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Department of English

Calendar of Events

Fall 2013


Wednesday, September 18, 2013
English Department Faculty Speaker Series
Hoffmann Room, Swan 154, 5:00 pm
Professor Carolyn Betensky,
"Envying the Poor." Click here for a pdf of the poster.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013
URI Center for Humanities and English Department Graduate Colloquium
Hoffmann Room, Swan 154, 5:00 pm - EVENT TO BE RESCHEDULED
English Ph.D. Candidate, Beazley Kanost
, "Whose Cool? Directing 'Truth's' Authority and Portrait of Jason." Click here for a pdf of the poster.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013
English Department Read/Write Series
Hoffmann Room, Swan 154, 5:00 pm
Poets, Timothy Liu and Cole Swensen, will give featured readings from their new books. Timothy Liu is a professor in the English Department at William Paterson University. He is the author of eight poetry books including Polytheogamy and Bending the Mind Around
the Dream’s Blown Fuse.Cole Swensen is the author of fourteen books of poetry and a collection of critical essays, including Gravesend and Ours, poems on the gardens of Andre Le Notre. She is a professor at Brown University, a 2007 Guggenheim Fellow and a finalist for the National Book Award. Click here for more information.


Thursday, November 7, 2013
English Department Read/Write Series
Hoffmann Room, Swan 154, 4:00 pm
Nonfiction writer, David Lazar, will give a featured reading from his new book, Occasional Desire: Essays. Lazar created the undergraduate and Ph.D. programs in Nonfiction Writing at Ohio University, and directed the creation of the undergraduate and M.F.A. programs in Nonfiction Writing at Columbia College Chicago. He is the founding editor of the literary magazine Hotel Amerika, now in its thirteenth year. His books include Occasional Desire from the University of Nebraska Press, The Body of Brooklyn and Truth in Nonfiction (both Iowa), Powder Town (Pecan Grove), Michael Powell: Interviews, and Conversations with M.F.K. Fisher (both Mississippi). Forthcoming are Essaying the Essay from Welcome Table Press and After Montaigne from the University of Georgia Press.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013
English Department Graduate Colloquium
Hoffmann Room, Swan 154, 5:00 pm
Writing and Rhetoric Ph.D. Candidate, Kenna Barrett,
"If it walks like a duck...Turing tests and automated essay scoring."

Spring 2014


Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Hoffmann Room, Swan 154, 7:00 pm

English Department, Gender and Women's Studies, and the LGBTQ Center
present Visiting Speaker, Laura Doan
Laura Doan
will give a presentation "On the Uses of the Sexual Past: History, Sexuality and Memory." For decades, the history of sexuality has been a multidisciplinary project serving competing agendas. Lesbian, gay, and queer scholars have produced powerful narratives by tracing back as continuous or discontinuous a homosexual or queer subject. Yet organizing historical work around categories of identity as normal or abnormal often obscures how the sexual was known or talked about in the past. I believe it is important to recognize the ethical value and political purpose of identity history, but it is equally important to take seriously the queer imperative to step outside the logic of identity in order to address questions as yet un-posed about the modern sexual past.

Laura Doan is Professor of Cultural History and Sexuality Studies at the University of Manchester and co-director of the Centre for the Study of Sexuality and Culture. She is author of Disturbing Practices: History,Sexuality and Women's Experience of Modern War (University of Chicago Press, 2013) and Fashioning Sapphism: The Origins of a Modern EnglishLesbian Culture (2001), and co-editor of several books, including Sapphic Modernities, Palatable Poison, SexologyUncensored and The Lesbian Postmodern.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014
English Department Graduate Colloquium
Hoffmann Room, Swan 154, 5:00 pm
English Ph.D. Candidate, Kim Evelyn
, "Speaking Home and History: Zadie Smith's White Teeth and Narratives of National Belonging"

Following WWII, thousands of British colonial Caribbean citizens emigrated to Britain. These legal citizens were often racially and culturally discriminated against in acts that denied them their British identities or sense of home. For the Jamaican/British characters in Zadie Smith's 2000 novel, White Teeth, constructing a sense of home and national belonging in cosmopolitan Britain requires a narrative of identity that bonds them to their family and country of origin at a trying time for both - the 1907 Kingston earthquake during which their matriarch was born. This family history of survival is the narrative of identity by which they measure their mettle and draw strength in order to counteract decades of inequality and oppression in Britain.

Date To Be Announced
English Department Faculty Speaker Series
Hoffmann Room, Swan 154, 5:00 pm
Professor Stephen Barber, "The Last of Woolf"


Virginia Woolf’s final phase as a thinker and writer begins in 1932 with her turn to the ethico-political or to what she names “freedom.” Although her original conception of freedom was to remain at the forefront of her thought until her death in 1941, late Woolf’s work in critical ontology is divisible into two periods, the second of which is the focus of this presentation. Beginning in 1939 she engages for the first time and in full force with Freud’s late writings on the unconscious even as she remains to the end persuaded that “the psychological life is not worth living,” as Michel Foucault provocatively claimed toward the end of his life. “The Last of Woolf” considers Woolf’s final writings in relation to the late works of a number of other thinkers for whom psychoanalysis serves at one and the same time as a grid of intelligibility and a power to be countered.



Wednesday, March 26, 2014
English Department Read/Write Series
Hoffmann Room, Swan 154, 4:00 pm
Poet, playwright, translator Afaa Michael Weaver will read from selected writings and participate in a discussion of his work.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014 9AM-6PM
Essay in Public Conference
Joint Event Sponsored by URI, Brown University and The New School

Englander Studio, Granoff Creative Arts Center, 154 Angell Street, Providence.

URI, Brown and the New School present a free one-day conference on the future of long form journalism and academic research. The event is for publishers, journalists, academics and tech executives and will take place at Brown University's Creative Arts Center,
Providence, R.I.
The Essay in Public Conference asks how might we re-imagine the publication of long form essay in the current political and cultural climate?
Editors and journalists along with university academics will come together at Brown University to examine "The Essay" as it manifests in scholarly articles and long-form journalism. During the conference participants will talk about how to better reach or create a "humanities” audience. We will also explore opportunities for existing (print and electronic) publications to become more transnational, more inclusive of both academic and non-academic writers, and hold a substantial focus on the arts, humanities, and civic life.
Unlike other conferences, there are no formal papers. It's a conversation about the future.
The conference's organizers: Patricia Ybarra (Brown University), Martha Elena Rojas (University of Rhode Island), and Wendy S. Walters (Eugene Lang College, The New School University) will moderate conversations about the following topics: technology and the long-form essay; writing for the hybrid audience; the role of transmedia in disseminating research and long-form journalism; and new forms of public intellectual work in a neoliberal age. Following each panel's curated discussion each forum will be open to input from the public. Sponsors include the Creative Arts Council and the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies at Brown.

Panelists include:
Joshua Benton, The Nieman Journalism Lab, Harvard University
Mary Cappello, English and Creative Writing, University of Rhode Island
John Cayley, Literary Arts and Digital Language Arts, Brown University
Sam Ford, Affiliate, MIT Comparative Media Studies, Futures of Entertainment Conference
Marcial Godoy-Anativia. Editor of e-misférica, The Hemispheric Institute
of Performance and Politics (NYU)
Julia Kumari Drapkin, Multimedia Science Reporter, ISeechange
Lonny Lippsett, Oceanus Magazine, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Amanda McCormick, Social Media Professional, Digital Educator
Ralph E. Rodriguez, American Studies and English, Brown University
Harry Stecopoulos, Editor, The Iowa Review, The University of Iowa
The conference is free of charge. Attendees are asked to register at
Inquiries about the content of the conference can be directed to,, or

Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Visiting Scholar Series
Hoffmann Room, Swan 154, 4:00 pm

Michael Sappol, "The Apotheosis of the Dissected Plate: Spectacles of Layering and Transparency in 19th- and 20th-Century Anatomy"

This is a story about “topographical anatomy — a tradition of slicing and sawing rather than cutting and carving — and its procedures for converting bodies from three dimensions to two dimensions and back again. In topographical cross-section anatomy, the frozen or mummified body was cut into successive layers that were then transcribed and reproduced as pages of a book or a sequence of prints or slides (sometimes with the original slices preserved as a sequence of specimens for the anatomical museum). The topographical method influenced, and was in turn influenced by, flap anatomy (the technique of cutting out printed anatomical parts on paper or cardboard and assembling the parts into a layered representation of the human body). In the 20th century, medical illustrators and publishers developed a new technique of three-dimensional anatomical layering: the anatomical transparency — an epistemological/heuristic device which in the postmodern era has come to enchant artists as well as anatomists. I will argue that these anatomical productions — artworks, but also, exhibitions, toys, gimmicks, and other objects of consumer desire — are meaningful to us because the oscillation between the dis-assembly and re-assembly of bodies as images and image-objects, rehearses our own ambivalent relation to the anatomical body. It also rehearses (perhaps more mysteriously) our ambivalent relation to the planearity of anatomical images which serve as an effigy of self and other, and to the Flatland universe of layered planearity in which we imaginatively dwell. This talk features photographs by artist Mark Kessell.

Michael Sappol is a historian in the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine (National Institutes of Health), Bethesda, MD. His scholarly work focuses on the body; the history of anatomy; the history of death; the history of medical illustration and display; and the history of medical film. He is the author of "A Traffic of Dead Bodies" (2002) and "Dream Anatomy" (2006), and editor of "Hidden Treasure" (Blast, 2012). He currently lives in Washington, DC. Free and open to the public.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
5:00 pm, 27 Willow St., Providence; contact Mary Cappello for more information:
Michael Sappol
will lead a seminar (screening plus discussion) titled, "Difficult Subjects: The Silent Medical Cinema of Suffering (1929-1945)" for Faculty and Graduate students only.

Thursday, April 17, 2014
Edmund S. and Nathalie Rumowicz Endowed Literature and the Sea Lecture/Speaker Series
Agnes Doody Auditorium, Swan Hall 5:30pm
URI Alumna Marian Gagnon will screen her documentary "America's Forgotten Herione: Ida Lewis Keeper of the Light" and lead a Q&A session on the film. There will be a reception in Swan Atrium following the film. Free and Open to the Public


Wednesday, April 23, 2014
English Department Faculty Speaker Series
Hoffmann Room, Swan 154, 5:00 pm
Professor Naomi Mandel, "I am Jack's Revolution: Fight Club and Hacker Culture"


The first rule of fight club is you don’t talk about fight club. The first rule of the internet is you don’t talk about /b/. Coincidence? Hardly. The cybercollective Anonymous emerged from /b/, the “random” imageboard of the website 4chan, where users posted anonymously, and Fight Club (David Fincher’s film adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 underground classic) been enlisted by hackers for a range of revolutionary movements, from antisec activism to cyberwarfare in the Middle East.

In this talk that encompasses the diverse fields of computer science, literary studies, film media, and digital culture, Naomi Mandel traces the adoption of Fight Club by hacker culture and the implications of this cyberrevolution for our globalized, networked, new millennium.

Friday, April 25, 2014
English Department Writing Contest / Scholarship Award Ceremony
Location: Swan Auditorium, 3pm