Category Archives: Course Information

Students Needing ENGL 500 this fall should email now

ENGL 500 is the MA program’s NY State “core course” which means all students must complete it as a part of their degree requirements. The course runs during each fall semester, and only during each fall semester.

Entrance into the fall 2019 instance of ENGL 500 is going to be by permit-only. Every single student who needs to take 500 this fall will get a seat. Students who need to take the course this fall are those who are on track to graduate prior to the fall 2020 semester but who have not yet completed the course. Once every student who needs the course this fall has been enrolled, we will also give permits to other students interested in taking the course this fall.

We’re doing this to ensure that students who must have the course this fall do not find themselves shut out of the course.

The first step in this process is for everyone who has not yet completed 500 and who plans to complete their MA degree prior to fall 2020 to email the program director now at indicating that you need the course. We will begin building a list of all students who need it and will begin entering permits for these students later this spring semester after general registration opens.

Students who do not plan to graduate prior to fall 2020 but who would like a seat in this fall 2019 instance of the course should also email the program director now at indicating interest. Once all students who need the course this time around have enrolled, we will begin issuing permits to the remaining students in the order that they emailed their request, first come first serve. If anyone has any questions about any of this, contact the director at

Important Notice for Students in “Working Women in the USA”

The following book previously required for the Working Women in the USA course is now not a required purchase:

  • Working Women in American Literature 1865-1950, ISBN 9781498546782

Dr. Gogol will still be using that book for the class this semester, but will now be providing scans of relevant sections of it during the semester. This change is due to the unusually high cost of the book, and the valid concerns about the cost raised by a number of students.

Some Books for your spring courses

Below are some of the book orders for the spring courses. Because professors are still in the process of determining their reading lists, you should consider this a list-in-progress. Works listed below are a certainty but more works might be added. Ultimately the syllabus your professors share in class will mark the definitive list, but this here will allow you to start securing at least some of your books ahead of the semester. I will update this list throughout December and January if/as I receive more book info from the different professors. The Mercy College bookstore will list the book orders too, but they purposefully don’t give you specific edition information or ISBN numbers in order to “dissuade” you from buying the books for cheaper elsewhere. Search by the ISBN to ensure you are securing the right edition for your courses. I recommend Alibris for finding inexpensive used copies and Powell’s for fairly-priced new books, but of course you can buy your books anywhere.

505 Transformations of the Epic
  • Beowulf, ISBN 9780451530967
  • The Divine Comedy, ISBN 9780142437223
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh, ISBN 9780140441000
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, ISBN 9780393930252
  • The Iliad, ISBN 9780140275360
  • Nibelungenlied, ISBN 9780140441376
  • Song of Roland, ISBN 9780486422404
514 Sam Shepard
  • Sam Shepard: Seven Plays, ISBN 9780553346114
  • Spy of the First Person, ISBN 9780525521563
  • Fool for Love and Other Plays, ISBN 9780553345902
  • Great Dream of Heaven, ISBN 9780375704529
  • Hawk Moon, 9780933826236
522 Humanism in Renaissance Texts
  • The Cambridge Companion to Renaissance Humanism, ISBN 9780521436243
540 Ulysses


  • Ulysses, ISBN 9780394743127. This is the single-volume Gabler edition. Dozens of used copies are currently available at Alibris for under $5. Powell’s is selling new copies for $10.50. Almost every edition of Ulysses is different than the others, and so if you have a copy of Ulysses already it will be different than this Gabler edition. Everyone should secure this assigned edition.
  • Ulysses Annotated, ISBN 9780520253971.


