Feedback Needed for Symposium Date

I’m seeking feedback from anyone who hopes to attend this year’s symposium. The two possible dates for it are Monday May 20, or Saturday May 18, and I’m wondering which of those two dates would be more amenable to potential attendees. Commencement is on Tuesday May 21st, for what that matters. Both dates fall after the end of the regular semester, so the campus will be fairly quiet by that point (plus side: plenty of parking!). The Monday date would probably have a better chance of getting more program faculty to attend, just because it’s a work day so more faculty will be meandering around campus anyway; but for that same reason Monday might not be a viable day for possible grad-student or alumni attendees if they’re at work. Anyone who plans or hopes to attend, please send me an email at cloots@mercy.edu and let me know which of the days would work better for you, especially if you could make one day but not the other. In the end I’ll just go with whichever day gets the most votes from the students and alumni who plan to attend.

Even if you have no preference but hope to attend, please email me to let me know that. This feedback process is going to give me a sense of how many attendees we might have at all. Keep in mind that attendees can read papers at the event (highly encouraged, and I’ll explain more about that in an upcoming blog post) or can elect to be an audience member and just enjoy the camaraderie, enjoy meeting some fellow students, alumni, and faculty, and enjoy the complimentary catered lunch.

For those wanting to learn more about the symposium, refer to the blog posts about symposiums from the past few years. Click here to read about last year’s event. Click here to read about the 2017 event. And click here’s to read about the 2016 event.

A Few Things: The 2019 Symposium; & Any News About Achievements?

Just a bit of program business here:

First, we’re beginning to plan for the annual Graduate Student Symposium. In the past we’ve held this the day before commencement, and we’ll likely do the same again this year, which would mean the symposium would be on Monday May 20th. That date is still highly tentative. We’ll settle this up in the next few weeks, but for now just start thinking about if you might be able to attend and/or present a paper at the symposium in mid-May. Details and a more thorough call-for-papers will be coming soon.

Second, I’m collecting information on any recent student or alumni achievements and activities (e.g. acceptances into doctoral programs or subsequent master’s programs, presentations, speeches/talks, publications, etc.) to share sometime soon on the blog. Please send any such news to cloots@mercy.edu so that we can celebrate and salute our students and alumni, and inspire others among us to their own achievements and activities.

ENGL 599 Master’s Thesis Tutorial: How To Enroll

Just a reminder here: Anyone getting close to the end of the MA program needs to start thinking about the ENGL 599 Master’s Thesis Tutorial. Let’s look at some basic points about what it is, what you have to do to enroll in it, and what you do once in it:

  • ENGL 599 counts for three credits, like any other course, and is a requirement for the MA degree. Unlike any other course in the program, 599 is run as a one-on-one tutorial between each student and a chosen professor (mentor).
  • The tutorial is always taken during whatever you intend to be your final semester in the program.
  • During the tutorial you have one responsibility and goal: writing a 25-page thesis paper on a topic of your choice, involving primary and secondary sources that you select, all operating under the guidance of your mentor.
  • To pass the tutorial your thesis paper must receive final approval from your mentor and from a second reader selected from the MA faculty.
  • You enroll in 599 using a different process than for any other course in the MA program:
  1. First, during the semester prior to your final semester, think up a general topic or idea for your thesis and write it down. Your thesis topic can be based on a paper written for another course earlier in the program; you can even use that paper as the first draft for your thesis paper.
  2. Contact any professor teaching in the program and ask the professor if he or she would be your mentor. Include your general topic along with your request. If the professors says yes, you will then work up a more formal thesis proposal with that mentor; If your selected professor cannot mentor you, you can either just ask another professor or can contact the program director at cloots@mercy.edu and a mentor will be assigned.
  3. In the meantime, be aware that all students must take and pass the program’s Comprehensive Exam in the time between the penultimate and ultimate semester in the program. So while you’re developing your thesis proposal with your mentor, also start thinking about the Comp Exam which you must request from the program director upon completing your penultimate semester. Students must complete their Comp Exam before beginning their 599 tutorial.
  4. Once you have developed a formal thesis proposal under the mentor’s guidance, and once the mentor deems it acceptable, the mentor will contact the program director who then opens up an individual 599 section for each student with the mentor as professor. It is therefore impossible to be “closed out” of a 599 as each one is opened on an individual basis. The only way a student who needs to be in ENGL 599 might not get into one is if the student doesn’t do these steps in a timely-enough fashion as to have this all settled by the start of the final semester.

