Colorado Christian University’s Jason Ney, instructor of English and director of the Writing Center, earned his Ph.D. in literary studies from the University of Denver this May.
Ney’s dissertation is part memoir and part critical theory, dealing with ethical issues in memoir—including the fallibility of memory, composite characters, and representing dialogue faithfully. The memoir portion focuses on Ney’s time working in a factory during his college years.
“It’s part blue-collar memoir, which is an underrepresented genre in the market, and part spiritual journey narrative,” explained Ney. “It tells how I went from a fundamentalist background to rough-and-tumble factory life, and the culture shock that came with that. This led to a reshaping of my faith and a rethinking of how I practice my beliefs in the ‘real world.’”
Ney’s coursework focused on American literature and detective fiction, and he also writes regularly for Noir City magazine. The flexibility of his Ph.D. program, however, allowed him to pursue diverse interests.
He came to CCU in the fall of 2013 to spearhead efforts to revamp the University’s Writing Center and push it to the next level, which is another area of specialty.
“I developed a passion for teaching composition over several years by seeing freshman who had gaps in their abilities, and who often didn’t like writing—and taking students with that mindset to the point where they loved writing by the end of the year. I have a real passion for that.”
His passion has led to an increased role in the Writing Center at CCU. Various processes have been streamlined, and Ney teaches a theory and practice class to all students who work in the Center.
“We want to identify top students to work there,” said Ney, “so that they can become an extension of our passion and drive to improve writing across the disciplines at CCU.”
“I want students to see writing and language as a tool to make disciples in all kinds of different areas regardless of major.”
Ney’s experience in both the practice and theory of writing has already introduced positive results and feedback at CCU, which lists one of its strategic objectives as teaching students “how to speak and write clearly and effectively.”
He also received a “Favorite Professor” award as an affiliate in 2012 and full-time instructor in 2013.
This summer will see Ney back at his desk, polishing what he’s already written. “I plan on revising my memoir and beginning the search for an agent before the end of the calendar year.”
After the accomplishment of a Ph.D., the sometimes arduous process of finding a publisher might prove easy for Ney. “Getting a Ph.D. is more of an endurance race than anything else,” he noted. “I had to keep that mindset throughout the process. It’s not to the swiftest or the strongest but to the person who can grind it out.”