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Faculty Directory - Former Faculty
Comins, Barbara Dr.
Dr. Barbara Comins, Professor of English, began her professional life as a cellist playing in the New Jersey Symphony, the New York Pops, the New York Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, and orchestras backing Tony Bennett, Benny Goodman, Henry Mancini, Barry Manilow, Luciano Pavarotti, Doc Severinsen, Frank Sinatra, Ben Vereen, and many others.
Winner of a National Endowment for the Humanities dissertation award, she earned her Ph.D. in English as a fellowship student at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her writing includes pieces in the New York Times, Poetry Calendar, Allegro, the Wallace Stevens Journal, and the Edith Wharton Review. Her essays “‘That Queer Sea’: Elizabeth Bishop and the Sea,” “‘Shuddering Insights’: Elizabeth Bishop and Surprise,” and “‘Then the Theatre…Changed’: Musical Frames for Wallace Stevens” appeared in the anthologies Divisions of the Heart: Elizabeth Bishop and the Art of Memory and Place, “In Worcester Massachusetts”: Essays on Elizabeth Bishop, and Essays on Transgressive Readings: Reading Over the Lines. With the British composer John Marson, she co-wrote the musical Getaway.
At LaGuardia Community College, she teaches freshman composition; creative writing; literature; the college’s capstone liberal arts seminar “Humanism, Science, and Technology,” and the course she created “Cultural Identity in American Literature.”
Gail has been a full-time member of the English Department since 1986. In her early years at LaGuardia she was a full-time teacher and a full-time student. Thanks to an American Association of University Women Dissertation Fellowship, she was able to complete her Ph.D. in English at CUNY Graduate Center. She feels tremendous admiration for LaGuardia's "juggling" students.
Gail teaches a wide variety of courses at LaGuardia including Basic Writing, Composition I, Writing through Literature and The Novel in the college's Honors program. She has been a member of many LaGuardia Learning Community faculty teams. In 1998, LaGuardia's Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the national honor society, granted her honorary membership to acknowledge her excellence as a teacher. In 2003 she was named a Semi-Finalist for the David R. Pierce Faculty Technology Award from the American Association of Community Colleges.
With Bret Eynon, she launched
In Transit: The LaGuardia Journal on Teaching and Learning
. The first issue was published in Fall 2005. She continues to serve as Editor of the college's journal.
George Washington University (B.A.); SUNY at Oneonta (M.A.); Graduate School and University Center, CUNY (Ph.D.)
"It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it." from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Heath Johnson, Margaret
Silva, John O.
A professor of English at LaGuardia (where I specialize in Shakespeare, The Great Writer: Chaucer, English Grammar & Syntax, and Honors Poetry), I have been the recipient of consecutive PSC-CUNY Research Foundation awards since 1990, as well as two awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities. I am currently completing a book-length project, The Spanish "Dianas": Their Significance, Impact, and Legacy (under contract with The Edwin Mellen Press) and working on a radical rereading of Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona.
I have published numerous scholarly papers, reflecting my interest in renaissance rhetorical and allegorical poetics, in such journals as Renaissance Quarterly, Studies in Philology, The Journal of Comparative Literature, The Shakespeare Newsletter, The Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, Mediterranean Studies, and Portuguese Studies and have contributed a chapter, "Exile under Fire: Reassessing the Poetics and Practice of Manuel de Faria e Sousa," to Global Impact of the Portuguese Language(Transaction Publishers, 2001). I have presented papers in such venues as, most recently, Miami, Florida: annual conference of the Renaissance Society of America; Florence, Italy, at the conference, "Florence 2000": Renaissance Society of America; Lisbon, Portugal (Biblioteca Nacional): Mediterranean Studies Association; Montreal and Albany: NEMLA; New York City: MLA; and Newark, N.J. (Rutgers University): first international conference on Portugal and Portuguese-speaking literature.
I am fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, aspire to be an ever-better Latinist, and can read several other languages with relative ease. My primary avocations are “chilling” with my wife, children, close friends, and baby pooch, Macho; making home-made wine, a craft I learned in childhood from my father; and playing the classical guitar for which I also enjoy arranging jazz and international music. I am an active member of the Renaissance Society of America (for which I occasionally review scholarly books) and am listed in Who's Who Among America's Teachers (multiple-year honoree) and in the Directory of American Scholars. Among my special thrills in life are seeing my students' eyes light up as they make new, life-affirming discoveries about literature and feeling their energies energize mine as we share readings of magnificently enduring and probing texts.
Ph.D.: CUNY Graduate Center; M.A.: Brooklyn College of CUNY; B.A.: Seton Hall University.
Area of Specialization:
Renaissance literature of England and the Continent, particularly Spain and Portugal.
"Avoid extremes; and shun the fault of such, Who still are pleased too little or too much. At every trifle scorn to take offence, That always shows great pride, or little sense; Those heads, as stomachs, are not sure the best, Which nauseate all, and nothing can digest Yet let not each gay turn thy rapture move; For fools admire, but men of sense approve. As things seem large which we through mists descry Dulness us ever apt to magnify."