Interested in Joining the English Honors Society, Sigma Tau Delta?

We’re now entering the annual window in which interested and eligible students can join the International English Honors Society, Sigma Tau Delta. To be eligible graduate students must be actively enrolled in a graduate program, have completed six credits of graduate coursework, and have a minimum 3.3 GPA. Dr. Dana Horton (dhorton1@mercy.edu) is the Sigma Tau coordinator again this year and is the one to contact about this, but please let me know as well if you intend to join (cloots@mercy.edu). Here’s a bit more information about the society and the registration process for those interested:

Sigma Tau Delta was established in 1924 to confer distinction for high achievement in English language, literature, and writing. It now includes 825 chapters in the United States and abroad. Membership in this prestigious honor society is something a member can list on a resume under “professional organizations” and membership also provides access to resources and networking opportunities in the field of English. Please visit www.english.org to learn more.

Inductees, along with family and friends, are cordially invited to Mercy College’s Honors Day Induction Ceremony taking place on Monday, May 6, 2019, beginning at 6:00pm in the Maher Hall Conference Room on the Dobbs Ferry campus. Dinner and a reception will follow. There is no limit to the number of guests you may invite; however please let Dr. Horton (dhorton1@mercy.edu) know now how many will attend so that we can order adequate catering. Attendance at the May ceremony is not required for membership.

Induction comes with lifetime membership in Sigma Tau Delta. The induction and lifetime membership requires a one-time processing fee of $45 and the check or money order must be made out to Mercy College. 

The deadline for receiving this one-time payment of $45 and for accepting this membership invitation is Monday March 18, 2019.

When writing a check or money order include your name and Mercy ID# in the memo-line of the check. Mail (or hand deliver) the check or money order to:

Dr. Dana Horton
Mercy College
Maher Hall #202
555 Broadway
Dobbs Ferry NY 10522

Students may also pay in cash but you cannot send cash through the mail. You must hand-deliver cash to Dr. Horton or to the department administrator, Linda Dubiell, in Maher Hall on the Dobbs Ferry campus.

Again if you are sending a check or money order make sure that it is made out to Mercy College, and that your name and college ID# are written on the check. Mercy collects and deposits these payments into its own account and then makes one total payment directly to the Sigma Tau Delta International English Honors Society. Any check or money order that is not made out to Mercy College will be returned to you as we will not be able to deposit it.

If you wish to accept this membership invitation, please email Dr. Horton (dhorton1@mercy.edu) as soon as possible, and no later than the payment deadline of Monday March 18, 2019.

Students Needing ENGL 500 this fall should email cloots@mercy.edu now

ENGL 500 is the MA program’s NY State “core course” which means all students must complete it as a part of their degree requirements. The course runs during each fall semester, and only during each fall semester.

Entrance into the fall 2019 instance of ENGL 500 is going to be by permit-only. Every single student who needs to take 500 this fall will get a seat. Students who need to take the course this fall are those who are on track to graduate prior to the fall 2020 semester but who have not yet completed the course. Once every student who needs the course this fall has been enrolled, we will also give permits to other students interested in taking the course this fall.

We’re doing this to ensure that students who must have the course this fall do not find themselves shut out of the course.

The first step in this process is for everyone who has not yet completed 500 and who plans to complete their MA degree prior to fall 2020 to email the program director now at cloots@mercy.edu indicating that you need the course. We will begin building a list of all students who need it and will begin entering permits for these students later this spring semester after general registration opens.

Students who do not plan to graduate prior to fall 2020 but who would like a seat in this fall 2019 instance of the course should also email the program director now at cloots@mercy.edu indicating interest. Once all students who need the course this time around have enrolled, we will begin issuing permits to the remaining students in the order that they emailed their request, first come first serve. If anyone has any questions about any of this, contact the director at cloots@mercy.edu.

Summer and Fall 2019 Schedules, and a Note About ENGL 500

Registration for the summer and fall semesters will open soon, probably within a month or so, possibly sooner. I will post the specific registration-opening date here on the blog as soon as the Registrar’s office has settled it. Note that while some students in the program like to take summer coursework other students prefer to follow the traditional fall/spring semester schedule; and this is why we run just two or three courses during the summer semester.

