Chair’s Welcome by Dr. Margaret Rose Torrell

Chair’s Welcome by Dr. Margaret Rose Torrell

12 September 2013torrell_chairswelcome

Welcome to the SUNY College at Old Westbury English Department Website. I hope you had a pleasant summer and are re-energized and ready to achieve great things this fall!  A warm welcome to our new freshmen, majors, graduate students, and faculty.

The Fall semester is just about three weeks underway and our students have already begun a journey that takes them across time, around the globe, and to more advanced levels of writing, reading, and thinking.  In one classroom, they are engaged in a discussion about the Old English epic, Beowulf.  In another, the ancient Greek tragedy, Antigone. 

Down the hall, students are exploring the transformative power of storytelling in The Arabian Nights or The Dilemma of a Ghost and Anowa while others are making friends with literary theory or have begun their intensive study of Virginia Woolf.  Some of our seniors are embarking on an exploration of the intellectual autobiography that will culminate in writing their own story of their intellectual development.  Other seniors are ready to submit the first installment of their senior thesis projects on topics such as masculinity in Junot Diaz’s works, homoerotics in Virginia Woolf’s novels, folklore in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, and literary elements in Charles Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition.

In our Writing Programs courses which are coordinated by Dr. Christopher Hobson, some English Composition I classes are reading and writing literacy narratives while English Composition II students are using multicultural literature as a springboard to practice advanced analysis techniques and research writing.

Students new to our Master of Arts in Teaching English program, coordinated by Dr. Linda Camarasana, have begun their surveys of American and British Literature and those in their second year are preparing to teach writing and enter the English classroom as student teachers.

No matter the course, the English classroom is a space of transportation to new places, new people, and new ideas as well as a space that generates transformations in thinking and writing.  I wish all of our students the best in their studies this semester.

I also want to encourage our students to get involved with our English Department activities and publications.  As always, the English Department plans to host a variety of multimedia and co-curricular activities this semester. There is sure to be something for everyone. The Department Website, thanks to the good work of Prof. Jessica Williams and technical support of Prof Dan Dissinger, is expanding to include even more interesting and useful features.  It’s a great place to look to find internship opportunities, faculty office hours and contact information, facts about our degree program, models of senior seminar work, blurbs on department activities, faculty bios, and much more. I also invite our current students and alumni to write for our website.  We welcome articles on a wide range of topics, including book reviews, future plans, and faculty interviews.  We’d also love to hear from our alumni about their activities and accomplishments since graduating.  I hope you will visit our website often and stay connected.

Speaking of staying connected, you might also want to check out our new English Department Gallery posted outside of the English Office (room 3036A).  There you will find photos of many of last year’s English Department events as well as postings about some of the publications projects in which our faculty have been involved.

The Poetry Club advised by Prof. Williams will soon post meeting information for those who are interested in writing and performing poetry and lyrics. We are also planning to host English Department Open House events and English Major Coffee Houses.  We are proud to publish Harmonia, the Creative Writing Journal for students at SUNY College at Old Westbury, advised by Prof Williams.  Our high achieving majors and concentrators have the opportunity to join our chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society—applications will be available at the close of the fall semester.

For those of you who don’t yet know them, we have a truly dynamite department.  Our secretary, Ms. Annette Johnson, keeps things running smoothly.  Our full-timers, Dr. Linda Camarasana (Coordinator of the MAT Program in English), Dr. Jacqueline Emery, Dr. Amara Graf, Dr. Narayan Hegde,  Dr. Christopher Hobson (Coordinator of Writing Programs), Dr. Mervyn Keizer, Dr. Nicholas Powers, and Professor Jessica Williams, all bring a passion for writing and literature along with enthusiasm for teaching.  Our adjunct professors are a remarkably caring, dedicated, and talented group of people who provide fresh perspectives for our students in a wide variety of courses. I’m sure you’ll enjoy working with them.

As we begin this new academic year and embark on the transformative learning journey that occurs in the English classroom, let us all visualize the celebration of hard work and the successful achievement of our goals.  May the words we read, speak, and write this semester serve to nourish us and bring us closer to achieving those goals.

Wishing you all the best for the 2013-2014 Academic year and always.

Dr. Margaret Rose Torrell

English Chair, Fall 2013


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