Second Update Re: 546 Working Women: New Course Description & Book Info

Dr. Horton has moved at light speed to put together a new description and reading list for ENGL 546. Here is the new description followed by the new book list:

According to a 2020 article in The Washington Post by Dr. Alicia Sesser Modestino, “one out of four women who reported becoming unemployed during the pandemic said it was because of a lack of child care — twice the rate among men.” In this course, we will turn to American literature to help us understand and dissect this alarming statistic.

The concept of American women in the workforce has seen many transformations from 1865 to the present due to various social and political movements. With the passing of the Emancipation Proclamation and the ending of the Industrial Revolution, the period around 1865 saw an increase of women taking positions outside of the domestic sphere. In 2020, as Modestino’s article demonstrates, we are seeing how social media and working from home adds another complex chapter to the history of working women in the United States. We will discuss the social, economic, and racial factors since 1865 that influenced women’s role in the American workforce. We will take a cultural studies approach to this topic – in addition to reading literature (fiction, short stories, poetry, biographies, and essays), we will examine scholarly and news articles, documentaries, films, television shows, and music to help us deconstruct the definitions of “women,” “working,” and “The United States.” We will interrogate the shifting definitions of the term “gender” and start with gender as a concept, a social construction reflecting differentials of power and opportunity.

The goal of this course is for students to understand the literature, history, and benchmarks of major events in the lives of women, as well as challenge American cultural conceptions of work. Throughout the semester, we will discuss the following questions:

  • What is your personal definition of “work”?
  • How does American culture privilege some forms of work while marginalizing others, specifically work performed by women of color?
  • How has the American definition of work changed from 1865 to the present, specifically with the influx of “work from home” positions?
  • What influence did the various waves of feminism have on the American workforce?
  • How do stereotypes of womanhood influence the types of careers women choose?
  • How does American literature reinforce and/or challenge stereotypes of working women?
  • What messages do children and teenagers receive about women’s role in the workforce?

Required Texts:

For students who may not want to buy the physical books, most of these are available for free online or through your local library.

  • Wilson, Harriet. Our Nig: Sketches from the Life of a Free Black. ISBN-13: 978-0486445618
  • Hurst, Fannie. Imitation of Life: ISBN-13: 978-0822333241
  • Martin, Ann M. Kristy’s Great Idea. ISBN-13: 978-1743813294
  • Tademy, Lalita. Cane River. ISBN-13: 978-0446615884
  • Weisberger, Lauren. The Devil Wears Prada: A Novel. ISBN-13: 978-0767914765
  • Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street. ISBN: ISBN-13: 978-0679734772
  • Ng, Celeste. Little Fires Everywhere. ISBN-13: 978-0735224315

A Netflix account is also required, as we will watch a few documentaries and television shows on this platform. Other texts will be available on Blackboard as PDFs.

Recommended but not required texts:

  • Carey, Elaine. Women Drug Traffickers: Mules, Bosses, and Organized Crime. ISBN-13: 978-0826351982
  • Ware, Susan. Modern American Women: A Documentary History, Second Edition. ISBN: 978-0072418200.
  • Baxandall, Rosalyn Fraad, and Linda Gordon. America’s Working Women: A Documentary History, 1600 to the Present. ISBN: 039303653

There is still one open seat in the course, so anyone who isn’t in the course now and finds this interesting should consider grabbing the last seat. You can add/drop courses from your schedule without issue up until the semester begins on 1/20.

546 Professor Change – Book Change Coming

Students in ENGL 546 Working Women in the USA this spring semester please take note: due to an unexpected crisis, the original professor of the course, Dr. Gogol, has just informed us that she is taking leave from all teaching in spring 2021. Fortunately, Dr. Dana Horton stepped up immediately to take over this 546 course, and thereby saved it from being canceled, which is normally the fate of specialty courses like this if something like this happens on the eve of the semester. So I just need to say thank you to Dr. Horton for taking this extraordinary action and rescuing this class. I also want to wish Dr. Gogol the best.

