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Department of English

English Department Publicity Announcements
Spring & Fall 2009

Awards and Honors

Associate Professor Naomi Mandel has been honored with an invitation to be a Visiting Professor at the Halbert Institute for Canadian Studies at Hebrew University for Spring 2010. While in Jerusalem, Mandel will teach a course on "The Canadian Extreme" at the Department of Comparative Literature of the Institute for Arts and Letters at Hebrew University. "The Canadian Extreme" will include novels by Québécoise authors Nelly Arcan and Hélène Rioux, Canadian authors Margaret Atwood and Douglas Coupland, and films and texts from the U.S., France, South Korea, and Israel. The goal of the course is to consider the two distinct literatures of Canada and the relation of each to the global phenomenon of the contemporary extreme.

Instructor Robert Leuci’s screenplay, Red Hook, based on his novel, Blaze, has been optioned by film director Sidney Lumet for himself to direct and produce.

Assistant Professor Marty Rojas was consulted by National Public Radio for a story that ran for “All Things Considered” on presidential gift giving called "Presidential Gift-Giving An Elaborate Process." You can listen at:

Ph.D. candidate Robert LeBlanc has received the 2009-10 URI Graduate Dissertation Fellowship. Robert’s dissertation is entitled Subjectivities and Counterpublics in 20th-Century Christian Leftist Texts, and his project is under the directorship of Professor John Leo.

Megan Sullivan, URI Alum, Ph.D., ’96, is this year’s recipient of Boston University’s College of General Studies 2008 Richter Award, which recognizes excellence in interdisciplinary teaching. The award, named in honor of Professor Peyton Richter, was established in 1988 and made possible by a gift from Gary Kraut ('64, Com '66). Megan will also be guest editing a special issue of S & F (The Scholar and Feminist, an on-line webjournal from Barnard’s Center for Research on Women). The issue will focus on  “Children and Incarcerated Parents” and will feature a range of writers, photographers, and activists.

Dorothy F. Donnelly, Professor of English and Women’s Studies at URI, was chosen to receive the 2009 Marilyn Sternberg Award from among a pool of stellar nominees. Dr. Joel Russell, the selection Committee chair, announced the winner at the December semi-annual American Association of University Professors meeting in Washington, DC.

Given annually, the Sternberg Award recognizes a AAUP member “who best demonstrates the concern for human rights, courage, persistence, political foresight, imagination, and collective bargaining skills.”  Professor Donnelly, a long-time faculty advocate, spearheaded the AAUP campaign to unionize URI’s part-time faculty and serves as chief negotiator for the union’s first contract.  Her career has been dedicated to improving academia and working for social justice, from chairing the faculty senate and fighting for tenure lines in Women’s Studies at URI to co-founding a local chapter of the national program, Changing Lives Through Literature, a rehabilitation program for criminal offenders.  The award will be presented in a ceremony at the National AAUP meeting this June.

Professor Karen Stein received a sabbatical from the University of Rhode Island and a Humanities Faculty Fellowship from URI Center for the Humanities for the academic year 2008-2009. The awards provide time and financial support for completing a book  about Toni Morrison. The book is currently in press and will be in print in summer 2009.

Assistant Professor Travis D. Williams has received a fellowship from the URI Center for the Humanities to support research this May at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Professor Williams will continue work on several projects in the fields of early modern literature and mathematics.

Professor Mary Cappello received two Richard Beaupre Faculty Subvention Grants in the Humanities to cover the costs of travel to archives and rights and reproduction costs for her book forthcoming from The New Press, Swallow: Foreign Bodies, Their Ingestion, Aspiration and Extraction in the Age of Chevalier Jackson.

Associate Professor Naomi Mandel was nominated for two URI Excellence Awards: Teaching and Scholarship.

