2019 Reid Writers of Color Reading Series featuring Kiese Laymon

On Wednesday, April 3rd, the English Department hosted Kiese Laymon for the 2019 Reid Writers of Color Reading Series. Laymon is the acclaimed author of Heavy: An American Memoir, as well as How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America and the novel Long Division. Almost 500 students and faculty members attended.

Laymon advised students to write to a specific person rather than attempting to write to the universal and cautioned them that authorial intention does not always translate to compelling work. He also spoke on the unique demands of memoir-writing, such as background interviews and obligatory name changes.

The reading began with an introduction by the English department’s Dr. Scott Poulson-Bryant. Laymon then took the stage to read a chapter titled “Meager,” which centered on his experience as a black child at a predominately white Catholic school.

“I was finally understanding, for all that bouncy talk of ignorance and how they didn’t really know, that white folk, especially grown white folk, knew exactly what they were doing,” he read. “And if they didn’t, they should have.”

Anne Marie Ward, FCRH ‘19, expressed her enjoyment of the craft class and reading.

“It was an unbelievable and surreal experience hearing Kiese speak to us about his work, and I feel so privileged that I had this opportunity as a creative writer,” she said.

Since 2008, the Reid Family Writers of Color Reading Series has brought some of the most celebrated writers of color to Fordham. Events have included readings, master classes and panel discussions. The English Department at Fordham is deeply grateful to the Reid Family for their continuing generosity.  

English Major Claire Kim '16 Profiled on Art History Blog


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.

Associated Press Recognizes Fordham English Alum

Christy Pottroff, PhD 2017, now an Assistant Professor at Merrimack University, is receiving recognition for her work concerning America’s first published poet Anne Bradstreet. Pottroff and her group of fellow professors and students are working to find the exact site where Bradstreet was buried and at the same time attempting to restore her legacy and, according to the Associated Press, “her rightful place in the pantheon of Western literature.”

In an interview with the AP, which ran in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and several other newspapers, Pottroff says, “Even though we don’t know much about her, she was a household name in the 17th century, both here and in England.”

The article simplifies what had been a much more complex conversation. That said, the fact that the project is getting coverage at all is, according to Pottroff, “mind blowing.” In addition to this, Pottroff and her team are putting out a collection of poetry (modern poets responding to Bradstreet's work) and a mobile game app (like, Pokemon Go, Anne Bradstreet edition). And they’ve actually found an archaeologist who is going to do a scan of Bradstreet’s family property to see if we can find the foundation of her home. 

Check out their Finding Bradstreet website here: https://www.findinganne.org

On top of this, Pottroff was one of eight people accepted into the First Book Institute at Penn State, where she’ll be workshopping her book project this summer with a distinguished group of early career Americanists.

Congratulations to Professor Pottroff on all her great work!

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Fordham Honors Professor Chase

At the annual Convocation ceremony, held this year on March 10th at Lincoln Center, the Fordham community celebrated the considerable contributions of long-serving university professors, administrators, and staff, including the English Department’s own Professor Chase.

Father McShane thanked Professor Chase for his exceptional scholarship and pedagogy, and awarded Professor Chase the Bene Merenti metal for 20 years of service to Fordham University.

President McShane and Professor Chase

President McShane and Professor Chase

Here is the tribute written to honor Professor Chase:

“Anyone who knows Martin Chase understands his passion for the English language and literature in all its forms (including Old, Middle, and Modern). He is a leading expert in manuscript paleography and codicology, as well as the study of Anglo-Saxon literature. His groundbreaking research on Old Norse, a cousin to Modern English, is internationally known. Martin holds degrees from Oberlin College, the University of Michigan, the University of Toronto, the University of Copenhagen, and Weston School of Theology. It was in 1999 that Fordham wooed Martin away from a prestigious teaching post in Copenhagen.

He has contributed meaningfully to scholarship on medieval philology and literature, pursuing the enduring question of what makes us human. Along with numerous articles on skaldic poetry and Scandinavian medievalism, Martin’s archival work has yielded editions of Old Norse poetry, such as Einarr Skúlason’s Geisli. Martin’s translations have had enormous impact, giving scholarly access to poems such as the 14th-century Icelandic poem Lilja (or The Lily), which has been referred to as the “Norse Divine Comedy.” Recently, he has edited the collection Eddic, Skaldic, and Beyond: Poetic Variety in Medieval Iceland and Norway.

Martin is beloved by his students. His wisdom is valued by everyone who has served with him, including members of the Faculty Senate, University Research Council, the Center for Medieval Studies, Academic Integrity, Ignatian Pedagogy, and Fordham’s literary journal, Traditio. Martin’s reputation as a scholar is complemented by the contributions he has made as a member of the Society of Jesus for almost 40 years. Martin’s generous service to the University community and to his academic profession are a way of life.”

Congratulations to Professor Chase, and thank you for all you do for your students, for the English Department, and for Fordham University.

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Professor Hoffman Receives Bene Merenti Medal for 40 Years of Service

At the annual Convocation ceremony, held this year on March 10th at Lincoln Center, Professor Anne Hoffman received the Bene Merenti metal for 40 years of service to Fordham University.

