Planning to Graduate This Spring? Complete the Degree Conferral Form by 3/15

MA students for whom this spring is their final semester must complete the degree conferral form in order to be considered for degree conferral in May. The procedures and form are online here. The form is where you will indicate things like the mailing address to where your diploma should be mailed, contact info, degree info (Master of Arts in English Literature). Be sure to complete the form if you are on-track to complete your degree requirements this semester.

Summer Fellowship (Paid Internship) Opportunity in Professional Publishing

The Association of American Literary Agents (AALA), and their non-profit sister organization Literary Agents of Change (LAOC), are sponsoring fellowships for summer 2022. Mercy College English students, grad or undergrad, with an interest in the field of publishing are strongly encouraged to apply. Those selected will receive a grant of $6,000 each and be paired with one of AALA /LAOC’s 450+ members for a 10 week internship. This flyer provides more info, and this document/contract provides even more specific information (it sets forth expectations for the fellowship/internship program and ensures legal compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act).

The application can be found here: 

https://aalitagents.org/internship-application/ 

The deadline to apply is March 15th.

AALA/LAOC has created this promotional video to give Mercy College English students a bit more information about this opportunity and the role of a literary agent.

If you have any questions please contact: fellowship@aalitagents.org   

How to Get a Student ID Card

If you are an active MA student and you want a student ID card, but live at a distance from the campus, here is what you do:

Using your @mercy.edu email account, send a photo of your face along with your full first name, last name, and college ID number (your eight-digit CWID number) to Amanda McKenzie at: amckenzie9@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 Amanda know in your email that you are a distance-learning graduate student in the MA English Lit program and that you would like a student ID card. She will explain the process further and get you the ID card.

Student ID cards can be useful for securing discounts at various places, and perhaps more importantly for your graduate studies will get you access to local university and college libraries in your area that would be otherwise inaccessible. Just check with those libraries before venturing to them to make sure they’ll admit graduate students from another college, with a current ID, for purposes of doing research.

Tips for Grad Students: Decorum in Correspondences with Professors

One thing that I hope our graduate students will note is that every professor teaching in the Mercy College MA program holds a doctorate. In order to be qualified to teach in our graduate program at all, the professor must hold a doctorate and therefore be, technically, a Doctor. This is one of the things that makes Mercy’s graduate program special, that all of our faculty have achieved what’s known as the terminal or final degree in the field. In correspondences with any professor in the program, therefore, it’s appropriate to begin with a salutation such as “Hello Dr. [last name],” or “Dear Dr. [last name],” or even simply “Dr. [last name].” It’s also quite normal to instead begin a correspondence with something like “Hello Professor [last name].” But as earning a doctorate and the formal academic title of Doctor takes a great deal of sacrifice, work, risk, time, and cost, many people who have achieved this distinction will be taken aback, especially in an academic setting, if not addressed, at least in early correspondences, in an appropriately professional way. What we’re talking about here is decorum.

As you develop your collegial relationship with various professors over individual classes, and over the whole of your graduate career, and as your degree of familiarity with certain professors increases over time, it will (or might, depending on the professor) make more and more sense to be more casual with one another in correspondences. Some professors might even ask you to refer to them by their first name rather than their title, or in some other way might indicate that it’s okay to be less formal in salutations and correspondences.

But prior to such familiarity, and prior to a professor indicating or inviting any such thing, please be considerate of corresponding with professors with an awareness of decorum. It is not appropriate, for example, to begin a correspondence with a professor in the graduate program by writing something like “Hey you,” or even by not including any salutation at all and just writing as if you were texting a friend, or sending a message to customer service. Please just reflect on and be considerate of such things when you’re engaging with your professors.

It is entirely appropriate, if you’re unsure or have questions or thoughts about such things as this, to ask your various professors directly about them. Communicating about things is how we develop. The faculty are here to help develop our grad students’ expertise in the fields of literature and writing; but we are also here to help develop our grad students’ sense of decorum appropriate to the field of academia, so to help professionalize and prepare our grad students for potentially entering the field. Thank you, everyone.

For Those Who Need to take ENGL 599 Master’s Thesis in the Spring

Students for whom spring 2022 will be your final semester, please note that you will need to enroll in ENGL 599 Master’s Thesis as one of your final-semester courses. The way you enroll in ENGL 599 is different than for any other course. You can read about the process here on the blog. The short of it is, now is the right time to be securing your thesis mentor from the graduate faculty. Any questions contact cloots@mercy.edu.

