Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing
Ph.D. University of Southern California
M.A. University of Maine, Orono
B.A. College of the Atlantic
Office: 208A Swan Hall
Office Hours: by appointment
Josie Sigler was born Downriver Detroit and grew up in the Midwest. She writes and reads fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. She writes and reads because she believes we become who we are in the telling of our stories, and that careful listening is a life-saving act.
Her collection of short stories, The Galaxie and Other Rides, about the decline of the decline of the automobile industry in post-industrial Detroit, was published by Livingston Press as the winner of the Ruby Pickens Tartt First Fiction Award in 2012. This book was a nominee for The Story Prize, a Lambda Award, and the National Book Award.
The Galaxie was recommended by James Hannaham as a Village Voice Summer Reading pick in 2012, reviewed for The New York Journal of Books by Michael Adelberg, and Lamda Literary by Sara Rauch, among others.
Josie’s very short story, “The Compartment,” was selected by Ander Monson for a 2012 Donald Barthelme Prize in Short Prose.
Josie’s poetry chapbook, Calamity, a series of poems written as letters between her childhood heroes Calamity Jane and Annie Oakley, was published by Proem Press in 2009.
Her first full-length book of poems, living must bury, which represents the files of a taxonomer who falls in love with her subjects while studying the conditions of their suffering, won the 2010 Motherwell Prize and was published by Fence Books.
living must bury was reviewed for Foreword Magazine by Holly Wren Spaulding and for The Quarterly Conversation by Andrew Wessels in an article called “Different Similarities: Jorie Graham and Josie Sigler,” among others.
You can read a selection of poetry from living must bury at Night Train.
Josie has a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California. Her scholarly work focuses on depictions of state violence in the emerging literature of climate change; anti-racist, anti-imperialist, and pro-queer activism are at the core of her writing, teaching, and research. She’s currently thinking a lot about narratives of post-carbon frontierism, worrying about how such frontierism seeks to recolonize indigenous people in the North and exile poor people of color in the global South.
Josie completed a PEN Northwest Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Residency, which affords a writer the opportunity to live and work on an extremely remote homestead near the Rogue River in southern Oregon’s Klamath Mountains. During this time, she undertook a low-carbon living experiment, which she called The One Ton Project, in which she lived on approximately 1/35th of the carbon the average person in the United States uses in a year, attempting to feel out and figure out what it means to be a world citizen in an era of anthropogenic climate change. She focused on the collateral benefits—rather than the sacrifices so often discussed—of tightening our fossil fuel belts. While so ensconced, she also spent a good deal of time with a wild mountain lion who shared the same territory. Having survived that rare and spine-tingling friendship, she began her appointment as Assistant Professor of English at the University of Rhode Island in the Fall of 2013.
Josie teaches fiction writing and contemporary literature. As a workshop leader, she focuses on comparative visions of purpose and use of language rather than a single “right” way to approach narrative, and introduces students to concepts in narratology to help them open all of the possibilities in their work. As a teacher of literary analysis, she focuses on the study of narrative and language not only as a practice of spelunking the depths of a text to gain tidy bits of highly-analyzable samples, but also as a practice that can develop emancipatory pathways in the brain.
If you want to hear more of Josie’s thoughts on writing and see what it might be like to take one of her classes, craft talk with Josie can be found at: