Category Archives: Course Information

ENGL 500: How to Get a Seat in the course, And who must Get a seat

ENGL 500 is one of two courses that everyone in the program must take (599 Master’s Thesis is the other one). The course runs once each year, in the fall semester. We reserve seats in the course for students who are on schedule to graduate that fall, the following spring, or the following summer. Anyone who will be in the program beyond that point will be eligible for the course the next time it comes around. So, everyone currently in the program who is on-schedule to graduate in fall 2020, spring 2021, or summer 2021, and who has not already taken ENGL 500, must take the course this fall 2020. The good news is, everyone who meets that criteria will get a seat, without fail, in the course. The bad news (or just annoying news) is that in order to get the seat, I have to give you a permit in our computer system. In order to get a permit, you need to write to me at cloots@mercy.edu. If anyone is unsure about their time-to-degree, or has any questions, please also write to me at cloots@mercy.edu.

Fall (and Summer) Course Schedules

SUMMER 2020

  • ENGL 517 Advanced Creative Writing (Dr. Keckler)

Advanced Creative Writing, despite the name, is open to anyone in the MA English program no matter how much or little previous experience you’ve had with creative writing. If you are interested in expressing yourself creatively through words, you are welcome and encouraged to enroll. The form of writing emphasized in the course changes depending on the preferences of the instructor running it. In this summer 2020 instance, students will be doing poetry only. Students will not be required to purchase any books. Instead, articles, textbooks, and other sources will be either linked or provided as PDFs. 3 credits. Fulfills the Writing & Literary Forms field requirement or an elective.

  • ENGL 560 Magical Realism (Dr. Vasile)

This course focuses on Latin American magical realist fiction, a genre where elements of the magical, the fantastical, are included in otherwise realistic narratives. This literary style has had a profound impact on literature and has generated an array of interesting and diverse experimental literary responses. This summer we will examine some of the most innovative magical realist texts written by some of Latin America’s most important writers: the Mexican writer Elena Garro, the Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier, and the Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  The short story genre will be the main focus of our analyses as well as a novella. Assignments will include discussion, essays, response papers, and a research paper. No books are required for the course. All readings will be provided as PDFs or links. Readings will likely be: It’s the Fault of the Tlaxcaltecas, Elena Garro; A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, Gabriel Garcia Marquez; The Kingdom of this World, Alejo Carpentier; and Journey Back to the Source, Alejo Carpentier. 3 credits. Fulfills a Literature Group 2 field requirement or an elective.

NOTE: The course numbers 514, 515, 540, and 560, are “topics” shell numbers under which a variety of coursework cycles. Students can take multiple instances of any of these course numbers as long as the different instances are actually different courses with different titles. So students who have previously taken a 560 course can take this 560 course, as long as the previous instances wasn’t Magical Realism.

FALL 2020

  • ENGL 500 Theory & Practice of Literary Criticism (Dr. Kilpatrick)

This is the program’s core course, meaning the course that everyone must take and for which there are no alternative course options. This course runs once each fall semester, so if you’re aiming to graduate at the end of fall 2020, spring 2021, or summer 2021 and have not yet completed 500, you must enroll in this for fall 2020. The next instance of the course will be fall 2021. Enrollment requires gaining a permit from the Program Director (contact cloots@mercy.edu). Here’s the catalog description for the course:

This course provides an introduction to major movements and figures of the theory of criticism. The question “what is literature?” is a primary concern of this course. Such an inquiry necessarily engages other, closely affiliated signifiers such as work/text, writing, reading, interpretation, and signification itself. After brief encounters with ancient antecedents and seminal moderns, influential contemporary approaches to the question concerning literature and its cultural significance will be engaged. 3 credits.

  • ENGL 510 Theory & Practice of Expository Writing (Dr. Proszak)

Custom description coming soon.

  • ENGL 522 Humanism in Renaissance Texts (Dr. Fritz)

This course will focus on humanism and the concepts arising from it in relation to the production and appreciation of literature during the Renaissance. The revival of interest in the arts and ideas of Greco-Roman antiquity and the dependence of Renaissance thought on classical themes will be among the issues discussed. Readings could include (but aren’t limited to) works by Shakespeare, Marlowe, Machiavelli, More, Spenser, among others. 3 credits. Fulfills a Literature Group 1 field requirement or an elective.

  • ENGL 526 Modernism (Dr. Sax)

This course explores the various “isms” of modernism, while questioning if these trends emerging in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are of the past or remain present and relevant to contemporary intellectual and aesthetic sensibilities. Among the features of modernism that we will explore in this course are themes of fragmentation, parody, and irony; the self-conscious retrieval of myth; the collapse of traditional distinctions between subjective and objective reality; and the iconoclastic transgression of Victorian norms of religion, the family, and sexuality. 3 credits. Fulfills a Literature Group 1 requirement or works as an elective.

  • ENGL 541 Search for Identity in American Lit (Dr. Loots)

This course will study the search for identity, individually and collectively, as it manifests in American (United States) literature from Colonial times through the turn of the twentieth century. Attention will be paid to the rapidly changing historical/cultural contexts from which such literature emerged, as well as to different literary movements emerging in America over the eras studied (e.g. Romanticism, Realism, etc). Part of the goal of the course is to provide students with a foundation of American literature, and with an understanding of the foundations of literature in America. Readings this fall will likely include works by Anne Bradstreet, Edward Taylor, Olaudah Equiano, Jonathan Edwards, Thomas Paine, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Phillis Wheatley, Philip Freneau, Poe, Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Whitman, Frederick Douglass, Henry James, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Charles Chestnutt, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Paul Lawrence Dunbar. 3 credits. Fulfills a Literature Group 2 requirement or works as an elective.

Spring 2020 Book & Media Lists

Below you can find information on the book and media orders required for each of the spring MA courses. Some of these lists are still in development and will be updated as professors provide more information. Note that in many cases professors will be providing additional readings within their class in the form of PDFs or through links (meaning, this list doesn’t necessarily represent the full extent of what you’ll be studying in each class).

ENGL 506 History of Poetic Forms

  • Boland, Evan, and Mark Strand, eds. The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms. ISBN 9780393321784.

ENGL 514 Borges, Cortázar, and Puig

  • Borges, Jorge L. Ficciones. ISBN 9780802130303.

ENGL 524 Reason & Imagination

  • Bacon, Frances. Francis Bacon: The Major Works (Oxford World’s Classics). ISBN 0199540799.
  • Blanning, Tim. The Romantic Revolution: A History. ISBN 9780812980141.
    Clarke, Susanna. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. ISBN 0765356155.
  • Sax, Boria. City of Ravens: The True History of the Legendary Birds in the Tower of London. ISBN 9781590207772.
  • Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. ISBN 0486282112.
  • Thomas, Keith. Religion and the Decline of Magic. 2 ed. ISBN 0140137440.

ENGL 525 Victorian Age in Lit

  • Braddon, Mary Elizabeth. Aurora Floyd.
  • Dickens, Charles. Hard Times.
  • Elliot, George. The Mill on the Floss.
  • Stevenson, R.R. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. ISBN 9780486266886.
  • Wilde, Oscar. The Portrait of Dorian Gray. Dover, 1993. 9780486278070.

ENGL 544 Cyberpunk/Tech-Noir/Technoculture

  • First, note that the class will involve visual media such as episodes of Black Mirror and likely several other shows and films (TBD). To view these, students will be need a Netflix subscription for at least one month (about $10); and students might find it convenient to purchase the relevant films to stream through Amazon or elsewhere when the time comes. Students can also rent the assigned films from your local library.
  • Cline, Ernest. Ready Player One. ISBN 9780307887443.
    Please note I am removing Cline’s book from required reading.
  • Eggers, Dave. The Circle. ISBN 9780345807298.
  • Gibson, William. Neuromancer. ISBN 9780441007462.
  • Scott, Melissa. Trouble and Her Friends. ISBN 9780765328489. (this is out of print so a PDF will be provided in class, but you can find used copies for cheap on Alibris.com).
  • Stephenson, Neal. Snow Crash. ISBN 9780553380958.
  • Numerous other shorter works will be provided as PDFs in Blackboard.
ENGL 560 Toni Morrison
  • First, students will need to view the documentary on Toni Morrison, The Pieces That I Am, during or prior to the first week of the semester. The film is streaming on most major platforms (Amazon, Itunes, etc) for a small cost. Currently the film can be purchased to stream on Amazon for $6.99. Costs vary by platform.
  • Morrison, Toni. A Mercy. ISBN 9780307276766.
  • —. Jazz. ISBN: 9781400076215.
  • —. Song of Solomon. ISBN 9781400033423.
  • —. The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations. ISBN 9780525521037.
  • —. Sula. ISBN 9781400033430.

Registration for Spring 2020 is now open

Registration for spring is open as of this Wednesday morning, 11/6. The servers were overwhelmed for the first hour or so from extraordinary demand, so if you experienced registration issues at that time, that was why. It should be working now. Be sure to register as soon as possible to ensure you get your preferred selection of courses. If you find yourself closed out of a preferred course you can get on the waitlist for that course, but in the meantime should select the next best schedule you can find of what is available. Be sure to check the course descriptions in the post down below. And any creative writers or artists, be sure to check out the call for submissions for the college’s creative journal in the post directly below this one. Any questions or issues with registration, let me know at cloots@mercy.edu.

Semester Begins on 9/4, But Course Sections Now Visible For Fall Semester.

Although the semester doesn’t begin for another two weeks (on Wednesday 9/4) Mercy Online has opened the fall 2019 Blackboard courses to students today (8/21). I’m still not totally sure why this happens or what’s to be gained from it, but please note that professors have no obligation to have their courses ready for student-viewing anytime sooner than the start of our actual semester on 9/4. So prior to 9/4 if you look at your Blackboard courses you might see anything ranging from a default shell which appears unready for fall, to a course that’s been customized and carefully prepared (which would mean hidden from student view for the most part) in preparation for this 8/21 unveiling, to a ramshackle behind-the-scenes look at a course-in-creation that the professor forgot to hide from student view.

The only positives that I imagine could come from unlocking the courses two weeks ahead of the semester is that students might get a look at the book requirements to secure them, and at the first few weeks of reading to get a jump on the reading. But for our MA program you can already see all the book orders in this earlier blog post. And reading ahead is sometimes actually detrimental, because your professor might want to prep you for the readings, contextualize them in a way, during the course of the semester before you encounter them.

Bottom line: classes open on 9/4, and 9/4 is when professors are obligated to have their Blackboard sections sorted. Until then, please be patient with whatever you see in your course shells. Any questions: talk to me at cloots@mercy.edu. I’m here to help.

Book Orders for Fall Courses

Below is a list-in-progress of books required for your fall courses. I will update this throughout the summer whenever I get new book info from the different professors. Your professors will eventually provide their official book orders to the college bookstore but the bookstore only lists the titles, doesn’t reveal information such as edition, ISBN, etc. They do this purposefully I think to try and force you to purchase the books through them. But with the info below you can purchase your books anywhere. Keep in mind that while many of the books below will be expensive if purchased new, you can purchase most of them used for cheap (I use Alibris.com). If you prefer to purchase new books I encourage you to first check into Powell’s or a local bookstore before you purchase from Amazon. You can also check many of these out from a library, if that works better for you.

ENGL 500 Theory
  • Leitch, Vincent B., et al., eds. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, 3rd ed. Norton, 2018. ISBN: 978-0393602951.
ENGL 509 Perspectives on the Essay

One book is required for the 509 course:

  • Jameson, Leslie, and Robert Atwan, editors. Best American Essays 2017. Best American Paper, 2017. ISBN: 054481733.

A recommended (but not required) book that Dr. Keckler suggests as a complement to the required reading is The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present, by Phillip Lopate (ISBN 038542339X).

ENGL 521 Themes and Genres of Medieval Lit
  • Black, Joseph, et al, editors. The Broadview Anthology of British Literature Volume 1: The Medieval Period. 3rd edition, Broadway Press, 2014. ISBN 9781554812028.
ENGL 540 Magic in Lit
  • Aromatico, Andrea. Alchemy: The Great Secret. Translated by Jack Hawkes, Harry N. Abrams, 2000. ISBN: 0810928892.
  • Hesiod. Theogony & Works and Days. Translated by M. L. West. Oxford UP, 1991. ISBN: 9780192817884.
  • Hoffmann, E. T. A. The Golden Pot and Other Tales. Translated by Ritchie Robinson. Oxford UP, 1991. ISBN: 0199552479.
  • Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Scholastic, 1997. ISBN: 0439708184.
  • Sax, Boria. Imaginary Animals: The Monstrous, the Wondrous and the Human. Reaktion Books, 2013. ISBN: 9781780231730.
  • Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night. Penguin, 2000. ISBN: 9780140714890.
  • Yates, Frances, The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age. New York: Routledge, 2003. ISBN: 0415254094.
ENGL 545 Lit of the Left Bank Paris

PDFs of many shorter or out of print works will be provided. These will include works by Nancy Cunard, Hilda Doolittle, Richard Wright, Edith Wharton, Frantz Fanon, Zelda Fitzgerald, Janet Flanner, James Baldwin, James Joyce, and Henry Crowder. Students will be required to secure the following books:

  • Baldwin, James. Giovanni’s Room. Vintage, 2013. ISBN: 0345806565. (Or any version will do)
  • Benstock, Shari. Women of the Left Bank: Paris, 1900-1940. U of Texas Press, 1987. ISBN: 0292790406.
  • Breton, Andre. Nadja. Grove Press, 1994. Translated by Richard Howard. ISBN: 0802150268. (Or any version will do)
  • Hemingway, Ernest. A Moveable Feast. Scribner’s. Either edition will do, the original version (ISBN 9780684824994) or the newer “restored” edition (ISBN 9781439182710).
  • Loy, Mina. The Lost Lunar Baedeker: Poems of Mina Loy. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997. ISBN: 0374525072.
  • Stein, Gertrude. Selected Writings of Gertrude Stein. Vintage, 1990. ISBN: 0679724648. (We’ll specifically be studying The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas within this collection but everything in here is wondrous).
ENGL 560 Contemporary Slave Narratives

PDFs of supplemental scholarly articles will be provided in Blackboard. The following books/films will need to be secured by students:

  • Jacobs, Harriet. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. (This is available for free online here: https://english.hku.hk/staff/kjohnson/PDF/JacobsINCIDENTS1861.pdf; if students want a paper copy, it’s very important to buy this particular edition: ISBN 1503277941).
  • McQueen, Steve (director). 12 Years a Slave. (2013 film; ASIN: B00G4Q3KOC)
  • Northup, Solomon. Twelve Years a Slave. (This is available for free online here: http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/slavery/Twelve_years_a_slave.pdf); if students want a paper copy, it’s very important to buy this particular edition: ISBN 1631680021).
  • Tademy, Lalita. Cane River. ISBN 0446615889
  • Tarantino, Quentin (director). Django Unchained. (2012 film; ASIN: B016YVJUJU)
  • Williams, Sherley Anne. Dessa Rose. ISBN 0062011251.

Info about summer course: ENGL 510 Theory/Practice of Expository Writing

We run on regular cycle two courses that directly involve theory: the 500 Theory of Literary Criticism course required of each student, and the optional 510 Theory and Practice of Expository Writing course that can work to complete either the Writing and Literary Forms requirement or an elective. Dr. Dugan, the professor running 510 this summer, knows from experience that many students aren’t quite sure, even from reading the catalog description of it, what the 510 course will be about. As such he has provided the following write-up to help those considering the class this summer. He writes:

I have had the pleasure of teaching this course several times in past summer semesters, and I have enjoyed it more each time. I hope that you will enjoy it as well, but I do want to provide you with an overview for you to decide if this course will meet your expectations and academic and professional goals.

