English Profs Gold and Sicker Edit Joyce Studies Annual

For more than a decade, scholarship on the work of literary giant James Joyce found a home in the Joyce Studies Annual, a premier journal created in 1989 by Thomas Stanley at the University of Texas.

When Stanley retired as editor in 2003, the journal went unpublished for years—that is, until two Fordham English professors and the Fordham University Press picked up the project in 2007 to continue the legacy. Professor of English Philip Sicker and Associate Professor Moshe Gold are now the co-editors of JSA, which pays homage to “the most influential novelist of the 20th century.”

Read the entire article, which was written by Joanna Mercuri and published in Inside Fordham on December 8, 2014. 

The Golden Gloves Literary Competition

On December 3rd, ten creative writing classes touched gloves and competed in a super-literary battle.  Each class presented five minutes of work and this ranged from a film noir short film, to experimental hypertext and family memoir.

Professors Frank Boyle and James Kim judged the competition and selected Shannon Morrall's short story "The Adventures of Albert Price" from Amy Benson's Fiction Boot Camp class as the winner.  Read the winning story.

An English Major at the Center of the Action

John Bonazzo (RH '15) writes the same kinds of exams and essays as do most Fordham English majors, for courses such as "Introduction to Old English," "Modernism and Cinema" and "Oddity and Creativity." In between those scholarly pursuits, he writes stories with headlines such as "Thousands Gather in Midtown to Protest Eric Garner Decision," "300,000 New York Workers Are Paid Less than Minimum Wage," and "Diocese of Brooklyn’s New Ad Campaign Employs Selfies and Hashtags." 

These are not the titles of English papers. John is finishing his second semester in an internship at the New York Observerone of the few New York media companies  where interns actually get to write--which, he says, is a "big plus for an English major." On the days he works at the Observer, John files at least one story a day for their website. Some are small, aggregated blog posts, while others allow him to go into the city and report live on breaking stories.

Most recently John had the opportunity to cover the protests of a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner. He has also been featured in the print edition as part of their Education Supplement, keeping the metro area abreast of big news at Fordham. "Working at the Observer," says John, "has been a great opportunity for me to hone my craft." 

For a complete archive of stories John Bonazzo has written for the Observerclick here.  

Sound Studies Scholar Andrew Albin

The sound of a New York City subway roaring beneath an apartment building at night will usually startle a newcomer. Over time, though, the sound becomes familiar and gradually fades, until one day that same New Yorker might stop hearing it altogether.

“In a way, you become a New Yorker when you become accustomed to the sound of the subway running by,” said sound scholar Andrew Albin, Ph.D. “Those two very different relationships to that sound, [being startled versus not hearing the train at all], are tied to two different identities.”

Albin, an assistant professor of English, works in an emerging field in the humanities known as sound studies. The field explores how we experience sound and what meanings sound holds for us as individuals, within our communities, and in our social and historical contexts.

“Sound scholars are interested in the full range of sound experiences—speech, soundscapes, music, environmental sounds, animal sounds, imagined sounds, and so on,” said Albin, who also specializes in medieval literature. “[How do] social, cultural, material, environmental, and historical [factors] influence the way listeners actually hear those sounds?”

Some questions that a sound scholar might tackle include: Did medieval audiences listen to music with “different ears” than modern audiences, who listen to reconstructions of medieval music on iPods? Does our experience of sanctity change based on whether we worship in a hushed and hallowed Catholic cathedral versus among the jubilations of an evangelical church? How does growing accustomed to the screech of the subway become a sign that you’ve become a New Yorker?

“The silence of the countryside or the hubbub of the city… can inform the ways you conceive of yourself, the way you understand your community, the values you hold, and even the texts you read and music you listen to and how you listen to it,” Albin said.

“Sound scholars are finding ways to talk about that. They ask, ‘What are the meanings that are attached to these sound experiences? Why do they take the shapes that they do? What patterns are emerging and what does that tell us about the culture in which we live?’”

Albin’s current research focuses on the works of 14th-century English mystic Richard Rolle, who was famed for his alleged ability to hear the sound of angels singing. His auditory experience of the divine sets him apart from other medieval mystics, whose mystical experiences of God were primarily visual, or even avoided the five senses entirely. This peculiarity, however, made Rolle a controversial figure.

