Category Archives: Course Schedules

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.

Additional Fall 2020 Course Coming Soon

A sixth graduate literature course will be added soon, probably by the start of July, to the fall schedule. We schedule as many courses during each fall/spring semester as seems sustainable based on projected enrollment, and informed by the idea that most students take two courses each of these semesters. Our enrollment projections are rising, though, perhaps due to increased interest in well-established online graduate programs such as ours during this COVID-19 situation. Dr. Morales has responded to the call for an additional course offering and is working on something that we will schedule soon. Students currently enrolled in fall courses might find that the new course is more interesting than one of your current courses, and might want to switch. This is fine, as students can change their schedules, can freely add and drop classes as often as you like, up until the first day of any semester. As a finale note, preliminary book orders for the fall classes will be posted here on the blog near the start of July.

Survey – What do you think of our courses? What courses do you want to see scheduled?

Please complete the survey linked here to provide us with feedback about the MA program’s course offerings (and about a few other curriculum topics). Your responses will let us know what courses we should run in 2021 and beyond.

In case the hyperlink above doesn’t work for you, you can copy and paste the URL below into your browser’s address bar:

https://forms.gle/3AZD1VTryCmJnsUw8

Fall (and Summer) Course Schedules

SUMMER 2020

  • ENGL 517 Advanced Creative Writing (Dr. Keckler)

Advanced Creative Writing, despite the name, is open to anyone in the MA English program no matter how much or little previous experience you’ve had with creative writing. If you are interested in expressing yourself creatively through words, you are welcome and encouraged to enroll. The form of writing emphasized in the course changes depending on the preferences of the instructor running it. In this summer 2020 instance, students will be doing poetry only. Students will not be required to purchase any books. Instead, articles, textbooks, and other sources will be either linked or provided as PDFs. 3 credits. Fulfills the Writing & Literary Forms field requirement or an elective.

  • ENGL 560 Magical Realism (Dr. Vasile)

This course focuses on Latin American magical realist fiction, a genre where elements of the magical, the fantastical, are included in otherwise realistic narratives. This literary style has had a profound impact on literature and has generated an array of interesting and diverse experimental literary responses. This summer we will examine some of the most innovative magical realist texts written by some of Latin America’s most important writers: the Mexican writer Elena Garro, the Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier, and the Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  The short story genre will be the main focus of our analyses as well as a novella. Assignments will include discussion, essays, response papers, and a research paper. No books are required for the course. All readings will be provided as PDFs or links. Readings will likely be: It’s the Fault of the Tlaxcaltecas, Elena Garro; A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, Gabriel Garcia Marquez; The Kingdom of this World, Alejo Carpentier; and Journey Back to the Source, Alejo Carpentier. 3 credits. Fulfills a Literature Group 2 field requirement or an elective.

NOTE: The course numbers 514, 515, 540, and 560, are “topics” shell numbers under which a variety of coursework cycles. Students can take multiple instances of any of these course numbers as long as the different instances are actually different courses with different titles. So students who have previously taken a 560 course can take this 560 course, as long as the previous instances wasn’t Magical Realism.

FALL 2020

  • ENGL 500 Theory & Practice of Literary Criticism (Dr. Kilpatrick)

This is the program’s core course, meaning the course that everyone must take and for which there are no alternative course options. This course runs once each fall semester, so if you’re aiming to graduate at the end of fall 2020, spring 2021, or summer 2021 and have not yet completed 500, you must enroll in this for fall 2020. The next instance of the course will be fall 2021. Enrollment requires gaining a permit from the Program Director (contact cloots@mercy.edu). Here’s the catalog description for the course:

This course provides an introduction to major movements and figures of the theory of criticism. The question “what is literature?” is a primary concern of this course. Such an inquiry necessarily engages other, closely affiliated signifiers such as work/text, writing, reading, interpretation, and signification itself. After brief encounters with ancient antecedents and seminal moderns, influential contemporary approaches to the question concerning literature and its cultural significance will be engaged. 3 credits.

  • ENGL 510 Theory & Practice of Expository Writing (Dr. Proszak)

In this course, students learn about how writing has been studied and theorized across writing studies and related disciplines. The course specifically focuses on cultural issues endemic to writing and how race, ethnicity, gender, and class enter into conversations on writing instruction and assessment. Students who take this course will understand how writing functions across contexts and communities, including within higher education. All course texts will be scanned or available online. Readings will include chapters from A Short History of Writing InstructionNaming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies and chapters from texts on the open-access WAC Clearinghouse, including Situating Writing ProcessesWriting Assessment, Social Justice, and the Advancement of OpportunityGenre in a Changing World. Fulfills the Writing & Literary Forms field requirement or an elective.

  • ENGL 522 Humanism in Renaissance Texts (Dr. Fritz)

This course will focus on humanism and the concepts arising from it in relation to the production and appreciation of literature during the Renaissance. The revival of interest in the arts and ideas of Greco-Roman antiquity and the dependence of Renaissance thought on classical themes will be among the issues discussed. Readings could include (but aren’t limited to) works by Shakespeare, Marlowe, Machiavelli, More, Spenser, among others. 3 credits. Fulfills a Literature Group 1 field requirement or an elective.

  • ENGL 526 Modernism (Dr. Sax)

This course explores the various “isms” of modernism, while questioning if these trends emerging in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are of the past or remain present and relevant to contemporary intellectual and aesthetic sensibilities. Among the features of modernism that we will explore in this course are themes of fragmentation, parody, and irony; the self-conscious retrieval of myth; the collapse of traditional distinctions between subjective and objective reality; and the iconoclastic transgression of Victorian norms of religion, the family, and sexuality. 3 credits. Fulfills a Literature Group 1 requirement or works as an elective.

