Tag Archives: Graduate Program

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:

ENGLISH MA PROGRAM

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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 photobucket.com

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Graduate Course Descriptions Spring 2013

ENG 532 – Love & Marriage in 18th C. Comedy
Butler
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
Rice
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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Graduate Advanced Projects and Presentations

Eleven English Graduate students will complete their advanced projects this semester. Some of the students who completed projects in fall 2011, as well as some of those working this spring, will share their work on two nights, Thursday, May 3rd and Thursday, May 10th. Both of these presentation celebrations will be held at 6:30pm in Albertus 369 (369 is a large room towards the Science Center side of the 3rd floor of Albertus). All are welcome to attend the presentations!

Presenting on May 3rd: Kaitlin Affrunti, Melissa Archambeault, Tony Carrano, Lisa Christopher, Mary Catherine Owen, Steve Woosley.

Presenting on May 10th: Jonathan Hall, Ashley Healey, Sarah Lahue, Emily LaPointe, Briana St. John.

The following is a list of the students working on advanced projects this semester:

Melissa Archambeault, Literature. “I’m using the Horror/Gothic genre and looking at Lacanian Mirror Theory as a way to interpret the meaning between protagonist and monster in a piece.”

Tony Carrano, Writing. “I’m looking at literary aesthetics and the possibilities opened up by Experimentalist approaches.”

Lisa Christopher, Literature. “My tentative title for my advanced project is “Behind the Social Tapestry: Race and Class in Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth.” I’m writing about the portrayal of race and class in the novel, arguing that race and class are collapsed together, and ultimately signify each other. Lily Bart, the protagonist of The House of Mirth, has trouble interacting with characters of a lower class than her own because she fears the contamination of her own status and bloodline.”

Jonathan Hall, Writing.  “I’m working on a collection of poetry that explores the relationship between people and the places and buildings in which they live.”

Ashley Healey, Literature. “For my advanced project I am focusing on Shakespeare’s Macbeth and 2 Henry VI.  I will be exploring how Shakespeare creates characters that are constantly performing gender in different ways, which demonstrates how there is not one fixed definition of gender.”

Sarah Lahue, Literature. “My advanced project looks at the character of Patrick Bateman in Mary Harron’s screen adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho as an example of the performativity of gender.”

Emily LaPointe, Literature. “My project, “Captivity in ‘Asian America:’ On Susan Choi’s American Woman,” facilitates a conversation between Asian American discourse and the American Captivity narrative genre via Choi’s novel.”

Meghan McCormick, Literature. “My advanced project is focusing on William Faulkner and the Postbellum South using the text Absalom, Absalom! I am analyzing the character’s storytelling style in comparison to Southern sermons of the Antebellum time, arguing that Faulkner uses traditional sermonic storytelling as a tool to produce a modernist text.”

Mary Catherine Owen, Writing. “My advanced project is a collection of personal essays that explores the nature vs. nurture question of personality.”

Briana St. John, Writing. “My advanced project experiments with the form of fairy tales. I try to break away from some of the more standard formulas used to tell these stories, using present tense instead of past, direct address instead of third-person point-of-view, and using panels to tell the same story from different perspectives. Fairy tales are constantly evolving, being added to and subtracted from as they are passed down, and I try to extend that tradition by shifting the focus of my fairy tales from content to form.”

Steve Woosley, Literature. “My project is entitled “Cutting a Bloody Swathe through History: Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood and 16th century Samurai Culture.” I’m looking primarily at the film Throne of Blood and grappling with critics that say the film is nothing more than an adaptation, appropriation or transposition of Shakespeare’s Macbeth into 16th century Japan, arguing instead that if someone looks at the historical context in which the film is set, that person can see that the story of Throne of Blood (and also Macbeth to an extent) is unfolding and has unfolded repeatedly already.”

It’s a Tie for Graduate Top Honors!

Graduate Top Honors in English this year is a go to Kaitlin and Brianna who tied it up for the top spot. Read on to probe the thoughts and aspirations of two truly talented students!

