Schweizer Award, May 2009: Bookshelves for Humanities Building Fourth Floor Lounge

No Schweizer award for best M.A. thesis was awarded in the spring of 2009 because there were no nominations. Bernard & Liang Schweizer instead donated the prize money of $300 to purchase bookshelves for the 4th floor lounge in the Humanities Building--as part of the Humanities Division's ongoing effort to refurbish that space. More info on that project is forthcoming.

The Liang and Bernard Schweizer Thesis Award was created to recognize professional promise and to reward academic excellence and intellectual maturity among the outgoing M.A. students at the LIU-Brooklyn English Department. The Award shall be presented each May at the English Department Awards Ceremony. The first award year was 2008, and the winner was Helen C. Seo, for "Evelyn Waugh: 'Change and Decay in All Around I See'," an interdisciplinary study of Waugh's fiction from a literary critical and media studies perspective.

The prize money is $300, to be paid to the winner by check.

The award shall be given to the most rigorously intellectual, original, and important Master's thesis submitted by an M.A. student during the academic year preceding the award. The award shall be given to a student in the M.A. program, either for a thesis in Literature, in Professional Writing, or in Writing & Rhetoric.

The thesis advisor shall make the nomination on behalf of the student.

The Award Committee shall be composed of three to four judges.

Six weeks prior to the Award Ceremony, Professor Bernard Schweizer will solicit recommendations from all faculty for the best thesis written during the preceding academic year. The recommendations shall be discursive and clearly indicate the strengths of the nominated thesis. A copy of the thesis is to be submitted to Bernard Schweizer together with the recommendation by the set deadline.

The committee of judges shall meet once prior to the last department meeting of the academic year to determine a winner. If there is no natural consensus, a vote shall be taken.

The Liang and Bernard Schweizer Thesis Award shall be given out as long as Bernard Schweizer teaches at Long Island University.

Watch this space for the next call for applications and the announcement of future winner(s)!

Fall 2009 English Department Book Scholarship Winners

Congratulations to the students who won English Department book scholarships for Fall 2009:

Stephanie Carlin (Music Theory major)
Michelle Young (English major)
Franchesca Castano (English major)
Theresa Gorella (Biology major)
Sophie Bloomfield (English major).

The English department gives out FIVE $100 award certificates for books every spring and fall semester. A student may win the award multiple times in different semesters. Eligibility: The student must be registered for an upper-division course in English (numbered 100 and above) in the semester immediately following the awarding of the certificate. Majors and non-majors are welcome.

We will accept another round of applications near the end of the Fall 2009 semester for use in Spring 2010.

Watch this space!

Annual English Department Awards Ceremony

I'm late in posting this announcement, but on May 5, 2009, the English Department held its annual Awards Ceremony, at which the following awards were presented:

Excellence in English, Undergraduate

Nikki Alimonda
Barbara Joseph

Excellence in English, Undergraduate

Katuraka Alston
Christy Bright
Nell Del Giudice
Charulata Dyal
Jacqueline McCormick
Cherisse Mayers
Lindsey Miller
Jessica Rogers
Charles Thorne

The Edward Edelman and Susanne Popper-Edelman English Essay Prizes

Tashana Thompson (Developmental Essay)

Essay Title: "New York"