  • ENGL 541 Search for Identity in American Lit (Dr. Loots)

This course will study the search for identity, individually and collectively, as it manifests in American (United States) literature from Colonial times through the turn of the twentieth century. Attention will be paid to the rapidly changing historical/cultural contexts from which such literature emerged, as well as to different literary movements emerging in America over the eras studied (e.g. Romanticism, Realism, etc). Part of the goal of the course is to provide students with a foundation of American literature, and with an understanding of the foundations of literature in America. Readings this fall will likely include works by Anne Bradstreet, Edward Taylor, Olaudah Equiano, Jonathan Edwards, Thomas Paine, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Phillis Wheatley, Philip Freneau, Poe, Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Whitman, Frederick Douglass, Henry James, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Charles Chestnutt, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Paul Lawrence Dunbar. 3 credits. Fulfills a Literature Group 2 requirement or works as an elective.

Registration for Spring 2020 is now open

Registration for spring is open as of this Wednesday morning, 11/6. The servers were overwhelmed for the first hour or so from extraordinary demand, so if you experienced registration issues at that time, that was why. It should be working now. Be sure to register as soon as possible to ensure you get your preferred selection of courses. If you find yourself closed out of a preferred course you can get on the waitlist for that course, but in the meantime should select the next best schedule you can find of what is available. Be sure to check the course descriptions in the post down below. And any creative writers or artists, be sure to check out the call for submissions for the college’s creative journal in the post directly below this one. Any questions or issues with registration, let me know at cloots@mercy.edu.

Spring Registration Opens November 6

Spring registration will open on Wednesday November 6. It usually goes active at around 9am eastern time when the Registrar arrives to begin work that day. Some classes fill up rather quickly, and most of the classes eventually reach max capacity, so the only way to ensure you get your first-pick of courses each semester is to register as soon as possible once registration begins. If anyone has any questions about course selections I can help at cloots@mercy.edu. You can see the courses we’re running in the post directly below this one.

Spring 2020 Course Descriptions

Below are descriptions of the six spring 2020 courses. Fuller descriptions for some of these will be provided as they are submitted by the various professors.

  • ENGL 506: History of Poetic Forms (Dr. Fritz)

The course will study the major forms and conventions of poetry that have developed in literature from classical models to the present. Wherever possible, particular poems from different historical contexts will be compared and analyzed to demonstrate how these forms and conventions have developed and been adapted to specific personal, ideological, or cultural pressures. Fulfills the Writing & Literary Forms group requirement or an elective.

  • 514: Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, and Manuel Puig (Dr. Vasile)

This course examines the major contributions that the Argentine writers Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, and Manuel Puig 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, Julio Cortázar, and Manuel Puig 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 writers. Fulfills 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.

  • 525: Victorian Age in Lit (Dr. Dugan)

If one were asked to define the timeline of Victorian literature, one might be hard-pressed to do so. As literary genres are fluid, it is hard to determine when the Romantic Period ends and the Victorian Period begins, and when the Victorian Period ends and Modernism begins. Whatever the dates, a defining characteristic of Victorian England would be change, change matched with a belief in progress: societal, religious, economic, and artistic. While some benefited from these changes, others did not. The semester we will look closely at issues that challenge the notions of change and progress, notably the role of women, industrialism, gender roles, and poverty as shown in fiction, poetry, and drama of the Victorian age. Fulfills a Literature Group 1 field requirement or an elective.

  • 544: Frontiers of Lit: Cyberpunk, Tech-Noir, & Technoculture (Dr. Loots)

Each instance of ENGL 544 explores different “frontiers” depending on professor specialty. This instance of the course will focus on literature and media that tend to the frontiers of humanity and identity in the age of technoculture (the culture of our internet-era). Readings will include “cyberpunk” and other speculative fiction from the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s (e.g. writings of William Gibson, Pat Cadigan, and Neal Stephenson); and contemporary writings such as Jia Tolentino’s Trick Mirror and Dave Eggers’ The Circle. Visual media might include episodes of Black Mirror or Mr. Robot; TED talks; and films such as Ingrid Goes West, Blade Runner, or Ex-Machina. Altogether we will consider, through fiction and essay and film, the implications of humanity’s increasing interweave with computer technology, social media, artificial intelligence, and online/virtual realities — with the way that humanity is becoming posthuman or cyborg. Fulfills a Literature Group 2 requirement or an elective.

  • 560: Toni Morrison (Dr. Morales)

Toni Morrison passed away on August 5, 2019, thus this course will examine her legacy and place in American letters [Jefferson Letters, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Pulitzer and Nobel Prize awards]. It will look at several of her fictional works including Song of Solomon [National Book Critics Circle Award] Beloved [Pulitzer Prize], Jazz [Second in a trilogy about love] and A Mercy. We will also survey her non-fictional works, Playing in the DarkThe Source of Self Regard, her numerous lectures. Finally we will explore her expansion into other media: opera [Margaret GarnerDesdemona], film [BelovedThe Pieces I Am] and ode to music in general and jazz in particular Fulfills a Literature Group 2 requirement or an elective. Fulfills a Literature Group 2 requirement or an elective.

Students Needing ENGL 500 this fall should email cloots@mercy.edu 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 cloots@mercy.edu 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 cloots@mercy.edu 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 cloots@mercy.edu.