Undergraduate

Master Class on the Queer Middle Ages and Research for Social Justice 

On Thursday, April 11th, Professor Steven Kruger spoke to Fordham undergraduate and graduate students about his early career and research in medieval literature.  Dr. Kruger, visiting from CUNY Graduate Center, Queen’s College, New York, discussed his development as a scholar and his approach to writing.  Importantly, he addressed the significance of historical research that contributes meaningfully to present-day cultural issues.

The Master Class was inspired by undergraduate coursework done by this year’s Freshmen Honors cohort in the English Department. Upon reading Kruger’s article, “Claiming the Pardoner,” written in 1994, students wondered how Kruger might add to his views on Geoffrey Chaucer’s enigmatic character 25 years later.

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Dr. Kruger specializes in gender, sexuality, feminist and queer theory, and medieval literature.  Dr. Kruger's publications include many articles on these topics, as well as book-length studies including AIDS Narratives: Gender and Sexuality, Fiction and Science; Queering the Middle Ages (co-ed. with Glenn Burger); and The Spectral Jew: Conversion and Embodiment in Medieval Europe.

We are grateful for the support of Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies, the Department of English, and graduate student David Smigen-Rothkopf whose gorgeous flier artwork is featured here.

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Students Build a Play with the Pros

On Friday, April 5, theater director Noah Himmelstein joined the students of Prof. Andrew Albin’s ENGL/THEA 4151: Performing Medieval Drama for a workshop on movement, devising, and stagecraft, to help them prepare their upcoming performance of the medieval morality play, Wisdom. Students explored the relationship between allegorical character and physical gesture, building up a bodily vocabulary for a climactic dance-off that tumbles into chaos at the center of the play. 

Katie Kudcey, Peri Rohl, Alesha Kilayko, Noah Himmelstein, and Charles Laboy (L-R) take a selfie after a medieval drama workshop and conversation.

Katie Kudcey, Peri Rohl, Alesha Kilayko, Noah Himmelstein, and Charles Laboy (L-R) take a selfie after a medieval drama workshop and conversation.

Afterward, students had the chance to talk informally with Himmelstein about his work and career. “He was very honest,” said Katie Kudcey (Music ’19), who plays Lucifer in Wisdom. “We would ask him a question and he wouldn’t beat around the bush.” Peri Rohl (English ’20), playing Anima, agreed: “‘[Theater] is something you do, it’s not who you are,’ he told us, and both our worlds kind of exploded!” 

Himmelstein’s emphasis on improvisation and intuition left a strong impression. “Connecting your physical actions to your character is really important for medieval work, where intention and motivation matter less,” said Savanah Manos (English ’20), who plays the role of Will. Rohl agreed, adding, “We can play around with our characters, play around with the scene, be spontaneous, and we’ll still get good results.”

Wisdom will be performed on Saturday, April 27 at 10:30am, at the entrance to FCLC’s Lowenstein Building on the corner of 60th and 9th. All are invited to come see this inventive, dynamic, and very funny medieval play come to life on the streets of New York! For more information, check out the Fordham Medieval Dramatists’ Facebook page and website.

English Major Claire Kim '16 Profiled on Art History Blog

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Here’s a bit of interdepartmental and cross-disciplinary intertextuality! Over at the #FordhamArtHistory blog, Art Ramblings, there’s a nice profile of Claire Kim, who graduated from Fordham in 2016 “with a major in English and a minor in Art History, and has been building a successful career in the arts ever since. By day, she is the Special Assistant to the President of BRIC, the Brooklyn arts powerhouse that fosters the creativity of Brooklyn arts and media. Outside of BRIC, Claire is hard at work on her independent curatorial practice, creating exhibitions in unexpected and thought-provoking spaces, and focusing on creating an access point into various art forms for a wider audience.”

To read the rest of the profile—written by Julie Hamon, Art History Media Intern, FCLC ’19—go to Art Ramblings.

A Fordham English Degree Opens Doors

Kamrun Nesa, Fordham ‘16, has only been out of school a short time, and she’s already making her mark on the publishing world. Kamrun is an associate publicist at Grand Central Publishing and a freelance writer whose work has appeared in USA Today and The Washington Post.

Kamrun Nesa, ‘16.

Kamrun Nesa, ‘16.

When asked about her experience at Fordham, Kamrun says, “Fordham’s English Department was instrumental in launching my career as a book publicist and freelance writer, namely three professors who provided a strong support system during my time at Fordham: Mary Bly, Elizabeth Stone, and Vlasta Vranjes.”

Kamrun took several journalism classes––taught by Elizabeth Stone––for Fordham’s award-winning student newspaper The Observer, which inspired her to take up freelance writing during college.

