Category Archives: Student News

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.

Year End Honors: Thesis of the Year, Howard Canaan Thesis Award, Program Honoree, Online Student of the Year

At the end of each school year the MA English Literature program and Mercy College overall award a number of distinctions to students and faculty. I would like to share the results of these here with our graduate program community.

One such college-wide distinction is the Mercy College Online Student of the Year, chosen from thousands of eligible students across all Mercy programs by a college-wide committee of faculty and administrators. The award bespeaks academic accomplishments both in the classroom and beyond. For the second year in a row that rare distinction has been awarded to one of our own, an MA English graduate student.

  • The winner of the 2020 Mercy College Online Student of the Year Award is Cornelius Fortune.

The MA program itself traditionally awards two annual distinctions: the Thesis of the Year award, and the Graduate English Christie Bowl (program honoree) award. This year we are introducing a third distinction which will become an annual practice: The Howard Canaan Thesis Award for Innovation. Before I get to sharing with you the names of the people recognized for these three awards, I want to introduce to you all who Howard Canaan was, and what this new award is about. The following is provided by Dr. Dugan, long-time colleague and friend of Howard:

Dr. Howard Canaan taught English literature at Mercy College for thirty-one years. During his tenure, he was an active scholar, engaged and innovative instructor, respected faculty leader, and a valued colleague. He was the faculty advisor for Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society. Dr. Canaan was one of the founding faculty members of Mercy’s online program, and taught successfully online and in-person at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Dr. Canaan’s areas of interest included Renaissance literature, speculative fiction, and satire. He wrote plays and epic poems that revealed his incisive wit and adroitness with the English language. With Dr. Joel Feimer (who founded the MA English Lit program), Howard co-authored Tales of Wonder from Many Lands: A Reader for Composition, adapted by Mercy College and other colleges and universities. Dr. Canaan’s legacy is one of commitment to students, a strong dedication to the value of English literature and the liberal arts, an insatiable curiosity, a generous spirit, and a belief that education can be transformative for the individual and for the society.

Howard passed away this April.

To honor him and what he stood for we in the MA program have done what small thing we can, and that is to create the Howard Canaan Thesis Award for Innovation. We will award this distinction annually 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 winner of the 2020 Howard Canaan Thesis Award for Innovation is Jana Enderle for her thesis “Song of Silence: The Role of Silence in the Decline of the Harry/Falstaff Relationship in 2 Henry VI.

Not surprisingly we had numerous theses submitted during the summer and fall 2019, and spring 2020, that had an innovative approach or otherwise spoke to this award’s criteria. Selecting one study from this group was extraordinarily difficult as all such theses were excellent and worthy in their own right. The same was the case for determining the other thesis award that the MA program recognizes, the overall Thesis of the Year. All theses written during the summer and fall 2019, and spring 2020, were eligible and considered for this distinction. The final paper was selected by a panel of faculty with no students’ papers in the running.

  • The winner of the 2020 Thesis of the Year award is Cecily Van Cleave for her paper: “Feminist Themes in North and South and The Mill on the Floss.”

The panels for these distinctions would like to recognize and applaud the quality of all theses written during the past school year.

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 contributions to the program’s scholarly learning community, and their relevant accomplishments beyond the program (e.g. publications, presentations at conferences).

  • The winner of the 2020 Graduate English Christie Bowl is Cornelius Fortune.

Lastly, Mercy College annually recognizes one faculty member from across all programs at the college for the Online Instructor of the Year award. The person so recognized for this distinction is chosen from hundreds of instructors by a college-wide committee of faculty and administrators. We’re happy to announce that one of our own has been recognized this year for his excellence.

  • The winner of the 2020 Mercy College Online Instructor of the Year award is Dr. Sean Dugan.

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. It is extraordinarily difficult to locate any single person to honor for any of these awards out of the many exceptional students graduating each school 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 2019-20 for their hard work and dedication that has gotten them to this moment of completing their MA degree in English Literature. Congratulations, everyone. Here’s to the end of one of the strangest school years in memory, here’s to the summer ahead, and here’s to the eventual end of this coronavirus pandemic, let us hope soon.

Year End Honors: Thesis of the Year, Program Honoree, Online Student of the Year

At the end of each school year the MA English Lit. program awards two distinctions: the Thesis of the Year award, and the Christie Bowl Program Honoree award. As well, at the end of each school year Mercy College bestows a number of distinctions to students across the college. One such distinction is the Online Student of the Year award, and this year an MA student has received it. I would like to announce and celebrate the recipients of each of these distinctions here.

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. Last year the Dean of the School of Liberal Arts, Dr. Tamara Jhashi, extended the distinction into our graduate MA program. The award, determined by the collective graduate faculty, recognizes one graduating student for their consistent academic excellence, classroom presence, and other contributions to the program’s scholarly learning community throughout their time in the program.

  • The winner of the 2019 Christie Bowl is Alissa Greenwood.

