Tentative Spring Registration Date – November 7.

Currently spring registration is scheduled to open on November 7, usually at 9am eastern (literally when the Registrar shows up to work and flips the switch). The registration date can change, and some of you probably remember the time it changed something like three times before it finally settled down, but as of now that’s the date they’re telling me. Point is, registration is coming up, so be thinking about your course selections for the spring, and for those who really want to make sure they’re in any particular course(s) be sure and register promptly once registration opens. Some classes fill up fast.

Call for Creative Writing Submissions: Red Hyacinth Journal of Mercy College

Creative writers in the MA program take note: the Red Hyacinth journal of Mercy College is currently accepting submissions for publication-consideration for the 2018-19 edition. The journal was brought into reality last year by Dr. Keckler, who continues to lead the design and editorial team working on the journal. Last year there were several submissions from MA students and a few of those made it into the publication. We here strongly encourage any creative writers in the program to submit something for consideration. Let’s represent. The deadline for the current round of submissions is November 15. Submissions guidelines and instructions can be found on the journal site, linked here.

Recent Faculty Publications and Activity

Your MA faculty are constantly engaged in all sorts of scholarly activities. Such recent scholarship includes presentations, such as Dr. Dugan’s “An Interdisciplinary Bridge to Improved Reading Comprehension and Academic Success,” given at the 2018 convention for the College English Association; and “Perchance to Dream” delivered at the Southeast MLA conference in 2017. Notable recent publications by MA faculty include:

Working Women in American Literature, 1865-1950, edited and with an introduction by Dr. Miriam Gogol, and The State of the Field: Ideologies, Identities and Initiatives, edited and with an introduction by Dr. David Kilpatrick.

Working Women in American Literature, 1865–1950 examines how the American working woman has been presented, misrepresented, and underrepresented in American realistic and naturalistic literature (1865–1930), and by later authors influenced by realism and naturalism. Points explored include: the historical vocational realities of working women (e.g., factory workers, seamstresses, maids, teachers, writers, prostitutes, etc.); the distortions in literary representations of female work; the ways in which these representations still inform the lives of working women today; and new perspectives from queer theory, feminist theory, immigrant studies, and race and class analyses.

The State of the Field: Ideologies, Identities and Initiatives provides a comprehensive view of the emerging field of the study of association football. The diversity of approaches in this collection range from theory to pedagogy to historical and sociological engagements with the game at all levels, from the grassroots to the grand spectacle of the World Cup; while the collection’s international roster of authors is testimony to the game’s global reach. The State of the Field altogether offers a view of current critical inquiry into the field of soccer studies as well as a road map for further exploration.

Dr. Kilpatrick as well saw a paper of his published in translation: “El Arsenal de Nietzsche,” translated by Juliana Solórzano y Viviana Casablanco, El Malpensante, 197, Junio 2018. And his article “The Messianic Manager in Novels by David Peace” was published in The Aesthetics, Poetics, and Rhetoric of Soccer, edited by Ridvan Askin, Catherine Diederich, and Aline Bieri.

The always prolific Dr. Sax has been up to a number of things. His book Lizard will be published this October, in just a few days. This book demonstrates how the story of lizards is interwoven with the history of the human imagination. In the book Dr. Sax describes the diversity of lizards and traces their representation in many cultures, including those of pre-conquest Australia, the Quiché Maya, Mughal India, China, Central Africa, Europe and America.

Dr. Sax’s earlier publication The Mythical Zoo was recently translated and published in Chinese (his third Book in Chinese translation). And his book Dinomania: Why We Love, Fear and Are Utterly Enchanted by Dinosaurs will be coming out later this October. Additionally, you can still read his guest blog for the Oxford University Press titled “Not Finding Bigfoot: Cryptids and Big Nostalgia.

Finally, Dr. Kristen Keckler invested a tremendous amount of time and energy over the past year to make real her vision of a Mercy College journal showcasing the creative efforts of Mercy College students. As creator and senior editor of the Red Hyacinth journal, Dr. Keckler took responsibility for all aspects of the process. As a result of her dedication a number of our college’s students, including some graduate students from our MA program, were able to see their works published.

Some of you reading this may remember the call for submissions for the journal advertised here on the program blog last fall. The Red Hyacinth journal is once again accepting submissions for the 2017-18 edition. I will be making another blog post soon dedicated just to this call for submissions, but if you’re interested in sending in a creative work for consideration you should look into the journal’s FAQ and submission guidelines here on the journal’s website.

