Category Archives: Course Schedules

Spring 2018 Schedule – [Update] Registration Opens November 1

Spring semester registration will open on November 1, usually in the morning when the Registrar comes to work and flips the switch so figure around 9am eastern. We are running the following six courses in the spring:

  • 509 Perspectives on the Essay (Dr. Keckler)

The course will study 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 will examine 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 (speech, manuscript, pamphlet, book, magazine, newspaper, etc.). 3 credits. Fulfills either the Writing & Literary Forms field requirement or an elective.

  • 514 Henry James & D.H. Lawrence (Dr. Dugan)

I have long been interested and intrigued by the question of how one attains personal and social freedom in a society that seems to reward conformity. Is it possible? Or, does one pay a price, social, professional, emotional, for such attempts? Two writers from two different worlds–the American Henry James, the son of a wealthy philosopher, and the English D.H. Lawrence, the son of a coal miner and a factory worker–differ in writing style and subject yet explore the complexities of an industrialized society and personal relationships. We will read novels and short stories by each, including Lawrence’s The Rainbow and Women in Love, James’s The Ambassadors and Portrait of a Lady, as well as selected short stories. We will explore stylistics, characterizations, and themes in order to answer the question of how one resolves, if at all, conflicting demands of society’s expectations and the an individual’s quest for an understanding of self and of happiness. 3 credits. Fulfills an elective but can also meet a Lit Group 1 or 2 field requirement if a student requests it.

  • 521 Medieval Lit. (Dr. Fritz)

This course is designed to cultivate students’ awareness of the themes, genres, and issues related to the study of medieval literature. Students will study the major genres of medieval literature, including epics, lays and romances. 3 credits. Fulfills either a Literature Group 1 field requirement or an elective.

  • 540 Magic in Literature (Dr. 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 include works by Hesiod, Ben Johnson, Shakespeare, E. T. A. Hoffmann, J. R. Rowling and others. Textbooks include The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age by Frances Yates. 3 credits. Fulfills either 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 rightfully 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. 3 credits. Fulfills either a Literature Group 2 field requirement or an elective.

  • 560 African & Caribbean Lit. (Dr. Morales)

This survey course of cross-generational writers from Africa and the Caribbean will take as its focal point the theme of the 2016 African Literature Conference in Atlanta: “Justice and Human Dignity in Africa and the African Diaspora.” The course looks at writers whose works address the idea of justice and human dignity in the domestic, political, religious and moral arenas. Some possibilities include Nobel Laureates Naguib Mafouz [Egypt], Wole Soyinka [Nigeria], V.S. Naipaul [Trinidad], J.M. Coetzee [South Africa], Nadine Gordimer [South Africa] and Derek Walcott [St Lucia]. Other options are Chimamanda Adichie [Nigeria], Jamaica Kincaid [Antigua], Edwidge Danticat [Haiti], Mariama Ba [Senegal], Tsitsi Dangaremba [Zimbabwe] and Athol Fugard [South Africa]. As a group these writers look critically at their societies, with, at times, grave consequences but nonetheless seek a just life for themselves and their fellow citizens. 3 credits. Fulfills either a Literature Group 2 field requirement or an elective.

Fall Semester Begins Wed. 9/6. Students taking 599 this fall take note of Comprehensive Exam.

The fall 2017 semester begins on Wednesday 9/6. Even though our online courses run on a weekly unit schedule all students should sign in on the first or second day of the semester to read over the syllabus, get clear on the course policies and schedules, and see what activities your professors require of you that first week. Each professor will run her or his class a bit differently and have different requirements to which you’ll need to adhere.

For your reference you can always find the academic calendars for upcoming semesters published HERE on the Mercy website. MA courses are always “Term A” so refer to the Term A section of the academic calendars.