Professor Deborah Mutnick's Citation: In her book, The Situation and the Story: The Art of the Personal Narrative, Vivian Gornick writes: "The situation is the context or circumstance, sometimes the plot; the story is the emotional experience that preoccupies the writer: the insight, the wisdom, the thing one has come to say" (13). She goes on to suggest that once the crucial elements of story and narrative persona become clear, other elements of the essay such as clarity, diction, and syntax also fall into place. Tashana Thompson's essay "New York" is a fine example of this crystallization. From her suburban high school graduation to Manhattan's canyons of skyscrapers and across the Brooklyn Bridge, Tashana blazes a path for herself and for us: "I stepped out of the subway car, and made my way up the stairs. As I entered the streets of Brooklyn, I felt like a gazelle in a lion's den. The busy streets roared as cars zipped by, leaving a whirlwind of smoke and dust behind. Walking down Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, New York, I smell the aroma of cheese pizza and the exhaust from the honking cars. Amazing how everyone is in a hurry in this city, I think, as a woman walking towards me, vigorously biting into her ruby red apple, tries to keep her balance as she buries her head in the Wall Street Journal. The heavy, cold, smoked-filled breeze tugs at my navy blue wool jacket; I pull my bag closer to my quivering ribs. Moving to New York City was one of the biggest decisions I have ever had to make. Who would have thought a quiet small town girl from the suburbs of Connecticut, would be attending a multi-cultural urban school in the heart of downtown Brooklyn?" Capturing the ethos of the big city for a young newcomer, Tashana succeeds in creating a persona who sees New York City anew, telling an old story of the transformative powers of the city with fresh insight. She achieves just that clarity, precision, and syntactic grace that Gornick describes, and in so doing, she richly deserves the Edelman Popper Award for the best English 14 essay in 2008-09.

Rebecca Scher (Freshman Essay)
Essay Title: "A Jury of your Peers"

Professor John B. Killoran's Citation: The best citation I can offer for Rebecca's writing is to describe her essay. The essay is about how lawyers consider race when selecting jurors and whether such considerations are racist. The essay engages with a diverse range of sources: not just a course reading but also the U.S. Constitution, the Magna Carta, a law journal article, a Time magazine article, and interviews with two lawyers. So it engages the issue at many levels and from diverse perspectives. And it's well written. Ask yourself for a moment, How would you start off such an essay? Here's Rebecca's opening sentence: "One of the first questions asked after the jury was selected for the infamous trial of OJ Simpson, the black football player accused of murdering his white wife, was what was the racial make-up of the panel." Rebecca thereby makes her essay topical for contemporary readers, but does not dwell on the Simpson case. Yet at the very end, she returns to Simpson, this time his second trial. So with this ending the essay goes full circle, but also symbolically advances.

Robert Barnes (Core Literature)

Essay Title: "God, War, and Morality in God is Dead"

Professor Bernard Schweizer's Citation: Robert Barnes's essay "God, War, and Morality in God is Dead" is a superbly clear and intelligent elucidation of a challenging, complex text. He maturely engages the deeper implications of the text, rather than simply passing judgment on the brazen blasphemy of a story in which God literally dies in Sudan and then is eaten by a pack of feral dogs, who promptly become new objects of fanatical worship. Robert sheds a revealing light on the paradoxical presence of biblical allusions in this apparently anti-theistical text, and he deftly explains the author's social and political vision. Robert's advanced critical skills are evidenced in many lucid and engaging interpretive statements and in an overall thematic cohesion and rhetorical progression that makes his essay a real pleasure to read.

Sophie Vranian (Upper Division)

Essay Title: "Politics of Food in Contemporary Nigeria"

Professor Jonathan Haynes's Citation: Sophie Vranian's essay "Politics of Food in Contemporary Nigeria," written for English 170: Contemporary African Literature and Film, was the unanimous choice of the judges for best upper-level essay. A study of the ways in which food figures in Sefi Atta's recent novel Everything Good Will Come, the essay illustrates Sophie's skill and flair as a literary critic, which allows her to deal with the novel in all its literary complexity. It also puts fully on display her education as a Global College student, which has given her an acute and practiced ability to find her way around foreign cultures and a sophisticated, interdisciplinary understanding of how societies work, in all their complexity. The passion for social justice that comes through clearly in everything Sophie says or writes, and is in fact palpable even when she's just sitting there in class biding her time, is also integral to a Global College education, but I expect she already had that passion before she came to LIU. I like to see this award as a celebration of the connection between the English Department and Global College, which we hope will grow deeper and stronger. Her essay also demonstrates, in its wonderful clarity and incisiveness, that Sophie Vranian is smart as hell.

