Category Archives: Course Information

UPDATED: Registration for Spring 2021 Opens On Wednesday November 4th at 9:00am Eastern

Registration for spring 2021 will open on Wednesday 11/4 at 9:00am eastern. In the past this has meant that the registration began on the day-of as soon as the Registrar arrived at work, logged into her computer, and then clicked the button to activate the whole thing; which was usually around 9am eastern. Sometimes that meant 9:00, sometimes that meant 9:15. If you’re trying to register at the stroke of 9am and you’re getting an error, or it says the system isn’t active, just keep trying every few minutes. If you think something is truly wrong with your account access contact helpdesk@mercy.edu and/or the MA staff advisor Erika Tremblay at ETremblay@mercy.edu.

There are 16 seats in each of the six course offerings, which we estimate to be enough to accommodate the graduate English student body. There is no way to “reserve” seats other than to actually register for them (meaning, please don’t email me asking me to save you a seat; I can’t do that, and even if I could it’s not fair for me to do that). If a preferred course is already full at 16, I recommend you get on the wait list while registering for your next-best choice of course(s). Being in line on the waitlist often works out, especially if you’re the first or second person in line on the list. If all of the courses fill up to capacity we will then start opening a few extra seats across the schedule, which will automatically be offered to people on the waitlist in the order they are on the waitlist (contact Erika Tremblay at ETramblay@mercy.edu for more info about the wait list).

You will register for your courses using the self-service registration feature in Mercy Connect. If you need help understanding how that works, again please contact helpdesk@mercy.edu and/or Erika Tremblay at ETremblay@mercy.edu for assistance.

Course descriptions for the six spring courses can be found here on the blog.

Spring 2021 Course Offerings And Registration Info

UPDATE 11/4: Registration for spring is now open. Courses are already filling up. Once a course is full we won’t consider opening additional seats in it unless all of the other courses fill. Please understand: Each semester the MA program must run a balanced schedule that tends to the various requirements for the degree, and we must balance enrollment across the schedule in order for each course to remain viable and open. As well, we set the course caps at the point where graduate courses should ideally be; and adding students beyond those caps risks over-crowding each classroom and diminishing the learning experience. So please, if you are intent on getting into particular courses this spring, register as soon as possible.

The graduate English schedule for the spring is:

  • ENGL 507 Narrative Strategies in the Novel (Dr. Fritz)

This course studies the novel and various narrative methods used in the novel over the centuries and across the British and American traditions. 3 credits. (Fulfills either the Writing & Literary Forms field requirement or an elective.)

  • ENGL 514 Hemingway/Modern Cryptography (Dr. Loots)

This course follows Ernest Hemingway, through his writings, from his early days in Paris to his final moments in Ketchum, Idaho. Readings will include many of his major novels and short stories, and some non-fiction. By exploring Hemingway’s travels and writings we will experience through his eyes the rise of modernity; the unprecedented way that the world changed forever in the early twentieth century; and the relationship of modern literature and art to modernity. We will as well consider the interrelated effects of Hemingway’s self-engineered celebrity status—as the rugged bearded “macho” world traveler—which coincided precisely with the rise of modern media technology, and exceeded his literary fame even within his lifetime. And we will consider how Hemingway’s groundbreaking style exemplifies a type of modernist code, requiring of us delicate work to interpret/intuit what secrets and subtle meanings weave through the writings of this giant of 20th-century American literature, arguably the most influential American writer of all time. (Fulfills an elective by default or, upon request, can fulfill a Literature Group 2 field requirement).

  • ENGL 515 Fairy Tales (Dr Sax)

This course looks at the discovery, history, intellectual interpretation, and literary adaption of fairy tales. Such tales have been variously viewed as, among other things, a font of primeval wisdom, a guide to growing up, or a response to the stresses of modernity; and students will consider such views while exploring what else fairy tales might be, and why else fairy tales might exist. The semester will begin with a study of classic collections of fairy tales such as those of Perrault and Grimm; will examine permutations of fairy tales over time; and will conclude with a discussion of the continuing popularity of fairy tales in contemporary films such as Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Universal Studios’ Shrek. (Fulfills an elective by default or, upon request, can fulfill a Literature Group 1 field requirement.)

