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Department of English

News and Events

Publicity Announcements
May 2007-May 2008



Associate Professor and Incoming Chair of the English Department Stephen Barber was a finalist for this year’s Excellence in Teaching Award


Assistant Professor Peter Covino was the recipient of the 2007 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award, for his poetry collection, Cut Off the Ears of Winter (2005), published by New Issues. The PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry is described as a $5,000 prize given in odd-numbered years and that recognizes the high literary character of the published work to date of a new and emerging American poet of any age and the promise of further literary achievement. Past winners have been Nick Flynn, Richard Matthews, Dana Levin, and Yerra Sugarman. 2007 judges were April Bernard, Elaine Equi, and John Yau. The presentation of the 2007 PEN Literary Awards was held in New York on the evening of Monday, May 21 at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center. From the judges’ citation: “Images of real and symbolic violence ricochet and reflect off each other in this elegant and disturbing collection. The poems chronicle, among other things, a history of childhood abuse and its after effects, but in a larger sense, they also explore through the lens of myth, art, religion, and popular culture, the underlying and often unacknowledged brutality beneath even mundane events. Covino's voice is urgent…witty, sophisticated, erudite, and street-wise. How can we not pay attention?” In February 2008, Covino was a Finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize, an honor for which he gave a reading at the Hamilton Club in Paterson, New Jersey.


English PhD candidates John Hodgkins and George Steele were both awarded the very competitive URI Graduate Dissertation Fellowship for the 2008-09 academic year, John for his dissertation titled “The Drift: Rethinking the Dynamics of Adaptation” and George for his dissertation titled “Auditory Subjectification: Marxism, Affect, and Film Music.”


Assistant Professor Jennifer Jones won a $1200.00 grant from the URI Center for the Humanities and a $500.00 grant from the URI Alumni Center to present a paper at a supernumerary NASSR (North American Society for the Study of Romanticism) conference in Bologna, Italy entitled "Transnational Identities / Reimagining Communities." Jones also won a Junior Scholar Fellowship award from the Center for the Humanities, which she will utilize in the spring of 2009. It consists of a course release to facilitate research; she plans to use it to work on the introduction and a chapter of her book manuscript, entitled Virtual Romanticism, which she has been invited to submit for consideration to Johns Hopkins University Press by the acquisitions editor. Jennifer Jones was nominated for the URI Teaching Excellence Award (2008); this was Jones’ second nomination for this award.


Assistant Professor Martha Elena Rojas was awarded a URI Council for Research Career Enhancement Award to continue work on her manuscript-in-progress, Diplomatic Letters: Innovating the new United States. The award enabled weeks of research at the Library Company of Philadelphia, the New York Public Library, and the Massachusetts Historical Society.


Assistant Professor Travis D. Williams received grants from the URI Council for Research, the URI Center for the Humanities, and the Hope and Heritage Fund to support archival research at the British Library in London and the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh in June and July 2007. Professor Williams works on the interrelationships of literary and mathematical discourses in Renaissance Britain and Europe.


Professor Karen Stein was awarded the 2007 Woman of the Year, from the Rhode Island Commission on Women


Professor Dorothy Donnelly was awarded the 2008 Woman of the Year, Rhode Island Commission on Women. A full account follows:


KINGSTON, R.I.—April 25, 2008—Dorothy F. Donnelly, professor of English at the University of Rhode Island, has been named the 2008 Woman of the Year by URI’s Association for Professional and Academic Women. A reception and award ceremony to honor Donnelly for her ongoing commitment to equity and advancement of women will be held on Thursday, May 1, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the University Club, 95 Upper College Road, Kingston.

            Throughout Donnelly’s 25-year teaching career at URI, she has made a lasting impact. Donnelly has served as chair of the English Department and chair of the URI Faculty Senate. She has led the effort on behalf of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) to organize and assist part-time faculty. Recently, Donnelly proposed a Faculty Development Program for the College of Arts and Sciences. The work on this project involved meeting with various faculty groups throughout the college and reviewing national literature dealing with purpose, function and design of faculty development programs. The proposal was approved and implemented by the Dean’s Office.

            Although Donnelly is an English professor, she has been involved with the Women’s Studies program on campus as well. In her capacity as English Department chairperson she worked on a proposal for a tenure-track joint appointment with the URI Women’s Studies program. The proposal resulted in the first tenure-track appointment between Women’s Studies and another academic department at URI. In 2005, Donnelly established the Dorothy F. Donnelly Endowment Scholarship Fund with her own contribution of $25,000. Income from the endowment is used to fund scholarships for undergraduate students who chose to major or minor in Women’s Studies.

