American Literature

9th Annual English Inaugural Lecture to Feature Edward Cahill

Nine years ago, Edward Cahill suggested to the department chair that we should organize an inaugural lecture each year, at which a Fordham English faculty member would present his or her work to interested faculty, graduate students, and others. It was a great idea, and the annual inaugural lecture has become a beloved tradition. It opens the academic year with a discussion of intellectual substance, but it is also a festive occasion, at which new faculty and graduate students are welcomed to the department, transitions are marked, and delicious food and beverages are consumed. 

This year, on Wednesday September 14th at 4pm, Professor Cahill himself will deliver the Inaugural lecture. His talk is titled “Striving and Rising in the American Plantations," and it will take place in the  O'Hare Room on the 4th Floor of the Walsh Family Library on Fordham's Rose Hill campus. All are welcome to the lecture, and to the reception that will follo. 


English Graduate Course Lineup

Summer and Fall 2015 feature an array of interesting English graduate course offerings. 

A seminar on Horror and Madness in Fiction and Film is being offered in Fordham's Summer Session 2. The course counts for an American 2 or Elective Requirement and is open to non-degree students.

The Fall 2015 English graduate course schedule includes Research Methods; Theatrical Enterprise in Early Modern England; Romanticism and Private Life; Eighteenth Century Travel; Memory, Trauma, Narrative; Approaches to American Literature Before 1900; 20th Century American Novel: A Violent Survey; Themes in Pre-Conquest Literature; and Late Medieval Women. Two creative writing options include a Master Class on The Short Story and a Playwriting Workshop.

For continuing graduate students, registration begins on April 7th for Summer and Fall 2015 English Graduate Courses.

Students who are not matriculated at Fordham may apply for non-degree enrollment now.

For further information, please contact Martine Stern at

James Van Wyck on Evangelical Emotions

Fordham English PhD student James Van Wyck is arguing in his dissertation that 19th-century Evangelical texts relied heavily on an appeal to readers’ emotions, a technique born from a sentimentalist ethos that continues to inform Evangelical reading habits today. His research has led him to curate an exhibition on evangelical fiction at Drew University, and was recently covered in an extensive story in Inside Fordham.  

From Inside Fordham:

Evangelical Christians have long acknowledged that anti-intellectualism has plagued their religious tradition. As Evangelical historian Mark Noll put it in 1994, “The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.”

Scholars have linked this anti-intellectual bent to a variety of influences—for instance, the growing insularity of the Evangelical community, or the sway of charismatic church and political leaders. However, James Van Wyck, an English doctoral student in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, believes that it in fact stems from something seemingly innocuous: the last century-and-a-half of fictions that Evangelicals have been reading and writing.

To prove his point, Van Wyck has taken a daunting plunge into the archives to chronicle Evangelical literary trends and how these have influenced contemporary Evangelical thought. He argues in his doctoral dissertation that 19th-century Evangelical texts relied heavily on an appeal to readers’ emotions, a technique born from a sentimentalist ethos that continues to inform Evangelical reading habits today….. Read the full story by Joanna Mercuri.

From the Drew University website:

In the mid-19th century, writers of Christian fiction had to be creative to get their stories to a population that was spread out geographically and didn’t always have easy access to books.

It became popular for writers to serialize their books through magazines, newspapers and other periodicals that were published weekly and monthly. Those articles included dramatic soap-opera style stories, children’s parables and other evangelical fiction, some written by bestselling authors.

While conducting research for his dissertation in Drew’s United Methodist Archives, James M. Van Wyck, a Fordham University doctoral student, came upon several examples of Christian evangelical fiction from the mid-19th century, offering a glimpse at popular fiction from over 100 years ago.

Van Wyck and Christopher Anderson, Head of Special Collections, Archives, and Methodist Librarian for the Drew University Library, have joined forces to present an exhibit highlighting some of these historic gems. Drew’s rich collection reflects an array of authors—women authors, bestselling novelists, African-American authors and writers of children’s stories…..Read the full story on Drew University’s site.