Franchesca Castano (Senior Thesis)

Essay Title: "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: A Vision of feminism and American culture during turn-of-the-century America"

Professor Jonathan Haynes's Citation: It will come as no surprise to anyone in this year's Senior Seminar that Franchesca Castano has won the senior thesis prize for "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: A Vision of feminism and American culture during turn-of-the-century America." In writing a senior thesis, half the battle is staying on top of the process of designing, researching, and writing such a long project. Every step of the way, from informal proposal to the final presentation, Franchesca delivered on time and up to specifications, setting the standard for the class. The interest of her topic was always obvious and her prose was always lucid and pleasant. Her essay became steadily more fascinating as she developed one of its facets after another, setting Frank Baum's familiar story in the contexts of rural Kansas at the turn of the 20th century, children's literature, and popular culture. Perhaps the most interesting aspect is her two-pronged argument about Baum's feminism, establishing a direct personal connection-Baum's mother-in-law was a close associate of Elizabeth Cady Stanton-and providing an acute reading of Dorothy as a strong female character surrounded by pathetically weak males. Franchesca's thesis is a fitting culmination to her excellent career as an English major, and we are proud to send her off down the yellow brick road with this additional honor.

The Esther Hyneman Awards

Jeremy Beauregard & Christine Gans (Poetry)
Yoav Ben Yosef & Christy Bright (Fiction)

The Louis & Ann Parascandola Graduate Award

Nell del Giudice & Jessica Rogers

New Inductees to Sigma Tau Delta, Omicron Zeta Chapter

Andrea Cox, undergraduate
Zamir Khan, undergraduate
Zahra Patterson, graduate
Jon Peacock, graduate

Congratulations, everyone!

Read more about each of these prizes/awards by visiting the English Department website. Click one of the links in the column to the right, under "SPECIFIC PAGES WITHIN ENGLISH DEPARTMENT WEBSITE." Thanks.

MFA Panel Discussion Event: The Literary Marketplace in the 21st Century

The MFA Creative Writing Program at Long Island University presents a panel discussion:

The Literary Marketplace in the 21st Century

Moderated by Jessica Hagedorn, with special guests:

Harold Augenbraum, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation, presenter of the National Book Awards;

Stuart Bernstein — literary agent, Stuart Bernstein Representation For Artists;

Jenni Ferrari-Alder — literary agent, Brickhouse Literary Agency;

Rakesh Satyal — editor at Harper Collins and author of the acclaimed novel, Blue Boy.

When & Where

Wednesday, Sept. 30, 6:30pm — 8pm
English Faculty Lounge, 4th floor Humanities Bldg.
Reception after the discussion.

click here to RSVP

Barbara Henning Distinguished Service Award--First Winner: Nell del Guidice

Established in 2009, the Barbara Henning Distinguished Service Award is not an annual award but will be given periodically by the faculty of the Department to a graduate student in appreciation for exceptional service to the English Department.

Barbara Henning, a poet and novelist, was for many years a professor in the English Department at Long Island University. She was Chair of the department from September 1997 to August 2000. She designed the creative writing program, both graduate and undergraduate, and advised all the creative writing students. She was also director of the freshman writing program for three years and a writing specialist for HEOP. She retired in 2005 to concentrate on her writing. For the latest information about Professor Henning's publications, visit her website.

Nell del Giudice, the first winner of the Award, was announced at the English Department's annual awards ceremony in May 2009.

Nell was the assistant to the director of the MFA program in creative writing from February 2008 through May 2009. She coordinated the many readings--both off and on campus--that took place during this time, and was involved in all phases of this program. As the MFA assistant, she participated in the Associated Writing Programs conference in Chicago in February 2009. An accomplished actress, Nell received her BA from Bennington College and graduated from the Brooklyn Campus MFA program in creative writing in May 2009.