“I also took Mary Bly's Publishing: Theory and Practice class my junior, which introduced me to the many facets of publishing and also inspired me to pursue creative writing and craft my own stories. I received my first internship through that class, which put me on a trajectory that culminated in a full-time publicity job at a book publishing house after college. 

While the professional courses helped me hone my career (and craft!), the literature courses I took, namely Victorian and 19th-century literature, deepened my appreciation for books. I loved books long before college, but Vlasta Vranjes’ creative approach took that to another level and enhanced my understanding of subtext. This level of deep analysis is something I continue to use in my writing and my full-time job. It’s how I come up with angles for the projects I work on and write press releases.”

Click here see Kamrun’s most recent article in the Washington Post: "Misconceptions about arranged marriage abound. Romance authors are here to help."

Congratulations to Kamrun! We wish her continued success.

Writing Contest Opportunity for Fordham Students

An exciting opportunity for Fordham students, undergraduate and graduate, comes our way through The Suzanna Cohen Legacy Foundation (SCLF), an organization devoted to collecting and preserving narratives about forced displacement—past and present—of survivors, refugees, immigrants, and exiles, as well as individuals or groups who offered support and succor. 

This contest, offered for the first time, is open only to Fordham students, undergraduates or graduates in any of our programs or schools.  Four prizes, each of $750, are to be awarded to creative works in four categories: writing, performance, visual art, and mixed media. There is a possibility of eventual publication as well. Submission deadline is February 20th.

To submit, go here: Suzanna Cohen Legacy Foundation Prizes.

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SCLF is a nonprofit founded by the family of Edward Cohen, whose mother fled the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939 and three years later came to Tehran, where she met and married her husband and lived for close to forty years. She was exiled for a second time because of the Iranian Revolution in the late 1970s.  

The foundation's particular association with Fordham came about thanks to Kim Dana Kupperman, a former writer-in-residence in the English Department who wrote a novel about the family's story, entitled  Six Thousand Miles to Home: A Novel Inspired by a True Story of World War II.  

5th Annual Golden Gloves Literary Competition & Fair

On December 7, the annual Golden Gloves Literary Competition and Fair took place at the Lincoln Center campus. Creative writing classes across Fordham presented their work to compete for three prizes: Ram d’Or (Best in Show), Best Experiment, and the Audience Award. This year, the presentations were judged by Gina Apostol, winner of the PEN Open Book Award for her novel Gun Dealer’s Daughter, and recipient of the Philippine National Book Award.

Before the event, attendants enjoyed a pizza dinner and had the opportunity to attend a campus Literary Fair, which featured the publications Bricolage, The Ampersand, The Comma, and MODE Magazine. Staff members in these groups fielded questions from students interested in writing for publication.

The competition itself featured ten different creative writing classes: Performance Criticism, Poetry - What Good is It?, Essay is a Verb, The Stuff of Fiction, Poetry of Witness, The Good Life, First Flint, Writing the World, Writing for Teens in an Adult World, and The Outsiders: Reading and Writing Fiction about Outsiders, Outcasts, Exiles, and Rebels.

Taylor Shaw, FCRH ‘19, appreciated the diversity of voices and topics represented by the classes.

“Everyone brought something different to the table this year, and I really liked that the pieces covered a broad variety of topics,” said Shaw. “From hilarious parodies of guilty pleasure young adult novels to hard-hitting and chilling reflections on the Kavanaugh trial and its surrounding context, the different works kept us engaged and at the edge of our seats for the entire competition.”

Judge, Gina Apostol read a selection from her new novel, Insurrecto. She was followed by Writer in Residence Nyssa Chow, who presented her multimedia story on a hunger striker in Trinidad, as well as scenes from her Still.Life. Exhibition.

As a student in Chow’s Multimedia and Narrative Practice class, Shaw was grateful for the opportunity to hear, see, and be inspired by her professor’s work.

“As her student, it was really gratifying to get to see her brilliant work after such a wonderful semester,” said Shaw. “We had such a great opportunity to see the skills we’d learned in action.”

The Ram d’Or (Best In Show) award was given to Professor Nyssa Chow’s Essay is a Verb class for their poignant commentary on sexual abuse and feminism after the Kavanaugh trial. Best Experiment went to the students of Professor Sarah Gambito’s The Good Life, for their interpretation of a dialogue with the succulent plants they had nurtured over the course of the semester. Finally, Molly Horan’s class, Writing for Teens in an Adult World, took home the Audience Award for its rollicking tribute to the young adult fiction genre.

Though saddened that this would be her last Golden Gloves, senior Evgenia Mantika, FCLC ‘19, expressed her appreciation of how the event brought the creative writing community together.

“Golden Gloves reminds creative writing students of the incredible community they are a part of,” said Mantikas. “It is a chance for us to be inspired by our peers, whether it be by expressing our voices politically or by writing brilliant young adult fiction.”