December 9: The Golden Gloves Literary Competition & Literary Fair

Nine creative writing classes representing both Lincoln Center and Rose Hill will touch gloves and compete in a super literary battle to determine the winners of the 2nd annual Golden Gloves Literary Competition.

This year, classes will have the opportunity to compete for three top prizes:

  • The Ram d'Or (Best in Show) 
  • The Audience Award (Audience favorite. Attendees will be able to vote by smart phone for this award)
  • The Best Experiment (Given for most innovative presentation)

We are honored to have professors Frank Boyle and James Kim as our judges.

Students will also have the opportunity to learn more about campus publications representing both Lincoln Center and Rose Hill at a Literary Fair prior to the start of the competition. We're excited to announce that staff from The AmpersandBricolageThe CommaCURAMODEThe Observer, and the paper will all be in attendance.

Join us on Wednesday, December 9th at 7 p.m. in Lincoln Center's 12th Floor Lounge to see who will prevail when the final bell rings in Fordham's match-ups of poetry and prose.

Sarah Gambito Profiled in Inside Fordham

Sarah Gambito, associate professor of English and director of Fordham's creative writing program, was the subject of this profile published in Inside Fordham on November 24, 2015. The story was written by Patrick Verel. 

For Creative Writing Professor, Words Nourish the Soul

Readers of a recent The New York Times review of the restaurant Tito King’s Kitchen at Jimmy’s No. 43 were treated to a snippet of poetry when the subject of pork belly came up:

“When God was Filipino, / he put a pig and fire together and called it porkissimo.”

The line—an excerpt from the poem “I Am Not From The Philippines”—was written by Sarah Gambito, an associate professor of English and director of the creative writing program.

It was, to her knowledge, the first time her work had been used in a restaurant review, though it was not the first time food had infiltrated her poetry and prose.

“I remember having a very delicious bowl of ramen with a friend, and saying, ‘What if a poem could be like this bowl of ramen on a cold, cold day? You know, carbs and broth and complete comfort,” she said.

“I’m interested in the idea of how that can happen in words.”

The theme of hunger comes up a lot in her work because she writes often about the immigrant experience. Her parents emigrated from the Philippines to the United States, and she grew up in Virginia, before moving to New York in 1995. Because she never lived in the Philippines and left Virginia so long ago, the concept of home is very much on her mind, she said.

A trip to the Philippines in 1999 on a faculty fellowship—her first as an adult to the country of her ancestors— made her realize she has many homes.

“The idea of feeling at home in multiple places is a different kind grace that I didn’t realize I’d have access to either,” she said.

“Much of my writing has been about the anguish of feeling displaced and the anger around that. I’m ready to also look at the other side of it, because I may not have a capital “H” home, but I have these lower case “h” homes in many places that I look.”

Having already published two collections of poetry, Matadora (Alice James Books, 2004) and Delivered (Persea Books, 2009), Gambito is currently at work on a new one, tentatively titled Virginia. It’s still unclear what form it will take, she said, but chances are that food will play a factor.

“There’s a great quote from the poet Lin Yutang: ‘What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child?’” she said.

Gambito came to Fordham in 2008, and in 2011, she became editor of Cura, Fordham’s literary magazine. The magazine, which is a collaboration among the faculty, the public, and students, publishes twice annually online. This school year’s theme, “Black Lives Matter,” was chosen in response to the recent racial bias events both on campus and off.

“Speaking with students, we said ‘We can do something about this. We don’t have to just observe. We can act as artists and encourage a voice against this action,” she said.

Claudia Rankine, whose book Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press, 2014) was a finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry, will help to edit the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 issues. Gambito teaches Citizen in her classes. She says one of the biggest challenges she faces is convincing students that the book, which recounts racial aggressions in encounters in daily life and in the media, is written for them, no matter what their racial background.

“We want to collect student voices from both campuses and feature them alongside the pieces we’re finding from members of the public. Poetry, fiction, some fantastic digital creative writing, creative nonfiction, visual arts; it runs the gamut,” Gambito said.

“It’s an issue for all of us to pay attention to.”