All theses completed for ENGL 599 Master’s Thesis Tutorial courses during the summer and fall of 2018 and spring of 2019 were eligible for the Thesis of the Year title. The final paper is selected by faculty who have no thesis students’ papers in the running, who were not second-readers on any of the eligible theses, and who read over drafts from which all identifying information had been removed.

  • The winner of the 2019 Thesis of the Year award is Jennifer Fiore for her paper: “If These Scars Could Talk: Giving Voice to Women’s Trauma Through the Personal Essay.”

Finally: each year, from out of the thousands of distance-learning students at Mercy College (not just in MA English Lit program but across all of the dozens of undergrad and grad programs here), the College recognizes one student for their extraordinary quality in the online academic environment. This year, for the first time in our MA program’s history, Mercy College has recognized one of our own for this distinction.

  • The winner of the 2019 Mercy College Online Student of the Year Award is Richard Kovarovic.

I hope everyone in the program will join the faculty in congratulating Alissa, Jennifer, and Richard. It is extraordinarily difficult to locate any single person to honor for any of these awards out of the many exceptional students graduating each school year from our program and the college overall. So as we recognize these three honorees let us please also recognize all members of the graduating MA class of 2018-19 for their hard work and dedication that has gotten them to this moment of completing their MA degree in English Literature. Congratulations, everyone, and here’s to a summer of rest and exploration, in whatever parts you prefer.

Recent Student Achievements

In a few weeks I will be sharing with you some year-end awards that the program and college confer (thesis of the year, program honoree) but here I would like to note some student and alumni achievements. I do this for a number of reasons, including to celebrate the accomplishments and activities of our students and alumni, and to give everyone in the program a look at the sort of things you all might pursue beyond the MA program. I should note that publications and presentations such as those listed here carry much weight on a curriculum vitae. In no particular order:

  • Current student Theresa Hamman‘s poetry chapbook All Those Lilting Tongues was published by Finishing Line Press. (You can read an interview of Theresa by clicking here.) Theresa as well will see her work published in the 2018-19 edition of Red Hyacinth, the college’s literary journal.
  • Current student Cornelius Fortune presented his paper “Perfecting Humanity, One Genome at a Time – the Curious Case of Rebooting an Entire Culture” at the (Re)Imagining Popular Culture conference at Wayne State University in 2019. Cornelius too will see some of his work published in Red Hyacinth this spring, and his poem “Storm Drain Honey (Anatomy of a Breakup)” was awarded an Editor’s Prize for innovation.
  • Alumna Angela Colmenares has been accepted to present scholarship on Whitman’s Leaves of Grass at the 2019 South-Central Modern Language Association convention, and on “The Uncanny Nature of Cyberpunk” at the 2019 Midwest Modern Language Association convention.
  • Current student Emily Anderson‘s short story “Daughters of Morrigan” was selected for publication in the upcoming edition of Red Hyacinth
  • Alumna Elisha Baba has been accepted to present scholarship at the Philadelphia Theatre Research Symposium 2019 at Villanova.
  • Alumna Franchesca Guzman was awarded a fellowship at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI).

Some of our graduating students and alumni will be moving on to other programs of study:

  • Kate Oscarson has been accepted into Marquette University’s English PhD program, claiming one of only three available seats for incoming students this fall.
  • Cheryl Kennedy has been accepted into Texas Tech’s PhD English program.
  • David Hatami has been accepted into the EdD program at Nova Southeastern University.
  • Marisa McDowell has been accepted into the MDiv program at Loyola University, Chicago.

I’d like to further note that admission to any such program tends to be very competitive, that seats can be difficult to secure. There will always be far fewer applicants accepted into any such program than apply. Take heart, those of you who might have applied and not received acceptance into a doctoral or other program this year. You might find success if you re-apply to your desired programs in the future, or you might find success if you apply to a different selection of programs in the future. Anyone seeking advice when applying to doctoral or other programs beyond our MA program, feel free to contact me at cloots@mercy.edu (and it’s also customary to ask your thesis mentor for advice about the same).

Please, all students and alumni, 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.

A Few Things: The 2019 Symposium; & Any News About Achievements?

Just a bit of program business here:

First, we’re beginning to plan for the annual Graduate Student Symposium. In the past we’ve held this the day before commencement, and we’ll likely do the same again this year, which would mean the symposium would be on Monday May 20th. That date is still highly tentative. We’ll settle this up in the next few weeks, but for now just start thinking about if you might be able to attend and/or present a paper at the symposium in mid-May. Details and a more thorough call-for-papers will be coming soon.

Second, I’m collecting information on any recent student or alumni achievements and activities (e.g. acceptances into doctoral programs or subsequent master’s programs, presentations, speeches/talks, publications, etc.) to share sometime soon on the blog. Please send any such news to cloots@mercy.edu so that we can celebrate and salute our students and alumni, and inspire others among us to their own achievements and activities.

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:

RedHyacinthJournal@gmail.com.

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: m.a.reading@iup.edu.

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.