Category Archives: Student News

Seeking Alumni News and Updates: Let Us Know What You’re Doing!

We here in the MA faculty often wonder what our MA grads are up to, where you are in the world, what you’re doing (whether with the MA degree, or otherwise). A number of former students do keep in touch with some professors, and each of you should always be trying to build some rapport with at least one of your professors, if even just for the practical reasons that (a) you’ll need to pick one of us to lead your final 599 thesis course, and (b) you should have at least one faculty member to turn to with professional questions and concerns after your time in the program. But on the program-level I’d like to build a better alumni-relations system, something by which we here can get and maintain a sense of what our graduate community is up to. One immediate reason is that the Mercy College School of Liberal Arts in which our program is housed is starting up a newsletter and wants to be able to list some alumni news; for another thing, the MA program itself might in the future put together its own alumni newsletter if we can get a large enough response to this call.

So, if you’re a graduate of the MA program, do me a favor and keep in touch. At the very least it would be good to have updated contact information for each of you. Beyond that we’d love to hear about anything you’re doing or achieving or working on beyond the MA. Have you gone on to a PhD program? Earned a PhD? Are you teaching anywhere whether part time or full time be it in K-12, community college, or beyond? Finished or published any poems, stories, or critical essays? Written a book? Done any stage performance? Read aloud at a spoken-word event? Any other professional or non-professional accomplishments to note? Drop me an email, now or at anytime in the future, at and do let me know. At the very least I’ll finally be able to answer when this or that professor asks me in the hall “hey what have our MA graduates been up to lately?” We want to know!

2015 Thesis of the Year Award

The winner of the 2015 Thesis of the Year award is Wayne Catan for his paper “Class and Culture: A Marxist Reading of The Sun Also Rises.” All thesis papers completed during the summer and fall of 2014 and spring of 2015 are eligible for the Thesis of the Year title. The final paper is selected by program faculty who read over drafts of papers from which the authors’ names have been removed. The award allows the student to list this honor on his or her curriculum vitae. Congratulations, Wayne. You can read more about the process and about last year’s winner on the blog here. We will begin a new cycle of consideration starting this summer.

Congratulations on the 2014-15 school year

I just want to congratulate each of you on the completion of another semester of graduate study, and on the completion of the 2014-15 school year here in the Mercy MA program. I hope that over the past year each of you has experienced something profound, read something fascinating and new, discussed something you’d never have discussed had you not been here together. I hope that each of you has experienced moments of awe, wonder, reflection, and epiphany over the course of the semester and school year.

In the next week or two we’ll be announcing the Thesis of the Year award for 2014-15 theses projects, and we’ll soon be starting up the summer session for those of you who have decided to take a summer course or two. Some of your are gearing up for your final semester and your final 599 Thesis Tutorial course. If you’re at all unsure what you’re supposed to be doing for this, or when, check out the blog posts related to the Comp Exam and the Thesis Tutorial, and read up on those sections in the Graduate Student Handbook. As always, if you’ve got any questions just ask me at

To Sarah, Josh, and Nicole: it was great to  see you walk the stage at commencement this year. I hope you heard me and the other MA English faculty clapping our little hearts out up on the faculty bandstand as you walked past. Sarah it was wonderful talking to you when you found me before the ceremony. I’ll say to everyone what we talked about then: you are all a part of Mercy College, and you should always know that I and the faculty are here to help and guide you as best as we can, while you’re in the program and after. Don’t hesitate to contact me or other faculty with whom you’ve taken courses for advice or letters or recommendation or anything else of the sort. I hope each of you will take a moment now to congratulate yourself, treat yourself to something nice, here at the end of a year of graduate study and scholarship. I leave you with a shot from before the School of Liberal Arts and School of Social and Behavioral Science Commencement of our president Tim Hall with the keynote speaker JuJu Chang from ABC news. You can see a brief video she uploaded from the stage at the end of the ceremony on her Instagram account (it’s dated May 20, 2015).

JuJu Chang and Tim Hall

Macbeth at Mercy College: Thursday April 16th at 7:45pm. FREE with Reservation.

