Category Archives: Student News

Attention students and alumni: please complete this program survey!

Every five years, as a part of Mercy College’s accreditation, the MA English Lit program is required to perform a “program self-study.” This involves the Program Director gathering together data and other info, including student & alumni feedback, and then reflecting with the MA faculty and college administrators on what these elements reveal. The goal is to identify where the program is succeeding, and where it needs improvement, based on what we learn from the “self study.”

Few things are as meaningful and as valuable for these purposes as student feedback, so please, if you’re an incoming student, active student, or alum, take some time and complete the survey linked here. Complete as much of it as makes sense (you don’t need to answer every question) and then click the submit button down at the bottom. Your voice is so important and so I hope that each of you will raise your voice and express yourself through the survey.

Survey responses are anonymous.

The direct link to the survey form, in case your browser is blocking the embedded link above is: https://forms.gle/poVC759f93VWpgef8

Any questions about the survey? Please write to cloots@mercy.edu.

Call for Applications: FALL 2022 English Learning Assistants (formerly known as Teaching Assistants)

We are now accepting applications for fall 2022 online English Learning Assistants (ELAs). This is the next-step in the evolution of our graduate teaching-assistantship program.

The deadline for submitting the required materials is: July 1, 2022.

Details about the ELA position’s responsibilities and requirements, and pay, as well as detailed instructions for applying, are in the PDF linked here.

All questions regarding the ELA position and application process should be directed to Emily Cunningham, Assistant Program Director of IREPO, at: ecunningham3@mercy.edu

Experience as an ELA can be a valuable line-item in a curriculum vitae. And assisting in a classroom will provide a first-hand look at, and real-time experience with, how an actual college composition course unfolds over a semester. We strongly encourage anyone in the MA program who hopes to pursue a PhD, or to teach at all in the future, to apply.

ELA positions are limited.

Year-End Events and Honors: Symposium, Student Awards, and Commencement

It’s the end of the academic year, which means it’s time to celebrate! One way we celebrate, as a graduate community, is with the annual graduate student symposium, which this year was held live-online at the end of April. Eight grad students presented a variety of scholarly and creative work. Four graduate faculty members moderated the different sessions. Other program faculty, and an Associate Provost of the college, were in attendance, as were a number of other active MA students and alumni. It was an interesting, idea-filled, and collegial event. Click the banner below to see the program for the event, and to get a look at the topics on which students presented:

Another way we celebrate the end of the academic year is by awarding four different program distinctions. The first of these is the Graduate English Christie Bowl, named for the late Joannes Christie who established and long chaired Mercy College’s English Program. The award, determined by the collective graduate faculty, recognizes one graduating student for their consistent academic excellence and classroom performance throughout their time in the graduate program, their other contributions to the program’s scholarly learning community, and their relevant accomplishments beyond the program.

  • The winner of the 2022 Graduate English Christie Bowl is Cera Bryant Fornataro 

Next is the Howard Canaan Thesis Award for Innovation. This award honors the late Dr. Canaan, a long-time and highly-esteemed professor of English at Mercy College who (among many other things) taught Shakespeare and Science Fiction, and advocated that the latter could be as meaningful an area of study, could be as “literary” and as significant, as the former. This award recognizes a thesis that does one or some of the following: approaches literary analysis in a unique, unexpected, or unusual way; reconsiders and otherwise treats with dignity genre fiction; or involves interdisciplinary studies.

  • The winner of the 2022 Howard Canaan Thesis Award for Innovation is John Alleman for his study “Revision and Women in a Selection of Alan Moore’s Comics”

Next we have the Thesis Award for English Studies. “English Studies” is an encompassing term that includes literary study and traditional literary pursuits but also enfolds wider practices in the field of English such as: theory, linguistics, writing, and rhetoric; inquiring into research practices, into English curriculum and canon, and into the teaching of English; exploring aspects of digital literacy; and more. This thesis award therefore recognizes an exceptional thesis that tends to the intra-disciplinary thresholds within the field of English.

  • The winner of the 2022 Thesis Award for English Studies is Melissa Lizotte for her study “Empowering Student Writers: A Genre Approach to Teaching the College Admissions Essay”

Lastly we have the overall Thesis of the Year Award. Selecting one study for this award, as much as for any of the thesis awards, is always extraordinarily difficult, as thesis students across the program regularly create excellent studies that are each worthy in their own right. The paper receiving this distinction stood out in all respects.

  • The winner of the 2022 Thesis of the Year Award is Cera Bryant Fornataro for her study “Intersectional Mysticism: Tarot, Hoodoo, Folk Magic, and the Working Conjure Woman in Select Works by Sandra Cisneros and Zora Neale Hurston.”

