Category Archives: Student News

Creative Writers Take Note: Our College Literary Journal Still Needs Prose, Re-Opens Submission Window through 12/3.

Mercy College’s literary journal, Red Hyacinth, is re-opening its submission window through Monday December 3rd in hopes of securing more student submissions in the area of prose (fiction and nonfiction). The editors are full-up with poetry submissions but there’s been a dearth of prose submissions, and so the editors are hoping that students (particularly our graduate English students) will rise to this new call for prose and submit something before the end of Monday 12/3. So, if you have a short story, or an excerpt from a longer creative work, or an experimental prose-piece, or any sort of creative non-fiction (really any prose other than scholarship as this is a creative journal and not a scholarly one) well get it together this weekend and send it to the journal editors at:

Further details about the submission requirements can be found by clicking here but basically if you’ve got a piece of short fiction or creative non-fiction the MA program faculty strongly encourage you to send it to the editors and see what happens.

Keep in mind that getting a work published in a collegiate literary journal would provide you with a line-item to list in the publication section of your curriculum vitae.

Call for Creative Writing Submissions: Red Hyacinth Journal of Mercy College

Creative writers in the MA program take note: the Red Hyacinth journal of Mercy College is currently accepting submissions for publication-consideration for the 2018-19 edition. The journal was brought into reality last year by Dr. Keckler, who continues to lead the design and editorial team working on the journal. Last year there were several submissions from MA students and a few of those made it into the publication. We here strongly encourage any creative writers in the program to submit something for consideration. Let’s represent. The deadline for the current round of submissions is November 15. Submissions guidelines and instructions can be found on the journal site, linked here.

Call for Papers: NEMLA 2019 Panel

Mary Reading, a colleague of our Dr. Fritz, is chairing a panel at the 2019 NEMLA convention on the topic of: “In, Beyond, Between Bodies: Transgender Identity through Interpersonal Spaces in Visual Media.” The call for papers (CFP) for potential panelists is open until September 30. You can learn more about the CFP, including contact info and submission guidelines, here on the UPENN bulletin board (which if you didn’t know is pretty much where everyone in the profession goes to look for CFPs since the UPENN board collates CFPs from around the country and world.) You can learn more about the 2019 NEMLA convention here. Any Mercy grad students working in this area of inquiry (or interested in working in this area of inquiry) and who can be in Washington DC in March 2019 to attend the convention should put together a paper proposal and submit it before the deadline. Any questions about the panel should be directed to Mary Reading at:

2018 Thesis of the Year, and Christie Bowl Program Honoree.

The MA program now has two distinctions that it awards in May at the end of the annual school-cycle: the Thesis of the Year award, and the just-inaugurated Christie Bowl Program Honoree award.

All theses completed for ENGL 599 Master’s Thesis Tutorial courses during the summer and fall of 2017 and spring of 2018 were eligible for the Thesis of the Year title. The final paper is selected by program faculty who have no thesis students’ papers in the running, and who read over drafts of thesis papers from which the authors’ names as well as mentor’s names have been removed.

The winner of the 2018 Thesis of the Year award is Matthew Christoff for his paper “Surrealism and the Dissociation of Internal and External Experience.” 

The Christie Bowl Program Honoree award is named for the late Joannes Christie who established and for a long time chaired Mercy College’s English Department. The annual awarding of a Christie Bowl (it is an actual bowl) to an undergraduate English program-honoree has long been a tradition at Mercy College. The Dean of the School of Liberal Arts, Dr. Tamara Jhashi, has created this graduate award to extend the distinction into our graduate program. The award, selected by the combined graduate faculty, recognizes one graduating person for her or his outstanding academic excellence and contributions to the MA program, to our graduate learning community, over the course of her or his time in the program.

The winner of the 2018 Christie Bowl is Gloria Buckley.

I hope everyone in the program will join the faculty in congratulating Matthew and Gloria. These were not easy decisions for the faculty to make, as the quality of theses produced across the 599 sections each year is exceptional; and all of our graduating class each year demonstrates excellence. As we recognize Matthew and Gloria let us also recognize all members of the graduating MA class of 2017-18 for their hard work and dedication.

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.

More info on Joining Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honors Society

Hi all, in response to my post from 2/12 a number of you have already been in contact with Dr. Horton about joining Sigma Tau Delta. Great! Here’s some more information about the organization, the membership process, and, for anyone who can attend, the induction ceremony:

Sigma Tau Delta was established in 1924 to confer distinction for high achievement in English language, literature, and writing. It now includes 825 chapters in the United States and abroad. Membership in this prestigious honor society is something you can list on your resume under “professional organizations” and membership will also provide you with resources and networking opportunities in our field of English. To be eligible graduate students must be actively enrolled in a graduate program, have completed six credits of graduate coursework, and have a minimum 3.3 GPA.


