Category Archives: Course Information

UPDATED Summer and Fall 2021 Schedules and Registration Info

General registration for Summer and Fall 2021 opens simultaneously on 3/22; however early registration for veterans opens on 3/15. Registration typically begins about 9am eastern time. It is not on a timer and begins only when the Registrar personally activates the system, so it might not be at 9am sharp but it should start around that time. (Veterans who want to check that they are registered as such with the college should contact Erika Tremblay at etremblay@mercy.edu.)

Some courses do fill up quickly, some even early on the first day of registration. If a course you are interested in is full by the time you go to register, you can get on the waitlist for the course. Being on the waitlist often works out, but it’s best to register for the next-best courses you see available and get on the waitlist for preferred courses, just in case the waitlist does not work out. Instructions for using the waitlist can be had by contacting the MA program’s PACT advisor Erika Tremblay at etremblay@mercy.edu. Note that being on the waitlist does not automatically place you into the course if a seat opens up; instead, the waitlist system sends an email to your college email address if a seat opens alerting you that you have 24 hours to claim the seat. If you don’t claim the seat within that window of time, the next person on the waitlist will get the email and the 24-hour window. If no one on the waitlist claims the seat in time, the vacant seat opens up to general registration.

Below are the course offerings for fall and summer, listed in that order. Note that we always run a shorter summer schedule because many students in the MA program don’t take summer courses, and prefer to follow the traditional fall/spring pattern. Currently we have six courses scheduled for fall. If those six courses fill up well ahead of September then a seventh course will be offered, but for now we are estimating that six courses will suffice.

FALL 2021

ENGL 500: Theory of Criticism (Dr. David Kilpatrick)
    • An introduction to some of the 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. An assessment of the relative strengths and weaknesses of current trends in the practice of literary criticism, and their theoretical groundwork, is the ultimate objective of this course.

NOTE 1: The professor of this course plans to hold optional weekly supplementary zoom sessions. The specifics will be shared by the professor at the start of the semester. Attending such zoom sessions is not required, as all courses in the MA program are asynchronous in order to best accommodate the schedules and lives of our graduate students. Such zoom sessions will only every be optional and supplementary to the core course requirements.

NOTE 2: 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 2021, spring 2022, or summer 2022 and have not yet completed 500, you must enroll in this for fall 2021. The next instance of the course will be fall 2022.

NOTE 3: Registration for this course requires a permit, which the Program Director will give to anyone on-pace to complete their degree prior to fall 2022. Contact your PACT mentor Erika Tremblay (etremblay@mercy.edu) or the Program Director (cloots@mercy.edu) to request a permit.

ENGL 509: Perspectives on the Essay (Dr. Kristen Keckler)

The course studies the essay as a distinct literary genre; some of its characteristics and types; some of its history; and some of its role in reflecting authorial consciousness. Further, this course examines the taxonomy of the essay in terms of its medium (verse or prose), its tone and level of formality, its organizational strategies, and its relationship to its audience and to particular modes of literary production (diary, letter, manuscript, book, magazine, newspaper, podcast, blog, etc.). 3 credits. (Fulfills either the Writing & Literary Forms requirement or an elective.)

ENGL 515: Magic in Literature (Dr. Boria Sax)

This course examines alchemy, together with related activities that now impress us as “magical,” as a virtually all-inclusive discipline which laid much of the foundation for later literature, art, and science. It looks at the beginnings of alchemy in the ancient world, and how these developed, along with the revival of Classical learning, in the Renaissance. Finally, it looks at the continuing influence of magic in Romantic, Modern, and Post-Modern literature and culture. Readings typically include works by Hesiod, Ben Johnson, Shakespeare, E. T. A. Hoffmann, J. K. Rowling and others. Textbooks include The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age by Frances Yates. 3 credits. (Fulfills an elective by default, but can work for a Literature Group 1 requirement if needed.)

NOTE: The MA program cycles numerous different courses under the catalog codes of 514, 515, 540, and 560. Students can take multiple instances of 514, 515, 540, and 560 courses as long as the title of the course is not the same as before. This Magic and Literature course ran most recently as 540. You cannot take this course again if you took it earlier as 540.

ENGL 540: Medieval Literature: Seven Deadly Sins – Then and Now  (Dr. Jessica Ward)

This course brings together a wide range of late medieval texts in Middle English and in translation, including Arthurian legends and bawdy romances, in order to understand how this historical period, so far removed from our own, conceived of the seven deadly sins. While this course focuses on medieval literature, our semester long question concerns how our own conceptions of the vices are different or similar to that of their manifestations in the texts we read. We interrogate the ways in which the medieval writers explore their own culture and a cluster of enduringly engaging issues: ethical, sexual, theological, and political. 3 sem hrs. 3 crs. (Fulfills a Literature Group 1 requirement or an elective.)