Practically speaking this means that Dr. Gogol’s book order will (almost certainly) no longer be relevant, since no two professors will ever run the same graduate course, not even one by the same title; each professor will assign and teach works that are in their particular area of specialty, while still keeping the theme/title of the course in mind. Right now, at this moment, Dr. Horton is working quickly to put together her own reading list and schedule, and will share that list with me as soon as it is done. I will update this post with Dr. Horton’s book order for 546 as soon as I receive it, which should be by this Friday, possibly sooner.

If anyone has any questions or issues please contact me at cloots@mercy.edu.

 

How to Get a Student ID Card

If you are an active MA student and you want a student ID card, but live at a distance from the campus, here is what you do:

Using your @mercy.edu email account, send a photo of your face along with your full first name, last name, and college ID number (your eight-digit CWID number) to Jamie Funigiello at: JFunigiello@mercy.edu

Full photo guidelines are:

  • Submit a color photo of just your face taken in last 6 months
  • Have someone else take your photo – no selfies
  • Submit a high-resolution photo that is not blurry, grainy, or pixelated
  • Use a clear and unedited image of your face; do not use filters such as those commonly used on social media
  • Face the camera directly with full face in view
  • Have a neutral facial expression or a natural smile, with both eyes open
  • Use a plain white or off-white background

Let Jamie know in your email that you are a distance-learning graduate student in the MA English Lit program and that you would like a student ID card. He will explain the process further and get you the ID card.

Student ID cards can be useful for securing discounts at various places, and will usually get you access to other university and college libraries in your area that would be otherwise inaccessible.

Spring Semester Begins Wednesday 1/20

The spring semester will begin on Wednesday 1/20. There is no specific time during that day when your classes will or must start and different professors will do it differently. Some will unlock the section first thing in the morning; others will be working to polish the section throughout that day and will open the section on Wednesday evening. In all cases your courses will start at some point on Wednesday 1/20.

In the future you can always see the semester start-day and end-day, along with other such information, by viewing the academic calendars linked about half-way down this page on the Mercy main site. MA English courses always run on what’s called “Term A” which you will see referenced on the academic calendar.

Now although the semester doesn’t begin until 1/20, your Blackboard sections will actually become visible much sooner, on 1/6. This early-reveal drives most faculty crazy because it often results in students seeing parts of the course on which professors are still working and don’t realize are visible to student view. There are ways to hide from view just about anything in Blackboard and faculty tend to hide the majority or entirety of the interior Blackboard section from students until 1/20, since it will all be in development until 1/20. But still, mistakes happen, and so if you’re peeking at your course section on or after 1/6 you might very well see something that your professor is not intending you to see and isn’t aware is visible. Just know that your courses begin on 1/20, and prior to that point, everything in Blackboard is still a work in progress.

Books For Spring 2021 Courses

Below is the current book info for the spring 2021 courses. I will update this as more information comes in from professors over the next few weeks.

ENGL 507 Narrative Strategies in the Novel
  • Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. ISBN 9780486424491
  • Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe. ISBN 9780486404271
  • Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. ISBN 9781982149482
  • Gold, Michael. Jews Without Money. ISBN 9780786703708
  • Harper, Frances. Iola Leroy. ISBN 9781554813858
  • James, Henry. Daisy Miller. ISBN 9780156907392
  • Mbue, Imbolo. Behold the Dreamers. ISBN 9780525510116
  • Rowson, Susannah. Charlotte Temple. ISBN 9780199770281
  • Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. ISBN 9780486282114
  • Woolf, Virginia. To the Lighthouse. ISBN 9780199536610
ENGL 514 Hemingway/Modern Cryptography

Additional readings will be provided as PDFs or links within the course. Students are not required to purchase the specific editions listed below, and can read from any volume or edition out there. But these are the ones from which the instructor will be teaching, and to which the course lectures will refer:

  • Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. ISBN: 0684801469
  • —. The Garden of Eden. ISBN: 0684804522
  • —. A Moveable Feast. ISBN:  068482499X
  • —. The Short Stories: The First Forty-Nine Stories with a Brief Introduction by the Author. ISBN: 0684803348
  • —. The Sun Also Rises. ISBN: 0743297334
ENGL 515 Fairy Tales

Additional readings will be provided as PDFs or links within the course. Students may have to rent, stream, or otherwise on their own view films assigned during the semester. The following two books are required:

  • Hallett, Martin and Barbara Karasek, eds., Folk and Fairy Tales, 5th ed. (Broadview Press, 2018). ISBN: 978155481350.
  • Tatar, Maria, ed. and trans., The Annotated Brothers Grimm (Norton, 2012), ISBN: 978-0393088861
ENGL 540 Irish Literature
  • Edgeworth, Maria. Castle Rackrent. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2008. 978-0199537556
  • Enright, Ann. The Gathering. New York: Black Cat. 2007. 978-1615553372
  • Friel, Brian. Dancing at Lughnasa. Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux. 978-0571144792
  • Joyce, James. Dubliners. New York: Dover Publications. 1991. Print 978-04862-68705
  • Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Dover Press, 2000. 9780486454016
  • Swift, Jonathan. A Modest Proposal. New York Dover Thrift. 978-0486287591
  • Synge, J. M. Playboy of the Western World. New York: Penguin. 1997. Print. 978-0-140-18878-
ENGL 546 Working Women in the USA 1865-Present

Chapters from the collection Working Women in American Literature (ISBN 978-1498546805) will be provided by Dr. Gogol as PDFs, so purchasing the book is not required. Other readings will be provided in the class in the form of PDFs as well. The one required book is:

  • Alexander, Shana. Very Much a Lady. ISBN 9781416509592.
Recommended but not required texts are:
  • Ware, Susan.  Modern American Women: A Documentary History.  Second Edition.   New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000.
  • Baxandall, Rosalyn, and Linda Gordon. America’s Working Women: A Documentary History,  1600 to the Present (1976), Revised  and updated. New York: Norton, 1995.
ENGL 560 Latino Literature

Additional readings will be provided as PDFs or links within the course. The following two books are required:

  • Anaya, Rudolfo. Bless Me, Ultima ISBN-13: 978-0446600255
  • Garcia, Cristina. Dreaming in Cuban. ISBN-13: 978-0345381439

Tentative Course Schedules for Summer and Fall 2021

[Updated 12/20] I thought it might be useful to share with everyone the tentative plans for summer and fall 2021 MA English schedules. These schedules are subject to change [and already have since this was first posted]. We now plan to run three summer courses from the start and see how the demand turns out. The third summer course has changed from what it was originally. Full descriptions of courses will be forthcoming here in January or February, along with information about the summer+fall registration date. For now, here’s how it’s shaping up:

Summer 2021 [updated 12/20]:

  • 514: Intro to the History of Textual Transmission (Dr. Ward)
  • 515: Mastering the Past: Literature & National Myths
  • 525: Victorian Age in Literature (Dr. Dugan)

Fall 2021:

  • 500: Theory (Dr. Kilpatrick)
  • 509: Perspectives on the Essay (Dr. Keckler)
  • 515: Magic in Literature (Dr. Sax)
  • 540: From Vice to Virtue: The Seven Deadly Sins Then & Now (a Medieval Literature course) (Dr. Ward)
  • 545: Literature of the Left Bank, Paris (Dr. Loots)
  • 560: Hip Hop Literature & Culture (Dr. Horton)

Reminder about incomplete “I” marks (Deadline Approaching)

As we approach the end of the fall 2020 semester let me remind (or inform) everyone about the situation surrounding the “incomplete” or “I” mark a student might request/receive in place of an actual grade. This post repeats information from earlier blog posts on this same subject, but this is critical information for graduate students to know so please make sure you’re all aware of this.