            Dr. Donnelly is a past recipient of the URI Excellence in Teaching Award. She 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 Changing Lives Through Literature Program. 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. Donnelly was also the recipient of the Dorcas Place Community Partner Award in 2007 in recognition of her work with and support of the Dorcas Place Adult and Family Learning Center, which provides educational opportunities for low-income Rhode Islanders.

            Donnelly has also authored numerous articles, publishing in the major journals in her field on such diverse writers as Plato’s Republic and Dante’s De Monarchia. Her most recent book, Patterns of Order and Utopia, was published in 1999. Her current projects include a biography of Emma Murdock Van Deventer, a late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century novelist.

            “I am surprised but extremely pleased to have been selected as the 2008 APAW Woman of the Year,” Donnelly said. “It is an honor to join the earlier recipients who have earned this distinguished recognition.”

            The association works to ensure equal recognition and advancement of professional and academic women. The association provides opportunities for URI women to meet and work together across departmental, college, and divisional lines. Annually, APAW recognizes a URI woman for her efforts to advance this mission. Candidates are evaluated on the basis of their active work for equity for professional and academic women at URI and the extent they exceed the requirement of their position in the University. “ The Association of Academic and Professional Women makes a significant contribution to the culture and professional environment at URI through its ongoing series of activities in support of women faculty and staff at URI,” Donnelly said.

            Anyone with questions regarding the reception and award ceremony for Dr. Donnelly can contact Lauren at or call 874-5277.


Graduate student Claire E. Reynolds received the Multicultural Center's 2008 Diversity Award for Graduate Student Excellence in Service and Leadership. The purpose of the awards is to develop campus community by honoring and promoting initiatives that advance institutional equity and inclusiveness. Reynolds was honored for her teaching, research, and advocacy to integrate multiculturalism into the mainstream canon of American literature. Her dissertation explores race, class, and gender in the works of marginalized American women authors during times of national crisis. "My research champions these authors and the people about whom they wrote, and challenges us to keep listening for all of the voices—no matter how silent or how different from us—that make up our culture." She presented her work in the Promising Scholars Symposium during URI Diversity Week 2005 and 2006. In 2007, she was the Director for URI's first annual Graduate Student Conference, "Identities: Individual, Cultural, and National." She was an advisory member of the planning committee and a presenter at the 2008 Conference.


Professor Jean Walton’s sabbatical project received a URI Center for the Humanities Faculty Sabbatical Research Fellowship of $2000. In addition, Professor Walton was short-listed for a National Humanities Center Fellowship at Duke for 2008-09. During Walton’s upcoming one-year sabbatical leave she will be working on her interdisciplinary project The Modern Peristaltic Subject: Bodies, Systems, Flows, a book-length study of partly autonomic, partly cognitive bodily processes of ingestion, digestion, and excretion within larger social, economic, and disciplinary structures. Focusing on the modern period of the early 20th century, the project engages with existing philosophical, psychoanalytic, and aesthetic investigations into the bodily experience of time in modernity, of affective states, of gender and labor, and of an ethics of self-care in relation to regulatory imperatives. It recasts the question of what "thinks" within us, apart from our conscious cognitive activity, in terms of how we are viscerally trained and managed, and how we negotiate regulatory interventions into our very intestines.


Associate Professor Naomi Mandel was a Finalist for a Fellowship at the Virginia Institute for the Humanities for her book project Visions of Violence, Ethical Work.


Professor John Leo co-authored URI Rich Media Screening Room Project," a proposal to enhance and upgrade Independence 304, and was awarded a grant of $59,580 by the Champlin Foundations. This intensely used classroom serves approximately 600 students each term. From the Executive Summary of the proposal: "The room’s small scale and its multiple technologies helped deliver significant learning experiences about world visual cultures, whose critical and analytical importance was enhanced by the personal interactions among students, faculty, speakers and visitors. This proposal restores the SR’s state-of-the art capacity with vital current technology and equipment upgrades. Without these the perceptual and aesthetic experiences of media are neither fully realized nor open to critical study (e.g. full color saturation, greater audio quality)….These instructional improvements are crucial in the context of international visual and technological “literacies” and “competencies” now defining the educational and commercial cores of filmmaking, digital media, television and other media production.


