Category Archives: Faculty News

Author Event with Patricia Engel, Hosted by Dr. Celia Reissig-Vasile, Wed. 9/28

On Wednesday, September 28, Dr. Celia Reissig-Vasile of the Mercy College English Program will be hosting a discussion with author Patricia Engel, regarding her book Infinite Country. Mercy College MA students are strongly encouraged to attend this event; you can attend on zoom, or can join a larger viewing party in the Mercy Hall Rotunda on the Dobbs Ferry campus. Click here to register for the zoom webinar. Or click here if you plan to attend the viewing party in the Rotunda.

Dr. Boria Sax wins NCIS Eisenstein Award for Best Essay of the Year

I am thrilled to share with our graduate community that Dr. Boria Sax has been awarded the Eisenstein Award for Best Essay of the Year by the National Coalition of Independent Scholars (NCIS). The Eisenstein prize is awarded annually for the best academic journal article or book chapter published by a member of the NCIS. The essay must have been published in a peer reviewed journal or edited academic book to qualify. Dr. Sax’s essay is “When Adam and Eve Were Monkeys: Anthropomorphism, Zoomorphism and Other Ways of Looking at Animals,” published in The Routledge Companion to Animal-Human History, edited by Hilda Kean and Philip Howell (London, 2019). For the record, this is the second time that Dr. Sax’s writing has been so recognized by the NCIS and he is the only person to have been awarded this distinction twice.

Recent Faculty Publications and Activity

Your MA faculty are constantly engaged in all sorts of scholarly activities. Such recent scholarship includes presentations, such as Dr. Dugan’s “An Interdisciplinary Bridge to Improved Reading Comprehension and Academic Success,” given at the 2018 convention for the College English Association; and “Perchance to Dream” delivered at the Southeast MLA conference in 2017. Notable recent publications by MA faculty include:

Working Women in American Literature, 1865-1950, edited and with an introduction by Dr. Miriam Gogol, and The State of the Field: Ideologies, Identities and Initiatives, edited and with an introduction by Dr. David Kilpatrick.

Working Women in American Literature, 1865–1950 examines how the American working woman has been presented, misrepresented, and underrepresented in American realistic and naturalistic literature (1865–1930), and by later authors influenced by realism and naturalism. Points explored include: the historical vocational realities of working women (e.g., factory workers, seamstresses, maids, teachers, writers, prostitutes, etc.); the distortions in literary representations of female work; the ways in which these representations still inform the lives of working women today; and new perspectives from queer theory, feminist theory, immigrant studies, and race and class analyses.

The State of the Field: Ideologies, Identities and Initiatives provides a comprehensive view of the emerging field of the study of association football. The diversity of approaches in this collection range from theory to pedagogy to historical and sociological engagements with the game at all levels, from the grassroots to the grand spectacle of the World Cup; while the collection’s international roster of authors is testimony to the game’s global reach. The State of the Field altogether offers a view of current critical inquiry into the field of soccer studies as well as a road map for further exploration.

Dr. Kilpatrick as well saw a paper of his published in translation: “El Arsenal de Nietzsche,” translated by Juliana Solórzano y Viviana Casablanco, El Malpensante, 197, Junio 2018. And his article “The Messianic Manager in Novels by David Peace” was published in The Aesthetics, Poetics, and Rhetoric of Soccer, edited by Ridvan Askin, Catherine Diederich, and Aline Bieri.

The always prolific Dr. Sax has been up to a number of things. His book Lizard will be published this October, in just a few days. This book demonstrates how the story of lizards is interwoven with the history of the human imagination. In the book Dr. Sax describes the diversity of lizards and traces their representation in many cultures, including those of pre-conquest Australia, the Quiché Maya, Mughal India, China, Central Africa, Europe and America.

Dr. Sax’s earlier publication The Mythical Zoo was recently translated and published in Chinese (his third Book in Chinese translation). And his book Dinomania: Why We Love, Fear and Are Utterly Enchanted by Dinosaurs will be coming out later this October. Additionally, you can still read his guest blog for the Oxford University Press titled “Not Finding Bigfoot: Cryptids and Big Nostalgia.

Finally, Dr. Kristen Keckler invested a tremendous amount of time and energy over the past year to make real her vision of a Mercy College journal showcasing the creative efforts of Mercy College students. As creator and senior editor of the Red Hyacinth journal, Dr. Keckler took responsibility for all aspects of the process. As a result of her dedication a number of our college’s students, including some graduate students from our MA program, were able to see their works published.

Some of you reading this may remember the call for submissions for the journal advertised here on the program blog last fall. The Red Hyacinth journal is once again accepting submissions for the 2017-18 edition. I will be making another blog post soon dedicated just to this call for submissions, but if you’re interested in sending in a creative work for consideration you should look into the journal’s FAQ and submission guidelines here on the journal’s website.

Recent Student and Faculty Achievements

I’d like to take a moment to recognize some recent achievements of current MA program students and alumni, as well as a recent faculty publication. In no particular order:

♦ Professor Emeritus Donald Morales recently published “An Afropolitan 2017 Update” in the Journal of the African American Literature Association. (

♦ Active MA student Lynne Leibowitz-Whitehead has been awarded a Schiff Travel Grant to present a paper on John Updike’s Couples at the Fifth Biennial John Updike Society Conference at the University of Belgrade in Serbia this summer. Lynne has also been accepted to present a paper at the International Hemingway Conference in Paris this summer.

♦ Recent alum Gloria Buckley has been busy as well. She will be continuing her education in the Masters in Gaelic Literature program at University Cork College of Ireland. In the meantime she’s published two papers in the Journal of English Language and Literature: “Merlin the Political, Spiritual and Romantic Shape-Shifter in Robert de Boron’s Joseph of Arimathea, Merlin, Perceval and Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene”; and “Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’: A Symbol of the Crumbling Borders of American and Psychic Consciousness and the Birth of Gothic Transcendence.” She also has a study of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando published here on the Virginia Woolf Blog.

♦ Alum Nicholas Cialini has been accepted into the PhD English program at Temple University. He will also be presenting at the International Hemingway Conference in Paris this summer.

♦ Alum Patricia Turner has been accepted into the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program at the University of Denver.

♦ Alum Wayne Catan is aiming to present his scholarly paper “A Comparison of  Dreiser’s ‘Free’ and Hemingway’s ‘Mr. and Mrs. Elliot’” at the American Literature Association (ALA) and is working with faculty member Dr. Miriam Gogol on it.

Congratulations to everyone. If I have neglected to include news recently shared with me about our students’ or graduates’ activity please let me know at And please, now or at any point in the future, keep me informed of any activity you’ve been up to, including conference presentations, publications, acceptances into doctoral or other subsequent programs, work activity, and the like. It’s important for us here in the MA program to maintain a view of how our students and graduates are faring beyond the program, and to celebrate your achievements.

On a semi-related note, in the next week or so I will be making the announcement here on the blog about the date for this year’s Graduate English Symposium. It will fall around the 5/16 commencement, most likely on the Saturday before or perhaps that Monday or Tuesday. I’m working out the scheduling details now but if anyone hopes to attend and has a preference for one of these days, please email me immediately at and let me know. I will make a more specific call for papers, to get a sense of who and how many people will be attending and presenting, along with the forthcoming symposium announcement. Stay tuned.

Recent Faculty Activity (Publications, Presentations, Etc.)

For those curious, here are some of the things that some of your MA faculty have been up to/will be up to soon, professionally speaking:

Dr. Miriam Gogol, Professor of Literature, will be participating in the MS Screen Arts and Culture Forum at the Modern Language Association’s (MLA) 2018 Annual Convention in New York City. This session will examine Lois Weber’s newly restored silent film Shoes (1916) in relation to American naturalism, early-twentieth-century consumer culture, the working girl, and sexual mores. Dr. Gogol, editor of and contributor to Working Women: New Essays in American Realisms (forthcoming 2017) will compare the film to depictions of prostitutes and kept women in the American naturalistic fiction of that day (Stephen Crane’s Maggie: A Girl of the Streets [1893]; Theodore Dreiser’s Jennie Gerhardt [1911]; David Graham Phillips’s Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise [1917]; and Rachel Crothers’s Ourselves [1913], the only prostitute play by a woman performed in that era).