It is always a strange thing to announce such distinctions as when doing so one can’t help but think of the marvelous students and studies that are not the ones named. Again, it is extraordinarily difficult for faculty judges to locate any single person to honor for any of these awards out of the many exceptional students graduating each year from our program and the college overall. So as we recognize these honorees let us please also recognize all members of the graduating MA class of 2021-22 for their hard work and dedication that has gotten them to this moment of completing their MA degree in English Literature.

One final way we celebrate the end of the academic year is with commencement. Mercy College held five different commencements over the course of the past week, one for each of Mercy’s five schools (Liberal Arts, Health & Natural Sciences, Social & Behavioral Sciences, Education, and Business). The School of Liberal Arts, in which our MA program is housed, held commencement this past Wednesday. A good number of graduate English students were in attendance and walked in the procession. Below is a shot of the 100-yard tent on the western athletic field under which the event was held, this taken a few hours prior to the ceremony.

Cheers to everyone in the MA English Literature program, to our alumni, and to all of your family and friends. Congratulations to our graduating class of 2021-22. I hope that everyone will do something special, something nice for yourselves, to celebrate in your own way the end of the academic year, and the start of the summer. Onward!

Info about the SLA Graduation (Commencement) Ceremony on 5/18

This Wednesday, 5/18, the School of Liberal Arts (SLA) will hold its graduation commencement ceremony on the Dobbs Ferry campus. Below you can see the tent being set up for the event on the western athletic field.

For any graduating students traveling to campus to attend here are a few things you should know:

First, the SLA event runs from 2pm to 4pm. Earlier that day, from 10am to noon, is the School of Business’s (SBUS) commencement ceremony. No one knows if the two hour window between the two events will be adequate for the SBUS attendees to exit the campus to clear the venue and parking spots for the SLA attendees arriving. This is the first time the college is holding commencement at the Dobbs Ferry campus so there are a lot of unknowns. The college’s other schools are holding their commencement ceremonies on other days this week.

Anyone who has registered for commencement should have received a temporary parking permit. You must have a parking permit to drive onto the campus. Security will turn you around at the campus entrance otherwise. If you have registered for the event but have not received a temp parking permit, contact cloots@mercy.edu immediately. FYI the Ardsley on Hudson Metro North station, on the MTA Hudson River Line, is just through those trees on the right side of the above image.

There will be coffee, water, snacks, bathrooms, and a place for our graduating MA English students (and other SLA students) and their families to sit prior to the event in the Gratia Maher Hall conference room. The room will be open from about 11:45am until about 1:30pm. Faculty will be moving in and out of the building that day in preparation for the ceremony, but you might see a few familiar faces in passing if you’re sitting in Maher Hall that afternoon.

Of course you don’t need to attend commencement to actually graduate. Commencement is a purely ceremonial event. Everyone who has met all of the requirements for the MA degree will be conferred their degree this month. Your physical diploma will be mailed out later, over the summer, but you will officially hold the MA degree once it has been conferred by the Registrar of the college. Any questions write to cloots@mercy.edu.

Grad-Student Editors Needed for Red Hyacinth, The Mercy College Literary Magazine. [Updated 9/29]


Update: Red Hyacinth Journal editorial positions for the 2022 issue have been filled. The Department thanks everyone for their interest. Please keep an eye out for a “call for submissions” sometime in early-to-mid October.

Very soon there will be a call for creative-writing submissions to the college’s literary magazine, Red Hyacinth. Before that, though, the faculty who manage the journal need to assemble a team of student-editors. In the past this has been comprised mostly of undergraduate majors working in an actual office on campus. However this year, since the collaborative editing work can take place through zoom and other online platforms, the managing faculty are hoping to involve our graduate English Literature students on the student-editing team. If you’re interested in volunteering, here’s what you should know:

About Red Hyacinth

Red Hyacinth Journal is an annually published, perfect-bound literary magazine that showcases the writing and art of Mercy College students and alum. The journal’s first issue was produced in 2018 through the generosity of the family of the late Professor Valerie Lewis, a former instructor in the English program, and the creative writing fund established in her name.  Over the past few issues, Red Hyacinth has featured the creative work of over 200 graduate and undergraduate students from across many majors and disciplines. Student editors from the Departments of Literature and Language and Communication and the Arts collaborate on the editorial decisions, design, and concept. The journal’s student editors receive hands-on experience in the editorial and production processes as they select the work (poetry, drama, nonfiction, fiction, and art) in a blind-review process, prepare the magazine for press, and communicate with the college community regarding its release. The journal’s website can be found at https://redhyacinthjournal.wordpress.com/ 

As we put together a 5th annual issue (2022) we are looking to assemble an all-volunteer staff of Editors. Many literary magazines are produced by not-for-profit entities such as colleges and art collectives, and as such, most rely on an all-volunteer staff. While the positions are not compensated, the Editors’ names appear in the Masthead of the journal and editorial service can be listed on one’s CV and referenced in job interviews. Serving as an editor provides a graduate or undergraduate student with invaluable, relevant hands-on experience in editing, publishing, and arts administration, and allows one to make an important contribution to the Mercy Community, one that will endure for years to come. The journal is a “living” artifact, representing not only the students and editors who collaborate on an issue, but the challenges and aesthetics of the time the journal was produced in.  

We are looking for reliable, dedicated volunteers to fill the following positions for the 2021-22 academic year. The positions start immediately and generally run until June 2022. All positions will currently operate remotely,and applicants must have access to a computer, Zoom, reliable Internet, and the ability to meet once or twice a month to collaborate with other editors; some daytime availability is preferred for meetings. Editors cannot publish their own work in the issue they are serving on. If interested, please send your resume and a brief letter starting your interest to Dr. Kristen Keckler, kkeckler1@mercy.edu.

Below are more details about specific Editor positions. Positions will be filled as soon as possible. Hours vary; it is a significant time commitment, but one that is spread over many months so that it is manageable.

1 Managing Editor 

The Managing Editor position will manage the day-to-day operations of the literary journal for one cycle/issue, with the opportunity for renewal for another issue cycle if the candidate so desires. The Managing Editor will coordinate with the content and design editors to ensure that the team stays on task and that deadlines and benchmarks are met at key junctures in the production schedule. The position requires strong organizational skills and ability to create effective spreadsheets using Google.  

Responsibilities include: 

  • Manage the email and Google drive for the journal 
  • Communicate with students/alum who submit to the journal 
  • Create spreadsheets to track submissions and ensure a blind submission process (submissions will be numbered and all identifying information removed from the submission and tracked in the spreadsheet). 
  • Create and monitor Google doc for Content Editors to mark as they review submissions 
  • Call and manage editorial meetings 
  • Communicate with faculty advisor about progress  
  • Update the journal’s website with relevant deadlines 
  • Ensure names of contributors are correctly reflected in journal and titles of pieces are accurate 

2 to 3 Content Editors 

Content Editors will review submissions in various written genres (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, etc.) and determine the artistic merit/potential of each piece and its suitability for the issue of the journal.  

Content Editors’ responsibilities include: 

  • attending Zoom meetings to discuss the submissions and decide on which content is most suitable for the issue in terms of showcasing a variety of themes, styles, voices, and genres.  
  • collaborating to decide on the order and “arc” of the journal’s creative work, deciding on, for example, which pieces have connections that can be highlighted through juxtaposition and ordering 
  • assisting in light copy editing and review of proofs for errors/omissions 
  • assisting with outreach to classes and potential contributors about the journal 
  • other assistance as needed from faculty advisor and managing editor 

Seeking Grad-Student Peer-Mentors for Newer MA Program Students

During the chat following this year’s Graduate English Symposium, some students mentioned that it might be useful practice for incoming grad students to be put in touch with students a bit further along in the graduate program. Students with more experience in the program might be able to offer advice, answer questions, recommend courses, and just be a friendly peer-resource for incoming students. The Program Director serves as the faculty advisor to every student in the program, but peer-mentoring (as we’ll call this) has proven to be beneficial in many fields, especially in education, and experienced students can invariably provide a different perspective on the program than anything a faculty advisor might be able to provide.

If you’re an MA student who was completed at least twelve credits in the program and if you’d like to be a peer-mentor to a newer MA student, please write to cloots@mercy.edu. In your email specify if you would be available for email contact, phone contact, or even zoom contact. Do not feel obligated to make yourself available for any medium beyond what you’re comfortable and happy to do. Alumni are also welcome to volunteer for this. Please make the subject-line of your email PEER MENTORING.

If you’re an incoming or newer student (or really are just any MA student who would like to be put in contact with a program-peer) then write to cloots@mercy.edu. Indicate if you would prefer email, phone, or zoom contact. Again, please make the subject of your email PEER MENTORING.

Near the start of the semester (which begins on 9/8) I will share here an “annual welcome” post and will include in it a view on how the peer-mentoring response is shaping up. Thank you, all.

YEAR-END NOTES: SYMPOSIUM IN REVIEW; PROGRAM AWARDS

The 2020-21 school year, now coming to a close, has been a strange one. Although our MA program experienced no pandemic-related curriculum disruptions due to us having long been delivering fully-online education, still each of us, student and faculty alike, had to find ways to focus on our work and studies while enduring and in many ways suffering through this global pandemic. It has been….a difficult year for everyone. Hopefully being a part of this graduate learning community, and working toward your MA degree in one another’s company, has enriched your lives and brought you some calm over this past year.

One of the ways we celebrate the end of the school year is with the Writing Image Text (W.I.T) Graduate English Symposium. This year’s symposium was held on Saturday, May 1, live online. Over twenty-five attendees made up of current graduate students, alumni, prospective students, faculty, and the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts gathered together to hear a variety of graduate student presentations. To see the event program listing the presenters and their presentation titles, click the banner below.

Good times were had. All feedback so far suggests that the presenters found the experience meaningful and invigorating. We already have presenters from this year declaring their intent to again present next year. Next year’s symposium will mix together campus-based panels with live-online panels, and this is how the format will be henceforth. The event will therefore always be accessible to all of our students and alumni, wherever you are in the world. If you can make it to the campus, though, you’ll get catered food!

Another way we celebrate the end of the school year is with the awarding of three MA English Literature program honors: the Thesis of the Year award, The Howard Canaan Thesis Award for Innovation, and the Graduate English Christie Bowl (program honoree) award.

All theses produced during an ENGL 599 thesis tutorial during the summer or fall 2020, and spring 2021, were considered for the Thesis of the Year Award. As always, selecting just one study from the group of over twenty qualified theses, each one excellent in its own unique way, was extraordinarily difficult. The final study was selected by a faculty panel with no students’ papers in the running.

  • The winner of the 2021 Thesis of the Year award is Lisa Irving for her paper: “Work It: The Black Feminist Body-Language of Missy Elliot, Janie Crawford, and the Shumalite Woman.”

The Howard Canaan Thesis Award for Innovation, now in its second year, is awarded to a thesis that does one or some of the following: approaches literary analysis in a unique, unexpected, or unusual way; reconsiders and otherwise treats with dignity genre fiction; or involves interdisciplinary studies. The award was created to honor the late Dr. Howard Canaan, who taught English literature at Mercy College for over thirty years, and who in addition to being a Shakespeare scholar was also a scholar of science fiction, and an advocate for the literary significance and value of genre fiction.

  • The winner of the 2021 Howard Canaan Thesis Award for Innovation is Kari O’Driscoll for her thesis “The Modern Witch in Contemporary Fiction: Why She Persists and Why She Matters.”

The third distinction that the MA program awards each year is the Graduate English Christie Bowl, named for the late Joannes Christie who established and long chaired Mercy College’s English Program. The award, determined by the collective graduate faculty, recognizes one graduating student for their consistent academic excellence and classroom performance throughout their time in the graduate program, their other work and contributions to the program’s scholarly learning community, and their relevant accomplishments beyond the program.

  • The winner of the 2021 Graduate English Christie Bowl is Kristen Vasquez.

It is always a strange thing to announce such distinctions as when doing so one can’t help but think of all of the marvelous students who are not the ones named. So as we recognize these honorees let us please also recognize all members of the graduating MA class of 2020-21 for their hard work and dedication. Congratulations, everyone.

Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet: online Performance and Interactive Event

As a part of the Mercy College English Program’s annual Christie Day Shakespeare celebration, Red Bull Theater’s virtual production of Romeo and Juliet will take place on Thursday, May 6th from 12-1:25pm. They will start with a 10-minute warm-up at 12pm, and the livestream will go from 12:10-1:10pm. They’ll finish up with a talkback from 1:10-1:25pm.

To receive the zoom link please email the Program Director at cloots@mercy.edu. For any other questions about the event please email Dr. Jessica Ward (jward16@mercy.edu).

Some things to know: 

  1. Please sign-in with Mercy College listed in your Zoom Box. Once in the main Zoom space, you will be asked to re-name yourself with your first name and pronouns. Please be sure to do this, especially if you wish to participate in the warm-up and/or talkback. The livestream is in a Zoom Webinar, so cameras will be disabled throughout and audio and Q&A privileges will only be enabled before and after the performance.

     
  2. To protect all participants and the actors, be advised that those who abuse Zoom functions or become a distraction will be dismissed from the Zoom spaces.

     
  3. The show is a livestream, but the actors appear safely in individual Zoom boxes. Through the talents of Red Bull’s production team, there is a beautiful and cohesive aesthetic created that unifies the actors through backgrounds, sound, props, and costume. Enjoy the innovative theater magic!