  • If you have the time, you’d do well to read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (and perhaps some or all of Dubliners) before the spring semester begins, but it is not required. The protagonist of Portrait carries over into and plays an essential role in Ulysses so your experience with Ulysses will be fuller if you’ve read Portrait.
542 Classics of African-American Lit.
  • Clybourne Park, ISBN 9780865478688
  • Intimate Apparel, ISBN 9781559362795
  • Sweat, ISBN 9781559365321
  • Jitney, ISBN 9780573627958
  • Venus, ISBN 9780822215677
  • Topdog/Underdog, ISBN 9781559362016
  • Gloria, ISBN 9780822234333
  • A Mercy, ISBN 9780307276766
  • An American Marriage, ISBN 9781616208776
546 Working Women in the US
  • Dr. Breen’s Practice, ISBN 9781981189427
  • Very Much a Lady, ISBN 9781416509592

Recommended but not required (scans of sections of this will be provided as needed during the semester):

  • Working Women in American Literature 1865-1950, ISBN 9781498546782

Please complete the “blue course survey” for each course before 12/14

Mercy College’s semester-end feedback surveys aka the “Blue Course Surveys” are now active for each of your MA courses. You should see links to the surveys in the left-hand side of your main Blackboard screen after you login. Please complete the survey for each MA course you are in. These are 100% anonymous and remain anonymous forever. Your professors don’t see the anonymous results until after final grades are locked in (likewise, the survey closes on 12/14 before professors finalize and submit your grades). Your professors are currently able to see the response-percentage for each course, but that’s it. These surveys are your VOICE and provide you with a way to express your thoughts, positive or negative, about your MA courses and professors. These are taken very seriously by the college.

After the semester, each of your professors will read your anonymous feedback for their class. The MA program director, the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts, and the Associate Dean will review all of the surveys for all MA courses. The college’s President and Provost will review the response-percentages for the MA program and for the School of Liberal Arts and may review some of your particular responses too. Your voice and feedback matter and influence the courses we run, how we run them, and who runs them. The response-percentages matter and can effect things such as the college’s investment in and even respect for our graduate program and the School of Liberal Arts overall.

So please, complete the survey for each of your MA courses before the surveys close on 12/14. Your voice and your feedback are critically important to helping us measure if our MA English students are being well-served in their MA courses, and how we might improve as a faculty and a program. Thank you.

Spring Registration Opens Today 11/7: Any Questions?

So it looks like registration is going to open on-schedule this Wednesday the 7th. If anyone has questions about the courses or their schedules, let me know at You can read the course descriptions on this post from a short time ago. Note that at the bottom of each description it tells you how the course works toward your MA course requirements. Just as a reminder, here are your course requirements (table taken from page 5 of the handbook available in the left-hand column of this blog):

Fall Blackboard sections become visible Wednesday 8/22.

Links to the Blackboard sections for your fall courses should become visible to you starting on Wednesday 8/22. Please bear in mind that what you see on 8/22 will in most cases look like a theater several hours before a play begins. Things are still being setup, some people haven’t even arrived yet, and everything is still very much in the works. Some Blackboard sections might have no information loaded into them yet, and might remain that way for some time leading up to the semester-start on Wednesday 9/5. In such cases please keep in mind that your professors aren’t actually under teaching contract until 9/1, and are still on leave and pursuing their own research and scholarship. Everything will be sorted and ready for the start of the school year on 9/5, at the very latest.

Side note: all students taking the 599 thesis tutorial this fall should by now see their 599 section listed in their fall schedules. If you do not, let me know at

[UPDATED 6/7] Update Regarding ENGL 500 for the Fall

Update 6/7: A second section ENGL 500 is now open. Some of those on the waitlist for the original section have already gone and registered for the new section (which is the right thing to do). All those still on the waitlist should now go and grab a seat in the newly opened section. Mercy’s staff advisors will be reaching out to everyone on the waitlist encouraging you to go register for a seat in the new section, just as I am doing here.

Some Books for Fall 2018 Courses

Below are some of the books that professors have indicated will be included in their fall semester syllabuses. This isn’t meant to be comprehensive and some of this could change. Titles and missing ISBNs will be updated as I received them over the spring and summer. Ultimately the book orders sent to the Mercy College bookstore mark the definitive list.

Before I list the books I want to just give a word of caution as to why you might not want to read ahead in some cases. When you’re reading a book on your own it will be a different experience from when you’re reading it in-time with a class, in the structure and flow of a class. You’ll be seeing works in certain ways when reading them in the flow of the semester, ways which might not be apparent when reading ahead. Also, in some instances you might find a work confusing, even off-putting, and be wondering “what in the world is this?” when reading it ahead of time on your own, without the context of the class to frame it and provide an immediate platform for studying it together. Only consider that there’s a reason why professors choose certain works and schedule them in a certain pattern, and in some cases it might be better to not read ahead so that you’re experiencing a work for the first time, or for the first time in a long time, in-time with the class.

