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.