Kaitlin, originally from East Brunswick, NJ is in the Literature concentration. When asked what she would like to do with her diploma, Kaitlin said, “My plans after graduation are to go back further south. I’m looking at either the NYC or NJ area.” What about the question that haunts every English M.A. student to his/her core: Are you going to go for your Ph.D.? Kaitlin commented about further education and job prospects, “I’m not sure if I’m going to go on for a Ph.D. If I do, it wouldn’t be for another few years, but I’m going to look into adjuncting positions because I’ve always wanted to teach writing. I’m also interested in the publishing industry or anything involving new media.” What will Kaitlin do with all her spare time after studying is over (at least for a while)? She said, “I’m really looking forward to getting back into creative writing which I haven’t had much time for lately!” A fond memory for Kaitlin is the conference she attended last spring in Rhode Island. About the experience she commented, “I really liked going to the conference at URI and feeling like I was sharing my work in a professional setting outside of the comfort of St. Rose.” Kaitlin has gained a lot of wisdom as she comes to the culmination of her degree, so here are her keys to success: “I think the biggest lesson to be learned is start your research early! Not always an easy thing to do but definitely necessary when you’re juggling two to three final papers a semester. Also, I would say to branch out and not be afraid to explore the research topics that are the harder or more unfamiliar topics to you. I think I learned the most from the more difficult papers I wrote, but they were also the more rewarding. Lastly, invest in a Keurig.”

Brianna is a Writing concentrator and one of those brave souls that dare to do it all in five years—she is a dual B.A./M.A. major. About the next step Brianna said, “I have absolutely no idea. Being in the B.A./M.A. program has kept me pretty busy for five years. I may pursue a Ph.D. eventually, but I think I want to start the job-hunt. Whatever I do, I definitely want to keep writing. I’m going to keep trolling Project Muse, keep submitting stories and poetry for publishing. Having my Masters at 23 is still pretty good, so I figure I can take a year or two off without feeling too guilty.” Besides hard work and dedication, Brianna said that she has accomplished a lot with many thanks to Saint Rose. Brianna commented, “I’ve been lucky enough to be in a stellar program with exceptional professors and peers where dedication and hard work have become the norm. Doing my best has always been important to me, but I just simply like writing, I like reading and thinking about and discussing literature. Being able to do those things in such an encouraging and challenging environment has been fantastic.” Brianna also acknowledged the importance of the skills she’s obtained with her degrees and experiences at Saint Rose: “The skills I’ve learned will definitely be useful in the future. Learning to write and communicate clearly, being able to do thorough research and to synthesize information, and just to bring an analytic and critical eye to my own work will hopefully be beneficial. The writing skills I’ve learned at Saint Rose is already paying off, and I’m excited to see what else is in store.” Those writing skills are definitely paying off— Brianna’s poem “We Do Not Die” was recently published in  Thoughtsmith, an online literary magazine!

Finally, here are some memories and skills that will stick with Kaitlin and Brianna as they move on from Saint Rose:

Kaitlin: “Memories of, no matter how much work school was, being able to have friends in class who all were in the same boat. In other words, feeling like we were figuring out this grad school thing together. I really enjoyed doing independent work with Megan Fulwiler and being able to build my own projects and classes based on the specific things I was interested in. My Advanced Project was probably the favorite thing that I did in graduate school. I found the research fascinating on it and really enjoyed being able to look at real-time data from my classmates’ tweets! It was something I can say I was truly proud of by the time it was all finished!”

Brianna: “I’m an intern at a lobbying firm right now, and these skills have already helped me gain access to more interesting projects, like researching for new lobbying opportunities, reading through budget documents, and editing client memos and proposals. I may not get to write about Zizek and RHPS every day post-grad, but having written about Zizek and RHPS has sharpened my writing skills, and has allowed me to engage topics in more complex ways, which has made me a stronger writer and thinker. Saint Rose has given me the opportunity to explore creative ideas in both my creative and academic writing, and has granted me access to people with truly excellent minds.”

Congratulations on your outstanding work, Kaitlin and Brianna!

