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Department of English

Dorothy F. Donnelly

Dorothy F. Donnelly Professor Emerita of English and Comparative Literature
Affiliated Professor of Women's Studies

Ph.D. Brandeis University
M.A. Brown University
B.A. University of Rhode Island

Dorothy F. Donnelly was trained in Medieval and Renaissance Studies at  Brandeis University, with a concentration on disparate notions of order and the effect these have had on the persistent historical tendency to conceptualize a determining ordering principle in the transforming ideal that is envisioned.   In the development of her particular theoretical approach, she has authored  numerous articles, publishing in the major journals in her field on such diverse writers and works as Plato's Republic, Augustine's De Civitate Dei, Thomas Aquinas's  writings on the body politic, Dante's De Monarchia, Marsilius's Defensor Pacis, More's Utopia and Bacon's New Atlantis. Her most recent book, Patterns of Order and Utopia, was published by St. Martin's Press in 1999.Dorothy F. Donnelly, Patterns of Orderand Utopia (book jacket)

Donnelly's current projects include a biography of Emma Murdock Van Deventer, a late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century novelist whose works appeared in the U.S. and Britain between 1870-1912.  This project also includes writing introductions with critical commentary for each of the more than nineteen books written by Van Deventer to be reprinted over the next few years. Special attention will be paid to gender issues and to Van Deventer's books as primary examples of  material as well as popular culture.

Courses taught by Donnelly include ENG 241, 263, 387, 399, 485, 605 and 660.  She has taught courses that focus on the genres of pastoral and utopia, on Medieval and Renaissance notions of an ordering vision, on modern American poetry, and on Antebellum U.S. literature and culture.  She also teaches courses in Women's Studies and Comparative Literature.  She is the recipient of the URI Foundation Excellence in Teaching Award.

Donnelly has served as Chair of the English Department (1989-90;1997-2003), Chair of the URI Faculty Senate, Chief Negotiator for a three-year faculty contract between the URI/AAUP and the Rhode Island Board of Governors, and Co-editor of Writings About the Sea (Moyer Bell Publishers, 2003), a book that offers a collection of winning essays submitted by URI undergraduate students to the Annual Edmund S. and Nathalie Rumowciz Endowment Literature of the Sea essay contest.  She has also served on the Editorial Board of ATQ: 19thC. American Literature and Culture, and is frequently solicited to serve as an evaluator for journals in her area(s) of specialization.

Donnelly received the University of Rhode Island 2005 Outstanding Outreach Award for her work as co-founder, with the Rhode Island District Court, of the Rhode Island Chapter of the nationally recognized and highly acclaimed Changing Lives Through Literature Program (CLTL).  Established in 1990 at the University of Massachusetts (Dartmouth), there are currently more than ten CLTL chapters throughout the country. The major goal of this unique program is to attempt to redirect the lives of criminal offenders through reading literature with a message of self-esteem and self-understanding. 

Professor Donnelly is the recipient of the 2009 AAUP Marilyn Sternberg Award. The Sternberg Award is given annually by the national American Association of University Professors (AAUP) to the “AAUP member who best demonstrates a concern for human rights, courage, persistence, political foresight, and imagination. The Award recognizes an AAUP member who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to the work of the AAUP, the principles of academic freedom, and to human rights and social justice more generally.”

In recognition of her on-going commitment to equity and the advancement of women at URI, Dr. Donnelly received the University of Rhode Island Association for Professional and Academic Women (APAW) Woman of the Year Award for 2008. APAW annually recognizes a URI woman for her efforts to advance the mission of APAW. Its mission includes: providing opportunities for URI women to meet and work together across departmental, college and divisional lines, and to sponsor informal meetings on topics of interest to women.

Professor Donnelly was the recipient of the Dorcas Place Community Partner Award 2007 in recognition of her work with and support of Dorcas Place Adult and Family Learning Center which provides educational opportunities for low-income Rhode Islanders.