Interim Chair Alain-Philippe Durand was the distinguished recipient of the French Republic’s Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques in 2007. Durand was also a finalist for the Inspire Integrity Award of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS). The winner and runner-ups will be announced at the end of May 2008. Durand is among the 15 finalists nationwide:




Creative Writing: Poetry


Talvi Ansel has 2 poems (“Unsettled Weather I” & “Unsettled Weather II”) forthcoming in The Grove Review; “Their First Houses Were Bark-Roofed Caves” was published in balancing the tides, and “Forest” in Barrow Street. Selections from “Afterwards: Caliban” from her 1st book are included in the anthology All That Mighty Heart: London Poems (Univ. of Virginia Press).


New poems by Peter Covino have recently appeared and/are forthcoming in Gulf Coast, Italian Americana, The Journal of Italian Translation; and a prose-poem, about 90s pop singer Taylor Dayne, in the new anthology on Divas due from University of Wisconsin Press in the Fall 2008. In April 2008 an anthology of New European Poets, was published by Graywolf Press, which includes nine translations by Peter Covino. Covino was also one of the regional editors for the Italian section.


Instructor Shari Alvanas was a finalist in Finishing Line Press’ New Women’s Voices Chapbook Contest. Her poetry chapbook, Fade In, is available at and


In the Spring of 2008, Peter Covino was invited to give several readings, lectures and poetry workshops at SUNY Binghamton; Dean College in MA; and Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven.



Creative Writing: Creative Nonfiction


Publications, Interviews, Reviews, Book Tours, Invited Talks


Graduate Student Allison N. Petro’s personal essay “The Stairs Less Traveled” appeared in Balancing the Tides: A Newport Journal in Summer 2007.


Professor Mary Cappello’s book, Awkward: A Detour appeared from Bellevue Literary Press in June 2007, during which time Cappello carried out a book tour with novelist, film scholar, and essayist, James Morrison (The Lost Girl). Morrison and Cappello gave readings on both coasts at Dutton Brentwood Books in Los Angeles; at Lattitude 33, Laguna Beach; in Philadelphia, PA, at Giovanni’s Room and at Robin’s Bookstore; in New York City’s GLBT Center; in Rhode Island at the Brown University Bookstore, and at the URI Summer Writers Conference; and in Portland, Maine, at Books, Etc., where they were hosted royally by URI Ph.D. alum, Ted Williams. In the Fall of 2007, Cappello gave readings and presentations based on Awkward at the Mid-Manhattan Library for their Author @ the Library Series; at the Calandra Institute in their Writers Read Series; and at the Cornelia Street Café, NYC, for their Italian/American Writers series.


Awkward appeared on the Los Angeles Times Bestseller list in June, and has been reviewed in such places as Publisher’s Weekly, Susan Salter Reynold’s “Discoveries” column for the Los Angles Times, Lambda Book Report, and The Womens Review of Books. It was an Elliott Bay Books nonfiction pick of the month for June, and has been featured in on-line review forums such as Philadelphia Stories. In March, Cappello was interviewed by telephone by students in English Professor Patrick Madden’s Advanced Creative Writing class at Brigham Young University. Answers to each of the student’s 15 questions will appear at, a forum for discussing the history of the essay and its contemporary practitioners. Graduate students at Hamline University where Awkward was taught this semester in a seminar on “The Lyric Essay” also posed questions to Cappello, the answers to which appear on her new IADP Blog space, under the heading, “Immigration is at its Center, But is it a Lyric Essay? A Letter”:


In February, Cappello was interviewed by Celest Quinn about Awkward on NPR Affiliate, WILL’s “Afternoon Magazine”:


Other interviews and articles around AWKWARD appeared in The Newport Mercury (entitled, “Gap Analysis” with Lisa Utman Randall), the South County Independent (Doug Norris), and, thanks to URI’s Jan Wenzel, in Quadangles and across the world wide web. Cappello’s work and words were cited in Associated Press reporter Jennifer Peltz’s article on the Bellevue Literary Press, “New York City’s Bellevue Hospital Makes Move from Medicine to Manuscripts” that appeared in dozens of newspapers in the US and Canada including The Washington Post in August. Consortium Books, BLP’s distributor and the distributor of books from over 90 independent publishers around the world, announced in 2008 that Awkward was one of their five most popular titles at the MLA (Modern Language Association) Bookfair this year.