Anyone looking for a reason to see New York City and to gain some experience at professional conferences (see the post just below this one for more on why you might want to do that) should look into visiting the MLA conference here during the first week of January 2018 and attending Dr. Gogol’s presentation.

Dr. Celia Reissig-Vasile, Chair of the Dept. of Literature and Language in which the MA program is housed, received sabbatical leave last year to conduct research on historical memory and cultural production in the post-dictatorial period in Argentina and is now in the process of preparing her manuscript for publication. Her book will focus on Argentine film and literature as cultural manifestations of historical memory.

Her most recent publication is a chapter in the book Home: An Imagined Landscape (Solis Press 2016) edited by renowned writer and scholar Dr. Marjorie Agosin. Dr. Reissig-Vasile has also been invited to read her creative work at various events and venues in the past year: e.g. Po’Jazz at the Hudson Valley Writers Center in Sleepy Hollow, NY (May 2016); Art Speak at Blue Door Art Gallery in Yonkers, NY (June 2016); Writing to the Wall at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in Peekskill, NY (July 2016); Mercy College Writers Corner at Mercy College (March 2017); and as part of Grupo Quetzal at the Stamford CT Library’s International Women’s Day (March 2017).

Cover art for Home (2016) and The Oxford Handbook of Animal Studies (2017).

Dr. Boria Sax, who teaches a range of courses in the MA program including his self-designed Animals in Literature and Magic in Literature courses, has had a typically busy and prolific year. Recent articles include “Animals in Folklore” which appears in the prestigious Oxford Handbook of Animal Studies (Oxford University Press, 2017). Also: “Animal Models and Utopias: ‘A Bird of Paris’ by J.J. Grandville, George Sand, and P.J. Stahl” which appears in Anglistik – International Journal of English Studies (27.2, 2017). And: “Zootropia, Kinship, and Alterity in the Work of Roberto Marchesini” which appears in Angelaki (21.1, 2016).

Furthermore, his 2012 book City of Ravens was recently published in Chinese translation (鸦之城:伦敦,伦敦塔与乌鸦的故事 , trans. Weng Jiaruo, Beijing: CITIC Press Corporation, 2016). The Chinese Mythological Society at Normal University in Beijing is just finishing up a translation of his 2013 book The Mythical Zoo. That edition is slated for publication in late 2017 and will be Dr. Sax’s third book translated into Chinese. And his 2003 book Crow has just been reissued by Reaktion Books of London. His next book is Lizard forthcoming from Reaktion Books in October 2017.

Cover Art for the Chinese translation of City of Ravens (2017) and for Cultural Hybrids of (Post)Modernism (2017).

Dr. Christopher Loots’ article “Nada and Sunyata in ‘A Clean, Well-Lighted Place'” was published as a chapter in Cultural Hybrids of (Post)Modernism: Japanese and Western Literature, Art and Philosophy (2017), as part of the Critical Perspectives on English and American Literature, Communication and Culture series. The book is edited by Beatriz Penas-Ibáñez and Akiko Manabe.

Dr. Sean Dugan, who has long had an interest in so-called “mid-brow” literature and media and popular culture, recently presented his research on Edna Ferber, Calder Willingham, and the Earle Stanley Gardener character Perry Mason as represented in the TV series at the South Atlantic MLA (SAMLA) conference as well as the College English Association conference. He is currently working on a paper for SAMLA 2017 on TV Noir and The Twilight Zone episode “Perchance to Dream” by Charles Beaumont. He continues to do research into his other field of interest, linguistics, and in particular accent perception, English grammar, and syntax (some of which he will apply in the 2017-18 year as a Faculty Fellow working with Dr. Miriam Ford of the Mercy College Nursing Dept. on reading comprehension and fluency in first year college students). Dr. Dugan regularly teaches MA courses on Irish Literature, Henry James and D.H. Lawrence, Composition, and Narrative Strategy.

