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Fall 2018: Writing and Teaching in the Age of the Unspeakable

"Getting Handsy" by Nina Palumbo

"Getting Handsy" by Nina Palumbo

Mullarkey Forum for Research and Teaching, English Department, Fall 2018

Writing and Teaching in the Age of the Unspeakable

What we thought could never be broached is now spoken all round us every day. In a world of contextless viral snippets, fake news, and memes, where facts are combated with opinions, the question of how we write and teach is more than ever important. What are the best ways of demonstrating the value of evidence, context, and analysis? In what ways can our discipline best be articulate now?

The classroom must remain a space in which language still has meaning, and where evidence and the archive of human knowledge and complex resources such as libraries are used and defended. We need a space where the loudest voices are not necessarily the prevailing ones. But how do we rise to the call of our uncivil times?

For this year’s Mullarkey Forum on 24th October 2018, we once again combined a sequence of Faculty presentations with an introduction and discussion of the Reid book for the academic year 2018-2019, Kiese Laymon’s 2018 Heavy (on “what the weight of a lifetime of secrets, lies, and deception does to a black body, a black family, and a nation teetering on the brink of moral collapse”: material from the Reid discussion can be found on the Reid site at

At the Forum, Anne Hoffman explored the ways in which we respond as readers and writers in the light of psychoanalytic analysis of trauma and its profound kinship with the human capacity for narrative; Kanchana Ugbabe spoke of her experiences as a writer in strife-torn Nigeria, and Mary Erler and Andrew Albin discussed Fordham’s new collaborative medievalist project to take students past the stereotypes of the Middle Ages currently being appropriated by the alt-right and white supremacist movements.

We are very grateful to the presenters both for their excellent and thought-provoking contributions and their agreement to make them available here.

Anne Hoffman, “Talk Story: Narrative and/as Experience”

Kanchana Ugbabe, “Creating Dangerously: Writing under Threat”

Andrew Albin and Mary Erler, "Whose Middle Ages? Identity, Otherness, and Openness in Medieval Studies."

Jocelyn Wogan-Browne
Thomas F.X. and Teresa Mullarkey Chair in Literature

Chair - Dr. Vlasta Vranjes

Vlasta Vranjes

Vlasta Vranjes's current research examines literary responses to the role marriage legislation played in shaping nineteenth-century Englishness. She is particularly interested in complex forms of English nationalism and cosmopolitanism as revealed in both literary renditions of and cultural debates on English marriage. Her current book project is titled English Vows: Marriage Law and National Identity in the Nineteenth-Century Novel, and her work has been published in such journals as Journal of British Studies and Clio: A Journal of Literature, History, and the Philosophy of History.

Dr. Anne Hoffman

English Faculty Profile Picture

Anne Golomb Hoffman's current research examines representations of the body in literary and psychoanalytic writing. Recent work includes "The Body of the Land, the Body of the Child: Trauma and Nachträglichkeit in David Grossman’s To the End of the Land" (Narrative 20.1, 2012), "Writing Siblings: Alice James and Her Brothers"(Psychoanalytic Review 102.1, 2015) and a review of Eran J. Rolnik's Freud in Zion(JAPA 63.3, 2015). Professor Hoffman holds a research faculty appointment in the Institute for the History of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, where she chairs the Richardson Seminar in the History of Psychiatry. She is a special member of the Association for Psychoanalytic Medicine of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. Professor Hoffman has published extensively on the politics of gender in Israeli and European Jewish writing.

Talk Story: Narrative as/and Experience

Dr. Kanchana Ugbabe

Kanchana Ugbabe

Kanchana Ugbabe is Writer in Residence in the English Department of Fordham University from 2017 – 2019. She teaches a Creative Writing course in which students are introduced to writing from war and conflict areas, and challenged to write boldly and fearlessly about social justice issues. Kanchana also teaches a literature course, Metafiction, in which students are enabled to perceive the intersections in the construction of and mediating with texts.

Kanchana has given talks on campus on Writing as Survival with particular reference to women. She participated in the Oslo Freedom Forum, New York City, and the PEN World Voices Festival in New York as a panelist. She is a member of the Feminist Reading Group at Fordham University.

Kanchana has a B.A and M.A from Madras University, India, and PhD from Flinders University, South Australia. She had been professor of English at the University of Jos, Nigeria for several years before coming to the United States.

Creating Dangerously

Dr. Mary Erler and Dr. Andrew Albin

Mary Erler

Dr. Mary Erler

Professor Erler is the author of Reading and Writing During the Dissolution: Monks, Friars, and Nuns 1530-1558 (Cambridge, 2013); Records of Early English Drama: Ecclesiastical London (Toronto, 2008); and Women, Reading; and Piety in Late Medieval England (Cambridge, 2002). She has co-edited two collections: Women and Power in the Middle Ages (Georgia, 1988) and Gendering the Master Narrative: Women and Power in the Middle Ages (Cornell, 2003). Her articles include "Devotional Literature" in the Cambridge History of the Book in Britain Vol. 3, 1400-1557(Cambridge, 1999) and "English Vowed Women at the End of the Middle Ages," Medieval Studies (1995).

"Whose Middle Ages? Identity, Otherness, and Openness in Medieval Studies." 

Andrew Albin

Dr. Andrew Albin

Andrew Albin's scholarship in the field of historical sound studies examines embodied listening practices, sound’s meaningful contexts, and the lived aural experiences of historical hearers – in a word, the sonorous past – as an object of critical inquiry. His work has been recognized with grants and fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Medieval Academy of America, the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. He facilitates the Fordham Medieval Dramatists in their biennial performance of early English drama for public audiences at Fordham and in NYC. Publications include Richard Rolle’s Melody of Love: A Study and Translation, with Manuscript and Musical Contexts (Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2018) and articles addressing sonorous materiality in the performance of Richard Rolle’s votive office (Speculum 91.4 [2016]), sonorous identification in the Chester shepherd's play (Early Theatre16.2 [2013], winner of the Best Essay Prize for 2013-2015), and scenes of hearing in Chaucer's Prioress's Tale (The Chaucer Review 48.1 [2013]). Other contributions include a chapter on the aesthetics of spiritual song in Voice and Voicelessness in Medieval Europe (Palgrave MacMillan, 2015), a digital essay on contemporary sound artist Janet Cardiff’s Forty Voice Motet, and forthcoming chapters on medieval approaches to listening to Arvo Pärt and the sound of poetic form in the Middle English devotional lyric. He is currently working on a monograph that develops theoretical frameworks and methodological tools for encountering the medieval manuscript as an interactive sonorous instrument.

"Whose Middle Ages? Identity, Otherness, and Openness in Medieval Studies."