The English Department’s new issues of Harmonia, the creative writing journal, and Discordia, the scholarly journal, are being released next Wednesday, October 15th from 12-1pm in NAB-1100. Come by, jump on the open mic, have some light snacks, and grab your free issues!
All are welcome–please join us!!!
Congratulations are in order for Dr. Jacqueline Emery of the English Department and Dr. Carol Quirke of American Studies: “As part of the Sixth Annual Explorations for Diversity and Academic Excellence initiative, [Professors Emery and Quirke] were awarded $10,000 for their project “Crossing Borders, Erasing Borders: New Immigrants and Racial and Gender Inequalities in the 21st Century.”
See more at: http://www.oldwestbury.edu/news/1923
The English Department’s Dr. Christopher Z. Hobson recently had a letter to the New York Times editor published. The letter is about teaching James Baldwin and quotes one of our English majors! The letter reads:
It’s welcome that James Baldwin’s reputation is rising again. But in focusing on early masterworks like “Go Tell It on the Mountain” and “Sonny’s Blues,” we risk neglecting Baldwin’s rich, deeply felt later novels, particularly “If Beale Street Could Talk” (1974) and “Just Above My Head” (1979). I teach these regularly.
College readers respond to Baldwin’s vivid language — colloquial as well as literary; to the wisdom and sorrow of “Just Above My Head”; and to Baldwin’s prophetic anticipation of today’s partial acceptance of homosexuality and America’s stalled racial reformation.
One of my seniors wrote that Baldwin “hurt me in such a beautiful way that I could not be angry with him,” and that is one mark of a great writer.
CHRISTOPHER Z. HOBSON
Old Westbury, N.Y., April 27, 2014
“Gender, Sex, & Sauce: OW Students Serve Up Social Consciousness with Progress on the Side” by Jamel Sleem, English major.
On Monday, March 3. 2014, SUNY Old Westbury’s New Academic Building was host to The Student Symposium on Gender & Sexuality. This remarkable event – organized by the Women’s Center, Carol Quirke, Jessica Williams, and faculty from the departments of American Studies, English, Psychology and Sociology – saw the coming together of students and faculty from numerous disciplines all for the singular purpose of creating a public dialogue about an ever-important and ever-evolving issue: gender.
Five separate panels gave voice to various subject matter concerning each and every one of us. Subjects ranging from Gender Challenges, Masculinities, and Heroines, to Women & Religion and Women & Beauty helped to focus the conference and steer the discussion down productive avenues. Almost two dozen students from varying backgrounds and all walks of life brought their unique perspectives and voices to the conversation.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of program organizers and moderators – including the English Department’s Professors Williams, Emery, and Graf – the overall selection, which featured works from their combined classes as well as Professor Dissinger’s, touched on many important aspects of the ongoing and, in many cases, escalating conflicts faced by marginalized individuals the world over.
Of particular interest were presentations from English majors Alexa Bauman, Naomi Johnson, Joseph Lagalante, Jr., Jonathan Noyes, and Shakiraah Medford. Alexa presented her paper from Professor Emery’s Literature Across Cultures I class: Challenging Traditional Gender Roles in Society: Modern Female Protagonists in Ama Ata Aidoo’s Anowa and Marjane Satrapi’s The Complete Persepolis. Joseph’s paper, The Dominican Model of Manhood and the Broken Sucio: Identifying Masculinity as the Unifying Theme in the Works of Junot Diaz, sprang from his work in Professor Graf’s Senior Seminar I class. Professor Dissinger’s Literature Across Cultures I class was the fertile ground from which two presenters reaped their bountiful harvest. Naomi attacked the issue succinctly with Female Avenger: A Reading of Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, while Jonathan opened eyes with his presentation, What’s Good for the Gander is Wrong for the Geese: Why the Construct of Gender is Harmful. Finally, Shaakirah Medford delivered a presentation titled Black Beauty and the Media: Redefining Our Own Beauty created for Professor Chipley’s Women and Media class.