Lifetime membership requires a one-time fee of $40. If you are eligible and would like to join, please submit a $40 check or money order made out to Mercy College. (Just to be clear, we send the entirety of this fee to Sigma Tau Delta, but the college collects all fees and then cuts one check to send on behalf of our college’s Alpha Alpha Phi chapter. Any check or money order that is not made out to Mercy College will be returned to you as we will not be able to deposit it).

When writing a check or money order include your name and Mercy ID# in the memo-line of the check. Mail (or hand deliver) the check or money order to:

Dr. Dana Horton
Mercy College
Maher Hall #208
555 Broadway
Dobbs Ferry NY 10522

Students may also pay in cash but you cannot send cash through the mail. You must hand-deliver cash to Dr. Horton or to the department administrator, Linda Dubiell, in Maher Hall on the Dobbs Ferry campus.

The deadline for receiving this payment of $40 is Tuesday, March 20, 2018.


Inductees, along with family and friends, are cordially invited to Mercy College’s Honors Day Induction Ceremony taking place on Tuesday, May 8, 2018, beginning at 5:00pm in Lecture Hall on Dobbs Ferry campus with a dinner reception to follow in the Main Hall Cafe. There is no limit to the number of guests you may invite; we only ask you to let Dr. Horton know now how many will attend so that we can order adequate catering. Attendance at the May ceremony is not required for membership.

We of the English literature faculty at Mercy College hope that you will join the Alpha Alpha Phi chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, a tradition here at Mercy College since 1991. If you have questions, please reach out to Dr. Dana Horton at

Interested in Joining the English Honors Society, Sigma Tau Delta?

If you’re interested in joining Sigma Tau Delta, which is the International English Honors Society, registration is about to open. To be eligible graduate students must be actively enrolled in a graduate program, have completed six credits of graduate coursework, and have a minimum 3.3 GPA. Dr. Dana Horton ( is the Sigma Tau coordinator this year and is the one to contact about this, but please let me know as well if you intend to join ( There is a one-time membership fee, the payment of which you would coordinate with Dr. Horton. A Sigma Tau induction ceremony takes place at the end of each spring semester on the Dobbs Ferry campus. Inductees and any families/friends are invited and encouraged to attend though attendance is not required for membership.

Call for Submissions (Creative Writing) for the Mercy College English Journal

All creative writers in the MA program take note: we’re currently accepting submissions for potential publication in a new Mercy College English journal, Red Hyacinth, which our own Dr. Keckler has been designing along with other faculty and in coordination with our college’s Arts & Design faculty. The deadline for the current round of submissions is November 15. Click here to download the submission guidelines and instructions. You can also click here to download a higher-quality PDF of the poster pictured above.

To find out more about the journal click here to visit the journal’s website.

Recent MA Student Achievements and Activity

I’d like to take a moment here as July turns into August, as our summer semester comes to an end and we begin looking to the fall semester and the new school year, to congratulate some of our program’s alumni and current students on various achievements and related scholarly activities.

First we’ve had a number of MA students and alumni gain acceptance into doctoral and MFA programs over the past year:

  • Amy Lou Ahava (MA 2015) was accepted into the PhD program at Marquette University.
  • Angie Still (MA 2014) was accepted into multiple PhD programs and of them plans to attend the PhD program at Texas Woman’s University.
  • Krystal Johnson (MA 2015) was accepted into the doctoral program at St. John’s Fisher College.
  • Gloria Buckley (active student, MA 2018) was accepted into the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) MFA creative writing program and also into the Faulkner University doctoral program.

Again, congratulations! I’m always hoping to hear from all of our alumni and active students about any such news or accomplishments, and hope that anyone with anything to share will contact me at We want our grad students and alumni to stay in touch and keep us updated on your doings, and hope that you all always will.

Of course moving on from the MA to a subsequent degree isn’t everyone’s goal. Many of our grad students are here for the MA as the end-goal in and of itself. I talk about some of the reasons the MA is a good degree in and of itself, and of the doors that the MA alone might open for you in last year’s annual welcome letter. Many of you, particularly our active secondary-school teachers, know that the MA degree on its own can be critically important for aspects of your job.

But for those who do see the MA degree as one step in a path toward a future doctoral or MFA program, I hope that you will find inspiring this news of the success of some of our students.

Now then! For grad students who aspire to doctoral study and particularly for those who hope to eventually secure some sort of college professorship, you may want to start thinking now about the scholarship section of your CV and start engaging, as much as you like and want, in the professional flow of the academic field. You don’t have to at this point: PhD programs are where you really would start getting serious about this stuff, not MA programs. But again, you may want to start at l east thinking about this while you’re here in the MA program. The “stuff” I’m talking about is attending and ultimately reading papers at conventions, conferences or symposiums. If that sounds like fun, well read on. If it sounds like something you’d rather not bother with or think about at this point in your studies, no worries.

