Blog Alum Interviews: Dr. Erica McCrystal, PhD

Welcome back to Queens in Fall 2021! We are looking forward to a lively, safe, and productive semester.

Here’s the second in our ongoing series of interview of SJU English alums.

(In case you missed it, here’s the first one, with Dr. Danielle Lee, who has recently had her position at SUNY Old Westbury converted to the tenure-track – congrats Dr. Lee!,)

At this start of this new semester, we are excited to profile Dr. Erica McCrystal. She is currently the Graduate Director of the Masters of Education in Educational Practice program at Centenary University.

Dr. McCrystal’s podcast can be found at

Her book is Gotham City LIving: the Social Dynamics of the Batman Comics and Media. Here is her interview!

When did you graduate from St. John’s? What degree(s) do you have from us?

I graduated in 2016 with my Doctor of Philosophy in English Literature.

What thing that you learned at SJU English do you think has been most helpful to you in your post-SJU career?

My dissertation advisor Dr. Greg Maertz was incredibly encouraging of whatever research path I wanted to pursue. He never forced my research in a particular direction and, instead, allowed me to think for myself. And not only that—he taught me to embrace those ideas and run with them. I realized that if something excites me, it is worth exploring more deeply! 

What did your path look like from graduation to your current job?

A few months after graduating, I gave birth to my son. I spent a few years adjuncting at a couple different schools. I also started taking my son to story hour at Centenary University. I then learned that the school had an open position in the Education and Mathematics department. Before attending St. John’s, I was a high school English teacher, so I interviewed and was offered a part-time faculty position. This year, I took on the position of Graduate Director of the Master of Education in Educational Practice program. Next fall, I will be a full-time assistant professor. 

What does a typical day or week look like in your position?

A typical week includes several meetings, emails, and classes. I participate in events and spend a lot of time doing research for my classes or for my own projects. I also have been updating the courses in my graduate program.

What is your favorite part of being in your current position?

I am always excited to work with college students as they define their career goals and embark on that career path. I also love that my position gives me the opportunity to pursue my research interests. My first book was published recently:Gotham City Living: The Social Dynamics in the Batman Comics and Media. In my book, I explored different aspects of society in the Batman franchise throughout history.

What are the most valuable skills you learned as an English major? How have they helped you post-graduation? 
Revision strategies are so important, and I find myself carefully reading over everything that I write—from articles to emails. I also recall one course that I took in the doctoral program that taught us research strategies. That was a valuable course overall, and those strategies were incredibly useful while I was writing my book.
What is your advice to English majors?
I recommend finding people to give you feedback on your writing. I was lucky enough to become close friends with a cohort member who always gave me valuable feedback. We still exchange pieces and review each other’s work.
How have you managed during the pandemic? Is there any way that being an English student has helped you in difficult times? 

Reading books and catching up on TV and movies can always be a fun escape into another world! 

About Steve Mentz 1262 Articles
I teach Shakespeare and the blue humanities at St. John's in New York City.

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