For Students Planning to take the 599 (formerly 516) Thesis course this Fall:

To all M.A. grad students who plan to take the 516/599 this fall, which is to say for all students for whom the fall 2014 semester will be your last, please note: before the start of your final semester you must request from me and successfully complete the Comprehensive Exam requirement. Quite simply you just email me at cloots@mercy.edu requesting the exam. I email it to you and you then have ten days in which to administer it to yourself and email me back your responses. Also, with about two or three weeks to go before the semester begins, now is the time to finalize your thesis mentor selection and your thesis paper topic. Read the section here on enrolling for the Thesis Seminar for more information. Please let me know at cloots@mercy.edu if you have any further questions about the exam or the seminar enrollment after reading through the related posts on this website. Thanks all, and I hope you’re all getting ready and excited for another semester of exploring some great literature and yourselves.

For those of you taking Ulysses this fall:

If you’re enrolled in Ulysses this fall, I strongly recommend that you read Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man this summer in preparation. Portrait is a bildungsroman of a character, Stephen Dedalus. Stephen will feature prominently in Ulysses. You don’t have to try and pre-read Ulysses and it might be better to leave Ulysses off until we can engage it together in the fall. But reading Portrait is essential. It doesn’t just contain the beginnings of Stephen, it contains the beginnings of themes of Ireland, religion, artistry, and much more which bloom in Ulysses. You might also find it worthwhile to read Homer’s Odyssey, as the epic tale of Ulysses (or Odysseus in the Greek) attempting to find his way home forms something of a background to the doings in the Ulysses novel.

Summer 2014 session starts this week

Just a reminder to all students taking summer courses: the summer session begins this week. Classes will all be starting up right about now, so be sure to check into your summer courses. For everyone else, just enjoy your summer and come back in the fall refreshed and ready to begin another school year. -CL

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.

If you’re coming to commencement please let me know ASAP.

Hi, if you’re planning to walk at the 2014 graduate commencement ceremony please send me an email to cloots@mercy.edu indicating as much (and please let me know immediately, if you could). The Dean of Liberal Arts would like a head-count of how many if any students will be walking. Because we’re mostly a distance-learning program with students spread out across the country/globe we don’t always have attendees, but occasionally we do, so let me know if you plan to be there please. Thanks!

Feedback wanted on possible new course idea: “Afropolitanism.”

One of the Program’s esteemed emeritus professors, Dr. Donald Morales, has contacted me with a new course idea. By his approval I’m sharing his synopsis here in hopes of measuring student interest in such a course. He writes: “I am working on a project that explores the term ‘Afropolitanism,’ a word coined by Taiye Selasi in a 2005 essay. The term murkily defines the young African artists who have settled in a number of cosmopolitan capitals in Europe and North America and, specifically in literature, have produced a number of intriguing works that describe their hybrid status and identity. The term has also engendered a lot of criticism and controversy. Some of the works include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, Teju Cole’s Every Day Is for the Thief and Open City, Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go. I would also include a study I did on transplanted African dramatists and actors in London who have created a number of powerful dramas and film appearances around the same subject.”

Update: link to related content concerning the mass Nigerian Girls kidnapping.

Please vote once in the poll below. If you don’t see the poll it means your internet security settings are blocking it (easiest solution–try looking at this page a different browser). If you are unable to get the poll working or if you have further comments, please feel free to contact me at cloots@mercy.edu.

Consider the fall course ENGL 515 DLA, Contemporary Drama: Shepard, Albee & Eno.

In efforts to encourage students to enroll in some of our more eclectic courses, I’ve asked Dr. Medoff (our drama specialist) to share a bit more about his fall 2014 Contemporary Drama course focusing on Shepard, Albee and Eno. You are not going to find a course like this anywhere else. Here’s what he wrote:

THREE AMERICAN PLAYWRIGHTS OF THE NON-BROADWAY TRADITION

Sam Shepard became involved in the Off-Off-Broadway theater scene in 1962. A habitué of the Chelsea Hotel scene of the era, he contributed to Kenneth Tynan’s ribald Oh! Calcutta! (1969) and drummed sporadically from 1967 through 1971 with psychedelic folk band The Holy Modal Rounders, appearing on Indian War Whoop (1967) and The Moray Eels Eat The Holy Modal Rounders (1968). Shepard’s early science fiction play The Unseen Hand (1969) would influence Richard O’Brien’s stage musical The Rocky Horror Show. Cowboy Mouth—a collaboration with then-lover, Patti Smith—was staged for one night at The American Place Theater in April 1971, providing early exposure for the future punk rock singer. Shepard accompanied Bob Dylan on the Rolling Thunder Revue of 1975 as the ostensible screenwriter of the surrealist Renaldo and Clara (1978) that emerged from the tour. His diary of the tour (Rolling Thunder Logbook) was published by Penguin Books in 1978. A decade later, Dylan and Shepard co-wrote the 11-minute “Brownsville Girl”, included on Dylan’s Knocked Out Loaded (1986) album and later compilations. In 1975, he was named playwright-in-residence at the Magic Theatre, where many of his notable works (including his Family Trilogy: Buried Child [1978], Curse of the Starving Class [1978], and True West [1980]) received their premier productions.

