Welcome to the 2021-22 Academic Year

Peril, strangely encountered, strangely endured,
marks us;
we know each other
by secret symbols,
though, remote, speechless,
we pass each other on the pavement,
at the turn of the stair;
though no word pass between us
there is subtle appraisement….
we know our Name,
we nameless initiates,
born of one mother,
of the flame.

– from The Walls Do Not Fall (1944), by H.D. 

We begin again, together. It has been a rough eighteen months as we’ve endured the pandemic and its related crises; and as we know, it’s not over yet. But we begin again as a graduate community, students new and continuing, faculty and alumni alike, woven always as we are through our love of language, literature, words, artistic creation; and woven now too through this weird condition of having endured these strange days, this peril, together. It has become clear over the past year, from the unprecedented amount of applications we’ve fielded for the MA program, that there are many whose hope to join with others of like mind and explore together the further realms of literature and language has been galvanized by the global crisis. On behalf of all of the program’s faculty I want to welcome all of our incoming students to the beginning of your graduate studies at Mercy College; as much as I want to welcome back all of our continuing students to your ongoing scholarly and creative explorations.

Last year at this time I asked in the annual welcome-letter that students look out for each other in the classroom, help each other, be supportive and kind to each other. Our graduate students tend to be like that anyway, at any time, but in the middle of the pandemic as we were, it seemed like something worth asking: that we go out of our way to make our graduate classroom experience antidotal to the suffering of the pandemic. All indications are that the graduate community rose to the occasion; and the good will of the classrooms culminated in a marvelous spring symposium that was unprecedented both for its online format, as much as for its turnout and participation. Starting this fall, in a continuation of this effort of collegiality, we’re implementing a peer-mentor project which will associate incoming or newer students with students further along in their studies. The call for volunteers for this has garnered strong feedback already. In a few weeks, after it seems we’ve gotten the names of everyone interested in being a peer-mentor, we’ll be contacting newer students with the names and contact info of a few volunteer-mentors to whom those newer students can turn for advice or with questions.

Below in this post you will find news about some of our students, alumni, and faculty; followed by information about spring 2022 course offerings; followed by information about support and resources available to our graduate students. Please read onward to get caught up on what’s happening in your graduate English Literature program. And here’s to the 2021-22 school year!


Program students and alumni have been busy pursuing further degrees, creative and scholarly publication, and more. I’d like to share some of those pursuits here now at the start of the 2021-22 academic year in hopes it will inspire others in our graduate community, and give us all a sense of some of the possibilities. The following is by no means comprehensive and represents only the things I know about from occasional correspondence with alumni, or have heard about from other professors through their correspondence with alumni, but:

Seth Hahnke is entering the PhD English program at the University of Wisconsin this fall. Alissa Greenwood is finishing up the MLA program at Johns Hopkins University. David Hatami is ABD (an acronym that in doctoral studies means the person is in the final stage, and has completed “all but dissertation”) in the Doctor of Education program at Nova Southeastern University. Cristen Fitzpatrick is an ABD Doctoral Fellow finishing up the PhD in Composition and Rhetoric program at St. Johns University, where she teaches writing and composition, and has kept busy presenting scholarship on Beat-generation women writers, feminist zines, and more. Cornelius Fortune is in the PhD in American Culture Studies program at Bowling Green State University, and like many on this list (and many other alumni I am sure) has been busy teaching (composition, poetry, drama, cultural studies, film studies) and continuing a highly-active presentation and publishing schedule, with recent publications in over half-a-dozen journals or anthologies. Kevin Kenney translated his MA degree into a full-time high school teaching position, where he begins this fall teaching composition, literature, and creative writing. Sheri Murphy’s book In the Service of the King was recently published by Austin Macauley press. Theresa Hamman’s book Humming the Thing was recently published by Finishing Line Press.

A number of active and former MA students have achieved publication in the 2021 edition of the Mercy College literary journal, Red Hyacinth. The edition features poetry, fiction, and drama by alumni such as Gloria Buckley, Cornelius Fortune, Stasey Gray, Kristen Lohner Vasquez; as well as by active MA student Melissa Lizotte. This fall there will be another call-for-submissions for the 2022 edition of the journal. All of us in the program strongly encourage creative writers in our graduate community to send in work for consideration (an announcement will be posted here on the blog when the call-for-submissions begins). And I also encourage everyone to keep in touch with me over the years and to let me know of your activities and achievements (cloots@mercy.edu).

The program was able to provide online undergraduate teaching opportunities this fall to alumni Alyssa Fried, Stefan Cruet, Kristen Robinson, David Hatami, Kristen Lohner Vasquez, and Kiara Duncan; and Carol Mitchell continues to teach composition and literature courses regularly at our Dobbs Ferry campus. We were able to fund four online Teaching Assistant positions this fall which went to Chazia Weste, Karen Gellender, Nancy Moore, and Anna Voronko. TA opportunities will again be available in the spring and the call for applications will be posted on the blog soon.

MA program faculty are always busy with their own research, writing, and other projects. To mention just a few things: Dr. Boria Sax’s latest book, Avian Illuminations: A Cultural History of Birds is being published by the University of Chicago Press and will be available starting this December. Dr. Sean Dugan is working on a project exploring how “middle-brow” literature, so often shunned by literary traditionalism and elitism, can be a valuable means for learning about society, history, injustice, and more. Dr. Jessica Ward’s article “Avarice, Idolatry, and Fornication: The Connection Between Genius’s Discussion About Religion and Virginity in Book 5 of John Gower’s Confessio amantis” was recently published in Studies in Philology; and her study “The Coveting of ‘Muche’ Instead of ‘Mesure’: Lady Mede and Nede in the C-Text of Piers Plowman” will be published as a chapter in the forthcoming New Directions in Medieval Mystical and Devotional Literature. Dr. Laura Proszak’s article “Products of U.S. Performance: A Material Rhetorical Education at North Bennet Street Industrial School, 1890-1910” was recently published in Rhetoric Society Quarterly; and more of her work will appear as a chapter in the forthcoming Teaching through the Archives: Text, Collaboration, and Activism.


Registration for the spring semester will open relatively soon, likely before the end of September at the current pace of things. There isn’t a date yet set for when it will open, but I always post the registration-opening date here on the blog as soon as I learn it. For this and other reasons, grad students should check the blog regularly throughout their time in the program. Registering promptly, first thing in the morning on the day that registration opens, is the only way to ensure you get a seat in your preferred courses. Some courses fill up quickly, sometimes even within just several hours. We’re running nine different courses in spring 2022. They are:

  • 510 Theory and Practice of Expository Writing
  • 514 Borges & Cortázar – Argentine Literature
  • 515 Graphic Novel
  • 522 Humanism in Renaissance Texts
  • 523 Tragedy
  • 524 Reason & Imagination
  • 540 Shakespeare: Family Dynamics and Reputation
  • 543 The American Renaissance
  • 560 Cultural Impact of Black Lives Matter

Each course will have 15 seats available. Descriptions for these spring courses will be provided in a blog post in the near future.


Each of you has what’s called a PACT advisor. The PACT advisor for every graduate English student is currently Erika Tremblay at etremblay@mercy.edu. Also know that as the Program Director I am the faculty advisor to every graduate English student, so you can always contact me at cloots@mercy.edu. I am here to help, always.

Student Support Services is the general office/portal where you can find info about many of the things that students normally need info about.

The College’s Office of Accessibility is the place to contact if you need to discuss or register any accommodations.

We also have an office of Counseling Services for those in need.

The Center for Academic Excellence and Innovation (CAEI) provides tutoring (including online tutoring) and other such assistance for those who want help with their writing and researching. Occasionally a professor might recommend that you seek additional help with your writing, and the CAEI is the place you can get it.

Mercy has extensive online library resources. JSTOR Language & Literature, MLA International Bibliography, and Academic Search Premier are the main databases in the field of literary research, though there are many other databases available online through the library. Additionally, Mercy College has digitized versions of many scholarly books. To search the ebook selection use the advanced search option for the library catalog and under “format” select “EBook.” Then search away and check-out/download any useful books you find.

On this post here you’ll find critical information about the incomplete “I” grade which some of you might occasionally receive. It’s critically important that students recognize that there is a time-limit past which incompletes cannot be fixed, after which all credit and tuition for the incomplete course is lost.

For those approaching their last semester, you must pay attention to your required comprehensive exam, to the instructions for how to enroll in the final 599 course, and to the application you must complete in order to graduate.

And as always, if anyone has any questions about anything, please let me know at cloots@mercy.edu.

Once again, welcome to the 2021-22 academic school year. Here’s to beginning again. Onward we go, together….