PhD student Will Fenton on Open Peer Review

PhD candidate Will Fenton this week published an article in Inside Higher Ed surveying the argument that humanities scholarship should embrace the practice of open peer review. Fenton quotes Cheryl Ball of West Virginia University, editor of Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, describing the humanities as "still stuck in that proprietary single-author non-collaborative model, where scholars are afraid to showcase their research before someone senior has put their stamp of approval on it through the traditional peer review process.” In contrast, Kairos and other journals such as Hybrid Pedagogy are experimenting with more collaborative, open models that may include, for instance, ongoing public revision of a submitted article, in which editors and readers suggest changes and additions to drafts after the piece is published in draft form online.  

It's a thought-provoking article--read it here

Participants at the Digital Pedagogy Lab summer institute.

Participants at the Digital Pedagogy Lab summer institute.

What English Courses Will You Take in Fall 2017?

The eagerly anticipated list of Fall 2017 Fordham English courses is now on line. Click here to see both undergraduate and graduate courses at the Lincoln Center and Rose Hill campuses, as well as English courses offered through the School of Professional and Continuing Studies (PCS). 

  • Undergraduate English Majors and English Majors with a Creative Writing Concentration: If you haven't fulfilled your Theory Requirement already, take "Theories of Comparative Literature" (at LC) or "Theory for English Majors" (at RH). 
  • Take pre-1800 literature courses such as "The Medieval Traveler," "Early Renaissance Poetry," and "Opening Heads: Writing About Minds and Brains Before 1800." Plus we're offering Shakespeare courses on both campuses, as usual. 
  • Take post-1800 courses such as "New Wave Immigrant Literature," "Virginia Woolf," "Disobedience in Literature," and "Comparative Studies in Empire." 
  • If you're at Lincoln Center, consider electives offered through PCS, including "Publishing: Theory and Practice;" "The Pearl Poet and His Book;" "Black Atlantic Literature: Imagining Freedom;" and "Fiction into Film." 
  • You can choose from Creative Writing courses such as "A Writer in New York;" "Fiction Boot Camp;" and "The Long Poem;" as well as "Writing for Teens in the Adult World;" "Literary Arts Management;" and "Flawless/Freedom/Formations: Writing on Race and Popular Culture." 
  • Advanced undergraduates can take the Department Seminar on "Novels by Women from Jane Austen to Toni Morrison," as well as Senior Values Seminars on "The Bible in English Poetry" and "Extraordinary Bodies." 
  • If you're an advanced undergraduate looking for an additional challenge, or for a sense of what graduate school might be like, you may want to try a graduate course that's open to undergraduates. "Natural History and Ecology;" "African American Autobiography;" and "Introduction to Early Modern Studies" are all being offered at Rose Hill, while "Modern Language Politics" will be at Lincoln Center.
  • Graduate Students may also want to take--alongside "Research Methods;" the "Pedagogy/Theory Practicum;" the "Masters Capstone;" and/or "Academic Issues"--such courses as "French of England: Texts and Literacies in a Multilingual Culture" or "Late Medieval Women." 
  • You can also consider the graduate classes being offered at the Lincoln Center campus: "Modern Language Politics" and "Concepts of Culture." 



English Major Claire Kim Profiled

Claire Kim graduated on February 1 with a double major in English and Art History. Her research was the subject of this profile in Fordham News. The article was written by Tom Stoelker. 

Discovering Korea Through the Talmud

When recent Fordham College at Rose Hill graduate Claire Kim took a class on ancient rabbinic texts with Sarit Kattan Gribetz, Ph.D., assistant professor of theology, the last thing she thought she’d be learning about was her Korean culture.

But Kattan Gribetz had come across a curious fact: Many Koreans read the Talmud.

Kattan Gribetz had seen a news article and one television clip on the Talmud’s immense popularity in Korea. On a whim, she ordered copies of the Korean translation, even though she didn’t speak or read the language.

As chance would have it, Kim went to Kattan Gribetz’s office to pick up a paper from class, and Kattan Gribetz asked her if she had ever heard of the Korea-Talmud connection. Kim, who grew up in Southern California and went to a Korean school on the weekends, said she told her professor that the perception of popularity must be overblown.

