Dr. Torrell to Give Talk for Disabilities Awareness Week

Please join us!

Dr. Margaret Torrell, English Department Chair,

will give a talk for

Disabilities Awareness Week:

Tuesday, 4/19

2:40pm-3:40pm in NAB 2034

Disability Studies as a Social Justice Field

Disability Studies is a rapidly growing interdisciplinary field that recognizes and celebrates people with disabilities as a cultural group.  Birthed out of the disability rights movement, the field includes myriad forms of artistic expression, important academic inquiries into the lived experiences and cultural constructions of the disabled, and vital political activism.

We’ll discuss some of the key features of this exciting, socially transformative field

and enjoy a sample of artistic and political expressions arising from it.

Student Symposium on Gender, Immigration, and Social Inequality — W, 3/4 at 12pm

The Student Symposium on Gender, Immigration, and Social Inequality is this Wednesday, March 4th in NAB 1100 from 12 to 3 p.m.  The Symposium is the culmination of the year-long Crossing Borders, Erasing Borders Grant Project, involving students and faculty from American Studies; Biology; English; First-Year Experience; Politics, Economics and Law; Psychology; Sociology; and Visual Arts.

At noon, Queens native Bushra Rehman, author of the novel Corona and co-editor of Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism, will talk about growing up in a Pakistani Muslim immigrant community and will share her thoughts on feminism and writing.

From 1:15 to 3 p.m., students will share their work–research essays, oral histories, media and design projects–on gender, sexuality, race, class, immigration, and social inequality.
All are welcome! A light lunch will be provided.

English Composition I Digital Media Projects

Two of Professor Daniel Dissinger’s students from the Fall 2014 semester have created what Professor Dissinger describes as “unbelievable Digital projects [that are] very different, but are both thought provoking in their own way.” Please enjoy Operation Dirt” by Isaiah Jacobs and “Vloge 7” by Laura Yoon.

Old Westbury Student Presentations at NCTE 2014 Annual Convention

Old Westbury Student Presentations at NCTE 2014 Annual Convention, Written by Dr. Nicole Sieben

“The best-kept secret in American education is the daily genius of the teachers in our classrooms.”

—Ernest Morrell, Presidential Address, NCTE Annual Convention 2014

On Friday, November 21, 2014 SUNY College at Old Westbury graduate students in the Masters in Teaching English program traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the 104th  National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention, “Story as the Landscape of Knowing,” at which over 7,000 K-16 English teachers met to “examine the power of story as the landscape within which we map the significance of experience and build towers of knowledge.” As NCTE has said, “Stories saturate our lives, woven so tightly into the fabric of the everyday that it’s easy to overlook their value as a way of knowing the world. They are the glue that creates community and binds us together around common purposes and values.” At SUNY Old Westbury, our students also create community through story telling by analyzing great works of literature, writing critical reflection and research papers, and creating innovative curricula. At the 2014 NCTE Annual Convention, three of our SUNY College at Old Westbury students had the opportunity to share their stories with the national professional community of English teachers.

As NCTE president and Columbia University professor, Dr. Ernest Morrell, shared in his presidential keynote address at the annual convention, NCTE is the oldest, most historic literacy organization in this country.  This November, our graduate students became a part of NCTE’s history and undoubtedly, its future. After working hard to prepare their presentations under the guidance of their English education professor, Dr. Nicole Sieben, the students arrived at the conference eager to share their work and network with other graduate students, English teachers, and scholars in the field. On Saturday, November 22, 2014, SUNY College at Old Westbury English Education graduate students–Griselda Ureña, Lindsey Johnston, and Jennifer Rollo– presented their research projects at the NCTE conference session “The Future is Now: Exploring 21st Century Teaching Ideas with the Next Generation of English Teachers.”  Griselda, Lindsey, and Jennifer presented alongside graduate students from 14 other universities across the country to an audience of over 130 attendees.

Our English teacher candidates represented the stories of SUNY Old Westbury education students and English majors as well as the stories of the students in the secondary English language arts classrooms in which they are observing. Jennifer Rollo’s presentation titled, “The Search for Identity through Inner Conflict in Hamlet” described the literary significance of this Shakespearean work and provided strategies for teaching the play to secondary school students in engaging ways.  Lindsey Johnston’s presentation, “Writing Connections: The Importance of Cross-Curricular Literacy,” detailed the importance of teaching writing across the curriculum in all school subjects in conjunction with teaching writing in English language arts classes. In Griselda Ureña’s presentation, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian: A Pairing of Young Adult Literature with Canonical Classics to Promote Student Engagement,” Griselda shared strategies for pairing influential works of Young Adult literature with critical canonical texts in order to engage students’ literacy interests, motivations, and fluencies. During their session, the students also had the opportunity to engage in important conversations with other graduate students and notable scholars in English Education whose work they have studied this semester.

Throughout the conference, the students attended sessions that explored “the many dimensions of story as the landscape of knowing–story as literary and informational text, story as cross-disciplinary collaborations, story as multiple literacies and genres, story as memory and identity, story as teacher knowledge and research, story as community and culture, story as marginalization, and story as resistance.” As future secondary English language arts teachers, our teacher candidates felt that it was an extremely eye-opening and important conference for all future and current English teachers to attend; it is an influential step in their acculturation process as teachers of English and as life-long learners.  As one student noted after the conference, “It’s a place to talk about English and literature and writing where everyone is speaking your language. Everyone there is really interested in what we are doing because they are all doing it too. It’s a really great feeling of community.” Likewise, the NCTE community was impressed with the work that our students are doing and have expressed a hope that our students will participate in future NCTE conventions.

To close the convention, NCTE President Ernest Morrell echoed our students’ sentiments. He encouraged all teachers of English to stand collectively as a group for social justice, and he inspired us to walk together to teach critical, activist literacy for and with all students.  He reassured us, “It is much easier when you are walking with people. NCTE should be the place to say ‘if you are about literacy and social justice, you don’t have to walk alone.’ And, you do not have to walk alone.” Our SUNY College at Old Westbury students are among those English teachers who are about literacy and social justice, and it is clear they are eager to be a part of the activist literacy movement to which Dr. Morrell refers.

Pictured below from Left to Right are SUNY College at Old Westbury graduate students Griselda Ureña, Jennifer Rollo, & Lindsey Johnston with their professor, Dr. Nicole Sieben, at the 2014 NCTE Annual Convention


Harmonia and Discordia Release Party!!!

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!!!

HarmoniaDiscordia ReleasePartyFlyer2

Faculty Project Selected for Diversity and Academic Excellence Award

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

NY Times Letter Written by Dr. Hobson Quotes OW English Major

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.

Old Westbury, N.Y., April 27, 2014

Click here to view the page directly (Dr. Hobson’s is the second letter on the page)

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