlorn. People were avoiding mentioning Rick. The group slowly dissipated as neighbors drifted off to tend to activities, kids, or other neighbors. Dana found herself alone with a man who had participated in their discussion, but she didn’t know him.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “Who are you?”
The stranger stepped forward and smiled offering his hand to shake. “Rick Spencer.”
Dana’s heart skipped a beat. She took a deep breath and with a shaky smile took his hand and said, “Dana Spencer.” She paused, “My husband was Rick Spencer.”
The man raised one eyebrow. “Ahhh, yes. He was a firefighter, right?”
“Yes, he was,” Dana replied.
“Yes, yes,” he said nodding as he recalled, “I’m sorry for your loss. I remember that. People were calling to check on me because they thought it was me.”
“Is that right?” Dana marveled at the coincidence.
Dana found herself feeling as the kids would say “some kind of way” as they chatted. He was charming. He had a wonderful smile. He was talkative. He told her about his children. He was about to become a grandfather. His birthday was in October just before hers. He lived nearby. He showed her his scar from when he, too, had had brain surgery.
“So, what kind of work do you do?” he asked.
“That’s the way to be!”
“What do you do?” Dana asked.
“I’m the Community Relations Officer for the Bethany PD. Call me if you ever need anything,” he smiled.
Why would I ever need the Community Relations Officer? Dana was beginning to wonder if this was subtle interest on his part. He had, after all, volunteered an awful lot of personal information to a complete stranger. Maybe it was just his way. Maybe…
“How long have you been on the department?” Dana asked.
“Nineteen years now. When we first came here from Pittsburgh, we looked at buying a house on this street. We loved it, but they were asking too much for the work it needed. It was down at the end,” he gestured, “Kind of set back into the corner.”
Dana blinked. She took a few steps toward the sidewalk and out of the side yard where the block party was set up and pointed at her own house in the cul-de-sac. “You mean that house right there?”
“Yeah, that one!”
“That’s my house.”
Dana didn’t believe in coincidence, and she was beginning to feel a little shaken. This man had the same name as her late husband. He fielded phone calls from people checking on him when her own Rick died. His birthday was ten days before hers. They had both had brain surgery. He was going to buy her house before she and Rick bought it. And in the grand scheme of what is the universe up to, he ends up at her block party in conversation with a group that whittled down to just the two of them.
“Mom!” Dana’s daughter called, “Can you come help us?”
Dana smiled at the new Rick Spencer. “Excuse me, I have to go mommy.”
“Of course,” he smiled back.
After Dana finished with the children, she looked for the new Rick Spencer. She tried to appear casual as she drifted around. She was disappointed when she didn’t find him.
“Candice,” Dana said to her next-door neighbor, “Did you see the man I was talking to over by the food tent? He was about this tall, wearing a black baseball cap and a red and white t-shirt?”
“Mmm, no, I don’t think so. Who is he?”
“He said he works for the police department.”
“No, I must’ve missed him.”
“His name is Rick Spencer.”
Candice’s eyes widened. “Get. Out! You’re kidding!”
“Isn’t that something? He said people were calling to check on him when Rick died.”
Candice’s husband David, who had taken part in the conversation at the dessert table, joined them.
“David,” Dana said, “Do you remember the guy in the black baseball cap and red and white t-shirt that was standing with us at the dessert table when we were talking about the lime cake?”
David thought for a moment. “No, I can’t say that I do.”
“Dana said his name is Rick Spencer!” Candice interjected.
“What?” David looked at Dana with raised eyebrows. “What a coincidence!”
“I know--,” Dana added.
Feeling less than festive, Dana left the block party early. Back at home, her thoughts remained occupied with the new Rick Spencer.
How weird would it be to date someone with the same name as my dead husband?
I don’t even know if he’s single.
He said “we...”
Time to fire up my ID skills…
Dana spent the next hour on the internet. She discovered his middle name. His ex-wife’s name. Where she lived. Where he lived. Their children’s names. How much his salary was in 2017. His work phone number. His work phone number. She smiled, he did say to call if I needed anything. It had been a long time since she had taken her shot, but she decided on Monday morning, she would call.
“Bethany Police Department.”
“Good morning. I’m trying to reach Rick Spencer.”
“I’m sorry, he’s no longer with us.”
Dana hesitated not sure what to say next. “But it says on your website that he’s the Community Relations Officer.”
“I apologize for that. It only says that when you Google it. If you go directly to our website, the information is updated. We haven’t figured out how to correct that. Officer Spencer passed away two years ago from covid.”
Dana was silent.
“Yes…” she whispered.
“Is there anything else I can help you with?”
“No…nothing at all.”
T. Reeves Wilson (Twana Wilson) is a speculative fiction writer and blogger who lives in Cincinnati, OH and is currently pursuing a degree in Creative Writing at the University of Cincinnati.
I would never have admitted to being afraid of the dark. Often, I found myself keeping the truth from my own mind. I tried so hard to deny my fear because there was no way I was ever going to admit what happened all those years ago. I took one step down the basement stairs, embracing my memories for the first time since it happened. As I heard the wooden step creak, I remembered my 9th birthday. On October 28th, 2012, it seemed as though every kid in the neighborhood showed up to my Halloween-themed birthday party. Everyone loved coming to my house because my mom threw amazing parties and took us places all the time. However, out of all my friends at that age, I was closest to Blake. We played together every single day unless one of us was grounded, and on that day he was the only one to stay for a sleepover. We hadn’t talked since.