~ (from part 2 of Alexander Pope's Essay on Criticism)
Authors I teach:
Besides Chaucer and Shakespeare, whom I teach in courses of their own, I regularly teach Homer's Odyssey, as well as Henry James, Alice Walker, Flannery O'Connor, Raymond Carver, and Shakespeare, in Writing through Literature; Homer’s Iliad and Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" in Freshman Composition; and the fictional works of Kate Chopin, Guy de Maupassant, and Isabel Allende in Basic Writing.
Young, Susan E.
I started out to be a theoretical physicist, but because of one extraordinary English professor I had as an undergrad, in a course I didn't even want to take but had to (Thank you, Dr. Jim Dale, wherever you are) my love of literature and beautiful writing was ignited, and my path took a very different turn. It was also this wonderful teacher who gave me my first teaching gig at the tender age of 18, as a kind of junior T.A. I gave four lectures in a course called English for Engineers 100, and a passion for teaching was passed on. Here I am 25 quick years later and I still love what I do. Whether it's ENG 099 or ENG 250, it's always interesting, always challenging, and always fun. I have learned how profoundly great teaching impacts a person's life, and I experienced firsthand the ability to empower that a committed teacher possesses, so I try to remember that every time I enter a classroom.
McMaster University, University of Toronto, CUNY Graduate Center.
Area of Specialization:
Postmodern Science-based Fiction
"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a little better; whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is the meaning of success"
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Authors I teach:
Anything by James Baldwin, any chance I get, for his unflinching humanism. In ENG 102 I love to teach Mary Shelley's Frankenstein for her prophetic take on the dangers of scientific hubris; her story is as timely now as it was when she wrote it. Donald Barthelme's Snow White in ENG102 and ENG250 because it's fun to watch students' inevitable response to this (anti)novel: freaked out and then fascinated!
Faculty Directory - Professors Emeriti
I have been fortunate in my career to have taught and written in many areas beyond my initial field of specialization (American literature). Besides nearly forty courses in English (half-a-dozen of which I created), I have also taught Humanities courses (American Film, Film and New York City, Critical Thought Skills) and Social Science courses (Hisory of New York City). My publications divide about evenly into three categories (film, literature, the teaching of writing), with a few in other fields (e.g. a biography of the American illustrator, Neysa McMein). I have been a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Brown, and the CUNY Graduate Center--and have occasionally taught at Vassar and the CUNY Graduate Center. Still, a vast majority of my time has been spent, basically pleasureably, at LaGuardia--my pleasure coming chiefly from working with our students.Schools Attended: Fordham University (B.A. English, Philosophy) University of Pennsylvania (M.A., Ph.D. English--speciality: American literature)Area of Specialization: American literature, Irish literature, film, American film, American cultural history, Venetian history, Restoration and Eighteenth-century literature, Drama.Favorite Quote:"The vast expanses of space terrify me."--Blaise Pascal.Authors I teach: Shakespeare (Literature of the City--Venice), Zora Neale Hurston (The Novel), James Joyce (Short Story), Alfred Hitchcock (Literature and Film), Walt Whitman (Literature of the City--New York).
I am grateful for my twenty-five years in the English department. I could not have wished for a warmer and more friendly student body, and a more intelligent and inspiring group of faculty colleagues. Of my many teaching experiences, I have greatly enjoyed and learned from my work in the Learning Communities of the Liberal Arts clusters.
For the last 20 years, I have been on the editorial collective of Radical Teacher: A Socialist, Feminist and Anti-Racist Journal on the Theory and Practice of Teaching. In addition to writing a regular column on “News for Educational Workers,” I have edited and co-edited clusters on Gay and Lesbian Studies (issue 24), Gender and Sexuality, Vols. I and II (issues 66 and 67), and the Columbus cluster on the Quincentennial. I was also co-edited of Politics of Education: Essays from Radical Teacher(SUNY Press), an anthology of articles from the first 36 volumes of the journal. Recently, I published on Queer Studies in The Politics of Writing in the 2-Year College (Boyton/Cook).
For the last 10 years, I have been a faculty mentor and co-mentor of the Straight and Gay Alliance (SAGA), a LaGuardia student club. I appreciate the opportunity to work closely with such a fun group of students. In 2000-2001, I won awards for Best Club Mentor both from SAGA and the Student Advisory Council. Most recently, I had the pleasure of working with SAGA to plan and organize the Queer CUNY V Conference.
Kent State University (and yes, I was there when the National Guard killed four students and wounded nine. And yes, it did change my life).
Area of Specialization:
British Drama Since 1956; Queer Studies; Composition Theory
Authors I teach:
E.L Doctorow’s Ragtime-- in Composition 101.
Manlio Argueta’s One Day of Life, and Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible-- both in the Art, Politics and Protest, a Urban Studies course.
LaGuardia Community College
31-10 Thomson Ave.
Long Island City, NY 11101
English as a Second Language
Performing Arts Center
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