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Department of English

News and Events

Publicity Announcements:
September 2003


Publications: Translations: Creative Writing

An old story by Professor Dan Pearlman entitled, "A Moebius Trip," has recently appeared in Serbian in a Serbian magazine called POLARIS: REVIJA ZA FANTASTIKU (#3, Aug. '03). Pearlman’s work has appeared in translation in four other languages to date: French, German, Italian, and Japanese. In connection with the publication of Imaginings (Pocket Books), in which Pearlman has a story, and in connection with his newly published novel Memini, Dan gave a reading/book signing in Cambridge on September 20 th, at Pandemonium Books and Games in the Garage Mall in Harvard Square.

Graduate Student Geoff Goodman’s story, "Carl Hastings" recently appeared in Slow Trains Lit Journal, online at Another of Geoff’s story’s is forthcoming in Blithe Lit Journal, November 2003.


Publications: Rhetoric and Composition

Just this week, a chapter by Assistant Professor Libby Miles appears in Teaching/Writing in the Late Age of Print, eds. Jeffrey Galin, Carol Peterson Haviland, and J Paul Johnson, Hampton Press, 2003. Miles’ chapter describes and theorizes a course in community service writing, using a student project for the Jonnycake Center as the illustration, “Writing with the Jonnycake Center,” 225-235.


Publications: Cultural Studies

Graduate Student Bruce G. Johnson has co-edited with Professor Amritjit Singh ( Rhode Island College) a collection of interviews with Edward Said for the University Press of Mississippi's "Public Intellectuals" series. Their book, Interviews With Edward W. Said, will be out in Spring 2004.

Bruce Johnson’s essay, "Indigenous Doom: Colonial Mimicry in Faulkner's Indian Tales,” appears in the most recent issue of The Faulkner Journal devoted to "Faulkner's Indians" (Fall 2002/Spring 2003: 28.1/2).

Assistant Professor Valerie Karno’s book review of Elaine Scarry’s Who Defended the Country, titled "The Speedy Citizen” has been accepted and will appear in this September's issue of the John Hopkins sponsored e-journal, Postmodern Culture. Scarry’s book was featured on the 4 th of July this year on WGBH for its response to the events of September 11 th and the controversial notion of “citizen soldier” that Scarry argues for.

Articles by Graduate Student David Kramer and Professor Don Kunz in War, Literature and the Arts can now be accessed at the following websites: (table of contents page) (Kramer article) (Kunz article)


Invitations: Creative Writing

Professor Mary Cappello has been invited to appear on a panel on The Memoir at this year’s Lambda Literary Festival, a gathering of gay and lesbian writers in Provincetown, October 10 th-12 th. Other writers appearing on the panel include Samuel Delany (The Motion of Light on Water), Rafael Campo ( The Desire to Heal: A Doctor's Education in Empathy, Identity, and Poetry ), Karla Jay (The Lavender Menace), and Amy Hoffman (Hospital Time).


Invitations: Cultural Studies

Associate Professor Nancy Cook has been invited by Paul Lauter to write a chapter on the American West, a 6000 word critical piece, for his edited collection, The Blackwell Companion to American Literature.

Donna Bickford, Ph.D., is having an immensely gratifying experience on her Fulbright Fellowship in Finland. The classes that she is teaching are going extremely well, are very popular, and, additionally, she has received numerous invitations to give presentations of her research: next Tuesday she is going to give a presentation about oppositional histories in novels by women writers of the Americas (based on some of her dissertation work directed by Professor Dana Shugar) to a Graduate Research Seminar at the University of Turku. Later in October, she will speak at the North American Voices conference in Turku. Several other Fulbrighters will be in attendance--each person is supposed to give a brief 20 minute talk for a general audience, not an academic one, although many in the audience will be students from the North American and Latin American studies program. Donna is going to talk about Latina literature. At the end of the month, Donna will give a brief lunch presentation at the International Lunch Club which is an offshoot of the International Association of University Women, describing the kinds of scholarship and work that she does. Donna has been asked to give the Keynote Presentation at the Annual Party for the Britannica vid Åbo Akademi, which is the student association for English Language and Literature majors - on a topic of her choosing. They're celebrating their 30 year anniversary. Finally, Donna will give a joint seminar for the WMS department at her Fulbright host institution and at the University of Turku in December, where she will talk about her current project on Lucha Corpi and the productive epistemological framework created in her novels (i.e., how we can make sense of an increasingly globalized world).