The 2016 Graduate English Symposium

On Saturday, May 14th, a few MA students, alumni, family members, program faculty, and the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts gathered together at Mercy College for the 2016 Graduate English “Writing Image Text” symposium. The symposium took place in Maher Hall, the headquarters for the School of Liberal Arts on the college’s Dobbs Ferry campus. Below are a few photos from and information about the event.


The two panels of presenters: seated, l-r, Dr. Miriam Gogol, Kit Gower, and Carol Mitchell; standing, l-r, Gloria Buckley, Nicholas Cialini, and Dr. Christopher Loots.

The MA program director, Dr. Loots, opened the symposium with welcomes and remarks, and then led the first panel sharing his research on “Entropy/Negentropy in Cormac McCarthy’s Fiction.” Gloria Buckley followed with her paper on “Whitman’s Free Verse: A Lyrical Embrace Shaped by Oration, Opera, Nature or War?” Nicholas Cialini, a recent alumnus and also now adjunct faculty in English at Mercy College, concluded the first panel with his study of “Eliot, The Eagles, Dylan, The Beatles: Modernism and Rock n’ Roll.”


Following a lunch break, Dr. Gogol led the second panel with a discussion of her forthcoming book project, a collection of essays on Dreiser and his representations of women workers, for which she is the editor and a contributor (Dr. Gogol is the founder of the International Theodore Dreiser Society and a leading scholar in the field). Kit Gower followed with her study of “The Philosopher’s Dog: How Animal Characters in Children’s Literature Act as Guides for Transformation.” Carol Mitchell concluded the day’s research presentations with her paper on “Henry James’ What Maisie Knew and D.H. Lawrence’s ‘The Rocking-Horse Winner’:The Financial Morality Behind a (Literary) Childhood.”


Below, Dean Jhashi (left) watches the second panel of presenters along with Dr. Dugan and Gloria.


Below, Kit and Carol prepare for their panel to begin. Presenting CAN be fun!


All in all, it was an afternoon filled with collegiality, ideas, good conversation and laughter. All of us here in the MA program and the greater School of Liberal Arts would like to thank all of our panelists and their guests for traveling to come together for this event. We look forward to seeing some and hopefully all of you again, as well as seeing some new faces, at next year’s 2017 symposium.

Writing/Image/Text Graduate English Symposium: Saturday 5/14

Writing Image Text 2016 Poster copy

Based on the responses that I received from students regarding availability and interest, on Saturday 5/14 the MA in English Literature program will be hosting a graduate English student symposium at Maher Hall on Mercy College’s Dobbs Ferry campus. A few students indicated that they could have made other dates/times, but 5/14 was the one that worked out for the majority of respondents. We have two current students and one alumnus scheduled to present a scholarly paper, and will have a few faculty sharing their scholarship as well. This will be a small, informal and friendly gathering to which all current and former students, as well as their friends and family, are invited. A catered lunch will be served compliments of the MA program. So if you’re anywhere within traveling distance that weekend and would like to come by and meet a few of the students and faculty from the program, please do (and please rsvp to if you plan to, so that I can get the size of the catering order correct).

Recent Publications of Mercy MA Faculty

Dr. Donald Morales is Professor Emeritus at Mercy College, where as a full professor he has taught courses in Caribbean, African, and African American literature. He was awarded the 2009 “Mercy College Online Teacher of the year” (awarded annually to one professor out of the hundreds who teach online at the college; the MA program has three such award-winners actively teaching in it). This month sees the publication of his latest work, “American ‘Migritude’: The Flight of Black British Artists to the United States,” which appears as a chapter in a book to be released in just a few days: Continental Shifts, Shifts in Perception: Black Cultures and Identities in Europe.

Final Cover Image to Share.jpg-1

Dr. Morales is widely published and highly-regard in his field. Some of his other many publications include: “Do Black Theater Institutions Translate into Great Drama?” in African American Review (31:4, 1997). “Post-Apartheid Theater,” in African Visions (2000). “The Pervasive Force of Music in African, Caribbean and African American Drama,” in Research in African Literature. (34:2, 2003). “Garcia Marquez in Film: His Image of Women,” in Hispanic Connection: Spanish and Spanish-American Literature in the Arts of the World (2004). “Current South African Theater: New Dilemmas” in African Diasporas: Ancestors, Migrations and Boundaries (2008). “August Wilson & Derek Walcott, a Conversation Moderated by Paul Carter Harrison,” in Black Renaissance Noire (9:2/3, 2009/2010). And “Contemporary African-American Drama: Trends in Diaspora Performance,” in Diaspora Representation and the Interweaving of Cultures (2013). Dr. Morales is currently a member of the New York Jazz Workshop and plays soprano saxophone.