Later that day, however, she called her mother and asked if she had heard of the Talmud.

“She told me that everyone in Korea has a copy of the Talmud, though she didn’t realize it was a religious text,” said Kim.

Thus began a two-year research project of translating and comparing the Korean versions to the Babylonian Talmud and other ancient rabbinic texts.

The project was fostered through the University’s Undergraduate Research Program (LINK). Together, Kim and Kattan Gribetz attended two conferences in two countries and produced a paper, “The Talmud in Korea: A Study in the Reception of Rabbinic Literature,” that will soon be published by the Association for Jewish Studies Review.

Along the way, Kim said the project also brought her closer to her parents and her culture.

“I called them a lot more because I had so many questions about certain words or nuances I couldn’t pick up on, because I wasn’t born and raised in Korea,” said Kim. “I pride myself on being a part of two different cultures, but this was definitely a wakeup call; there are a lot of things I don’t know about Korea.”

Kattan Gribetz said their research explored the roundabout journey of the Korean Talmud. In the late 1960s, Rabbi Marvin Tokayer, who had been stationed in Tokyo and Seoul as a chaplain with U.S. Air Force earlier in his career, returned to Japan as a rabbi.  There, a Japanese historian convinced him that a translation of the Talmud could be popular in Japan because people were curious about Judaism and Jewish history. In his book, Tokayer dispensed with the Talmud’s specifically Jewish laws and rules, and focused on themes that would resonate with a Japanese audience, such as hospitality, education, and kindness.

At some point, said Kattan Gribetz, Tokayer’s highly edited anthology of Talmudic stories found its way into a Korean translation. Illustrations and aphorisms were added, making the Korean version closer to Aesop’s Fables than to the rabbinic texts with which most Jews would be familiar.

“It’s strange that there’s such a small connection between the Babylonian Talmud and these books, and we were curious to see who was writing them and where they came from,” said Kim.

The two read through dozens of Korean versions and presented their findings at the 2016 international conference of the Society of Biblical Literature—which happened to be taking place in Seoul, South Korea. This past December they presented the research again in Kim’s hometown of San Diego at the Association for Jewish Studies conference.

“I couldn’t read the text without Claire, and she didn’t know enough about rabbinic sources to connect the two,” said Kattan Gribetz. “Ours was the perfect collaboration.”

Kim, who double majored in English and art history, graduated on Feb. 1. She is now interning in the education department at the Guggenheim Museum and at the Asian American Arts Alliance. She said the project was a highlight of her time at Fordham.

An image from a children’s edition of a Korean translation of the Talmud.

An image from a children’s edition of a Korean translation of the Talmud.

“I know that it is rare for a university professor to be working with an undergraduate student on a research project like this, as well as to continue fostering me through submitting the article after graduation,” she said. “Being able to experience all of it with Dr. Kattan Gribetz and my parents was just lovely.”

Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honor Society

Phillip Robbins is an  English major in his junior year at Fordham College at Rose Hill. From Tampa, Florida, he is now the founder and president of Alpha Chi Omicron, Fordham University’s chapter of the Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society. Before transferring to Fordham, he attended the University of Tampa and joined their chapter of Sigma Tau Delta. Now, having become a Fordham Ram, he aims not only to establish a strong chapter at Fordham, but also to make Fordham’s chapter one of national prominence among the honor society.

by Phillip C. Robbins (FCRH 2018)

Having come to Fordham as a transfer student, I had to leave many of my clubs behind at University of Tampa. While Fordham offers similar clubs and organizations, one I had to part with was the honor society specifically for English majors, Sigma Tau Delta.

Longing for a deeper sense of academic community among my fellow English majors, I decided to take it upon myself to charter a chapter of the society at Fordham. Sigma Tau Delta brings more than just a connected space for students passionate about English. With its national prominence, history, and resources, the society presents its members with opportunities for scholarships, chances at getting published in national literary journals, and an international convention where students can share their  thoughts and ideas with members from schools well beyond their own regions.  Sigma Tau Delta breaks down barriers between schools, putting the work of Fordham students in front of a wider audience, not bound to our campuses.

