Red Hyacinth Journal: Editors Needed!

Red Hyacinth Journal is an annually published, perfect-bound literary magazine that showcases the writing and art of Mercy College students and alum. The journal’s first issue was produced in 2018 through the generosity of the family of the late Professor Valerie Lewis, a former instructor in the English program.  Over the past few issues, Red Hyacinth has featured the diverse creative work of over 200 Mercy College graduate and undergraduate students from across many majors and disciplines. Student editors from the Departments of Literature and Language and Communication and the Arts collaborate on the editorial decisions, design, and concept. The journal’s student editors receive hands-on experience in the editorial and production processes as they select the work (poetry, drama, nonfiction, fiction, and art) in a blind-review process, prepare the magazine for press, and communicate with the college community regarding its release. The journal’s website can be found at

As we put together a 6th annual issue (2023) we are looking to assemble an all-volunteer staff of Editors. Many literary magazines are produced by not-for-profit entities such as colleges and art collectives, and as such, most rely on a volunteer staff. While the positions are not paid, the Editors’ names appear in the Masthead of the journal and editorial service can be listed on one’s resume and referenced in job interviews. Serving as an editor provides graduate and undergraduate students with invaluable, relevant, hands-on experience in editing, publishing, and arts administration, and allows you to make an important contribution to the Mercy Community, one that will endure for years to come. The journal is a “living” artifact, representing not only the students and editors who collaborate on an issue, but the challenges and aesthetics of the time in which the journal was produced.

We are looking for reliable, dedicated volunteers to fill the following positions for the 2022-23 academic year. The positions will start immediately and generally run until May 2023. In general, the first month or so of service is light as we wait for submissions to come in. All positions will currently operate remotely and applicants must have access to a computer, Zoom, reliable Internet, and the ability to meet at least twice a month during the day, Eastern Standard Time, to collaborate with other editors; some daytime availability (morning or afternoon) is required. Editors cannot publish their own work in the issue they are serving on.

If interested, please send your resume and/or a brief letter stating your interest and qualifications, as well as the general hours of your availability Eastern Standard Time, to Dr. Kristen Keckler, no later than Oct 4, 2022.

Because the work is spread out over several months, the time commitment is manageable. Editors will be provided back issues of the journal so that they can see various versions of the finished product. Below you can find more information about the two different types of editorial positions we’re looking to fill:

Managing Editor (Priority position)

The Managing Editor position functions as the top editorial position on the staff and manages the day-to-day operations of the literary Journal for one cycle/issue, with the opportunity for renewal for another issue cycle if the candidate so desires. The Managing Editor will coordinate with the content and design editors to ensure that the team stays on task and that deadlines and benchmarks are met at key junctures in the production schedule. The position requires strong organizational skills and ability to create spreadsheets using Google.

Responsibilities include:

  • Manage the email and Google drive for the journal
  • Communicate with students/alum who submit to the journal
  • Create spreadsheets to track submissions and ensure a blind submission process
  • Create and monitor Google doc for Content Editors to mark as they review submissions
  • Lead editorial meetings
  • Communicate with faculty advisor about progress  
  • Ensure names of contributors are correctly reflected in journal and titles of pieces are accurate

Content Editors

Content Editors will review submissions in various written genres (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, etc.) and determine the artistic merit/potential of each piece and its suitability for the issue of the journal. There are a limited number of Content Editor positions.

Content Editors’ responsibilities include:

  • Read submissions and mark notes on the spreadsheet
  • attending Zoom meetings to discuss the submissions and decide on which content is most suitable for the issue in terms of showcasing a variety of themes, styles, voices, and genres.
  • collaborating to decide on the order and “arc” of the journal’s creative work, deciding on, for example, which pieces have connections that can be highlighted through juxtaposition and ordering
  • assist in light copy editing and review of proofs for errors/omissions
  • assist with outreach to classes and potential contributors about the journal
  • other assistance as needed from faculty advisor and managing editor

Author Event with Patricia Engel, Hosted by Dr. Celia Reissig-Vasile, Wed. 9/28

On Wednesday, September 28, Dr. Celia Reissig-Vasile of the Mercy College English Program will be hosting a discussion with author Patricia Engel, regarding her book Infinite Country. Mercy College MA students are strongly encouraged to attend this event; you can attend on zoom, or can join a larger viewing party in the Mercy Hall Rotunda on the Dobbs Ferry campus. Click here to register for the zoom webinar. Or click here if you plan to attend the viewing party in the Rotunda.

Welcome to the 2022-23 Academic Year

On behalf of all of the Mercy College MA in English Literature faculty: welcome, everyone in our graduate English community, to the 2022-23 academic year. Courses are now underway and hopefully each of you are already finding your classroom experiences to be interesting, challenging, and meaningful. The world seems finally to be turning the corner on covid, enough at least that for the first time in three years faculty and students here at Dobbs Ferry were able to begin the semester all on campus, all unmasked, and all without chairs spread out for social distancing. It has been absolutely remarkable to witness and experience. And already, practically in time with the start of the academic year, the hot and humid northeastern summer is suddenly hinting at autumn; with just the slightest cooler breeze now carrying off of the Hudson and over the campus; and with the uniform deep-forest green of the surrounding trees just slightly starting to gesture toward the browns and yellows and reds soon to come. Let us all in the graduate community venture forward, together, into the autumn and the academic year, into our explorations and studies into the vast regions of literature and story, word and culture. Here’s to the 2022-23 academic year ahead!

Below in this post you will find some program news, along with information about support and resources available to all of our graduate students.


This Thursday, September 15, from 2:00 – 4:00 pm (eastern), Dr. Boria Sax (Senior Lecturer, English) will be the speaker in the first installment of the the 2022-2023 Mercy College Research Salon Series. Dr. Sax will deliver a talk about his recent book Avian Illuminations: A Cultural History of Birds. Dr. Sax is one of the world’s leading scholars of animals in literature and culture, and he occasionally teaches his Animals in Literature course in the MA program (most recently in summer 2022). We encourage our graduate community to attend this event, whether on campus or on zoom. If you’re near Dobbs Ferry this Thursday you can attend in the college’s Charter Room which is in Verazzano Hall. Anyone interested in attending on zoom, please write to to receive the zoom link.  If you plan to attend in either capacity please complete the rsvp form linked here.


As shared recently in another post on this blog, the MA program is undergoing its five-year self-study. Part of that process involves us gathering student and alumni feedback to learn about what seems to be working, and what needs improving, in the MA program. If you haven’t already done so please offer your own feedback by completing the survey linked here. Another part of this process involves an external reviewer (usually a program director from an MA or PhD program at a different college) reviewing and assessing our MA program. Usually the external reviewer will want to meet with students and alumni to hear whatever you have to say about the MA program and your experiences in it. So if you’re interested in being a part of a zoom meeting with that external reviewer sometime in September or October (tbd), please write to letting me know.


In recent years I’ve taken to sharing here in the annual welcome the assessment rubric that we apply to the ENGL 599 thesis papers, because the criteria in the rubric correspond to the program’s recently-updated “learning outcomes,” which are the big-picture things we hope you are developing throughout your time the program. The learning outcomes and criteria on the rubric are also just the basic things all English literature students should be working to address and improve in all of their scholarly papers, not just their final thesis paper. So I encourage everyone to download and look over the 599 rubric to see the sorts of things that we look for and measure through it. The rubric and the outcomes and our 599 assessment practices are, if you’re curious, requirements for our college’s accreditation.


Each active graduate student has what’s called a PACT advisor, which is basically your staff advisor and the point-person for assisting you with issues that arise or general questions you might have. The PACT advisor for every graduate English student is currently Griffin Shiland at Also know that as the Program Director I am the faculty advisor to every graduate English student, so you can always contact me at 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. Note that practically all of Mercy College’s support services have some online variation, and so are available for our distance learning students.

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 some 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, whether on campus or online.

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. For general research help and an overview of basic research methods, you might find useful this online guide that librarian Miranda Montez created specifically for the MA English program. And don’t hesitate to make use of interlibrary loan to secure any materials (such as academic journal articles, etc.) that you need but which Mercy might not have on hand. Librarians can secure materials using interlibrary loan and send scanned PDFs to students at a distance, within fair use and copyright allowance.

On this post here you’ll find important 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 form you must complete in order to actually graduate.


Grad English students can and should secure student ID cards. They can get you discounts at various stores, and they can get you access to most college and university libraries in your area, in order to do research. Students near a Mercy campus can stop in and get your ID card made in Person, if you like. Any student can secure an ID card through the mail by following these instructions:

Using your email account, send a photo of your face along with your full first name, last name, and college ID number (your eight-digit CWID number) to Amanda McKenzie at: Full photo guidelines are:

  • Submit a color photo of just your face taken in last 6 months
  • Have someone else take your photo – no selfies
  • Submit a high-resolution photo that is not blurry, grainy, or pixilated
  • Use a clear and unedited image of your face; do not use filters such as those commonly used on social media
  • Face the camera directly with full face in view
  • Have a neutral facial expression or a natural smile, with both eyes open
  • Use a plain white or off-white background

Let Amanda know in your email that you are a distance-learning graduate student in the MA English Lit program and that you would like a student ID card. She will explain anything else that you need to know about how to secure your card.


This info was shared earlier on this blog, and no changes have happened since that post, so this repeats that earlier info for those who may have missed it: Registration for the spring semester will open relatively soon, likely in October 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 a few hours. We’re running seven different courses in spring 2023. They are:

  • ENGL 505 Transformations of the Epic (Dr. Sax)
  • ENGL 515 Latino Literature (Dr. Reissig-Vasile)
  • ENGL 521 Themes & Genres of Medieval Lit (Dr. Fritz)
  • ENGL 525 Victorian Age in Literature (Dr. Dugan)
  • ENGL 540 Philosophy of Literature (Dr. Fisher)
  • ENGL 544 Cyberpunk & Technoculture (Dr. Loots)
  • ENGL 560 Black Theatre, Art, and Power in the Digital Age (Dr. Morales)

We as well have two courses penciled in so far for summer 2023:

  • ENGL 540 Fairy Tales (Dr. Sax)
  • ENGL 560 Murder, Mystery, & Suspense (Dr. Dugan)

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

Okay, that’s it for the welcome post! Thank you, active grad students and faculty, for all of your work and effort, for your energies and insights; and thank you alumni for all that you brought to the program when you were active in it. As always, if anyone has any questions about anything, please let me know at Once again, welcome, everyone, to the 2022-23 academic year here in the Mercy College MA in English Lit program. Onward we go, together.