“His critics were very skeptical of him,” Albin said. “Their response was to complain there’s no way to say for sure whether or not he is hearing angels singing. More likely than not, they said, he’s probably just enjoying a rich diet, drinking lots of wine, and hallucinating.”

Nevertheless, Rolle became one of the most widely read authors in medieval England. He went on to pen a mystical treatise, the Melos amoris, of which Albin is doing the first English translation. In it, Rolle writes a sort of “musical” text, full of alliterative and rhythmic prose, to gesture toward the beauty of angelic song and illustrate how the devout soul can become like a “musical harmony, a perfect fourth,” Albin said.

Rolle’s mysticism spread throughout northern England, launching angel song to what might have been No. 1, had there been medieval music charts. However, this ability to hear angelic song was not bestowed upon just any believer, Rolle stipulated. The ability meant you were one of God’s “predestined elect” and thus guaranteed a place in heaven. With their promise of spiritual supremacy on earth and a reserved seat in paradise, Rolle’s claims began making waves in the socio-religious hierarchy.

“You can claim to hear it and nobody can prove it one way or another. And to claim you hear angels’ song potentially means that you acquire a kind of social cache, a spiritual authority that allows you to move around in social categories that you didn’t have access to and to speak in arenas you otherwise couldn’t speak in—especially if you’re a lay person,” Albin said.

“It becomes this widespread phenomenon where people are hearing angels left and right. So the mystics of the following generation write documents explaining to people that they may think they are hearing angelic song, but they’re actually not—they’re thinking too hard or wanting it too much and hence deluding themselves into thinking it’s happening.”

In addition to translating the Melos amoris, Albin is collaborating with Sine Nomine, a musical group in residence at the Pontifical Institute for Mediaeval Studies in Toronto, to bring Rolle’s mysticism to life.

“One manuscript of the Melos amoris has two items in it—one is the treatise in Latin and the other is a gathering of music notation. And no one has noticed that these two are next to one another,” Albin said.

The group will perform a concert in December of 2015 featuring Rolle’s music and a recording of the performance will be packaged with Albin’s translation, which is due out in 2017.

“When a medieval text that’s all about angels singing is put next to a collection of medieval music, you have to think there’s something interesting going on there,” he said.

Written by Joanna Mercuri and published in Inside Fordham on November 17, 2014



Enelow Reviews Stella Adler Biography

Shonni Enelow's book review of Stella! Mother of Modern Acting recently appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books. Enelow is an assistant professor of English at Fordham University, where she teaches courses in theater history, performance studies, and dramaturgy. She is the author of Method Acting and Its Discontents: On American Psycho-Drama, forthcoming from Northwestern University Press (2015). Enelow also recently co-authored a casebook on theater and the nonhuman with Una Chaudhuri, titled Research Theatre, Climate Change, and the Ecocide Project: A Casebook (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), which includes her one-act play, Carla and Lewis.

Stay Woke: Write Yourself In

On Friday, November 14, Fordham students, faculty and members of the public gathered together at both Rose Hill and Lincoln Center for Stay Woke: Write Yourself In

At Rose Hill, the Fordham b-Sides began the event on Eddie's, right outside of Dealy Hall with a rendition of The Beatles' "Let it Be" as well as the civil-rights song "We Shall Overcome." 

Attendees then moved to the McGinley Music room, where they held an engaged discussion on their personal experiences with race, their thoughts on events in Ferguson, and their feelings about identity, followed by a creative writing exercise.

Several hours later, at Lincoln Center, students, faculty, and community members met to hold a remembrance for Michael Brown and other victims of racialized violence in the United States. The group sang "This Little Light of Mine," processing from within Lowenstein, down 9th Avenue, and stopping at the famed Lincoln Center fountain. There, the group recited some of the names of the fallen, including Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till, and Kandy Hall, among others.

The group then silently returned down 9th Avenue back to Fordham University, where they sat down with other students, faculty, artists, and community members to talk about their experiences of race in the United States.  Following this the group took part in free-writing sessions and then shared their poetry and prose with the room. 

Artists from around the country joined the Lincoln Center group by writing in real-time on a Google Doc which was projected onto the front of the room.

The Fordham Creative Writing Program has documented this event through photos, video, and hand-written materials. To view this powerful archive, click here.