I descended one step, hesitating so much to reach the bottom that I was putting both feet on each step and then pausing to reflect. I recalled Blake asking if we could play a new game he’d heard of at school. He described what he called the “skeleton game,” in which each player goes into a dark basement together at midnight. In order, from oldest to youngest, everyone took turns playing. He informed me that everyone always chickened out halfway. Both of my parents were sound asleep. Blake was older than me, and there were only two of us, so he went first. The instructions for the game were simple. The player whose turn it was laid on the ground and avoided all bodily movement until they gave up. Blake did this as we both nervously giggled. “This is so dumb,” I remembered saying. The next step was for him to completely forget about his body by focusing his mind on picturing bugs and imagining the sounds they make. He wanted me to do the same. This would supposedly send him into a state of sleep paralysis, although instead of calling it that, he just described what sleep paralysis was.
I took one more step downward. The hair on the back of my neck stood up, and I felt a chill across my entire body, giving me goosebumps. I felt as though this process of remembering was putting me in a trance. I went deeper into my mind, remembering how Blake sat there for several minutes, both of us in deep silence before he laughed and quietly spoke, “This is stupid. This isn’t gonna work.” I chuckled. Nevertheless, he continued to play the game. He was not the quitting type, and he was determined for this to work. He never did explain why the game was called the skeleton game. All I knew at this point was that it was supposed to scare you into quitting because you would start feeling like bugs were crawling under your skin. After about ten minutes of waiting, I began to feel extremely paranoid about what might be in that dark basement with us. Despite my uneasy gut feeling, I grew tired. That was the latest I had stayed up in a long time, and the combination of silence and darkness made me sleepy. My eyes and head felt heavy, so I carefully sat my head down on the ground and drifted to sleep. As I was losing consciousness, I noticed that Blake seemed to be sleeping as well, as his breathing was extremely deep, loud, and steady.
Thinking about what happened next made me snap out of my trance and nearly have a panic attack. My breathing accelerated so much that my hands went numb and my jaw and lips felt tight. Despite experiencing the urge to sprint up the stairs, I sprinted down the steps straight into the abyss Blake and I had entered 9 years prior. Even though I’d lived in the same house the entire time, I hadn’t gone down there since that horrible day. Now at the bottom of the stairs, I walked to where Blake and I had slept. The last of those memories gushed into the front of my brain with such force I thought my skull was going to break. When I woke up a few hours later, I could never have been prepared for what I saw. I had expected Blake to be fine, just as he was a few hours ago. Instead, I was woken up by his blood-curdling screams. He yelled in pure agony and terror. I watched as he flailed his arms in all directions helplessly. I ran to the light switch and turned it on to find my dear friend covered in all sorts of bugs and insects.
At the present moment, I closed my eyes and attempted to think about something else. I did not want to remember how they ate Blake in front of me. I did not want to remember how I didn’t even try to wake him up or get the bugs off of him. I simply screamed and ran upstairs to get my parents. I did not want to remember how he screeched as his life slipped away before my parents could do anything to help. I did not want to remember seeing his skeleton on the floor of my basement. And yet, I did. When I opened my eyes, I saw him standing in front of me. I opened my mouth to scream in horror, but I could not. As my eyes filled with tears, I heard the bug-infested skeleton of my friend ask me, “Aren’t you going to finish the game?”
Ryan is studying to be an English teacher and Certified Personal Trainer.
2022 Poetry Contest
Congratulations to the winners of our 2022 UC Blue Ash Poetry Contest, which is open to all UC students.
I prefer the string than blowing against a tube.
It has a different sound.
A different feeling.
A different vibration.
Smooth and sweet It places a crying child to rest
Upon its bed of grass.
The instrument is like a healthy tree, short in height.
The color it holds matches the autumn leaves.
It could be orange. It could be brown.
The neck is the trunk.
Long and slim, black in the night.
The chin rest is a nest
Soft for the birds to lay upon.
Comfortable for the body.
The strings are a spider’s thread
Extending from one branch down to the other.
They pass by two hollows
Right through the middle: the f holes.
These hollows provide shelter.
It provides room for the passing wind.
It provides room for echoes and steady resonance.
However, no sound can be made Unless it is touched.
The curved bow is the rain
That falls from the sky
And slips down the spider’s thread.
Combined they sing a song.
It is my little song.
It is my melody.
My melody of a forest.
For many different yous
Baby’s cues, baby coos, baby poos
Can’t even eat, sleep, tie my shoes…
Y’all don’t even have a clue
Who are you?
Milk bearer, Spit up wearer,
Shit changer, I’ve gotta change her
No longer me
I am mommy
How could I be so infatuated by a name?
How could your name make me see the gods and the Erinyes and compare them to you?
The melody that draws me in like the siren that awaits its prey.
The hair that glistens like that of honey.
The eyes that make me feel as though I am drowning in Poseidon's ocean.
How dare I look at the body of Aphrodite?
I wish to be turned to stone because I feel so
of seeing such a sacred relic.
I wish Medusa would overtake those gleaming eyes
so I no longer feel indebted.
making me feel as though I too, am the spirit of battle.
Leading me to the Underworld to fight my own battles
and knowing that whatever the outcome may be,
will lead me to Mount Olympus.
You are not a false idol, but dear god
I think that Zeus forgot a deity.
Apate cries out because although you’ve fooled many
he cannot get his hands on this muse.
You resemble the color of white,
your purity making others fall to their knees.
You are no Cupid
but I have undoubtably fallen in love.
Your arrow has captured my heart and will not let it go
until I tell you my sonnet of love.
And although I cannot give you my soul,
I will give you the heart as compensation.
For the Fields of Mourning are dampened with the tears that form in my eyes
knowing that I was fooled into falling for Hades.
2020 Poetry Contest
Resources and Opportunities
Writing and Study Skills Center
The Writing and Study Skills Center at the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College seeks to help UC Blue Ash students improve their reading, writing, and study skills and to promote diverse literacies and lifelong learning.
English & Communication Department