Category Archives: Bulletin Board

Announcements about upcoming conferences, calls for papers, open calls for writing submissions, interesting off-campus events.

Barbara Ungar Reading May 21

College of Saint Rose English Professor Barbara Ungar will read from her work at the Social Justice Center, 33 Central Ave., Albany on Thursday, May 21 at 7:30PM.


Barbara Ungar has published four books of poetry, most recently Immortal Medusa and Charlotte Brontë, You Ruined My Life, both Hilary Tham selections from The Word Works. Her prior books are Thrift and The Origin of the Milky Way, which won the Gival Press Poetry Award, a silver Independent Publishers award, a Hoffer award, and the Adirondack Center for Writing poetry award. She is also the author of several chapbooks and Haiku in English. She has published poems in Salmagundi, Rattle, The Nervous Breakdown, and many other journals. A professor of English at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, she coordinates their new MFA program. For more information, please see

The event also includes an open mic.

Sign-up starts at 7:00PM, with the reading beginning at 7:30.

The suggested donation is $3.00.


Announcing: The College of Saint Rose High School Essay Contest!

EssayContestFlyer 001 The English Department at The College of Saint Rose is starting an essay contest for high school juniors and seniors.  The theme for this contest in 2014-2015 is:

If you could share a meal with a fictional character, author, or filmmaker, who would this be? How has he or she affected your life?  What would you eat?  What would you discuss? 

Any high school junior or senior is welcome to submit an essay related to this topic.  Research is not required, but, if you choose to do research, make sure you give credit to your sources.  Essays will be judged on originality, depth, clarity, and correctness.

FIRST  PRIZE:  $300.00

SECOND PRIZE:  $200.00


LENGTH:  Between 3 and 5 pages (in 12-point type, double spaced, with 1-inch margins).  Do not include your name on the pages of the essay.

SUBMISSION:  You may send a print copy of your essay to: Dr. Catherine Cavanaugh, The College of Saint Rose, English Department, 432 Western Ave., Albany, NY 12203.  If you prefer, you may email your essay in a Word document to  Include a separate document (print or electronic) with your name, contact information, high school, the title of the essay, and the name of your English teacher.

DEADLINE:  December 3, 2014.  Winners will be notified in February 2015.  All winners and their parents and English teachers will be invited to an awards ceremony at The College of Saint Rose in Spring 2015.

QUESTIONS: Contact Dr. Catherine Cavanaugh

The College of Saint Rose ( is a dynamic, comprehensive college of nearly 5,000 students. Located in the city of Albany, the heart of New York State’s Capital District, the College is a private, independent, coeducational institution with a comprehensive liberal education curriculum and progressive academic programs.  For almost 100 years, the programs at Saint Rose have included strong and continually evolving majors in English and English-Adolescence Education (   We have nurtured great writing for a long time and welcome applications to our English programs from high school students who care about writing, literature, drama, film, and media studies.

How to Have Fun Writing an Advanced Project

Every English MA student is aware of the Advanced Project that will come at the end of their graduate education at The College of Saint Rose. At times it can seem like an elusive and overwhelming paper, but one that you feel assured you will be ready to conquer when the time comes. However, there is also an instinctive feeling that this will be different from any other literary research you have ever completed. This is all true and also the reason why it’s important to go into the Advanced Project feeling prepared and confident.

You can find all the technical requirements for the Advanced Project in the English Graduate Handbook. If you click on the link below, you can download a PDF of the handbook, which is located in the column on the right-hand side of the screen:


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The purpose of this blog post is to provide tips and suggestions that you won’t find in the handbook. The following are reflections from my own experience writing an Advanced Project this semester. I’m in the final stages of my work and have developed a healthy (I hope) obsession with my project, so now seems like the right time to share what I have learned. It has been the best academic experience of my life and although the work was arduous, I always felt it was well worth it.

