Category Archives: Useful Program Info & Tips

Grad Student Book Club (open to students and alumni)

There’s been some talk about students in the MA program forming up a book club, so to have a more casual, extra-curricular, and student-run venue at which to discuss books and socialize with other graduate students outside of the classroom and the program structure. This is a great idea, one worth pursuing and registering as a student club with the College. In order for this to get off of the ground, we need two things:

First we need to create a list of everyone interested in joining the book club (note that expressing interest doesn’t bespeak an obligation to attend, it’s just necessary for the college to verify how many students might join and attend the club if it launched).

Second we need at least one person to step forward here at the start and indicate that they would be willing to be the club president, or a co-president, from go. In the context of this book club, the club president would mostly be responsible for organizing the online discussion sessions (e.g. polling the club members on when would be the best time to meet, creating and disseminating the zoom links, hosting the zoom session, and in-between meetings taking point on correspondences from other grad students interested in joining the club.).

If multiple people are interested in being book-club president, that’s great: in that case different people can take turns organizing the discussion sessions and such. I sponsor an undergrad student club at Dobbs Ferry that has three co-presidents, and they enjoy taking turns at it. Note that the book-club president(s) wouldn’t be deciding the book that the club reads: that would need to be agreed upon by the club, as a group (or by using whatever method of deciding that the club decides is best).

So, if you’re interested in joining the grad-student book club, please send an email to with your name and CWID number. And if you’re willing to be listed as a club (co)president here at the start, please indicate that as well. Again we need at least one person to step forward for that, otherwise the club won’t launch, since college student clubs need to be student-run and student-managed. Thank you.

(Edit in: Also, let me add, that alumni are welcome to be a part of the book club too, so if any alumni reading this are interested, let me know.)

Book Order Info for Spring 2023

Below you will find some info for books/materials required for your spring MA courses. This will be updated as professors finalize their courses and readings.

ENGL 505 Transformations of the Epic (Dr. Sax)

  • Boroff, Marie, trans. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. New York: W. W. Norton, 2009. ISBN: 0393930254.
  • Alighieri, Dante. Inferno. Trans. Mark Musa. New York: Penguin, 2002. 0142437220.
  • Fagles, Robert, trans. The Iliad. New York: Penguin Classics, 1998. ISBN:  0140275363.
  • Harrison, Robert, trans. The Song of Roland. New York: Dover, 2002. ISBN: 0486422402.
  • Hatto, A. T., trans. The Nibelungenlied. New York: Penguin, 1965. ISBN: 0140441379.
  • Raffel, Burton, trans. Beowulf. New York: Signet, 2008. ISBN: 0451530969.
  • Sandars, N. K., trans. The Epic of Gilgamesh: An English Version with an Introduction. New York: Penguin Classics, 1960), ISBN: 014044100X.

ENGL 521 Themes & Genres of Medieval Lit (Dr. Fritz)

  • Black, Joseph, et al, eds. The Broadview Anthology of British Literature: Concise Volume A – Third Edition: The Medieval Period – The Renaissance and the Early Seventeenth Century – The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century. ISBN: 9781554813124

ENGL 525 Victorian Age in Literature (Dr. Dugan)

  • Braddon, Mary Elizabeth. Lady Audley’s Secret. Broadview Literary Texts, 2003.  978-1-55111-357-9.
  • Eliot, George. The Mill on the Floss. Dover Thrift Editions, 20003.  978-0-486-42680-8.
  • Dickens, Charles. Hard Times. Dover Thrift Editions, 2001.  978-0-486-41920-6
  • Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 2019, 978-0-486-26688-6.

ENGL 540 Philosophy of Literature (Dr. Fisher)

  • Noël Carroll and John Gibson (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Literature, Routledge (2006). ISBN 9780367360399
  • Eileen John and Dominic McIver Lopes (eds.), Philosophy of Literature: Contemporary and Classic Readings, Wiley-Blackwell (2004). ISBN 9781405112086
  • Numerous other short readings will be provided as PDFs or links in Blackboard.

ENGL 544 Cyberpunk & Technoculture (Dr. Loots)


  • Eggers, Dave. The Circle. ISBN 9780345807298.
  • Gibson, William. Neuromancer. ISBN 9780441007462.
  • Scott, Melissa. Trouble and Her Friends. ISBN 9780765328489. (But this is out of print [OOP] so a PDF will be provided in class. You can find used copies for cheap on, if you don’t like reading from PDFs. I use the hardcover 1994 edition but any edition will do.
  • Stephenson, Neal. Snow Crash. ISBN 9780553380958.
  • Numerous other shorter works will be provided as PDFs or links in Blackboard. Also note that students will be required to view a selection of relevant films and shows, and so should budget perhaps $25 for the cost of a few streaming rentals and a month of Netflix.

Recommended, not required:

  • Cadigan, Pat, ed. The Ultimate Cyberpunk. ISBN 9780743452397. (OOP, relevant selections from this will be provided in class as PDFs)
  • Dick, Philip K. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? ISBN: 9780345404473.
  • Mill, Anna, and Luke Jones. Square Eyes. ISBN 9780224097222.
  • Sterling, Bruce, ed. Mirrorshades. ISBN: 9780877958680 (OOP and expensive, but you can sometimes find fairly priced copies on Alibris)
  • For anyone who games, I recommend you play through CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 which despite what you may have heard is a brilliant game; and the many issues/bugs present during its infamous 2020 release-debacle have been fixed through patches.

ENGL 560 Black Theatre, Art, and Power in the Digital Age (Dr. Morales)

  • London, Todd, and Ben Pesner. Outrageous Fortune. ISBN-13:‎ 978-0984310906
  • Nayeri, Farah. Takedown: Art and Power in the Digital Age. ISBN-10: ‎1662600550
  • Wilson, August. King Hedley II. ISBN-13:978-1559362603

Other materials will be provided as PDFs or links online.

Zoom Holiday Social Hour Wrap-up

Just want take a moment here to say thank you to the students, alumni, and faculty (and the dog) who were able to attend the holiday social hour hosted by Dr. Kilpatrick this afternoon on zoom. It was a nice time, full of conversation, stories, and humor. We will have future zoom social hours in 2023, in addition to our annual symposium. Information about those events will be posted here on the blog, as they come into view.

Cheers and Happy Holidays to everyone in the graduate English community!

Spring Registration is Now Open. Be sure to access the English schedule in Connect, NOT the English Grad Ed schedule

Attention all MA English Lit students: spring 2023 registration is now active as of 11/2. When you go to register for courses, be careful to search for the English schedule, and not the English Grad Ed schedule. If you start typing “English” in Connect you’ll be prompted for one or the other, and you might naturally click on the one with “Grad” in the title, but this is not the schedule for us. That schedule is for students in the Master of Science in English Education which is a different program from ours, involving totally different faculty and actually run out of a different school at the college (it’s not in the School of Liberal Arts, as we are). You’ll know you’ve reached the proper schedule if you can see the level 500+ courses listed in the previous blog post.

Also, as some of you may have noticed, there’s a new tool available to students this fall, something called a “registration planner,” which unfortunately will not reveal the accurate titles for all of our courses. For example ENGL 540 up in Connect is titled Philosophy of Literature on the schedule, but in the registration planner it shows a title of Special Topics in British Lit. This will happen for courses numbered 514, 515, 540, and 560, because these are what are known (behind the scenes) as topics course numbers, meaning they are numbers that we can use to run all sorts of new or different courses. These four course numbers each have a generic title, in the system, that we use as placeholders until we actually plug something into the schedule using those numbers. So for another example, ENGL 560 has a generic title of Special Topics in American Literature, but in the spring scheduled its title is Black Theatre, Art, and Power in the Digital Age. What’s happening here is that students weren’t actually meant to see those generic titles, and you won’t see them in Connect; you will instead see the custom titles. Apparently the new planner tool is set up in a way where it’s drawing the generic titles out of the registrar’s system, without recognizing that they’ve been assigned custom titles in Connect. This is all a bit convoluted I know but, if you’re looking in the registration planner and are confused by what you’re seeing, this is why. Fortunately this should make no difference in terms of actually registering for courses in Connect.

If anyone has any questions about any of this, please contact me at In the meantime, I encourage everyone to grab seats in preferred spring courses right away, before they fill up!

Event of Interest, 10/28, On Zoom Or In Person: Dr. Boria Sax Speaks on “Top Secrets: Trauma, Boasting, Guilt, Fear, Anger, and the Residue of Truth”

On Friday October 28, at 2:30pm eastern, Dr. Sax will be giving a talk on “the challenges, satisfactions, and limitations of family history. ” Graduate English students and alumni are encouraged to attend whether on zoom or on campus. To attend on zoom go to (pass is 319727, meeting ID is 986 7047 1930).

Student & Alumni Zoom Meeting, Friday 10/14, 12:45-1:30pm Eastern

All current students and alumni of the Mercy College MA in English Literature program are invited (and encouraged) to attend a Zoom meeting on Friday, 10/14, at 12:45pm eastern. The meeting will be with Dr. Jennifer Ryan-Bryant from SUNY Buffalo State. Dr. Ryan-Bryant is what’s called an “external reviewer” and she is reviewing the Mercy College MA English Lit program as a part of a greater five-year self-study process that all programs at accredited colleges/universities are required to undergo. For an external reviewer, meeting with students and alumni to hear your thoughts and feelings, whether positive or negative, about your experiences in the MA program is one of the most valuable and important parts of this process. To be clear: the external reviewer is not reviewing the students and alumni, she is reviewing the program’s faculty and curriculum, to determine if the the program is providing a substantive and effective graduate education to our students. No one can speak better to that than students and alumni.