     
  4. The cast is made-up of a 5-member ensemble. Besides the actors playing Juliet and Romeo, the other 3 actors double, triple, and quadruple roles. The script is the original Shakespearean text but cut from “two-hours traffic of our stage” to just 1 hour.

     
  5. The performance is a webinar, so each viewer’s microphone and camera will be auto-disabled (except when adjusted by the host– which will happen during the warm-up and talkback).  

We can’t wait to see you there!  

Graduate Teaching Assistants for Spring 2021- Now Accepting Applications

This fall semester we were able to employ three graduate English students as Teaching Assistants (TA) in online undergraduate courses, there to assist the instructor of record in a number of different ways. We are now accepting applications for those interested in securing a TA position for spring 2021. We anticipate being able to employ at least three TAs again in the spring, and possibly more if we can secure funding through the federal CARES act in good time. We are hoping for a strong response to this call for TAs since the stronger the response, the more likely we are to receive more funding for TA positions.

Experience as a TA can be a valuable line-item in a curriculum vitae. And assisting in an online classroom will provide a first-hand look at how an actual college English course unfolds over a semester. TA positions are excellent experiential opportunities for anyone who aspires to teach at any level. For anyone who is already an active or experienced teacher, TA positions offer you a chance to use your expertise to make a significant positive impact on the development of undergraduate students who very much need your help.

Duties of the TA vary from class to class depending on the needs of the instructor. For more information, including qualifications for holding a TA position, consult the TA guidelines linked here. Review as well the TA Netiquette form linked here.

TAs this fall semester are working 3 paid hours per week (remotely) and making $15/hour. The semester is 15 weeks long so the pay for the semester is $675. We anticipate that the situation will be the same in spring 2021. The pay is therefore minimal. The real value of the TA position is the experience it provides.

To apply for a spring 2021 TA position send an email to cloots@mercy.edu by the end of Wednesday November 25, using the subject line ENGLISH TA APPLICATION, and with the following materials attached:

  1. Resume
  2. The name of one MA faculty member who will recommend you (we will check with the faculty member to confirm their recommendation; make sure you establish with that person beforehand if she or he will recommend you).
  3. A short statement of purpose, just a paragraph or two (between 200 and 400 words) expressing why you are interested in being a TA at Mercy College.
  4. A short statement of your philosophy of teaching, just a paragraph or two (between 200 and 400 words).
  5. The completed activity linked here.

If you applied earlier this year for a TA position but were not offered a position you can resubmit, if you like, the same materials you submitted previously. If you are currently working as a TA you can apply again for the spring, but because our priority with these positions is giving as many students as possible a chance to be a TA, current TAs will be prioritized after other applicants. If our funding initiatives work out as we hope, though, we may be able to offer many TA positions, potentially as many as we have applicants. So we encourage everyone who is at all interested in this opportunity to apply.

Please send any questions to cloots@mercy.edu. Thank you.

 

 

Student ID Cards: How to Get One [Updated]

About a year ago a student in the MA program pointed out that there was no way for a distance-learning student to get an ID Card: our security office refused to mail them and also would not let you send a proxy to pick one up on your behalf. You could only get an ID card if you traveled to a physical campus. This was egregious practice since student ID cards are necessary to get into places like research libraries, or to take advantage of student discounts; and anyway distance-learners are entitled to an ID card as a part of your tuition, sure as is any other student here. It took a long time for us to get the right people at the college to listen, but thanks largely to the tenacity of this one student they finally did. I was told this morning that the first ID card is being put in a mailer today to go to the student. So we now have a method in place [updated] for any and all distance learners in the MA English program to secure a student ID.

If you are an active MA student and you want a student ID card, here is what you do:

Using your @Mercy.edu email (only) please send a photo of your face along with your full first name, last name, and college ID number (your eight-digit CWID) to Jamie Funigiello at: JFunigiello@mercy.edu

Full photo guidelines are:

  • Submit a color photo of just your face taken in last 6 months
  • Have someone else take your photo – no selfies
  • Submit a high-resolution photo that is not blurry, grainy, or pixelated
  • Use a clear and unedited image of your face; do not use filters such as those commonly used on social media
  • Face the camera directly with full face in view
  • Have a neutral facial expression or a natural smile, with both eyes open
  • Use a plain white or off-white background

Let Jamie know you are a distance-learning graduate student in the MA English Lit program and you would like a student ID card. He will explain the process and get you the card. And if you are in a class with Jim Kaufman you might say thanks, since he’s the one whose determination here made this happen.