Dr. Christopher Loots is currently the head of the MA program in which he teaches American literature, modernism, and modern expatriate literature. His article “‘That Inscrutable Thing’: Holography, Nonlocality, and Identity in American Romanticism” has just been published in the latest edition of Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science and Technology (24:1, 2016).


Other publications include “The MA of Hemingway: Interval, Absence, and Japanese Esthetics in In Our Time,” in The Hemingway Review (29:2, 2010), and “Wrinkles in Time: Tracing Joseph’s Trauma in Saul Bellow’s Dangling Man,” in Saul Bellow Journal (22:1, 2006). Research interests include interdisciplinary studies of American literature and science, and intercultural studies of American literature and Japanese religio-aesthetics. Currently he is completing a chapter for a collaborative book-project on Hemingway and Japanese aesthetics, to be published later in 2016, and is working on a study concerning entropy and negentropy in Cormac McCarthy’s fiction. Like Dr. Morales, Dr. Loots is also a winner of the “Mercy College Online Teacher of the Year Award.”

Recent Publications of Mercy MA Faculty

Dr. Boria Sax, who as many of you know teaches a wide range of literature in our program, is beyond the virtual classroom a renowned scholar on the topic of animals in literature, as well as of hermetic literature. He publishes frequently on these topics. Two of his more recent publications are Imaginary Animals: the Monstrous, the Wondrous, and the Human (ISBN: 1780231733) and City of Ravens: The Extraordinary History of London, the Tower, and its Ravens (ISBN: 9781590207772).


The publisher of Imaginary Animals writes: This book shows how, despite their liminal role, griffins, dog-men, mermaids, dragons, unicorns, yetis and many other imaginary creatures are socially constructed through the same complex play of sensuality and imagination as ‘real’ ones. It traces the history of imaginary animals from Palaeolithic art to the Harry Potter stories and robotic pets. These figures help us psychologically by giving form to our amorphous fears as ‘monsters’, as well as embodying our hopes as ‘wonders’. Nevertheless, their greatest service may be to continually challenge our imaginations, directing us beyond the limitations of our conventional beliefs and expectations.

And the publisher of City of Ravens writes: Boria Sax shows how our attitudes to the raven and to the natural world have changed enormously over the centuries. By describing the distinct place of this special bird in Western culture, he shows how blurred the lines between myth and history can be. This is a unique and brilliantly readable story of the entwined lives of people and animals.


Dr. David Kilpatrick, who in addition to having taught in the MA program since its inception is currently the Chair of the Dept. of Literature and Language in which our MA program is housed, is a diverse scholar of literature and philosophy. He is also a published poet, and his most recent publication is an epic poetic effort informed by the 2014 World Cup as much as by his life-long love for the beautiful game: Obrigado: A Futbal Epic (ISBN: 0996205802).

Dr. Kilpatrick provides the following: “Written as a response to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, each match becomes a poem and each poem from each match becomes one epic poem, a narrative of heroes and villains emerging as the tournament unfolds as and through poetry.  Obrigado is for lovers of poetry and lovers of the Beautiful Game. ” Or as it reads on the back cover: “64 games, 32 teams, 30 days, 65 poems, 1 epic.”

Obrigado also comes in the form of an audio CD  which Dr. Kilpatrick recorded himself.


Also worth looking into is Dr. Kilpatrick’s Writing with Blood: the Sacrificial Dramatist as Tragic Man (ISBN 8792633099). The publisher writes: tragic writing emerges as a representation of a sacrificial crisis that calls into question the human relation to the divine. The process of dramatization that exposes this crisis places the subject and language at risk. Writing with Blood explores the birth and death of the tragic subject in antiquity and the modernist reanimation of the sacrificial in Nietzsche, Bataille and Mishima.