Fall 2018's Intermediate/Advanced English Workshops

The Department of Creative Writing is excited to announce that applications for Fall 2018's intermediate and advanced creative writing classes are now open. Admission to intermediate and advanced creative writing classes is available by writing sample submission application. Applications are due March 1, 2018. 

ENGL 4702 - Fiction Writing 3: The Outsiders: Reading and Writing Fiction about Outsiders, Outcasts, Exiles, and Rebels
Instructor: Stacey D'Erasmo
Rose Hill Campus, Tuesdays/Fridays: 2:30 - 3:45 p.m.
Advanced Fiction Workshop, Prerequisite: Writing sample application
It is often those on the margins of society who have not only the most interesting vantage point on the center, but who also have extraordinary stories of their own to relate. In this class, we will read, generate, and write fiction concerning folks on various cultural edges. We will read work by, among others, S.E Hinton, James Baldwin, Chinelo Okaparanta, Mary Gaitskill, Yoko Tawada, Paul Beatty, and Tayeb Salih. With any luck, these writers will inspire your own fiction as well.

Access the Application
Due by March 1st

ENGL 3967 - Creative Nonfiction Writing 2: Writing the World
Instructor: Lenny Cassuto
Lincon Center Campus, Thursdays, 6:00 - 8:45 pm
Intermediate Creative Nonfiction Workshop, Prerequisite: Writing sample application
In this writing workshop, we’ll discover and develop the vital spark of imagination in the realm of nonfiction. You will take your eye—and your “I”—in search of subjects outside of yourself. The world is our subject; together we’ll seek topics in people, things, and ideas. You’ll move from shorter writing tasks to longer and more involved ones, while reading published essays to accompany your own work.

Access the Application
Due by March 1st

Find Your Ethical Voice with Fordham's Thought-Action Circle

This Monday, February 26th, the Creative Writing Department will be commencing its first student-involved Thought-Action Circle from 6:00-7:30PM in the South Lounge at Lincoln Center Campus. This model, initially conceived as a gathering of faculty combining reflection, research and action with the intention of effecting ethical change in the world, is now open to students. 

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Monday's meeting will act as a pilot for a six-week-cycle in which participants will dedicate themselves to reflecting constructively upon a challenging question generated by the group. The Thought-Action Circle will turn challenges into questions, questions into thought, and thought into action. The Creative Writing Department hopes to enact an ongoing practice of finding one’s ethical voice in order to inspire responsible inquiry, research and action. 

The Thought-Action Circle is a method of honest, collective, open-ended inquiry and practice. Have questions about the Thought-Action Circle? Curious to learn more about this model of effective reflection? Have your questions answered at the kick-off meeting this Monday, February 26th in the South Lounge. 

English Faculty Receive Fellowships

Congratulations to English Department faculty members who have been awarded Fordham Faculty Fellowships! 

Parroting Art

Fordham English Professor Christopher GoGwilt in Central Park with a pair of starlings (Photo by Tom Stoelker. This photo and the accompanying story--also by Tom Stoelker--originally appeared in Fordham News on January 17, 2018)

Fordham English Professor Christopher GoGwilt in Central Park with a pair of starlings (Photo by Tom Stoelker. This photo and the accompanying story--also by Tom Stoelker--originally appeared in Fordham News on January 17, 2018)

A new book of essays published by Fordham University Press titled Mocking Bird Technologies: The Poetics of Parroting, Mimicry, and Other Starling Tropes, examines the role that starlings, parrots, and other mockingbirds play in literature, both as motifs and as metaphors. Fordham Professor of English Christopher GoGwilt, Ph.D., edited the book with Melanie D. Holm, Ph.D., assistant professor of English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Are you a bird watcher?

I wouldn’t style myself a bird-watcher, but I am fascinated—actually I’m a bit obsessed—with one particular bird: the starling.

What intrigues you about them?

They’re pretty much the common birds that you see all around the city, iridescent with speckles. But they’re not natural to the Americas. In the late nineteenth century, a man called Eugene Schieffelin took it as his project to populate the United States with all the birds in Shakespeare. In the early 1890s he released two flocks of European starlings in Central Park and now you find them all across North America. Starlings, like parrots, can be trained to talk; but in the wild they imitate whatever sounds are going on in the environment and use the bits and pieces of what they hear to make up parts of their song.

Like the sounds of the city?

You may think you’re hearing the squeaking wheel of a cab, but it might well be a starling in a tree or on a lamppost.

How did the book come about? 

Professor Holm and I put together a seminar on the topic of bird mimicry for the American Comparative Literature Association. Many of the people who have essays in this volume were part of that seminar. One of the fun discoveries for me was how deep and wide the historical scope of the pairing of parrot and starling is in literature.

Besides being a trope, how else do the parrot and starling relate to literature?

The person who has written the coda for this book, Sarah Kay (professor of French literature at New York University) focuses on medieval lyric and is an expert on troubadour poets. She’s written about two sides of troubadour poetry – the parrot’s way and the nightingale’s way. The parrot evokes parody, imitation, plagiarism, while the nightingale is associated with lyric originality. Kay argues that the troubadours made use of both mimicry and originality.

The troubadour is a rather Eurocentric figure. Is mimicry universal in art?

Our pairing of parrot and starling opens the whole question of bird mimicry to an even broader comparative and global perspective, reaching back to Sanskrit and Chinese literature. The Chinese novel, Dream of the Red Chamber(one of China’s four great original novels) features a parrot and a starling (or crested mynah). As with other traditions, birds are associated with the making of poetry, but also with the quoting of poetry, the parroting of poetry. In Sanskrit traditions, going back even further historically, you have parrots and starlings often linked together, and that’s the template for the book.

If everything is parroted, where’s the art? Is anything original?

Art usually requires both original creation and copying — like the starling, stealing bits from elsewhere.

Wouldn’t modernism represent a total break from tradition?

No, modernist art just returns to the terms of ancient questions about originality— explicitly so in the canonical American and British modernists, like Pound, Eliot, and Joyce. The break may create fragments, but they are still fragments of tradition. A collage, or mocking bird, technology.