  • ENGL 540 Irish Literature (Dr. Dugan)

This course explore themes prevalent to Irish identity, such as nationalism, rebellion, social class, religion, oppression, gender, and family, among others, by close textual analysis of drama, poetry, fiction, and mythology. The materials will be chronologically arranged, allowing for the study of historical events and cultural influences that shaped the literature of Ireland. Readings will most likely be: Elizabeth Bowen The Last September, Maira Edgeworth Castle Rackrent, Ann Enright The Gathering, Biran Friel Dancing at Lughnasa, Seamus Heaney Opened Ground, stories from James Joyce Dubliners, Bram Stoker Dracula, J.M. Synge Playboy of the Western World, as well as Jonathan Swift “A Modest Proposal” and selected poems of W.B. Yeats. (Fulfills a Literature Group 1 field requirement or an elective.)

  • ENGL 546 Working Women in the US: 1865 to Present (Dr. Gogol)

This course examines writings about working women from the post-Civil War era to the present. We will review key changes in the American work force, and social, economic, and racial factors since 1865, with attention to movements leading up to changes in the second half of the 19th century. In this multi-genre course, we will read literature (fiction, short stories, poetry, memoirs, biographies, and essays) to help us deconstruct the definitions of “women,” “working,” and “The United States” from the Civil War era to present writings about the millennial generation. We will inquire into the shifting definitions of the term “gender.” We will start with gender as a concept, a social construction reflecting differentials of power and opportunity, breaking what the feminist writer Tillie Olsen calls the “habits of a lifetime.” An important goal of the course is for students to know the literature, history, and benchmarks of major events in the lives of women. 3 credits. (Fulfills a Literature Group 2 field requirement or an elective.)

  • ENGL 560 Latino Literature (Dr. Vasile)

This course focuses on the literature of Latinos/Hispanics living in the United States; a growing and important field of American literature. “Latino” and “Hispanic” refer to people living in the United States who have roots in Latin America, Spain, Mexico, South America, or Spanish-speaking Caribbean countries. In this course we will examine texts that make salient the great diversity of literary themes, styles, and social concerns of literary texts written by Latino/a writers. We will study issues such as gender, race, class, diaspora, bilingualism, violence, and community as raised by the various authors whose work we will be examining in this course. Our readings will focus on short stories, poetry, and novels written by writers from various Latino/a groups, including Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans, and Dominican Americans. 3 credits. (Fulfills a Literature Group 2 field requirement or an elective.)


Any questions, write to cloots@mercy.edu. Book orders for these classes will be provided later in a different blog post.

Preparing for the Fall

The fall semester begins on Wednesday, September 9. Now is the time to start thinking about the fall and making sure everything is in order with your schedules, books, and such. Here are a few things to consider as you prepare:

  • Check your fall schedule in Mercy Connect. Does it look as it should?
  • If this is to be your final semester in the program, have you gotten your ENGL 599 master’s thesis tutorial scheduled? (The process to register for it is different than for any other course, and you can learn all about it here on the blog.)
  • If you’re taking your 599 tutorial this fall, have you completed the comprehensive exam?

If the answer to any of the above is “no,” it’s time to get that sorted out. Contact cloots@mercy.edu for help. Here are some additional questions to consider in preparation for the fall:

  • Have you begun to secure any required books for your courses? (You can see books and ISBNs here on the blog.) Professors will expect students to have required books in-hand at the start of the semester.
  • Are you still on the waitlist for some courses? If so, are you still hoping for a seat in your waitlisted course(s), or are you satisfied with your existing schedule? If you are satisfied, please remove yourself from any waitlist(s) that you are on, so that we can have a clearer picture of who is still hoping for a seat in any of the courses. If you are still hoping for a seat in those courses, then remain on the waitlist. We will be opening up an extra seat or two in most courses in the next week or two.

As a final note: all Blackboard sections have become visible today/August 17th. This is ten days earlier than scheduled, and over three weeks prior to the start of the semester on 9/9. This early reveal will take almost all of your professors by surprise, as this decision was made just a few days ago (by the Provost’s Office) and most professors won’t see the memo or realize that their Blackboard sections have been revealed for some time. Many professors won’t have even started yet building their sections for the fall. Please note that professors have no contractual obligation to have their Blackboard sections in order until the first day of class, 9/9, and so before that day you might see Blackboard sections in any state of disarray. Please be patient, and know that when the semester actually begins, your Blackboard sections will be ready for you.

