English Department’s Celebration Of Student Accomplishments

English Department’s Celebration Of Student Accomplishments

Sigma Tau Delta Induction
The National English Honor Society
Awards for Critical and Creative Writing
Department Honors Projects

Wednesday, May 6, 2015
East Wing Library, Room 246


Welcome & Opening Remarks
Dr. Craig Rustici
Professor and Chair, English Department

Students pursuing departmental honors project:
Theresa M. Buchta
Victoria L. Cocolaras
Julia M. Elliott
Chelsea T. Greenfield
Guilland R. Houston
Lucia Palazzo
Melissa L. Rostek
Kimberly E. Wilkens

Introduction of MFA Readers
Prof. Erik Brogger
Professor, CRWR, English Department

MFA Reading
Michael Heiss

Presentation of Pins and Certificates for Sigma Tau Delta
Dr. John Digaentani
Professor, English Department
Faculty Sponsor, Sigma Tau Delta

Introduction of MFA Readers
Prof. Erik Brogger
Professor, CRWR, English Department

MFA Reading
Megan Sniffin

Prof. Erik Brogger
Professor, CRWR, English Department

Judith Jedlicka Endowed Award in Creative Writing: Christopher Waldvogel
The Provost Scholarship: Itiola Jones
Jeffrey Weinper Award: Justin Colon-Rabinowitz

MFA Reading
Justin Colon-Rabinowitz

Academy of American Poets Contest
1st Prize, Graduate: Justin Colon-Rabinowitz
1st Prize, Undergraduate: Nick Rizzuti
Honorable Mention: Melanie Sirof

Readings by:
1st Prize, Graduate: Justin Colon-Rabinowitz
1st Prize Undergraduate: Nick Rizzuti
Honorable Mention: Melanie Sirof

Eugene Schneider Prose Contest
First Prize: Theresa Buchta
Honorable Mention: Dayna Troisi

Readings by:
First Prize Winner: Theresa Buchta
Honorable Mention: Dayna Troisi


Readings by:
First Prize: Ricky Michiels
Honorable Mention: Alice Gunther
Honorable Mention: Natasha Rowley

Closing Remarks & Thanks to All
Dr. Craig Rustici
Professor and Chair, English Department

Sigma Tau Delta 2015 Inductees
Evan Ackerman
Mara Bollettieri
Siobhan Casey
Victoria Cocolaras
Cristina Cortez
Danielle Farley
Rachael Freedman
Nicole Gentilella
Katherine Giovannoli
Chelsea Greenfield
Dana Grossi
Alice Gunther
Guilland Houston
Stephanie Kostopoulos
Marissa Lynch
Julia McGuire
Christi McLarney
Alexandra Nelson
Lucia Palazzo
Melanie Rainone
Andrea Standrowicz
Francis Will
Alexis Willey

2015 Hofstra English Department Twitter Poetry Contest

Rules for the 2015 Hofstra English Department Twitter Poetry Contest

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  • Prizes will be $50 for the winner and $25 each for two other highly commended submissions.
  • Entrants may submit up to 3 poems of no more than 140 characters each. Each poem must be original work and should use slashes to indicate line breaks. Please be advised that normal Twitter rules apply; space, slashes, punctuation, and “#hofpoem” are included in the 140 character limit.
  • Entrants must be Hofstra undergraduates.  Winners must present a Hofstra ID in order to collect a prize.
  • Entrants must have a Twitter account and follow “@Hofstra_English” Do not start multiple Twitter accounts in order to exceed the maximum of 3 poems; according to the Twitter website, you may have all of your accounts suspended as a result.
  • Tweet your submission(s) to #hofpoem.
  • The contest deadline is Friday, March 20 at 5:00 pm.
  • You may be contacted by Twitter direct message regarding your submissions.
  • A panel of graduate students and faculty from Hofstra’s MFA in Creative Writing will judge submissions.
  • Winners will be announced by April 4, 2015 through Hofstra English Department social media accounts:
  • Questions may be directed to Roberts@hofstra.edu



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Internship Q&A with Naomi Gunkel

Undergrad Naomi Gunkel (B.A. in Publishing Studies and Asian Studies; Minor in Japanese; Honors College) has been interning with New York City-based literary agency, Liza Dawson Associates, and recently shared her thoughts on the experience:

How did you find out about this internship?
The publishing department at Hofstra sends email updates on publishing jobs and internships, and this was one of them. After looking at the full posting for the internship on bookjobs.com, I thought it would be a good fit for me and applied.