First off an incomplete might be granted by a professor to students who have completed most of the required work for a course and who have met attendance requirements. The incomplete is intended for emergency situations, for students who experience an unexpected crisis (such as a debilitating illness) at a specific point during the term which unexpectedly interrupts their ability to complete all required work for a course. Each professor has the right to not grant an incomplete and instead grant some other grade, including an F, based on whatever work the student completed during the regular term.

Students who find themselves in a situation which might warrant an incomplete must request it of the professor. Even if the professor agrees, she or he might still require you to complete a form to initiate the incomplete.

Sometimes an incomplete can be a life-saver for students who experience sudden crisis, but in just about all cases students should avoid incurring an incomplete if at all possible. Many students who take an incomplete never resolve it: because life goes on, new responsibilities and coursework come along, and it just becomes very difficult to find time to go back and do work on past requirements. It is also difficult for your professors to deal with incompletes because their work, responsibilities, and lives move forward, but the incomplete forces them to have to accommodate, tend to, assess, and sometimes even just remember what this work is that a student left untended in the past. It is a big deal for everyone when a student takes an incomplete, which is one reason why a professor simply might not grant it.

If a student is granted an incomplete, the student should work to complete the missed work and so remedy the incomplete as soon as possible – and ideally prior to the start of the next semester. At the maximum, students have one year in which to remedy the incomplete. After one year, the potential credits for the course and tuition for the course are lost, and the incomplete cannot be changed into any real letter grade.

So for example students who received an incomplete in fall 2019 have only until the end of this current fall 2020 semester to remedy the incomplete. Once this semester ends, all fall 2019 incompletes are locked in and cannot be fixed. And please note: professors are not obligated to drop everything to prioritize late work. Your professors will at any point in the year but especially at the end of each semester have tons of new work to tend to, which is another reason why you should not be waiting until the last minute or even the last few weeks of the year’s window before tending to your incomplete. So, anyone still seeking to correct fall 2019 incompletes should be working to resolve them now, since time is almost up. Anyone with incompletes from spring or summer 2020 should also be working to resolve those asap.

UPDATED: Registration for Spring 2021 Opens On Wednesday November 4th at 9:00am Eastern

Registration for spring 2021 will open on Wednesday 11/4 at 9:00am eastern. In the past this has meant that the registration began on the day-of as soon as the Registrar arrived at work, logged into her computer, and then clicked the button to activate the whole thing; which was usually around 9am eastern. Sometimes that meant 9:00, sometimes that meant 9:15. If you’re trying to register at the stroke of 9am and you’re getting an error, or it says the system isn’t active, just keep trying every few minutes. If you think something is truly wrong with your account access contact helpdesk@mercy.edu and/or the MA staff advisor Erika Tremblay at ETremblay@mercy.edu.

There are 16 seats in each of the six course offerings, which we estimate to be enough to accommodate the graduate English student body. There is no way to “reserve” seats other than to actually register for them (meaning, please don’t email me asking me to save you a seat; I can’t do that, and even if I could it’s not fair for me to do that). If a preferred course is already full at 16, I recommend you get on the wait list while registering for your next-best choice of course(s). Being in line on the waitlist often works out, especially if you’re the first or second person in line on the list. If all of the courses fill up to capacity we will then start opening a few extra seats across the schedule, which will automatically be offered to people on the waitlist in the order they are on the waitlist (contact Erika Tremblay at ETramblay@mercy.edu for more info about the wait list).

You will register for your courses using the self-service registration feature in Mercy Connect. If you need help understanding how that works, again please contact helpdesk@mercy.edu and/or Erika Tremblay at ETremblay@mercy.edu for assistance.

Course descriptions for the six spring courses can be found here on the blog.

Graduate Teaching Assistants for Spring 2021- Now Accepting Applications

This fall semester we were able to employ three graduate English students as Teaching Assistants (TA) in online undergraduate courses, there to assist the instructor of record in a number of different ways. We are now accepting applications for those interested in securing a TA position for spring 2021. We anticipate being able to employ at least three TAs again in the spring, and possibly more if we can secure funding through the federal CARES act in good time. We are hoping for a strong response to this call for TAs since the stronger the response, the more likely we are to receive more funding for TA positions.

