Wrap-Up: W.I.T (Writing Image Text) 2017 MA English Symposium

This past Tuesday 5/16 we held our 2017 W.I.T. graduate English program symposium here in Maher Hall on our Dobbs Ferry campus. It was a lot of fun, and the audience got to hear a number of scholarly and creative works by graduate students and faculty.

Maher Hall: home of the undergraduate and graduate English programs, English faculty offices, and the office of the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts; location of the graduate English symposium.

For our first panel three graduate students presented scholarly work. Gloria Buckley read her piece titled “Virginia Woolf’s Orlando: A Landscape Love Story Transcending All Borders,” in which she discussed the love and relationship of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West as bespoken by Orlando. Lynn Leibowitz-Whitehead presented “Hemingway, ‘The Greatest Writer of His Time’; With a Little Help from His Friends: An Examination of Fitzgerald’s Influence on Hemingway’s Writing Career.” Lynn’s study traced out some of the ways that Hemingway’s success was resultant from invaluable support of others, support which Hemingway tried to obscure and erase after gaining fame. Matthew Christoff then presented his study “Symbolism in the Sierra Morena Mountains” in which he unpacked the deep relevance of events taking place in those mountains to understanding the meanings within Cervantes’ Don Quixote.

The first panel, left to right: Dr. Christopher Loots (moderator); Gloria Buckley, Lynn Leibowitz-Whitehead, Matthew Christoff.

For our second panel MA program alumna and current Mercy adjunct professor Carol Mitchell was joined by the Chair of the Dept. of Literature & Language, Dr. Celia Reissig-Vasile, and the Head of Undergrad English, Dr. Kristen Keckler, for a panel of creative non-fiction presentations. Carol read her work “On the Car Radio” in which she reflected movingly on her youth, family, father, and the passing of these things through the nodal points of songs heard on the car radio when young. Dr. Keckler then read her piece “Mixology, Metaphor, and Memory: What Bartending Taught Me about Writing,” in which she sounded out the (often hilarious) resonance between life behind the bar and life behind the the pen. Dr. Reissig-Vasile then concluded the panel by reading from her work “Where Oblivion Shall not Dwell,” as published in the collection Home: An Imagined Landscape. Dr. Reissig-Vasile’s piece involved stories of her experiences with movement, emigration, and all around change; with some of the many different referents for “home” that she’s known through her life.

The second panel, left to right: Carol Mitchell, Dr. Kristen Keckler, Dr. Celia Reissig-Vasile.

The Dean of the School of Liberal Arts Dr. Tamara Jhashi attended, as did the Associate Dean Dr. Richard Medoff and several other faculty members both from within the program (Dr. Sean Dugan, Dr. Boria Sax) and from other programs (Dr. Saul Fisher). Graduate students Tara Farber and Lynne Fortunado attended as well, and some friends/family of the presenters were present too. Overall the event evidenced high-quality scholarship and writing, and the presentations engendered much thought and good collegial conversation. On the practical side our presenters earned a line-item to include on the scholarship section of their CV which is an essential pursuit for anyone seeking a PhD or other professional path in higher education beyond the MA program.

Thank you to everyone who attended. I look forward to seeing some/all of you again next year for the 2018 symposium, and encourage anyone who wasn’t there this year to consider attending in 2018 whether to present, or simply to gather with others from your scholarly community.