What was the application process like?
The initial application required a cover letter, resume, and writing sample. I then answered a few follow-up questions via email, and was contacted to set up an interview. After the interview, I was given a partial manuscript to read and create a reader’s report for. Then, I was accepted!

What was your experience before doing this internship?
I am a fourth year student with a double major in Publishing Studies and Asian Studies. I had taken classes like Grammar, Book Promotion, Book Editing, History of the Book, and Book Design, Desktop Publishing, and Production. I had also taken a myriad of literature courses. These classes helped to establish a lot of basic publishing skills that helped me once I started interning at Liza Dawson Associates. I had also had two previous internships – neither one was in the publishing field, but they both helped me get accustomed to working in a professional environment.

What sort of things did your internship involve?
I started out going through unsolicited queries in our inbox and either rejecting them or requesting partial and full manuscripts. I also wrote a lot of reader’s reports assessing what I read.  I did research on things like book plate estimates and competition for potential books. I did some office work as well, like making copies, answering the phone, and putting together packages for winners of our giveaways. I also got to use my social media skills to strengthen our agency’s presence on Twitter and Tumblr.

How has your internship helped you professionally?
Most importantly, I have been able to develop skills applicable to the publishing industry (I am now extremely familiar with what good and bad queries look like). I have also made professional connections with the agents in our office, and my supervisor even helped to arrange an informational interview for me with an editor at a large publishing house.

What were your favorite parts of working at Liza Dawson Associates?
I especially enjoyed being able to utilize my knowledge with social media to come up with creative tweets and Tumblr ideas. I enjoyed improving and developing my writing and critiquing skills. Having access to free books was a nice perk too!

What was the hardest part of the internship?
The most challenging part for me was learning how to be critical of the queries and manuscripts I was reading. Thanks to suggestions from my supervisor, I was able to develop these skills, and I am now much more confident in my ability to critique and pick out what manuscripts have the potential to be successful in today’s market.

Do you have any advice on applying to an internship with a publisher or literary agent?
Definitely know what genres you enjoy most, and look for publishers and agents that specialize in these genres. However, don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone, and always try to expand your reading repertoire. Make sure you are up-to-date with publishing news and current events in general. Finally, research the company before you apply, and have questions prepared to ask them during the interview.

What would you say are some dos and don’ts for students who want to make a good impression?
Once you are there, don’t be afraid to ask questions – you are there to learn, after all. When doing your work, it is important to stay focused. It is okay to be polite and talk with the people you are working with, but interning is often very self-driven, so you have to be responsible for your own time and complete your assignments efficiently. Of course, be responsible and professional – you will be needing references for job applications and you want to leave a good impression!

Lee Zimmerman’s Reflections on the People’s Climate March

On Sunday, Sept 21, I joined what the organizers counted as over 400,000 others, from around the U.S. and the world, in what they called the “People’s Climate March.” Marching with me were my brother and departmental colleague Paul, and Eunju Hwang, an English Professor from South Korea, associated this semester with Hofstra’s National Center for Suburban Studies. EJ, as she is called, also brought along her 12-year-old son, Yunki. The March was meant to pressure those attending the UN Climate Summit a few days later to take action.

What kind of action? How drastic?

What kind of action? How drastic? The vagueness about such questions is a main reason that, as someone who has been thinking and writing about representations of climate change, I approached the march with mixed feelings. While I was glad they happened, the “major” climate change actions I’ve participated in in the past have also left me feeling that, in various ways, they aided the cultural construction of global warming as an important political “issue” rather than as an existential threat. (I’ve written about this at http://post45.research.yale.edu/2012/10/the-importance-of-rescuing-the-frog-what-we-don%E2%80%99t-talk-about-when-we-talk-about-the-climate-crisis/.)

photo of protestor with sign: "Frack No. You will not be excused for passing gas."