First, the main text, and the only required one, is Concepts in Composition: Theory and Practice in the Teaching of Writing by Irene Clark, 2nd edition, published by Routledge, 2012 (ISBN 978-0-415-88516-4). It is available from the Mercy Bookstore, which will sell or rent you the text, or from other outlets. There is also an eBook version. This book has eleven chapters, so it fits nicely into our ten-week summer semester [director’s note: summer semesters run on compressed 10-week schedules but require more work each week in order to be equivalent to the regular fall and spring semesters]. The chapters focus on processes, revisions, audience, assessment, and other topics. We will discuss one unit each week.

Second, a recommended text for those interested in literary theory is Critical Theory Today by Lois Tyson, 3rd edition, Routledge, ISBN 978-0415506755. It is available to rent or to buy-new or used- from several sources, and there is an eBook as well.

Thirdly, I a firm believer that learning about theory, composition or literary, is made more valuable when one has a source to write about. Therefore, I will provide weekly non-fiction pieces for you to read. But, if your interests lean more to literature, I am (strongly) recommending that you have a copy of The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald. And, I recommend, less strongly, that you have a copy of The Bluest Eye or Beloved by Toni Morrison. Any edition is  fine.

By now, you may be asking yourself: how does this course really play out online? Allow me to explain.

Each week, you will be assigned a chapter from Concepts in Composition, which we will discuss as a class. Then, you have a choice to apply the teaching of writing concepts to either the non-fiction or one of the novels or the play in the framework of composition theory.

However, if you wish to focus on literary criticism, a chapter from the Tyson book will be assigned and a discussion thread provided.  Tyson analyzes Gatsby from different theoretical perspectives, but she also brings up Morrison, among other authors. If this interests you, the discussion questions will be on the theory and then how to teach the literary theory in conjunction with the composition theory.

If all this sounds complicated, it is not. (At least, I hope it isn’t!) It is planned to allow you to pursue your own interests and your professional need, and to give you choices. As a final note: there will be three short (2-3 pages) essays assigned and one longer (4-6 pages) final paper. Discussions are graded weekly.

ENGL 599 Master’s Thesis Tutorial: How To Enroll

Just a reminder here: Anyone getting close to the end of the MA program needs to start thinking about the ENGL 599 Master’s Thesis Tutorial. Let’s look at some basic points about what it is, what you have to do to enroll in it, and what you do once in it:

  • ENGL 599 counts for three credits, like any other course, and is a requirement for the MA degree. Unlike any other course in the program, 599 is run as a one-on-one tutorial between each student and a chosen professor (mentor).
  • The tutorial is always taken during whatever you intend to be your final semester in the program.
  • During the tutorial you have one responsibility and goal: writing a 25-page thesis paper on a topic of your choice, involving primary and secondary sources that you select, all operating under the guidance of your mentor.
  • To pass the tutorial your thesis paper must receive final approval from your mentor and from a second reader selected from the MA faculty.
  • You enroll in 599 using a different process than for any other course in the MA program:
  1. First, during the semester prior to your final semester, think up a general topic or idea for your thesis and write it down. Your thesis topic can be based on a paper written for another course earlier in the program; you can even use that paper as the first draft for your thesis paper.
  2. Contact any professor teaching in the program and ask the professor if he or she would be your mentor. Include your general topic along with your request. If the professors says yes, you will then work up a more formal thesis proposal with that mentor; If your selected professor cannot mentor you, you can either just ask another professor or can contact the program director at cloots@mercy.edu and a mentor will be assigned.
  3. In the meantime, be aware that all students must take and pass the program’s Comprehensive Exam in the time between the penultimate and ultimate semester in the program. So while you’re developing your thesis proposal with your mentor, also start thinking about the Comp Exam which you must request from the program director upon completing your penultimate semester. Students must complete their Comp Exam before beginning their 599 tutorial.
  4. Once you have developed a formal thesis proposal under the mentor’s guidance, and once the mentor deems it acceptable, the mentor will contact the program director who then opens up an individual 599 section for each student with the mentor as professor. It is therefore impossible to be “closed out” of a 599 as each one is opened on an individual basis. The only way a student who needs to be in ENGL 599 might not get into one is if the student doesn’t do these steps in a timely-enough fashion as to have this all settled by the start of the final semester.