New Fall 2020 Course Option: “The Literary Accretion of Black Lives Matter”

Next week or the week after, at the latest, another course will appear on the fall schedule, something brand new and just designed by Dr. Donald Morales. A few weeks ago we knew we were going to need a sixth course due to increase in enrollment. We wanted to run something new, unique to Mercy, something that spoke to the times; and in response Dr. Morales came up with the following. I hope you will find it interesting, exciting even, and will consider enrolling in it (and remember, you can switch in/out of courses without issue or problem, as you like, until the start of the semester):

ENGL 560 The Literary Accretion of Black Lives Matter

“In the agony of his final moments, while crying out for his mama, water, and breath, George Floyd reached out to and became all of us. He has joined a vast community of people, across the globe, who see echoes of the injustices and the inequalities of their own societies in his American story and recognize their own torment in his suffering. Floyd’s seemingly unending death, in the midst of a pandemic that has disproportionately killed black, brown, and indigenous people, also underscores the fact that many of us are mourning and are uncertain about how long we ourselves will be able to breathe.”

–Edwidge Danticat, “So Brutal a Death,” New Yorker

“Black creativity emerges from long lines of innovative responses to the death and violence that plague our communities. ‘Not a house in the country ain’t packed to its rafters with some dead Negro’s grief,’ Toni Morrison wrote in Beloved, and I am interested in creative emergences from that ineluctable fact.

–Elizabeth Alexander, “The Trayvon Generation,” New Yorker

This new course explores the dynamics of the racial turmoil that has disrupted this nation in ways much like during the civil rights era of the sixties. The question arises: is this a momentary period of protest or a defining movement ushering in profound change? In this class, through mostly non-fiction, we will look through the prism of literature at the origin and continued life of systemic racism in America; at how artists have responded and creatively documented it. The course will also expand beyond America and view the global response to the spring+summer of 2020 through works and articles from international writers.

Students will encounter works such as Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “A Case for Reparations,” W. E. B. Du Bois’ Souls of Black Folk, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage, Caryl Phillips’ A Distant Shore or Nature of Blood, Teju Cole’s Open City, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, August Wilson’s King Hedley, Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, Oladipo Agbouuaje’s The Hounding of David Oluwale, and Debbie Tucker Green’s ear for eye or random. Other or different works might be studied as well. The course will be supplemented with audio, video, and other media arising out of the events of this period. 3 credits. Fulfills a Literature Group 2 requirement or works as an elective.

Note: you can take this course even if you’ve taken an earlier course coded as 560. Multiple topics courses cycle under the course codes of 560, 540, 515, and 514, and students can take as many different courses running by these codes as they like.

Fall 2020 Books Orders (Updated Throughout the Summer)

Book orders for each class will eventually appear in the college’s online bookstore, but I know that many graduate students check here instead of the bookstore for this information; and anyway the bookstore usually charges a premium for books, so it’s best to buy books elsewhere. I recommend Powell’s for new books, and Alibris for used books (and overall I recommend buying used books rather than new; you can often secure a semester’s worth of books for relatively cheap if you look for used versions of them online). Below are the book orders for each of the fall classes (so far). Professors are still considering works and working on their courses, so consider this list a work in progress that will be updated throughout the summer as professors finalize their book orders.

  • ENGL 500: Theory and Practice of Literary Criticism
The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Leitch, Vincent B., et al, eds. 3rd ed. Norton, 2018. ISBN: 9780393602951.
  • ENGL 510: Theory and Practice of Expository Writing

Dr. Proszak plans to either link or provide PDFs of all materials and texts required for the course. She might eventually list some works in the bookstore but for the moment the plan is to keep the course material cost at or near zero.

  • ENGL 522: Humanism in Renaissance Texts

Much of the semester’s readings will be Open Education Resources. Other than that, students are required to secure one book for the class:

Kraye, Jill, editor. The Cambridge Companion to Renaissance Humanism. Cambridge University Press, 1996. ISBN: 0521436249.

