[POSTPONED TO 2020] 2019 Mercy College Graduate English Symposium: Call for Papers and Attendees


Based on the responses I received to the previous post asking for date-preference, this year’s Writing/Image/Text (W.I.T.) Graduate English Symposium will be held on Monday May 20 here on the Dobbs Ferry NY campus. May 20 is the day before the School of Liberal Arts and the School of Education commencement ceremony. You can read about last year’s symposium here, if you’re interested.

The symposium is a casual mini-conference at which interested MA English students and alumni gather to read aloud a scholarly or creative 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. And MA students interested in attending but not reading aloud a paper 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).

The symposium title “Writing/Image/Text” signals that you don’t have to just focus your presentation on literary analysis, as you traditionally would at an English conference, but might instead present work involving other media, other types of texts.

Anyone planning to attend and/or present, please let me know by sending a note as soon as possible and no later than Friday April 19 to cloots@mercy.edu. I need to establish asap who all will attend, how many people will present, and how many overall to expect so that I can reserve the appropriate room space, order the right amount of catering (lunch provided courtesy of the MA program), and establish the necessary time-length for the entire event. Because of some changes in how our facilities services operates at the college I must know the attendee numbers by Friday April 19. Contact me at cloots@mercy.edu if you have any questions about any of this.

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.