Congratulations, Nell!

Voices of the Rainbow Event: Thomas Sayers Ellis & Jacqueline Bishop

Wednesday, October 7, noon
Health Sciences Building, Room 121

Thomas Sayers Ellis is a poet and photographer from Washington, DC. He co-founded the Dark Room Collective and teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College. He has been published in Grand Street, Ploughshares, and The Best American Poetry (1997, 2001) and is the author of the highly praised collection, The Maverick Room.

Jacqueline Bishop is a Jamaican-born poet, fiction writer, painter, and filmmaker. She is the founding editor of Calabash: A journal of Caribbean Arts & Letters. She is author of The River’s Song (novel) and Fauna (poetry). Her latest collection of poetry is Snapshots from Istanbul.

Faculty Forum Event

The Richard L. Conolly College of Liberal Arts and Sciences invites the LIU Brooklyn Campus community to a Faculty Forum presentation by Professor Harriet Malinowitz of the English Department.

Title & Topic

"Sometimes Something is True*: Ethos in the Work of Jewish Anti-Zionist Writers"

Ethos is a term that comes from Aristotle’s Rhetoric, and refers to a persuasive appeal grounded in the trustworthy character of a speaker. This talk looks at the role of ethos in the work of Jewish writers who have used their “Jewishness” to challenge Zionist discourses and practices.

Harriet Malinowitz will discuss Jewish writers--including members of the Israeli military, religious figures, Holocaust survivors and their children, Israeli academics, journalists, and historians--who have contended, in various forms and in different historical periods, that a Jewish state is not a viable, desirable, or just idea.

* The title comes from a remark by Daniel Okrent, former public editor of The New York Times, who once said, “The pursuit of balance can create imbalance, because sometimes something is true.” (This became popularly known as “Okrent’s Law.”)

When & Where

Monday, October 5, 2009
3:00-4:30 p.m., Library Learning Center, Room 515

Refreshments will be served

For further information, please contact Gladys Schrynemakers (718-488-1001) or William Burgos (718-488-1094).

Note: This is part of the Campus-wide Faculty Forum program; it is not part of the English Department's own Faculty Forum: Works in Progress program.

Voices of the Rainbow--Fall 2009 Schedule of Readings


Thomas Sayers Ellis & Jacqueline Bishop
Wednesday, October 7, noon
Health Sciences Building, Room 121

Thomas Sayers Ellis is a poet and photographer from Washington, DC. He co-founded the Dark Room Collective and teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College. He has been published in Grand Street, Ploughshares, and The Best American Poetry (1997, 2001) and is the author of the highly praised collection, The Maverick Room.

Jacqueline Bishop is a Jamaican-born poet, fiction writer, painter, and filmmaker. She is the founding editor of Calabash: A journal of Caribbean Arts & Letters. She is author of The River’s Song (novel) and Fauna (poetry). Her latest collection of poetry is Snapshots from Istanbul.

Kevin Baker
Monday, October 26, 6 PM
Health Sciences Building, Room 121

Kevin Baker has been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the LA Times, and Harper’s magazine. He is the author of the historical novels Sometimes You See It, Paradise Alley, Strivers Row, and Dreamland, set largely in Coney Island.

Roger Sedarat & Tiphanie Yanique
Tuesday, Nov. 10, noon
Health Sciences Building, Room 121

Roger Sedarat teaches in the MFA Program at Queens College. He is author of the poetry collection, Dear Regime: Letters to the Islamic Republic.

Tiphanie Yanique, a native of the Virgin Islands, teaches at Drew University. She is an award-winning author of fiction, poetry, and essays. Her story collection How to Escape from a Leper Colony will be published in 2010.

All events are free and open to the public.

Funding provided by the Provost’s Office.

Watch this blog for further announcements (to include room information).

Contact Professor Maria McGarrity or Professor Louis Parascandola for further information.