new Fall Course now on the schedule: 542 African-American Lit [update]

Because our graduate English program is attracting a large amount of interest and well-qualified applicants, and because our fall offerings are almost at capacity with nearly two months to go before the school-year begins, we have added an additional course to the fall schedule: ENGL 542 African-American Literature.

Dr. Morales is running the course. Note that this 542 course is in the catalog as “Classics of African-American Lit” but Dr. Morales is mixing it up a bit so that the course can enfold contemporary situations and texts. The course description Dr. Morales has provided for this fall instance is as follows:

  • African-American literature has become an expansive field over the last several decades, which puts an instructor in a difficult position selecting texts and delimiting themes. As a result, this ENGL 542 African-American Literature course will focus on 20th and 21st century works, while thematically staying current with 21st century issues such as the critical race theory, 1619 project, confederate monuments–[re-slavery], reparations, Juneteenth, black identity. and more. The course will incorporate theoretical statements of DuBois, Locke, Hurston, Schuyler, Hughes, Thurman, Wright, Ellison, Baldwin, Gayle, Baraka, Morrison, Wilson. Students will analyze select 20th-century literary works, a list which is still being determined but could possibly include James Weldon Johnson’s Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, Jean Toomer’s Cane, Nella Larsen’s Passing, Richard Wright’s The Man Who lived Underground, along with select plays and poetry; and more recent works, possibly (and for example) Kaitlyn Greenidge’s historical fictional work, Libertie [2021], which parenthetically explores the draft race riots [1863] and repatriation of African Americans to Haiti. The reading list is still in the works, and will be shared in August, but all readings will work within the theme and description expressed here.

Note that students enrolled in existing fall courses who are interested in dropping from one of those courses to add this 542 African-American Lit course can do so. Students can change up their schedule however much they like (as long as available seats exist) up until the start of any semester. The only students who cannot take this course are students who have taken 542 previously. For help with or questions about enrolling in 542 or changing your existing course schedule, contact Erika Tremblay at etremblay@mercy.edu.

GRADUATE TEACHING ASSISTANTS FOR FALL 2021- NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS

We are now accepting applications for online TA position for fall 2021. We anticipate being able to employ three or four TAs this fall.

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 online 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.

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

To apply for a fall 2021 TA position send an email to cloots@mercy.edu by the end of Friday, July 16, 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 (just list the name — 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 before for a TA position but were not offered a position you can resubmit, if you like, the same materials you submitted previously. If you worked for us as a TA in the past you can be considered anew for a TA position simply by indicating your interest (you do not need to resubmit the application materials). Please note that our priority with these positions is giving as many students as possible a chance to be a TA, so those who have already worked as TAs will be prioritized after other applicants.

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

Book orders for fall 2021 courses (So far) (Updated 7/7)

Below is some info regarding book orders for fall 2021 courses. This will be updated throughout the summer as professors finalize their courses. Note that in many cases professors will supplement these materials with links, PDFs, and other materials provided in Blackboard during the semester. So what you’re seeing here might not spell all of what you’ll be studying in any particular class. The college’s online bookstore is here. Books do not need to be purchased from the college store. The MA program recommends supporting your local bookseller, if one still exists; or using Powells.com for new books, or Alibris.com for used books.

ENGL 500 DLA (Dr. Kilpatrick)

TBD

ENGL 500 DLB (Dr. Sax)

  • Leitch, Vincent B., et al, eds. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. W.W. Norton, 2010. ISBN: 9780393932928.
  • Shakespeare, William. Complete Sonnets. Dover, 1991, ISBN: 9780486266862.

ENGL 509 Perspectives on the Essay (Dr. Keckler)

  • Atwan, Robert, et al, eds. Best American Essays 2020. ISBN 9780358359913.

ENGL 515 Magic in Literature (Dr. Sax)

  • Hesiod. Theogony & Works and Days. Trans. M. L. West. New York: Oxford UP, 1991. ISBN:  9780192817884.
  • Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Scholastic, 1997. ISBN 0439708184.
  • Roob, Alexander. Alchemy and Mysticism. Tachen: London, 2009. ISBN: 9783836517690 Updated: 9783836549363.
  • Sax, Boria. Imaginary Animals: The Monstrous, the Wondrous and the Human. London: Reaktion Books, 2013. ISBN: 1780231733.
  • Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night. New York: Penguin, 2000. ISBN: 9780743482776. Updated: 978-0140714890.
  • Yates, Frances, The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age. New York: Routledge, 2003. ISBN: 0415254094.

ENGL 540 Vice to Virtue: Seven Deadly Sins Then & Now (Dr. Ward)

  • Marie de France: Poetry (First Edition) (Norton Critical Editions), (ISBN: 9780393932683) 
  • The Selected Canterbury Tales (ISBN: 9780393341782) 
  • Nine Medieval Romances of Magic (ISBN: 9781551119977) 
  • Piers Plowman: The C Version (ISBN: 9780812215618)

ENGL 545 Lit of the Left Bank Paris (Dr. Loots)

Much will be provided in Blackboard in the form of PDFs (e.g. stories by Edith Wharton, selections from Joyce’s Ulysses, poetry by H.D., fiction by Zelda Fitzgerald, essays and poems by Richard Wright, etc.). Students do not need to secure the specific editions listed below; any edition will do:

  • Baldwin, James. Giovanni’s Room. Vintage, 2013. ISBN: 9780345806567
  • Benstock, Shari. Women of the Left Bank Paris: 1900-1940. University of Texas Press, 1987. ISBN: 9780292790407. (This is out of print but there are dozens of used copies for sale on Alibris.com for cheap.)
  • Breton, Andre. Nadja. Grove Press, 1994. ISBN: 9780802150264
  • Hemingway, Ernest. A Moveable Feast – Restored Edition. Scribner, 2010. ISBN: 9781439182710. (If you have the original edition, that works fine too.)
  • Loy, Mina. The Lost Lunar Baedeker: Poems of Mina Loy. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997. ISBN: 9780374525071
  • Stein, Gertrude. Selected Writings of Gertrude Stein. Vintage, 1990. ISBN: 9780679724643. (We’ll be studying The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas.)

Recommended additional materials for those who want to go even deeper into the lit and culture of this era:

  • Baldwin, James. Notes of a Native Son. Beacon, 2012. ISBN: 9780807006238. (We won’t be studying this but it’s relevant to our units on Baldwin and Wright.)
  • Cunard, Nancy. The Poems of Nancy Cunard. Bodleian Library, 2005. ISBN: 9781842331071. (I will provide PDFs of what poetry in this we’ll be studying, but you might want to own the book.)
  • H.D. Trilogy: The Walls Do Not Fall; Tribute to the Angels; The Flowering of the Rod. New Directions, 1988. ISBN: 9780811213998. (I will provide PDFs of what poetry in this we’ll be studying, but you might want to own the book.)
  • Hemingway, Ernest. The Sun Also Rises. Scribner, 2014. ISBN: 9781476764528. (We won’t be studying this but it’s relevant to our unit on Hemingway.)
  • Fitzgerald, F Scott. Tender is the Night. Scribner, 1995. ISBN 9780684801544. (We won’t be studying this but it’s relevant to our unit on Zelda.)
  • Fitzgerald, Zelda. The Collected Writings of Zelda Fitzgerald. University of Alabama Press, 1997. (I will be providing a PDF of the Zelda work we’re studying, but if you’re interested in her you should own this.)
  • Wright, Richard. Native Son. Perennial Classics, 2005. ISBN: 9780060837563. (We won’t be studying this but it’s relevant to our unit on Wright.)

ENGL 560 Hip Hop Lit & Culture (Dr. Horton)

  • Decoded by Jay-Z (ISBN 9780812981155)
  • Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics, and Guilt in America by Andrea Dennis and Erik Nielsen (ISBN 9781620973400)
  • The Plot against Hip Hop by Nelson George (ISBN 9781617750243)

YEAR-END NOTES: SYMPOSIUM IN REVIEW; PROGRAM AWARDS

The 2020-21 school year, now coming to a close, has been a strange one. Although our MA program experienced no pandemic-related curriculum disruptions due to us having long been delivering fully-online education, still each of us, student and faculty alike, had to find ways to focus on our work and studies while enduring and in many ways suffering through this global pandemic. It has been….a difficult year for everyone. Hopefully being a part of this graduate learning community, and working toward your MA degree in one another’s company, has enriched your lives and brought you some calm over this past year.

One of the ways we celebrate the end of the school year is with the Writing Image Text (W.I.T) Graduate English Symposium. This year’s symposium was held on Saturday, May 1, live online. Over twenty-five attendees made up of current graduate students, alumni, prospective students, faculty, and the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts gathered together to hear a variety of graduate student presentations. To see the event program listing the presenters and their presentation titles, click the banner below.

Good times were had. All feedback so far suggests that the presenters found the experience meaningful and invigorating. We already have presenters from this year declaring their intent to again present next year. Next year’s symposium will mix together campus-based panels with live-online panels, and this is how the format will be henceforth. The event will therefore always be accessible to all of our students and alumni, wherever you are in the world. If you can make it to the campus, though, you’ll get catered food!

Another way we celebrate the end of the school year is with the awarding of three MA English Literature program honors: the Thesis of the Year award, The Howard Canaan Thesis Award for Innovation, and the Graduate English Christie Bowl (program honoree) award.

All theses produced during an ENGL 599 thesis tutorial during the summer or fall 2020, and spring 2021, were considered for the Thesis of the Year Award. As always, selecting just one study from the group of over twenty qualified theses, each one excellent in its own unique way, was extraordinarily difficult. The final study was selected by a faculty panel with no students’ papers in the running.

  • The winner of the 2021 Thesis of the Year award is Lisa Irving for her paper: “Work It: The Black Feminist Body-Language of Missy Elliot, Janie Crawford, and the Shumalite Woman.”

The Howard Canaan Thesis Award for Innovation, now in its second year, is awarded to a thesis that does one or some of the following: approaches literary analysis in a unique, unexpected, or unusual way; reconsiders and otherwise treats with dignity genre fiction; or involves interdisciplinary studies. The award was created to honor the late Dr. Howard Canaan, who taught English literature at Mercy College for over thirty years, and who in addition to being a Shakespeare scholar was also a scholar of science fiction, and an advocate for the literary significance and value of genre fiction.

  • The winner of the 2021 Howard Canaan Thesis Award for Innovation is Kari O’Driscoll for her thesis “The Modern Witch in Contemporary Fiction: Why She Persists and Why She Matters.”

The third distinction that the MA program awards each year is the Graduate English Christie Bowl, named for the late Joannes Christie who established and long chaired Mercy College’s English Program. The award, determined by the collective graduate faculty, recognizes one graduating student for their consistent academic excellence and classroom performance throughout their time in the graduate program, their other work and contributions to the program’s scholarly learning community, and their relevant accomplishments beyond the program.

  • The winner of the 2021 Graduate English Christie Bowl is Kristen Vasquez.

It is always a strange thing to announce such distinctions as when doing so one can’t help but think of all of the marvelous students who are not the ones named. So as we recognize these honorees let us please also recognize all members of the graduating MA class of 2020-21 for their hard work and dedication. Congratulations, everyone.

Book-Order Info for Summer Courses

Below is some info about required materials for summer courses:

For ENGL 514 History of Textual Transmission, some materials will be available online and provided as links or PDFs, but there is one required book that will form the backbone of the course:

  • Michelle Levy and Tom Mole, eds., The Broadview Reader in Book History. ISBN: 978-1-55481-088-8.

ENGL 515 Mastering the Past – Literature & National Myths will require:

  • Euripides, The Trojan Women, trans. Alan Shapiro (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009). ISBN: 978-0195179101.
  • Heym, Stefan, The King David Report (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1998), ISBN: 978-0810115378.
  • Ishiguro, Kazuo, The Buried Giant (New York: Vintage: 2016). ISBN: 978-0307455796.
  • Giuseppe de Lampedusa, The Leopard, trans. Archibald Colquhuon (New York: Pantheon, 2007). ISBN: 978-0375714795.
  • Sebald, W. G., The Natural History of Destruction, trans. Anthea Bell (New York: Modern Library, 2004). ISBN: 978-0375756573.
  • Alexander Solzhenitsyn. A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, no translator given (New York: Penguin/Berkeley, 2009). ISBN: 978-0451228147.

ENGL 517 Creative Writing will require:

  • Atwood, Margaret, Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing (Anchor Press, South Shore, MA, 2003). ISBN:  978-1400032600

And ENGL 525 Victorian Literature will require:

  • Braddon, Mary Elizabeth. Lady Audley’s Secret. Broadview Literary Texts, 2003. ISBN 978-1-55111-357-9.
  • Eliot, George. The Mill on the Floss. Dover Thrift Editions, 2003. ISBN 978-0-486-42680-8.
  • Dickens, Charles. Hard Times. Dover Thrift Editions, 2001. ISBN 978-0-486-41920-6
  • Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. 2019. ISBN 978-0-486-26688-6.

Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet: online Performance and Interactive Event

As a part of the Mercy College English Program’s annual Christie Day Shakespeare celebration, Red Bull Theater’s virtual production of Romeo and Juliet will take place on Thursday, May 6th from 12-1:25pm. They will start with a 10-minute warm-up at 12pm, and the livestream will go from 12:10-1:10pm. They’ll finish up with a talkback from 1:10-1:25pm.

