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.”

Join Community: Fordham English


I can give you only two really good pieces of advice. The first is to never worry about how much pasta you’re eating, especially when in college or Italy. The second is to become a Fordham English major.             

There has never been a moment in my life when I wasn’t an English major. Even before college applications and SAT scores were on my mind, I knew when the time came I would major in English. Writing and reading—the act of imagining, creating, analyzing, and enjoying language—have always been a part of my life; being an English major, a part of my identity.

When I came to college in the fall of 2015, my decision to attend  Fordham was made mainly by the university’s location in New York City, where I always imagined I’d be a writer of something—plays, poems, it didn’t matter what. The plan was the write, that’s as far as I got, and Fordham got me that far.  Otherwise, I knew little about the school (what the heck is a Jesuit? being among my questions). I registered for my core classes, signed up for Urban Plunge, and dove head first into college.

It was not easy.

My first two years, I was hurting. I felt lonely and unhappy. I was struggling with my friendships, classes, mental health, and living in the city. Completing mainly core at the time, the only class I was excelling in was a 17th century poetry class, putting off Philosophical Ethics for another semester to indulge in the 4000 level course. By the middle of sophomore year, I was preparing my transfer applications. I even paid the application fees.

I never quite completed my transfer applications (I never sent off my transcripts). I was interrupted by an email from a professor named Elizabeth Stone, who was offering a two credit course in publishing. Specifically, students would be contributing to the creation and publication of The Comma, Fordham Lincoln Center’s literary magazine. As a writer, I was intrigued. A couple email exchanges later, and I became an official editor and contributor to The Comma.

That next semester, I felt like my life in college really began. I was an active member of an on campus literary publication, and I began really entering my major classes. I applied to, and was accepted into, the Creative Writing program, and attended events sponsored by the English and Creative Writing programs, finding friends within them.

The Fordham English department gave me what I needed: a community.

I have yet to meet a student in the program who isn’t an immediate friend (like Meg Crane, who I sat next to on my first day of Creative Nonfiction Writing by sheer gravitational pull, and have relied on as a supporter, editor, and companion ever since), or a professor who isn’t a willing mentor (like Professor Marwa Helal, who welcomed me to audit her class this semester and enabled me to feel confidence in being a writer again).

The study of English, by its sheer nature, is collaborative. Just like language doesn’t develop in isolation, neither does learning. Each classroom I entered was not a competition field for who could write the best poem or have the most impressive analysis of Othello—it was a space for exploration, where we worked through ideas and art together. In literature classes, I felt comfortable asking questions, being confused, prodding for thoughtful answers I didn’t quite have. In writing classes, I felt safe bringing in an imperfect piece, opening myself up for constructive criticism, being supported by my peers. There was never pressure for any of us to prove ourselves; we were there because we loved language, and we embarked on our linguistic journeys together.

For two years, I regretted moving to New York and coming to Fordham. Now, as I am graduating four years later, my only regret is not embracing this community sooner. I would give anything to have stopped stressing about being the best, or even just good enough, and to have found the affirmation and enjoyment in the Fordham English department those first two years.

Nonetheless, even as I graduate, I know I am not leaving this community. I have made friends and connected with mentors who I know I can rely on for years to come. Thanks to Fordham English, I have the confidence to learn and grow, replacing my once desperation to already know everything and be complete.

I could give you advice about what internships to do, how to stay ahead of your school work, the true meaning of success is a job well done, etc. etc. I could pepper my advice with my accomplishments as evidence, an expansive and specific cover letter. Certainly, there are things I’ve done here that I’m proud of, that look good on paper. But above all, what I’m proudest of, is being a part of something. The things that look good on paper are great, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that the things that felt good in my heart were even better.

So, put off a core class or two in your first couple years so you can begin being introduced to this community (I promise, Philosophical Ethics isn’t going anywhere). Submit and join publications that interest you until you find your right fit. Ask someone from your Jane Austen class if they’d like to join you for English Country Dancing. Go to a Poets Out Loud reading. Work through your questions in class with your peers. Invite people you hardly know over to your apartment to eat pizza and talk about writing (yes, I did that!) Enter as acquaintances, leave as friends. Write something, anything, leave it all on the page, and then let your classmates workshop the literary manifestation of your most vulnerable self.

Enter your career as a Fordham English major with an open heart and open mind, and let yourself be filled by all this program has to offer.

Congratulations, you are a Fordham English major, you are a part of something. Welcome, friend.

~ Cat Reynolds, FCLC 2018

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.  

English Major is a Fiction Contest Finalist


Congratulations to English major Julia Gagliardi, FCRH’19, who has been named a finalist in the Southhampton Stony Brook Short Fiction Contest for her story “The Chapel of Love” and was recently among those selected as a Creative Writing Concentrator. 

Storytelling of all sorts is close to Julia’s heart––she writes powerfully and persuasively in creative writing classes about her Irish aunts and is a story-telling mentor and founding member of “Our Story,” an event featuring student storytellers who create and share their personal stories with a live audience.

The third “Our Story” event was held Monday, November 12 at Rose Hill, during which Julia told the audience, “This is a chance for students to share uninterrupted stories, share authentically, and share truthful stories from their life.”

For more on Julia, click here:


Call for Applications: The English Major with a Creative Writing Concentration

The Creative Writing Program at Fordham University is accepting applications for the English Major with a Creative Writing Concentration from October 1st - November 1st.

What it is:

Premised on the belief that the study of literature and the practice of writing are mutually reinforcing, the English Major with a Creative Writing Concentration emphasizes the inter-relations among creative writing, digital media, criticism, and scholarship.

How it works:

As a concentration with a dual focus on literature and creative work, fully integrated within the English department, this degree offering combines literature courses, small writing workshops, and practical industry training to prepare students for advanced study or careers in writing, media, and publishing. In addition, students benefit from the resources provided by New York City, a worldwide center for literary publishing.