The Incomplete “I” – Fix It Soon, or Lose the Credits/Tuition

As we approach the end of the fall 2021 semester let me remind (or inform) everyone about the situation surrounding the “incomplete” or “I” mark a student might request/receive in place of an actual grade.

An “I” might be granted by a professor to students who have completed most of the required work for a course and who have met attendance requirements. The incomplete is intended for emergency situations, for students who experience an unexpected crisis (such as an injury or debilitating illness) at a specific point during the term which unexpectedly interrupts their ability to complete all required work for a course. Each professor has the right to not grant an incomplete and instead grant some other grade, including an F, based on whatever work the student completed during the regular term.

Students who find themselves in a situation that might warrant an incomplete must request it of the professor.

Sometimes an incomplete can be a life-saver for students who experience sudden crisis, but in just about all cases students should avoid incurring an incomplete if at all possible. Many students who take an incomplete never resolve it: because life goes on, new responsibilities and coursework come along, and it just becomes very difficult to find time to go back and do work on past requirements. It is also difficult for your professors to deal with incompletes because their work, responsibilities, and lives move forward; but the incomplete forces them to have to accommodate, tend to, assess, and sometimes even just remember what this work is that a student left untended in the past. It is a big deal for everyone when a student takes an incomplete, which is one reason why a professor simply might not grant it.

If a student is granted an incomplete, the student should work to complete the missed work and so remedy the incomplete as soon as possible – and ideally prior to the start of the next semester. At the maximum, and technically speaking, students have one year in which to remedy the incomplete. After one year, the potential credits for the course and tuition for the course are lost, and the incomplete cannot be changed into any real letter grade.

But please note: professors are not obligated to drop everything to prioritize reading late work. Your professors will at any point in the year but especially at the end of each semester have tons of new work to tend to, potentially hundreds of current papers to read and students from the current semester to help, which is another reason why you should not be waiting until the last minute or even the last few weeks of the year to tend to an incomplete. If you submit late work from fall 2020 on the day before the end of the fall 2021 semester, there is no chance that your professor is going to be able to drop everything else to tend to the last-second submission, evaluate it, and get the required paperwork done in time. The bottom line is this: anyone still seeking to correct fall 2020 incompletes should be working to resolve them and submitting work right now. Anyone with incompletes from spring or summer 2021 should also be working to resolve those asap.

ENGL 560 Cultural Impact of Black Lives Matter Is Now Open to ALL Students, Including Those Who Took 560 Literary Accretion of Black Lives Matter

Previously on this blog I wrote that those who had taken 560 Literary Accretion of Black Lives could not take the 560 Cultural Impact of Black Lives Matter, since it seemed at the time that the courses would be the same or too similar. That has changed, and now ALL students can take this 560 Cultural Impact course, including those who previously took the Literary Accretion course. This is because Dr. Morales has been working on the new syllabus and description for Cultural Impact, and has shared that this new course will involve all new readings. In fact those who took Literary Accretion should find Cultural Impact particularly interesting. Here is the new course description Dr. Morales has provided:

In the fall of 2020, ENGL 560 the “Literary Accretion of Black Lives Matter” viewed the movement through foundational literature that presaged a global phenomenon. This new course for the spring 2022, the “Cultural Impact of Black Lives Matter,” looks at the early “progress” [statis?] of this movement in American culture focusing on the arts and literature. Columnist Perry Bacon says we are in the midst of a Black Renaissance. The 138-year-old Metropolitan opera in NY reopened its doors with Terrance Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up My Bones, a first for a black composer. Tanzanian Abdulrazak Gurnah became the first black since Toni Morrison to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. The NYT’s  fall theatre preview lead with “Broadway Is Brimming With Black Playwrights. But for How Long?” However, November’s [2021] gubernatorial race in Virginia saw the Republican, Glenn Youngkin, win the cultural wars using Toni Morrison’s Beloved as his whipping horse. There is a burgeoning backlash against “wokespeak” as even liberals complain of its use [“I’m exhausted by the constant need to be wary or you’ll instantly be labeled racist or anti-trans.”] The final question for the previous “Literary Accretion” course was “is this a momentary period of protest or a defining movement ushering in profound change?” “Cultural Impact of Black Lives Matter” will further investigate this with a variety of readings and media presentations.

Graduate Teaching Assistants for Spring 2022 – Now Accepting Applications

This fall semester we were able to employ four graduate English students as Teaching Assistants (TAs) 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 2022. We anticipate being able to employ more TAs than in previous semesters, and so we encourage everyone with an interest (including those who have held TA positions in previous semesters) to apply.

