Courses Spotlight

A Special Guest with a Story to Tell

Olivia Lucas with Ambassador Joseph

Olivia Lucas with Ambassador Joseph

Raymond A. Joseph, the former Haitian Ambassador to the United States recently visited Professor Elizabeth Stone's "New Wave Immigrant Literature" class to tell his own immigrant story as someone condemned to death in absentia by the government of François Duvalier, president of Haiti from 1957-71. 

Joseph, who first came to the United States as a teenager to study theology and to translate the Bible into Creole, has also previously been a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, and one of the founders of The Haiti Observateur.  He is shown with class member Olivia Lucas who presented a brief biographical report on Ambassador Joseph to the class.  

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." 



June in London for 4 credits, Anyone?

Interested in London theatre or what's going on there in Modern Dance? How about Anne Boleyn?  Or Harry Potter? Or make-up trends in the urban UK?  Those are among the passions Prof. Elizabeth Stone's students brought with them and wanted to write about two years ago when she went to London for the month of June to teach an course in travel-writing sponsored by Fordham's Study Abroad Program.  She and her students took to the streets of London (and one day, Oxford) to eat, breathe and write about London--and earn credits that count toward the English major, minor or Creative Writing concentration.  The students reported on their passions and discovered new ones as they wrote about trends, interviewed friendly Londoners, and discovered strategies for cheap travel they wanted to share. Along the way, everyone took photos (see below) and got guidance from London residents, some of them Fordham Alums who now live in London.

          Now Prof. Stone is going back. If you're interested in joining her: read the course description (below the photo below) and then write to her at But hurry!  The deadline for enrolling is February 1st. Note that this course satisfies the EP3 requirement.  Also note, that your writing/photos/video done as part of the course assignments will be published in THE OBSERVER this summer.  If you're among those who are interested in exploring an internship related to publication, your published work from this course will make you a desirable candidate for some of the more competitive publication internships.

[Scroll past the photo to see a course description and more information]


ENGL 3014: Travel Writing in London
Elizabeth Stone
4 credits London June 1 - June 30 2017

There is a banner near the escalator in the Lowenstein building at FCLC which reads, “New York is my campus. Fordham is my school.”  For the purposes of this course, “London is your campus,” and that’s because London is very like New York.  Specifically both are among those iconic cities people just can't help writing about.  London has enthralled writers for centuries--from Samuel Pepys, Charles Dickens and Virginia Woolf to JK Rowling and Helen Fielding (in Bridget Jones' Diary). Now it's your turn.  

In this course, ENGL 3014, a creative non-fiction writing course, there are four components: 

  • First, inside the classroom (in a hidden and beautiful little campus right in the middle of London, not too far from Hyde Park) we will sample how other writers have characterized London.
  • Second, we will take to the streets to explore London life—we will go to the heart of London with its theatres in the West End, its open-air markets, its historic sites, its live-story-telling venues, and its museums (including some pretty weird ones—did you know there’s a Museum of Childhood?).  Plus, with Londoners as our guides, including a couple of Fordham Alums who now live there, we will explore a couple of interesting neighborhoods off the beaten track, where the tourists rarely go—Richmond or Hampstead Heath, not to far from the Kentish Town stop on the tube. We will also travel together outside of London, to Oxford, for sure; and in addition many elect to travel abroad on weekends—to Paris, or Barcelona or Amsterdam with classmates, many of whom rapidly become friends. Those trips offer opportunities to write as well. 
  • Third, we will take what we write and “workshop” those pieces (and photos and possibly multimedia) in class. 
  • Fourth, we will curate and publish our best work with appropriate use of social media so that we reach the readers we are meant for—undergraduates with time to explore.  The last time this course was given, people found favorite subjects—for one, it was Harry Potter, theatre, theatre, theatre; for another Anne Boleyn, for another the state of modern dance in London, for another cosmetic trends in London.

 If you’re interested in writing, whatever your major, this course will result in your having some publications publically available through a campus publication.  If you’re eventually interested in applying for internships that involve writing (publishing, publicity, advertising, journalism) this course is designed to familiarize you with online publication genres and the ways social media can be used to maximize the attention your writing gets.  Anyone interested in multimedia will also have an opportunity to create and post.

The course meets Mon-Thurs--two days a week in the classroom workshopping our work and two days a week out exploring and soaking up experiences to write about. This course fulfills your EPIII requirement.

Prof. Elizabeth Stone, who is a professional writer as well as a member of the English Department and the Creative Writing Program, taught this class in June 2015.  If  you’d like to talk to her or have questions, write to her at 

Graduate Courses at Lincoln Center

For the 2016-2017 academic year, Fordham English is offering a selection of graduate courses at our Lincoln Center campus (113 W 60th Street). This is a pilot program designed to make our graduate courses more accessible to students from the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium (IUDC). Doctoral students from the following schools are eligible to enroll in these courses: Columbia University, CUNY Graduate Center, New York University, The New School, Princeton University, Rutgers University, and Stony Brook University. Students from IUDC institutions who wish to enroll in one of these graduate courses should contact John Bugg, Director of Graduate Studies (


Spring 2017 Course Offerings:

Time: Friday, 11:30-2:00
Instructor: Lenny Cassuto
Description: The course focuses upon depictions of slavery in American fiction during the years before the Civil War.  We will read a selection of novels by blacks and whites, men and women, all concerned with the intensifying debates over “the peculiar institution.”  We will focus on the turbulent and troubled decade of the 1850s; our exploration of this time of increasing sectional tension through fiction will spotlight the birth of the African American novel and its dialogic engagement with the burgeoning literature of race in the United States. Authors include Melville, Stowe, Douglass, William Wells Brown, and Martin Delany, among others.

ENGL 6105: NEWS AND PLAYS, 1620-1779
Time: Friday, 2:30-5:00
Instructor: Stuart Sherman
Description: These days, the ubiquitous nexus of news and entertainment can elicit reactions ranging from an exasperated scowl to a surrendering shrug. But the phenomenon has a long history. When newspapers first appeared, in the early 1700s, the theater reacted with alarm, terrified that this upstart medium would deprive it of its status as sole oracle. Gradually, though, the two media discovered nearly limitless possibilities for synergy, collusive and competitive: ads, reviews, celebrity profiles, stage satires of news stories and the news business, and much more. We’ll track these transactions in newspapers spanning two centuries, and in plays by Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton, Susannah Centlivre, John Gay, Henry Fielding, David Garrick, and Richard Brinsley Sheridan. For better and for worse, infotainment begins here.

Fall 2016 Course Offerings:

Time: Friday, 11:30-2:00
Professor: Heather Dubrow
Description: We will evaluate both the history of close reading and the renewed interest—and renewed antagonism—revisionist versions of it are sparking today. What was, is, and will be “close reading” in literary studies? In engaging with the early history of this methodology (I.A. Richards, the New Critics, British analogues, etc.), we will consider how the climate in the academy and the country at large encouraged these approaches and how they interacted with and reacted against alternative methodologies. We will then explore and evaluate the many attempts to develop a type of close reading appropriate to our own critical moment—and the reactions against them by critics like Moretti; we will, for example, discuss the relationship of those attempts to the digital humanities and the implications of close reading for debates about the workings of lyric. The authors on whom we will focus are Shakespeare (mainly the nondramatic poems, though we will also discuss at least one play), Donne, and Spenser. Students will, however, have the option of writing their final paper on another poet from the early modern period—or from a different period. Other requirements will include a couple of shorter written exercises and participation in a course mini-conference. As this description suggests, the course is tailored to the needs of both advanced students in early modern literature and those in other fields or at earlier stages of their careers who are seeking an overview of the texts of that era and of critical methodologies and developments. Like all my graduate courses, this seminar will also discuss the challenges of professionalizing, such as transforming a seminar paper into an article and presenting a conference paper as effectively as possible.

Time: Friday, 2:30-5:00
Instructor: James Kim
Description: This seminar will stage a dialog between the field of race and ethnic studies on the one hand and that of affect theory on the other. In what ways does the affective turn call for a rethinking of the major themes of race and ethnic studies?  In what ways does recent work in race and ethnic studies challenge or complicate the growing hegemony of affect theory in the humanities?  How might these two bodies of scholarship deepen and enrich each other’s insights?  And how might we link them to other major issues currently occupying literary and cultural studies (e.g. neoliberal hegemony, temporality, and the limits of the human)? Our discussion of these theoretical matters will be grounded in readings of major works of twentieth-century and contemporary Asian American literature and culture. Possible authors include John Okada, Carlos Bulosan, Maxine Hong Kingston, Marilyn Chin, Li-Young Lee, Jessica Hagedorn, Chang-rae Lee, Susan Choi, Kiran Desai, Young Jean Lee, and others.


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.”

Sign Up for the Future: Procedural Poetry

There are a few spaces available in Fordham's Procedural Poetry Workshop class to be held at Lincoln Center in Fall 2015. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted that job openings will increase steadily for writers and editors with supplemental experience in new media and in related fields including graphic design, web design, and multimedia.  Learn cutting edge skills and work on poetry that is changing how the written word is generated and read.

ENGL 3017, Section 10    
Digital Creative Writing: Procedural Poetry  
Lincoln Center: Mondays/Wednesdays, 1:00 - 2:15 pm 

This course introduces students to the history and practice of procedural poetry: poems made by rules, constraints, appropriation and chance. In particular, the course focuses on teaching students how to use the Python programming language to create computer programs that produce poetry. Programming tutorials will be interspersed with readings from well-known practitioners in the field, focusing on technique, historical context and theory. No previous programming experience is required.   

Allison Parrish is a computer programmer, experimental writer, educator and game designer who lives in Brooklyn. A graduate of New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program, her teaching and practice center around digital poetics, procedural design, and Internet culture.