ENGL 545: Literature of the Left Bank, Paris (Dr. Christopher Loots)

This course examines the diverse people, culture, and writings of the expatriate community of the Parisian Left Bank during the modernist movements of the early- and mid-twentieth century. Authors covered typically include Edith Wharton, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Hilda Doolittle, Andre Breton, Mina Loy, Nancy Cunard, Zelda Fitzgerald, Richard Wright, and James Baldwin, among others. In the course of our studies we will consider the significance of Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare & Company bookstore and lending library, and of intellectual and artistic salons such as those of Natalie Barney and Gertrude Stein. An emphasis will be placed on studying the cultural geography of this Paris location which attracted so many of the world’s great writers and artists and gave rise to so many works now considered twentieth century literary masterpieces. 3 credits. (Fulfills a Literature Group 2 requirement or an elective.)

ENGL 560: Hip Hop Literature & Culture (Dr. Dana Horton)

Hip hop is a global phenomenon. It started as a form of black expression in the Bronx, NY and has morphed into an international, multicultural powerhouse. This course introduces students to hip hop culture by examining some of the major concepts and political issues that shape the culture. Through listening to hip hop music, analyzing lyrics, reading articles, and watching documentaries, students will learn more about the themes and debates within the culture. This course will take a cultural-studies approach to studying hip hop; will consider the history and politics of New York City in the 1960s-70s as this is crucial to understanding hip hop’s birth, as well as the connection amongst space, power, inequality, and racial dynamics. Questions we will consider include: What is hip hop culture? What are the similarities and differences between old-school hip hop and contemporary hip hop? Why are hip hop lyrics often taken at face value when many rappers exaggerate and lie? Why are some hip hop sub-genres prone to using lyrics and imagery that is misogynistic and/or homophobic? What do you think about prosecutors who use hip hop lyrics against rappers in court? How has hip hop’s large international presence changed the genre and culture? What can we learn about American history and culture through studying hip hop? (Fulfills a Literature Group 2 requirement or an elective.)

NOTE: Please understand that because we will examine the unedited versions of lyrics, music videos, and artwork, the course materials will contain language that is profane, offensive, violent, and/or controversial. Prior familiarity with hip hop is not required, but being open to learning more about hip hop is a must. Please approach the course material with an open mind.

SUMMER 2021

ENGL 514: An Introduction to the History of Textual Transmission (Dr. Jessica Ward)

This course introduces students to critical bibliography, a fast-growing and emerging field that seeks to bring the bibliographic tradition into dialogue with the critical and theoretical insights of twenty-first century humanities scholarship. Students explore the creation of texts across centuries and technologies—from manuscripts to e-books—and consider how meaning and materiality relate. (Fulfills an elective by default but can work for a Literature Group 1 or 2 requirement if needed.)

ENGL 515: Mastering the Past, Literature and National Myths (Dr. Boria Sax)

Every country likes to see itself as heir of to a glorious past, filled with heroic and ultimately successful struggles against oppression. But the construction of such a narrative always leads to the repression or trivialization of uncomfortable aspects of the past. Important authors of Antiquity such as Homer and Virgil have created national myths, while others such as Sophocles and Euripides have challenged them. If the myths themselves can often serve to rationalize complaisance, injustice and chauvinism, correcting them involves hazards as well. It can reopen old resentments, leave people disoriented, and open the way for other, similarly dangerous illusions. This course will look at the contrasting ways in which modern and contemporary writers have tried to come to terms with the collective past, and will likely include readings by Faulkner (USA), Sebald (Germany), Solzhenitsyn (Russia), Lampedusa (Italy) and Ishiguro (Britain and Japan). Students will endeavor to evaluate their intellectual strategies, especially in the light of current controversies such as whether we should continue to display statues that commemorate dubious legacies. Questions to be addressed will include: Can we ever truly come to terms with the past? Can the brutalities of history ever be redeemed or compensated for? What lessons, if any, can we legitimately learn from history? Are some aspects of history better left forgotten? (Fulfills an elective by default but can work for a Literature Group 2 requirement if needed.)

ENGL 525: Victorian Age in Literature (Dr. Sean Dugan)

This course will explore representative literature and the culture of the Victorian Age (1837 – 1901), a period of exploration, industrialization, empire, and imperialism. The poetry and novels of Tennyson, Carroll, the Brontes, Eliot, Wilde, and others will be considered from a variety of critical approaches. Particular attention will be given to the importance of gender, class, and societal expectations. (Fulfills a Literature Group 1 field requirement or an elective.)