I recently interviewed Genevieve Aldi, a graduate of the English MA program, and she had this to say about her experience: “I really enjoyed working on my Advanced Project and having an entire semester to work on a paper, to read about a topic, and to research and develop my thinking about it. I loved having the time to write and rewrite, and to revise and rethink ideas over a period of months. It really gave me the chance to focus on an area of interest in a deep and critical way.” My experience has been very similar to Genevieve’s and this is due to a few different factors, all of which contributed to my excitement as opposed to angst when tackling this project. I want to share the following insight in the hopes that other graduate students may also have a positive and enriching experience writing their Advanced Project.

It is vital to choose a topic that moves you in some way. This project, if done correctly, will consume a great deal of time and energy. It is absolutely manageable if the subject is important to you or if it is a topic that you have a genuine interest in exploring. Look back at your best literary research papers and ask yourself these questions:ap blog post-tea cup pic

*Did I wish for more time and/or space to go further with this research or textual analysis?

*Was I being told to simplify a concept that I felt compelled to link with other relevant aspects within the text?

*Did I think about this paper after it was submitted, wanting to add to or enhance it in some way?

*Is this an issue that I have a passion for, or at the very least, a strong interest in? Basically, am I going to grow tired of thinking/researching/writing about this topic?

*Do I have a unique idea or “risky” approach that the time and space of an Advanced Project allows for?

Picking the ‘right’ readers is secondary in importance to choosing your topic. However, you don’t need to have a decision about your topic before you approach potential readers. In fact, many times the professors whom you discuss your project with are helpful in guiding you toward an exciting direction. The handbook recommends that you pick readers who are experts in the field of study you will focus on. While this is obviously very helpful and should be prioritized, it is not essential. There are a few reasons why this may not be possible. Perhaps you choose a topic that lies within no known area of expertise, or the professor that would be a good match is on leave, not available, etc. If you must abandon an expertise match-up, then try to find an expert on the text you wish to interrogate or incorporate some reader-specific knowledge into your project that will be sure to enhance it. Your readers are your guides and the more they know about the subject you are studying, the easier it will be for them to direct your research and your writing.

Aside from area of expertise, it is extremely important that you trust your readers. It will be frustrating for all parties involved if you question or doubt every suggestion that is given. Stand firm in the aspects of your project you believe are important, but be flexible and have confidence in your readers’ abilities; it’s the reason you chose them. It is best if your readers have knowledge of your learning style and have exhibited an understanding about the ways you work best. In addition, it is helpful if your readers are your ideological equals. If you don’t see the world in a similar way, it is likely that you will conflict over the interpretation of your chosen text.

Once you have narrowed down a few professors that may be appropriate readers for your Advanced Project, send out emails individually. In the body of the email briefly describe- in one paragraph-your ideas and why you think this professor may be a good fit as a reader. Ask for a meeting to discuss this further. Arrive at the meeting prepared to engage in a sophisticated discussion of your thoughts. Also, be prepared for the professor to direct you toward another member of the faculty that could be a more appropriate reader for your project. Talk to as many people as you can, because it’s always productive to explore your ideas as much as possible. In addition, getting feedback from various perspectives may provide insight about an aspect of your project that was not initially obvious to you.

Determining the exact roles that your readers will play in the development and completion of your project should be a collaborative experience. Typically, you choose a first and a second reader. The first reader tends to be more involved and he/she will be the first to sign off on your proposal and finished product. The role of the second reader is a little more ambiguous and tends to depend upon the individual situation. Meet with your readers early on and establish the expectations for your work: the timeline of the project, agreed upon deadlines, and level of involvement.

Once the plan is clear and you know what topic to pursue, it’s time to write a research proposal. This typically requires multiple drafts and again, it’s important to discuss expectations for the proposal with your readers ahead of time. Your proposal must be accepted the semester prior to writing the Advanced Project. If you are unsure of how to write a research proposal, call the writing center at: 454-5299, to set up an appointment. The staff members at the writing center are more than happy to assist with any aspect of the writing process.