The Fall 2015 issue of Cura is being published at the end of the year, and is drawing some of its material from art coming from within the creative writing workshops. As such, Gambito is adamant that students are present for the workshops.

“It’s not just the poems that they bring in, or their stories, but it is what we co-create together. Sitting and speaking to each other is another kind of art. So I tell them, the workshop is mandatory,” she said.

“If you’re not here, we miss what you could have said. We miss what we could have created as a class,” she said. “I don’t make distinctions between writing and critiquing. We’re creating together, we’re imagining together what a poem can be.”

Profile: Fordham English's Grad Film Group

Whether you are a scholar of cinema or simply a lover of film, Fordham’s graduate Film Group can offer something for you.


The group formed in Spring 2014 at the initiative of Caroline Hagood, Will Fenton, and Matthew Lillo, after students were inspired by Moshe Gold’s class Horror and Madness in Fiction and Film. Since then, the group has met once a semester to watch films of diverse periods and genres. “We draw together graduate students from many different fields and backgrounds, as a venue to share their love of film and discuss important developments in the humanities through film and film theory,” said Elizabeth Light, who runs the group with fellow graduate student Caitlin Cawley.

Past screenings have featured Vertigo, The Red Shoes, and Near Dark. Prior to meetings, members read both contemporary and classic works of influential film critics and theorists, including Walter Benjamin, Julia Kristeva, and Slavoj Žižek, to supplement each screening and provoke conversation. Reading selections reflect both a broad scope and the latest trends in film scholarship, allowing members to explore up-to-date methods of film studies and preparing them to incorporate current criticism into their own work and target top journals for publication.

This semester, the group watched Let the Right One In, a stark, haunting Swedish vampire film that explores questions of violence, gender, and genre. Scholarship by Rochelle Wright and Anne Billson provided some background. The film was followed by a lively discussion and an excursion to Manhattan for the Graduate English Assocation’s "Beer & Books" event.

“One of the goals of our group is simply to build community, to provide a space for graduate students and faculty with shared interests to meet and converse,” said Caitlin Cawley. “That said, the group takes seriously its responsibility to represent film studies at Fordham.” The group’s members represent a wide diversity of interests and concentrations within the English department. Whereas some members joined the group simply because they love film, other members have found the material invaluable to their own research.

The group is funded annually by the English department, and has also received “invaluable guidance” from its faculty advisers, Moshe Gold and Shonni Enelow. Other professors have attended sessions related to their own research, such as Keri Walsh, who attended the showing of Vertigo when she was working on her book on American actor Mickey Rourke.

In the future, the group looks forward to expanding membership within the English department and elsewhere, such as the history and philosophy departments. The group also hopes to extend its reach to the Communication and Media Studies Department to incorporate a broader range of expertise and interest.

For more information, email Elizabeth Light at or Caitlin Cawley at


THE FORDHAM FILM GROUP provides a venue where Fordham graduate students and faculty can engage the growing importance of film, digital, and new media studies in the academy, and helps foster a learning community for graduate students interested in film studies and criticism.

Nick Flynn and Gregory Pardlo read at last Poets Out Loud event of fall semester

Nick Flynn

Nick Flynn

Gregory Pardlo

Gregory Pardlo

Poets Out Loud kicked off an exciting fall season of poetry with Carl Phillips and Lisa Sewell in September and Jennifer Michael Hecht and Ronald Wallace in October. Our final poetry reading of the fall semester, a joint effort with Poetry Society of America, will take place this Thursday, November 19 at 7 pm, and feature New York City poets Nick Flynn and Gregory Pardlo. Heather Dubrow, the director of the reading series, will introduce the Nick Flynn; Alice Quinn, the Executive Director of Poetry Society of America, will introduce Gregory Pardlo and moderate a discussion following the reading.

Comments from the first two readings testify to the impact the evenings have had on the audience, a mix of Fordham students, Fordham faculty, high school students and members of the NYC community.

"Such a wonderful event! I love the poets you bring in and the community you have cultivated."
"There's something mesmerizing about hearing a poet read their own work and the pow behind their verbal storytelling."

