Department of English
Division: Arts, Humanities and Learning Resources
Interim Associate Dean: Dr. Jessica Seessel
Division Secretary: Delzora Mabra and Barbara Murray
Division Office: AAB 509
Department Chair: James Werner
Office: Hankin Academic Arts Building 532
Assistant Chair: Ricky Werner
Office: Hankin Academic Arts Building 518
Adjunct Coordinator: Christine Timm
Office: Hankin Academic Arts Building 530
Westchester Community College’s English Department offers a variety of writing and literature courses. Writing course options range from remedial courses that effectively prepare students for the challenges of college writing to an advanced program of study that allows students to develop their own writing projects in a workshop-style forum. The appealingly broad selection of literature courses offers something for everyone with course titles like African American Literature, Women in Literature, Perceptions of the Holocaust, Literature of the Americas, Modern American Poetry, and much more.
Students are required to take at least two semesters of English to fulfill degree requirements. These are transferable credits. You can read more about Westchester Community College’s required English courses by consulting a College counselor or by clicking on your Program of Study under Academics.
The English Department faculty members bring to their classes rich teaching experience and outstanding qualifications. All English teachers hold advanced degrees that qualify them to teach in the field. Full-time instructors are active scholars. The faculty members participate in academic conferences and publish literary and theoretical scholarship. Most instructors are active members of professional societies. Many of the English Department faculty are also active in creative writing and publish novels, short stories, and poems. All teachers in the English Department employ a student-based approach to the teaching of writing and literature that places the interests and needs of the students first. Many faculty are active in student clubs and organizations, like the Human Rights Union, the Creative Writing Club, and Philosophia. Refer to the faculty sections below for more information on individual faculty members.
Through various Department-based programs and clubs, the English Department brings literature to life both in and out of the classroom. The Poets and Writers reading series invites Nobel Laureate writers, best selling authors and spoken word poets alike to read from their most current and famous works. The very popular Great Books Forum meets three times each semester and gives students and community residents an opportunity to participate in a faculty-guided discussion of pre-selected works. Click on the Events link for more specific information on the exciting programs that the English Department has planned.
Don Anderson is an instructor in the English Department at Westchester Community College where he teaches courses in writing and literature. He holds a PhD from the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. He formerly taught at the University of Washington, Western Washington University, Portland Community College, and Portland State University and is the recipient of the 8th Marjory Riverrun Award for Teaching Excellence from Western Washington University. His research focuses on horror, exploitation, and cult cinema with a specific interest in the history of Italian horror cinema. He is also a specialist in 20th century American literature, the work of William S. Burroughs, and French philosophy. His publications can be found in the journals Horror Studies, Rhizomes, and Gothic Studies. He is currently writing on the films of the late Italian director Joe D’Amato.
For nearly twenty years Don Anderson has composed and played guitar with the heavy metal band Agalloch who have released five albums and numerous smaller releases. He has toured the US, Europe, Scandinavia, and Israel and has played many festivals such as Roadburn, Inferno, Ragnarok, and the Maryland Deathfest.
Richard A. Courage is a Professor of English at Westchester Community College, where he has taught since 1990. He currently teaches African American Literature, Short Story, and Writing for College 2 but has also taught Modern American Writers, Topics in the History of Ideas, Writing for College 1, College Success, Writing and Research, Writing and Literature, and Student Literacy Corps Seminar.
Professor Courage is co-author of The Muse in Bronzeville: African American Creative Expression in Chicago, 1932-1950 (Rutgers University Press 2011), which has won awards from the Illinois State Historical Society, Hyde Park Historical Society, and Westchester Library Association. He has published reviews and articles on African American narrative and visual arts, new media, and the teaching of writing in various scholarly collections and journals. His research on the cultural history of Black Chicago has been supported by grants and fellowships from the American Philosophical Society, National Endowment for the Humanities, Black Metropolis Research Consortium, and the Vivian G. Harsh Society. He is currently editing an essay collection called Root, Branch and Blossom: Social Origins of Chicago’s New Negro Artists and Intellectuals (under contract with University of Illinois Press).
