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

We’ve reached the end of another academic year, which means it’s symposium season, awards season, and commencement season!

For our annual Graduate Student Symposium this past April, a good number of students, faculty, friends, family, and others in the graduate English community gathered on zoom to hear scholarly presentations from Abigail Collopy, Rayne Dolton, and Adrianne Gunter. Interpretations and insights were expressed; ideas were discussed; and much camaraderie and collegiality was had. Presenters earned a valuable line-item to list in the scholarship section of their curriculum vitae. The graduate faculty encourage all of our students to share some of your writing and ideas at next year’s symposium, which will likely be in late April 2024. Ask any of your professors or the Program Director about doing so, if you have any questions or need some guidance.

Three students were recognized recently for program year-end honors. The first of these honors 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’s coursework.

  • The winner of the 2023 Graduate English Christie Bowl is Tim Brosnan 

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 2023 Howard Canaan Thesis Award for Innovation is Casi Kapadia for her study “Fashion Statements: Fashion in Literature as a Social Mechanism in the Formation of Identity”

Finally, we have the Thesis of the Year Award. Selecting one study for this award, as much as for any of the other 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 2023 Thesis of the Year Award is Selana Scott for her study “Ulysses’ Bloom; The Embodiment of the Mechanisms and Benefits of an Internal Locus Of Control Mindset”

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 2022-23 for their hard work and dedication that has gotten them to this moment of completing their MA degree in English Literature.

One last program-relevant thing to mention here is that for Mercy College’s School of Liberal Arts commencement ceremony, held last week on the western athletic field of the Dobbs Ferry campus (the 100-yard event tent is pictured below), the college selected one of our own to deliver the graduate-student commencement address: Tim Brosnan. Tim gave a wonderful speech in which he expressed many of things that he cherished most about his time in the graduate program, as well as his appreciation for many of the individual faculty with whom he studied during his time in the program. It was a heartening and laudable finish to the year.

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 2022-23. Onward we go!

Grad Student Book Club (open to students and alumni)

There’s been some talk about students in the MA program forming up a book club, so to have a more casual, extra-curricular, and student-run venue at which to discuss books and socialize with other graduate students outside of the classroom and the program structure. This is a great idea, one worth pursuing and registering as a student club with the College. In order for this to get off of the ground, we need two things:

First we need to create a list of everyone interested in joining the book club (note that expressing interest doesn’t bespeak an obligation to attend, it’s just necessary for the college to verify how many students might join and attend the club if it launched).

Second we need at least one person to step forward here at the start and indicate that they would be willing to be the club president, or a co-president, from go. In the context of this book club, the club president would mostly be responsible for organizing the online discussion sessions (e.g. polling the club members on when would be the best time to meet, creating and disseminating the zoom links, hosting the zoom session, and in-between meetings taking point on correspondences from other grad students interested in joining the club.).

If multiple people are interested in being book-club president, that’s great: in that case different people can take turns organizing the discussion sessions and such. I sponsor an undergrad student club at Dobbs Ferry that has three co-presidents, and they enjoy taking turns at it. Note that the book-club president(s) wouldn’t be deciding the book that the club reads: that would need to be agreed upon by the club, as a group (or by using whatever method of deciding that the club decides is best).

So, if you’re interested in joining the grad-student book club, please send an email to with your name and CWID number. And if you’re willing to be listed as a club (co)president here at the start, please indicate that as well. Again we need at least one person to step forward for that, otherwise the club won’t launch, since college student clubs need to be student-run and student-managed. Thank you.

(Edit in: Also, let me add, that alumni are welcome to be a part of the book club too, so if any alumni reading this are interested, let me know.)

ENGL 515 Latin American Lit is moving to asynchronous (no weekly zoom requirement)

Due to lack of enrollment in the zoom-enhanced fall ENGL 515 Latin American Literature course, we’re changing the course to the standard asynchronous format. This means there will no longer be the Thursday night zoom requirement attached to the course. The change in modality will appear in Connect by the end of this week. Please contact with any questions.