Presentations: Cultural Studies

Valerie Karno is making a presentation entitled, "Affirmative Action in 2003" this September for Diversity Week at URI.

Graduate Student Bruce Johnson delivered two papers this summer: a paper entitled “‘I wouldn’t touch you with a ten-foot pole’: Oleanna’s Ironic Lessons” at this year’s American Literature Association in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The paper was part of a panel on "Women in David Mamet's Plays and Films.” And, "Deterritorializing Campbell: 'Becoming' the Mythic Hero in Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony"at the Jungian Society 2003 Conference, Providence, RI.


Awards and Honors: Rhetoric and Composition

For the fourth year in a row, Assistant Professor Libby Miles’ scholarship has earned a national award. Last spring, with Shamoon et al, Miles edited a collection, Coming of Age: The Advanced Writing Curriculum which received the Council of Writing Program Administrator’s award for Best Book, 2000-2001. Miles’ chapter in the book is called “Working in the Publishing Industries.” Miles’ earlier awards include: a Council of Writing Program Administrators Award for Best Article in WPA , 1999-2000, “Constructing Composition: Reproduction and WPA Agency in Textbook Publishing”; the 2001 CCCC Richard Braddock Memorial Award for Best Article in CCC, “Institutional Critique: A Rhetorical Methodology for Change”; the 2000 CCCC James A. Berlin Memorial Outstanding Dissertation Award for Rhetorics of Production: An Institutional Critique of Composition Textbook Publishing.


Awards and Honors: Creative Writing

Professor Don Kunz won second prize for his story, “Synchromesh,” from The Writers’ Circle: A Rhode Island Nonprofit Charitable Center for Writers located in Warwick, RI. On Sunday, October 19 th, at 1 pm, you can celebrate with Don at the Rhode Island Writers’ Circle Anthology book signing party, Borders Bookstore, Providence Place Mall. RI Poet Laureate, Tom Chandler and author, Ann Hood will present the awards. The event will feature refreshments, live jazz, spirit paintings by Richard Little Bear St. Denis, poetry, fiction and script readings. Free and open to the public.


Awards and Honors: Athletics

Nancy Cook will be inducted into her High School’s Athlete Hallof Fame this Fall…in absentia, for “I can't miss our Department retreat.”


Pedagogy and Teaching Initiatives

The Literature TA Program, under the Direction ofAssistant ProfessorNaomi Mandel, continues to provide our graduate students with a forum in which to discuss issues related to pedagogy and develop innovative and productive teaching techniques. This September, Literature TA Committee member Greta Methot led the first of three “grade norming” sessions that generated a thoughtful discussion about grading criteria and grade inflation. Literature TA Committee member Piotr Skuza directed a workshop on questions asked in the classroom. In the course of this workshop, graduate students were invited to consider what type of questions they ask their students in class. They proceeded to rank these questions and trace their development from content-related questions to questions that produce analytical and synthetic thinking. They then generated “question stems” for each type of question for use in their own classes, and discussed what type of question might be best asked by the instructor, and what type might be best asked by the students. Workshop participants unanimously declared the workshop “immensely helpful.” Additional teaching workshops will be led by Literature TA Committee members Ellen Partridge and Kyle Hetrick.

Valerie Karno’s graduate seminar this Fall is titled "Postmodernism of the Americas," and looks at the seemingly unlikely intersections between American Studies and current Postmodern thinking.

Assistant Professor Libby Miles has designed and implemented the first Honors Program Learning Community, in which students take three classes together to foster a deeper intellectual and personal commitment to each other and to URI. This year, students in the Honors Learning Community are encouraged to attend The Futures of Globalization colloquium events, as they are simultaneously enrolled in the Honors version of WRT 101 (HPR 112, Negotiating Public Perspectives), Latin American History with Dr. Rosamaria Pegueros, and a URI 101 section that Miles teaches.

Associate Professor Nancy Cook supervised an Honors thesis, Matthew Papino, Villages of Cranston, and directed a doctoral dissertation to completion this year, Renee Somers, Edith Wharton as a Theorist of Space.

Associate Professor Celest Martin continues to forge links between the South Kingstown Farm School (now located on the URI campus) and departments at URI.

Assistant Professors Ryan Trimm and Libby Miles are both Fellows this year in the Instructional Development Program’s year-long seminars.

