Wrap-Up: W.I.T 2018 MA English Symposium

On Tuesday 5/15 the graduate English program hosted it’s 2018 Writing Image Text (WIT) symposium. Because most of our MA students live in other parts of the country and even in other countries, we know that it’s impractical for many of our students to travel to attend. Hopefully this post can give those of you at a distance a feel for the event, of which I hope you know that all of you were a part in spirit. Turnout was good as a number of students and alumni (mostly from around the north-east) made it to campus to attend and enjoy some friendly conversation with each other, faculty, and the school Dean.

The picnic area outside Maher Hall. The calm before the storm: literally, our area was hit with a massive storm just a few hours after the event ended.

Our first panel of presenters consisted of Dr. Kristen Keckler, who started the symposium off by reading several of her “flash fiction” pieces. Dr. Keckler (who in addition to teaching in the MA program is also our undergraduate English program director) discussed “flash fiction” a bit and we talked as a group about what we thought one of the stories was really about. After that we switched to hearing some scholarship from two graduate students: Richard Kovarovic presented “The River, the Tiger, the Fire: Borges and the Reimagining of Modernist Time in Ficciones“; and Daniel Campbell then presented “The Literature of the Celtic Periphery: The Commonality of Constituent Elements.”

L-R: Dr. Keckler reading flash fiction; Dr. Loots, Richard, Daniel.

After some lunch (in the picnic area featured above!) Dr. Celia Reissig-Vasile, Chair of the Department of Literature and Language, gave a talk on research activities she recently performed in Argentina while researching the film Tunel de Los Huesos/Tunnel of Bones and the historical events it depicts.

Dr. Reissig-Vasile discussing her on-site research in Argentina. Dr. Dana Horton (right) watches on.

The lights were turned low, and Dr. Dana Horton discussed her poster-presentation “‘Where One Time I Served, Now I Got Others Serving Me’: Women as Post-Neo-Slave Owners in 12 Years a Slave.” Dr. Horton discussed not just the topic of her poster and related research but the whole idea of a poster-presentation, which has long been a standard presentation method in the sciences but has only recently sprung up as a method in literary fields.

Dr. Horton discussing her poster-presentation (the projection was bright and clear in the room, not washed-out as it looks in this photo).

Throughout the event the audience sat enraptured!

L-R: Kari; Dr. Sax (a bit of his shirt at least); Lynne; Richard; Dr. Tamara Jhashi, Dean of the School of Liberal Arts; Dr. Fran Biscoglio (just peeking up above Dean Jhashi’s head); Dr. Keckler. Not depicted: Daniel sitting to the left (sorry Daniel, too far to the left!). Dr. Dugan and Dr. Medoff were present for the event but also out of the frame (alas!).

At this point we switched over to poetry readings. Gloria Buckley, who recently completed her degree as part of the MA English class of 2018, read two selections: “Tide of the Mind” and “November Night Woods.”

Gloria introducing her first poem. Dr. Horton watching on.

After Gloria’s reading Dr. Boria Sax closed out the event with several of his poems, each of which shared a common theme relating to leaves. They included “Which Leaf?,” “Death of a Tree,” and “Sing Sing Prison at Night” (Dr. Sax teaches classes to inmates at Sing Sing as part of Mercy College’s outreach in association with a project called Hudson Link).

Dr. Sax, on the right, having just finished his poetry reading. Gloria, Dr. Reissig-Vasile, and Dr. Horton sit together with Dr. Sax here at the end of the event answering questions related to their presentations.

The symposium was overall just filled with interesting ideas, scholarship, creative fiction, poetry, and research; as well as with good humor, laughter, conversation, and camaraderie. (And food!) In addition, our student-presenters earned a valuable line-item to list on the scholarship section of their CV. Altogether it was a very good day. Thank you, everyone, who attended. And to everyone else in the program who for understandable reasons could not attend (distance, obligations, etc.), please know that you were there with us in spirit, that this event involved each one of you; because we are all in this together, all of us in this graduate English program. This time next year we’ll be having the 2019 symposium. Start planning for it now! We in the faculty hope to see as many of you there as can possibly attend. Until then, cheers to you all.