Nick Flynn is a poet and memoirist who won the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for his first poetry collection Some Ether (2000). His memoirs include The Ticking Is the Bomb: A Memoir of Bewilderment (2010) and Another Bullshit Night in Suck City (2004). Flynn divides his time between New York and Texas and teaches at the University of Houston. 

Gregory Pardlo is the winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Digest (Four Way Books). His poems have appeared in The Nation, Tin House and Best American Poetry and his first collection Totem received the APR/Honickman Prize in 2007. Pardlo lives in Brooklyn and teaches at Columbia. 

The reading starts at 7 pm in the 12th floor lounge at the Leon Lowenstein building of Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus (113 West 60th Street). It is free and open to the public; refreshments will be served.

Prior to the event, high school students from the area will participate in a poetry workshop as part of our ongoing outreach program.


This event is sponsored by the English Dept and the FCLC Dean's Office and funded in part by Poets & Writers with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.



Literature and Service: Susan Greenfield's "Homelessness" course

Fordham English Professor Susan Greenfield's course on "Homelessness: Literary Representation and Historical Reality" was the subject of this story in Inside Fordham, written by Joanna Mercuri and published on November 9, 2015.

The Needy and the Needed: Grappling with Tough Questions about Homelessness and Service

Molly Shilo was frustrated.

Professor Susan Greenfield

Professor Susan Greenfield

When she had signed up for Susan Greenfield’s course on homelessness this semester—an English course with 30 required hours of service learning—she was as ready and willing as any Jesuit-educated student to serve the community.

But when she showed up to volunteer at a Bronx shelter for women and children and was told that there was no need for her, Shilo was at a loss.

“When we fulfill a need, we feel important, we feel irreplaceable, and we feel satisfied,” Shilo, a junior at Fordham College at Rose Hill, said during Greenfield’s Friday morning class. “When . . . this need-based satisfaction was taken out of the [equation], I began to question what my motive was in doing service.

“Am I serving simply to feel good about myself, and is it okay if I am, as long as the result is the same? Am I doing it as a type of ‘humble brag,’ making sure everyone knows that I am a socially conscious, ‘good,’ and caring individual?”

Feeling conflicted about service

These are the tough questions that Greenfield, PhD, a professor of English, wants her undergraduate students to be bothered by. Her course, Homelessness: Literary Representation and Historical Reality, uses a literary approach to examine the complex issues surrounding homelessness. On the reading list are texts ranging from classics such as The Grapes of Wrath to contemporary memoirs such as Lee Stringer’s Grand Central Winter: Stories from the Street.

On the experiential side, students have heard stories firsthand from formerly homeless individuals who spoke to the class. In addition, the students are required to complete 30 hours of service in an organization that serves the homeless—a fairly easy quota to fulfill when you live in a city of more than 59,000 homeless men, women, and children. (In fact, this estimate is extremely low, because it does not include the number of people living on the street, nor the number of women and children in domestic violence shelters.)

The service component, it turns out, has prompted a healthy amount of internal conflict.

In response to Shilo’s predicament, another student in the class shared her ambivalence about the idea that volunteering helps the privileged become more aware of and sympathetic to those in need. “It’s service, but you’re just ultimately serving yourself,” she said. “I don’t have an answer to that dilemma.”

That may be, but educating and inspiring those who do service can still be useful, suggested another student. “Look at an organization like Part Of The Solution (POTS),” he said. “That’s how POTS began—[the founders]had an initial experience of service and then began that organization, which really does make a difference.”

The desire to “make a difference” is often what draws students to service, Greenfield said. In class, however, as they’ve begun to consider that desire, the students are learning that “making a difference” is a nebulous goal. Moreover, there seems to be a tacit power dynamic beneath their good intentions.

“Someone needs and someone is needed. Being needed feels good; being in need doesn’t feel so good,” Greenfield said. “That idea, to me, is important. Is there a way to do service that fosters equality rather than replicating the power problem that created the situation in the first place?”