Climate March Protestor

After the march, I still have those mixed feelings. It was encouraging to see such an ocean of people, and the various kinds of diversity they represented—like the wide range of groups involved in the march’s organization—suggested that what used to be seen as “merely” environmental concerns are increasingly being understood as inseparable from concerns about economic, racial, and generational justice, both in the U.S and globally. Moreover, where mass actions sometimes give me the creeps in the way they superficially resemble fascist rallies—the uniformity of the visual images and, especially, the mass chanting of simple slogans—in the small slice of the march where Paul, EJ, Yunki, and I found ourselves at least, individual expressiveness carried the day: the sea of various, visually arresting home-made signs, often with non-generic messages (“There Is No Planet B,” “Hotties against Global Warming”); the wild costumes; the surprisingly frequent and imaginative street theater; best of all, for sloganophobes like myself, there was no mass chanting, just a lot of intense, complex rhythm-making—mostly with drums, but also with cow-bells, whistles, tambourines, tin cans, and the like—prompting a range of expressive, sometimes seemingly ecstatic, body movements that mocked the designation of the event as a “march.” And inhabiting this variety was, for me, a sense that we all shared a fundamental feeling—that we live in desperate moment and need to take extreme action now! Of course, this sense of sharing is hopeful and inspiring. It’s one of the ways one can bear the reality of what we’ve done and what we’re up against.

At the same time, I doubted that the march registered just how urgent and extreme a threat global warming represents to the current climate system, a condition of possibility for the countless life forms by which the planet is now (or, in countless cases, was until recently) inhabited, including many of the versions of itself the human species has come to value. Most discussion of the climate crisis fails to register a crucial distinction: there is (literally?) a world of difference between, on the one hand, politically “realistic” action that might help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by some insufficient amount at an insufficient pace—the sort of incremental actions proposed by mainstream environmental groups and, occasionally, given lip service by political and corporate leaders—and, on the other, the radical action that is likely the only means by which the unthinkable, apocalyptic scenarios might yet be avoided. A failure to take such radical action, that is, is itself a commitment to a radical, and unfathomably destructive, future. Summarizing their research into the likely consequences of various greenhouse gas emission scenarios going forward, in their 2010 paper climate scientists Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows observe, “we either continue with rising emissions and reap the radical repercussions of severe climate change, or we acknowledge that we have a choice and pursue radical emissions reductions,” and thus they conclude, “no longer is there a non-radical option” (http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1934/20.full.pdf+html).

It seemed to me that, like many other climate “actions,” the People’s March obscured this crucial distinction between what is sufficient and what is not. Largely this was because, as some critics observed, the organizers carefully constructed the event so that climate “action” could mean virtually anything. Michael Lerner, for example, wrote that

in order to get these hundreds of thousands of participants, the organizers avoiding putting forward any specific demands as the basis for joining the coalition backing this march. As a result, some of the most opportunistic climate destroying capitalist firms had signed on–including gas and oil companies whose activities are primary contributors to the destruction of the environment. (http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/the-climate-march-was-great-now-what)

Whether or not stressing the need for sufficient, “radical,” action would necessarily depress the number of participants, obfuscating the distinction between such radical action and the insufficient actions that dominate the current discussion would seem to guarantee that the catastrophically radical choice of failing to radically rework business as usual will prevail.

It’s impossible to know for sure what the actual effect of the People’s March will be, of course, though certainly nothing remotely like a commitment to sufficient action emerged from the U. N. Climate Summit that occasioned the March, a Summit that itself was only ever meant to discuss “ambitions” in preparation for still another U.N. Conference, over a year from now—yet another year!—where an actual formal agreement will be attempted. At this point, what we can say is that to whatever extent the March aimed to sound a sharp alarm—to help define maintaining business-as-usual as a catastrophic, radical choice—it hasn’t seemed to disrupt the corporate media’s anodyne normalizing of “climate change” as just another “issue.” Certainly, it didn’t disrupt the apparent obliviousness of The New York Times to the existential urgency of the threat. The headline of Times’s September 22 story on the March read: Taking a Call for Climate Change to the Streets.” Whatever the technical explanation for this befuddled headline, it starkly represents the by now symptomatic failure of attention on the part of the U.S. economic and political establishment, whose perspective the Times largely reflects. I’m pretty sure that no one at this march thought they were joining a “call for climate change.”