Second Update Re: 546 Working Women: New Course Description & Book Info

Dr. Horton has moved at light speed to put together a new description and reading list for ENGL 546. Here is the new description followed by the new book list:

According to a 2020 article in The Washington Post by Dr. Alicia Sesser Modestino, “one out of four women who reported becoming unemployed during the pandemic said it was because of a lack of child care — twice the rate among men.” In this course, we will turn to American literature to help us understand and dissect this alarming statistic.

The concept of American women in the workforce has seen many transformations from 1865 to the present due to various social and political movements. With the passing of the Emancipation Proclamation and the ending of the Industrial Revolution, the period around 1865 saw an increase of women taking positions outside of the domestic sphere. In 2020, as Modestino’s article demonstrates, we are seeing how social media and working from home adds another complex chapter to the history of working women in the United States. We will discuss the social, economic, and racial factors since 1865 that influenced women’s role in the American workforce. We will take a cultural studies approach to this topic – in addition to reading literature (fiction, short stories, poetry, biographies, and essays), we will examine scholarly and news articles, documentaries, films, television shows, and music to help us deconstruct the definitions of “women,” “working,” and “The United States.” We will interrogate the shifting definitions of the term “gender” and start with gender as a concept, a social construction reflecting differentials of power and opportunity.

The goal of this course is for students to understand the literature, history, and benchmarks of major events in the lives of women, as well as challenge American cultural conceptions of work. Throughout the semester, we will discuss the following questions:

  • What is your personal definition of “work”?
  • How does American culture privilege some forms of work while marginalizing others, specifically work performed by women of color?
  • How has the American definition of work changed from 1865 to the present, specifically with the influx of “work from home” positions?
  • What influence did the various waves of feminism have on the American workforce?
  • How do stereotypes of womanhood influence the types of careers women choose?
  • How does American literature reinforce and/or challenge stereotypes of working women?
  • What messages do children and teenagers receive about women’s role in the workforce?

Required Texts:

For students who may not want to buy the physical books, most of these are available for free online or through your local library.

  • Wilson, Harriet. Our Nig: Sketches from the Life of a Free Black. ISBN-13: 978-0486445618
  • Hurst, Fannie. Imitation of Life: ISBN-13: 978-0822333241
  • Martin, Ann M. Kristy’s Great Idea. ISBN-13: 978-1743813294
  • Tademy, Lalita. Cane River. ISBN-13: 978-0446615884
  • Weisberger, Lauren. The Devil Wears Prada: A Novel. ISBN-13: 978-0767914765
  • Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street. ISBN: ISBN-13: 978-0679734772
  • Ng, Celeste. Little Fires Everywhere. ISBN-13: 978-0735224315

A Netflix account is also required, as we will watch a few documentaries and television shows on this platform. Other texts will be available on Blackboard as PDFs.

Recommended but not required texts:

  • Carey, Elaine. Women Drug Traffickers: Mules, Bosses, and Organized Crime. ISBN-13: 978-0826351982
  • Ware, Susan. Modern American Women: A Documentary History, Second Edition. ISBN: 978-0072418200.
  • Baxandall, Rosalyn Fraad, and Linda Gordon. America’s Working Women: A Documentary History, 1600 to the Present. ISBN: 039303653

There is still one open seat in the course, so anyone who isn’t in the course now and finds this interesting should consider grabbing the last seat. You can add/drop courses from your schedule without issue up until the semester begins on 1/20.

546 Professor Change – Book Change Coming

Students in ENGL 546 Working Women in the USA this spring semester please take note: due to an unexpected crisis, the original professor of the course, Dr. Gogol, has just informed us that she is taking leave from all teaching in spring 2021. Fortunately, Dr. Dana Horton stepped up immediately to take over this 546 course, and thereby saved it from being canceled, which is normally the fate of specialty courses like this if something like this happens on the eve of the semester. So I just need to say thank you to Dr. Horton for taking this extraordinary action and rescuing this class. I also want to wish Dr. Gogol the best.

Practically speaking this means that Dr. Gogol’s book order will (almost certainly) no longer be relevant, since no two professors will ever run the same graduate course, not even one by the same title; each professor will assign and teach works that are in their particular area of specialty, while still keeping the theme/title of the course in mind. Right now, at this moment, Dr. Horton is working quickly to put together her own reading list and schedule, and will share that list with me as soon as it is done. I will update this post with Dr. Horton’s book order for 546 as soon as I receive it, which should be by this Friday, possibly sooner.

If anyone has any questions or issues please contact me at cloots@mercy.edu.

