Category Archives: Annual Grad Student Symposium

YEAR-END NOTES: SYMPOSIUM IN REVIEW; PROGRAM AWARDS

The 2020-21 school year, now coming to a close, has been a strange one. Although our MA program experienced no pandemic-related curriculum disruptions due to us having long been delivering fully-online education, still each of us, student and faculty alike, had to find ways to focus on our work and studies while enduring and in many ways suffering through this global pandemic. It has been….a difficult year for everyone. Hopefully being a part of this graduate learning community, and working toward your MA degree in one another’s company, has enriched your lives and brought you some calm over this past year.

One of the ways we celebrate the end of the school year is with the Writing Image Text (W.I.T) Graduate English Symposium. This year’s symposium was held on Saturday, May 1, live online. Over twenty-five attendees made up of current graduate students, alumni, prospective students, faculty, and the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts gathered together to hear a variety of graduate student presentations. To see the event program listing the presenters and their presentation titles, click the banner below.

Good times were had. All feedback so far suggests that the presenters found the experience meaningful and invigorating. We already have presenters from this year declaring their intent to again present next year. Next year’s symposium will mix together campus-based panels with live-online panels, and this is how the format will be henceforth. The event will therefore always be accessible to all of our students and alumni, wherever you are in the world. If you can make it to the campus, though, you’ll get catered food!

Another way we celebrate the end of the school year is with the awarding of three MA English Literature program honors: the Thesis of the Year award, The Howard Canaan Thesis Award for Innovation, and the Graduate English Christie Bowl (program honoree) award.

All theses produced during an ENGL 599 thesis tutorial during the summer or fall 2020, and spring 2021, were considered for the Thesis of the Year Award. As always, selecting just one study from the group of over twenty qualified theses, each one excellent in its own unique way, was extraordinarily difficult. The final study was selected by a faculty panel with no students’ papers in the running.

  • The winner of the 2021 Thesis of the Year award is Lisa Irving for her paper: “Work It: The Black Feminist Body-Language of Missy Elliot, Janie Crawford, and the Shumalite Woman.”

The Howard Canaan Thesis Award for Innovation, now in its second year, is awarded to 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 award was created to honor the late Dr. Howard Canaan, who taught English literature at Mercy College for over thirty years, and who in addition to being a Shakespeare scholar was also a scholar of science fiction, and an advocate for the literary significance and value of genre fiction.

  • The winner of the 2021 Howard Canaan Thesis Award for Innovation is Kari O’Driscoll for her thesis “The Modern Witch in Contemporary Fiction: Why She Persists and Why She Matters.”

The third distinction that the MA program awards each year 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 work and contributions to the program’s scholarly learning community, and their relevant accomplishments beyond the program.

  • The winner of the 2021 Graduate English Christie Bowl is Kristen Vasquez.

It is always a strange thing to announce such distinctions as when doing so one can’t help but think of all of the marvelous students who are not the ones named. So as we recognize these honorees let us please also recognize all members of the graduating MA class of 2020-21 for their hard work and dedication. Congratulations, everyone.

2021 Graduate English Symposium; Live Online Saturday May 1; CFP Deadline April 1

On Saturday May 1st 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. Tentatively we are estimating the event will run from noon to 4pm, but that might change depending on how many MA students declare that they will present a scholarly or creative work. It’s possible that because this is going to be online, and therefore more easily accessible to all of our students, that we will get an extraordinarily large turnout of presenters. We shall see. For this reason we are at this moment limiting our call for papers (CFP) to current students in the program. We hope our alumni will join us in the virtual audience; and should the CFP result in a lower-than-expected response from current students we will open the CFP to our alumni.

The symposium is a casual mini-conference at which interested 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 would likely need to be edited down to a shorter length to fit into the 15 minutes we anticipate each presenter will have; instructions and guidance for that will be shared with all presenters after April 1. The symposium is also (normally) a social event at which to meet some fellow grad students and program professors. MA students interested in attending but not presenting are of course welcome to do so.

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 after the MA.

Anyone planning to attend and/or present, please let me know by sending an email no later than the end of Thursday, April 1 to cloots@mercy.edu. You don’t need to know what you will present by 4/1. You just need to tell me on 4/1 if you are going to present something at the symposium on 5/1. And if you plan to attend but not present, please tell me that too by 4/1, so that I will have some sense of how big the online event is going to be. After 4/1 I will begin to arrange the symposium panels, virtual rooms, and the rest based on the amount of people I know will be presenting and attending.

You can read about previous symposiums on the blog here, and here, and here (we canceled it last year amid the covid outbreak). 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.

Grad Symposium Status: Canceled

UPDATE: It’s official. Mercy College has announced that it will remain campus-closed through the rest of this semester at least. That means that the Grad Symposium is now canceled.

As some of you know, the COVID-19 coronavirus, which has recently been declared a pandemic and is only ramping up, appeared last week at Mercy College in one of our professors. The campus is now closed to all “non-essential” personnel; courses have all moved online at least through the end of this month; and it is highly likely that courses will have to remain online through the end of the semester (possibly longer). Colleges all around us, including all of those in the massive CUNY and SUNY systems, have moved their courses completely online for the remainder of the term and they don’t even yet have a direct-hit of the virus. All around the world authorities are recognizing that gatherings of any significant sort are bad news and need to be canceled, and are doing so. One of many unfortunate aspects of this is that it is unclear when this all might end or de-escalate to a stable scenario.

As a result, the college has moved courses and most operations online for the rest of this semester (at least), has canceled all campus events and activities, and as a result the symposium is canceled too.

Six graduate students expressed intent to travel here to present their scholarship. Several other students expressed intent to attend in the audience. Numerous faculty expressed their intent to attend and several of them expressed a hope of presenting work alongside the grad students. There were plans to bring an undergrad student or two into the mix as well. It was shaping up to be the largest symposium we’ve seen in nearly twenty years.

If anyone already purchased air tickets please let me know and please contact your airline asap to inquire about refunds. It’s possible that canceling the tickets will be a penalty-free option during this crisis. But please let me know what is happening. I want to help, as I might.

Writing/Image/Text (WIT) 2020 Graduate English Symposium AND $600 Travel-Grant Opportunity

This year’s WIT Graduate English Symposium will be held on Wednesday, May 20th (the day before commencement) in Maher Hall on the Dobbs Ferry campus of Mercy College.

I am happy to also announce that the Chair of the Department of Literature & Language, Dr. Keckler, has secured a $600 travel-grant, funded by our Office of the Dean of the Liberal Arts, to help cover travel expenses for one student to attend and present a paper. We are holding a contest to determine who will receive the travel grant. The procedure for entering the contest will be detailed at the bottom of this post.

The WIT symposium is a casual mini-conference at which MA English students and alumni gather to read aloud a scholarly or creative paper (a paper that you’ve written for any of your MA courses will do just fine), as well as to meet some fellow grad students and program faculty. Family and friends are welcome to attend too. MA students interested in attending but not reading aloud a paper are of course welcome to do so. Graduate students and professional scholars often attend and read at local, regional, national, and international conferences, so this symposium provides a friendly small-scale introduction to the conference experience.

For anyone who reads a paper, it becomes a valuable line-item you can list under the scholarship section on your CV (click here to read more about the CV). Anyone who aspires to continue into a doctoral program or to pursue other professional outcomes from their graduate English studies must be working to build up even a few line-items for the scholarship section of their CV. Scholarly activities are the coin of the realm.

The symposium title “Writing/Image/Text” signals that you don’t have to just focus on literary analysis, but might instead present work involving other media, other types of texts.

The event typically involves a morning session and an afternoon session of presentations, with a catered lunch in between. If the weather is good we usually have that lunch on picnic tables under canopies on the lawn outside of Maher Hall. It is very pleasant.

  • Anyone who plans to attend, whether as a presenter or audience member, please let me know as soon as possible and no later than March 20th at cloots@mercy.edu. I need to begin tallying how much catering to order, and how many presenters to schedule.
Travel-grant contest application procedures:

To be considered for the $600 travel grant, you must:

  • Be an active student or graduate of the Mercy College MA program.
  • Be certain that you will attend and present at the symposium, should you receive the travel grant.
  • Submit one written work, whatever you feel is your single best paper produced for one of your MA courses here at Mercy College, to cloots@mercy.edu by the deadline of March 20th. Please leave identifying information on your submission, including information about the course and professor for which you wrote the paper. Note that the paper you submit for consideration does not have to be the paper you present at the symposium (but it could be, if you want it to be).

Email any questions about the symposium or the travel-grant contest to the Program Director at cloots@mercy.edu. For those considering walking in commencement on Thursday 5/21, information on that can be found here.

 

 

 

[POSTPONED TO 2020] 2019 Mercy College Graduate English Symposium: Call for Papers and Attendees

NOTE: THE 2019 SYMPOSIUM HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL NEXT YEAR.

Based on the responses I received to the previous post asking for date-preference, this year’s Writing/Image/Text (W.I.T.) Graduate English Symposium will be held on Monday May 20 here on the Dobbs Ferry NY campus. May 20 is the day before the School of Liberal Arts and the School of Education commencement ceremony. You can read about last year’s symposium here, if you’re interested.

The symposium is a casual mini-conference at which interested MA English students and alumni gather to read aloud a scholarly or creative paper (a paper that you’ve written for any of your MA courses will do just fine, though it must be edited to no longer than 10 pages), as well as to meet some fellow grad students and program professors. Family and friends are welcome to attend too. And MA students interested in attending but not reading aloud a paper are of course welcome to do so. 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).

The symposium title “Writing/Image/Text” signals that you don’t have to just focus your presentation on literary analysis, as you traditionally would at an English conference, but might instead present work involving other media, other types of texts.

Anyone planning to attend and/or present, please let me know by sending a note as soon as possible and no later than Friday April 19 to cloots@mercy.edu. I need to establish asap who all will attend, how many people will present, and how many overall to expect so that I can reserve the appropriate room space, order the right amount of catering (lunch provided courtesy of the MA program), and establish the necessary time-length for the entire event. Because of some changes in how our facilities services operates at the college I must know the attendee numbers by Friday April 19. Contact me at cloots@mercy.edu if you have any questions about any of this.

Wrap-Up: W.I.T 2018 MA English Symposium

On Tuesday 5/15 the graduate English program hosted it’s 2018 Writing Image Text (WIT) symposium. Because most of our MA students live in other parts of the country and even in other countries, we know that it’s impractical for many of our students to travel to attend. Hopefully this post can give those of you at a distance a feel for the event, of which I hope you know that all of you were a part in spirit. Turnout was good as a number of students and alumni (mostly from around the north-east) made it to campus to attend and enjoy some friendly conversation with each other, faculty, and the school Dean.


The picnic area outside Maher Hall. The calm before the storm: literally, our area was hit with a massive storm just a few hours after the event ended.

Our first panel of presenters consisted of Dr. Kristen Keckler, who started the symposium off by reading several of her “flash fiction” pieces. Dr. Keckler (who in addition to teaching in the MA program is also our undergraduate English program director) discussed “flash fiction” a bit and we talked as a group about what we thought one of the stories was really about. After that we switched to hearing some scholarship from two graduate students: Richard Kovarovic presented “The River, the Tiger, the Fire: Borges and the Reimagining of Modernist Time in Ficciones“; and Daniel Campbell then presented “The Literature of the Celtic Periphery: The Commonality of Constituent Elements.”


L-R: Dr. Keckler reading flash fiction; Dr. Loots, Richard, Daniel.

After some lunch (in the picnic area featured above!) Dr. Celia Reissig-Vasile, Chair of the Department of Literature and Language, gave a talk on research activities she recently performed in Argentina while researching the film Tunel de Los Huesos/Tunnel of Bones and the historical events it depicts.


Dr. Reissig-Vasile discussing her on-site research in Argentina. Dr. Dana Horton (right) watches on.

The lights were turned low, and Dr. Dana Horton discussed her poster-presentation “‘Where One Time I Served, Now I Got Others Serving Me’: Women as Post-Neo-Slave Owners in 12 Years a Slave.” Dr. Horton discussed not just the topic of her poster and related research but the whole idea of a poster-presentation, which has long been a standard presentation method in the sciences but has only recently sprung up as a method in literary fields.


Dr. Horton discussing her poster-presentation (the projection was bright and clear in the room, not washed-out as it looks in this photo).

Throughout the event the audience sat enraptured!


L-R: Kari; Dr. Sax (a bit of his shirt at least); Lynne; Richard; Dr. Tamara Jhashi, Dean of the School of Liberal Arts; Dr. Fran Biscoglio (just peeking up above Dean Jhashi’s head); Dr. Keckler. Not depicted: Daniel sitting to the left (sorry Daniel, too far to the left!). Dr. Dugan and Dr. Medoff were present for the event but also out of the frame (alas!).

At this point we switched over to poetry readings. Gloria Buckley, who recently completed her degree as part of the MA English class of 2018, read two selections: “Tide of the Mind” and “November Night Woods.”


Gloria introducing her first poem. Dr. Horton watching on.

After Gloria’s reading Dr. Boria Sax closed out the event with several of his poems, each of which shared a common theme relating to leaves. They included “Which Leaf?,” “Death of a Tree,” and “Sing Sing Prison at Night” (Dr. Sax teaches classes to inmates at Sing Sing as part of Mercy College’s outreach in association with a project called Hudson Link).


Dr. Sax, on the right, having just finished his poetry reading. Gloria, Dr. Reissig-Vasile, and Dr. Horton sit together with Dr. Sax here at the end of the event answering questions related to their presentations.

The symposium was overall just filled with interesting ideas, scholarship, creative fiction, poetry, and research; as well as with good humor, laughter, conversation, and camaraderie. (And food!) In addition, our student-presenters earned a valuable line-item to list on the scholarship section of their CV. Altogether it was a very good day. Thank you, everyone, who attended. And to everyone else in the program who for understandable reasons could not attend (distance, obligations, etc.), please know that you were there with us in spirit, that this event involved each one of you; because we are all in this together, all of us in this graduate English program. This time next year we’ll be having the 2019 symposium. Start planning for it now! We in the faculty hope to see as many of you there as can possibly attend. Until then, cheers to you all.

Graduate English Symposium Attendee Info

We’re one week away from our 2018 symposium here at Mercy College’s Dobbs Ferry campus. The event is on Tuesday May 15 in Maher Hall from 11am to 2pm. For those attending here is some info you might find useful:

If you’re driving to campus you have a few options. You can take 287 to Exit 9 (Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow) and then take Route 9 south to the campus. The college is about three miles directly south of 287. Or you can take the Saw Mill River Parkway to Exit 17 then head about two miles west to campus. In all cases WATCH YOUR SPEED, especially if you’re coming south on Route 9 from 287. That stretch of road goes through three different villages (Tarrytown, Irvington, Dobbs Ferry) and each will have its own speed traps. People get pulled over all the time up and down those three miles between the college and highway. The speed limit is usually 35 but drops to 30 at times.

There is a security booth at the entrance to the college parking lot. Security is aware that people without parking passes will be arriving for this event. Just stop at the gate and tell the guard that you are here attending the Graduate English Symposium at Maher Hall and they will let you in.

For those using Metro North take the Hudson River Line to Ardsley. Once outside the train station turn right and walk up the hill to campus.

The symposium will be in Maher Hall, which is an old mansion on the north side of campus pointed-at by the arrow in the map below. The car entrance is at the bottom-right of that map, and the Ardsley train station is at the top-right. If anyone gets lost you can call me at 914-674-7423 or the English office administrator, Linda Dubiell, at 914-674-7353.


There are numerous hotel options in the area. The hotel the college uses for visitors is the Tarrytown DoubleTree Hilton which is up by Exit 9. A few miles further away on White Plains Road there are three different Marriots (why three?), a Sheraton, and a Hampton Inn. There’s also a very nice boutique hotel, the Castle Hotel & Spa, right nearby in Tarrytown.

If anyone has any questions about the symposium please contact me at cloots@mercy.edu. I and other program faculty (and Dean Jhashi) look forward to seeing all of you who can attend.

 

 

2018 Mercy College Graduate English Symposium: Call for Papers and Attendees.

It’s that time again! This year’s Writing/Image/Text (W.I.T.) Graduate English Symposium will be held on Tuesday May 15 here on the Dobbs Ferry NY campus. May 15, in case it should matter to some of you, is the day before the School of Liberal Arts and the School of Education commencement ceremony. You can read about last year’s symposium here, if you’re interested.

The symposium is a casual mini-conference at which interested MA English students or alumni gather to read aloud a scholarly or creative paper (a paper that you’ve written for any of your MA courses will do just fine, though it must be edited to no longer than 10 pages), as well as to meet some fellow grad students and program professors. Family and friends are welcome to attend too. And MA students interested in attending but not reading aloud a paper are of course welcome to do so. 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).

The symposium title “Writing/Image/Text” signals that you don’t have to just focus your presentation on literary analysis, as you traditionally would at an English conference, but might instead present work involving other media, other types of texts.

Anyone interested in attending, and in reading a paper, please let me know by sending a note as soon as possible to cloots@mercy.edu. I need to establish asap who all will attend, how many people will present, and how many overall to expect so that I can reserve the appropriate room space, order the right amount of catering (lunch provided courtesy of the MA program), and establish the necessary time-length for the entire event. Right now I have it as 11:00-3:00 but that could change depending on how many people respond. So please let me know soon, by mid-April at the latest, if you can attend, if you will read a paper, and how many people overall you will be bringing. Contact cloots@mercy.edu for answers to any questions you might have.

Wrap-Up: W.I.T (Writing Image Text) 2017 MA English Symposium

This past Tuesday 5/16 we held our 2017 W.I.T. graduate English program symposium here in Maher Hall on our Dobbs Ferry campus. It was a lot of fun, and the audience got to hear a number of scholarly and creative works by graduate students and faculty.

Maher Hall: home of the undergraduate and graduate English programs, English faculty offices, and the office of the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts; location of the graduate English symposium.

For our first panel three graduate students presented scholarly work. Gloria Buckley read her piece titled “Virginia Woolf’s Orlando: A Landscape Love Story Transcending All Borders,” in which she discussed the love and relationship of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West as bespoken by Orlando. Lynn Leibowitz-Whitehead presented “Hemingway, ‘The Greatest Writer of His Time’; With a Little Help from His Friends: An Examination of Fitzgerald’s Influence on Hemingway’s Writing Career.” Lynn’s study traced out some of the ways that Hemingway’s success was resultant from invaluable support of others, support which Hemingway tried to obscure and erase after gaining fame. Matthew Christoff then presented his study “Symbolism in the Sierra Morena Mountains” in which he unpacked the deep relevance of events taking place in those mountains to understanding the meanings within Cervantes’ Don Quixote.

The first panel, left to right: Dr. Christopher Loots (moderator); Gloria Buckley, Lynn Leibowitz-Whitehead, Matthew Christoff.

For our second panel MA program alumna and current Mercy adjunct professor Carol Mitchell was joined by the Chair of the Dept. of Literature & Language, Dr. Celia Reissig-Vasile, and the Head of Undergrad English, Dr. Kristen Keckler, for a panel of creative non-fiction presentations. Carol read her work “On the Car Radio” in which she reflected movingly on her youth, family, father, and the passing of these things through the nodal points of songs heard on the car radio when young. Dr. Keckler then read her piece “Mixology, Metaphor, and Memory: What Bartending Taught Me about Writing,” in which she sounded out the (often hilarious) resonance between life behind the bar and life behind the the pen. Dr. Reissig-Vasile then concluded the panel by reading from her work “Where Oblivion Shall not Dwell,” as published in the collection Home: An Imagined Landscape. Dr. Reissig-Vasile’s piece involved stories of her experiences with movement, emigration, and all around change; with some of the many different referents for “home” that she’s known through her life.

The second panel, left to right: Carol Mitchell, Dr. Kristen Keckler, Dr. Celia Reissig-Vasile.

The Dean of the School of Liberal Arts Dr. Tamara Jhashi attended, as did the Associate Dean Dr. Richard Medoff and several other faculty members both from within the program (Dr. Sean Dugan, Dr. Boria Sax) and from other programs (Dr. Saul Fisher). Graduate students Tara Farber and Lynne Fortunado attended as well, and some friends/family of the presenters were present too. Overall the event evidenced high-quality scholarship and writing, and the presentations engendered much thought and good collegial conversation. On the practical side our presenters earned a line-item to include on the scholarship section of their CV which is an essential pursuit for anyone seeking a PhD or other professional path in higher education beyond the MA program.

Thank you to everyone who attended. I look forward to seeing some/all of you again next year for the 2018 symposium, and encourage anyone who wasn’t there this year to consider attending in 2018 whether to present, or simply to gather with others from your scholarly community.

2017 W.I.T. English Symposium Update

Hi all, just a reminder that in less than a month the MA Program will be hosting the 2017 Writing Image Text (W.I.T) English symposium here in Maher Hall on the Dobbs Ferry campus. Last year’s symposium was a good time all around. This year like last year we’ve got four grad students committed to presenting (Gloria Buckley, Matthew Christoff, Lynn Leibowitz-Whitehead, and Jenelle Luckey). We have a few more grad students who may or may not attend and present depending on other factors. Dr. Keckler plans to be there and to share some of her creative writing. Other professors might read or share something too. I’ll be moderating the event. I imagine a number of other faculty members and even perhaps the Dean might attend just for fun. Without further ado, here is the new very orange poster for the event: