Category Archives: Course Schedules

Spring and Summer 2023 Course Schedule Preview

The spring and summer 2023 schedules are coming into focus. Full descriptions for these will be provided here on the blog in good time, as will registration info (date, time). For spring we have these seven courses planned:

  • ENGL 505 Transformations of the Epic (Dr. Sax)
  • ENGL 515 Latino Literature (Dr. Reissig-Vasile)
  • ENGL 521 Themes & Genres of Medieval Lit (Dr. Fritz)
  • ENGL 525 Victorian Age in Literature (Dr. Dugan)
  • ENGL 540 Philosophy of Literature (Dr. Fisher)
  • ENGL 544 Cyberpunk & Technoculture (Dr. Loots)
  • ENGL 560 Black Theatre, Art, and Power in the Digital Age (Dr. Morales)

We as well have two courses penciled in so far for summer 2023:

  • ENGL 540 Fairy Tales (Dr. Sax)
  • ENGL 560 Murder, Mystery, & Suspense (Dr. Dugan)

Typically we run four summer courses (that is the amount that student demand has warranted, in recent years). So a few more summer courses will be added to that list. Courses typically have 15 seats available and they’re available on a first-come first-serve basis; so if you see courses of particular interest then be sure to register promptly as soon as registration opens. As to how any of these course will work for your degree, refer to the outline below, which is copied from page 5 of the Graduate Student Handbook available here on the blog, link in the left-hand column.

Fall (and Summer) 2022 Registration Info

General registration for the fall (and summer) will open on on March 14. Priority registration, which at the grad level usually only relates to veterans or active military, will open on March 7. Registration on these dates will open at 9:00am eastern. Note that it might not open on that specific minute, might instead open about that time when the Registrar manually logs in and flips the switch.

Not all students take summer courses; many prefer to follow the traditional fall/spring schedule. This is why we run a shorter summer schedule (four, this summer). We’re running seven courses this fall, including the 500 theory course which everyone is required to take at some point. Everyone who is interested in getting their preferred schedule for fall and/or summer should set an alarm and register promptly on the day registration begins. Once a course fills, students will need to select from whatever else remains. There is a waitlist feature, which forms a queue for full courses, and it often works to a small degree; but it only works if someone with a seat in the course elects to vacate it.

Summer 2022

  • ENGL 514 – LGBTQIA+ Literature (Dr. Medoff)

This course introduces students to significant literature and experiences of LGBTQ+ culture. Students in the course will examine some of the major concepts and political issues that shape gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer experiences through literary and cultural productions. Most texts in this course are interested in various forms of same-sex desire (female-female and male-male), as well as complicating our common conceptions of sexual identity and gender identity. This course will take a cultural studies approach in order to understand texts in relation to context – to see how historical contingencies and political debates inform literature, as well as to see how literature and culture can inform (and challenge) public and political opinion. Thus, the course’s texts will include fiction, nonfiction, plays, documentaries, films, poetry, scholarly journal articles, memoirs, and many other genres. Previous students in this course have pursued research on themes of personal interest within LGBTQ+ culture, such as “Sexuality in Young Adult Fiction,” “African American LGBTQ+ Writers,” “Representations of Bisexual Culture,” “Masculinity in LGBTQ+ Culture,” etc. Fulfills an elective by default, but can fulfill a Literature Group 2 field requirement upon request.

  • ENGL 515 – Animals in Literature (Dr. Sax)

This course looks at the representation of animals in a wide range of literary and folkloric traditions. It will focus, most especially, on the ways in which the literary depiction of animals is intimately tied to changing perspectives on the human condition, which in turn reflect religious, intellectual, governmental, and technological developments. Fulfills an elective by default, but can fulfill a Literature Group 1 field requirement upon request.

  • ENGL 540 – Monsters & Monstrosities (Dr. Dugan)

In this newly-designed course we will read classic and contemporary literary works to explore notions of monsters and monstrosities from the perspectives of the monster and the creator. Historical, societal, political, and cultural issues will be explored and addressed. Types of monsters and monstrosities will also be considered: e.g. Human, Beast, and Scientific. Students will be required to participate in weekly discussions, write a paper prospectus, and write a 10-12 page final paper.  Fulfills a Literature Group 1 field requirement or an elective.

  • ENGL 560 – Contemporary African Literature (Dr. Morales)

Chimamanda Adichie’s 2009 TED presentation, “The Danger of a Single Story,” encapsulates how Africa is viewed by the rest of the world… “create a single story, show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.” She couples this with the idea of power and who controls the narrative: “Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person.” She concludes that approaching Africa in this way “robs people of dignity” and separates Africa’s humanity from the rest of the world. Contemporary African Literature’s readings and teachings dispel the idea of that single story.

Modern African literature, a term associated with the liberation of African countries from their colonial powers in the 1950-60’s, has blossomed, especially in the last four decades with five noble laureates–Wole Soyinka ‘86, Naguib Mahfouz ’88, J.M. Coetzee ‘03, Doris Lessing ‘07 and most recently, Tanzanian Abdulrazak Gurnah ’22. The course will certainly feature some of these writers. Thematically, the course looks at the evolving role of African women; and at afropolitanism, a term coined by Taiye Selasi [2005 “Bye Bye Babar”] and defined as young, well-educated African artists with global and multicultural sensibilities who have settled in several cosmopolitan capitals in Europe and North America. In the literary world, these artists have produced intriguing works that describe their hybrid status and identity but also defy categorization; the relationship between Africans and African Americans, a relationship or misalignment that has its roots in the Jim Crow era in the US. This subject is reflected in the literature such as Adichie’s’ Americana and Teju Cole’s Open City. All three themes coalesce around the idea of identity, displacement, and homeland. The course and its ideas will be filtered through the novel, drama, poetry, the essay, film, and social media. Fulfills a Literature Group 2 field requirement or an elective.

Fall 2022

  • ENGL 500 – Theory and Practice of Literary Criticism (Dr. 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 are 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: The professor of this course plans to hold optional zoom sessions to discuss the course’s readings on some Wednesdays at 9pm eastern. Attending such sessions is not required and students will not miss any essential aspect of the course if they elect not to attend.

NOTE: All students must complete ENGL 500. The course runs once each fall semester, so if you’re aiming to graduate at the end of fall 2022, spring 2023, or summer 2023 and have not yet completed 500, you must enroll in this course for fall 2022. The next instance of the course will be fall 2023. For this reason this course is registration-locked and requires a permit from the Program Director. Anyone not on pace to graduate in the semesters noted above can request a permit but will only be given one if seats remain after everyone who must have the course during this fall 2022 instance gets a seat. All students who need or want a permit for 500 should contact cloots@mercy.edu to request one.

  • ENGL 508 – History of Drama in English (Dr. Medoff)

This course will study select dramatic works from the vantage of the cultures of the historical epochs in which they are embedded. It will use a chronological approach, beginning with the drama in England: the medieval mystery cycles and morality plays; the emergence of secular drama in the 16th century and earlier 17th century, focusing on the precursors and contemporaries of Shakespeare; Restoration drama; the development of sentimentalism and the adaptation of drama to an increasingly middle class audience in the 18th Century; the closet drama of the Romantic era; 19th-century melodrama in Britain and America; and the emergence of the modern theater in the United Kingdom and the United States. Fulfills the Writing & Literary Forms field requirement or an elective.

  • ENGL 514 – James Joyce’s Ulysses (Dr. Loots)

Students in this course will experience and explore one of the most famously difficult, famously banned, and (arguably) profound novels of the twentieth century: James Joyce’s Ulysses. Much like Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, Joyce’s 1922 modernist masterpiece occupies a rare position of being a work almost universally lauded (for those who like lists, the academically-sound Modern Library calls it the greatest novel of the twentieth century) and yet one which for a variety of reasons most people haven’t actually read. In this class we will read the entirety of this massive work, first word to last. We will throughout the semester quest through Ulysses, helping each other to navigate its complex currents, until, come the end of the semester we will arrive together at the absolutely brilliant end, the cosmos-affirming end, of this epic for the modern world. While studying Ulysses we will as well explore some of the people, culture, history, and events surrounding the creation of, publication of, and outrageous reception to the novel. Fulfills an elective by default, but can fulfill a Literature Group 1 field requirement upon request.

  • ENGL 515 – Magical Realism (Dr. Reissig-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 texts. 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. The following literary texts will be provided as PDFs or links: 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. Fulfills an elective by default but can fulfill a Literature Group 2 field requirement upon request.

  • ENGL 540 – Shakespeare [updated professor – Dr. Fritz]

[Update – as a result of the original professor no longer being available to run her specialized Shakespeare course, this will now be a general Shakespeare course involving a study of select Shakespearean drama.] Fulfills a Literature Group 1 field requirement or an elective.

  • ENGL 546 – Working Women in the USA 1865 – 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. Fulfills a Literature Group 2 field requirement or an elective.

  • ENGL 560 Literature of the Black Atlantic World (Dr. Morales)

A full description for this new course will be coming soon, but is not ready yet since Dr. Morales is still developing the course and its syllabus. He created an undergraduate version of this course, “The Black Atlantic World,” years ago and is now revisiting that theme and is reshaping that course up into a graduate level version for our fall 2022 MA schedule. The title and focus of the course emerges from the phrase “Writings of the Black Atlantic World, ” which is a term popularized by Paul Gilroy [The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (1992)]. The term traditionally includes Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Dr. Morales has previously taught graduate courses devoted to authors from this literary genre: e.g. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, V.S. Naipaul, Caryl Phillips, Derek Walcott. Some of these authors might be included in this new course. Other writers and works that might be included are Edwidge Danticat, Dew Breaker, Create Dangerously; Marquez, OF Love and Other Demons; Zadie Smith, On Beauty. But again, a full and more specific description will be provided a bit later. For now, know that this will be another new course from one of the most inventive and prolific professors teaching and designing curriculum in the Mercy MA program. Fulfills a Literature Group 2 field requirement or an elective.

NOTE: The course numbers 514, 515, 540, and 560, are “topics course” shell numbers under which a variety of new or experimental coursework cycles. Students can take multiple instances of any of these course numbers as long as the different instances are actually different courses. So for example students could take ENGL 514 LGBTQIA+ in the summer and ENGL 514 James Joyce’s Ulysses in the fall because those are two different courses, even though they both use the same 514 number. Sometimes a “topics course” runs by one course number one semester, and a different number in another semester, and when that happens students can’t take that course again even though the course number is different. So for example ENGL 515 Magical Realism last ran in summer 2020 as ENGL 560 Magical Realism. Students who took the course in summer 2020 cannot take the course again this fall. Any questions contact cloots@mercy.edu.

For Those Who Need to take ENGL 599 Master’s Thesis in the Spring

Students for whom spring 2022 will be your final semester, please note that you will need to enroll in ENGL 599 Master’s Thesis as one of your final-semester courses. The way you enroll in ENGL 599 is different than for any other course. You can read about the process here on the blog. The short of it is, now is the right time to be securing your thesis mentor from the graduate faculty. Any questions contact cloots@mercy.edu.

ENGL 560 Cultural Impact of Black Lives Matter Is Now Open to ALL Students, Including Those Who Took 560 Literary Accretion of Black Lives Matter

Previously on this blog I wrote that those who had taken 560 Literary Accretion of Black Lives could not take the 560 Cultural Impact of Black Lives Matter, since it seemed at the time that the courses would be the same or too similar. That has changed, and now ALL students can take this 560 Cultural Impact course, including those who previously took the Literary Accretion course. This is because Dr. Morales has been working on the new syllabus and description for Cultural Impact, and has shared that this new course will involve all new readings. In fact those who took Literary Accretion should find Cultural Impact particularly interesting. Here is the new course description Dr. Morales has provided:

In the fall of 2020, ENGL 560 the “Literary Accretion of Black Lives Matter” viewed the movement through foundational literature that presaged a global phenomenon. This new course for the spring 2022, the “Cultural Impact of Black Lives Matter,” looks at the early “progress” [statis?] of this movement in American culture focusing on the arts and literature. Columnist Perry Bacon says we are in the midst of a Black Renaissance. The 138-year-old Metropolitan opera in NY reopened its doors with Terrance Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up My Bones, a first for a black composer. Tanzanian Abdulrazak Gurnah became the first black since Toni Morrison to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. The NYT’s  fall theatre preview lead with “Broadway Is Brimming With Black Playwrights. But for How Long?” However, November’s [2021] gubernatorial race in Virginia saw the Republican, Glenn Youngkin, win the cultural wars using Toni Morrison’s Beloved as his whipping horse. There is a burgeoning backlash against “wokespeak” as even liberals complain of its use [“I’m exhausted by the constant need to be wary or you’ll instantly be labeled racist or anti-trans.”] The final question for the previous “Literary Accretion” course was “is this a momentary period of protest or a defining movement ushering in profound change?” “Cultural Impact of Black Lives Matter” will further investigate this with a variety of readings and media presentations.

Spring 2022 Registration Opens Wednesday 11/3 (Priority 10/27)

General registration for spring 2022 will open on 11/3 at approximately 9am eastern; it opens when the Registrar toggles it on that morning, which will be about 9am eastern. Priority registration opens earlier on 10/27. Priority is mostly for undergrad honors students and athletes but it also includes grad veterans and active military, so anyone who meets that criteria should contact Erika Tremblay in PACT (etremblay@mercy.edu) about priority registration access. Registering for courses promptly early on the day when registration opens is the only way to ensure you get your preferred schedule. Some courses fill up fast; some even fill up within a few hours. So if you have courses you know you want to take this spring, I would set an alarm.

