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Department of English

News and Events


Publicity Announcements:
March - April 2005


Publications: Creative Writing

Instructor Amity Gaige will be reading from and signing her just published novel, O My Darling (Other Press) on May 21 st at 4 pm at the Brown U Bookstore, Providence; on May 24 th at 7 pm at Newtonville Books, Newton, MA; and on June 3 rd at 7:30 pm at Barnes and Noble, Warwick, RI

Instructor Penelope Cray has a poem, “Father and oranger,” from her manuscript, The Farther Afield We Go accepted for publication at American Letters & Commentary. From the same manuscript, Pleiades will publish "One fourth of a farthing" and "Rivage." Two of Penny’s book reviews have also been accepted by Pleiades and one short review taken by Boston Review. All are forthcoming.

Instructor Jody Lisberger has had a short story entitled, "In the Mercy of Water," accepted by Fugue.

Instructor Talvi Ansel has poems forthcoming in The Nebraska Review and in Poetry.

Professor Mary Cappello has had an excerpt of her recently completed book on “awkwardness” accepted for publication at Southwest Review. The section that will appear focuses on the life and work of Emily Dickinson and is titled, “ Dickinson’s Facing or Turning Away.”

Emeritus Professor Paul Petrie has just had a beautiful comprehensive volume of his work published as Rooms of Grace: New and Selected Poems by Paul Petrie, New Orleans Poetry Journal Press.


Publications: British Cultural Studies

Assistant Professor Ryan Trimm's article "Rehaunting Heritage: Nation, Enterprise, and Hospitality After Thatcher" is forthcoming in the online journal Comparative Literature and Culture Web.


Invitations: Publications

Associate Professor Nancy Cook has submitted an essay by invitation to be published by the University of Nebraska Press on the way fantasies about ranching manifest in real estate ads and the ways in which those fantasies manifest in aesthetics, economics, and in significant environmental change in the West.

Associate Professor Katherine Scheil has agreed to review Kim Sturgess's book Shakespeare and the American Nation ( Cambridge, 2004) and John O'Brien's book Harlequin Britain : Pantomime and Entertainment, 1690-1760 (Johns Hopkins, 2004) for the journal Theatre Survey (the journal of the American Society for Theatre Research).

Mary Cappello has agreed to write a review article this summer for GLQ on queer self-writing.


Awards and Honors

Professor Dorothy F. Donnelly has received the University of Rhode IslandOutstandingOutreach Award for 2005 for her work as co-founder (with Judge Albert E. DeRobbio, Chief Judge, Rhode Island District Court) of the Rhode Island Chapter of the nationally recognized and highly acclaimed Changing Lives Through Literature Program. The national CLTL program was established in 1990 at the University of Massachusetts ( Dartmouth); there are currently more than ten chapters throughout the country (e.g., New York, Texas, Florida, Tennessee, California). And, on the international level, a new program is now being established in England. The ChangingLives Through Literature program offers criminal offenders the opportunity of participating in a literature seminar rather than going to jail. The major goal of the program is to attempt to redirect the lives of criminal offenders through reading literature with a message of self-esteem and self-understanding. A special feature of the Rhode Island Chapter of CLTL is a written Cooperative Agreement that details the goals and responsibilities of both components of the program--the essential link between the academic and the judicial institutions. As Chief Judge DeRobbio has remarked: "Dr. Dorothy Donnelly's diligent effort in solidifying a cooperative agreement among the participating academic institutions and me has been invaluable. Her persistence and tireless efforts caused the program to enter the Rhode Island District Court. . . Her determination created a working relationship between the court system and academia--the first of its kind. . . On behalf of the entire District Court I am honored to have an association with Dr. Donnelly." In developing this collaborative partnership, Professor Donnelly expanded the reach of the RI/CLTL program by inviting and ultimately including both Rhode Island College and Bryant University as partners in the delivery of this unique opportunity to the larger Rhode Island community. The URI English Department is designed as the RI/CLTL program's "Lead Institution" with RIC and Bryant joining in as part of the academic arm of the cooperative arrangement with the Rhode Island judicial system.

Graduate Student Claire Reynolds won first place for a graduate level critical essay at this year’s Pennsylvania College English Association in Gettysburg. The paper is a feminist reclamation of Ruth McEnery Stuart, a post-bellum writer who was very successful in her day but has fallen into obscurity in the intervening century.

Graduate Student Susan Rashid Horn is the recipient of the Jabour Family Graduate Student Fellowship in the Humanities for Fall 2005. The fellowship is given to a “URI graduate student for outstanding work in the humanities.”