One easy and very low-stakes way to get involved in such professional practice is to participate in our MA program symposium at the end of each school year (in May). But academic events are taking place all year round, some almost certainly within reasonable travel distance of wherever you’re living and reading this right now. The main place where English students and faculty find out about such upcoming events, and try to get involved in ones that look interesting, is UPenn’s “Call for Papers” (CFP) bulletin board linked here.

In recent exchanges with current MA student Lynn Whitehead I learned about a flurry of such activity that she’s been involved with this summer: from attending F. Scott Fitzgerald scholar Anne Margaret Daniel’s book reading in Woodstock NY, to listening to various presentations at the American Lit. Association (ALA) annual conference in Boston, to attending the annual F. Scott Fitzgerald Society Conference in Minnesota. Lynn took the time at each event to seek out and discuss ideas with various presenters, and as a result has made a number of helpful contacts. Several scholars she spoke with encouraged her to take the next step up from attending conferences and to present at conferences, and she’s already putting together proposals to do just that.

I share with you Lynn’s activities this spring and summer as an example of how any student in the program can (and if you aspire toward a doctoral program and/or professorship should) get involved in the professional current of our English field. You can do this no matter where you live in the world: start by seeking out conferences within a reasonable drive and just go and attend them. Make a day or weekend trip out of it. See how it goes, listen to panels, get a sense of what it’s like to be at a conference. Don’t be afraid to chat with people around you. Then check out the Upenn CFP page linked above and, look for CFPs that are in the area of your interests, and send out some paper proposals. Eventually something will work out and you’ll find yourself a part of a presentation panel at a conference.

So once again congrats Amy, Angie, Krystal, Gloria, Lynn, and everyone else in the program who’s been up to something similar but just hasn’t told me about it (in which case TELL me about it so I can share it in a future blog post!).



Wrap-Up: W.I.T (Writing Image Text) 2017 MA English Symposium

This past Tuesday 5/16 we held our 2017 W.I.T. graduate English program symposium here in Maher Hall on our Dobbs Ferry campus. It was a lot of fun, and the audience got to hear a number of scholarly and creative works by graduate students and faculty.

Maher Hall: home of the undergraduate and graduate English programs, English faculty offices, and the office of the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts; location of the graduate English symposium.

For our first panel three graduate students presented scholarly work. Gloria Buckley read her piece titled “Virginia Woolf’s Orlando: A Landscape Love Story Transcending All Borders,” in which she discussed the love and relationship of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West as bespoken by Orlando. Lynn Leibowitz-Whitehead presented “Hemingway, ‘The Greatest Writer of His Time’; With a Little Help from His Friends: An Examination of Fitzgerald’s Influence on Hemingway’s Writing Career.” Lynn’s study traced out some of the ways that Hemingway’s success was resultant from invaluable support of others, support which Hemingway tried to obscure and erase after gaining fame. Matthew Christoff then presented his study “Symbolism in the Sierra Morena Mountains” in which he unpacked the deep relevance of events taking place in those mountains to understanding the meanings within Cervantes’ Don Quixote.

The first panel, left to right: Dr. Christopher Loots (moderator); Gloria Buckley, Lynn Leibowitz-Whitehead, Matthew Christoff.

For our second panel MA program alumna and current Mercy adjunct professor Carol Mitchell was joined by the Chair of the Dept. of Literature & Language, Dr. Celia Reissig-Vasile, and the Head of Undergrad English, Dr. Kristen Keckler, for a panel of creative non-fiction presentations. Carol read her work “On the Car Radio” in which she reflected movingly on her youth, family, father, and the passing of these things through the nodal points of songs heard on the car radio when young. Dr. Keckler then read her piece “Mixology, Metaphor, and Memory: What Bartending Taught Me about Writing,” in which she sounded out the (often hilarious) resonance between life behind the bar and life behind the the pen. Dr. Reissig-Vasile then concluded the panel by reading from her work “Where Oblivion Shall not Dwell,” as published in the collection Home: An Imagined Landscape. Dr. Reissig-Vasile’s piece involved stories of her experiences with movement, emigration, and all around change; with some of the many different referents for “home” that she’s known through her life.

The second panel, left to right: Carol Mitchell, Dr. Kristen Keckler, Dr. Celia Reissig-Vasile.

The Dean of the School of Liberal Arts Dr. Tamara Jhashi attended, as did the Associate Dean Dr. Richard Medoff and several other faculty members both from within the program (Dr. Sean Dugan, Dr. Boria Sax) and from other programs (Dr. Saul Fisher). Graduate students Tara Farber and Lynne Fortunado attended as well, and some friends/family of the presenters were present too. Overall the event evidenced high-quality scholarship and writing, and the presentations engendered much thought and good collegial conversation. On the practical side our presenters earned a line-item to include on the scholarship section of their CV which is an essential pursuit for anyone seeking a PhD or other professional path in higher education beyond the MA program.

Thank you to everyone who attended. I look forward to seeing some/all of you again next year for the 2018 symposium, and encourage anyone who wasn’t there this year to consider attending in 2018 whether to present, or simply to gather with others from your scholarly community.