Professor Mary Cappello was recently acknowledged in two books by students whose dissertations she directed at the University of Rochester: Kristen Boudreau, Sympathy in American Literature: American Sentiments from Jefferson to the Jameses, and Linda Karell, Writing Together/Writing Apart: Collaboration in Western American Literature.


Improvisations with Mikhail Epstein

On Friday, March 27 th, 2003, at the URI Providence Campus, the following faculty participated in An Improvisational Session with Mikhail Epstein, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Cultural Theory and Russian Literature at Emory University: Sona Aronian (Modern Languages/Russian, University of Rhode Island); Stephen Barber (English, University of Rhode Island); Mary Cappello (English, University of Rhode Island); Thomas Epstein (Russian, Boston College); Dan Novak (Philosophy, Feinstein College of Continuing Education, URI/Providence); Jean Walton (English, University of Rhode Island). A complete transcript of the improvisational texts (sans Mikhail’s contribution which was lost) can now be found at Epstein’s website: IMPRONET (Improvisational Network), a system of Web pages devoted to the art of intellectual improvisation and to the experiments in the communicative generation of new ideas.

Epstein’s improv sessions take the following form: between 5 and 12 participants, preferably from an array of disciplines, is invited to devote several hours to the following exercise: each member of the group will propose a topic, out of which one will be chosen by negotiation. An hour or so will be devoted to individual writing on the chosen topic, followed by individual reading and group discussion of each essay. Participants should be prepared to improvise on any topic, including the trivia of everyday life, from the angles of their professional discipline, personal experience or philosophical world view. They are also invited to become specialists in alternative, virtual or non-existent disciplines. This improvisational session is what might be called a metaphysical assault on everyday things. It can also be identified with the task Richard Rorty has set for thinkers of the future: to be "all purpose intellectuals . . . ready to offer a view on pretty much anything, in the hope of making it hang together with everything else." Experiments in collective improvisations began in Moscow ( Russia) in 1982.

Topics suggested for the session held at URI were questions (Sona); author (Stephen); belts (Mary); still water (Thomas); linguistic lacunae (Mikhail); shoes (Dan); triggers (Jean). The topic that the group agreed to write for 1 hour on was “belts.” The texts, which have just now appeared on the WEBSITE are: “At the Supermarket,” Jean Walton; “Embraced and Constrained; Opened and Closed,” Stephen Barber; “The Tao of the Belt,” Dan Novak; “Love Song,” Thomas Epstein; “The World Needs to Be Unbelted,” Sona Aronian; “Belting Out, Belting In,” Mary Cappello. A two hour discussion followed presentation of the texts, and most of the participants have since incorporated aspects of the improvisational praxis into their teaching or writing.


Alumni News

Sally Gomaa, Ph.D., has been hired into a tenure-track position at Salve Regina University, RI, for Fall 2003

Stan Harrison, Ph.D., has been hired into a tenure track position at U/Mass-Dartmouth for Fall 2003.

Don Moores, Ph.D. (R.B. Reeves, director) has the following numerous essays forthcoming: “Wedded in Natural Matrimony: Cosmic Love in Wordsworth and Whitman,”Renascence: The Study of Value in Literature; “The Darkness of Enlightenment, the Effulgence of Agnosia: Epistemology in Wordsworth and Whitman,”Journal of Indian Philosophy and Religion; “That Serene and Blessed Mood: Mystical Discourse in Wordsworth and Whitman,”Studies in Spirituality; “‘Gangs of Kosmos’ and ‘Prophets En Masse’: The Cosmic Poetics of Wordsworth and Whitman,”Romanticism: The Journal of Romantic Culture and Criticism.

Megan Sullivan, Ph.D., was recently granted tenure with promotion to Associate Professor at Boston University where she is now enjoying her first sabbatical, during which time she hopes to complete her memoir, Secondary Victims: Children of Incarcerated Parents. In 1999, Megan published a revised version of her dissertation (directed by Cappello), Women in Northern Ireland: Cultural Studies and Material Conditions. Since then, she has also published a monograph on women filmmakers titled Irish Women and Film: 1980-1990. Megan has carried out a great deal of volunteer work while maintaining a full teaching load at Boston University. She has worked at the Irish Immigration Center in Boston, she has worked as a group facilitator in a writing program for children whose parents were incarcerated, and she has taught high school students with disabilities.

Joan Vrendendberg, Ph.D. began a full-time, permanent position teaching at Office Training Command, Newport, RI.