Call for Graduate Papers: The 6th Nomadikon Meeting

“Ecologies of Seeing or Seeing Whole: Images and Space, Images within Images”

The 6th Nomadikon Meeting

The Nomadikon Centre, The University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway and The College of St. Rose, Albany, New York, USA invite paper proposals for a graduate student program on the theme “Ecologies of Seeing or Seeing Whole: Images and Space, Images within Images.”  The one-day program will be held September 27, 2012 from noon to 5:00 pm on The College of St. Rose campus in Albany, New York, and will precede the Nomadikon/Saint Rose conference (which will run from Thursday evening, Sept. 27, through Sept. 29).  The conference theme reflects an overall interest in the process of seeing itself, where “seeing” suggests  but is not limited to physical sight and includes metaphors of an embodied “seeing.”  The conference is interdisciplinary and invites papers on film, painting, photography, performance, music, material culture, and literature.  Students who participate in this pre-conference event are invited to join the full conference that begins on Thursday evening, the 27th.

Papers may include, but are not limited to, the ethics and/or aesthetics of image, the embedded image, images that “make” space, and images that “are” space, the codification of image, and image that resists codification.  In reference to the conference theme, papers may also address themes of gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity, dis/ability and class.  The conference is small by design.  We will accept the ten (10) papers that best address the conference theme.

Student registration for the conference is $40.00 U.S.  Send proposals of 300-500 words to Mark Ledbetter at ledbettm@strose.edu by May 10, 2012.  For out of town guests, hotel information will be provided.

Nomadikon is a transdisciplinary research group and center for image studies and visual aesthetics at the Department of Information Science and Media Studies, University of Bergen. The center launched in the fall of 2008 with the project New Ecologies of the Image (2008-2012), and consists of a core team of six locally based scholars, international affiliates, and a global network of visual culture studies researchers.

Among the research topics pertinent to the Nomadikon project are the manifestations of iconoclasm and iconophobia; image wars and visual ideologies; the cultural performance of on/scenity (Linda Williams); the aestheticization of affliction; controversial and offensive images; media convergence and the formation of new visual ecosystems; the nomadicization of the image; and the visual codification of subjectivity and social value. For more information on Nomadikon and its previous meetings and publications, visit www.nomadikon.net.

Fall 2012 Graduate Course List

Registration for Fall 2012 starts April 2nd! Here are the graduate courses that will be offered:

ENG 516 Medieval Literature (3 cr.) Laity. Monday 6:15pm-8:55pm. Description: Old and/or Middle English language and literature from its beginnings in Anglo-Saxon oral tradition through the 15th century.

ENG 537 Modern Drama (3 cr.) Krauss, Monday 6:15pm-8:55pm. Description: Readings in modernist and post-modern theatre literature, from Ibsen to the present. Attention to production and reception history, criticism, and major trends away from realism.

WRT 564 E1 Fiction Writing: Theory and Practice (3 cr.) Shavers. Wednesday 6:15-8:45pm. Description: The primary focus of this course will be short fiction and novel excerpts written by students in the class.  Besides production of their own material, students will analyze literary and theoretical texts in order to gain a better understanding of different storytelling forms, aspects of style, and other elements of a fiction writer’s craft.  Some attention to publication processes and possibilities for fiction writers. Fulfills 500-level writing requirement.  In the fall 2012, this course is the equivalent of ENG 564.

ENG 584 19th Century American Literature (3 cr.) Sweeney. Thursday 6:15pm-8:45pm. Description: Critical analysis of U.S. literature from the early national period through the turn of the twentieth century. Special emphasis on how fluctuating and contested discourses of authorship, property, print, labor, the market, feeling, publicity, and the literary influenced production, circulation, and reception of texts in the nineteenth-century U.S. Writers studied may include Poe, Wilson, Melville, Rowson, Bird, Stowe, Fern, Whitman, Hawthorne, Douglass, Jacobs, Dickinson, Chesnutt, James, Zitkala-sa, Crane, Howells, Wharton, Chopin.