As part of Mercy College’s annual Christie Day event, which is the English Program’s year-end celebration and Shakespeare Festival, a seriously good Shakespeare company, Hudson Valley Shakespeare (HVS), is putting on a presentation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth here at the Dobbs Ferry campus on Thursday, 4/16, 7:45pm. Tickets are free but you need to RSVP to the head of undergraduate English, Dr. Alison Matika, to reserve them. The small campus theatre where this is being held is more than half reserved so anyone interested should email Dr. Matika immediately at to reserve tickets (will call). And I encourage anyone even remotely in the area to attend. This is going to be great fun.

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Diane Ackerman speaks at Mercy College Wednesday 3/4/2015.

If you’re in the New York Metro area this Wednesday and are interested in hearing a world-class writer (and NYTimes bestselling poet and essayist) give a reading and talk, come by the Manhattan or Dobbs Ferry campus of Mercy College. The event will be held on the Manhattan campus on Wednesday March 4th in rooms: 704A and 704B at 3:00 p.m-4:00 p.m and later that evening in the Rotunda on the Dobbs Ferry campus at 8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Call 914-674-7497 for more information.

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Student News:

I’d like to take a moment here to note a few recent achievements of MA students, and to simultaneously ask all of you to keep me updated on any scholarly, creative, professional, or other related accomplishments or activities. Let’s celebrate you, and use your accomplishments and activities to inspire one another. In this post I’d like to call out Bernard Sell and Catherine Becker:

  • Bernard Sell was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities  (NEH) grant to attend summer coursework on existentialism, teaching, and teaching existentialism.
  • Catherine Becker has been accepted into the Idaho State University PhD program.

On behalf of all of the faculty in the program, congratulations and bravo, both! These are brilliant accomplishments.

Call for Papers: Sport Literature Association Conference, 2015

Students who plan to take the Sport Literature course in the spring (and anyone else interested) should consider submitting a paper proposal to the 32nd Annual Conference of the Sport Literature Association. It runs from June 24 through June 27, 2015, at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee. Dr. Kilpatrick plans to be there, and is hoping to see as many of you there as is possible. In case the above hyperlink to the call for papers is broken, the url is:

Congratulations to our 2014 graduating class!

It was wonderful to see those of you who came and walked at commencement today. I hope I didn’t say anyone’s name too terribly wrong. Hey I empathize: my last name is Loots and most assume it rhymes with boots, or chutes, but it actually rhymes with boats, or coats, or totes. Anyway for all of you who earned the degree and were awarded it over the past school year, on behalf of all of the faculty in the program let me offer you our warmest congratulations. Not everyone makes it to the end of the program; many wander off along the way to the MA. It’s not an easy thing to earn. It takes time and resilience and dedication. Bravo to all of you who earned the degree this year. Whether you’re here in the area returning from commencement, or there in your home, which could be so many places in the country or world what with our wonderful global spread, I hope you’ll be good to yourself tonight and do something to celebrate. Indulge a little (or a lot!) if you can. You deserve it.

Thesis of the Year Award.

The M.A. program is pleased to announce both the creation of an annual “Mercy College Master of Arts in English Literature Thesis of the Year” award, and the first recipient of the award.

All thesis papers written for an ENGL 516 seminar during summer 2013, fall 2013, and spring 2014 were given consideration. From all of the outstanding papers written by our thesis students during that cycle a committee selected a group of papers which demonstrated an exemplary combination of (1) originality of research and approach, (2) effective writing and organization, and (3) clear and accurate MLA formatting. These papers then had all identifying information removed–student name, professor name, and course name–and were handed off without comment to an impartial faculty judge, a judge who had no student or stake in the proceedings. This judge then read the papers “blind” and informed the Program Head of the winner based upon the three criteria points listed above.

It is important to note how difficult a process this is for all involved, at each stage. Determining one winning entry from a stack of exceptional papers, top to bottom, all of which are commendable and reflect the high skill of writing and scholarship required to achieve the M.A. degree, is a challenge. And because this is literature, not mathematics, there is always room for debate about what sets one paper apart from another. We believe we have created as fair and neutral of a system for evaluation as we can; but as students of literature you of course know that the debate is never really over. This is all only to say that the faculty applaud all of our thesis students who have completed the thesis and have achieved the M.A. degree.

The winner of the 2014 Thesis of the Year award is Amy Warren for her paper “Romantic Marxism and the Psychology of Freedom in The Grapes of Wrath.” Congratulations, Amy. We will begin a new cycle of consideration starting this summer.