Summer 2019

  • ENGL 510 – Theory and Practice of Expository Writing (Dr. Dugan)

The course is especially encouraged for any student who is a teacher or who aspires to teach secondary school or college. The course will address the techniques of expository writing as reflected in academic discourse. Ideally, students will develop the general practices of critical writing, but focus their work in their individual fields of interest. These interests may include feminist approaches, deconstructive approaches, research in culture, education, etc. The course will specifically address techniques of analytic organization, and will consider the pedagogy and andragogy of writing. 3 credits. (Fulfills either the Writing & Literary Forms requirement or an elective.)

  • ENGL 514 – Animals in Literature (Dr. Sax)

This course looks at the representation of animals in a wide range of literary and folkloric traditions. It will focus, most especially, on the ways in which the literary depiction of animals is intimately tied to changing perspectives on the human condition, which in turn reflect religious, intellectual, governmental, and technological developments. 3 credits. (Fulfills an elective.)

  • ENGL 560 – Latino Literature (Dr. Vasile)

This course focuses on the literature of Latinos/Hispanics living in the United States; a growing and important field of American literature. “Latino” and “Hispanic” refer to people living in the United States who have roots in Latin America, Spain, Mexico, South America, or Spanish-speaking Caribbean countries. In this course we will examine texts that make salient the great diversity of literary themes, styles, and social concerns of literary texts written by Latino/a writers. We will study issues such as gender, race, class, diaspora, bilingualism, violence, and community as raised by the various authors whose work we will be examining in this course. Our readings will focus on short stories, poetry, and novels written by writers from various Latino/a groups, including Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans and Dominican Americans. 3 credits. (Fulfills either a Literature Group 2 requirement or an elective.)

Fall 2019

  • ENGL 500 Theory (TBD)

This is the program’s core course, meaning the course that everyone must take and for which there are no alternative course options. This course runs once each fall semester, so if you’re aiming to graduate at the end of fall 2019, spring 2020, or summer 2020 and have not yet completed 500, you must enroll in this for fall 2019. The next instance of the course will be fall 2020. NOTE: We’re considering locking registration for this course and instead admitting into it, from our side of the system, only those students on schedule to graduate in fall 2019, spring 2020 or summer 2020. I will keep everyone updated on this plan here on the blog, if and as it develops. Here’s the description for the course:

An introduction to some of the major movements and figures of the theory of criticism. The question “what is literature?” is a primary concern of this course. Such an inquiry necessarily engages other, closely affiliated signifiers such as work/text, writing, reading, interpretation, and signification itself. After brief encounters with ancient antecedents and seminal moderns, influential contemporary approaches to the question concerning literature and its cultural significance are engaged. An assessment of the relative strengths and weaknesses of current trends in the practice of literary criticism, and their theoretical groundwork, is the ultimate objective of this course. 3 credits.

  • ENGL 509 – Perspectives on the Essay (Dr. Keckler)

The course studies the essay as a distinct literary genre; some of its characteristics and types; some of its history; and some of its role in reflecting authorial consciousness. Further, this course examines the taxonomy of the essay in terms of its medium (verse or prose), its tone and level of formality, its organizational strategies, and its relationship to its audience and to particular modes of literary production (speech, manuscript, pamphlet, book, magazine, newspaper, etc.). 3 credits. (Fulfills either the Writing & Literary Forms requirement or an elective.)

  • ENGL 521 – Medieval Literature (Dr. Fritz)

This course is designed to cultivate students’ awareness of the themes, genres, and issues related to the study of medieval literature. Students will study the major genres of medieval literature, including epics, lays and romances. 3 credits. (Fulfills either a Literature Group 1 requirement or an elective.)

  • ENGL 540 – Magic in Literature (Dr. Sax)

This course examines alchemy, together with related activities that now impress us as “magical,” as a virtually all-inclusive discipline which laid much of the foundation for later literature, art, and science. It looks at the beginnings of alchemy in the ancient world, and how these developed, along with the revival of Classical learning, in the Renaissance. Finally, it looks at the continuing influence of magic in Romantic, Modern, and Post-Modern literature and culture. Readings typically include works by Hesiod, Ben Johnson, Shakespeare, E. T. A. Hoffmann, J. K. Rowling and others. Textbooks include The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age by Frances Yates. 3 credits. (Fulfills either a Literature Group 1 requirement or an elective.)

