Fordham’s 2017 LitFest: A Celebration of Literary Study and Excellence in Writing

On Monday, October 2nd, the English Department will be hosting Fordham University’s 2017 LitFest, a celebration of the discipline of literary study and excellence in writing. 

Student can look forward to:

  • The premiere of the new English department short film "Real Talk: Fordham English Alums" starring recent English major graduates: Jacqueline Battaglia, Kathrene Faith Binag, Liz Bowen, Catherine Davis, Lauren Duca, Lois Durant, Kamrun Nesa, and Thomas Snyder
  • A Survey of the Field: Brief presentations by English department Chair, Glenn Hendler and Associate Chairs Daniel Contreras and Vlasta Vranjes. Why did I decide to study literature? What does it mean to study literature now?
  • 5 Burning Questions: Your top five English department questions answered!
  • Meet & Greet Caucuses by literary interest
  • Book Swap: Bring your gently loved books to trade and marvel over
  • The Mary Higgins Clark Address "Writing Novels - Trust the Process, Work Often, Die Happy" by celebrated author A.S. King
  • A.S. King booksigning
  • Giveaways of works of classic literature and autographed copies of novels by Mary Higgins Clark Chair, A.S. King
  • English Dept Swag prizes
  • A Reception

Rose Hill Students: Please write to mtorresbates@fordham.eduand if you would like to receive Ram Van tickets for this event.


Alum of English Department and LALSI to read in Poets Out Loud


This year's inaugural event in Fordham’s poetry reading series, Poets Out Loud, features a poet with many connections to our university. Melissa Castillo-Garsow received her M.A. in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from Fordham. She was a graduate assistant for the American Studies Program and also holds an Advanced Certificate from LALSI, the Latin American and Latino Studies Institute. And a further connection:  her publications include a novel co-authored with Fordham University African and African American Studies Professor Mark Naison. On the occasion of that novel's publication, English Connect interviewed Castillo-Garsow.


In accepting the invitation, she let us know how pleased she is to be returning to Fordham for this reading—a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, she is currently living in the Boston area--, and we are very pleased to welcome her back.

Castillo-Garsow's engagement with issues of immigration and Mexican culture runs throughout both her poems and the dissertation she wrote at Yale, entitled “A Mexican State of Mind: New York City and the New Borderlands of Culture.” And much of her work engages with connections between African-American and borderlands studies.  Writing about her poetry, recently published in Coatlicue Eats the Apple, the distinguished Latino poet Willie Perdomo (himself a former Fordham faculty member), observes that it “subvert[s]  sacred symbols with angsty, humorous rebellion.”  Both thatpowerful poetry and her wide ranging publications in other fields—they include  co-editing (with Jason Nichols) La Verdad: An International Dialogue on Hip Hop Latinidades, and editing  ¡Manteca!: An Anthology of Afro-Latino Poetry--demonstrate why we are proud to include her in our first reading.

This reading also includes another impressive poet and fiction writer,  Donna Masini, who teaches at Hunter College. Her third book of poems, 4:30 Movie, is forthcoming; she is also the author of two other collections of poetry, entitled Turning to Fiction and That Kind of Danger, and of the novel, About Yvonne.

This event will take place at our Lincoln Center campus, 12th floor lounge, on September 25 between 7 and 8:15 PM . Like all the readings in Poets Out Loud, this is free and open to the public. Refreshments are served, and all audience members have the opportunity to win a free inscribed book by one of the poets.

Atlantic Magazine Calls Enelow's Essay "Exceptional"

The Atlantic magazine recently placed Fordham English Professor Shonni Enelow's article on contemporary styles of film acting on its list of "exceptional works of journalism" from 2016.

Published in October of that year in Film Comment,  Enelow's essay discusses performances by Jennifer Lawrence (in Winter's Bone and The Hunger Games); Rooney Mara (in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Carol); Oscar Isaac (in Inside Llewyn DavisA Most Violent Year, and even Star Wars); and Michael B. Jordan (in Fruitvale Station and Creed), arguing that while "it’s notoriously difficult to analyze film acting," even so "acting styles, taken in the aggregate, are...unusually good barometers of cultural modes, themes, and ideas."

Taken together, Enelow argues,  "the ambivalence about the trustworthiness of emotional expression" visible in these performances can tell us things about our present moment--the essay is titled "The Great Recession"--and its differences from the historical moments when Method Acting was prevalent or when the classical Hollywood styles of Greta Garbo and Cary Grant held sway in movies. For Enelow, "these performances make visible what cultural critic Lauren Berlant calls 'crisis ordinariness': the mundanity of trauma in a world of unexceptional violence."

  Shonni Enelow

Shonni Enelow

“While cooler styles have always been with us, from Greta Garbo and Cary Grant to Steve McQueen and Charlotte Rampling, those actors communicate that they are above or outside of emotion, either aristocratically detached or winningly unflappable. In contrast, the thread of resistance to and evasion of spectacular emotionality among many in today’s new generation of stars doesn’t evoke emotional detachment or indifference but rather a tortured mistrust of expression itself—one that, in its understated way, clearly forms its own kind of emotional appeal to the audience at the same time as it dramatizes why the actor must resist making one.”

Fordham Hosts June 2017 Conrad Conference


During the opening keynote lecture of “Conradian Crosscurrents: Creativity and Critique,” organized by the Joseph Conrad Society of America, Italian philosopher Adriana Cavarero asserted that Heart of Darkness “vibrates and hangs on the reader’s doors of perception.” In the audience, scholars and students of Conrad were already finding that the conference, too, was providing them with pieces of knowledge that would hang on their minds long after its conclusion.

 Held at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus, at the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York, and at the Kościuszko Foundation on June 1-3, 2017, the conference sought to reassess Conrad’s position at the cross-currents of contemporary creative and critical work of all kinds. Distinguished and emerging scholars presented papers on topics such as sound studies, race, science, history, politics, and biography. Along with Cavarero, James Clifford, J. Hillis Miller, and the novelist Margaret Cezair-Thompson gave keynote addresses. Co-sponsored by Fordham's Comparative Literature program and the English department, and with funding from the Dean of Arts & Sciences Faculty and the GSAS Dean, the conference was organized by Chris GoGwilt, Professor of English and Comparative Literature.

 The steering committee for the Joseph Conrad conference. 

The steering committee for the Joseph Conrad conference. 

Three recent graduates of Fordham’s English MA program – Ryan Gilligan, John Miele, and Lindsey Pelucacci – also presented papers. Speaking on Heart of Darkness, Ryan argued for Marlow’s configuration as an incomplete Buddha who emerges as a fool at several points throughout his narration. Focusing on The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus,’ John Miele discussed the white liberal voice that commands the text, and Lindsey Pelucacci addressed the logical contradictions within the narrator’s sense of truth as a racialized construction.

For more on the conference, including photographs of events and accounts of keynote lectures, please visit the website.

Thanks to Lindsey Pelucacci for writing up this story

Kundiman Signs 3 year Partnership with Fordham

Each summer, after the dust settles from graduations and reunions, Fordham’s Rose Hill campus welcomes the Kundiman Retreat, contemplative programming that brings established Asian-American poets and writers together with students for master classes.

Now Kundiman, a nonprofit dedicated to the development of Asian-American literature, has signed a three-year agreement with Fordham College at Rose Hill that will bring internships, a course on The Writer’s Life, and more student-centered programming to campus.

Join the Blackboard Book Group on A.S. King's *Ask the Passengers*


Looking for some good reading to share and talk about with others? Read Ask the Passengers, a work of Young Adult fiction by acclaimed writer A..S. King. She'll be visiting Fordham the week of October 2, 2017 as the Mary Higgins Clark Chair to give a reading and lead workshops. Professors Stacey D'Erasmo and Glenn Hendler are leading a loose, open, summer-long book group with this book on Blackboard, and we'd love for you to join in. 

  • First: buy the book and start reading it
    • Then: log into Blackboard.
    • If you're an English major, you're already enrolled in the "Ask the Passengers Book Group." Just log in to Blackboard, click on "Organizations," and you'll see the name of the group. 

There are at least three ways to participate:

  1. Talk. Go to the discussion board and you can either respond to one of the questions there or start a discussion thread of your own.
  2. Write. Go to "Letters to Passengers" and you can join the novel's main character, Astrid Jones, by writing something to anonymous passengers in airplanes (or the subway or bus or in cars on the won't make sense until you've started reading the book, but then you'll see what we mean).
  3. Read. Click on "interesting stuff" and read some of the web links and documents posted there. We'll keep adding more over the course of the summer. And you can suggest items to be added, too!

Also: invite your friends to join the group (even if they're not English majors)! Anyone with a e-mail address can join the discussion by going to You can also go in to Blackboard to adjust your notifications so that you get e-mails whenever others post...or so you don't. 

The Backstory

Celebrated author Mary Higgins Clark, a Fordham alum, recently endowed a visiting professorship in creative writing, the Mary Higgins Clark Chair, which will bring to campus a distinguished writer who will do a public reading as well as lead workshops, seminars, and master classes. To honor Mary Higgins Clark's storied career as a writer of genre fiction, the English department is inviting writers who work in popular genres as our first Clark chairs. 

So, A.S. King will be visiting Fordham the week of October 2, 2017, as this year's Mary Higgins Clark Chair. A.S. King has been called “One of the best Y.A. writers working today” by the New York Times Book Review. King is the author of highly-acclaimed novels including her 2016 release Still Life with Tornado, 2015’s surrealist I Crawl Through It, Glory O'Brien's History of the Future, Reality Boy, the 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner Ask the Passengers, Everybody Sees the Ants, 2011 Michael L. Printz Honor Book Please Ignore Vera Dietz among others. She is a faculty member of the Writing for Children and Young Adults MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts and spends many months of the year traveling the country speaking to high school students. After fifteen years living self-sufficiently and teaching literacy to adults in Ireland, she now lives in Pennsylvania.

2017 Mary Higgins Clark Chair: Young Adult Novelist, A.S. King

 Our 2017 Mary Higgins Clark Chair will be the wonderful young adult novelist A.S. King, who has been called “one of the best Y.A. writers working today” by The New York Times Book Review. But we know that some of you knew that already, as fans of her novels Still Life with Tornado, I Crawl Through It, Reality Boy, and others. 

Faculty members Glenn Hendler and Stacey D’Erasmo have set up an online book club space on Blackboard, where students and faculty can discuss their reactions to A.S. King's 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner, Ask the Passengers. In Ask the Passengers, high school senior Astrid Jones finds that strangers might be the best people to confide in, especially when you find yourself with so many secrets to keep. As it turns out, some of those strangers have secrets of their own to share.the book—thoughts, ideas, feelings, and questions all welcome. To join the discussion, go to You'll need to log in to your Fordham Blackboard account. 

King will begin her visit with a talk titled "Writing Novels - Trust the Process, Work Often, Die Happy." It will take place at 6pm on Monday, October 2, in the McNally Amphitheatre on the Lincoln Center campus. For more information, and to RSVP (please do!) go to: