Year-End Events and Honors: Symposium, Student Awards, and Commencement

It’s the end of the academic year, which means it’s time to celebrate! One way we celebrate, as a graduate community, is with the annual graduate student symposium, which this year was held live-online at the end of April. Eight grad students presented a variety of scholarly and creative work. Four graduate faculty members moderated the different sessions. Other program faculty, and an Associate Provost of the college, were in attendance, as were a number of other active MA students and alumni. It was an interesting, idea-filled, and collegial event. Click the banner below to see the program for the event, and to get a look at the topics on which students presented:

Another way we celebrate the end of the academic year is by awarding four different program distinctions. The first of these 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 contributions to the program’s scholarly learning community, and their relevant accomplishments beyond the program.

  • The winner of the 2022 Graduate English Christie Bowl is Cera Bryant Fornataro 

Next is the Howard Canaan Thesis Award for Innovation. This award honors the late Dr. Canaan, a long-time and highly-esteemed professor of English at Mercy College who (among many other things) taught Shakespeare and Science Fiction, and advocated that the latter could be as meaningful an area of study, could be as “literary” and as significant, as the former. This award recognizes 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 winner of the 2022 Howard Canaan Thesis Award for Innovation is John Alleman for his study “Revision and Women in a Selection of Alan Moore’s Comics”

Next we have the Thesis Award for English Studies. “English Studies” is an encompassing term that includes literary study and traditional literary pursuits but also enfolds wider practices in the field of English such as: theory, linguistics, writing, and rhetoric; inquiring into research practices, into English curriculum and canon, and into the teaching of English; exploring aspects of digital literacy; and more. This thesis award therefore recognizes an exceptional thesis that tends to the intra-disciplinary thresholds within the field of English.

  • The winner of the 2022 Thesis Award for English Studies is Melissa Lizotte for her study “Empowering Student Writers: A Genre Approach to Teaching the College Admissions Essay”

Lastly we have the overall Thesis of the Year Award. Selecting one study for this award, as much as for any of the thesis awards, is always extraordinarily difficult, as thesis students across the program regularly create excellent studies that are each worthy in their own right. The paper receiving this distinction stood out in all respects.

  • The winner of the 2022 Thesis of the Year Award is Cera Bryant Fornataro for her study “Intersectional Mysticism: Tarot, Hoodoo, Folk Magic, and the Working Conjure Woman in Select Works by Sandra Cisneros and Zora Neale Hurston.”

It is always a strange thing to announce such distinctions as when doing so one can’t help but think of the marvelous students and studies that are not the ones named. Again, it is extraordinarily difficult for faculty judges to locate any single person to honor for any of these awards out of the many exceptional students graduating each year from our program and the college overall. So as we recognize these honorees let us please also recognize all members of the graduating MA class of 2021-22 for their hard work and dedication that has gotten them to this moment of completing their MA degree in English Literature.

One final way we celebrate the end of the academic year is with commencement. Mercy College held five different commencements over the course of the past week, one for each of Mercy’s five schools (Liberal Arts, Health & Natural Sciences, Social & Behavioral Sciences, Education, and Business). The School of Liberal Arts, in which our MA program is housed, held commencement this past Wednesday. A good number of graduate English students were in attendance and walked in the procession. Below is a shot of the 100-yard tent on the western athletic field under which the event was held, this taken a few hours prior to the ceremony.

Cheers to everyone in the MA English Literature program, to our alumni, and to all of your family and friends. Congratulations to our graduating class of 2021-22. I hope that everyone will do something special, something nice for yourselves, to celebrate in your own way the end of the academic year, and the start of the summer. Onward!