Category Archives: Course Information

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.

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.