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.

Kindred: A Summit for Students & Faculty of Color

On April 15th, the English department, Kundiman, and the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer co-sponsored Kindred: A Summit for Students & Faculty of Color at Fordham. The distinguished speaker for the night was Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and a leading voice for the human rights of undocumented immigrants. The event also featured readings from Ama Codjoe, a poet from Cave Canem, a home for Black poetry, and professor of social justice and inclusion at The New School, and Deborah Paredez, co-founder of CantoMundo, a nonprofit for Latinx literature.

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 The event created a space for students to meet and hear from POC clubs and organizations, as well as to discuss goals for increasing the visibility of POC communities at Fordham.

Vargas, author of Dear America: Notes of An Undocumented Citizen, spoke on the history of immigration and assimilation in the United States, the presence of immigrants in our families and nation, and his own status as undocumented. He also addressed his experiences as a person of color outside of the dominant black/white paradigm in the United States.

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

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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.

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.