Category Archives: Annual Grad Student Symposium

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 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 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 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:

Graduate English Symposium 2017

The 2017 Writing/Image/Text (or W.I.T) Graduate English Symposium will be held this year on Tuesday May 16th, the day before Commencement, in Maher Hall on the Dobbs Ferry Campus of Mercy College. You can read about last year’s symposium here on the blog.

The symposium is just a casual mini-conference at which interested MA English students or alumni gather to read aloud a scholarly 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. 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).

We call it “Writing/Image/Text” not just because it makes for a neat acronym, but because it signals that you can present on pretty much any topic, including on topics that involve visual texts and other types of texts.

Anyone interested in attending, and in reading a paper, please let me know by sending a note to I won’t need to establish the final list of readers and attendees until the end of April, but now is a good time to start figuring out if you think you can be there. By the end of April I’ll need to know who all is reading, so that I can then schedule the actual start-time and length of the symposium. And I’ll need a fairly good total attendee list by then so that I can order enough catering for everyone (food provided courtesy of the MA program). More info below image…



Anyone traveling from afar might consider either staying in a hotel near campus, or staying in New York City and taking the Metro North Hudson Line train up from Grand Central Station (there’s a train station right by the campus, and it’s a common train route that many of our faculty, staff, and students take everyday; takes about 45 minutes or so). For those traveling to walk at Commencement, it’s worth noting that if you’re staying in NYC you can take the Metro North Harlem line from Grand Central to the White Plains station which is right near the Westchester County Center, where Commencement is held (our graduation ceremony outgrew our Dobbs Ferry campus some time ago). It’s about a ten minute walk from the train station to the venue, and the majority of that ten minutes is just walking the length of the convention center’s parking lot.

Hotels in the area range from boutique (such as The Castle), to a range of nice chain hotels (such as the Doubletree or The Marriot Springhill Suites). There’s rather a ton of hotel options about three or four miles north of Dobbs Ferry in Tarrytown. Do note that if you’re staying in any local hotel you would need some sort of vehicle to get to campus, and to get to Commencement if that’s part of your trip.

The symposium was a lot of fun last year, and I expect it will be again this year. Think about coming. I’ve already heard from several of you who definitely want to read a paper, and that’s great. I hope to hear from more at

The 2016 Graduate English Symposium

On Saturday, May 14th, a few MA students, alumni, family members, program faculty, and the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts gathered together at Mercy College for the 2016 Graduate English “Writing Image Text” symposium. The symposium took place in Maher Hall, the headquarters for the School of Liberal Arts on the college’s Dobbs Ferry campus. Below are a few photos from and information about the event.


The two panels of presenters: seated, l-r, Dr. Miriam Gogol, Kit Gower, and Carol Mitchell; standing, l-r, Gloria Buckley, Nicholas Cialini, and Dr. Christopher Loots.

The MA program director, Dr. Loots, opened the symposium with welcomes and remarks, and then led the first panel sharing his research on “Entropy/Negentropy in Cormac McCarthy’s Fiction.” Gloria Buckley followed with her paper on “Whitman’s Free Verse: A Lyrical Embrace Shaped by Oration, Opera, Nature or War?” Nicholas Cialini, a recent alumnus and also now adjunct faculty in English at Mercy College, concluded the first panel with his study of “Eliot, The Eagles, Dylan, The Beatles: Modernism and Rock n’ Roll.”


Following a lunch break, Dr. Gogol led the second panel with a discussion of her forthcoming book project, a collection of essays on Dreiser and his representations of women workers, for which she is the editor and a contributor (Dr. Gogol is the founder of the International Theodore Dreiser Society and a leading scholar in the field). Kit Gower followed with her study of “The Philosopher’s Dog: How Animal Characters in Children’s Literature Act as Guides for Transformation.” Carol Mitchell concluded the day’s research presentations with her paper on “Henry James’ What Maisie Knew and D.H. Lawrence’s ‘The Rocking-Horse Winner’:The Financial Morality Behind a (Literary) Childhood.”


Below, Dean Jhashi (left) watches the second panel of presenters along with Dr. Dugan and Gloria.


Below, Kit and Carol prepare for their panel to begin. Presenting CAN be fun!


All in all, it was an afternoon filled with collegiality, ideas, good conversation and laughter. All of us here in the MA program and the greater School of Liberal Arts would like to thank all of our panelists and their guests for traveling to come together for this event. We look forward to seeing some and hopefully all of you again, as well as seeing some new faces, at next year’s 2017 symposium.

Seeking Feedback About Spring Symposium / Gathering

In years past the graduate English program has put together a symposium, sort of a mini-conference right here in Maher Hall, for interested MA English students at which to gather and read aloud a scholarly paper, as well as to simply meet some fellow students and professors. Graduate students and professional scholars often attend and read at local, regional, and national conferences, so this symposium can provide 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 issue in recent years has been that, because our student-body has shifted in the past decade from being traditional/on-campus to being entirely distance-learning, we don’t necessarily have enough students within convenient driving/traveling distance of the campus who are interested in participating in the symposium.

Well, maybe this year will be different, and that’s what I’m seeking feedback about. If you would be interested in attending a program-hosted symposium, please send me a note at letting me know. If we get enough student interest we’ll schedule an afternoon, perhaps near to commencement in May so that anyone traveling to walk in the commencement ceremony can attend, during which we’ll have a catered reception and have a few panels sharing a bit of our scholarship/writing aloud to one another. Any topic, really any type of writing would be appropriate to share, including creative. Again, if you’re interested, just write me a note letting me know, please. I’ll update everyone here on this blog later this semester based on the feedback I receive.


W.I.T. Symposium POSTPONED until next school year.

The W.I.T Conference is being postponed until the fall so that we can coordinate a bigger turnout. We’re thinking of collaborating with the undergraduate English program to have student panels and MA grad student panels. It would be good for our undergraduates to hear some of the more developed studies that our grad students or alumni are generating. Anyway that will take some more coordination and so we’re going to postpone the April event and try to get it up and running in the next school year. Thank you to those who volunteered to participate; I hope you’ll be up to participate again when the symposium comes to fruition. Best, all, -CL