2022 GRADUATE ENGLISH SYMPOSIUM; LIVE ONLINE SATURDAY APRIL 30; CFP DEADLINE APRIL 13

On Saturday April 30 the MA program will be hosting its annual “Writing Image Text” or “W.I.T.” Graduate English Symposium. The event will be held live online through Zoom. We will begin at noon, eastern time. The event will likely run for three or four hours (last year it ran from noon to 4pm) but the end-time will only come into focus once we know how many MA students will be presenting.

This call for papers (CFP) is limited to current students in the program. Active students who want to attend but not present, as well as Alumni, prospective students, faculty, family, guests, etc., are all welcome and encouraged to attend. The deadline for responding to this CFP and declaring as a presenter is the end of Wednesday, April 13.

The symposium is a casual mini-conference at which active MA English students can read aloud a scholarly or creative work. A paper that you’ve written for any of your MA courses will do just fine, though it might need to be edited down to a shorter length to fit into the 15 minute time-slot allotted to each presenter. Full instructions and guidance for presenting will be shared with presenters after April 13. The symposium is also a community event at which you might see/meet fellow grad students, program professors, alumni, and others in the MA community.

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). Earning line-items for the scholarship section of your CV is very important for anyone who aspires to apply to PhD programs.

Anyone planning to attend this year’s WIT symposium, presenter or not, please let me know by sending an email no later than the end of Wednesday, April 13, to cloots@mercy.edu. Presenters please also, in your email, let me know the title of the work you will present. I need this info in order to appropriately organize the event and create the program. I need non-presenters to RSVP as well so that I know everyone to whom I will need to send Zoom login info before 4/30.

I will host an optional Zoom practice session for presenters on Thursday April 21, at 2pm eastern time for anyone who wants to practice using the screenshare feature in Zoom. It’s not necessary to screenshare during a presentation; and traditionally an English conference presentation consists of a person simply reading aloud a written work while the audience listens and considers it. But screensharing visual elements (Powerpoint decks, media, images, etc.) has become more and more common in the past few years as more and more people have adapted to presenting virtually. So if you want to share your screen during your presentation, and you’re not familiar with how to do so, be sure to attend this optional practice session.

You can read about previous symposiums on the blog here, and here, and here, and here. On behalf of the MA faculty: we hope to see you there! Please contact cloots@mercy.edu if you have any questions about any of this.

Fall (and Summer) 2022 Registration Info

General registration for the fall (and summer) will open on on March 14. Priority registration, which at the grad level usually only relates to veterans or active military, will open on March 7. Registration on these dates will open at 9:00am eastern. Note that it might not open on that specific minute, might instead open about that time when the Registrar manually logs in and flips the switch.

Not all students take summer courses; many prefer to follow the traditional fall/spring schedule. This is why we run a shorter summer schedule (four, this summer). We’re running seven courses this fall, including the 500 theory course which everyone is required to take at some point. Everyone who is interested in getting their preferred schedule for fall and/or summer should set an alarm and register promptly on the day registration begins. Once a course fills, students will need to select from whatever else remains. There is a waitlist feature, which forms a queue for full courses, and it often works to a small degree; but it only works if someone with a seat in the course elects to vacate it.

Summer 2022

  • ENGL 514 – LGBTQIA+ Literature (Dr. Medoff)

This course introduces students to significant literature and experiences of LGBTQ+ culture. Students in the course will examine some of the major concepts and political issues that shape gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer experiences through literary and cultural productions. Most texts in this course are interested in various forms of same-sex desire (female-female and male-male), as well as complicating our common conceptions of sexual identity and gender identity. This course will take a cultural studies approach in order to understand texts in relation to context – to see how historical contingencies and political debates inform literature, as well as to see how literature and culture can inform (and challenge) public and political opinion. Thus, the course’s texts will include fiction, nonfiction, plays, documentaries, films, poetry, scholarly journal articles, memoirs, and many other genres. Previous students in this course have pursued research on themes of personal interest within LGBTQ+ culture, such as “Sexuality in Young Adult Fiction,” “African American LGBTQ+ Writers,” “Representations of Bisexual Culture,” “Masculinity in LGBTQ+ Culture,” etc. Fulfills an elective by default, but can fulfill a Literature Group 2 field requirement upon request.

  • ENGL 515 – Animals in Literature (Dr. Sax)

This course looks at the representation of animals in a wide range of literary and folkloric traditions. It will focus, most especially, on the ways in which the literary depiction of animals is intimately tied to changing perspectives on the human condition, which in turn reflect religious, intellectual, governmental, and technological developments. Fulfills an elective by default, but can fulfill a Literature Group 1 field requirement upon request.

  • ENGL 540 – Monsters & Monstrosities (Dr. Dugan)

In this newly-designed course we will read classic and contemporary literary works to explore notions of monsters and monstrosities from the perspectives of the monster and the creator. Historical, societal, political, and cultural issues will be explored and addressed. Types of monsters and monstrosities will also be considered: e.g. Human, Beast, and Scientific. Students will be required to participate in weekly discussions, write a paper prospectus, and write a 10-12 page final paper.  Fulfills a Literature Group 1 field requirement or an elective.

  • ENGL 560 – Contemporary African Literature (Dr. Morales)

Chimamanda Adichie’s 2009 TED presentation, “The Danger of a Single Story,” encapsulates how Africa is viewed by the rest of the world… “create a single story, show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.” She couples this with the idea of power and who controls the narrative: “Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person.” She concludes that approaching Africa in this way “robs people of dignity” and separates Africa’s humanity from the rest of the world. Contemporary African Literature’s readings and teachings dispel the idea of that single story.

Modern African literature, a term associated with the liberation of African countries from their colonial powers in the 1950-60’s, has blossomed, especially in the last four decades with five noble laureates–Wole Soyinka ‘86, Naguib Mahfouz ’88, J.M. Coetzee ‘03, Doris Lessing ‘07 and most recently, Tanzanian Abdulrazak Gurnah ’22. The course will certainly feature some of these writers. Thematically, the course looks at the evolving role of African women; and at afropolitanism, a term coined by Taiye Selasi [2005 “Bye Bye Babar”] and defined as young, well-educated African artists with global and multicultural sensibilities who have settled in several cosmopolitan capitals in Europe and North America. In the literary world, these artists have produced intriguing works that describe their hybrid status and identity but also defy categorization; the relationship between Africans and African Americans, a relationship or misalignment that has its roots in the Jim Crow era in the US. This subject is reflected in the literature such as Adichie’s’ Americana and Teju Cole’s Open City. All three themes coalesce around the idea of identity, displacement, and homeland. The course and its ideas will be filtered through the novel, drama, poetry, the essay, film, and social media. Fulfills a Literature Group 2 field requirement or an elective.

Fall 2022

  • ENGL 500 – Theory and Practice of Literary Criticism (Dr. Kilpatrick)

An introduction to some of the major movements and figures of the theory of criticism. The question “what is literature?” is a primary concern of this course. Such an inquiry necessarily engages other, closely affiliated signifiers such as work/text, writing, reading, interpretation, and signification itself. After brief encounters with ancient antecedents and seminal moderns, influential contemporary approaches to the question concerning literature and its cultural significance are engaged. An assessment of the relative strengths and weaknesses of current trends in the practice of literary criticism, and their theoretical groundwork, is the ultimate objective of this course.

NOTE: The professor of this course plans to hold optional zoom sessions to discuss the course’s readings on some Wednesdays at 9pm eastern. Attending such sessions is not required and students will not miss any essential aspect of the course if they elect not to attend.

NOTE: All students must complete ENGL 500. The course runs once each fall semester, so if you’re aiming to graduate at the end of fall 2022, spring 2023, or summer 2023 and have not yet completed 500, you must enroll in this course for fall 2022. The next instance of the course will be fall 2023. For this reason this course is registration-locked and requires a permit from the Program Director. Anyone not on pace to graduate in the semesters noted above can request a permit but will only be given one if seats remain after everyone who must have the course during this fall 2022 instance gets a seat. All students who need or want a permit for 500 should contact cloots@mercy.edu to request one.

  • ENGL 508 – History of Drama in English (Dr. Medoff)

This course will study select dramatic works from the vantage of the cultures of the historical epochs in which they are embedded. It will use a chronological approach, beginning with the drama in England: the medieval mystery cycles and morality plays; the emergence of secular drama in the 16th century and earlier 17th century, focusing on the precursors and contemporaries of Shakespeare; Restoration drama; the development of sentimentalism and the adaptation of drama to an increasingly middle class audience in the 18th Century; the closet drama of the Romantic era; 19th-century melodrama in Britain and America; and the emergence of the modern theater in the United Kingdom and the United States. Fulfills the Writing & Literary Forms field requirement or an elective.