Protest Sign: "To Change Everything We Need Everyone"

Protest Sign

What would it take to get the Times, and the purveyors of power and conventional wisdom it represents, to pay attention to the dire urgency of the times? I hope actions like the People’s March work to that end. Certainly it was in some ways heartening. And Eunju’s report that 12-year-old Yunki later thanked her for bringing him along reminded me that the sense of connection the March inspired might be especially crucial for those who might be alive if and when the shit starts to really hit the fan.  But I wonder if it’s time, or past time, to more rigorously sort out inadequate action from what might be adequate—to insist on the daunting urgency of a dilemma offering us no non-radical choice. Incrementalism is often justified with a logic conveniently abstracted from any historical or social context: we must not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. What the particular context of the climate crisis presents us with is a logic of a less convenient sort: we must not let what is comfortably called the “good” be the enemy of the sufficient.

We must not let what is comfortably called the “good” be the enemy of the sufficient.

Well Versed: A Celebration of Poetry from Ireland and America

Connie Roberts Poet

I am delighted to be a featured poet in this upcoming event: Well Versed: A Celebration of Poetry from Ireland and America, Saturday, November 8, 2014, New York City.

The 39th Annual National Conference of the American Irish Teachers Association Presents poets Terence Winch, Sean Nevin, and Connie Roberts, musicians Jerry O’Sullivan and Niamh Hyland, and arts journalist Earle Hitchner, with special guests, visiting from Ireland, the Minister for the Diaspora, Jimmy Deenihan, Consul General of New York, Barbara Jones, and Deputy Consul General, Anna McGillicuddy.

9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Saturday, November 8, 2014 Liederkranz
6 East 87th Street (between Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue) New York, NY 10128

For registration or other information, contact Doris Marie Meyer at dorismeyer@aol.com or 917-691-2883

Schedule and biographies can be found here.

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An American(ist) in Rome: John Bryant Blogs

photo of Bryant standing before the Trevi Fountain

John Bryant at the Trevi Fountain

Students often talk about the exciting prospect of “spending a semester abroad.” I am happy to say a “semester abroad” can happen to faculty as well.

For Spring semester 2014, I found myself teaching early American Literature to fifteen graduate students at the University of Rome, in Rome. For the entire semester, I was a Fulbright Visiting Professor to Rome. That would be Rome, Italy. Needless to say, I had the time of my life.

Named for Missouri Senator William J. Fulbright, the Fulbright Program was established by Congress in 1947 as a post-war effort to generate cultural exchanges of scholars in all fields between America and most other nations. Even before WWII, and despite fascist era resistance to things American, Italian intellectuals celebrated American literature and promoted the study of American culture in Italy. By 1950 departments in Italian universities devoted to “studi Americani” were flourishing at a time when American studies in the US was itself just becoming a legitimate academic field. At about the same time, Fulbright visiting professorships in American literature were established in Rome, Venice, and Naples. For over six decades, Fulbright has also brought hundreds of foreign professors and students to universities and colleges throughout the United States.

With the modest Fulbright stipend, my wife Ginny and I found an affordable, 1920s vintage two-bedroom apartment, with tall shuttered windows, and two small balconies in the Trieste section of the city, just outside Rome’s massive imperial walls. The department of Anglo-American Languages and Literatures, located at the University’s Villa Mirafiori campus—the former residence of King Vittorio Emmanuele II’s mistress—was only a ten-minute walk away. However, my graduate seminar on the literature of the American Renaissance—Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Poe, Douglass, Melville, and others—met near Sapienza’s main campus in the San Lorenzo district, amidst student bars and shabby-trendy shops. To meet my seminar required either a brisk twenty-five minute walk from my office or a bus then a tram. I love trams.

The University of Rome, founded in 1303, is the largest in Europe with over 120,000 students. It is said that if Rome’s students all decided to go to class, not only would parents and faculty go into shock, but also the entire system would have to shut down. Happily, attendance in my fifteen-student seminar was nearly perfect. In 1993, the government split off two institutions—Roma Due and Roma Tre—from the original Rome Uno, which retains the institution’s nickname “La Sapienza,” or “Wisdom.”

In the newly imposed Italian graduate curriculum, PhD students are given three years to complete their courses and, theoretically, complete their dissertation projects. The task is daunting, and no one, faculty and students alike, sees much benefit in moving so quickly. Added to this is that that unemployment is at 12% in Italy, and worse, 40% of the unemployed are under thirty. But my graduate students, who were evenly distributed throughout the three-year curriculum, were not depressed by Europe’s depression but eager to read and discuss.

Photo of Bryant in front of hand-made sign about Moby Dick

John Bryant in Garbatella

I spread out the reading of Moby-Dick over the entire semester, about thirty pages a week, and each week we read an additional shorter work by another writer: some familiar such as Emerson and Douglass; others unknown, such as playwright Dion Boucicault, who wrote The Octoroon, a melodrama I have been teaching at Hofstra for over ten years. Students were mostly Italians, though with the European Union and its Erasmus exchange programs, students from France, Russia, and China also attended. The course was conducted entirely in English, but I was there to learn, too, and students always graciously helped me with my barely passable Italian, especially when I took them out for a drink.

Ginny and I arrived on February 14, and with a couple weeks to get settled before classes began, we set about returning to favorite sights we had known from previous visits, but from the start we were committed to discovering parts of Rome we had never known. Yes, one must pay homage to the Coliseum, Vatican, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and Piazza Navona.

Photo with bikes and pedestrians in the foreground and the Pantheon in the background

Coming Upon the Pantheon

But with almost five months ahead of us and with the chance to live, not just tour, Rome, we enjoyed just wandering and allowing ourselves to discover famous places by accident. We searched for out of the way places, reached by train, bus, and on foot. Rome is not just ancient; it is levels of ancient. But it also has its many layerings of the new. Everywhere you see the seams where old and new come together, so that the intersection of a glass hotel and a decaying wall just off an unexpected piazza where boys are playing calcio contributes to an aesthetic hard to explain but a thrill to experience.

Ginny and I decided beforehand that we would write blogs of our experiences. As part of my Fulbright project, I had proposed to follow Melville’s itinerary when he toured Rome for a month in 1857, and I thought it would be interesting to use a blog format to explore Rome through Melville’s eyes. Ginny wanted to record daily life, today, as we lived it walking the cobbled hills, strolling the Tiber, drinking fresh orange juice in Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere, or heading out by train to Ostia, Florence, Pisa, Lucca, Orvieto, and Naples. Our five months in Italy was not just about Rome, but then again, it mostly was. I do love the trams.

Photo of piazza

Piazza Colonna

You can visit our blogs at


John L. Bryant

A Head of Steam

We welcome Hofstra alum, professor, and poet Connie Roberts to the blogosphere and look forward to reading more. Watch out for her when she gets up a head of steam.

Connie Roberts Poet

Summer 2013 I was home in Ireland for the Listowel Writers’ Week Festival—I’d been awarded that year’s Poetry Collection Prize—when I happened upon an art exhibition in the Seanchaí Centre: Two Worlds: The Allegorical and the Real. The exhibiting artists were Aidan McDermott and Geraldine O’Reilly Hynes; the promotional literature stated that they would “present us with works of dreams and reality—an alchemist’s garden of mysterious endeavours [Aidan] and the reality of nature’s hidden bowers and vistas [Geraldine].” When I walked into the Seanchaí Centre, my eyes were immediately drawn to a striking Surrealist work by Aidan, displayed prominently on an easel in the cozy room: a painting of a woman in a vibrant red dress with a shiny teapot head, kneeling atop a wooden dolly, which she attempts to row with a large wooden spoon. Charmed by the dazzling teapot, I ambled over to take a closer look. I…

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Spring 2015 Internship Opportunity with Authoright Authorship Consultancy

Authoright is seeking a part-time spring intern in our New York City office. The focus of the internship will be creating and curating content across our three separate brands—Authoright, LitFactor, and the International Author Fair series. This will include social media presence, web content, and our monthly magazine for authors, New Edition.