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.

In addition, TAs will be required to attend a live zoom orientation session/discussion near or before the beginning of the spring semester.

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 pay/hours situation will be the same in spring 2022. The pay is therefore minimal. The real value of the TA position is the experience it provides.

To apply for a spring 2022 TA position send an email to cloots@mercy.edu by the end of Sunday November 21, 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 in the past for a TA position but were not offered a position you can resubmit, if you like, the same materials you submitted previously.

As a final note, people interested in being a TA are encouraged (but not required) to take ENGL 510 Theory & Practice of Expository Writing in the spring. Dr. Proszak, who is teaching the 510 course, is also the Composition Coordinator at Mercy College, and is interested in helping graduate TAs be effective in undergraduate composition courses.

Please send any questions to cloots@mercy.edu. Thank you.

Spring 2022 Registration Opens Wednesday 11/3 (Priority 10/27)

General registration for spring 2022 will open on 11/3 at approximately 9am eastern; it opens when the Registrar toggles it on that morning, which will be about 9am eastern. Priority registration opens earlier on 10/27. Priority is mostly for undergrad honors students and athletes but it also includes grad veterans and active military, so anyone who meets that criteria should contact Erika Tremblay in PACT (etremblay@mercy.edu) about priority registration access. Registering for courses promptly early on the day when registration opens is the only way to ensure you get your preferred schedule. Some courses fill up fast; some even fill up within a few hours. So if you have courses you know you want to take this spring, I would set an alarm.

One change to the tentative schedule provided in last month’s welcome post is that the Shakespeare course won’t be running. That course will now likely run in fall 2022. Spring course descriptions are as follows:

  • 510 Theory and Practice of Expository Writing (Dr. Proszak)

In this course, students learn about how writing has been studied and theorized across writing studies and related disciplines. The course specifically focuses on cultural issues endemic to writing and how race, ethnicity, gender, and class enter into conversations on writing instruction and assessment. Students who take this course will understand how writing functions across contexts and communities, including within higher education. All course texts will be scanned or available online. Readings will include chapters from A Short History of Writing InstructionNaming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies and chapters from texts on the open-access WAC Clearinghouse, including Situating Writing ProcessesWriting Assessment, Social Justice, and the Advancement of OpportunityGenre in a Changing WorldFulfills the Writing & Literary Forms field requirement or an elective.

  • 514 Borges & Cortázar – Argentine Literature (Dr. Reissig-Vasile)

This course examines the major contributions that the Argentine writers Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar have made to world literature. Argentina was not only the first country in Latin America with an urban culture but also the place where European modernity had a significant impact. Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar echoed and continued the experiments of modern European literature but gave to that tradition a particularly South American perspective. Issues such as politics and censorship, the fantastic in literature, and urban and rural conflicts will be examined through some of the major works of these (and perhaps of other) Argentinian writers. Fulfills an elective by default, but upon request can work for a Lit Group 2 field requirement.

  • 515 Graphic Novel (Dr. Medoff)

In this course we will explore the ways in which meanings emerge in several celebrated texts of the graphic novel genre, as well as some emerging classics. Our readings of these texts will be informed by a diversity of theoretical perspectives, including visual culture studies, postmodernism and intersectionality. We will interrogate the relationships between the concepts “graphic novel” or “comic book” and “popular culture,” with each of us bringing our lived experiences to our readings and discussions. Through in-depth studies of several primary texts, including Watchmen, Maus, Fun Home, and V for Vendetta, we will learn how graphic novelists use and manipulate historical and contemporary social issues as the building blocks for their art. Fulfills an elective by default, but upon request can work for the Writing & Literary Forms field requirement.

  • 522 Humanism in Renaissance Texts (Dr. Fritz)

This course will focus on humanism and the concepts arising from it in relation to the production and appreciation of literature during the Renaissance. The revival of interest in the arts and ideas of Greco-Roman antiquity and the dependence of Renaissance thought on classical themes will be among the issues discussed. Readings could include (but aren’t limited to) works by Shakespeare, Marlowe, Machiavelli, More, and Spenser, among others. Fulfills a Literature Group 1 field requirement or an elective.

  • 523 Tragedy (Dr. Kilpatrick)

This course explores the history and theory of tragedy as both dramatic genre and philosophical motif. Beginning with its origins in ancient Greek ritual, the course traces a history of the genre to the present, with emphasis on the classical and English literary traditions. The course considers such elements as: the relationship between tragedy and the tragic; the role tragedy plays in the histories of Western drama and ideas; ways in which tragedy is distinct from other dramatic genres, such as comedy and melodrama; the essential elements of tragedy; comparisons between Classical and Elizabethan tragedy; and the possibility of modern tragedy. Fulfills a Literature Group 1 field requirement or an elective.

