Anyone on schedule to graduate Before Fall 2020 Take Note

Just a reminder that anyone who plans to graduate before fall 2020 (so whose last semester will be fall 2019, spring 2020, or summer 2020) must complete the ENGL 500 Theory course this coming fall, if you have not already completed it. Enrollment is locked for the course in order to reserve all seats for students who must have the course this fall to graduate on schedule. Because everyone moves at their own pace toward the degree, and because students might opt to take a lighter/heavier courseload during any particular semester or opt to take summer courses (or not), we ultimately need each of you to self-identify if you plan to graduate prior to fall 2020. If you do, then claim a seat in the fall 2019 instance of the course by writing to cloots@mercy.edu. Anyone graduating between fall 2020 and fall 2021 is guaranteed a seat in the fall 2020 instance of the course.

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.

Info about summer course: ENGL 510 Theory/Practice of Expository Writing

We run on regular cycle two courses that directly involve theory: the 500 Theory of Literary Criticism course required of each student, and the optional 510 Theory and Practice of Expository Writing course that can work to complete either the Writing and Literary Forms requirement or an elective. Dr. Dugan, the professor running 510 this summer, knows from experience that many students aren’t quite sure, even from reading the catalog description of it, what the 510 course will be about. As such he has provided the following write-up to help those considering the class this summer. He writes:

I have had the pleasure of teaching this course several times in past summer semesters, and I have enjoyed it more each time. I hope that you will enjoy it as well, but I do want to provide you with an overview for you to decide if this course will meet your expectations and academic and professional goals.

First, the main text, and the only required one, is Concepts in Composition: Theory and Practice in the Teaching of Writing by Irene Clark, 2nd edition, published by Routledge, 2012 (ISBN 978-0-415-88516-4). It is available from the Mercy Bookstore, which will sell or rent you the text, or from other outlets. There is also an eBook version. This book has eleven chapters, so it fits nicely into our ten-week summer semester [director’s note: summer semesters run on compressed 10-week schedules but require more work each week in order to be equivalent to the regular fall and spring semesters]. The chapters focus on processes, revisions, audience, assessment, and other topics. We will discuss one unit each week.

Second, a recommended text for those interested in literary theory is Critical Theory Today by Lois Tyson, 3rd edition, Routledge, ISBN 978-0415506755. It is available to rent or to buy-new or used- from several sources, and there is an eBook as well.

Thirdly, I a firm believer that learning about theory, composition or literary, is made more valuable when one has a source to write about. Therefore, I will provide weekly non-fiction pieces for you to read. But, if your interests lean more to literature, I am (strongly) recommending that you have a copy of The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald. And, I recommend, less strongly, that you have a copy of The Bluest Eye or Beloved by Toni Morrison. Any edition is  fine.

By now, you may be asking yourself: how does this course really play out online? Allow me to explain.

Each week, you will be assigned a chapter from Concepts in Composition, which we will discuss as a class. Then, you have a choice to apply the teaching of writing concepts to either the non-fiction or one of the novels or the play in the framework of composition theory.

However, if you wish to focus on literary criticism, a chapter from the Tyson book will be assigned and a discussion thread provided.  Tyson analyzes Gatsby from different theoretical perspectives, but she also brings up Morrison, among other authors. If this interests you, the discussion questions will be on the theory and then how to teach the literary theory in conjunction with the composition theory.

If all this sounds complicated, it is not. (At least, I hope it isn’t!) It is planned to allow you to pursue your own interests and your professional need, and to give you choices. As a final note: there will be three short (2-3 pages) essays assigned and one longer (4-6 pages) final paper. Discussions are graded weekly.

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.

[POSTPONED TO 2020] 2019 Mercy College Graduate English Symposium: Call for Papers and Attendees

NOTE: THE 2019 SYMPOSIUM HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL NEXT YEAR.

Based on the responses I received to the previous post asking for date-preference, this year’s Writing/Image/Text (W.I.T.) Graduate English Symposium will be held on Monday May 20 here on the Dobbs Ferry NY campus. May 20 is the day before the School of Liberal Arts and the School of Education commencement ceremony. You can read about last year’s symposium here, if you’re interested.

The symposium is a casual mini-conference at which interested MA English students and alumni gather to read aloud a scholarly or creative paper (a paper that you’ve written for any of your MA courses will do just fine, though it must be edited to no longer than 10 pages), as well as to meet some fellow grad students and program professors. Family and friends are welcome to attend too. And MA students interested in attending but not reading aloud a paper are of course welcome to do so. Graduate students and professional scholars often attend and read at local, regional, and national conferences, so this symposium provides a friendly small-scale introduction to the conference experience. And for anyone who reads a paper, it becomes a line-item you can list under the scholarship section on your CV (click here to read more about the CV).

The symposium title “Writing/Image/Text” signals that you don’t have to just focus your presentation on literary analysis, as you traditionally would at an English conference, but might instead present work involving other media, other types of texts.

Anyone planning to attend and/or present, please let me know by sending a note as soon as possible and no later than Friday April 19 to cloots@mercy.edu. I need to establish asap who all will attend, how many people will present, and how many overall to expect so that I can reserve the appropriate room space, order the right amount of catering (lunch provided courtesy of the MA program), and establish the necessary time-length for the entire event. Because of some changes in how our facilities services operates at the college I must know the attendee numbers by Friday April 19. Contact me at cloots@mercy.edu if you have any questions about any of this.