Graduate Student Greta Methot was awarded a URI Graduate Fellowship for the 2005/2006 academic year as well as a Fellowship from the Center for Humanities. Her dissertation, under the direction of Valerie Karno, tentatively titled, “‘The Horror of Looking’: Lynching Photography and the Empathetic Eye,” examines the production and reception of lynching photographs, both historically and present-day, and investigates whether viewing these images might either stimulate humanitarian reform or perpetuate racialized violence in contemporary audiences.

Graduate Student Kim Simms won a Class of 1933 Fellowship from the GraduateSchool.

URI's Council for Research awarded Associate Professor Libby Miles a $4000 Career Enhancement Grant to support an extension of her sabbatical research, "Interdisciplinary Student Writing at Williams-Mystic." For that project, Miles will be working with students taking integrated and experiential writing-intensive classes in a Maritime Studies program. It is a 22-student semester-long living/learning community with a strong history of sustained civic engagement. Professor Miles is joining their community next fall, and will write up the results in the spring.

On the occasion of the URI Multicultural Center's 9 th Annual Diversity Awards (held in the Memorial Union Ballroom on April 26) special recognition was given to Professor Dorothy F. Donnelly and Professor Josie P. Campbell for their ongoing support and work on behalf of the MCC's programs that are offered by and through the Multicultural Center on a semester and/or annual basis.

The following English Department Faculty Members were nominated for the URI Foundation Excellence in Teaching Award this year:

  • Per Course Instructors: Donna Bickford (for the second time); Jessica Gianfrocco; Jody Lisberger; Candice Simmons
  • Fulltime Faculty: Professor Mary Cappello (for the fourth time; finalist once); Professor Gitahi Gititi (for the third time); Professor Felix Okeke-Ezigbo; Associate Professor Katherine Scheil; Associate Professor Libby Miles (for the third year in a row).

Professor John Leo was nominated for an Excellence in Research Award.

Ted Shear, Ph.D. was nominated for the Outreach Award.

For a Complete Listing of all of this year’s WINNERS, Undergraduate and Graduate, in the English Department’s annual writing contests, scholarships awarded, and Rumowicz prize winners please go to There are also separate sites available on the Department Website documenting in photos the awards ceremonies. Copies of the winning compositions also appear on our site.


Invitations: Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Professor Dorothy F. Donnelly has been invited to present a paper on "Thomistic Influence on the Revival of Secular Utopian Speculation" at this year's Annual Meeting of the Patristic, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies Conference to be held at Villanova University in October 2005.


Invitations: British Cultural Studies

The University Seminar in Nineteenth-Century Cultural Studies at George Washington University has invited Assistant ProfessorCarolyn Betensky to give a talk at the end of April. The paper she’ll be reading is entitled "The Spectral Working-Class Reader."


Readings : Creative Writing

Instructor Bob Leuci read from his non-fiction at Harvard University in April with Alan Dershowitz as sponsor, and at the North Kingstown Library, and for the Newport Redwood Library at the Vanderbilt Mansion where Leuci presented new non fiction work in progress.


Presentations/International: American Cultural Studies/The American West

Associate Professor Nancy Cook has been working on a project that works to show how changes in ideology, aesthetics and rhetoric around ranching in the American West manifest on the land itself. In March, Cook gave a paper on ranch real estate ads at the annual meeting of the ACA/PCA in San Diego. Cook just returned from delivering a

version of this talk at the 10th annual UNESCO conference on landscape and

culture, this year held at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in England.


Presentations: Victorian Studies

In March and April, Carolyn Betensky presented a paper entitled "Tourism vs. Altruism" at the American Comparative Literature Association conference at Penn State University, and she gave another talk, "Wishful Collaborations: Les Mysteres de Paris, Victorian Social-Problem Novels, and Their Imaginary Working-Class Readers," at the Northeast Victorian Studies Association Conference at American University in Washington, DC in April.


Presentations: 19th Century American Cultural Studies/Music and Literature

Assistant Professor Stephanie Dunson gave a conference presentation at NYU on

March 18 for the Society for Textual Scholarship. Her presentation, “Misplaced Minstrels: Reading Blackface Minstrel Musical Texts in Appropriate Context,” was part of a panel on Music and the Material Text.


Presentations: 20th Century American Cultural Studies/Law and Literature

Associate Professor Valerie Karno has given 2 related talks on her newest work on Legal Affect. Both at the Conference for the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and Humanities (held in Austin, Texas in March), and at URI's Women's Studies Colloquium held in April where Karno spoke about the resurgence and impacts of Shaming Punishments in the United States. Thinking about the ways shame is back in vogue, and gets used as "community service," Karno's work explores how the law is increasingly incorporating affect as a means for influencing and understanding notions of intention and judgment.


