English Matters (Newsletter for English Majors)
(February 18, 2014) Along with her colleagues in the Prisoner Reentry Institute (Bianca Van Heydoorn and Ann Jacobs), our own Baz Dreisinger has been awarded a $250,000 Ford Foundation Grant to continue and grow the Prison-to-College Pipeline program. This is wonderful news. Baz, congratulations and thank you for working so hard to make this program happen. We’re delighted to see your efforts rewarded in this way.
(February 11, 2014) Congratulation to Belinda Rincón on being chosen for the Young Scholars Symposium at the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame. We’re delighted for you and really impressed by the achievement—6 places and 92 applicants! Well done.
(January 6, 2014) And there are congratulations in order: --to John Matteson, who has been newly elected to a five-year term on the Executive Committee of the MLA’s Division on Autobiography, Biography, and Life Writing. --to Carmen Kynard, who’s only just arrived and already been awarded a CUNY diversity grant. --to Katherine Arnoldi, who has published “Appreciating Tillie Olsen” in Literarian magazine at the Center for Fiction. --and, very specially, to Sandy Hurtes, whose book, The Ambivalent Memoirist, came out last month. It has an entry entitled “Teaching Grammar.” I’m sold!
- (December 14, 2013) Remember to get the New York Times this weekend because Claudia Zuluaga's Fort Starlight is reviewed in it. And Katherine Arnoldi's graphic novel, The Amazing True Story of a Teenage Single Mom, is doing so well it's gone into reprint. Congratulations you two!
- (December 4, 2013) Please join me in congratulating Vicky Bond because her book Zora and Me has been selected along with 34 other books (which include an Agatha Christie, Catch-22, and Tobias Wolff's memoir) for sharing with "light or non-readers" all over the country for World Book Night. 15,000 (yes, that's fifteen thousand) copies of her book will be distributed.
- (November 6, 2013) Along with three other “expert evaluators” solicited from the U.K., Europe and Cyprus, Effie has been asked to be part of an external committee to assess the Department of English Language and Literature of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. That’s quite an honor Effie—congratulations from all of us. We’ll think of you in Greece while we freeze here in December.
- (November 3, 2013) Adam Berlin's boxing novella, Both Members of the Club, was reviewed on Yahoo Sports Radio - click on episode 30. Many congratulations Adam on yet another major publication.
- (October 8, 2013) Despite the fact that he disapproved of Chaucer's immodest tales, John Dryden is not half bad. Check out Ann Huse's forthcoming "Restoring Dryden to the Core Curriculum: Groups, Crowds, and the Poetry of Public Occasion" in the MLA Guide, Approaches to Teaching the Works of John Dryden. Congratulations Ann.
- (September 17, 2013) The following was a lovely email to get. Colleagues, Dean Pease says congratulations and thank you, and so do I. Vicky, especially so to you.
Dear Valerie, There is nothing more important to a student’s success than the positive support of a faculty member who takes his or her work seriously. With that in mind, I want to commend the English Department for receiving the most student nominations of faculty mentors of any department at the college. Seventy-seven students on the Dean’s List said that an English professor played an integral part in their academic success last year. That is a terrific tribute to the caring excellence of your department and hope you will extend my thanks and congratulations. A special congratulations should be extended to Professor Vicky Bond who received seven individual student nominations, the most of any faculty member at the college. That is simply outstanding. Best, Allison
- (September 2, 2013) Here's another brick in the solid foundation Adam and Jeff are laying for the J Journal. Paragraph 1 will make you roll your eyes, but at least the reviewer admits that he/she/it got it all wrong. Well done you two.
- (September 2, 2013) The Number of Missing garners some early applause. Congratulations Adam.
- (September 2, 2013) Bravo Claudia. You've published your first novel, and it looks great. Here's one of the early reviews of Fort Starlight.
- (August 20, 2013) A memo issued by the Pre-Law Institute calls attention to the tremendous successes of our own John Staines, Vicky Bond and Dainius Remeza in teaching and supporting students in our pre-law boot camps and prep programs. Have you seen them here, teaching in summer and winter when everyone else is vacationing? Apparently, they have added tremendous value to their students lives. My hats off to the trio who can now form their own law firm: Staines, Bond and Remeza.