  • ENGL 545 – Literature of the Left Bank, Paris (Dr. Loots)

This course examines the diverse people, culture, and writings of  the expatriate community of the Parisian Left Bank during the early and mid twentieth century. This includes an exploration of the significance of Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare & Company bookstore and lending library, and of intellectual and artistic salons such as those of, for example, Natalie Barney and Gertrude Stein. The course will additionally consider the doings and writings of expatriate authors moving through or closely associated with the Parisian Left Bank’s modernist enterprise. An emphasis will be placed on studying the cultural geography of this location which attracted so many of the world’s great writers and artists and gave rise to so many works now considered twentieth century literary masterpieces. 3 credits. (Fulfills a Literature Group 2 requirement or an elective.)

  • ENGL 560 – Contemporary Slave Narratives (Dr. Horton)

The slave narrative is a genre that has undergone many transitions – from the formative narratives of the early Atlantic world to the revitalization of the neo-slave narrative during The Civil Rights Era to the twenty-first century multimedia concept of the post-neo-slave narrative. Although slave narratives were prevalent in the early Atlantic world, this genre remains a fundamental element of the twenty-first century literary, historical, and cultural landscape. Due to the multi-modal and interconnected nature of our current cultural moment, contemporary slave narratives are no longer confined to literature and are featured in films, music, and art.

In this course, we will examine early slave narratives by Harriet Jacobs, Harriet Wilson, and Solomon Northup, neo-slave narratives by Sherley Anne Williams and Toni Morrison, and post-neo-slave narratives by Lalita Tademy and Steve McQueen, as well as interrogate scholarship by Margaret Natalie Crawford, Nicole Aljoe, A. Timothy Spaulding, and Ashraf H. A. Rushdy. The goal of this course is to broaden our understanding of the slave narrative tradition, as well as examine how twenty-first century writers, artists, and filmmakers resist and reinforce the original slave narrative concept. This course will include weekly discussion board posts, a midterm exam, and a final project, where students choose between developing a scholarly thesis-based paper or creating a teaching portfolio. 3 credits. (Fulfills a Literature Group 2 requirement or an elective.)

Important Notice for Students in “Working Women in the USA”

The following book previously required for the Working Women in the USA course is now not a required purchase:

  • Working Women in American Literature 1865-1950, ISBN 9781498546782

Dr. Gogol will still be using that book for the class this semester, but will now be providing scans of relevant sections of it during the semester. This change is due to the unusually high cost of the book, and the valid concerns about the cost raised by a number of students.

Upcoming Course Info & Tentative Schedules

The spring semester begins on Wednesday, January 23. Your Blackboard sections will actually become visible much sooner than that, on the 9th, but keep in mind that in most cases prior to 1/23 your course sections will look like a work in progress, at best. The college makes the sections visible ahead of time to give you a look at the syllabus so to secure the course readings well ahead of the first week of class. But professors aren’t actually obligated to put up a syllabus or get their Blackboard sections in order until the start of the semester. So just be aware that while some professors will have their courses looking sorted on 1/9, others will not and do not have to. Keep in mind that some professors go away between the semesters for research or other activities and don’t even return to focus on their semester courses until right before the start of the semester.

The summer and fall 2019 course schedules are close to being finalized. Descriptions for these will be forthcoming once we have the schedules 100% settled and have a registration-opening date to report. At the moment those schedules look like this:

Summer 2019:

  • ENGL 510 – Theory and Practice of Expository Writing
  • ENGL 514 – Animals in Literature
  • ENGL 560 – Latino Literature

Fall 2019:

  • ENGL 500 – Theory**
  • ENGL 509 – Perspectives on the Essay
  • ENGL 521 – Medieval Literature
  • ENGL 540 – Magic in Literature
  • ENGL 545 – Literature of the Left Bank, Paris
  • ENGL 5xx – [Course To Be Determined]

** Note that 500 runs each fall semester, and only in the fall semester. Note also that every student must take 500 at some point during her or his time in the program. 500 and the 599 final thesis tutorial are the only two courses in the MA program for which there is no alternative or substitute. And so students must be aware of their projected timeline in the program and make sure to enroll in 500 when it’s needed, and to enroll promptly when registration for it opens. Any student who has not completed 500 and is on schedule to complete the MA program in Fall 2019, spring 2020, or summer 2020 must complete 500 during this upcoming fall 2019 instance. Any student who has questions about this or anything else should contact the program director at cloots@mercy.edu.

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.