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.

ENGL 599 Master’s Thesis Tutorial: How To Enroll

Just a reminder here: Anyone getting close to the end of the MA program needs to start thinking about the ENGL 599 Master’s Thesis Tutorial. Let’s look at some basic points about what it is, what you have to do to enroll in it, and what you do once in it:

  • ENGL 599 counts for three credits, like any other course, and is a requirement for the MA degree. Unlike any other course in the program, 599 is run as a one-on-one tutorial between each student and a chosen professor (mentor).
  • The tutorial is always taken during whatever you intend to be your final semester in the program.
  • During the tutorial you have one responsibility and goal: writing a 25-page thesis paper on a topic of your choice, involving primary and secondary sources that you select, all operating under the guidance of your mentor.
  • To pass the tutorial your thesis paper must receive final approval from your mentor and from a second reader selected from the MA faculty.
  • You enroll in 599 using a different process than for any other course in the MA program:
  1. First, during the semester prior to your final semester, think up a general topic or idea for your thesis and write it down. Your thesis topic can be based on a paper written for another course earlier in the program; you can even use that paper as the first draft for your thesis paper.
  2. Contact any professor teaching in the program and ask the professor if he or she would be your mentor. Include your general topic along with your request. If the professors says yes, you will then work up a more formal thesis proposal with that mentor; If your selected professor cannot mentor you, you can either just ask another professor or can contact the program director at cloots@mercy.edu and a mentor will be assigned.
  3. In the meantime, be aware that all students must take and pass the program’s Comprehensive Exam in the time between the penultimate and ultimate semester in the program. So while you’re developing your thesis proposal with your mentor, also start thinking about the Comp Exam which you must request from the program director upon completing your penultimate semester. Students must complete their Comp Exam before beginning their 599 tutorial.
  4. Once you have developed a formal thesis proposal under the mentor’s guidance, and once the mentor deems it acceptable, the mentor will contact the program director who then opens up an individual 599 section for each student with the mentor as professor. It is therefore impossible to be “closed out” of a 599 as each one is opened on an individual basis. The only way a student who needs to be in ENGL 599 might not get into one is if the student doesn’t do these steps in a timely-enough fashion as to have this all settled by the start of the final semester.

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

We’re now entering the annual window in which interested and eligible students can join the International English Honors Society, Sigma Tau Delta. 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 (dhorton1@mercy.edu) is the Sigma Tau coordinator again this year and is the one to contact about this, but please let me know as well if you intend to join (cloots@mercy.edu). Here’s a bit more information about the society and the registration process for those interested:

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 a member can list on a resume under “professional organizations” and membership also provides access to resources and networking opportunities in the field of English. Please visit www.english.org to learn more.

Inductees, along with family and friends, are cordially invited to Mercy College’s Honors Day Induction Ceremony taking place on Monday, May 6, 2019, beginning at 6:00pm in the Maher Hall Conference Room on the Dobbs Ferry campus. Dinner and a reception will follow. There is no limit to the number of guests you may invite; however please let Dr. Horton (dhorton1@mercy.edu) know now how many will attend so that we can order adequate catering. Attendance at the May ceremony is not required for membership.

Induction comes with lifetime membership in Sigma Tau Delta. The induction and lifetime membership requires a one-time processing fee of $45 and the check or money order must be made out to Mercy College. 

The deadline for receiving this one-time payment of $45 and for accepting this membership invitation is Monday March 18, 2019.

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 #202
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.

Again if you are sending a check or money order make sure that it is made out to Mercy College, and that your name and college ID# are written on the check. Mercy collects and deposits these payments into its own account and then makes one total payment directly to the Sigma Tau Delta International English Honors Society. 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.

If you wish to accept this membership invitation, please email Dr. Horton (dhorton1@mercy.edu) as soon as possible, and no later than the payment deadline of Monday March 18, 2019.

Students Needing ENGL 500 this fall should email cloots@mercy.edu now

ENGL 500 is the MA program’s NY State “core course” which means all students must complete it as a part of their degree requirements. The course runs during each fall semester, and only during each fall semester.

Entrance into the fall 2019 instance of ENGL 500 is going to be by permit-only. Every single student who needs to take 500 this fall will get a seat. Students who need to take the course this fall are those who are on track to graduate prior to the fall 2020 semester but who have not yet completed the course. Once every student who needs the course this fall has been enrolled, we will also give permits to other students interested in taking the course this fall.

We’re doing this to ensure that students who must have the course this fall do not find themselves shut out of the course.

The first step in this process is for everyone who has not yet completed 500 and who plans to complete their MA degree prior to fall 2020 to email the program director now at cloots@mercy.edu indicating that you need the course. We will begin building a list of all students who need it and will begin entering permits for these students later this spring semester after general registration opens.

Students who do not plan to graduate prior to fall 2020 but who would like a seat in this fall 2019 instance of the course should also email the program director now at cloots@mercy.edu indicating interest. Once all students who need the course this time around have enrolled, we will begin issuing permits to the remaining students in the order that they emailed their request, first come first serve. If anyone has any questions about any of this, contact the director at cloots@mercy.edu.

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.