Among other honors, Professor Courage holds a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship, a NISOD (National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development) Excellence Award, a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, and a Westchester Community College Foundation Award for Excellence in Scholarship.
For more information: www.richardacourage.com
Office: Academic Arts Building 514
Professor Elizabeth Gaffney is a poet and professor of English. Her poems have appeared in Exploring Literature, Wordsmith, Southern Poetry Review, Taproot, College English, and other publications. Her research interests include contemporary poetry and feminist studies. Honors include a residency at Yaddo writers’ colony, the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the NISOD Teaching Award, and NEH Summer Seminars.
At Westchester Community College, Elizabeth Gaffney teaches all the required writing and literature classes as well as electives in Shakespeare, 20th Century Irish Literature, and poetry, and several distance learning courses. Her course offerings in the Honors Program are Images of Women in Literature, Reading and Writing Poetry, and Comp & Lit 2. Gaffney lives in Pelham with her husband and three children.
Office: AAB 527
Elise Martucci is an Assistant Professor of the Westchester Community College English Department where she teaches courses in writing and literature. She earned a Ph.D. in English from Fordham University in 2005. Her major areas of research and study are ecocriticism, postmodernism, and contemporary fiction, especially post-9/11 writings.
In June of 2007 Routledge Press published her book, The Environmental Unconscious in the Fiction of Don DeLillo. This book offers an ecocritical analysis of contemporary author Don DeLillo’s fiction, as well as a discussion of traditional American concepts of nature and the tensions between environmental and postmodernist thought. She has also presented papers and written short articles on the environment in postmodern and contemporary literature by authors such as Margaret Atwood, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jane Smiley, and Dana Spiotta. She is most interested in studying how contemporary fiction addresses the inter-play between culture and nature within these novels.
Before joining the Westchester Community College English faculty in the fall of 2008, she taught writing and literature at Fordham University in the Bronx, and later at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Ct.
Adam Meehan earned his Ph.D. at The University of Arizona, where he studied global modernism and critical theory. He also holds an M.A. from San Diego State University and a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley. He has published most recently in the Journal of Modern Literature and in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism. He has also presented his work at a number of major conferences, including those held by the Modern Language Association, American Comparative Literature Association, American Literature Association, and the Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States. Dr. Meehan is primarily interested in the intersectionality of Marxism and psychoanalysis, particularly as it relates to issues of subjectivity in literary fiction. Above all, he is passionate about teaching and is continually exploring new ways of incorporating his scholarly interests in the classroom. He is also a sports fan and has played hockey for nearly twenty years. His door is always open to those looking to discuss sports, writing, literature, film, politics, music, or the absurdity of human existence. He is originally from Southern California and now lives with his family in Peekskill.
Office: Sci 310
Heather Ostman is an Assistant Professor and the Assistant Chair of the Westchester Community College English Department, where she teaches courses in writing and literature. She holds a Ph.D. in English from Fordham University. Her research has primarily focused on rhetoric and women’s literature, and her work has appeared in academic journals including College Composition and Communication, Women’s Studies, Prose Studies, Philological Quarterly, New Writing, among others. She is the editor of Kate Chopin in the Twenty-First Century: New Critical Essays (2008) and the author of Writing Program Administration and the Community College, which will be published in 2012. She is the recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities and the WCC Foundation Faculty Excellence Award in Scholarship. She has presented conference papers on composition studies and the written works of several women authors and activists, including Kate Chopin, Emma Goldman, Jane Addams, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. Dr. Ostman is also the co-founder and president of the Kate Chopin International Society.
Before joining the Westchester Community College English faculty in the fall of 2007, she taught writing and literature at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY, and later at the Manhattan Metropolitan Center of SUNY Empire State College, where she served as Faculty Chair and Writing Program Coordinator.
Office: Science Building 315
Cynthia Robinson is Assistant Professor of English at Westchester Community College. She has been an educator for over 20 years, having previously taught English at Nyack High School.