The intern will also be responsible for assisting in the workflow of Authoright’s imprint Clink Street Publishing, assisting authors in every step of the self-publishing process, and other daily office activities. Additional projects may come up based on individual skills and interests.

An ideal candidate will have strong writing, critical thinking, and web research skills, and an interest in the book publishing industry. Adobe CS proficiency a plus.

Authoright is the leading author consultancy working across all areas of the publishing industry, with offices in London and New York. Established in 2007, Authoright works with hundreds of authors every year — consulting for free with over 2,000 — both privately and through its publisher, platform and literary agent affiliates, providing affordable but effective marketing and publicity campaigns alongside bespoke editorial and design services. Corporate clients include HarperCollins, Kobo Writing Life, and Faber and Faber. In 2013, Authoright founded The International Author Fair series, curating and staging author-focused events in different cities around the world. The series began with the first London Author Fair on February 28, 2014, with the New York Author Fair following in September 2014.

LitFactor is a literary matchmaker, bringing undiscovered authors and literary agents together online. LitFactor is used by thousands of authors and literary agencies including the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency, Blake Friedmann, and the Carol Mann Agency. Our commitment to open communication between agents and authors extends to live events, including the PitchUp! at the London Author Fair.

Interested candidates please send a cover letter and resume to jordan@authoright.com

The Scottish Referendum And a 17th-century Braveheart

By Vimala C. Pasupathi

For a Hofstra professor currently teaching English 60, “Constructing British Literature,” Thursday’s vote on a referendum on Scottish Independence from the United Kingdom is an exciting event that reinforces many of the points I make for my (usually) American students about the status of “The United Kingdom” and its relationship to “Britain”––in particular, it reminds us that these are political designations as much as geographical ones, and that these terms we use in class to describe geographical regions are not stable terms. The Referendum also helps make clear that the shifting relationships we see in our investigation of literature from England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland in the period the course covers (rather improbably, about 800 to 1798) continue to shift even now.

As a scholar who has studied the relationship between Scotland and England for more than a decade in my research, I find the news about the Referendum interesting for reasons that extend beyond the classroom. Over the past ten years, I’ve written about Anglo-Scottish relations in a variety of contexts, though primarily my interests center on how they are represented in 16th- and 17th century works composed for dramatic performance. For instance, examining plays like Shakespeare’s Macbeth (1605) and 1 Henry IV (1596) and Henry V (1599), I’ve noted that the playwright’s Scotsmen are almost exclusively soldiers, and that Shakespeare identifies these men as powerful martialists with changeable loyalties––an instability rooted in Scotland’s military traditions and in what English writers saw as a mercenary culture that could not be trusted. I’ve also written about an amateur playwright, parliamentarian, and horse-racing enthusiast, John Newdigate, who removed the character of a Scottish jockey from one of his plays as tension between the English and the Scots mounted in the 1630s over Charles I’s imposition of an Anglican prayerbook in the Scottish church. The two versions of Newdigate’s play that we’ve found show that even a private citizen might feel pressure to censor himself in creating entertainment for his friends and family, excising from the later version of the play all references to “the North” as well as the joking jockey with a distinct Northern or Scottish dialect.

Valiant Scot Titlepage

Taken by Vimala C. Pasupathi at the Folger Shakespeare Library, STC 24910 Copy 2.

I’ve also written about another play called The Valiant Scot (composed in the 1620s), which features the Scottish “freedom fighter” William Wallace and depicts his rebellion against the English monarch who took the throne in 12th Century Scotland by way of military force. This play, a seventeenth-century analog to the American film Braveheart, takes up the issue of union and broken alliances in explicit fashion, encouraging audiences to consider the political status of both countries from its very first scene. In its opening, we see English noblemen boast about their new status as “rulers over Scotland” (1.1.2-3); one observes, “they are a Nation / Haughty and full of spleen, and must be manag’d /With straighter reins and rougher bitts.” (1.1.6-10).

Another disagrees; “I find them easie, tractable and mild,” he asserts, and insists that “Authority may with a slender twine / Hold in the strongest head” (1.1.11-17)  Continue reading