Welcome to the 2018-19 School Year

Welcome, graduate students new and returning, to the 2018-19 academic year. Today, 9/5, we begin again. One of the great things about being involved in education in any way, as student or professor or anything else really, is that we get to experience these punctuated moments of significance in the cycle of the annual calendar, in the cycle of our lives. Here at the start of the academic year the Dobbs Ferry campus, where I sit and write this post, is packed and buzzing. Hallways are dense with students and faculty and administrators on the go as much as with the din of classroom discussions. Down by the river, athletes practice their various sports for the fall season. Out from the dorms spill laughing and hollering students. The library is already a riot of activity and the cafeterias are packed. Parking lots are full. These halls are alive again, and so too today are the virtual halls of our online coursework. I hope you all are ready for a new semester, a new academic year, and are as eager to get into your studies as I and your other MA professors are to start exploring together the literary pathways ahead.

As you go out into your classes this year you might keep in mind the School of Liberal Arts (SLA) theme for 2018-19: transformations. The SLA theme is something that our Dean, Dr. Tamara Jhashi, began several years ago, is selected anew each year by a faculty vote, and is meant to provide a unifying beacon shining across all the many different SLA programs and departments. It provides us a light to which, if you’re interested in the idea and/or in feeling a part of the SLA academic community, you might turn in your studies, paper topics, discussions, etc. It’s nothing formal, and you don’t have to give it another thought if it’s not interesting to you. But if you’re looking for a way to increase the feeling of being a part of an academic community, of being a part of something larger, then you might consider how your studies in any of your classes might engage or involve the theme of transformations. When it comes time for the spring symposium here on the Dobbs Ferry campus, those of you who are able to participate might find the theme of transformations a useful one when developing possible symposium papers. Perhaps!

Another thing you might keep in mind as you go about your studies, and particularly later in the semester as you gear up for writing your various term papers, is the assessment criteria we use internally in the program when evaluating the final ENGL 599 thesis papers which each of you will eventually write during your final semester in the program (and some of you reading this are about to start writing your 599 thesis papers right now). Even though these criteria are only applied to the 599 paper, and even though they are just used internally and are something we need to track as part of our college’s accreditation requirements, they can still be useful for all of you to know and keep it in mind when writing any paper for any class: because as you’ll see in the assessment rubric we use the criteria correspond to the program’s five learning outcomes, which are the big-picture things we hope you are learning throughout your time the program; and because the criteria are just the basic sorts of things all literature students should be working to address, improve, even perfect in all of their scholarly papers. So each of you should take the time to download the 599 rubric and just read over it to learn the sorts of things we look for and measure through it.

Okay that’s it for the main points I wanted to touch on here at the start of the new academic year. Before signing off let me provide you with links to some of the resources available to graduate students here at Mercy College. This information repeats information found elsewhere on this blog but some of you might find it helpful to have it repeated here all at once. Okay this blog post here contains a rundown of resources and contact-info that Mercy College provides for its students, whether on-campus or online. On this post here you’ll find critical information about the incomplete “I” grade which some of you might occasionally receive. For those approaching their last semester, you must pay attention to your required comprehensive exam, to the instructions for how to enroll in the final 599 course, and to the application you must complete in order to graduate. For those hoping to enter the college teaching job market check out this post here where I introduce a variety of resources and information on that topic. If you’re going to be applying to anything in any academic field you’ll need to have your curriculum vitae (CV) polished up and also need to know the difference between a CV and a resume. I talk about that here.

Finally, remember that although you can get advising from Student Services, I serve as faculty advisor to every student in the MA program. I am here to help and to answer any questions at cloots@mercy.edu. Okay that’s it! Have a great school year and fall semester, everyone. Check back here regularly for program news and info. I’ll be putting up a post soon sharing some news on recent faculty publications and other scholarly activity, as well as a post announcing the spring registration-opening date. So make this blog a periodic stop this semester and all during your time in the MA program. Final note: if any current students or alumni have any news about scholarly activity, publications (scholarly or creative), jobs or doctoral-programs, please share this with me. Cheers, all.



Fall Blackboard sections become visible Wednesday 8/22.

Links to the Blackboard sections for your fall courses should become visible to you starting on Wednesday 8/22. Please bear in mind that what you see on 8/22 will in most cases look like a theater several hours before a play begins. Things are still being setup, some people haven’t even arrived yet, and everything is still very much in the works. Some Blackboard sections might have no information loaded into them yet, and might remain that way for some time leading up to the semester-start on Wednesday 9/5. In such cases please keep in mind that your professors aren’t actually under teaching contract until 9/1, and are still on leave and pursuing their own research and scholarship. Everything will be sorted and ready for the start of the school year on 9/5, at the very latest.

Side note: all students taking the 599 thesis tutorial this fall should by now see their 599 section listed in their fall schedules. If you do not, let me know at cloots@mercy.edu.