 

Spring Semester Begins Wednesday 1/20

The spring semester will begin on Wednesday 1/20. There is no specific time during that day when your classes will or must start and different professors will do it differently. Some will unlock the section first thing in the morning; others will be working to polish the section throughout that day and will open the section on Wednesday evening. In all cases your courses will start at some point on Wednesday 1/20.

In the future you can always see the semester start-day and end-day, along with other such information, by viewing the academic calendars linked about half-way down this page on the Mercy main site. MA English courses always run on what’s called “Term A” which you will see referenced on the academic calendar.

Now although the semester doesn’t begin until 1/20, your Blackboard sections will actually become visible much sooner, on 1/6. This early-reveal drives most faculty crazy because it often results in students seeing parts of the course on which professors are still working and don’t realize are visible to student view. There are ways to hide from view just about anything in Blackboard and faculty tend to hide the majority or entirety of the interior Blackboard section from students until 1/20, since it will all be in development until 1/20. But still, mistakes happen, and so if you’re peeking at your course section on or after 1/6 you might very well see something that your professor is not intending you to see and isn’t aware is visible. Just know that your courses begin on 1/20, and prior to that point, everything in Blackboard is still a work in progress.

Books For Spring 2021 Courses

Below is the current book info for the spring 2021 courses. I will update this as more information comes in from professors over the next few weeks.

ENGL 507 Narrative Strategies in the Novel
  • Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. ISBN 9780486424491
  • Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe. ISBN 9780486404271
  • Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. ISBN 9781982149482
  • Gold, Michael. Jews Without Money. ISBN 9780786703708
  • Harper, Frances. Iola Leroy. ISBN 9781554813858
  • James, Henry. Daisy Miller. ISBN 9780156907392
  • Mbue, Imbolo. Behold the Dreamers. ISBN 9780525510116
  • Rowson, Susannah. Charlotte Temple. ISBN 9780199770281
  • Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. ISBN 9780486282114
  • Woolf, Virginia. To the Lighthouse. ISBN 9780199536610
ENGL 514 Hemingway/Modern Cryptography

Additional readings will be provided as PDFs or links within the course. Students are not required to purchase the specific editions listed below, and can read from any volume or edition out there. But these are the ones from which the instructor will be teaching, and to which the course lectures will refer:

  • Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. ISBN: 0684801469
  • —. The Garden of Eden. ISBN: 0684804522
  • —. A Moveable Feast. ISBN:  068482499X
  • —. The Short Stories: The First Forty-Nine Stories with a Brief Introduction by the Author. ISBN: 0684803348
  • —. The Sun Also Rises. ISBN: 0743297334
ENGL 515 Fairy Tales

Additional readings will be provided as PDFs or links within the course. Students may have to rent, stream, or otherwise on their own view films assigned during the semester. The following two books are required:

  • Hallett, Martin and Barbara Karasek, eds., Folk and Fairy Tales, 5th ed. (Broadview Press, 2018). ISBN: 978155481350.
  • Tatar, Maria, ed. and trans., The Annotated Brothers Grimm (Norton, 2012), ISBN: 978-0393088861
ENGL 540 Irish Literature
  • Edgeworth, Maria. Castle Rackrent. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2008. 978-0199537556
  • Enright, Ann. The Gathering. New York: Black Cat. 2007. 978-1615553372
  • Friel, Brian. Dancing at Lughnasa. Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux. 978-0571144792
  • Joyce, James. Dubliners. New York: Dover Publications. 1991. Print 978-04862-68705
  • Stoker, Bram. Dracula. Dover Press, 2000. 9780486454016
  • Swift, Jonathan. A Modest Proposal. New York Dover Thrift. 978-0486287591
  • Synge, J. M. Playboy of the Western World. New York: Penguin. 1997. Print. 978-0-140-18878-
ENGL 546 Working Women in the USA 1865-Present

Chapters from the collection Working Women in American Literature (ISBN 978-1498546805) will be provided by Dr. Gogol as PDFs, so purchasing the book is not required. Other readings will be provided in the class in the form of PDFs as well. The one required book is:

  • Alexander, Shana. Very Much a Lady. ISBN 9781416509592.
Recommended but not required texts are:
  • Ware, Susan.  Modern American Women: A Documentary History.  Second Edition.   New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000.
  • Baxandall, Rosalyn, and Linda Gordon. America’s Working Women: A Documentary History,  1600 to the Present (1976), Revised  and updated. New York: Norton, 1995.
ENGL 560 Latino Literature

Additional readings will be provided as PDFs or links within the course. The following two books are required:

  • Anaya, Rudolfo. Bless Me, Ultima ISBN-13: 978-0446600255
  • Garcia, Cristina. Dreaming in Cuban. ISBN-13: 978-0345381439

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)