Through the process of gathering signatures and meeting with members of the department, I have come to realize just how much untapped potential rests inside the program. Students, teachers, and department officers, all responded with tremendous enthusiasm at the prospect of gaining a chapter of this society. Especially encouraging was seeing that a group of students had tried to charter a Sigma Tau Delta chapter here once before. Now, with the full support of the school and the students, the English community finally gets the outlet it has wanted and needed for years.

Fordham University, a school that produced a literary mind as influential as Don Dellilo, needs an outlet to create and preserve its own literary tradition. This society will enhance the visibility of Fordham's English program. All that it requires now is for students to sign up and show their talents to the rest of the Sigma Tau Delta chapters.

Alpha Chi Omicron, Fordham’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, will induct its first class of members on Saturday, March 25, in Tognino Hall at Duane Library.  Phillip Robbins will be the chapter’s first president.  

2017 Creative Writing Prizes Winners Announced

Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 Creative Writing Prizes.

Aaron Pinnix for "Autobiographic, Thanatotic, Poetic"

Heath Hampton for "bienvenidos a nueva york" and "UN SELECCION DE SUS OTROS HIJOS"
Danni Hu for "Stomach"

Alexandra O'Connell for "Tightrope Walkers"

Anna Maria Voitko for "Matryoshka"

Emily Mendez for "1996"

The winners of the 2017 Creative Writing Prizes will be honored at a private reading and reception on Wednesday, April 5th.

Lauren Duca to Speak March 6

Lauren Duca--Fordham English class of 2013, contributing writer for Teen Vogue, writer, journalist and L.A. Press Club Award-winner--will be speaking in Keating Third on Fordham's Rose Hill campus at 7pm on Monday March 6. She'll be talking about the future of journalism and the role that young people have in politics, and will engage in a Q&A with students afterward.  

Since graduating from Fordham, Duca has written for The Huffington Post, The New Yorker, Vice, Cosmopolitan, The Nation, and numerous other magazines. Her Teen Vogue article, "Donald Trump is Gaslighting America," went viral in December, and resulted in her now infamous confrontation with Tucker Carlson, which she talked about here. She has since then been profiled in the New York Times and elsewhere,  including  by Fordham student, Natalie Zisa

Lauren Duca's visit to Fordham was organized by Lambda Pi Eta, and is co-sponsored by the Communication and Media Studies Department and the English Department. Please RSVP on the Facebook Event Page

Biblical Pageants Set to Life

At the end of this semester, Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow Boyda Johnstone's Interdisciplinary Capstone course 'Medieval English Drama in Performance' (a course originally designed by Andrew Albin for his Lincoln Center students) will be staging a student-led production of a medieval play on the Rose Hill campus. Practice for this is already well under way: in class on Friday, Feb. 17, her ENGL 4148 students performed renditions of cycle pageants, which are medieval versions of biblical stories from the creation of the world to the last judgment. The groups each chose their favorite pageant and produced original adaptations of The Fall of Lucifer (city of Chester), Adam and Eve (city of Chester), Joseph's Trouble About Mary (city of York), and The Second Shepherd's Play.

The first sketch re-imagined God as Bernie Sanders with "Dolan Trumpeh" and Steve Bannon as the rebellious angels Lucifer and Lighteborne; the second split God into male and female counterparts as Adam and Eve struggle to decipher the mating rituals of animals; the third offered audience prompts to "boo" or "applaud" while Joseph wonders which man helped Mary cuckold him; and the fourth highlighted the harsh labor conditions under which the poor shepherds work.

One of the distinctive features of medieval cycle drama is the way in which it humanizes and personalizes biblical stories, transporting ancient tales into the streets of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century England. So transporting the stories yet further into our modern context of the twenty-first century makes a lot of sense. After engaging in the difficult work of adapting the texts into a more modernized English, the students could more directly confront the bawdy and slapstick humor of the cycle, reinvigorating tales whose themes of betrayal, hubris, and human suffering remain equally relevant today. Medieval drama was performed by amateur actors drawn from the communities gathered around them, so any lack of talent or mastery over the material can actually enhance modern engagement with how the pageants originally worked. Even the inevitable flub or mistake, for ENGL 4148, could represent a meaningful part of the entertainment.

After the class, students requested that they do more of these performance workshops, since it brought these somewhat esoteric pageants to life. So stay tuned for more performances from ENGL 4148!