She is also a playwright and dramaturg. Professor Robinson’s awards include State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities; Finalist, Black and Latino Playwrights Conference at Texas State University; Calvin B. Grimes Scholar-in-Residence at NYU. Other honors include Tribeca All-Access Open Stage, Best New Play IRNE nomination (Ascension), Thomas Barbour Memorial Playwright’s Award finalist (The Panacea).
Plays include “Nightfall” (The Fire This Time Festival; publication on Indie Theater Now); “Peola’s Passing” (Samuel French OOB Theatre Festival); “Gold Star Mother” (EstroGenius Festival; publication in Book of Estro); “Ascension” (National Black Theatre Festival; FringeNYC), “Thunder: A Musical Memoir” (FringeNYC).
Professor Robinson is a member of The League of Professional Theatre Women, The Dramatists Guild of America, Inc., is writer-in-residence in the Women’s Work Lab at New Perspectives Theatre Co., and is Co-founder/Artistic Director of Robinson Williams Productions. She is a graduate of Syracuse University and New York University.
Office: Science Building 311
Dr. Richard Rodriguez has been an assistant professor in the WCC English department for sixteen years. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in English from Rutgers University, and his Master’s and Doctorate degrees from New York University. He received his PhD in English in 1998, specializing in American Literature. Teaching is actually a second career for Professor Rodriguez. Before WCC, he spent twenty five years in the advertising industry as an award-winning copywriter and account executive. He worked for many of New York’s top advertising agencies representing a variety of industrial and consumer products. But Prof. Rodriguez says that the advertising business is more stressful and less glamorous than the popular TV show “Mad Men” makes it out to be, and he is much happier in his second life as an English professor. Prof. Rodriguez was born in New York City, but his parents were both immigrants from Puerto Rico – his father was from Caguas and his mother from San Juan. He lived in Mexico City for five years as a young child. He regrets that he has forgotten much of his Spanish, but he is trying to re-learn it, a little bit at a time, from his students. Teaching a course in Latin-American Short Stories each Fall also helps to keep Prof. Rodriguez in touch with his roots. He welcomes anyone – Latino or non-Latino – who is interested in Hispanic history, culture and literature to consider enrolling for that class.
Professor Sakrajda holds a PH. D. in American Literature from Temple University. She is a specialist in contemporary fiction. She has presented papers on different aspects of the axiology of postmodernism at national conferences. Professor Sakrajda was an Exchange Scholar at SUNY-Stony Brook, Visiting Fellow at Princeton University, and University Fellow at Temple University. She teaches a wide range of English courses from composition and literature electives to Cambridge Studies in Shakespeare-Honors. She is the recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Westchester Community College Foundation Teaching Excellence Award.
Office: Academic Arts Building 519
Jessica Seessel is a teacher because she believes in the transformative power of reading and writing.
Jessica has a Ph.D. in literature from Stanford University and a B.A. in English with a concentration in Women’s Studies from Dartmouth College. Before coming to Westchester Community College, she taught at Mercy and Manhattanville Colleges, Stanford University, and the International High School at LaGuardia Community College. Her teaching interests include developmental writing, composition, immigrant literature, Caribbean literature, African-American literature, feminism and women’s literature.
Jessica’s research and writing focuses on issues of pedagogy. Her most recent paper describes her experience piloting a Caribbean Literature course at Yeshiva College. She hopes to expand this paper after piloting a similar course at WCC.
Jessica lives in Dobbs Ferry with her husband, Rich Larson, and her two children Sam and Maeve. She is one of the founders and current President of SPRING Community Partners, a not-for-profit organization in Dobbs Ferry whose goal is to insure that all Dobbs Ferry public school students – regardless of economic need – receive what they need to succeed in both curricular and extra-curricular activities.
Patricia J. Sehulster, Ph.D.