One change to the tentative schedule provided in last month’s welcome post is that the Shakespeare course won’t be running. That course will now likely run in fall 2022. Spring course descriptions are as follows:

  • 510 Theory and 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 WorldFulfills the Writing & Literary Forms field requirement or an elective.

  • 514 Borges & Cortázar – Argentine Literature (Dr. Reissig-Vasile)

This course examines the major contributions that the Argentine writers Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar have made to world literature. Argentina was not only the first country in Latin America with an urban culture but also the place where European modernity had a significant impact. Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar echoed and continued the experiments of modern European literature but gave to that tradition a particularly South American perspective. Issues such as politics and censorship, the fantastic in literature, and urban and rural conflicts will be examined through some of the major works of these (and perhaps of other) Argentinian writers. Fulfills an elective by default, but upon request can work for a Lit Group 2 field requirement.

  • 515 Graphic Novel (Dr. Medoff)

In this course we will explore the ways in which meanings emerge in several celebrated texts of the graphic novel genre, as well as some emerging classics. Our readings of these texts will be informed by a diversity of theoretical perspectives, including visual culture studies, postmodernism and intersectionality. We will interrogate the relationships between the concepts “graphic novel” or “comic book” and “popular culture,” with each of us bringing our lived experiences to our readings and discussions. Through in-depth studies of several primary texts, including Watchmen, Maus, Fun Home, and V for Vendetta, we will learn how graphic novelists use and manipulate historical and contemporary social issues as the building blocks for their art. Fulfills an elective by default, but upon request can work for the Writing & Literary Forms field requirement.

  • 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, and Spenser, among others. Fulfills a Literature Group 1 field requirement or an elective.

  • 523 Tragedy (Dr. Kilpatrick)

This course explores the history and theory of tragedy as both dramatic genre and philosophical motif. Beginning with its origins in ancient Greek ritual, the course traces a history of the genre to the present, with emphasis on the classical and English literary traditions. The course considers such elements as: the relationship between tragedy and the tragic; the role tragedy plays in the histories of Western drama and ideas; ways in which tragedy is distinct from other dramatic genres, such as comedy and melodrama; the essential elements of tragedy; comparisons between Classical and Elizabethan tragedy; and the possibility of modern tragedy. Fulfills a Literature Group 1 field requirement or an elective.

  • 524 Reason & Imagination (Dr. Sax)

This study of English literature between 1650 and 1850 examines Neoclassicism and Romanticism as two opposed aesthetic and philosophical stances. It traces the political, ideological, and literary roots of Neoclassicism in the English “Glorious Revolution” of 1688, the late seventeenth-century growth of rationalism and empirical science, followed by the flowering of Neoclassicism and then the shift in sensibility that led to the emergence of Romanticism. Fulfills a Literature Group 1 field requirement or an elective.

  • 543 The American Renaissance (Dr. Loots)

This course will study representative American writings from “The American Renaissance,” a period during the mid-nineteenth century (roughly 1832 to 1865) which saw the rise of the first truly non-Colonial, non-Revolutionary body of national literature; a literature which no longer concerned itself with European precedent, engagement, or approval. When F.O. Matthiessen coined the term “The American Renaissance” in 1941 he did so in light of five monumental American works by five different writers, all produced within five years (1850-55): Emerson (Representative Men), Thoreau (Walden), Melville (Moby Dick), Hawthorne (The Scarlet Letter), and Whitman (Leaves of Grass). Since Matthiessen’s time the notion of an American Renaissance has come to encompass a greater diversity of works, writers, and perspectives from this era. In this course we’ll read selections from across this American Renaissance, most likely engaging works by: Harriett Jacobs; Frederick Douglass; Harriet Beecher Stowe; Frances Harper; Sojourner Truth; Margaret Fuller; Sara Willis (Fanny Fern); as well as Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman and Melville.  Fulfills either a Literature Group 2 field requirement or an elective

  • 560 Cultural Impact of Black Lives Matter (Dr. Morales)

NOW OPEN TO ALL STUDENTS including those who previously took 560 Literary Accretion of Black Lives Matter.

This 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 In the fall of 2020, ENGL 560 the “Literary Accretion of Black Lives Matter” viewed the movement through foundational literature that presaged a global phenomenon. This new course for the spring 2022, the “Cultural Impact of Black Lives Matter,” looks at the early “progress” [statis?] of this movement in American culture focusing on the arts and literature. Columnist Perry Bacon says we are in the midst of a Black Renaissance. The 138-year-old Metropolitan opera in NY reopened its doors with Terrance Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up My Bones, a first for a black composer. Tanzanian Abdulrazak Gurnah became the first black since Toni Morrison to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. The NYT’s  fall theatre preview lead with “Broadway Is Brimming With Black Playwrights. But for How Long?” However, November’s [2021] gubernatorial race in Virginia saw the Republican, Glenn Youngkin, win the cultural wars using Toni Morrison’s Beloved as his whipping horse. There is a burgeoning backlash against “wokespeak” as even liberals complain of its use [“I’m exhausted by the constant need to be wary or you’ll instantly be labeled racist or anti-trans.”] The final question for the previous “Literary Accretion” course was “is this a momentary period of protest or a defining movement ushering in profound change?” “Cultural Impact of Black Lives Matter” will further investigate this with a variety of readings and media presentations. Fulfills a Literature Group 2 field requirement or an elective.


Note: students throughout their MA career can take multiple instances of different courses running by the course codes of 514, 515, 540, and 560. These are generic catalog codes under which many newer and experimental courses cycle into the schedule. So for example a student could take 540 Magic in Literature and 540 Shakespeare & Film and both courses would count for the degree, since they are different courses even though they are running by the same catalog number.

Book-order info for these spring 2022 courses will be provided here on the blog in a future post.

new Fall Course now on the schedule: 542 African-American Lit [update]

Because our graduate English program is attracting a large amount of interest and well-qualified applicants, and because our fall offerings are almost at capacity with nearly two months to go before the school-year begins, we have added an additional course to the fall schedule: ENGL 542 African-American Literature.

Dr. Morales is running the course. Note that this 542 course is in the catalog as “Classics of African-American Lit” but Dr. Morales is mixing it up a bit so that the course can enfold contemporary situations and texts. The course description Dr. Morales has provided for this fall instance is as follows:

  • African-American literature has become an expansive field over the last several decades, which puts an instructor in a difficult position selecting texts and delimiting themes. As a result, this ENGL 542 African-American Literature course will focus on 20th and 21st century works, while thematically staying current with 21st century issues such as the critical race theory, 1619 project, confederate monuments–[re-slavery], reparations, Juneteenth, black identity. and more. The course will incorporate theoretical statements of DuBois, Locke, Hurston, Schuyler, Hughes, Thurman, Wright, Ellison, Baldwin, Gayle, Baraka, Morrison, Wilson. Students will analyze select 20th-century literary works, a list which is still being determined but could possibly include James Weldon Johnson’s Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, Jean Toomer’s Cane, Nella Larsen’s Passing, Richard Wright’s The Man Who lived Underground, along with select plays and poetry; and more recent works, possibly (and for example) Kaitlyn Greenidge’s historical fictional work, Libertie [2021], which parenthetically explores the draft race riots [1863] and repatriation of African Americans to Haiti. The reading list is still in the works, and will be shared in August, but all readings will work within the theme and description expressed here.

Note that students enrolled in existing fall courses who are interested in dropping from one of those courses to add this 542 African-American Lit course can do so. Students can change up their schedule however much they like (as long as available seats exist) up until the start of any semester. The only students who cannot take this course are students who have taken 542 previously. For help with or questions about enrolling in 542 or changing your existing course schedule, contact Erika Tremblay at etremblay@mercy.edu.

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 – DLA section; Dr. Boria Sax, DLB section)
    • 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 the DLA section 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.)

Tentative Course Schedules for Summer and Fall 2021

[Updated 12/20] I thought it might be useful to share with everyone the tentative plans for summer and fall 2021 MA English schedules. These schedules are subject to change [and already have since this was first posted]. We now plan to run three summer courses from the start and see how the demand turns out. The third summer course has changed from what it was originally. Full descriptions of courses will be forthcoming here in January or February, along with information about the summer+fall registration date. For now, here’s how it’s shaping up:

Summer 2021 [updated 12/20]:

  • 514: Intro to the History of Textual Transmission (Dr. Ward)
  • 515: Mastering the Past: Literature & National Myths
  • 525: Victorian Age in Literature (Dr. Dugan)

Fall 2021:

  • 500: Theory (Dr. Kilpatrick)
  • 509: Perspectives on the Essay (Dr. Keckler)
  • 515: Magic in Literature (Dr. Sax)
  • 540: From Vice to Virtue: The Seven Deadly Sins Then & Now (a Medieval Literature course) (Dr. Ward)
  • 545: Literature of the Left Bank, Paris (Dr. Loots)
  • 560: Hip Hop Literature & Culture (Dr. Horton)

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.