No Mercy College faculty will be present for this, except at the very beginning when the Program Director will introduce Dr. Ryan-Bryant to the room, and then will exit the room. And although the external reviewer will include in her report some of the things she learns from this meeting, any such information will be anonymous.

To obtain the zoom link for this meeting, or if you have any questions, please contact the Program Director at

We encourage all students and alumni to attend this meeting and to express yourself!

Red Hyacinth Journal: Editors Needed!

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.  Over the past few issues, Red Hyacinth has featured the diverse creative work of over 200 Mercy College 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

As we put together a 6th annual issue (2023) 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 a volunteer staff. While the positions are not paid, the Editors’ names appear in the Masthead of the journal and editorial service can be listed on one’s resume and referenced in job interviews. Serving as an editor provides graduate and undergraduate students with invaluable, relevant, hands-on experience in editing, publishing, and arts administration, and allows you 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 in which the journal was produced.

We are looking for reliable, dedicated volunteers to fill the following positions for the 2022-23 academic year. The positions will start immediately and generally run until May 2023. In general, the first month or so of service is light as we wait for submissions to come in. All positions will currently operate remotely and applicants must have access to a computer, Zoom, reliable Internet, and the ability to meet at least twice a month during the day, Eastern Standard Time, to collaborate with other editors; some daytime availability (morning or afternoon) is required. Editors cannot publish their own work in the issue they are serving on.

If interested, please send your resume and/or a brief letter stating your interest and qualifications, as well as the general hours of your availability Eastern Standard Time, to Dr. Kristen Keckler, no later than Oct 4, 2022.

Because the work is spread out over several months, the time commitment is manageable. Editors will be provided back issues of the journal so that they can see various versions of the finished product. Below you can find more information about the two different types of editorial positions we’re looking to fill:

Managing Editor (Priority position)

The Managing Editor position functions as the top editorial position on the staff and manages 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 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
  • Create and monitor Google doc for Content Editors to mark as they review submissions
  • Lead editorial meetings
  • Communicate with faculty advisor about progress  
  • Ensure names of contributors are correctly reflected in journal and titles of pieces are accurate

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. There are a limited number of Content Editor positions.

Content Editors’ responsibilities include:

  • Read submissions and mark notes on the spreadsheet
  • 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
  • assist in light copy editing and review of proofs for errors/omissions
  • assist with outreach to classes and potential contributors about the journal
  • other assistance as needed from faculty advisor and managing editor

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.

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:

Any questions about the survey? Please write to

MA English Lit program learning goals and learning outcomes, updated 2022

As a part of Mercy College’s accreditation, the MA English Literature program (like every program at Mercy College) is required to maintain and occasionally share among our graduate student community what our accreditors refer to as “program learning goals” and “student learning outcomes.” These things have very particular meanings in accrediting parlance, and those meanings don’t always translate to or encompass the spirit of humanities disciplines such as graduate English literature, a spirit which by its nature involves complexities, nuances, shadows, and wonderworkings which to some degree resist reductionist measurement and assessment (and since reductionist measurement and assessment form the basis of all 21st-century college accreditation, this puts English literary studies in a strange situation).

The MA program has necessarily, then, developed program learning goals and student learning outcomes which work to speak true to our curriculum and to the needs of our accreditation requirements, while also remaining flexible and generic enough so as to not betray the more nebulous spirit and explorations of graduate English literature study.

Below are the MA in English Literature program’s current program learning goals:

  • Students will develop their knowledge and comprehension of a variety of literary texts (Program Learning Goal 1)
  • Students will develop their knowledge and comprehension of critical approaches and literary concepts (Program Learning Goal 2)
  • Students will develop their critical and creative thinking, and their research and writing skills, toward the aim of developing a professional-level proficiency in these areas (Program Learning Goal 3)

Below are the program’s four student learning outcomes. Such outcomes require an even more particular phrasing: they must signal something that a student is expected to be able to do at the end of coursework, as a result of coursework, that they could not do, or could not do as well, at the start of coursework. So: By the end of the MA English Literature program, students are expected to be able to:

  • Analyze and interpret literary texts (Student Learning Outcome 1)
  • Apply critical approaches and concepts to the analysis and interpretation of literary texts (Student Learning Outcome 2)
  • Conduct research relevant to the field, and evaluate source quality (Student Learning Outcome 3)
  • Create original research topics and produce writings on those topics which demonstrate clear writing and accurate documentation style (Student Learning Outcome 4)

In one way or another those goals and outcomes undergird all of the curriculum in the MA English Literature program. If anyone has any questions about any of this, feel free to contact the Program Director at Thank you.