  • 524 Reason & Imagination (Dr. Sax)

This study of English literature between 1650 and 1850 examines Neoclassicism and Romanticism as two opposed aesthetic and philosophical stances. It traces the political, ideological, and literary roots of Neoclassicism in the English “Glorious Revolution” of 1688, the late seventeenth-century growth of rationalism and empirical science, followed by the flowering of Neoclassicism and then the shift in sensibility that led to the emergence of Romanticism. Fulfills a Literature Group 1 field requirement or an elective.

  • 543 The American Renaissance (Dr. Loots)

This course will study representative American writings from “The American Renaissance,” a period during the mid-nineteenth century (roughly 1832 to 1865) which saw the rise of the first truly non-Colonial, non-Revolutionary body of national literature; a literature which no longer concerned itself with European precedent, engagement, or approval. When F.O. Matthiessen coined the term “The American Renaissance” in 1941 he did so in light of five monumental American works by five different writers, all produced within five years (1850-55): Emerson (Representative Men), Thoreau (Walden), Melville (Moby Dick), Hawthorne (The Scarlet Letter), and Whitman (Leaves of Grass). Since Matthiessen’s time the notion of an American Renaissance has come to encompass a greater diversity of works, writers, and perspectives from this era. In this course we’ll read selections from across this American Renaissance, most likely engaging works by: Harriett Jacobs; Frederick Douglass; Harriet Beecher Stowe; Frances Harper; Sojourner Truth; Margaret Fuller; Sara Willis (Fanny Fern); as well as Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman and Melville.  Fulfills either a Literature Group 2 field requirement or an elective

  • 560 Cultural Impact of Black Lives Matter (Dr. Morales)

NOW OPEN TO ALL STUDENTS including those who previously took 560 Literary Accretion of Black Lives Matter.

This course explores the dynamics of the racial turmoil that has disrupted this nation in ways much like during the civil rights era of the sixties. The question arises: is this a momentary period of protest or a In the fall of 2020, ENGL 560 the “Literary Accretion of Black Lives Matter” viewed the movement through foundational literature that presaged a global phenomenon. This new course for the spring 2022, the “Cultural Impact of Black Lives Matter,” looks at the early “progress” [statis?] of this movement in American culture focusing on the arts and literature. Columnist Perry Bacon says we are in the midst of a Black Renaissance. The 138-year-old Metropolitan opera in NY reopened its doors with Terrance Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up My Bones, a first for a black composer. Tanzanian Abdulrazak Gurnah became the first black since Toni Morrison to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. The NYT’s  fall theatre preview lead with “Broadway Is Brimming With Black Playwrights. But for How Long?” However, November’s [2021] gubernatorial race in Virginia saw the Republican, Glenn Youngkin, win the cultural wars using Toni Morrison’s Beloved as his whipping horse. There is a burgeoning backlash against “wokespeak” as even liberals complain of its use [“I’m exhausted by the constant need to be wary or you’ll instantly be labeled racist or anti-trans.”] The final question for the previous “Literary Accretion” course was “is this a momentary period of protest or a defining movement ushering in profound change?” “Cultural Impact of Black Lives Matter” will further investigate this with a variety of readings and media presentations. Fulfills a Literature Group 2 field requirement or an elective.


Note: students throughout their MA career can take multiple instances of different courses running by the course codes of 514, 515, 540, and 560. These are generic catalog codes under which many newer and experimental courses cycle into the schedule. So for example a student could take 540 Magic in Literature and 540 Shakespeare & Film and both courses would count for the degree, since they are different courses even though they are running by the same catalog number.

Book-order info for these spring 2022 courses will be provided here on the blog in a future post.

Call for Submissions!

Creative writers and artists take note: the Red Hyacinth magazine of Mercy College is currently accepting submissions for publication-consideration for the 2021-22 edition. Getting work published in the journal can provide great personal satisfaction, as well as a valuable line-item for the “publication” section of a curriculum vitae.

The faculty in the MA program strongly encourage any creative writers and artists in the program to submit something for consideration. You can submit fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and artwork/media of any printable sort. The deadline for submissions is December 5, 2021. Submissions guidelines and instructions can be found on the journal site, linked here. Any questions, email the journal editorial staff at: redhyacinthjournal@gmail.com.

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.