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.

Creative Writing Hosts 4th Annual Golden Gloves Literary Competition & Literary Fair

On Monday, December 4th, Fordham's eight creative writing classes participated in the 4th annual Golden Gloves Competition & Literary Fair. The classes competed at Fordham Lincoln Center for three prizes: Ram d'Or: Best in Show, Best Experiment, and Audience Award. Representatives from each class presented short, five minute selections of original work for judge Joseph O. Legaspi, Fulbright and NYFA fellow and acclaimed poet.

Before the competition, creative writing students enjoyed dinner and had the opportunity to learn about student publications from both campuses at the literary fair. Staff from Ampersand, Bricolage, HerCampus, The Observer, and the paper participated.

This year's Golden Gloves literary competition featured the following classes: The Long Poem (Prof. Chris Brandt), Publishing: Theory & Practice (Prof. Stacey D’Erasmo), My House But Not My House: Surrealism and the Imagination (Erica Ehrenberg), First Flint (Prof. Sarah Gambito), A Writer in New York (Prof. Sarah Gambito), Fiction Boot Camp (Prof. Jennifer Gilmore), Writing for Teens in an Adult World (Prof. Jennifer Gilmore), Flawless/Formation/Freedom: Writing About Race, Gender & Popular Culture (Prof. Scott Poulson-Bryant).

After each class presented original work, judge Joseph O. Legaspi deliberated on the winners of Ram d'Or and Best Experiment, while Fordham’s 2017-2018 Writer at Risk in Resident Kanchana Ugbabe addressed the audience and read from her short story collection, Soulmates, which explores being an insider and an outsider in both Indian and Nigerian cultures.

It was the first ever sweep for the prizes. The Ram d'Or went to Professor Sarah Gambito’s First Flint class, and the Best Experiment went to Professor Sarah Gambito's A Writer in New York class. Audience members casted their votes from their smartphones at the end of evening, and voted to award the final prize of the evening, the Audience Award, to Professor Sarah Gambito’s First Flint class.

Please consider a tax-deductible donation to the Lauer Scholarship

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In her 42 years of teaching at Fordham, Professor Kristin Lauer fostered the varied aspirations of her legions of devoted students--from dancers to those in law and law enforcement, from social workers to professional writers--by sharing her passionate belief in the great usefulness to life of writing well and studying the examples of great writers.

This scholarship will annually draw attention to a student who has embraced the major with a demonstrated sense of direction and purpose. She might have an internship where her music reviews are already appearing on-line.  He might be volunteering as a tutor of English at a local school and have begun work toward a teaching degree.  She may have written an account of her experience working in a hospital, or a lab, or aan animal preserve on her way to applying for a Fulbright or other prestigious fellowship. In putting a spotlight on examples like these (drawn from actual students), this prize will inspire majors and potential majors to connect their work in the classroom and the library with their ambitions in the world beyond.

Honoring Kris’s inspiring legacy, this scholarship looks to the future by recognizing and supporting students who see the English major as integral to a directed and meaningful life.

 

In honor of Professor Kristin O. Lauer's legacy, an anonymous donor will double all gifts, up to $100,000! For every $1 given, this generous donor will contribute $2 to the campaign! To donate,  please go to https://www.givecampus.com/schools/FordhamUniversity/kristin-o-lauer-scholarship

Call for Submissions: 2018 Creative Writing Prizes

The Creative Writing Program is now accepting Fordham student submissions to the 2018 Creative Writing Prizes. Applications will be accepted until February 7, 2018. Click on the titles of prizes to access the online submission manager. 

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Academy of American Poets Prize
Eligibility: Any Fordham student
Guidelines: Submit up to 5 pages of poetry (1 poem per page). Include year at Fordham and campus affiliation (Lincoln Center or Rose Hill). The author’s name should NOT appear anywhere in the manuscript.
Prize: 1 prize of $100

Bernice Kilduff White & John J. White Creative Writing Prize
Eligibility: Rose Hill senior undergraduate students
Guidelines: Submit up to (but no more than) 1500 words of text (fiction, non-fiction or poetry). Please identify the genre you are submitting. The author’s name should NOT appear anywhere in the manuscript.
Prize: 1 prize Cash Amount to be determined.

Margaret Lamb/Writing to the Right-Hand Margin Prizes
Eligibility: Any Fordham student
Guidelines: Submit up to (but no more than) 1500 words of text (fiction or non-fiction). Please identify the genre you are submitting. Include year at Fordham and campus affiliation (Lincoln Center or Rose Hill). The author’s name should NOT appear anywhere in the manuscript.
Prize: 1 prize of $100

The Reid Family Prize
Eligibility: Any Fordham student
Prize: 1 prize of $500