Office: Library 319
A former 7-12 public school English teacher, teaching fellow at Fordham University, and adjunct at Pace University before coming to SUNY Westchester Community College, Patricia Sehulster earned her Ph.D. in American literature at Fordham University, New York. Her academic publications include essays for The Western Journal of Black Studies, The Journal of Black Studies, A.T.Q.: 19th Century American Literature and Culture, The Facts on File Companion to the American Short Story, Literary Themes for Students: War and Peace, The Facts on File Companion to the American Novel, Teaching English in the Two-Year College and Challenging Categorizations and Canonicity: Teaching and Studying Kate Chopin’s Fiction. She has presented at conferences, including the Successful Teaching Conference, the NYU National Symposium, Information Literacy and the (New) Student Learner, and Using E-Portfolios to Assess Student Learning. Her book, Assignments That Work for Developmental Writing Courses is currently under consideration at Teachers College Press. Professor Sehulster also serves as a peer reviewer for Teaching English in the Two-Year College, African American Review, and Pearson Higher Education. In 2011 – 2012, she received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Service and the SUNY Westchester Community College Foundation Award for Excellence in Service. In Spring 2013, she was nominated for the Carol S. Russett Award. She is also a published freelance writer and editor of long and short mainstream fiction and nonfiction, and her works have appeared in such publications as Troika, Dogsongs, Elements, Ink, Poor Katie’s Almanac, Behind the Yellow Wallpaper: New Tales of Madness Anthology, Overflow An Online Literary Journal, Offshore: Northeast Boating, Boston Parents’ Paper, Big Apple Parent, Children’s Writer, Family Times, Naturally Women Magazine, and Camping Today.
Professor Sehulster is Co-Director of the Honors Program.
Professor Christine Timm has a B.A. in music from The Aaron Copland School of Music/CUNY, an M.A. in English from Queens College/CUNY, and a Ph.D from The City University of New York Graduate Center.
Dr. Timm regularly teaches the following courses at the College’s main campus: Basic Writing II, Writing and Research, Writing and Literature, Modern American Poetry, Creative Writing, and Introduction to Academic Writing 2 – ESL. She regularly teaches the following online courses during the regular semesters as well as the summer sessions: Writing and Research, Writing and Literature, Creative Writing. Professor Timm has also taught Honors Writing and Literature.
Professor Timm is Co-Director of the Westchester Community College Cambridge Study Abroad Program. If you are an interested honors student, you can email or call her for more information and an application.
As producer of the Poets and Writers reading series, Dr. Timm brings respected and entertaining authors to campus. She is also the executive editor of Ink., the College’s literary journal. If you would like to submit a creative work (poem, short story, art, etc.), you can send your submission by email.
Professor Timm is faculty advisor to the Creative Writing Club. The Club meets weekly to workshop shorts stories, poetry, and any other creative writing. The Club is extremely active in community outreach. Club members regularly conduct workshops at a local homeless shelter and at churches in Harlem for at-risk youth. Club members have organized open mics for local venues in the community. Club members regularly perform on stage as part of the New York City College Poetry Slam at the Nuyorican Poets Café in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
Dr. Timm’s literary scholarship and interests address modern anglophone literature and performance poetry. Articles have appeared in publications like the Beat anthology, Beat Culture: The 1950s and Beyond, Ufahamu:The African Activist Journal, and American Book Review. She attends and speaks at academic conferences and other scholarly events.
Christine Timm is a spoken word poet and has appeared at numerous venues in Manhattan and the New York City area. Her poems have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. Most recently, her poem “Terrorize Me” can be found in the collection, Token Entry: New York City Subway Poems and her own collection The Sleeping With Series was published by Small Books./Red Lashes Productions. She is the co-host, along with NYC poet, Professor Nick Power, of the New York City College Poetry Slam staged at the Nuyorican Poets Café in Manhattan. Professor Timm is faculty advisor to Westchester Community College’s award winning Poetry Slam Team. Members of the slam team have gone on to perform at the PSI Nationals. Do you have a poem? Professor Timm wants to hear it! She welcomes you to swing by her office.
Professor Jim Werner is Assistant Professor of English at Westchester Community College, where he teaches courses in language and literature including Basic Writing 1 and 2, Writing and Research, Writing and Literature, and American Literature Through the Nineteenth Century.
He is also the faculty administrator for the Student Tutor Education Program (STEP), faculty advisor for the Alpha Iota Omicron Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, a Faculty-Student Mentor, and a member of the Westchester Community College Faculty Senate, among other service offices. In Spring 2006, Professor Werner will serve as Acting Curriculum Chair for Arts and Humanities. He has won a Department Initiative Grant and two Faculty Incentive Grants from the Westchester Community College Center for Faculty.
Professor Werner is the author of American Flaneur: The Cosmic Physiognomy of Edgar Allan Poe, and of articles appearing in peer-reviewed journals including The Edgar Allan Poe Review, American Transcendental Quarterly, American Periodicals and The Mid-Atlantic Almanack. He is the winner of the Westchester Community College Foundation’s 2005 Award for Excellence in Scholarship.
Professor Werner holds a Ph.D. from The City University of New York’s Graduate Center, an M.A. from Queens College (CUNY), and a B.A. from St. Lawrence University. Before coming to WCC, he was Speechwriter for CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein, and taught at Queens College, and Bronx and Kingsborough Community Colleges.
He is the father of two (Jason and Gianna); keeping up with them is his main pastime outside work. Before becoming a parent, his other hobbies included playing and writing music on electric bass and acoustic guitar, weightlifting, and outdoors activities. He lives with his wife and children in College Point, New York.
Scott Zaluda teaches Basic Writing,Writing and Research, Creative Writing, American literature and African American literature. He is assistant chair of the English Department and coordinates testing for placement and Basic Writing. He holds a doctorate from the City University of New York and has published articles on American literature, the teaching of writing across the curriculum, and the history of writing instruction at historically black colleges. Dr. Zaluda also writes fiction, and a short story he wrote was read on the National Public Radio program Selected Shorts. He helped found and still directs the Global Literature Reading Project for campus wide faculty and staff. In 2005, he won a prestigious grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to direct a series of seminars for faculty on the literature of Africa and the African diaspora.
Senior Adjunct Professors
Susan Arietta has taught for the English department at Westchester Community College for twenty-five years as an adjunct instructor. She teaches all levels of College Writing, Writing and Research and Writing and Literature. Susan has also taught English as a Second Language courses, both at Westchester Community College and Norwalk Community College.
Susan is a graduate of Westchester Community College, Fordham University and the College of New Rochelle. Susan is the chairperson of the Academic Support Center at Westchester Community College and is a recipient of the New York State Chancellor’s Award in Professional Service. At WCC, she serves on a variety of campus committees including, Middle States, Strategic Planning, the Foundation Scholarship committee, and the Black and Hispanic Male Initiative committee. Susan is a member of several professional organizations including the New York State Teachers of English as a Second Language organization, the New York State College Learning Skills Association, and the National Association for Developmental Education.
Born in a small coal mining town in Kentucky, I dreamed of seeing the world that I read about in books. Pursuing that dream took me to the University of Kentucky in Lexington. There I earned a BA and MA, and as a graduate assistant, taught my first basic English classes filled with students from small rural towns like my own as well as the refugees from Hungary and Eastern Europe who were pouring into the US at that time. Moving to Poughkeepsie, New York with my husband and family, then to France for several years and later on to Hong Kong for a few more years, with shorter stays in Tokyo, Shanghai and Beijing, I discovered that English teachers were in demand everywhere. I taught at a small private girls’school, for corporations like Price Waterhouse, for Hong Kong University, and I could even trade English lessons for dental work, legal advice, and tennis lessons! In the US, I turned my interest and experiences with foreign languages into some graduate work at Columbia in linguistics. In between my years in France and the Asian sojourn, I started teaching at WCC and returned there in 1990 where I have remained as an adjunct instructor ever since. I was given the Faculty Award for Adjunct Excellence in 2009.
Paul Wray is the former Academic Technology Coordinator at the College and has been an adjunct in English for the past ten years. He holds an M.A. in English literature from the University of Illinois at Chicago where he taught for six years. He also taught English at Purdue University. Later he worked as a technical writer and published several books on using Microsoft Office to learn computer literacy.