One way to achieve that is to respect the autonomy of whoever is being served, she said. “Even a simple gesture [such as]saying ‘Can I help you?’ rather than ‘Let me help you,’ is a political change. It’s a move from ‘I’m going to do this’ to ‘Do you want me to do this?’ That’s how you can make a difference on the local level.”

Heroism and homelessness

Literature is an entryway into these kinds of conversations, Greenfield said. Many texts, such as Shakespeare’s King Lear and Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, exalt homelessness rather than view it as a social failing.

“The characters who fall socioeconomically ultimately rise as human beings. They become even better people,” Greenfield said. “There’s a certain nobility and integrity that comes from ending up at the bottom. It becomes a kind of heroic act to have fallen.”

And yet, that hardly serves as solace for someone living the trauma of homelessness. It still overlooks the question of whether one can ever alter the power struggle in the service dynamic—or, as Shilo wondered, whether it even matters if the end result still benefits the person being served (or at least does not cause harm).

“I always find when I teach this course that there’s a place at which my brain just stops. I can’t get beyond some of these questions,” Greenfield said. “It’s not like reading literature and discussing, where you have a eureka moment and reach some kind of conclusion.”

There’s no clear-cut answer, unfortunately. Greenfield cautions her students about this upfront: “Unless we ourselves have been homeless, we cannot presume to understand the trauma,” she wrote in the course syllabus. “But we can open ourselves up to learn about it and to work toward social justice.”

Sometimes, forming relationships are the only option available. To that end, stories are a good start.

“Literature is an exercise in imagining another person’s experience and being open to it,” Greenfield said. “To bring that kind of awareness and openness to people who you might normally just pass by and not even notice, it does change things.”

GSAS Futures: Upcoming Events

It isn’t too late to sign up for the next three GSAS Futures events.

Wednesday, November 18: Ethics Center Luncheon: Exploring Faculty Responsibilities Towards Students in Distress
     Keating Hall, Room 124 (Rose Hill campus)
     12 - 1:15 p.m.

This meeting will discuss instructor responsibilities toward students in distress. All faculty and teaching fellows are invited to attend. Lunch will be served.
If interested, email

Thursday, November 3: LearnIT – What’s So Delicious about Social Bookmarking?
     Leon Lowenstein Building, Room 309 (Lincoln Center campus)
     Video conference available in Dealy Hall, Room E-205 (Rose Hill campus)
     12 - 1 p.m.

Kristen Treglia, Senior Instructional Technologist, will discuss the social bookmarking web 2.0 tool, which can help a teacher manage useful websites for himself and his students.
If interested, RSVP here.

Wednesday, December 9: The Professor Is In: Book Review and Response Panel
     Walsh Library, Flom Auditorium (Rose Hill campus)
     1 - 2:30 p.m.

Faculty and students will discuss Dr. Karen Kelsky’s influential book, The Professor Is In, especially in relation to their own job searches and mentoring.
If interested, RSVP here.

Fordham English Alum Shares Advice with Grad Students

decker 2.jpg

On November 4th, the Fordham Graduate English Association held its first installment of the “What’s Next?” speaker series, which featured Fordham alum Dr. Sharon Decker, PhD, Chair of the Department of English and Foreign Languages at Centenary College.

Decker spoke to the department’s current PhD and MA students about her diverse employment experiences both before and after receiving her doctoral degree. In addition to adjuncting at local SUNY schools, she worked as the Executive Director of a non-profit organization in New York City and most recently earned tenure at Centenary College, where she is an eighteenth-century specialist.

Decker gave strategic and practical advice to those looking to parlay their research, writing, and public speaking skills into non-academic careers, as well as those who are or will be searching for academic jobs at small colleges and universities. Decker also talked to students about life beyond the job search, describing some of the day-to-day tasks of each profession. After the presentation, students continued the conversation with Decker over lunch.

The “What’s Next?” speaker series creates opportunities for graduate students to network with successful and enthusiastic alumni and prepare for a variety of career paths on the road ahead. The Graduate English Association was delighted to have Sharon Decker back on campus and looks forward to hosting another installment of this series next semester. 

The Graduate English Association extends its thanks to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for generously providing funding for this event.

This story was written by Callie Gallo