Category Archives: Course Information

For Those Taking 560 African & Caribbean Lit In the Spring

For those who want to get their books ahead of time, here are the book orders for Dr. Donald Morales’ spring course, ENGL 560 African & Caribbean Literature. He strongly recommends that everyone secure and read the first item on the list, Palace Walk, in January prior to the semester’s start as it is a very big book. Note that these are hyperlinks which will take you to a place where you might purchase them.

For Those Taking 543 American Renaissance in the Spring

Some of you like to get a jump on your upcoming semester readings prior to the start of a semester, I know. That’s often a good idea, and you should feel free to email any professor ahead of time to ask for the syllabus or at least a few reading suggestions. If you don’t know the email for any particular professor you can email me at cloots@mercy.edu and I’ll help you out. For those in my American Renaissance course this coming spring I do suggest that you get into some of the readings ahead of time, if you have time, as it will be a rather reading-heavy course. Moby-Dick will be the last thing we read, but as it is very long it’s not a bad idea to read it ahead of time. We’ll also be reading Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and selections from Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Uncle Tom’s Cabin. We’ll also probably study The Scarlet Letter though many of you might have already read that a number of times in the past. We’ll be reading some essays and shorter works as well.

The book order will be Moby-Dick (ISBN 0393972836) and The Norton Anthology of American Lit. 8th Ed. Volume B (ISBN 0393934772), which contains everything I’ve listed here other than Moby Dick.  Norton has put together a special combo pack for our class with a distinct ISBN which, I believe, you can only get through our college bookstore. The ISBN is 978-0-393-91665-2. It was supposed to be a special deal but our bookstore has priced it up so that it costs about the same as if you bought both books separately. You can probably find used and even new copies of these for cheap from places like Alibris.

The New Wait-list Feature

You may have noticed the new wait-list feature available in the online course registration system. Some of you probably know more about how this works than I do, from your first-hand experience with it, but this is what I’ve been told: when a course is filled to its seat-cap you can opt to sign up for the course’s wait-list. The order in which you get on the wait-list matters. If a seated student drops the course, the person atop the wait-list will be notified (via email I would imagine, and using whatever you’ve indicated is your “preferred” email address) that the seat is open. You are NOT auto-enrolled in the open seat; you must actively go in and enroll in the course as you would for any other course. It’s simply that the recently opened seat is reserved for you for a limited time. I’m still trying to determine exactly how long that is but I believe it’s 24 hours. If you do not claim the seat within the time-limit, the next person on the wait-list gets notified and now has the chance to take the seat. If that person doesn’t claim the seat the system keeps going down the list, notifying each next wait-listed person, until either someone claims the seat, or no one does, at which point the seat becomes open to anyone. I’ll correct this information as I learn more about this new procedure, but this is my current best understanding of how it works. -CL

For those in ENGL 500 and on the waitlist:

Due to the large number of students on the wait list for this fall’s ENGL 500 we’ve decided to split off a new section of 500. Since the single section had 20 students and 7 waitlisted, each of the two sections will now have approximately 14 students when we’re done setting this all up. Both sections are being taught by the same professor, our theory specialist. Some of the 20 currently registered students will be moved to the new section to balance the student ratio, and it will all be the same regardless which section you’re in unless you were trying to get into a section with a particular friend of yours. If that’s the case let me know (cloots@mercy.edu). Otherwise we’ll do everything here behind the scenes and come fall, all of those currently enrolled and currently on the waitlist will find themselves in one or the other 500 section. We usually run 500 once each fall but this was an unusual situation and some students were desperate to take it this semester in order to graduate. Next fall we’re planning to enroll students in 500 from our side of the system, in order to ensure that no students who need the course in order to graduate on schedule find themselves closed out of the course, as happened this time around. No worries, all will be well, and now all of you on the waitlist will be able to take 500 this semester as you hoped to do. -CL

The 10-Course Audit for your MA Degree

A “degree audit” is a template that I and your advisors look at when trying to determine what courses you still need to take to earn your MA degree, as well as to see how courses you’ve already completed work toward your degree. This audit is the new one, implemented just this past semester. We’re in a transitional phase where some of you are working under the previous audit, and some of you are working under this new audit. The audits are very similar and I and your advisors are making sure that all of your completed coursework counts toward your degree. Still, this audit uses new catalog numbers (for example, the 501 Medieval course which many of you have taken is henceforth 521 in the new order) so for students who have been in the program a while this audit might seem a little confusing. You still can and should contact me and/or your advisor for help with course selection, but I wanted to share this 10-course degree audit with you so that you have a clear view into the course requirements for the MA degree. Other than the final 599 course, which is always taken during the final semester, there is no required sequence in which to complete this coursework.

  1. ENGL 500 Theory of Criticism (required of all students)
  2. One course from 505-510, or 517
  3. One course from 521-540
  4. One course from 541-560
  5. One additional course from 521-560
  6. Elective – Any course from 501-598
  7. Elective – Any course from 501-598
  8. Elective – Any course from 501-598
  9. Elective – Any course from 501-598
  10. ENGL 599 Master’s Thesis Tutorial

Spring Reg opens 11/5 at 9:00am Eastern

As the title says, registration for spring 2015 courses opens on Wednesday 11/5 at 9am in the morning. If there are courses you definitely don’t want to miss, make sure you register early. Seat caps in all courses are hard, meaning once the course is full, it is closed (unless of course someone later drops the course which opens a seat). If you have any questions for how to register in courses using the online system, be sure to speak with your graduate advisor.

FOR ANYONE WHO PLANS TO REGISTER FOR THEIR FINAL THESIS COURSE (formerly 516, now 599) IN THE SPRING: You don’t register for your thesis course using online registration. What you’ll do is work over the next few months with your selected mentor, sending the mentor a thesis proposal, possibly going back and forth. Once the mentor tells me you’re ready, I put in a form and you’re automatically enrolled in your thesis course with the mentor. There’s no limit to the amount of thesis courses I can open and I can open them up as late as the first week of the semester, so there’s no hurry or reason to worry either. To read more about the process, look for and click on the “thesis seminar” category on the right hand side of the blog.

Finally, you may have noted that though the course offerings below remain the same, the catalog numbers for them are shifting around a little. This is because I’m trying to update the info there to match changing information regarding what the Registrar is doing with our new courses and catalog codes (which she controls). Once the schedule goes up it will be settled. If you haven’t noticed and don’t know what I’m talking about, all the better.

For those of you taking Ulysses this fall:

If you’re enrolled in Ulysses this fall, I strongly recommend that you read Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man this summer in preparation. Portrait is a bildungsroman of a character, Stephen Dedalus. Stephen will feature prominently in Ulysses. You don’t have to try and pre-read Ulysses and it might be better to leave Ulysses off until we can engage it together in the fall. But reading Portrait is essential. It doesn’t just contain the beginnings of Stephen, it contains the beginnings of themes of Ireland, religion, artistry, and much more which bloom in Ulysses. You might also find it worthwhile to read Homer’s Odyssey, as the epic tale of Ulysses (or Odysseus in the Greek) attempting to find his way home forms something of a background to the doings in the Ulysses novel.

Summer 2014 session starts this week

Just a reminder to all students taking summer courses: the summer session begins this week. Classes will all be starting up right about now, so be sure to check into your summer courses. For everyone else, just enjoy your summer and come back in the fall refreshed and ready to begin another school year. -CL

Feedback wanted on possible new course idea: “Afropolitanism.”

One of the Program’s esteemed emeritus professors, Dr. Donald Morales, has contacted me with a new course idea. By his approval I’m sharing his synopsis here in hopes of measuring student interest in such a course. He writes: “I am working on a project that explores the term ‘Afropolitanism,’ a word coined by Taiye Selasi in a 2005 essay. The term murkily defines the young African artists who have settled in a number of cosmopolitan capitals in Europe and North America and, specifically in literature, have produced a number of intriguing works that describe their hybrid status and identity. The term has also engendered a lot of criticism and controversy. Some of the works include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, Teju Cole’s Every Day Is for the Thief and Open City, Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go. I would also include a study I did on transplanted African dramatists and actors in London who have created a number of powerful dramas and film appearances around the same subject.”

Update: link to related content concerning the mass Nigerian Girls kidnapping.

Please vote once in the poll below. If you don’t see the poll it means your internet security settings are blocking it (easiest solution–try looking at this page a different browser). If you are unable to get the poll working or if you have further comments, please feel free to contact me at cloots@mercy.edu.