Some students shared an event from their own past that helped to inform their present and altered their plans for the future. Others were motivated to share based on the struggles of family and friends and the impact those journeys had on their own lives. Still others were called to open up based on the influence that a specific text or work of art had on them, personally. And some simply had something important to say — and this distinct venue offered them an unprecedented platform from which to have their voices heard. Whatever the reason, each student brought something new and thought-provoking to the table.
The only thing more impressive than the tenor and tone of the discussion as a whole was the way in which it was received. Chairs ringed the hall but for much of the proceedings, the walls were lined with onlookers too engaged to leave for lack of adequate seating.
In one humble viewers opinion, this is an event that should be repeated in both form and function annually, as the length and breadth of the issues at hand multiply and shift with increased speed and readiness every day. Such a worthwhile pulpit should be maintained for future students in upcoming years.
An Interview with Professor Jennifer Person
by Destiny Rivera
Destiny Rivera is completing a double major in English and Psychology at SUNY College at Old Westbury. She spends most of her free time thinking about the implications of her continuous survival and seeks to make every moment something worth looking back on.
Professor Jennifer Person is an adjunct professor in the English Department at SUNY College at Old Westbury. Her first book of poetry, Look at Something Beautiful Every Day, was recently independently published by Xlibris Press and is available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
Destiny Rivera: When did you decide that you wanted to write a book?
JP: I always wanted to write a book. This was a big life-long dream of mine. I started this book three years ago and I knew I wanted it to be poetry and art work together. I woke up one morning at 3:00am and I had this idea and it was completely formed from start to finish in my mind. I started working on it right there and then.
[The book] went through a lot of transformations. At first, I was going to not only make it a poetry collection but I wanted it to have artwork from the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well since I used to work there and had favorite pieces from the collections that I wanted to use. The idea transformed and [then] I thought that what I wanted is for it to be a textbook for art and literature students. This meant that the book would have to have a lot more pictures and a lot more topics. It turned out that the book was way too big by that point and would have had to be scaled back in a major way. Who knows, maybe it will become Look at Something Beautiful Every Day – Part Two!
So I went to thinking about a smaller book of poetry and that’s when the ideas really took off. I had a smaller idea and smaller images to accompany them. I started going through my neighborhood walking through the different places in my community and when I found something, an image, an object, even a person I stopped and asked permission to take a picture. There is a picture of a Buddha in the book that was in the window of an art studio. I spoke to the owner and she said “if you want to take a picture then that’s great –go ahead and use it in the book.” In the book there are also pictures from St. Ignatius Retreat House in Manhasset, there is a picture of a woman in our neighborhood, there are pictures of objects that we have in our home that are particularly beautiful and we had a chance to include some nature, like flowers and trees. I am very pleased with the final format.
Congratulations are in order for Professor Jessica Williams, Visiting Instructor in the English Department. She presented a paper entitled “Horror Movies, Horror Bodies” at the New York College English Association (NYCEA) Annual Conference this November. Her paper won the NYCEA Award for Best Graduate Student Paper. Prof. Williams’s paper was excerpted from her dissertation, New Forms, Other Bodies: media, performative identity, and the reemergence of the American freak show, which she is completing at St. John’s University.
“Horror Movies, Horror Bodies” examines Tod Browning’s 1932 horror film Freaks as a site of conflict between normal and disabled bodies and argues that Freaks has become a reference point for subsequent horror. Williams contends that with the normalizing gaze, the fear of contact with the freak, the sexual narratives surrounding the freak body, and the sympathetic characterizations of the monstrous, horror defines the freak body in relation to normal activity while asserting that we still see and think about the disabled body as abnormal. Her discussion of Freaks helps underscore her larger argument about the American freak show institution and how, through its appropriation, changing media have worked to separate viewer and object both temporally and spatially while bringing conflicting bodies closer together on screens.