- (August 19, 2013) Karen Kaplowitz wrote to tell me that Baz has a book review on the cover of the Sunday New York Times book review section, so I went to the website and punched in "Baz Dreisinger" to get it - up popped not just the review, but a travelogue of Kampala by our own dear colleague, who has been a busy one (just a few weeks ago she was meeting the Princess of Thailand in a woman's prison in Thailand to talk about modelling her prison to college pipeline project there). Baz, you continue to make us proud and impress!
- (August 15, 2013) Jonathan Gray is bringing culture and enlightenment to the masses with his recent article in Entertainment Weekly. Nice Jonathan!
(August 15, 2013) We're very proud of John Matteson for having The Lives of Margaret Fuller shortlisted in the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography's top five biographies for 2013. --similarly accoladed by The Wall Street Journal and the Biographers' International Organization's Plutarch Award. Congratulations John--again!!
(July 8, 2013) Imagine that a scholarly article you published ten years ago was adapted by a smart and creative theater director into a full-scale opera. That'd be a funny dream, right? Or, if you are Jean Mills, it would be the NYCFringe production of Gertrude Stein SAINTS! that will be playing in New York this August based on ideas she wrote about in her Americana article, "Gertrude Stein, The Great Great Grand MF of Rap? Four Saints in Three Acts and the Hip Hop/Rap/Spoken Word Aesthetic" 2.1 (2003). Congratulations Jean!
- (June 23, 2013) I was reading this week's Chronicle of Higher Education and to my surprise and delight came across this editorial in the review section by our own Rachel Friedman discussing our quiet students and their non-native English language strengths. Enjoy and congrats Rachel!
- (June 12, 2013) We in English have received some pretty great news this week.
First we received results of the college's Student Evaluation of the Major report in which all John Jay alumni are polled on their experiences of "Administration of the Major"; "Faculty in the Major"; "Advising in the Major"; "Overall Satisfaction in the Major" and "Student Learning and Development in the Major". Of the 20 questions students were asked, student experience of the English major was superior to the college average in all but 3 instances. Of particular note, 93% of students found the teaching ability of faculty in the major excellent or good and 91.5% of students were taught to think critically and analytically. We also greatly outperformed the college in students who report advising in the major with 64.8% of ours vs. 44.5% college average. Both averages tell sad stories, but we are clearly doing a better job than most. For the full report -- alongside other facts and figures about the administration of the English Dept, refer to the attached document.
Thanks to everyone teaching in the major for their continued investment in giving our students their best.
Second: We made over a 4 point gain in the number of students passing ENG 101 with a C or better this year. This comes on top of similar gains only two years ago. This stunning shift is the result of Tim McCormack's excellent guidance of the Writing Program, our wonderful cohort of dedicated Writing faculty who work collaboratively on all of this, the Writing Center's direct involvment in the 101 curriculum through the Jumpstart workshop series thanks to Livia Katz, the continued success of Learning Communities and the LC showcase, and better prepared EAP students through curriculum and faculty development per Kim Helmer's OA report of two years ago, and a few other cool initiatives that are the brainchildren of Dr. McCormack.
These impressive facts remind us what a tremendous job our entire Writing Program is doing and why it is Award Winning. Congratulations!
Third, Livia Katz just found out the outcomes of the Writing Center's SpringStart workshops and they are simply phenomenal: total pass rate for the 115 students who used the Writing Center to help with ENG 101 in the spring was 96.26% and 82.24% students received grades in the range of A-C+.
Livia Katz and her Writing Center are a huge part of our writing outcomes success and should be lauded.
- (May 16, 2013) Congratulations to Marcie Bianco who has been named a Lambda Literary Fellow and will be participating in the 2013 Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices this summer. Yay Marcie!
- (May 16, 2013) Congratulations to Bettina Carbonell and Jonathan Gray, recipients of the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowships in the Humanities. The theme of the 2013-2014 Mellon Seminar in the Humanities will be “Images and Information” - perfect for these two!
- (May 7, 2013) Al Coppola co-authored a review for a scholarly journal with a student, Jessica Paiz. Ms. Paiz went with Al's summer 2012 LIT 373 class to see a production of Aphra Behn's The Rover in Riverside Park, and then she and Professor Coppola wrote the review together. The review appears in Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Theatre Research (vol 27, no 1) summer 2012. Go Al!