All students needing to take ENGL 599 this fall should be enrolled in their 599 section at this point. It will appear on your schedule like any other class if you are in fact enrolled in a 599 section. If you plan to take 599 this fall and are not already in a 599 section, contact me right now at and refer to this post for the procedures for getting into your 599 course. We will get you setup in time for the fall but this needs to get sorted now. Related: all students need to take and pass the program’s Comprehensive Exam before entering 599 and beginning their final semester. So for those taking 599 in the fall, if you have not yet taken and passed the Comp Exam contact me at now and we’ll get that taken care of.

I will be putting up my annual “welcome to the semester” post here on the blog in several weeks so check back at the start of the semester for that, and for other informational posts that might pop up this and next month.

Summer Session Starts on Wednesday May 31

Just a reminder here to anyone opting to take coursework over the summer: the summer session begins Wednesday May 31. Make sure to check into your Blackboard sections on the 31st to see what’s in store for the summer and to get going on the first week of studies.

Summer session is an optional semester (as opposed to the fall and spring semesters, during which MA students are required to maintain matriculation unless taking leave from the program).


Fall ENGL 500 Update

We already have such waitlist demand for the fall ENGL 500 course that we’re going to open a second section now, within the next week. You aren’t automatically shifted from the waitlist to the registration list, so if you are on the waitlist please make sure to either manually go and register for the new 500 section when it opens, or speak to a Student Services advisor to have them shift you from the waitlist to the course list. We will eventually balance out the student numbers between the two sections so that roughly equal students are in each. Any questions drop me a note at

[Update] Fall 2017 Schedule – Registration Opens March 1 for Fall and Summer.

Summer and Fall 2017 registrations open march 1st, usually around 9am eastern (it opens when the Registrar gets to work and flips the switch that morning). I am listing here the courses we’re running this fall, along with some descriptions of them–some of which will be updated in the near future to better reflect the course content. Summer course descriptions are included down at the bottom of this blog post.

ENGL 500 Theory

Dr. Celia Reissig-Vasile

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 2017, spring 2018, or summer 2018, you must enroll in this course during this instance of fall 2017. The next instance of the course will be fall 2018. Here’s the catalog description for the course:

An introduction to major movements and figures of the theory of criticism, the question, “what is literature?” is the 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. 3 credits.

ENGL 508 History of Drama in English

Dr. David Fritz

This course will study selected dramatic works from the vantage of the cultures of the historical epochs they are embedded in. 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. 3 credits. Fulfills the Writing & Literary Forms requirement or works as an elective.

ENGL 526 Modernism

Dr. Boria Sax

This course explores the various “isms” of modernism while questioning if these trends are of the past or remain present and relevant to contemporary intellectual and aesthetic sensibilities It traces the anti-mimetic shift in the arts in the age of mechanical reproduction, as found in the literature of symbolism, expressionism, futurism, dadaism and surrealism. Among the features of modernism that emerge 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 540 Irish Literature

Dr. Sean Dugan

This course will 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 requirement or works as an elective. 

ENGL 544 Frontiers of American Lit (theme: Tech-Noir/Cyberpunk)

Dr. Christopher Loots

The readings and focus of this 544 course vary depending on who is teaching it, yet it always tends in one way or another to different “frontiers” of American literature. This instance of the course will read literature that tends to the horizons of technology and humanity. In particular students in this class will read and discuss some “cyberpunk” and related “tech-noir” fiction, meaning, fiction that explores the current and near-future states of social media, technology, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and other immersive online environments (e.g. MMOGs). Students will consider the benefits and dangers of humanity’s increasing interweave with such technology and online/virtual realities—with the way that humanity is becoming post-human or cyborg. In addition to studying literature in the vein of Ready Player One, Neuromancer, Akira, and The Circle (some or all of which we may read, but which are here listed to provide examples of the sort of literature we’ll engage), students might study and discuss other media related to this horizon of humanity and technology: i.e. relevant tech/science media, Technology/Entertainment/Design (TED) talks, and other visual media depicting tech-noir/cyberpunk stories and situations. This will be the first instance of this course on this topic, and so students in this course will have an active role in determining what is or is not working with the course structure. Fulfills a Literature Group 2 requirement or works as an elective. 

