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CUNY Names Elizabethan Literary Scholar Richard McCoy Queens College's 14th Distinguished Professor

-- McCoy Also Works with Actors and Directors at Theatre for a New Audience,
the Public Theater, and Other Major Venues --

FLUSHING, NY, March 17, 2014 − Professor Richard McCoy of the Queens College Department of English was named Distinguished Professor by the City University of New York Board of Trustees, effective February 1. Professor McCoy is a critical voice in the study of the interrelationship of literature and politics in the Elizabethan period. He is also recognized as a major cultural historian of the Early Modern period in England and as a distinguished voice in the field of Elizabethan drama. His most recent book, Faith in Shakespeare, attests to his central position in Shakespeare studies.

Only a select few, by virtue of their scholarship and commitment to teaching, attain the status of CUNY Distinguished Professor. McCoy is QC’s 14th distinguished professor, and the third in his department.
“I knew when I read King Lear in high school that I wanted to teach,” says McCoy, who has not lost his youthful appearance or enthusiasm. A Californian who earned his BA at Stanford and PhD at the University of California–Berkeley, he headed east in 1975 when Columbia University hired his wife for a position in Chinese literature. Four years later—two of them at Columbia himself as a post-doctoral student—McCoy came to QC. He has been here ever since, commuting to Flushing from Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Early in his career, one factor that kept him from moving was the difficulty of coordinating his and his wife’s jobs. But over time, he grew a transplant’s sturdy roots. “Our kids loved it here,” McCoy reports. “New York is a great place to raise children—expensive, but great. And I really do love being at QC. The students are ambitious self-starters who don’t feel entitled. I have wonderful colleagues.” McCoy, Richard resized for web.jpg
His affiliation with the CUNY Graduate Center, where he began teaching in the 1980s, and his involvement with the city’s theater community, proved equally rewarding. “I love New York for the same reason I loved Berkeley: I enjoy such varieties of points of view and perspective,” he says.
A relative latecomer to the Shakespearian field—he originally focused on the poets Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser—McCoy made the shift with his third book, Alterations of State: Sacred Kingship in the English Reformation, followed by Faith in Shakespeare. This research prompted invitations to lead academic workshops and participate in talkbacks with cast members and directors at the Public Theater and other noted stages. In addition to his many responsibilities at QC, McCoy chairs the council of scholars for the Theatre for a New Audience. “My work with actors and directors is a great blessing,” he observes.
Of his latest distinguished title, McCoy says, “I feel valorized to keep doing what I’m doing. I love my teaching, enjoy the writing, and want to continue my scholarship. And I am really grateful for the support I received from the college.”
Mc Coy, a Manhattan resident, joins the ranks of the college’s 13 other distinguished professors: Robert Bittman (Chemistry), Joshua Freeman (History), Fred Gardaphé (English), Azriel Genack (Physics), Kimiko Hahn (English), Jeffrey Halperin (Psychology), Samuel Heilman (Sociology), George Hendrey (Earth & Environmental Sciences), Yunping Jiang (Mathematics), Pyong Gap Min (Sociology), Carl Riskin (Economics), Morris Rossabi (History), and Stephen Steinberg (Urban Studies).

Queens College of the City University of New York enjoys a national reputation for its liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs. With its graduate and undergraduate degrees, honors programs, and research and internship opportunities, the college helps its over 20,000 students realize their potential in countless ways, assisted by an accessible, award-winning faculty. Located on a beautiful, 80-acre campus in Flushing, the college was cited this year in the Princeton Review as one of the nation’s 150 “Best Value” colleges, thanks to its outstanding academics, generous financial aid packages, and relatively low costs. In 2013, Washington Monthly ranked QC #1 among “Master’s Universities” as a Best-Bang-for-the-Buck college and #2 nationwide among only 349 colleges that do the best job of helping non-wealthy students attain marketable degrees at affordable prices.


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