Creative Writing

Literary Nonfiction: Publications
Graduate Student Cathryn Molloy has had a piece of  literary nonfiction entitled “A Catalogue of Materials Found in a Cold Case File,” accepted for publication at DASH. The piece was originally composed in Professor Mary Cappello’s graduate workshop in literary nonfiction.
Mary Cappello’s book, Called Back: My Reply to Cancer, My Return to Life will appear this October from Alyson Books ( under the new directorship of Donald Weise. Called Back will launch Don Weise’s new literary list for Alyson featuring such writers as Christopher Bram and Laurie Weeks, among others. Several excerpts will appear as first serial in the months preceding publication in The Georgia Review, The Seattle Review, and The Advocate. A reading and fundraising schedule, advance praise, reviews, and more will be posted on the New Works page of Cappello’s website ( and on a facebook page, up in the next few months.
Assistant Professor Peter Covino's essay Tell It to My Heart” appears in My Diva. Ed. Montlack Michael, Terrace Books: University of Wisconsin Press, WI, 2009; a craft essay, “Palace Station Hotel: New Year” appears in Italian Americana, Spring 2009. 
Literary Nonfiction: Presentations

Mary Cappello presented at this year’s AWP Convention in Chicago for Patrick Madden’s panel, 'The Aphorism: Life Is Short, Art Is Really Short” on reading, teaching, translating, theorizing, and writing aphorism with fellow writers and theorists, James Richardson, Sara Levine, and Steven Stewart. Cappello also participated in Patrick Madden’s video project to introduce new instantiations of the essay to students in middle school and high school.

Poetry: Publications

Several of Instructor Kate Schapira's poems appeared in or were accepted to journals including Women's Studies Quarterly, No Tell Motel, Big Bridge and Action, Yes. Cy Gist Press published her chapbook, The Love of Freak Millways and Tango Wax, and another chapbook, Figure With Sunspots, is forthcoming from Nasturtium Press. Her reading series, Publicly Complex, completed its second successful year.

Ph.D. candidate Robert LeBlanc has two poems forthcoming in the journal Main Street Rag and one poem forthcoming in the journal Interrobang.

Assistant Professor Peter Covino's recent publications include poems and translations in Shampoo, No 35, Winter 2008-09; the Journal of Italian Translation, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY Fall 2008; The 2009 Alhambra Poetry Calendar, Alhambra Publishing:  Bertrem, Belgium, 2009; and Italian Americana; including Wild Dreams: The Best of Italian Americana. Fordham University Press: NY, 2008.      

Instructor Talvikki Ansel has work in the 2009 Alhambra Poetry Calendar and forthcoming in The Yale Review.

Alum Penelope Cray (BA, 2000, in English, MFA, the New School) has had the poems "One Possible Discourse on God," and "The Jar" accepted at Pleiades.

Poetry: Presentations

Assistant Professor Peter Covino's recent presentations and readings include the University of Pennsylvania, Martin Luther King Lecture, Co-sponsored by U Penn School of Social Work and English Department, January 2009;  Associated Writing Programs (AWP) Annual Conference, “Queer Poetic Genealogies” Panel Discussion, Chicago, IL, February 2009; Wild Dreams anthology readings at the Providence Atheneaum and Casa Italiana, NYU, March 2009.

Fiction: Publications

Ph.D. candidate Aaron Tillman's short story "Song for Sol" was accepted for publication by Opium Magazine and will appear this Spring 2009.

Contemporary Literature and Culture: Publications

Professor Karen Stein published “It’s About Time: Temporal Dimensions in Margaret Atwood’s Life Before Man” in Once Upon a Time: Myth, Fairy Tales and Legends in Margaret Atwood's Writings, edited by Sarah Appleton, published by Cambridge Scholars Press in 2008.  The essay explores how Atwood's novel posits a mythic intertext that challenges the conventions of realist fiction. 