ENGL 560 Albee & His Literary Heirs

Dr. David Kilpatrick

[UPDATE: Due to a late professor change this course will now focus solely on the plays of Albee, and not include close study of his followers as originally intended]. The plays of Edward Albee (1928-2016) include The Zoo Story (1958), The American Dream (1960), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1961–62, Tony Award), Tiny Alice (1964), A Delicate Balance (1966, Pulitzer Prize, and Tony Award, 1996), Seascape (1974, Pulitzer Prize, also available from Overlook), Three Tall Women (1994, Pulitzer Prize), and The Play About the Baby (2001, also available from Overlook). He was awarded the Gold Medal in Drama from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1980, and in 1996 he received both the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts.  It was his works that started the Off Broadway movement that includes such playwrights as Lori Suzi Parks. Adirenne Kennedy, and especially Will Eno. In this class, which was inspired by Albee’s recent passing, we will study some of Albee’s works. Fulfills a Literature Group 2 requirement or works as an elective. 

Spring and Summer 2017 Course Schedules [Updated].

Update: registration for spring courses begins on Wednesday November 2nd (usually at 9am eastern when the registrar comes to work and turns on the system). Summer registration information will be updated here when I learn more. For now I can share with you the course schedules we have for the upcoming spring and summer 2017 semesters.


ENGL 507 Narrative Strategies in the Novel

Dr. Sean Dugan

This course will focus on the narrative mode as represented in the English and American traditions. As part of our reading and our discussion, we will explore the narrative choices an author has and how the decision affects the reader’s perception and understanding of the novel. We will also consider how the narrative strategy informs perspective, plot, tone, and theme. Although the following list may change, we will likely base our discussions on some or all of the following novels: Jane Austen, Wuthering Heights; George Eliot, Middlemarch; Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier; Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go; Henry James, The Bostonians; Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea; Zadie Smith, White Teeth; Bram Stoker, Dracula. Fulfills the Writing & Literary Forms requirement or an elective.

ENGL 522 Humanism in Renaissance Texts

Dr. David 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. Fulfills a Literature Group 1 requirement or an elective.

ENGL 540 Animals in Literature

Dr. Boria 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 a Literature Group 1 requirement or an elective.

ENGL 545 Literature of the Left Bank, Paris

Dr. Christopher Loots

This course will examine the diverse people, culture, and writings of the expatriate community of the Parisian Left Bank during the early and mid twentieth century. This will include an exploration of the significance of Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare & Company bookstore and lending library, and of intellectual and artistic salons such as those of, for example, Natalie Barney and Gertrude Stein. The course will additionally consider the doings and writings of expatriate authors moving through or closely associated with the Left Bank’s modernist enterprise. An emphasis will be placed on studying the cultural geography of this location which attracted so many of the world’s great artists and gave rise to so many works now considered twentieth century literary masterpieces. Fulfills a Literature Group 2 requirement or an elective.

ENGL 546 Working Women in the US 1865-Present

Dr. Miriam Gogol

This course will examine 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 requirement or an elective.

ENGL 560 Latino Literature

Dr. Celia Reissig-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. Fulfills a Literature Group 2 requirement or an elective.

ENGL 599 Master’s Thesis Tutorial.

This is only for students entering their final semester in the program, and requires a special procedure in order to be enrolled in it. For instructions on how to be enrolled in 599 consult the blog post here or the Program Handbook.


ENGL 505 Transformations of the Epic

Dr. Boria Sax

This course is based on the conception of the epic as an encyclopedic narrative of substantial length featuring a central figure who reflects the values of a particular culture. It will proceed chronologically, studying the taxonomy and transformations of the epic, from its earliest manifestations through its emergence in Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance texts, to its incorporation after the Renaissance into the modern novel. 3 credits. Fulfills either the Writing & Literary Forms field requirement or an elective.