On the other hand, there are some reasons you might read ahead. There is an advantage to re-reading things, so it can be a good strategy to read some works (particularly large works) ahead of time so that you’re re-reading them later in-time with the class. For people who read slowly, or who expect to have a lot of other responsibilities in the fall, it might also be to your advantage to get ahead on some of the larger readings. Some courses (like Narrative Strategies) have larger reading lists than others and for these classes it might be practical to get at least a few of the books read beforehand, to balance the semester workload out. And it’s often a good idea to read around a syllabus ahead of time: e.g., reading off-syllabus works from an author or era, or perhaps biographies of authors, or critical/historical studies of the culture and era you’re about to study, so to prepare for the semester ahead. This is all only to say to be conscious and critical of why and what you might be reading ahead of time, if you are, in preparation for the fall.

ENGL 500 Theory
  • For Dr. Reissig Vasile’s 500 DLA section the book is: Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice. 5th Edition, 2011 ISBN 9780205212149. Dr. Sax’s book order is different and can be located by checking for his 500 DLB book order on the Mercy College Bookstore website. Note that you don’t have to purchase the books through the college bookstore and might be able to find them cheaper elsewhere; but the bookstore is also coy about listing some of the specifics of the book orders in order to try and force you to purchase the books through them. You can check with Dr. Sax at if you have any questions about his book orders for the fall.
ENGL 507 Narrative Strategies in the Novel

Note: Any edition of the following works will do so specific ISBNs aren’t provided or necessary here. Also note: some of these will be read in their entirety, others will only be read in part.

  • Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe.
  • Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations (selected chapters only).
  • Eliot, George. Middlemarch. (“Miss Brooke” section only).
  • Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God.
  • James, Henry. Daisy Miller.
  • Lawrence, D.H. Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
  • McCarthy, Cormac. All the Pretty Horses.
  • Rowson, Susanna. Charlotte Temple.
  • Twain, Mark. Pudd’nHead Wilson.
  • Wharton, Edith. Ethan Frome.
  • Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway.
  • Zusak, Markus. The Book Thief.
ENGL 515 Graphic Novel
  • Bechdel, Alison. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. ISBN: 0618871713.
  • Eisner, Will. The Contract with God Trilogy. ISBN: 0393061051.
  • Gaiman, Neil. The Sandman: Brief Lives. ISBN: 1563891387.
  • Moore, Alan and Dave Gibbons. Watchmen. ISBN 9780930289232.
  • Spiegelman, Art. Maus I and Maus II. ISBNs: 1435262352 and 0141014083.
  • Tomine, Adrian. Killing and Dying. ISBN: 9781770462090.
  • Ware, Chris. Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth. ISBN: 0375714545.
ENGL 524 Reason to 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.
  • Dickens, Charles. Hard Times. ISBN: 9680486419206.
  • Eliot, George. Mill on the Floss. ISBN: 9780486426806.
  • Greenblatt, Stephen, ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 9th ed. Vol. E. The Victorian Age.ISBN: 9780393912531.
  • Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. ISBN: 9780486278070.
ENGL 560 Hemingway/Modern Cryptography
  • Hemingway, Ernest. A Farewell to Arms. ISBN: 0684801469.
  • —. The Garden of Eden. ISBN: 0684804522.
  • —. A Moveable Feast. ISBN:  068482499X. (Original Mary Hemingway edition preferred over the “restored” 2010 Sean Hemingway edition, but either will do).
  • —. The Old Man and the Sea. ISBN: 0684801221.
  • —. The Short Stories: The First Forty-Nine Stories with a Brief Introduction by the Author. ISBN: 0684803348.
  • —. The Sun Also Rises. ISBN: 0743297334.


  • Dearborn, Mary. Ernest Hemingway: A Biography. ISBN: 030759467X.
  • Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls. ISBN: 0684803356. (The one major novel we’re not covering during the semester).