“You make the routine miraculous,” President McShane said. “And you make everything at the University an occasion of grace because of the way in which you go about your work.” 

President McShane and Professor Hoffman

President McShane and Professor Hoffman

Here is the tribute celebrating Professor Hoffman’s considerable contributions to Fordham University:

“Anne Hoffman’s history is marked both by an unusually full commitment to Fordham and by an unusually complete engagement with scholarship. In the mid-1990s, she served as Chair of the Humanities Division at Lincoln Center and then as Associate Chair of the English Department. Her wholehearted involvement with the issues surrounding the merger of Fordham’s two campuses was graceful, collegial, and tolerant, supported by an encouraging belief that difficulties were surmountable.

Administrative work has been just one facet of Anne’s notably productive career. She has written two books and, since 1981, has published an article every year, as well as giving one or two lectures annually. This public aspect of her scholarship has been enlarged by her work closer to home, where her admired teaching has been recognized with the Outstanding Teaching in the Humanities Award. For generations of students, Anne has provided extraordinary continuity, mentoring them and forging friendships for years. She has directed four honors classes, the most recent one graduating last May. She was the prime mover in the interfaith initiative between studies in Judaism and Christianity, “Nostra Aetate.”

President McShane and Professor Hoffman

President McShane and Professor Hoffman

For about a dozen years, Anne served on the executive committee of the Women’s Studies Program, where she devised the Women’s Studies major. The ease and pleasure with which she has shared her interests—modern Hebrew literature, psychiatry, gender—has drawn many people. We are happy to honor this remarkable colleague, universally recognized for her sense of fairness, judiciousness, wisdom, and decency.”

Congratulations to Professor Hoffman, and thank you for all you have done for your students, for the English Department, and for Fordham University.

Professor Bly Honored

At the 2019 Convocation ceremony, held March 10th at Lincoln Center, Fordham University awarded Professor Mary Bly the Bene Merenti medal for her 20 years of dedicated service to Fordham.

“You are our treasure,” Fordham President Father McShane said. “The treasure that makes it possible for us to form young women and men to be women and men for others.”

President McShane and Professor Bly

President McShane and Professor Bly

This is the tribute written for Professor Bly:

“In her 20 years at Fordham, Mary Bly has contributed so much to our communal life that we might justly bestow perhaps a century’s worth of Bene Merenti medals on her, right here, right now. During her spectacular, overlapping triple stint as Director of Graduate Studies, of the Creative Writing Program, and of Professional Development, she transfigured for the better everything she touched. Thanks to her innovations, our doctoral students, now fully funded, enter the profession with a deeper sense of what their work entails, and our Creative Writing Program thrives as never before.

The same prodigious productivity suffuses everything that Mary does. Within the populous world of Shakespeare scholarship, Mary and her work shine star-bright. And then there is her second self: Eloisa James, prolific, bestselling romance novelist. Perhaps no other professor on Earth can hold audiences equally in thrall at the annual meetings of the Shakespeare Association of America, and of the romance fanfest KissCon.

But Mary’s most enthralled audiences are her Fordham students, who follow her from course to course, singing her praises everywhere, and manifesting throughout their work and lives the marks of her spellbinding, tirelessly attentive teaching. How then to sum up this force of nature, this magnificent shaper of books, thoughts, minds, and institutions? Perhaps by echoing three lines from Yeats:

Author, scholar, teacher she,
And all she does done perfectly,
As though she had but that one trade alone.”

Congratulations, Professor Bly, and thank you for all you have done for your students, for the English Department, and for the Fordham community at large.

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Professor Stone Receives Bene Merenti Medal

At the annual Convocation ceremony, held this year on March 10th at Lincoln Center, Professor Elizabeth Stone received the Bene Merenti metal for 40 years of service to Fordham University.

Father McShane lauded Professor Stone, as well as the other award recipients, for not only touching every aspect of life at Fordham, but for also extending their good works to the world at large.

President McShane with Professor Stone

President McShane with Professor Stone

Here is the tribute celebrating Professor Stone’s illustrious career:

“For Professor Elizabeth Stone, a story runs through it. There is her writing about storytelling: her book about family stories, and her beautiful, haunting memoir, A Boy I Once Knew, that braids her own story with the one told in volumes of diaries left to her by a former student after his death from AIDS. There is also her study of stories: her scholarship on biography and autobiography, and recently, her work on last wills and testaments, which, in an original turn, she shows to be a different kind of story, shaped from beyond the grave.

But the stories that truly distinguish the career—and character!—of Elizabeth Stone are of a more personal kind: for generations, she has helped the students in her classes, and especially at The Observer, the Lincoln Center student newspaper she founded and advised for many years. Elizabeth helps her students create not simply their writing but also their own professional lives, their own vocations, their own stories. The Observer has won many awards, but its journalistic distinction is only part of Elizabeth’s own story. More important is the community that she has built there, and in her classrooms generally. It is a community of inquiry, of story building, of support, and of personal creativity—and it is fueled by the generosity of Elizabeth Stone. This generosity is evident through all of her work, for 40 years and counting. Long may it run.”

Congratulations to Professor Stone, and thank you for all you do for your students, for the English Department, and for Fordham University.

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