ENGL 517 Advanced Creative Writing

Dr. Celia Reissig-Vasile

This course is intended for writers with some background or preparation, whether personal or formal, in creative writing. The course continues to develop each student’s creative writing ability through a close study of various writing styles and techniques, matched with assignments and workshops which encourage the students to further develop their own creative writing informed by such literary study. The emphasis of the course will shift depending on the expertise of the professor running it, and could involve poetry, narrative, or other forms. 3 credits. Fulfills either the Writing & Literary Forms field requirement or an elective.

ENGL 523 Tragedy

Dr. David 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 requirement or an elective.

ENGL 560 Afropolitanism (note; previously listed as ENGL 515)

Dr. Donald Morales

The term “Afropolitanism,” a word coined by Taiye Selasi in a 2005 essay, is generally defined as young, well-educated African, and by extension, Caribbean artists with global and multicultural sensibilities who have settled in a number of 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–Selasi argues, “the practice of categorizing literature by the continent from which its creators come is past its prime at best.” “Afropolitanism,” has also engendered a lot of criticism and controversy. Kenyan writer, Binyavanga Wainaina, labels it an “empty style and culture commodification.” This course tackles the concept of “Afropolitanism” in a variety of ways. In addition to introducing the student to a new generation of African/Caribbean writers–Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie [Americanah], Zadie Smith [On Beauty], Edwidge Danticat [Dew Breaker], Teju Cole [Open City], Taiye Selasi [Ghana Must Go], there is also the opportunity to include transplanted dramatists [Roy Williams, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Debbie Tucker Green, Bola Agbaje] in London who have created a number of powerful dramas around the same subject. Fulfills an elective or, with permission of the program director, a Literature Group 2 requirement.

Fall Semester Begins this Wednesday, September 7

In the next few days I’ll be putting up a letter here on the blog welcoming you all to another school year and sharing some thoughts about the upcoming year. But I wanted to take a quick moment here on this Tuesday, the eve of the semester, to just remind you all that the fall semester begins on Wednesday 9/7. At some point this Wednesday your professors will unlock the Blackboard sections for your courses. One of the strengths of online learning is its asynchronicity; that is, that you are not all required to be online at any particular day or time during a weekly unit. It is still a good idea, though, to check in to your courses as early as possible during the first week of classes so to read the syllabus, see the required books, and get into whatever first week activities your professor has set up. If you have any questions about your courses after going over the initial materials posted for them, ask your professors for clarification. Of course keep in mind that I serve as faculty advisor to all students in the program so if you ever have more general questions about your coursework or the degree, or need help with something, drop me a note at I check there all the time. More soon, -CL

Second 500 Section Open: Those Waitlisted on First Section Must Manually Register to Be in Newly Opened Section

We have just opened a second section of ENGL 500 for the fall. There were over ten people on the waitlist for the original section. Those waitlisted people now need to go and actively register for the newly opened 500 section in order to be in it. There is no mechanism by which students on the waitlist are automatically enrolled in the new section. As two courses per-semester is the full-time load, every full-time student planning to take 500 this fall should consider taking that and one other course, so as to not be overwhelmed with reading and requirements for three courses. This may require you to drop a course in which you’re currently enrolled. Feel free to contact me for advising on this situation if you have any questions (

Update regarding fall 500 and 599 courses.

After spring break, so starting in the first week of April, a second 500 section will open. Those on the waitlist will be able to enroll in this, and a few more seats will be available for others who need to take it this fall. Students seeking to enter a 599 thesis tutorial section and who have completed the procedures to get a 599 section opened (explained here, as well as in the program handbook downloadable in the left-hand menu of this blog) will start seeing this appear on their schedules early in April as well. Note that your mentor is the one who must notify me when you are ready to have your 599 section opened. There’s plenty of time to secure a 599 section for the fall so don’t panic if you don’t see it appearing on your schedule right away in April, or if you’re just discovering now the procedures for enrolling in the course. As always contact me at with any questions (though I will be away from email over spring break).