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Start everything (reading, researching, free-writing) as early as possible. For me, the most exciting aspect of my project is the historical context that I uncovered. It is startling how imperative this dynamic to literary analysis can be, as it completely changed the way I saw the novel I was working with, the characters, and the author’s intent. I recommend a frame of mind in which you imagine yourself creating a project that represents the culmination of your graduate work and most importantly, something you can truly be proud of. Work hard and constantly re-evaluate and re-examine your approach, your argument, and your rhetoric. Ask yourself: is this the project I wanted to complete when I started out? If the answer is ‘no,’ then keep working. While your Advanced Project may change dramatically from its inception, be sure that you are staying true to the reason you chose this topic in particular. It may just be that you haven’t gotten ‘there’ yet.  Finally and definitely the most important thing to remember: Believe in Yourself.  Others will follow suit, but only if you lead the way.

*All images retrieved from

Calling One and All: Fall Submission Opportunities

Before the semester gets too hectic, check out these opportunities to submit your literary research papers for consideration at conferences, journals, and other exciting forums!


The ACLA Seminar “Things Theory: Accumulation and Amassment” will be held at New York University, March 20-23, 2014. “Thing Theory” considers the current fascination with hoarding and the intervention this phenomenon may have in a literary and cultural context. Papers may focus on “figures defined by their attachment to things” (fetishists, collectors, etc.). For more information visit:


The Cultural Studies Journal is looking for papers that explore the relationship between technological changes, cultural shifts, and structures of economic and political power. The deadline to submit an abstract is December 1, 2013. For more information:

The Cine-Files is accepting papers for their Spring 2014 issue. The topics of interest are: film performance and how it relates to genre, cinephilia, and paradigm shifts in the digital age. The submission deadline for a paper is February 1, 2014. If you would like to send an abstract for approval, the deadline is December 1, 2013. For more information:


“Exploring Gender Identities in the Literature of the Indian Diaspora”. The editors of this anthology are interested in literary research papers that focus on “the tensions created by changing sexual roles and expectations” for members of the Indian diaspora. The deadline for submitting an abstract is November 15, 2013. Articles are due by January 30, 2014. For more information:


“New Horizons for Contemporary Writing”. The editors of this series of research monographs are looking for proposals that implement alternative critical models, which represent the paradigm shift of “redefinition”. Applicable topics include: Eco-criticism; World Literature; Legacies of Theory; Post-feminism; Human, animal, machine; The return of the real; History, memory, and temporality; Science and the humanities; Contemporary literature after postmodernism and/or postcolonialism; Contemporary formations of the body; Translation in a transcultural context; Fictions of democracy; The future of the novel; Visuality and narrative; Newness in a global age; Post-ethnicity; Voice, ventriloquism, and mutism. The deadline for submissions is February 1, 2014. For more information:

 Keep checking the English blog for regular updates. In addition, all of the MANY opportunities to submit your work can be found at:

How to Most Effectively Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

*A special thanks to Dr. Eurie Dahn and Dr. Brian Sweeney for their insightful contributions and time spent collaborating on this post.

A common complaint of college admission offices: too many generic letters of recommendation that go unnoticed and not enough personal, strong letters that grab the attention of the reader.

Here are some helpful tips to ensure the BEST letter of recommendation possible!

When thinking about applying to a Graduate school or a Doctoral program, you can take a few important steps prior to the application process. The English faculty here Pile of Booksat The College of Saint Rose encourage you to utilize their accumulated knowledge and support as a resource for your post-graduation planning.  Make an appointment with a professor you have a rapport with and discuss your ideas and future plans.  Every school and program in English Studies offers different options, and many of the faculty are familiar with regional, as well as national programs and can help guide you towards the right fit.