Experience as a TA can be a valuable line-item in a curriculum vitae. And assisting in an online classroom will provide a first-hand look at how an actual college English course unfolds over a semester. TA positions are excellent experiential opportunities for anyone who aspires to teach at any level. For anyone who is already an active or experienced teacher, TA positions offer you a chance to use your expertise to make a significant positive impact on the development of undergraduate students who very much need your help.

Duties of the TA vary from class to class depending on the needs of the instructor. For more information, including qualifications for holding a TA position, consult the TA guidelines linked here. Review as well the TA Netiquette form linked here.

TAs this fall semester are working 3 paid hours per week (remotely) and making $15/hour. The semester is 15 weeks long so the pay for the semester is $675. We anticipate that the situation will be the same in spring 2021. The pay is therefore minimal. The real value of the TA position is the experience it provides.

To apply for a spring 2021 TA position send an email to cloots@mercy.edu by the end of Wednesday November 25, using the subject line ENGLISH TA APPLICATION, and with the following materials attached:

  1. Resume
  2. The name of one MA faculty member who will recommend you (we will check with the faculty member to confirm their recommendation; make sure you establish with that person beforehand if she or he will recommend you).
  3. A short statement of purpose, just a paragraph or two (between 200 and 400 words) expressing why you are interested in being a TA at Mercy College.
  4. A short statement of your philosophy of teaching, just a paragraph or two (between 200 and 400 words).
  5. The completed activity linked here.

If you applied earlier this year for a TA position but were not offered a position you can resubmit, if you like, the same materials you submitted previously. If you are currently working as a TA you can apply again for the spring, but because our priority with these positions is giving as many students as possible a chance to be a TA, current TAs will be prioritized after other applicants. If our funding initiatives work out as we hope, though, we may be able to offer many TA positions, potentially as many as we have applicants. So we encourage everyone who is at all interested in this opportunity to apply.

Please send any questions to cloots@mercy.edu. Thank you.

 

 

Student ID Cards: How to Get One [Updated]

About a year ago a student in the MA program pointed out that there was no way for a distance-learning student to get an ID Card: our security office refused to mail them and also would not let you send a proxy to pick one up on your behalf. You could only get an ID card if you traveled to a physical campus. This was egregious practice since student ID cards are necessary to get into places like research libraries, or to take advantage of student discounts; and anyway distance-learners are entitled to an ID card as a part of your tuition, sure as is any other student here. It took a long time for us to get the right people at the college to listen, but thanks largely to the tenacity of this one student they finally did. I was told this morning that the first ID card is being put in a mailer today to go to the student. So we now have a method in place [updated] for any and all distance learners in the MA English program to secure a student ID.

If you are an active MA student and you want a student ID card, here is what you do:

Using your @Mercy.edu email (only) please send a photo of your face along with your full first name, last name, and college ID number (your eight-digit CWID) to Jamie Funigiello at: JFunigiello@mercy.edu

Full photo guidelines are:

  • Submit a color photo of just your face taken in last 6 months
  • Have someone else take your photo – no selfies
  • Submit a high-resolution photo that is not blurry, grainy, or pixelated
  • Use a clear and unedited image of your face; do not use filters such as those commonly used on social media
  • Face the camera directly with full face in view
  • Have a neutral facial expression or a natural smile, with both eyes open
  • Use a plain white or off-white background

Let Jamie know you are a distance-learning graduate student in the MA English Lit program and you would like a student ID card. He will explain the process and get you the card. And if you are in a class with Jim Kaufman you might say thanks, since he’s the one whose determination here made this happen.

This is the director's blog for the Mercy College MA in English Literature Program. This is not the official College site. The purpose of this is to share news and other information to help MA graduate students stay current with the state of the program and navigate the MA degree. Students in the program should check here regularly to learn about upcoming registration periods, course schedules, and other news.