  • ENGL 526: Modernism

Note that you can use other editions than these recommended ones. Also, Dr. Sax notes that, in particular, the Eliot poems and Joyce stories tend to be floating around the internet on different sites and in different forms, and these are fine to use. Descartes’ Discourse is out there too online, in different forms, for free.

Descartes, René. Discourse on Method and the Meditations. Trans., F. E. Sutcliffe. New York: Penguin, 1968. 0140442065

Eliot, T. S. The Waste Land, Prufrock, and Other Poems. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1998. ISBN: 0486400611.

Richard Humphreys, ed. Futurist Manifestos. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 2001. ISBN: 9780878466276.

Joyce, James. Dubliners. New York: Dover, 1991. ISBN:  978-0486268705

Latour, Bruno. We Have Never Been Modern. Trans., Catherine Porter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1993. ISBN: 0674948394.

Lyotard, Jean-Francois. The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: U. of Minnesota Press, 1984. ISBN: 0-8166-1173-4.

  • ENGL 541: Search for Identity in American Lit

Most of the semester readings you will be able to locate for free online, in one way or another. I will be providing PDFs of many shorter readings, as much as I am allowed to do. So although I am recommending the following anthology, purchasing it is not required. Those who plan to focus on American literature during their MA studies and beyond might consider investing in the anthology. Otherwise, you can succeed in the class without it.

Levine, Robert, et al., editors. The Norton Anthology of American Literature Shorter 9th Edition (Two Volume Set). W.W. Norton, 2017. ISBN: 9780393264517.

Other than that, everyone will need to secure a copy of the following novel, which we’ll be reading near the end of the semester (any edition will do, but I teach from the following):

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006. ISBN: 0061120065.

  • ENGL 560: Literary Accretion of Black Lives Matter

Dr. Morales will provide shorter materials in the class when appropriate. Students are required to secure the following books:

Ralph Ellison. Invisible Man. ISBN-13: 978-0679732761

August Wilson. King Hedley. ISBN-13: 978-1559362603

Roy Williams. Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads. ISBN-13: 978-0713682823 (or the Kindle Edition: 2002)

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Americanah. ISBN-13: 978-0307455925

Tayari Jones. An American Marriage. ISBN-13: 978-1616208684

debbie tucker green. ear for eye. ISBN-13: 978-1848427624 (author uses lower-case letters for her name and title)

Additional Fall 2020 Course Coming Soon

A sixth graduate literature course will be added soon, probably by the start of July, to the fall schedule. We schedule as many courses during each fall/spring semester as seems sustainable based on projected enrollment, and informed by the idea that most students take two courses each of these semesters. Our enrollment projections are rising, though, perhaps due to increased interest in well-established online graduate programs such as ours during this COVID-19 situation. Dr. Morales has responded to the call for an additional course offering and is working on something that we will schedule soon. Students currently enrolled in fall courses might find that the new course is more interesting than one of your current courses, and might want to switch. This is fine, as students can change their schedules, can freely add and drop classes as often as you like, up until the first day of any semester. As a finale note, preliminary book orders for the fall classes will be posted here on the blog near the start of July.

Survey – What do you think of our courses? What courses do you want to see scheduled?

Please complete the survey linked here to provide us with feedback about the MA program’s course offerings (and about a few other curriculum topics). Your responses will let us know what courses we should run in 2021 and beyond.

In case the hyperlink above doesn’t work for you, you can copy and paste the URL below into your browser’s address bar:

https://forms.gle/3AZD1VTryCmJnsUw8

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)

In this course, students learn about how writing has been studied and theorized across writing studies and related disciplines. The course specifically focuses on cultural issues endemic to writing and how race, ethnicity, gender, and class enter into conversations on writing instruction and assessment. Students who take this course will understand how writing functions across contexts and communities, including within higher education. All course texts will be scanned or available online. Readings will include chapters from A Short History of Writing InstructionNaming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies and chapters from texts on the open-access WAC Clearinghouse, including Situating Writing ProcessesWriting Assessment, Social Justice, and the Advancement of OpportunityGenre in a Changing World. Fulfills the Writing & Literary Forms field requirement or an elective.

  • 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.

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.