[Update] Fall 2017 Schedule – Registration Opens March 1 for Fall and Summer.

Summer and Fall 2017 registrations open march 1st, usually around 9am eastern (it opens when the Registrar gets to work and flips the switch that morning). I am listing here the courses we’re running this fall, along with some descriptions of them–some of which will be updated in the near future to better reflect the course content. Summer course descriptions are included down at the bottom of this blog post.

ENGL 500 Theory

Dr. Celia Reissig-Vasile

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 2017, spring 2018, or summer 2018, you must enroll in this course during this instance of fall 2017. The next instance of the course will be fall 2018. Here’s the catalog description for the course:

An introduction to major movements and figures of the theory of criticism, the question, “what is literature?” is the 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 508 History of Drama in English

Dr. David Fritz

This course will study selected dramatic works from the vantage of the cultures of the historical epochs they are embedded in. It will use a chronological approach, beginning with the drama in England: the medieval mystery cycles and morality plays, the emergence of secular drama in the 16th century and earlier 17th century, focusing on the precursors and contemporaries of Shakespeare, Restoration drama, the development of sentimentalism and the adaptation of drama to an increasingly middle class audience in the 18th Century, the closet drama of the Romantic era, 19th-century melodrama in Britain and America, and the emergence of the modern theater in the United Kingdom and the United States. 3 credits. Fulfills the Writing & Literary Forms requirement or works as an elective.

ENGL 526 Modernism

Dr. Boria Sax

This course explores the various “isms” of modernism while questioning if these trends are of the past or remain present and relevant to contemporary intellectual and aesthetic sensibilities It traces the anti-mimetic shift in the arts in the age of mechanical reproduction, as found in the literature of symbolism, expressionism, futurism, dadaism and surrealism. Among the features of modernism that emerge in this course are themes of fragmentation, parody, and irony, the self-conscious retrieval of myth, the collapse of traditional distinctions between subjective and objective reality, and the iconoclastic transgression of Victorian norms of religion, the family, and sexuality. 3 credits. Fulfills a Literature Group 1 requirement or works as an elective. 

ENGL 540 Irish Literature

Dr. Sean Dugan

This course will explore themes prevalent to Irish identity, such as nationalism, rebellion, social class, religion, oppression, gender, and family, among others, by close textual analysis of drama, poetry, fiction, and mythology. The materials will be chronologically arranged, allowing for the study of historical events and cultural influences that shaped the literature of Ireland. Readings will most likely be: Elizabeth Bowen The Last September, Maira Edgeworth Castle Rackrent, Ann Enright The Gathering, Biran Friel Dancing at Lughnasa, Seamus Heaney Opened Ground, stories from James Joyce Dubliners, Bram Stoker Dracula, J.M. Synge Playboy of the Western World, as well as Jonathan Swift “A Modest Proposal” and selected poems of W.B. Yeats. Fulfills a Literature Group 1 requirement or works as an elective. 

ENGL 544 Frontiers of American Lit (theme: Tech-Noir/Cyberpunk)

Dr. Christopher Loots

The readings and focus of this 544 course vary depending on who is teaching it, yet it always tends in one way or another to different “frontiers” of American literature. This instance of the course will read literature that tends to the horizons of technology and humanity. In particular students in this class will read and discuss some “cyberpunk” and related “tech-noir” fiction, meaning, fiction that explores the current and near-future states of social media, technology, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and other immersive online environments (e.g. MMOGs). Students will consider the benefits and dangers of humanity’s increasing interweave with such technology and online/virtual realities—with the way that humanity is becoming post-human or cyborg. In addition to studying literature in the vein of Ready Player One, Neuromancer, Akira, and The Circle (some or all of which we may read, but which are here listed to provide examples of the sort of literature we’ll engage), students might study and discuss other media related to this horizon of humanity and technology: i.e. relevant tech/science media, Technology/Entertainment/Design (TED) talks, and other visual media depicting tech-noir/cyberpunk stories and situations. This will be the first instance of this course on this topic, and so students in this course will have an active role in determining what is or is not working with the course structure. Fulfills a Literature Group 2 requirement or works as an elective. 

ENGL 560 Albee & His Literary Heirs

Dr. David Kilpatrick

[UPDATE: Due to a late professor change this course will now focus solely on the plays of Albee, and not include close study of his followers as originally intended]. The plays of Edward Albee (1928-2016) include The Zoo Story (1958), The American Dream (1960), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1961–62, Tony Award), Tiny Alice (1964), A Delicate Balance (1966, Pulitzer Prize, and Tony Award, 1996), Seascape (1974, Pulitzer Prize, also available from Overlook), Three Tall Women (1994, Pulitzer Prize), and The Play About the Baby (2001, also available from Overlook). He was awarded the Gold Medal in Drama from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1980, and in 1996 he received both the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts.  It was his works that started the Off Broadway movement that includes such playwrights as Lori Suzi Parks. Adirenne Kennedy, and especially Will Eno. In this class, which was inspired by Albee’s recent passing, we will study some of Albee’s works. Fulfills a Literature Group 2 requirement or works as an elective. 

Graduate English Symposium 2017

The 2017 Writing/Image/Text (or W.I.T) Graduate English Symposium will be held this year on Tuesday May 16th, the day before Commencement, in Maher Hall on the Dobbs Ferry Campus of Mercy College. You can read about last year’s symposium here on the blog.

The symposium is just a casual mini-conference at which interested MA English students or alumni gather to read aloud a scholarly paper (a paper that you’ve written for any of your MA courses will do just fine, though it must be edited to no longer than 10 pages), as well as to meet some fellow grad students and program professors. Family and friends are welcome to attend too. 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).

We call it “Writing/Image/Text” not just because it makes for a neat acronym, but because it signals that you can present on pretty much any topic, including on topics that involve visual texts and other types of texts.

Anyone interested in attending, and in reading a paper, please let me know by sending a note to cloots@mercy.edu. I won’t need to establish the final list of readers and attendees until the end of April, but now is a good time to start figuring out if you think you can be there. By the end of April I’ll need to know who all is reading, so that I can then schedule the actual start-time and length of the symposium. And I’ll need a fairly good total attendee list by then so that I can order enough catering for everyone (food provided courtesy of the MA program). More info below image…



Anyone traveling from afar might consider either staying in a hotel near campus, or staying in New York City and taking the Metro North Hudson Line train up from Grand Central Station (there’s a train station right by the campus, and it’s a common train route that many of our faculty, staff, and students take everyday; takes about 45 minutes or so). For those traveling to walk at Commencement, it’s worth noting that if you’re staying in NYC you can take the Metro North Harlem line from Grand Central to the White Plains station which is right near the Westchester County Center, where Commencement is held (our graduation ceremony outgrew our Dobbs Ferry campus some time ago). It’s about a ten minute walk from the train station to the venue, and the majority of that ten minutes is just walking the length of the convention center’s parking lot.

Hotels in the area range from boutique (such as The Castle), to a range of nice chain hotels (such as the Doubletree or The Marriot Springhill Suites). There’s rather a ton of hotel options about three or four miles north of Dobbs Ferry in Tarrytown. Do note that if you’re staying in any local hotel you would need some sort of vehicle to get to campus, and to get to Commencement if that’s part of your trip.

The symposium was a lot of fun last year, and I expect it will be again this year. Think about coming. I’ve already heard from several of you who definitely want to read a paper, and that’s great. I hope to hear from more at cloots@mercy.edu.

Congratulations to Kensie Poor, MA 2013, on her acceptance into University of Georgia’s PhD English Program.

It’s always good to hear from our MA graduates and find out what they’re up to. I recently heard from Kensie Poor, who completed her MA degree with us here in 2013. It’s possible that a few of our current students (those moving at a part-time pace, or who took leave over the past few years) may date back to Kensie’s years and remember her. In any case I am happy to share that she has been accepted into the University of Georgia’s PhD English program. Well done, Kensie! Anyone else, current or former students, who want to share with me and the program any similar news or announcements, scholarship activity, or other academic achievements, please do drop me a line at cloots@mercy.edu.