ENG 585 Composition and Digital Literacies (3 cr.) Fulwiler. Wednesday 6:15pm-8:45pm. Description: What does it mean to write in the digital age? Traditional notions of both literacy and composition are print-based and book-bound, but scholars argue that we are currently in the midst of a literacy revolution not seen since the 15th century invention of the printing press. In this move from “page to screen” (as Gunther Kress has famously called it), what happens to our foundational assumptions about reading, writing, and textual production? This course will examine emergent digital tools, digital composition, and digital or “new” literacies within the larger context of the history of writing and theories of literacy. Students will analyze, critique, evaluate, and create multi-media texts. Central to the course will be reflection on the process(es) of composing including: invention, drafting, and revision across multiple modes, media, and genres.  As we study the theory and practice of the new literacies required of 21st century composing, we will also attend to the social, critical, rhetorical, and ethical dimensions of these evolving communicative sites and practices.

ENG 589 Topics in Literary Theory (3 cr.) Palecanda. Tuesday 6:15pm-8:45pm. Description: As in introduction to twentieth and twenty-first century literary theories, the course may address preoccupations of structuralism, poststructuralism, postmodernism, feminism, cultural studies, postcolonialism, and/or gender/queer studies. It may focus on a topic or critical approach and include literary and visual narratives. (May be taken more than once as long as a different topic is addressed.)

Listings can also be accessed here: http://www.strose.edu/officesandresources/registrar/courselistings/article1277

Graduate Student Ben Harris on Internet Publishing and Being a Conference Panelist

Gaining Legitimacy and Confidence: On My Experience as a Panelist

I kept asking myself, “At what point does my project, my venture, become legitimate?”

My name is Ben Harris, and I’m a writing tutor and graduate student here at Saint Rose in the English MA program.  For the past three years, I have been the editor-in-chief of Thoughtsmith, an online literary magazine that publishes poems, short stories, and essays about writing and creativity.  When I started Thoughtsmith, I was finishing up my associate degree at SUNY Adirondack and was working there as a writing tutor in their Center for Reading and Writing.  One day, I decided that I wanted to create a literary journal, so I did.  It really was that simple.  I came up with a name for the journal, I bought a domain name, and I paid for web hosting for a year, thinking that I wouldn’t just discard Thoughtsmith on my pile of one-post blogs and one-entry journals if I had invested money into it.

Fast-forward three years, and here I am, a “legitimate” editor.  On March 10th, at The Arts Center in Troy, I was part of a panel called “Submitters and Rejecters: Local Editors and Publishers Discuss Their Work.”  The panel was one of many at “Write Here,” which was described as “a mini-conference for and about writers and writing in and around the Capital Region of New York State.”  I, just a guy who had started a journal out of the blue, was on a panel with real editors.  I sat between Chloe Caldwell, who runs her own reading series and is a columnist for The Faster Times, and David Holub, the editor and publisher of Kugelmass.  To David’s left sat Matthew Klane, the editor and publisher of Flim Forum Press, and Nancy White, the president and editor of The Word Works.  They were real writers, real editors, collected together by Daniel Nester, the moderator of the panel, in order to impart some writing and submitting wisdom on a crowd of local writers.  I was, surely, there by mistake.

During the panel, I had a realization: hey, these “real, legitimate” editors started the same way I did!  Sure, I was intimidated by the fact that they had print material for sale (I mean, surely print is better than online—right?), but they had started their projects, which in turn had become legitimate enterprises, just like me.  It was this realization that allowed me to relax.  During my portion of the panel, I talked about Thoughtsmith and my experiences as an editor; I discussed the submission manager we use, “Submittable,” and how it allows me to organize incoming submissions for my journal; and I talked about Duotrope’s Digest, a great tool which writers can use to organize their submissions, acceptances, and rejections.  There was a short and question-and-answer section after we all presented, and I was able to field a few questions. (In fact, I jumped right in on a few, something I never thought I would do!)  I felt honored when, after the panel, a few people who had attended came up to me, asked me questions, and thanked me for my participation.

Overall, the experience was amazing in so many ways. Not only was I able to share a little bit of expertise with local writers interested in getting their work published, but I was able to feel like a real editor: something, it turns out, I was all along.