Consider the fall course ENGL 515 DLA, Contemporary Drama: Shepard, Albee & Eno.

In efforts to encourage students to enroll in some of our more eclectic courses, I’ve asked Dr. Medoff (our drama specialist) to share a bit more about his fall 2014 Contemporary Drama course focusing on Shepard, Albee and Eno. You are not going to find a course like this anywhere else. Here’s what he wrote:

THREE AMERICAN PLAYWRIGHTS OF THE NON-BROADWAY TRADITION

Sam Shepard became involved in the Off-Off-Broadway theater scene in 1962. A habitué of the Chelsea Hotel scene of the era, he contributed to Kenneth Tynan’s ribald Oh! Calcutta! (1969) and drummed sporadically from 1967 through 1971 with psychedelic folk band The Holy Modal Rounders, appearing on Indian War Whoop (1967) and The Moray Eels Eat The Holy Modal Rounders (1968). Shepard’s early science fiction play The Unseen Hand (1969) would influence Richard O’Brien’s stage musical The Rocky Horror Show. Cowboy Mouth—a collaboration with then-lover, Patti Smith—was staged for one night at The American Place Theater in April 1971, providing early exposure for the future punk rock singer. Shepard accompanied Bob Dylan on the Rolling Thunder Revue of 1975 as the ostensible screenwriter of the surrealist Renaldo and Clara (1978) that emerged from the tour. His diary of the tour (Rolling Thunder Logbook) was published by Penguin Books in 1978. A decade later, Dylan and Shepard co-wrote the 11-minute “Brownsville Girl”, included on Dylan’s Knocked Out Loaded (1986) album and later compilations. In 1975, he was named playwright-in-residence at the Magic Theatre, where many of his notable works (including his Family Trilogy: Buried Child [1978], Curse of the Starving Class [1978], and True West [1980]) received their premier productions.

Edward Albee was the first major author to come out of the Off Broadway theatre scene. He is known for works such as The Zoo Story (1958), The Sandbox (1959), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962), and a rewrite of the book for the unsuccessful musical Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1966), an adaptation of Truman Capote’s 1958 novella of the same name. His works are considered well-crafted, often unsympathetic examinations of the modern condition. His early works reflect a mastery and Americanization of the Theatre of the Absurd that found its peak in works by European playwrights such as Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, and Jean Genet. Younger American playwrights, such as Paula Vogel, credit Albee’s daring mix of theatricality and biting dialogue with helping to reinvent the post-war American theatre in the early 1960s. Albee continues to experiment in works such as The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? (2002).

Will Eno is a Brooklyn native and a protégé of Edward Albee. His The Flu Season was produced by The Rude Mechanicals Theater Company at the Blue Heron Arts Center, New York City, from January 29, 2004 to February 22, 2004. The play won the 2004 Oppenheimer Award, presented by New York Newsday, for best debut production in the previous year in New York by an American playwright. Although some of his plays were originally produced in Britain, Eno has been making headway in New York City theatre ever since the 2004 debut of Thom Pain (based on nothing). Charles Isherwood, theatre critic for The New York Times, called Eno “a Samuel Beckett for the Jon Stewart generation.” Thom Pain (based on nothing) was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Middletown opened Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre in November 2010 through December 5, 2010, and Eno won the 2010 Horton Foote Prize for Promising New American Play. Title and Deed (a collaboration with the Gare St. Lazare Players of Ireland) made its American premiere Off-Broadway at the Signature Theatre Company from March 2012 to June 2012. His adaptation of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt titled Gnit had its world premiere at the 37th Humana Festival of New American Plays in March 2013. In his Broadway debut, The Realistic Joneses began previews at the Lyceum Theatre on March 13, 2014 and officially opened on April 6, 2014, after a run at the Yale Repertory Theater in 2012. The New York Times reviewer of the Broadway production wrote: “don’t come to the play expecting tidy resolutions, clearly drawn narrative arcs or familiarly typed characters…. While the Joneses — all four of them — have all the aspects of normal folks, as their names would suggest, they also possess an uncanny otherness expressed through their stylized, disordered way of communicating… But for all Mr. Eno’s quirks, his words cut to the heart of how we muddle through the worst life can bring.”

I encourage everyone interested in drama and in 20th-century writing and concerns to sign up for this one of a kind course offering.