  • ENGL 514 – James Joyce’s Ulysses (Dr. Loots)

Students in this course will experience and explore one of the most famously difficult, famously banned, and (arguably) profound novels of the twentieth century: James Joyce’s Ulysses. Much like Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, Joyce’s 1922 modernist masterpiece occupies a rare position of being a work almost universally lauded (for those who like lists, the academically-sound Modern Library calls it the greatest novel of the twentieth century) and yet one which for a variety of reasons most people haven’t actually read. In this class we will read the entirety of this massive work, first word to last. We will throughout the semester quest through Ulysses, helping each other to navigate its complex currents, until, come the end of the semester we will arrive together at the absolutely brilliant end, the cosmos-affirming end, of this epic for the modern world. While studying Ulysses we will as well explore some of the people, culture, history, and events surrounding the creation of, publication of, and outrageous reception to the novel. Fulfills an elective by default, but can fulfill a Literature Group 1 field requirement upon request.

  • ENGL 515 – Magical Realism (Dr. Reissig-Vasile)

This course focuses on Latin American magical realist fiction, a genre where elements of the magical, the fantastical, are included in otherwise realistic narratives. This literary style has had a profound impact on literature and has generated an array of interesting and diverse experimental literary texts. We will examine some of the most innovative magical realist texts written by some of Latin America’s most important writers: the Mexican writer Elena Garro, the Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier, and the Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  The short story genre will be the main focus of our analyses as well as a novella. Assignments will include discussion, essays, response papers, and a research paper. No books are required for the course. The following literary texts will be provided as PDFs or links: It’s the Fault of the Tlaxcaltecas, Elena Garro; A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, Gabriel Garcia Marquez; The Kingdom of this World, Alejo Carpentier; and Journey Back to the Source, Alejo Carpentier. Fulfills an elective by default but can fulfill a Literature Group 2 field requirement upon request.

  • ENGL 540 – Shakespeare: Family Dynamics & Reputation (Dr. Ward)

This course engages with the topics of family dynamics and reputation in some of Shakespeare’s most iconic plays and in early modern England. The plays we read offer a fascinating series of meditations on human relationships, love, governance, and communities. Our focus is on how issues relating to family order and reputation not only shape the domestic sphere but also the state and how engagements with these topics transform over the course of Shakespeare’s career. In order to better understand the plays’ historical and theatrical contexts, we will also read influential Shakespearean criticism. Fulfills a Literature Group 1 field requirement or an elective.

  • ENGL 546 – Working Women in the USA 1865 – Present (Dr. Gogol)

This course examines writings about working women from the post-Civil War era to the present. We will review key changes in the American work force, and social, economic, and racial factors since 1865, with attention to movements leading up to changes in the second half of the 19th century. In this multi-genre course, we will read literature (fiction, short stories, poetry, memoirs, biographies, and essays) to help us deconstruct the definitions of “women,” “working,” and “The United States” from the Civil War era to present writings about the millennial generation. We will inquire into the shifting definitions of the term “gender.” We will start with gender as a concept, a social construction reflecting differentials of power and opportunity, breaking what the feminist writer Tillie Olsen calls the “habits of a lifetime.” An important goal of the course is for students to know the literature, history, and benchmarks of major events in the lives of women. Fulfills a Literature Group 2 field requirement or an elective.

  • ENGL 560 Literature of the Black Atlantic World (Dr. Morales)

A full description for this new course will be coming soon, but is not ready yet since Dr. Morales is still developing the course and its syllabus. He created an undergraduate version of this course, “The Black Atlantic World,” years ago and is now revisiting that theme and is reshaping that course up into a graduate level version for our fall 2022 MA schedule. The title and focus of the course emerges from the phrase “Writings of the Black Atlantic World, ” which is a term popularized by Paul Gilroy [The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (1992)]. The term traditionally includes Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Dr. Morales has previously taught graduate courses devoted to authors from this literary genre: e.g. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, V.S. Naipaul, Caryl Phillips, Derek Walcott. Some of these authors might be included in this new course. Other writers and works that might be included are Edwidge Danticat, Dew Breaker, Create Dangerously; Marquez, OF Love and Other Demons; Zadie Smith, On Beauty. But again, a full and more specific description will be provided a bit later. For now, know that this will be another new course from one of the most inventive and prolific professors teaching and designing curriculum in the Mercy MA program. Fulfills a Literature Group 2 field requirement or an elective.

NOTE: The course numbers 514, 515, 540, and 560, are “topics course” shell numbers under which a variety of new or experimental coursework cycles. Students can take multiple instances of any of these course numbers as long as the different instances are actually different courses. So for example students could take ENGL 514 LGBTQIA+ in the summer and ENGL 514 James Joyce’s Ulysses in the fall because those are two different courses, even though they both use the same 514 number. Sometimes a “topics course” runs by one course number one semester, and a different number in another semester, and when that happens students can’t take that course again even though the course number is different. So for example ENGL 515 Magical Realism last ran in summer 2020 as ENGL 560 Magical Realism. Students who took the course in summer 2020 cannot take the course again this fall. Any questions contact cloots@mercy.edu.