Once that meeting(s) has taken place, the first e-mail requesting the letter of recommendation should be sent 6-8 weeks BEFORE it is due. Graduate programs will ask your recommenders to assess your enthusiasm and commitment.  Their responses are often based upon the planning and preparation they observe through the initial steps of your request for a letter.  So, ask as early as you can and make the process as easy as possible.

*It’s important to ask a professor that knows you and your work well.  If this is a field of study you are interested in pursuing, it should not be difficult to acquire 2-3 letters that provide a comprehensive perspective of you as a student and as a person.

*Waive your right to read the letter, always.

The e-mail:

*The subject line should read: Letter of Recommendation for (your name)

*Let the individual know in the first sentence what the purpose of the e-mail is.  So, in other words, directly request the letter. Instead of just asking for a letter of recommendation, ask for a strong letter.  This is mutually beneficial, as it guarantees the effective letter you are looking for and it also provides a comfortable way for a professor to decline the request.

*Keep the first e-mail brief.  Provide basic, memory jogging information about yourself (year of study, major, classes taken with that professor, etc.) Explain the reason you need the letter (specific school or program), why you are asking this person in particular (emphasize qualifications), and make the due date clear.

*MOST IMPORTANTLY: never assume the letter will be written!

After confirmation:

*The second e-mail should contain all the materials/information needed in order to write the letter.  You want to make this process as seamless as possible.

*Remind the professor about anything specific you think is important to consider when writing this letter. (Interests, accomplishments, guidance with content is fine, but avoid framing it as a direction).  Provide more details about why you need the letter, why it is important, the audience, your end-goal, etc.  Include the due date in this e-mail as well.

*Provide a stamped envelope or articulate a plan to pick up the letter.  Make it clear what the steps will be in advance.

*As an attachment, send your resume, personal statement, and a paper that you wrote in that professor’s class.

*Show appreciation by making sure to thank the professor.


*1-2 weeks before the letter is due: send a thank you e-mail and a reminder about the due date.  (This is helpful and is not annoying)

Every professor would probably like to help students out by writing glowing letter of recommendation after glowing letter for everyone. Unfortunately, as with anything in life, this would work to diminish the value of all the letters, even LOR pic2
those that truly deserve the merit.

So, if your request is denied, do not fret! It doesn’t mean that you are not destined to pursue whatever dream you have in mind; perhaps, this particular person is not the best individual to write you the letter that you will need to succeed.  There are many relationships we make during our years of school.  Think back and reconnect with professors that saw you at your best!

Check out the linked list of sources below for additional information and good luck!

Wiki How


Sample Letter

Announcing: The 2013 Senior Writing Award


Announcing: The 2013 Senior Writing Award

$300 first place prize

Open to any student, in any major, who graduated in December 2012 or is graduating in May 2013.

Professional writers from outside the College of Saint Rose community will judge all entries.

The prize will be given at the Honors Convocation on March 23rd at 2:30pm in the Picotte Recital Hall of the Massry Center for the Arts.

Deadline for submissions is March 11, 2013 at noon.

Guidelines follow after the jump.

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Graduate Course Descriptions Spring 2013

ENG 532 – Love & Marriage in 18th C. Comedy
Thursday 6:15-8:30
Readings in representative writers of the period, including Swift, Pope, Johnson, Sheridan, Radcliffe. Some discussion of historical contexts.

ENG 541 – Native American Literature
Monday 6:15-8:55
Critical reading and discussion of a variety of Native American texts from oral and written traditions. Readings will be situated in a variety of cultural contexts, ranging from Columbian contact to contemporary popular culture. Applicable critical lenses may be employed in student reading and research, including postcolonial, poststructural and emerging Native American critical theory. Writers studied will vary and may include transcriptions of oral texts as well as twentieth- century writers like Zitkala-Sa, McNickle, Momaday, Silko, Young Bear, Erdrich, Ortiz, Harjo, and Alexie. Fulfills a theory requirement.

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