Professor Karen Stein wrote Reading, Learning, Teaching Toni Morrison. Currently in press, the book will appear in summer 2009,  published by Peter Lang Press in the series Confronting the Text, Confronting the World. The book examines Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison's novels and essays in the context of American and African-American history and literature, and suggests resources for teaching Morrison's work.

Ph.D. candidate Robert LeBlanc's essay "Ethical and Ontological Intersections in Flannery O'Connor and Thomas Merton" will appear in the January 2010 issue of ASEBL Journal.

Ph.D. candidate Rebekah Greene has been selected to review Roger Averill's memoir Boy he cry:  An island odyssey for Transnational Literature and to write two encyclopedia articles on Congressman David Crockett and the Crockett Almanacs for the Encyclopedia of American Environmental Literature.

Ph. D. Candidate Benjamin Hagen published a short essay, "David Mitchell's Ghostwritten: Ghosts, Doubles, and Writing," in the Winter 2009 issue of The Explicator (67.2).

Ph.D. candidate Aaron Tillman's essay "Presuming the Dominant Gaze: Spirits of Shame in Cynthia Ozick's 'Levitation'" will be published in the forthcoming issue of The CEA Critic. This essay challenges the common association between Jews and guilt and posits shame as a more discerning lens through which to examine Jewish American difference.

Associate Professor Naomi Mandel's review essay "The Contours of Loss: Laura Tanner's Lost Bodies: Inhabiting the Borders of Life and Death" was published in Criticism 50.4 (2008): 663-673.

Professor Alain-Philippe Durand and Associate Professor Naomi Mandel's co-edited volume on Novels of the Contemporary Extreme has been reissued in paperback by Continuum.

Old English: Invited Talks

Assistant Professor Kathleen Davis gave a talk at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and again at Harvard University entitled "Modes of Temporality in Old
English Poetry."

Maritime Literature: Talks: International

Assistant Professor Marty Rojas will be giving a talk entitled “The View from the Shore: The Environmental Turn and Maritime Literature,” at the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, Biennial Conference, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, June 2009.

Early American Literature: Presentations: International

Marty Rojas delivered a talk entitled "Address to the People: Locating Sovereignty in the Early Republic," the Society of Early Americanists, 6th Biennial Conference, Hamilton, Bermuda, March 2009.

Contemporary Literature and Culture: Conference Presentations

Professor Karen Stein presented "Women as Commodities in Margaret Atwood’s novels: Courtship, Commodification, Consumption and Cannibalism" at the Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) Conference in March 2009. The paper focused on Atwood's first novel, The Edible Woman, and is part of a larger essay in progress.

Ph.D. Candidate Benjamin Hagen presented "The Interplay of Fate and Chance: The Metafiction of David Mitchell” at The Louisville Conference on Language and Literature Since 1900 in February 2009. The paper focused on David Mitchell's first and third novels (Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas).

Television/Popular Culture: Conference Presentations

Ph.D. candidate Benjamin Hagen presented “Transgressive Simulation: The Mobility of Violent Reality in Extreme Championship Wrestling" at the Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) Conference in March 2009. The paper was a shorter version of an essay written for Professor Naomi Mandel in her course "Fictions of Extremity."

Film Studies

Instructor Keith B Wagner’s article “The Neoliberal Auteur: Commodity Fetishism and Decadence in the Mise-en-Sce?e of Matthew Barney’s Cremaster 3” has been published in Film International Vol. 6 No. 33 (2008) and his article “Expanding the Postcolonial Context: The ‘Multitude’ in Lionel Rogosin’s Come Back, Africa” is forthcoming with the Journal of African Cinemas. He also has two other articles under consideration with Screen and Historical Materialism: Research in Critical Marxist Theory. On the organizing front, Keith has been active, putting together a two-day conference on Cosmopolitanism and World Cinema with Professor Jackie Stacey at the University of Manchester in June 2008, with Professor John Leo giving a paper on post-wall German cinema at the event. He also received the Richard Beaupre Hope & Heritage Fund in May of 2008 to help finance this conference. He is now a Ph.D. candidate at the UK.

