Gordon V. Ball, Ph.D.
English, Rhetoric, & Humanistic Studies
Ph.D. - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
M.A. - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
A.B. - Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina
231 Scott Shipp Hall
Virginia Military Institute
Lexington, VA 24450
P: (540) 464-7482
F: (540) 464-7779
COL Gordon Ball is Professor of English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies. He has taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Old Dominion University; as Fulbright Specialist Lecturer at three universities (Waseda, Sophia, and Rikkyo) in Tokyo; as American Literature and Culture Specialist at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland; and at Tougaloo College, before joining the VMI faculty in 1989. He is an internationally recognized authority on the poetry of Allen Ginsberg and the literature of the Beat Generation, an award-winning filmmaker, and a widely exhibited and published photographer.
At VMI COL Ball has taught Composition, Film History and Theory, American Literature Survey, American Literary Modernism, and Literature of the Beat Generation, among other courses. He currently teaches Writing and Rhetoric, American Literary Traditions, Film and Performance Studies, and American Literature in Cultural Context: The Beats. He has given several Independent Studies courses, most recently one on the works of William Faulkner; he mentored Cadet Jacob Agnew’s SURI Project, “Rimbaud’s Poetic Visions Renewed: The Myth, the Influence.” He is advisor to VMI’s Alpha Theta chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, which now serves as the umbrella organization for departmental extracurricular activities. In the past Sigma Tau Delta has sponsored numerous events and, for four years running, a Poetry Symposium that featured student poets and critics from VMI and a dozen other colleges across Virginia, with guest readers and keynoters such as Yusef Komunyakaa, R.T. Smith, Pulitzer Prize winner Claudia Emerson, Bruce Weigl, and Brian Turner. He has taken half a dozen cadets per semester to read at Studio Eleven in Lexington, and has facilitated the participation of cadets in Sweetbriar College’s annual literary festival. He is a 2008 recipient of a Certificate of Appreciation from VMI, and a 1992 recipient of the Matthew Fontaine Maury Research Award for Excellence in Stimulating, Encouraging, and Conducting Research at VMI.
COL Ball is the author of three books, East Hill Farm: Seasons with Allen Ginsberg (Counterpoint, 2011); Dark Music (Cityful Press, 2006), and ’66 Frames: A Memoir (Coffee House Press, 1999). He edited three volumes with poet Allen Ginsberg; Journals Early Fifties Early Sixties was translated into French and German; Allen Verbatim: Lectures on Poetry, Politics, Consciousness was translated into Japanese and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His books have been reviewed in the New York Times, the London Times, American Book Review, and most recently,VMI’s Studies in American Culture.
He is currently at work on an immensely long book of nonfiction, Anthem, which depicts several generations of his family from the start of the twentieth century and is set in West Virginia, Shanghai, Peking (Beijing), Canton (Guangzhou), concentration camp, and Tokyo. He has published numerous scholarly and critical articles, most notably “A Nobel for Dylan?” in The Poetics of American Song Lyrics (UP Mississippi, 2012)and “Wopbopgooglemop: Howl and its Influences” in The Poem That Changed America: “Howl” Fifty Years Later (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2006). Other essays have appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference: New Trends in American Studies, Dictionary of American Biography, and Sophia: Studies in Western Civilization and the Cultural Interaction of East and West, among others.
COL Ball has guest-lectured at such institutions as Washington and Lee University, Keio University, James Madison University, Hargrave Military Academy, Millsaps University, Xian University (Xian, China), and the College of William and Mary. He gave the keynote address “Beat Meets East” at the international conference “The Age of Spontaneity” at Sichuan University, Chengdu, China. A three-time participant in the Virginia Festival of the Book, he has presented papers at such gatherings as New York University’s “Legacy of the Beat Generation” conference; Jagiellonian University’s “April Five Conference: New Trends in American Studies” (Krakow, Poland); and the University of Minnesota’s “Highway 61 Revisited: Dylan’s Road from Minnesota to the World.” In 1986, he chaired the Modern Language Association convention’s Special Session on "Ginsberg's Howl: Thirty Years Later," and in 1991 he chaired the MLA’s Special Session "Ginsberg's Kaddish After Three Decades," which included as panelists critic Helen Vendler and Nobel Prize-winning poet Czeslaw Milosz.
He has written a volume of interrelated short stories, On Tokyo’s Edge: Gaijin Tales from Postwar Japan, some of which have been published in Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee Review, the New Orphic Review, and Southern Quarterly. At Davidson College he received the Vereen Bell Prize for Creative Writing from judge Reynolds Price. He has been interviewed by a wide variety of publications, from Rain Taxi to Daeg Bladt (Oslo, Norway), by the BBC, Monitor Radio, and three times by Virginia National Public Radio’s “With Good Reason.”
A selective list of venues at which COL Ball has read his fiction, poetry, and nonfiction includes Hillel House, Washington and Lee University; University of North Carolina; City Lights Bookstore; Hollins University; Greenwich (Connecticutt) Public Library; the Harvard Coop; Studio Eleven, and VMI. In addition to the Vereen Bell Prize at Davidson, his literary honors include serving as the John P. Kurlas Memorial Poet-in-Residence, Fitton Center for Creative Arts, Hamilton, Ontario; and the James Turner Butler Creative Lectureship at Stetson University.
COL Ball has made fifteen independent films which have shown on three continents, at such institutions and events as the Fifth International Congress of the Americas, University of the Americas, Puebla, Mexico; The Museum of Modern Art (New York City); the Guggenheim Museum; Jagiellonian University (Krakow, Poland); Image Forum (Tokyo); the Virginia Festival of American Film; the Hirshhorn Museum; and the Third International Avant-Garde Film Festival, London. His work was introduced on national television (“The Independents,” The Learning Channel) by director Paul Mazursky. Awards for his filmmaking have come from the Atlanta Film and Video Festival, the Big Muddy Film Festival, and the Sinking Creek Film Celebration, among others. Articles on his films have appeared in Art Papers, Image Forum, and other journals; he has received four fellowships in filmmaking, including one from the Virginia Commission for the Arts.
Among the many sites where COL Ball’s photographs have been exhibited are New York University; Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art; Night Owl Music, Lexington; Great Modern Pictures, New York; and the Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William and Mary. A selective list of photo publications includes Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, the Beat Generation, and America; Big Sky Mind: Buddhism and the Beat Generation; Burroughs: Eine Bild Biographie; the Rolling Stone Book of the Beats; the New York Times; the Chronicle of Higher Education; Teachers and Writers; and College Literature. He has served as judge for the Charles Lloyd Award in Nonfiction (Davidson College); Sinking Creek Film Celebration; and the Washington and Lee University Photography Competition.