- (April 22, 2013) John Matteson’s biography of Margaret Fuller has been nominated for a new award, the Plutarch Award for best biography. He's in excellent company and whether he wins or not, we know it is an honor to have been nominated. Congratulations John!
- (April 19, 2013) Amanda Freeman just wrote a series of three stories for Newsweek's Women in the World Foundation, trying to shine a spotlight on the link between women and poverty in America. Check them out: The Face of American Poverty Today, Life on the Brink¸ and Poverty Doesn’t Have to Be Permanent.
- (April 10, 2013) Congratulations to Veronica Hendrick who received one of the college's prestigious Faculty Scholarly Excellence Awards for exceptional scholarship in the previous three calendar year. Veronica's book Servants, Slaves, and Savages: Reflections of Law in American Literature came out in 2012, she is a Fullbright Scholar in Shanghai, China this spring, and her second book, Toni Morrison: Life, Liberty and Literature, is due out next year. Congratulations Veronica!
- (April 9, 2013) Congratulations to Richard Perez for winning a Distinguished Teaching Award! Confirming my claim that curricular innovators make great teachers, Richard, along with Belinda Rincon, has created seven new courses for the U.S. Latino/a Literature minor and is constantly finding ways to make Latino/a literature vital to the intellectual lives of his students. He has done more independent studies than any one of us (well, Toy Tung is giving him a run for his money) and for many students he is a life changer. As one student wrote in his nomination: "Professor Perez does not operate through the conventional teacher/student model; he lifts his students to the intellectual plain where he abides and makes a home for them." Congratulations Richard!
- (April 8, 2013) Congratulations to Mark McBeth for winning a Distinguished Teaching Award! We know that his innovative curriculum is award-winning - the CCCC's told us that - but, not surprisingly, good curriculum and good teaching go together! You've seen Mark in his office with groups of students holding weekly tutorials - that's just part of the picture of how he finds ways to engage students and hold them accountable to high standards. Congratulations Mark on a well-deserved award.
- (April 3, 2013) Please join me in congratulating Alexa Capeloto for winning the Distinguished Service to Students Award this year. Talk about good work being recognized. If you haven't noticed Alexa's incredible work with students -- teaching four days a week for years in order to reach all students, staying with them in the newsroom for hours on end, paying out of pocket for expenses not covered by the school, and always challenging our student journalists to become the best they can be -- then you haven't been paying enough attention to your deserving colleague. This woman works hard!
- (April 1, 2013) Note that our own Jonathan Gray will be on CUNY TV's "Study with the Best" talking about how the comics industry has blossomed into a billion-dollar industry.
- (March 30, 2013) Baz Dreisinger is spending her sabbatical year travelling in Africa to research her book on prisons, but she's also doing what she always does well, pieces for NPR on Caribbean-based music. Listen to this great piece on Weekend Edition about South Africa's reggae scene.
- (March 29, 2013) Adam McKible is quoted in a Washington Post article on literary Washington DC talking about When Washington Was in Vogue. For those of you who joined the party late: that's the Harlem Renaissance novel Adam discovered in his periodical research and had published a few years ago. He and the book are very cool.
- (March 20, 2013) Today the college recognized a series of milestones for faculty and staff at the college, and English featured prominently, as it always does. In addition to celebrating the tenure of Jonathan Gray, Toy-Fung Tung, Devin Harner, Veronica Hendrick, Alexander Long and Caroline Reitz, we noted the promotions of Devin, Veronica, Alexander, Caroline, and Allison Pease. What's more, the college recognized the many years of service of some of our colleagues and we were able to applaud Adam Berlin and Marc Dolan's 20 years at the college, Michael Blitz's 25 years, Peggy Escher's 30 years, Livia Katz’s 35 years, and Marny Tabb's whopping 40 years as a professor and sometime chair at the college.
- (March 8, 2013) Congratulations to Richard Perez and Belinda Rincón, conference organizers of Haciendo Caminos: Mapping the Futures of U.S. Latino/a Literatures. This is the nation's first-ever conference dedicated solely to U.S. Latino/a Literature, and in being so is an event of historic importance. Richard and Belinda have brought together about 200 U.S. Latino/a literature scholars and writers from all over the country who together are forging a field of intellectual inquiry of tremendous importance for the future of literary and latino/a studies. John Jay should be very proud to be part of this historical moment, and to be able to claim these intellectual leaders, Richard Perez and Belinda Rincon, as its own.