Spring 2019 Course Schedule

The fall semester hasn’t yet begun but the MA course schedule for spring 2019 is already set. We don’t yet know when registration will open for spring but as soon as I learn it I will post the information here. Some courses fill up very quickly when registration opens, so remember that the only way to ensure you get your first-pick of courses is to pay attention to the registration dates and to get registered for courses when registration opens. The six graduate English courses for spring 2019 are:

  • ENGL 505 Transformations of the Epic (Dr. Sax)

This course is based on the conception of the epic as an encyclopedic narrative of substantial length featuring a central figure who reflects the values of a particular culture. It will proceed chronologically, studying the taxonomy and transformations of the epic, from its earliest Classical manifestations, through its emergence in Medieval and Renaissance texts, to its incorporation after the Renaissance into modern writing. 3 credits. Fulfills the Writing & Literary Forms field requirement or an elective.

  • ENGL 514 Sam Shepard: Playwright, Poet, Novelist, Memoirist and Rock Star (Dr. Medoff)

Samuel Shepard Rogers III (November 5, 1943 – July 27, 2017), known professionally as Sam Shepard, was an American actor, playwright, author, screenwriter, and director whose body of work spanned half a century. He won 10 Obie Awards for writing and directing, the most given to any writer or director. He wrote 44 plays as well as several books of short stories, essays, and memoirs. Shepard received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for his play Buried Child. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff (1983). Shepard received the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award as a master American dramatist in 2009. New York magazine described him as “the greatest American playwright of his generation.” Shepard’s plays are chiefly known for their bleak, poetic, often surrealist elements, black humor, and rootless characters, such as cowboys and rock stars, living on the outskirts of American society. This semester, in light of Shepard’s recent passing, we will experience and study a selection of his works and consider his lifetime of artistic achievement. 3 credits. Fulfills an elective by default, but can be made to meet the Literature Group 2 field requirement for students approaching graduation who still need that field requirement met.

  • ENGL 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, Spenser, among others. 3 credits. Fulfills a Literature Group 1 field requirement or an elective.

  • ENGL 540 Ulysses – James Joyce (Dr. Loots)

This course will examine one of the most famous, famously difficult, famously banned, and (arguably) profound modern novels of the twentieth century: James Joyce’s Ulysses. Much like Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, Joyce’s 1922 modernist masterpiece occupies a rare position of being a work almost universally lauded for its achievement and significance (for those who like lists, the academically-sound Modern Library calls it the greatest novel of the twentieth century) and yet one which for a variety of reasons most people haven’t read. In this class we will experience together the entirety of the work, first word to last. We will throughout the semester journey through Ulysses until, come the end of the semester, we find ourselves standing together at the absolutely brilliant end of this modern epic tale. While reading and exploring Ulysses we will as well discuss some of the people, culture, history, and events surrounding the creation of, publication of, and outrageous reception to the novel. 3 credits. Fulfills a Literature Group 1 field requirement or an elective.

  • ENGL 542 Classics of African-American Literature (Dr. Morales)

This course will study classic works of African-American literature in light of Toni Morrison’s statement that “my parallel is always the music because all of the strategies of the art are there.” The course will involve considerations of how in Richard Powell’s words the blues provides “much contemporary literature, theater, dance, and visual arts with the necessary element for defining these various art forms as intrinsically African-American.” Informed by the concept that music is the trope that best illuminates contemporary African American writing, the course will study selections that could include, but are not limited to, Jean Toomer Cane, Zora Neale Hurston Spunk, James Baldwin Go Tell It on the Mountain, Ralph Ellison Invisible Man, Langston Hughes Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz, John Wideman My Brother’s Keeper, Toni Morrison Jazz, August Wilson Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, and Maya Angelou Selected Poetry. 3 credits. Fulfills a Literature Group 2 field requirement or an elective.

  • ENGL 546 Working Women in the US: 1865 to Present (Dr. Gogol)

This course will examine writings about working women from the post-Civil War era to the present. We will review key changes in the American work force, and social, economic, and racial factors since 1865, with attention to movements leading up to changes in the second half of the 19th century. In this multi-genre course, we will read literature (fiction, short stories, poetry, memoirs, biographies, and essays) to help us deconstruct the definitions of “women,” “working,” and “The United States” from the Civil War era to present writings about the millennial generation. We will inquire into the shifting definitions of the term “gender.” We will start with gender as a concept, a social construction reflecting differentials of power and opportunity, breaking what the feminist writer Tillie Olsen calls the “habits of a lifetime.” An important goal of the course is for students to know the literature, history, and benchmarks of major events in the lives of women. 3 credits. Fulfills a Literature Group 2 field requirement or an elective.

Quick FYI: All Aspects of the MA Degree Requirements Can Be Completed At Distance/Online

This is just a quick FYI to all current and prospective students who might be reading the blog, and hopefully just repeats information which is already well known, but to be completely clear: students can complete all aspects of the MA degree through our MA English program remotely, meaning through distance learning, meaning online, meaning how current students are doing it already, meaning from wherever it is you are located in the world. This includes the coursework, the comp exam, the final thesis paper: everything. No one will ever need to travel to Mercy’s physical campus in NY, or to any testing center, in order to complete any of the degree requirements or to receive the actual degree. Some grad students do voluntarily travel to our physical campus at various times for various reasons (to attend the spring symposium, to talk with profs, if they happen to be in the area, etc.) but this is not required for the degree.

I’m posting this note because it’s been brought to my attention that Mercy College periodically sends out some sort of generic form-letter to all graduate students taking online coursework informing them that they might need to travel or make other arrangements to complete some degree requirements. That is not the case for the MA English degree. Again, you can complete all requirements through distance learning and will never have to travel or make special testing arrangements. We’ve got that all figured out here in the program. As always if you have any questions drop me a note at cloots@mercy.edu.

Call for Papers: NEMLA 2019 Panel

Mary Reading, a colleague of our Dr. Fritz, is chairing a panel at the 2019 NEMLA convention on the topic of: “In, Beyond, Between Bodies: Transgender Identity through Interpersonal Spaces in Visual Media.” The call for papers (CFP) for potential panelists is open until September 30. You can learn more about the CFP, including contact info and submission guidelines, here on the UPENN bulletin board (which if you didn’t know is pretty much where everyone in the profession goes to look for CFPs since the UPENN board collates CFPs from around the country and world.) You can learn more about the 2019 NEMLA convention here. Any Mercy grad students working in this area of inquiry (or interested in working in this area of inquiry) and who can be in Washington DC in March 2019 to attend the convention should put together a paper proposal and submit it before the deadline. Any questions about the panel should be directed to Mary Reading at: m.a.reading@iup.edu.

A Reminder About the Incomplete “I”

This post duplicates information found earlier in the blog (and accessible by clicking the “The Incomplete ‘I'” category in the right-hand column). But this is critically important information which all students need to keep in view, and so as July turns to August and the fall semester starts to rise on the horizon, let’s just make sure everyone is clear on the policy surrounding the incomplete “I.”

First off an incomplete might be granted by a professor in place of a real course grade to students who have completed most of the required work for a course and who have met attendance requirements. The incomplete is not intended for students who get buried under other work and life-responsibilities and need more time. It is intended for emergency situations, for students who experience an unexpected crisis (such as a debilitating illness or major life-upheaval) at a specific point during the term which unexpectedly interrupts their ability to complete all required work for a course by the end of the semester. 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 which might warrant an incomplete must request it of the professor. Even if the professor agrees, she or he might still require you to complete a form to initiate the incomplete.

Sometimes an incomplete can be a life-saver for students who experience sudden crisis and find themselves unable to complete the work for course in a timely way, but in just about all cases students should avoid incurring an incomplete. 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 your professors’ work, responsibilities, and lives move forward too. 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 for a course, the student should work to complete the missed work and so remedy the incomplete as soon as possible–and prior to the start of the next semester. At the maximum, students have no more than one year in which to remedy the incomplete: after that year the potential credits for the course and tuition for the course are lost, and the incomplete cannot be changed into any real grade. The incomplete “I” is thereafter locked permanently on your transcript.

So for example students who have an incomplete from fall 2017 have only until the end of the fall 2018 semester to remedy the incomplete. Once the fall semester ends, all fall 2017 incompletes are locked in and cannot be fixed. And note: sending your professors paperwork at 11pm on the 365th day of the year’s window is not acceptable. So, anyone still seeking to correct fall 2017 incompletes should already be working right now with their professors to fix the incomplete.

In all cases it is the responsibility of a student who receives an incomplete to do what is necessary to fix the incomplete well before the one-year window closes: to stay in touch with the professor, to know what work needs to be done, to keep the one-year maximum deadline in view. It is not the responsibility of any professor to keep track of incompletes granted in the past, or of the one-year deadline for any incomplete. If anyone has any questions about this please, as always, contact the program director at cloots@mercy.edu

[UPDATED 6/7] Update Regarding ENGL 500 for the Fall

Update 6/7: A second section ENGL 500 is now open. Some of those on the waitlist for the original section have already gone and registered for the new section (which is the right thing to do). All those still on the waitlist should now go and grab a seat in the newly opened section. Mercy’s staff advisors will be reaching out to everyone on the waitlist encouraging you to go register for a seat in the new section, just as I am doing here.

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.