Film: Publications:

Ph.D. candidate Robert LeBlanc’s essay “The Crisis of Representing Postmodern Marginality in Three Documentary Films” will appear in CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture 11.2 (June 2009). This essay was originally written for a graduate course taught by Professor John Leo.

Modernism: Publications

Ph.D. Candidate Benjamin Hagen recently received word that his essay "A Car, a Plane, and a Tower: Interrogating Public Images in Mrs. Dalloway" has been accepted for publication by the journal Modernism/Modernity. The essay, originally written for a seminar course taught by Professor Ryan Trimm in the fall of 2007, is currently scheduled for publication in the September 2009 issue. Benjamin Hagen also published a review of Carl DiPietro's Shakespeare and Modernism for the Summer 2007 issue of James Joyce Quarterly (44.4).

 Modernism: Conference Presentations

Ph.D. Candiate Benjamin Hagen will present “The Sense of the Middest in William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury” at The 20th Conference of the American Literature Association in May of 2009. The essay is the result of a seminar course on William Faulkner and John Irving, taught by Professor Josie Campbell.

Postcolonial Literature:  Conference Presentations

Ph.D. candidate Rebekah Greene presented "Resisting Oppression:  The Roles of Language, Education, and Literacy in Jean-Marie Teno's Afrique, je te plumerai" at the 18th annual British Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies Conference in February 2009.  The paper focused on the work of Cameroonian filmmaker Teno and was the result of a Fall 2008 seminar taught by Gitahi Gititi.  Ph.D. candidate Laurie Rodrigues and M.A. candidate Kim Evelyn also presented from their seminar work at the conference.
Victorian Studies:  Presentations

Assistant Professor Carolyn Betensky will be presenting “’Happy’ and ‘Unhappy’:  Affect and Economics in Mary Barton” in April at the Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies conference at Skidmore College.

British Romanticism: Conference Presentations

Ph.D. candidate Stefanie Head will present "Dashing too Suddenly into Description: Melancholic Movement in Mary Shelley's Matilda" at the 17th Annual North American Society for the Study of Romanticism (NASSR) Conference in May 2009. Exploring the conference theme Romanticism and Modernity, this paper traces the connections between speed, melancholy, and modernity.

British Romanticism: Publications

Assistant Professor Jennifer Jones wrote a book review essay for the journal Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net < > which will be published in issue #53 (February 2009) and is due out in May. The piece reviewed Ron Broglio's book Technologies of the Picturesque: British Art, Poetry, and Instruments, 1750-1830 (Bucknell UP, 2008).

Ph.D. candidate Rebekah Greene has been selected to review Scotland, Ireland, and the Romantic Aesthetic, edited by David Duff and Catherine Jones, for Doomsday:  The Journal of the Thomas Lovell Beddoes Society

Early American Literature: Publications

Assistant Professor Marty Rojas’s review essay, “Reading the Ocean with a Mariner's Eye: Hester Blum, The View from the Masthead,” has appeared in Common-Place · vol. 9 · no. 3 · April 2009. “A Common Place, An Uncommon Voice” is co-sponsored by the American Antiquarian Society and the University of Oklahoma.

Early Modern Literature: Conference Presentations

Assistant Professor Travis D. Williams will participate in a panel discussion in association with the URI Theater Department's April production of The Merchant of Venice.

Medieval Studies: Presentations

Assistant Professor Kathleen Davis will be delivering a paper at the International Congress of Medieval Studies on May 8, titled "Secular Spaces, Sacred Places, and the Problem of Sanctuary."

Comparative Literature:  Presentations

Assistant Professor Carolyn Betensky coorganized and moderated a three-day, twelve-person panel at the American Comparative Literature Association conference at Harvard University in March.  The panel was titled “Good Intentions.”  Betensky presented a paper on the panel, as well: “ The Stigma of Good Intentions.”

