At Taylor University, faculty have active careers in their field both before and during their time at Taylor. Associate Professor of English Dan Bowman recently released his book On The Spectrum, a creative nonfiction perspective of his experience as an autistic writer, professor, father, and Christian.
Due to Taylor’s small 12:1 faculty to student ratio and whole-person focus, students have many opportunities to form personal and professional relationships with faculty outside of the classroom. Bowman practices this regularly through his position with Relief Journal and relationships and mentorships with students.
On the Spectrum
Along with celebrating his 10th year of teaching through a series of essays, Bowman explores his journey to his adult diagnosis of autism and the ways being autistic affects all areas of his life. He makes a passionate case for neurodiversity in academic and spiritual settings, including not just highlighting the need for accommodations, but all the ways his autism can offer a richer experience to those around him.
Bowman hosted his book launch at the Taylor Zondervan Library where he read portions of his book, spoke on his own autistic experience, and answered questions from audience members. There, he explained how his publishing deal came about after a Brazos Press editor tweet that asked what topics should be written on from a Christian perspective. Bowman’s name was brought up after gaining notoriety for essays he had published prior in journals on faith and autism. The tweet went viral, and next thing he knew, he had a book deal.
In addition to writing and teaching creative writing, Bowman is the editor-in-chief of the Relief Journal, a national literary magazine. He has brought its headquarters to Taylor and has developed a class where students can work on-staff for a semester as assistant editors. Here, they gain experience reading submissions and learning the behind-the-scenes of journal publishing.
Hands-on publication experience is invaluable for undergrad students; it can function as resume work experience as well as help students determine their career interest. Relief is one of many publications that Taylor students can write and edit for, be published in, receive design experience, and gain marketing and project-managing skills.
Parnassus, a journal of art and literature just for the Taylor student body, is another literary journal offered as a course in the fall semester. In addition, students can work on The Echo, (Taylor’s student newspaper), The Illium Yearbook, and Collide (The Integration of Faith and Culture cabinet magazine).
After taking Bowman's Intro to Creative Writing class, senior English—Creative Writing major Abby Pepin was sold on the English department, and after enjoying her time on Relief and Parnassus, she was interested in more similar work. In January of 2021, Abby Pepin asked Bowman if he knew of any summer literary journal internships she could apply for. He offered her the opportunity to help him with his work for his book launch and additional work on Relief, and Pepin chose to jump on it.
“My philosophy at the beginning of the summer was, very rarely do I want to ask you to do something that's not super meaningful most of the time,” Bowman told Pepin. “I want you participating in activities that you could tell a story about in an interview and that they'll understand that it has real substance.”
Most of Pepin’s work involved writing the discussion guide for On The Spectrum. It was quite the learning experience, and one of her favorite projects. She didn’t know much about autism beforehand, but she enjoyed learning about psychology and has a minor in it, so the process of writing questions for both autistic and neurotypical people was her favorite process.
“As with anything, it’s something where learning more about it can help you love people better,” she said.
Additionally, she copyedited Relief’s finalized submissions, organized the catalog in Relief’s headquarters, and advised in marketing the journal. She also helped Bowman prepare for various podcast and media appearances by practicing mock interviews beforehand.
Fulfilling Career Goals
After her experience with Bowman, Pepin has her sights on a career in copyediting. While she will always love writing, her interest in publishing has grown greatly to focus more on the editing aspects. For Bowman, Pepin’s involvement was the culmination of everything he wanted for his career.
"I had this dream for a long time of where I wanted to be and that’s right where I am now,” said Bowman. “I love working with my students. I love working on literary magazines and I love being a writer. Even though every opportunity didn't always work out along the way, I just kept going and going until it did work. I'm in such a wonderful spot that I usually just celebrate and say, ‘I'm thankful to be where I am right now.’”
If you're interested in a career in writing and publishing, Taylor offers a variety of majors including English Literature or Creative Writing, Professional Writing, and Multimedia Journalism.