Edward Albee was the first major author to come out of the Off Broadway theatre scene. He is known for works such as The Zoo Story (1958), The Sandbox (1959), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962), and a rewrite of the book for the unsuccessful musical Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1966), an adaptation of Truman Capote’s 1958 novella of the same name. His works are considered well-crafted, often unsympathetic examinations of the modern condition. His early works reflect a mastery and Americanization of the Theatre of the Absurd that found its peak in works by European playwrights such as Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, and Jean Genet. Younger American playwrights, such as Paula Vogel, credit Albee’s daring mix of theatricality and biting dialogue with helping to reinvent the post-war American theatre in the early 1960s. Albee continues to experiment in works such as The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? (2002).

Will Eno is a Brooklyn native and a protégé of Edward Albee. His The Flu Season was produced by The Rude Mechanicals Theater Company at the Blue Heron Arts Center, New York City, from January 29, 2004 to February 22, 2004. The play won the 2004 Oppenheimer Award, presented by New York Newsday, for best debut production in the previous year in New York by an American playwright. Although some of his plays were originally produced in Britain, Eno has been making headway in New York City theatre ever since the 2004 debut of Thom Pain (based on nothing). Charles Isherwood, theatre critic for The New York Times, called Eno “a Samuel Beckett for the Jon Stewart generation.” Thom Pain (based on nothing) was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Middletown opened Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre in November 2010 through December 5, 2010, and Eno won the 2010 Horton Foote Prize for Promising New American Play. Title and Deed (a collaboration with the Gare St. Lazare Players of Ireland) made its American premiere Off-Broadway at the Signature Theatre Company from March 2012 to June 2012. His adaptation of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt titled Gnit had its world premiere at the 37th Humana Festival of New American Plays in March 2013. In his Broadway debut, The Realistic Joneses began previews at the Lyceum Theatre on March 13, 2014 and officially opened on April 6, 2014, after a run at the Yale Repertory Theater in 2012. The New York Times reviewer of the Broadway production wrote: “don’t come to the play expecting tidy resolutions, clearly drawn narrative arcs or familiarly typed characters…. While the Joneses — all four of them — have all the aspects of normal folks, as their names would suggest, they also possess an uncanny otherness expressed through their stylized, disordered way of communicating… But for all Mr. Eno’s quirks, his words cut to the heart of how we muddle through the worst life can bring.”

I encourage everyone interested in drama and in 20th-century writing and concerns to sign up for this one of a kind course offering.

How to register for more than one 514 or 515 course during a semester

As some of you may have noticed, the online registration system prevents you from enrolling in more than one 514 or 515 course during a semester (currently we’re running two 515s for the fall). This is because the software isn’t smart enough to know that multiple instances of the course code are different courses, it only sees a repetition of the same course code and so locks you out of signing up twice for what it thinks is the same course. You of course can sign up for two such courses, and the way you do that is by using the online registration system to sign up for one, then contacting me at cloots@mercy.edu and expressing to me that you would like to be enrolled in the other as well. Provided that the other has seats open, I can make it happen easily.

Anyone Hoping to Graduate this Spring Must Have Completed the Comp Exam By Now

Hi all, the Comprehensive Examination is a requirement for the degree. Everyone needs to take it and the proper time, determined by the Registrar’s Office, to take it is before the beginning of ENGL 516, your final-semester Thesis Seminar course. That means everyone taking the Thesis Seminar should have completed the Comp Exam by this point. If you are in ENGL 516 and you have not completed the Comp Exam, you must contact me immediately. I will send you the exam and you will administer it to yourself. At that point, whether or not the Registrar processes the result in time for spring graduation is entirely in her court. Contact me if you have any questions about this at CLoots@mercy.edu. Thanks all.

This is the director's blog for the Mercy College MA in English Literature Program. This is not the official College site. The purpose of this is to share news and other information to help MA graduate students stay current with the state of the program and navigate the MA degree. Students in the program should check here regularly to learn about upcoming registration periods, course schedules, and other news.