Presentations: Rhetoric and Composition

Graduate Student Theo Greenblatt presented a paper at the Northeast Writing Centers Association conference in April, at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus. The paper was entitled "Writing in Space: Spatial Arrangements and Pedagogical Considerations" and was part of a panel entitled "Cross-Institutional Change and Cross-Curricular Reform: The Writing Center Relocated." The other panel members were URI alum Dr. Sally Gomaa (now Director of Academic Development/Writing Center, WAC Co-ordinator, and Asst Professor at Salve Regina University), and Sarah Gregory-Barton, a peer tutor at Salve Regina's Writing Center, where Theo did some adjunct administrative work this past fall.


Rhetoric and Composition: Presentations at CCCC

Fourteen Rhetoric & Composition faculty, students, and alumni actively participated in the annual Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) in San Francisco in March. The CCCC is the field's largest and most significant conference, and once again URI had a strong presence, in spite of the long-distance travel.



  • In addition to his role as the chair of the Special Interest Group on the National Archives of Composition and Rhetoric (NACR), Professor Bob Schwegler presented a paper on "A Manuscript Technical Report from the Court of Elizabeth I." He also chaired a session involving four graduate students from last spring's seminar on Social Constructions of Error (see below).
  • Professor Linda Shamoon presented a paper, “Affirmative Action and Public Writing: A Case Study in Activism and Memory,” based on a pedagogy she developed around the Brothers United in Action case at URI several years ago. She also reprised her role as chair of the Special Interest Group on the Electronic Democracy Project.
  • As a member of the editorial board of the field’s flagship journal, Professor Nedra Reynolds participated in a session on “How to Get Published in CCC: Meet the Editor and Editorial Board.”
  • Associate Professor Celest Martin presented a paper on “Writing about Disability: The Experiential and the Representational,” based on years of her teaching and practice.
  • Associate Professor Libby Miles began her three-year term as a member of the organization’s Executive Committee.
  • Assistant Professor Jeremiah Dyehouse presented a paper on “Writing on the Walls: Rhetorical Life in the Museum,” an outgrowth of his interests in museum culture and his teaching of stasis theory in argumentative writing.

Graduate Students

  • Current students created a panel as an outgrowth of last Spring’s WRT 645 seminar with Bob Schwegler: “Clash Between Correctness and Error: Access Denied.”Kathy Langston presented “Error Defined,”Valerie Vanczapresented “Grammatical System Divided,”Michelle Niestepski presented “Contradictory Classroom Practices,” and Susan Rashid Horn presented “Why Does Error Matter?” From all accounts, the room was packed, and the discussion lively.
  • Other graduate students presented portions of their dissertations in progress. Bill Burns presented “Writing our Eco-Systems: Experiences with a Place-Based Pedagogy in a first-Year Writing Class.”Debbie DePiero presented “Trading Spaces: Making Sense of Change.” And Mary Gormley presented “Access or Excess? Finding and Losing a Space for Diversity in Service Learning.”


  • Stevens Amidon, now at Indiana University/Purdue University at Fort Wayne, presented on “Writing the Learning Organization: A New Paradigm for the Business Writing Classroom.”


Professional Appointments

Carolyn Betensky was just named to the Program Committee of the Northeast Victorian Studies Association for 2005-2006.


Major Gifts/Contributions

At the 25 th anniversary celebration of the University's Women's Studies Program (held at the University Club on April 16, 2005) it was announced that Dr. Dorothy F. Donnelly, Professor of English and Affiliate Professor of Women's Studies, has contributed $25,000to establish a Women's Studies Scholarship Endowment Fund that will provide scholarship support to students majoring in Women's Studies who are in need of financial support.


Alumni News

The following article documents the work of Alexia Kosmider, Ph.D. in producing a film on the Narragansett Indians.

“In the Shadow of the Crow: Legacies of the Narragansetts”

Powerful Documentary Delivers Timely Message

Providence, RI….. A small, passionate, non-profit group of professors and students have created an 75--minute documentary film sure to change the misconceptions many Rhode Island residents have about the Narragansett Indians, and raise some important questions about their own endangered civil liberties.

Dr. Alexia Kosmider, a Providence resident and URIEnglish Instructor who teaches Native American Literature, holds the vision for “Shadow” and has adopted the role of producer. “I wanted to dispel some very out-dated beliefs about the Narragansetts with a documentary based on facts,” said Kosmider. “My hope is for the film to be used as an educational tool in colleges and museums”.