To receive the zoom link please email the Program Director at cloots@mercy.edu. For any other questions about the event please email Dr. Jessica Ward (jward16@mercy.edu).

Some things to know: 

  1. Please sign-in with Mercy College listed in your Zoom Box. Once in the main Zoom space, you will be asked to re-name yourself with your first name and pronouns. Please be sure to do this, especially if you wish to participate in the warm-up and/or talkback. The livestream is in a Zoom Webinar, so cameras will be disabled throughout and audio and Q&A privileges will only be enabled before and after the performance.

     
  2. To protect all participants and the actors, be advised that those who abuse Zoom functions or become a distraction will be dismissed from the Zoom spaces.

     
  3. The show is a livestream, but the actors appear safely in individual Zoom boxes. Through the talents of Red Bull’s production team, there is a beautiful and cohesive aesthetic created that unifies the actors through backgrounds, sound, props, and costume. Enjoy the innovative theater magic!

     
  4. The cast is made-up of a 5-member ensemble. Besides the actors playing Juliet and Romeo, the other 3 actors double, triple, and quadruple roles. The script is the original Shakespearean text but cut from “two-hours traffic of our stage” to just 1 hour.

     
  5. The performance is a webinar, so each viewer’s microphone and camera will be auto-disabled (except when adjusted by the host– which will happen during the warm-up and talkback).  

We can’t wait to see you there!  

Fourth Summer Course Added to Schedule: ENGL 517 Creative Writing

Because our three originally-scheduled summer courses are full, and we have a number of people on the waitlists for seats, we have added a fourth course to the summer schedule. It is the program’s ENGL 517 Creative Writing course. It will be run by Dr. Sax. Everyone in the program interested in creative writing is welcome to enroll, no matter if you have any experience with creative writing. The course meets the Writing & Literary Forms requirement by default, and works as an elective.

ENGL 599 “Master’s Thesis” Registration Info

Students for whom summer or fall with be your final semester, please note that you will need to enroll in ENGL 599 Master’s Thesis as one of your final-semester courses. The way you enroll in ENGL 599 is different than for any other course, which you might have discovered if you went to register for it today (registration for summer and fall opened today, 3/22). You can read about the process here on the blog. So if this summer or fall is to be your final semester in the program, now is the right time to be figuring out your 599 mentor situation. Any questions contact cloots@mercy.edu.

2021 Graduate English Symposium; Live Online Saturday May 1; CFP Deadline April 1

On Saturday May 1st the MA program will be hosting its annual “Writing Image Text” or “W.I.T.” Graduate English Symposium. The event will be held live online through Zoom. We will begin at noon, eastern time. Tentatively we are estimating the event will run from noon to 4pm, but that might change depending on how many MA students declare that they will present a scholarly or creative work. It’s possible that because this is going to be online, and therefore more easily accessible to all of our students, that we will get an extraordinarily large turnout of presenters. We shall see. For this reason we are at this moment limiting our call for papers (CFP) to current students in the program. We hope our alumni will join us in the virtual audience; and should the CFP result in a lower-than-expected response from current students we will open the CFP to our alumni.

The symposium is a casual mini-conference at which interested MA English students can read aloud a scholarly or creative work. A paper that you’ve written for any of your MA courses will do just fine, though it would likely need to be edited down to a shorter length to fit into the 15 minutes we anticipate each presenter will have; instructions and guidance for that will be shared with all presenters after April 1. The symposium is also (normally) a social event at which to meet some fellow grad students and program professors. MA students interested in attending but not presenting are of course welcome to do so.

Graduate students and professional scholars often attend and read at local, regional, and national conferences, so this symposium provides a friendly small-scale introduction to the conference experience. And for anyone who reads a paper, it becomes a line-item you can list under the scholarship section on your CV (click here to read more about the CV). Earning line-items for the scholarship section of your CV is very important for anyone who aspires to apply to PhD programs after the MA.

Anyone planning to attend and/or present, please let me know by sending an email no later than the end of Thursday, April 1 to cloots@mercy.edu. You don’t need to know what you will present by 4/1. You just need to tell me on 4/1 if you are going to present something at the symposium on 5/1. And if you plan to attend but not present, please tell me that too by 4/1, so that I will have some sense of how big the online event is going to be. After 4/1 I will begin to arrange the symposium panels, virtual rooms, and the rest based on the amount of people I know will be presenting and attending.

You can read about previous symposiums on the blog here, and here, and here (we canceled it last year amid the covid outbreak). On behalf of the MA faculty: we hope to see you there! Please contact cloots@mercy.edu if you have any questions about any of this.

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.