Writing and Rhetoric

Ph.D. Candidate Rosaleen Greene-Smith’s essay, "Ramistic Legacies in U.S. Composition" has been accepted for publication in the forthcoming (2010) book "Ramism Revisted" from Ashgate Press. It was developed from a conference paper given at the Petrus Ramus Conference 2008 at the University of St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland.

Career Development: Invited Talks
Assistant Professor Stephanie Dunson was invited to speak as part of Yale University's Post Doc Career Development Program. On February 12, her talk, "Effective Writing Habits for Post Docs," drew a crowd of over one hundred post docs from programs in both the sciences and the humanities.

Programming and Outreach

Mary Cappello is organizing the First Annual URI Alumni Reading at this year’s Ocean State Summer Writing Conference.

This year, Kate Schapira and Mary Cappello brought their sections of English 205: Workshop in Creative Writing: Poetry in Kingston and Providence together for an end-of-semester public reading at White Electric in Providence.

Associate Professor Naomi Mandel presented "To Stare or Not to Stare" in an Honors course in Disability Studies taught by Associate Professor Kat Ellis (Kinesiology). This interdisciplinary presentation combined images from the 19th, 20th, and 21st century.

On March 28 “Bodies in Motion,” The University of Rhode Island’s 2009 Graduate Student Conference, welcomed keynote speaker Dr. Stuart Pimm, Professor of Conservation Ecology at Duke University, and some one hundred and sixteen presenters from over thirty-five institutions.  The one-day interdisciplinary event was coordinated by English Department Graduate Students Stephen Marchand (Conference Committee Director), Jenn Brandt (Treasurer), Tim Amidon, Benjamin Hagen, Mihaela Harper, Laurie Carlson, Eva Jones, Jennifer Churchill, Robert LeBlanc, Dr. Brian A. Dixon, Kim Evelyn, Sarah Maitland, Daniel Facchinetti, Rebekah Greene, Sara Murphy, Rosalyn Greene-Smith, Laurie Rodrigues, with the dedicated efforts of Graduate Student Amy Maas from Biological Sciences and the guidance of Graduate Director Professor Josie Campbell.

Virtual Presence/Virtual Projects

In February, Mary Cappello was asked for a narrative account of what she was reading for Marshal Zeringue’s Writers Read site, part of the What America is Reading project. Mary’s response is available at:

This Spring, Mary Cappello interviewed nonfiction writer and novelist Danielle Trussoni for I-Italy’s website. Cappello talked with Trussoni about the line between fiction and memoir, tonal registers in nonfiction, writing as an unsent letter, class and ethnicity, and more, with a focus on Trussoni’s award-winning memoir, Falling Through the Earth at:

Mary Cappello’s presentation from Called Back, at the Nonfiction Now Conference, University of Iowa, November 2007 can now be heard on-line at:
The “Bodies. Spaces. Memories” panel, was organized by Barrie Jean Borich and also featured writers David Shields, Suzanne Paola, and Paul Lisicky.

Assistant Professor Jennifer Jones wrote a book review essay for the journal Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net < > which will be published in issue #53 (February 2009) and is due out in May. The piece reviewed Ron Broglio's book Technologies of the Picturesque: British Art, Poetry, and Instruments, 1750-1830 (Bucknell UP, 2008).

Assistant Professor Marty Rojas’s review essay, “Reading the Ocean with a Mariner's Eye: Hester Blum, The View from the Masthead,” has appeared in Common-Place · vol. 9 · no. 3 · April 2009. “A Common Place, An Uncommon Voice” is co-sponsored by the American Antiquarian Society and the University of Oklahoma.

Alumni News

Lia Ottaviano (BA, 2008) has been accepted into the extremely selective MFA Program (with an emphasis in Literary Nonfiction) at Hunter College where she has also been awarded a Hertog Fellowship for the Spring semester.