Department of English
Division: Arts, Humanities and Learning Resources
Division Dean: Veronica Delcourt
Division Secretary: Delzora Mabra and Barbara Murray
Department Secretaries: Rozanne Rutheny and Barbara Murray
Division Office: AAB 509
Department Chair: Frank Madden
Office: Science 301
Assistant Chair: Heather Ostman
Office: SCI 302
Assistant Chair: Maryanne Vent
Office: Science 303
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.
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.
Frank Madden is State University of New York (SUNY) Distinguished Professor and holds the Carol Russett Endowed Chair for English. He has a Ph.D. from New York University, has taught in graduate programs at City College of New York, Iona College, and the New School for Social Research.
Professor Madden has been Chair of the National Council of Teachers (NCTE) CTE College Section Institute on the Teaching of Literature, Chair of the Two-Year College English Association (TYCA), and Chair of the Modern Language Association (MLA) ad hoc Committee on Teaching. He has served on the Executive Committees of the NCTE, the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), the MLA Committee for Departments of English, and the SUNY Council on Writing. He has also served as NCTE delegate to the American Council of Learned Societies.
He is a recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship, the Westchester Community College Foundation Award for Excellence in Scholarship, the 1995 Phi Delta Kappa Educator of the Year Award from Iona College, and the 2003 Nell Ann Pickett Service Award from the National Council of Teachers of English.
Dr. Madden’s articles, chapters, and commentary about the teaching of literature have appeared in a variety of books and journals, including College English, PMLA, College Literature, English Journal, Computers and Composition, Computers and the Humanities, and the Association of Departments of English (ADE) Bulletin. He has produced five on-line lectures on literature for Pearson Longman and is the author of three textbooks: Exploring Literature (in its 4rd edition), Exploring Fiction, and Exploring Poetry—all published by Pearson Longman.
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.
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 has been an educator for 18 years. She earned her M.A. in English Education from New York University and her B.A. in English from Syracuse University. She has also studied at Trinity College, Oxford University in Oxford, England. Before joining the Westchester Community College English faculty she was a secondary school teacher, having taught English at Trevor Day School and Prep for Prep in New York City, and later at Nyack High School in Nyack, NY.
In addition to her academic service, Professor Robinson is an accomplished playwright and producer. In August 2008 her play Ascension, (Independent Reviewers of New England, Best New Play nomination/Tribeca All Access Open Stage Award), was produced at The Cherry Lane Theater in the 2008 New York International Fringe Festival. Other plays include Love Psalm, Mother to Son, Family Portrait, Leading Lady: Coretta Scott King, The Panacea (First Annual Thomas Barbour Memorial Playwright’s Award, finalist), Walk with a Haunted Heart, and Thunder: A Musical Memoir (2007 New York International Fringe Festival). Her work has been presented at The Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The Bleeker Street Theater, The Muddy Cup Café, and the Tribeca Theater Festival. She is Co-founder and Artistic Director of Robinson Williams Productions, a theater production company.
Office: Science Building 311
Degrees: B.A. Rutgers
M.A., Ph.D. NYU
Specialty: American Literature
Favorite Author: Henry James
Favorite NFL Team: San Francisco 49ers
Favorite Rock Band: Guided by Voices
Favorite MC: Nas
Previous Incarnation: Creator of annoying ads
Weight: 212 lbs. (and rising)
Reason for excess weight: Ice Cream (obscene quantities consumed)
Favorite Opera: None
Favorite Time-Wasting Activity: free cell
Favorite Exercise: couch surfin’
Favorite Web Site: KaZaA
Least Favorite Classroom at Westchester Community College: AAB 505
# of Softball Leagues I Play in: 3
Pet Peeve: Cellphones (especially those that ring during class)
Primary Occupation: Father (of 3 girls)
Interesting Other Places I Have Lived: Mexico City (Age 2-7)
Descent: Puerto Rican (Mother: San Juan. Father: Gurabo)
Favorite Hobby: Teaching at Westchester Community College
Favorite Grownup: Spouse.
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.
Office: Sci 328
Patricia J. Sehulster, originally from Connecticut, possesses a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in English and Secondary Education and a minor in Psychology from Saint Joseph College, a Master of Arts degree in English from Breadloaf School of English at Middlebury College, and a Ph.D. in American Literature from Fordham University. For twenty years, she taught English to public school students in grades seven through twelve in New Hampshire, Connecticut, and New York and then served as an adjunct instructor at Empire State College and Pace University and as a teaching fellow at Fordham University. She came to SUNY Westchester Community College in September 2006.
Dr. Sehulster maintains a focus on nineteenth-century women and minority writers and voices of the diaspora. She has published mainstream nonfiction and fiction as well as scholarly work.
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, Composition and Literature I, Composition and Literature II, 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: Composition and Literature I, Composition and Literature II, Creative Writing. Professor Timm has also taught Honors Composition and Literature II.
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, Composition and Literature 1 and 2, 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
Professor Sakrajda co-directs the Westchester Community College Honors Program.
Scott Zaluda teaches Basic Writing, Composition & Literature, 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.