To help write the screenplay and direct the film, Kosmider recruited a friend and recognized talent, Leslie B. Langley, who was awarded an Emmy for “Outstanding PSA” in 1989, and has produced several other powerful PSA’s. Both women are supported by a dynamic group of professionals and students who lend their time and passion to the creation of this important project.

Many well-respected Native Americans are also supporting the film with their creative talents. Among them are: Joanne Shenandoah, singer/songwriter and daughter of revered elder and Wolf Clan mother Maisie Shenandoah of the Oneida Nation – Iroquois Confederacy; Joy Harjo, enrolled member of the Muskogee Tribe, who is primary narrator of the film.

At the core of this compelling and informative 75-minute documentary are the issues of tribal sovereignty and the difficulties of preserving ancestral traditions in a contemporary culture. The disturbing July 14 th, 2003 “Smoke Shop” incident that took place on Narragansett land, and was broadcast on national news stations, punctuates the heart of this film as the story of a longstanding dispute between the Narragansett Indians and the State of Rhode Island unfolds.

“The Narragansetts are not an isolated case,” notes Kosmider. “It has a much larger repercussion than this localized incident. The confiscation of tribal property demonstrates how state government limits or sanctions tribal independence and the rights of any American to act independently and maintain cultural integrity within the larger framework of American mainstream culture. All Indian tribes as well as American human rights are being interrogated today.”

In the Shadow of the Crow” delivers enlightening messages as tribal members describe their cultural beliefs and what they perceive to be the difficulties of being an Indian in a state where Indians are not highly visible.

But, it will also raise discussion about the attrition of every citizen’s civil liberties in modern day America and their correlation with the classic struggles of all indigenous tribes.

Screening dates:

April 8 th 6:00 p. m. Rhode Island Indian Council at 807 Broad Street, Providence with Darrel Waldron, Executive Director Rhode Island Indian Council and Michael Bliss, Narragansett Tribal member as discussants after the screening

April 18 th 7:00 p. m. University Rhode Island Feinstein Providence Campus at 80 Washington Street, Providence with William Yellow Robe, Native American playwright and Dawn Dove, member of the Narragansett Tribe as discussants after the screening

Sponsored by Rhode Island Council of the Humanities

Student Services, URI Feinstein Providence Campus

Rhode Island Indian Council

For more information or local film dates, log on to


Journal Projects

Per course instructor, Miranda F. Mellis has co-founded with Tisa Bryant and Kate Schatz(readers in this year’s Read/Write Series) a literary/arts journal entitled Encyclopedia. The founders and editors of Encyclopedia conceived of this project following a conversation with Gail Scott during which she called upon them, as emerging writers, to create a publication that presents and theorizes new fiction. As they grappled with this challenge, they decided the encyclopedia was an ideal template, a form that could reckon with proliferating approaches to fiction and include various modes of cultural production that circle around, cross-reference, and inform each other.

Encyclopedia is a series of five annual literary/arts print publications that will constitute an encyclopedia of and about fiction. This first issue spans the letters A-E and addresses the question, what occurs under the sign of fiction? That there is no singular answer to this question allows for a wide-range of responses that invigorate genre, form, and content. Encyclopedia will feature short stories, cross-genre work, visual art, translations, collaborations, plays, lyrical essays, and criticism. It combines the aesthetic, socio-political, and cultural merits of a high caliber literary arts journal with the educational and pedagogical functions of the reference book. With a commitment to accessibility as well as experimentation, Encyclopedia adds a vital publication to the literary/arts world.

For the first issue, the editors solicited almost one hundred writers, artists, scholars, and critics, who are diverse in race, gender, sexual orientation, and age. Each contributor was given a list of five individually tailored words that relate to the broad, unstable category of fiction (an exemplary list might consist of Allegory, Bildungsroman, Crisis, Desire, and Epistolary). Contributors were then asked to create entries for one or more of the words. Entries could be as short as one sentence and as long as 4,000 words, and could take the form of a short story, prose, a lyrical essay, criticism, a collaboration, a translation, a photograph, a film still, a painting, a diary entry, a letter, or a definition; in short, the artists were given vast creative freedom. Many of the entries transcend and critique genre and discipline in their exploration of the category and sign of fiction.

To keep updated on the Encyclopedia project, go to:

Encyclopedia I: A-E promises to be available in Fall 2005, and includes an entry by Mary Cappello on, of course