The first chapter of Mary Cappello’s recently completed mss, Called Back: A Breast Cancer Memoir has been accepted for publication at The Georgia Review


In November of 2007, Mary Cappello presented new work at the Nonfiction NOW conference sponsored by the University of Iowa’s program in Creative Writing. Cappello read on a panel titled “Bodies. Spaces. Memories.” with Barrie Jean Borich (panel chair), David Shields, Paul Lisicky, and Suzanne Paola. A recording of the panel will appear on the Nonfiction Now website sometime this year. In February 2008, Cappello read in the URI English Department’s Read/Write Series. She also delivered a talk entitled “Why I Can’t Write a ‘Straight Essay’: or, I Could Write a Straight Essay, but I’d Be Faking It” at the national writers conference, AWP, held this year in New York City on a panel titled, “We Will Be Citizens: Lesbian Memoir” with fellow writers Catherine Reid, Barrie Jean Borich, Amy Hoffman, Lori Soderlind and Gretchen Legler, Panel Chair.


In March, 2008, Cappello’s nonfiction and that of B.Amore, Louise DeSalvo, Edvige Giunta, and Josephine Hedin was the subject of a day-long symposium held at SUNY/Stonybrook, “The Ethnic I/Eye: Memoir and Italian American Culture.” Each writer gave an hour long reading/presentation and at key junctures throughout the day appeared as a panel to offer a mini-seminar on the state of the art of memoir.


American Literary and Cultural Studies




Assistant Professor Mathew Cordova Frankel's essay, "Tattoo Art: The Composition of Text, Voice, and Race in Moby-Dick," will appear in the forthcoming edition of ESQ: A Journal of the American Rennaissance (Volume 53, Number 2).


Karen Stein’s Reading, Learning, Teaching Toni Morrison is under contract with Peter Lang.


Mary Cappello’s essay, “‘For Anyone Interested in Learning What Makes Us Human,’”on Gunther von Hagens’ bodyworlds exhibits, is forthcoming in an issue of Salmagundi.

Cappello has received a contract from The New Press for SWALLOW: Foreign Bodies, Their Ingestion, Aspiration, and Extraction in the Age of Chevalier Jackson, a book that she conceived and began writing while on Sabbatical in 2007. This nonfiction book, part psychobiography, part cultural history, part philosophical meditation, emerges out of a collection of “foreign bodies” currently housed in Philadelphia’s Mutter Museum: nearly 2000 swallowed or aspirated “things” that pioneering laryngologist Chevalier Jackson extracted nonsurgically from the air and foodways of people in the early 20th century and that he also saved and framed. A contribution to histories of the marvelous and the curious, Swallow will bring Jackson’s incomparable contributions to the history of medicine to light while simultaneously restoring the narratives, lives, and longings that haunt Jackson’s collection.


Mary Cappello’s essay, “Mikhail Epstein: An Introduction” appeared in Russian and English, in Mikhail Epstein, AmeRussia: Selected Essays, Moscow: Serebrianye niti, 2007


Professor John Leo continues to be on the advisory and editorial board of The Americanist, an interdisciplinary journal published by the American Studies Center, University of Warsaw, PL. He was most recently appointed to the editorial advisory board of the European Journal of American Studies.


Presentations and Invited Talks, National and International


Martha Rojas has been invited to deliver a public lecture entitled "American Imprints: Franklin's Emblems for the New United States" on Monday, May 12, 6:30pm at the Providence Public Library, 150 Empire Street, Barnard Room. This lecture is part of the traveling exhibition entitled Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World, which is a collaboration between the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Library Association, and the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary. This exhibition is based on a major exhibition of the same name displayed at the National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, from December 2005 - April 2006, which is now touring the United States and Europe, and hosted at only two spots in New England, including here in Providence.


Over the past year, Rojas has presented work from her larger project, Diplomatic Letters: Innovating the new United States, on numerous occasions. Last summer, she gave a talk entitled "Authenticated Copies: On Form, Trinkets and Belonging," at Jay-fest: In Celebration of Jay Fliegelman at Stanford University. She also presented from her work at the 2007 Modern Language Association Annual Convention in Chicago. Additionally, she was invited to give a public lecture on diplomatic gifts to accompany the exhibition Fragile Diplomacy: Meissen Porcelain for European Courts at The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture in New York City. That lecture entitled, "Jeffersonian Presents and Counter-presents," was profiled in the spring issue of The InterDependent, the quarterly magazine of the United Nations Association of the United States.


Naomi Mandel gave the Talma Yzraeli Memorial Lecture. "Fiction and Fidelity: Windows on

the World" at Tel Aviv University, April 2007. In April of 2008, Mandel delivered a talk

entitled “From Resistance to Complicity: Jewish and African American Identity After

‘Auschwitz’” for the African American Studies Interdisciplinary Unit at Buffalo State

University, SUNY. Naomi Mandel organized the panel, "Extreme Contemporary, Contemporary Extreme" at the Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture After 1900, February 2008, and delivered a paper, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Illuminated" at this same conference. In May, 2008, Mandel presented, "Being Nomadic with the Truth: J.S. Foer's Postmodern Parables" at The International Conference on Narrative in Austin, Texas.


On March 18th, 2008, The Department of Anglo-American Literature at the University of Catania, Sicily, hosted Professors Jean Walton and Mary Cappello for a day-long series of presentations and discussion of their work and the work of Graduate Students in U of Catania’s program. Jean Walton delivered a talk titled "Jane's Voice: Acting, Activism and Acrimony during the Vietnam War." Growing out of Professor Walton's course on American cinema and culture of the 1970s, the talk explored the function of Jane Fonda's voice as the locus of cinematic fantasy, political agency, governmental surveillance, and post-war antipathy during the 1970s. Students and faculty had screened and studied the films that Walton discussed in advance of her presentation. Mary Cappello delivered a talk entitled, “Improper Documents,” on the idea of documents that resist their placement, that refuse to be filed or properly catalogued, and how such texts can become the basis for a radical nonfiction practice or documentary aesthetic. Later in the day, Professors Walton and Cappello gave a joint methodological talk on their respective interdisciplinary research projects: Walton described her book-in-progress on peristaltic processes in the early 20th century, and Cappello discussed her work on Chevalier Jackson’s “foreign body” collection in Philadelphia’s Mutter Museum.


Graduate student Stefanie Head presented a paper entitled ‘Domestic Mysteries: Autonomy and Citizenship in Crèvecoeur’s Letters from an American Farmer’ at the May 2007 meeting of the American Literature Association in Boston.


John Leo is presenting an invited paper, “Homeland, Heimat, Cosmopolitan Biopolitics:

Notes on Two Films in 1989,” at an international conference June 16-17, “Multiplicities:

World Cinema, Globalised Media and Cosmopolitan Cultures,” Research Institute for

Cosmopolitan Cultures (RICC), The University of Manchester, UK.


John Leo also will present a paper on film and the Cold War, “Cinematic Frontiers and Gendered Territories: Commies, Cowboys and Queers Revisited, 1963-1989,” at the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, “Back to the Crossroads: Integrative American Studies in Theory and Practice,” October 16-19, Albuquerque, NM.


Rebecca Fine Romanow (PhD 2006) will be delivering a paper, “Turtles Can Fly:

Invasion, Influence and Inevitability Along the Frontier,” at the annual convention of the American Studies Convention in October 2008. The paper examines the ways in which Bahman Ghobadi’s 2004 film Turtles Can Fly (Lakposhtha parvaz mikonand) confronts the disruption of military and geographic frontiers, often porous, contested, and ill-defined, and the destabilization of the metaphorical conflicts themselves along dis- and misplaced frontiers: the permeation of American culture and economic structures that have always already crossed the border, conflating the spatial and temporal, the geographic and the historical, the cultural and the militaristic.


Assistant Professor Stephanie Dunson presented at the New England American Studies Association Conference at Brown University in November, 2007. Her paper "Propriety and Perversion: Minstrel Sheet Music and Female Desire" explored minstrel sheet music, not as

evocation of minstrel hall performance but rather as intelligence into1840s parlor culture; correctly situated as components of a domestic medium, the cover illustrations, lyrics, and musical notation of minstrel sheet music reveal how misrepresentations of black identity

were positioned at complex intersections of popular culture, national identity, public and private space, and consumerism. Dunson offered an analysis of lyrics, melodies, and musical arrangements to show the evolution of 1840s minstrel sheet music—a progression that exposes a

developing reciprocal relationship between the refined aesthetics of the parlor and the playful antics of blackface performance. Most notably, she demonstrated how the logic Eric Lott employs in exposing blackface performance as a medium driven by white male sexuality and

racial desire finds a gendered equivalent in the images of minstrel sheet music covers designed for white middle-class women.


Dunson also presented at the American Studies Association National Conference in

Philadelphia, PA October, 2007. Her paper "Jim Along Josey's All De Kick": Transatlantic Negotiations of the Black Body in Nineteenth-Century Sheet Music” explored how in the late 1830s, the initial popularity of blackface performance was marked by bawdy routines and raunchy songs played to rowdy audiences of working class men in northern cities; in America, association with the medium was something no proper lady would venture and few upright gentleman would acknowledge. Surprisingly, within ten years, minstrel sheet music was commonplace in even the most genteel parlors, purchased and played predominantly by refined young ladies. In this presentation, Dunson explored how the British sheet music industry aided

minstrelsy's transition from rowdy dance hall spectacle to refined home entertainment in the late 1830s and early 1840s America. To do this, she offered an analysis of four early print versions of the popular minstrel song "Jim Along Josey" to explore how music publishers first in Britain then in America policed and adjusted minstrel images and themes, making them less threatening and more meaningful to parlor players in general and women in particular. Subtle at first but ultimately more grotesque, the images demonstrate the evolving and fluid nature not only of the blackface phenomenon but also of presumptions about race embedded in minstrel material.

Ultimately her presentation demonstrated how the varied depictions of blackface minstrels on sheet music covers reveal a Transatlantic debate in print on the "problem" and potency of the black body.


Dunson was invited to present her paper "A Brief History of the Blackface Tradition" at a Symposium on African Americans and Early Mass Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in October 2007. This presentation offered a survey of the black image popularized through sheet music covers in the decades before the age of Tin Pan Alley. Moving from early covers featuring the blackface pantomime popularized by white performers in antebellum America to the broad caricature of black bodies made ubiquitous in sheet music illustration in the years after the Civil War, Dunson’s paper explored the broad measure of the types and stereotypes that informed and even dictated evolving racial ideologies of nineteenth-century America. Her analysis was intended to highlight the portability, adaptability, and impact of print music media in not just forming but also calcifying national conceptions of race. Ultimately, she demonstrated how sheet music came to influence American attitudes about black identity throughout the second half of the nineteenth century—attitudes early black performers were forced to counter and adapt in order to forge their own unique position the American mass culture of the early modern era. The content of this presentation forms the basis of the opening chapter of a collection of essays from the symposium to be published by the University of North Carolina Press.


Karen Stein gave a talk in September for the URI Hillel entitled, "Elizabeth Cady Stanton and The Women's Bible." In March, Stein gave a talk at the Westerly Library entitled "Prudence Crandall, Connecticut's State Heroine."


Renaissance Studies


Presentations, National and International


Assistant Professor Travis D. Williams delivered a paper entitled “Mathematical Enargeia: The Rhetoric of Early Modern Mathematical Notation” at the conference “Varieties of Cultural History” hosted by the University of Aberdeen, in July 2007. Williams also delivered a paper entitled “Mathematical Tales: The Failure of Narrative in Early Modern Arithmetic” at the conference of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts held in Portland, Maine in November 2007.

British Romanticism




Jennifer Jones is currently guest editing a special issue of the journal Romantic Circles Pedagogy Commons (General Editor Laura Mandell, Miami University, Ohio). The issue is called "The Sublime and the Scene of Education," and will include essays from such renowned scholars as Frances Ferguson (Johns Hopkins), Ian Balfour (U. Toronto), Deborah Elise White (Emory), Forest Pyle (U. Oregon), Christopher Braider (U. Colorado), and Paul Hamilton (U. London). The issue is scheduled to appear in late October 2008.


Conferences, International


Jennifer Jones will give a presentation entitled "Grasping a Rhythm: Meditations on Kant, Deleuze, and Wordsworth" at the annual NASSR conference to be held in Toronto in late August, 2009. Jones has also been asked to Chair the session entitled "Metrical Diversity" at this conference.



Victorian Studies


Presentations and Panels Organized


Assistant Professor Carolyn Betensky gave a paper titled “Object Relations and the Victorian Social-Problem Novel” at the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society Conference at Rutgers University in November. She also co-organized (with Susan Hiner, of Vassar College) a two-day panel at the American Comparative Literature Association conference in Long Beach, California, in April; the panel, on the topic "Revisiting Historicism," also featured her paper "The Problem with Getting it Right,” a discussion of the limitations of historicist methodology for the study of Victorian literature.


Queer Modernisms




Stephen Barber gave two conference papers in November of 2007. The first, “International Queer Modernism,” he presented at Modernist Studies Association 9: Geographies of Visual and Literary Culture Conference, sponsored by California State University and University of Southern California, Long Beach, CA. The second, “States of Emergency: Woolf, History, and the Novel,” he presented at Theories of the Novel Now Conference, at Brown University (Biltmore), Providence, RI. The second conference paper has been solicited and submitted for publication in NOVEL: A FORUM ON FICTION.




Postcolonial Literature and Culture




Rebecca Fine Romanow's (PhD 2006) essay "But...Can the Subaltern Speak?" was

re-published by invitation by Subaltern Studies in April, 2008.


Romanow has also been invited to join the Editorial Board of Subaltern Cinema, a peer-reviewed journal to be launched by the Subaltern Studies Group in September, 2008.




On March 7, graduate student Stefanie Head presented a paper entitled ‘Colonial Visions, Postimperial Eyes: Description & Narrative in V.S. Naipaul’s The Enigma of Arrival’ at NYU’s ‘Postcolonialism and the Hit of the Real’ Conference.



Contemporary Literature and Culture




Associate Professor Ryan Trimm’s essay "Carving Up Value: The Tragicomic Thatcher Years in Jonathan Coe" has been accepted for publication in the collection Thatcher and After.


Naomi Mandel and Alain-Philippe Durand's co-edited volume Novels of the Contemporary Extreme was the subject of a review essay titled "Local and Global Antagonisms: Three Approaches to the Contemporary Novel" in Textual Practice. In the review, Mandel's essay on American Psycho was described as "rank[ing] among the best criticism of this notorious work."


Presentations, National and International

Karen Stein delivered a talk entitled, “Doris Lessing, Nobel Prize in Literature, 2007” in March for the English Department’s Read/ Write series and for the Phi Beta Kappa at URI. "


Graduate student Stefanie Head presented on a panel for the American Name Society at the 2007 MLA Convention in Chicago. This paper was entitled ‘“Hi, My Name is Tracy Espositowitz”: Proper Names and Ethnic Identities in Stand-Up Comedy.’”


Greta Methot (adjunct instructor, English) presented her paper, In Loco Parentis: John Hughes’ Teen Films and the “Me” Decade, at the 38th annual Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association Conference in San Francisco, CA (March 2008).


On November 8, Graduate Student Laurie Carlson presented a paper “I’d Rather Be a Dwarf than a Ship: Reconfigurations in Disability Studies and Cyberspace” at the M/MLA 2007 Convention (Cleveland, OH)


Associate Professor Ryan Trimm presented "Of Fairy Tales and Teeth: Zadie Smith and the Metropolitan Melee" at the On Whose Terms? Conference at Goldsmiths University in London. His paper "Metropole in the Age of Cloud and Ghosts: Postglobal Britain in David Mitchell" has been accepted for a panel on Mitchell at this year's MLA in San Francisco.


English as a Second Language




Graduate Student Allison N. Petro’s chapter “Finding the Institutional Logic for Change” was published in a TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) book series on language curriculum development. Petro’s chapter focuses on the process of redesigning the ELS Program curriculum at URI (from 2003-2006), in order to bring it more in line with the fundamental goals of the university. A second book chapter, entitled “Earning Respect in a Community College Environment” will appear in June 2008 in a series on community college ESL, also published by TESOL.

Lecturer Luz Rodriguez’s article Reading Club Gets ESL and Mainstream Students Together” was published in the September 2007 issue of Essential Teacher (Volume 4, Issue 3). Essential Teacher is a TESOL publication for language teachers and administrators in varied ESL and EFL workplaces.


On April 5, 2008, Lecturer Luz Rodriguez presented at the 42nd Annual TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Convention & Exhibit. Her presentation entitled “Effective Teaching for Improving and Retaining Vocabulary” provided second language (L2) educators with a theoretical and practical framework to develop successful L2 vocabulary programs at all levels of language proficiency.

Graduate Student Allison N. Petro spoke on a panel at the TESOL Convention in April 2008. The topic was “The Internationalization of Higher Education” and the session focused on the impact of the Bologna Process on graduate education in Eastern and Western Europe.


Philosophy and Literature




Naomi Mandel’s "Fiction and Fidelity: Windows on the World" is forthcoming in Frédéric Beigbeder et ses doubles edited by interim Chair Alain Phillippe Durand, CRIN, Amsterdam: Rodopi, Mattheiu Dalle, translator.




Mathew Frankel delivered "A Spinozist's Art," for the panel, "Affectus/Affectio: A Seminar in Spinoza and Deleuze," at the American Comparative Language Association, Long Beach, California, April 24-27, 2008 and "Naturally Fascinating:  Nature and the Aesthetic from Whitehead to Deleuze," for the panel "Fascination and the History of Affect," at the Northeast Modern Language Association, 39th Convention, Buffalo, April 10-13, 2008.


In April 2008, Stephen Barber presented “The Violence of Badiou’s Ethics” at the Honors Program Spring Colloquium on Novels of the Contemporary Extreme at URI, sponsored by the Honors Program, Department of English, French and Francophile Studies, Comparative Literature, Center for the Humanities, and the John Hazen White Sr. Center for Ethics and Public Service.


Naomi Mandel presented "In Fidelity: From Being Right to Being True," a public lecture sponsored by URI’s Institute for the Humanities, April 2008.


Book Reviews


Mary Cappello’s reviews of contemporary experimental fiction by women, Sara Greenslit’s The Blue of Her Body, Bhanu Kapil’s Incubation: A Space for Monsters, and Miranda Mellis’ The Revisionist appeared in The Women’s Review of Books, Fall 2007


Karen Stein’s review of Cynthia G. Kuhn’s Self-Fashioning in Margaret Atwood's Fiction:

Dress, Culture and Identity appeared in University of Toronto Quarterly 76.1 (2007) 595-59


Naomi Mandel’s review of Brian Richardson's, Unnatural Voices: Extreme Narration in Modern and Contemporary Fiction is forthcoming in Novel: A Forum on Fiction

Alain-Philippe Durand’s review of William Jelani Cobb’s To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic (New York: New York UP, 2007) appeared in Choice Sept. 2007; his review of Franc Schuerewegen’s Balzac, suite et fin (Lyon: ENS Editions, 2004) appeared in Nineteenth Century French Studies 35.2 (2007): 486-87; and his review of Guy Tournaye’s Le Décodeur (Paris: Gallimard, 2005) appeared in The French Review 80.6 (2007): 1424-25.


Invited Speakers, Events, and Conferences Organized/Program Building and Community Outreach


This year, Martha Rojas became the State Coordinator for Changing Lives Through Literature, an innovative alternative sentencing program that allows university English departments and State Courts to work towards reducing recidivism and enhancing the lives of its participants. Along with coordinating and teaching classes for the program she is working to identify funding sources to support the program and the faculty and court volunteers who facilitate the sessions. For this work, Professor Rojas was also awarded a fellowship at the John Hazen White Sr. Center for Ethics and Public Service.


Martha Rojas and Mathew Frankel continue to direct the Rumowicz Program in Literature and the Sea which this year brought Professor W. Jeffrey Bolster from University of New Hampshire to deliver the Rumowicz Annual Lecture: “Landfalls and Departures: New Sea Stories for a Historic Ocean.” Professor Bolster’s followed the presentation of awards to our undergraduate winners of the Maritime Essay Contest.

On March 6, 2008, Lecturer Luz Rodriguez organized a Multilingual Poetry Reading to join in the International Women's Day celebrations at URI. With the help of students enrolled in the English Language Studies program, attendees enjoyed poetry readings in several different languages while following along with English translations provided for each poem.

Lecturer Luz Rodriguez organized and spearheaded the new “Conversation Partner Program” in the spring semester 2008. The program aims at promoting language practice and cultural exchange by pairing international students and scholars (non-native speakers of English) with domestic students (native speakers) at URI. A reporter from the Good 5 Cent Cigar attended the first informational session on 2/25/08 and his article published on 2/26/08 can be found at: Starts.Group.Tries.To.Bridge.The.Language.Barrier.At.Uri-3235018.shtml. A total of 58 students have taken part in this first program and have expressed positive reviews of their experiences and benefits in participating. For more information about the program and how your students can get involved, please visit

Eleven Graduate Students (Laurie Carlson, Brian Dixon, Rob LeBlanc, Tina Bacci, Stefanie Head, Jessica Gray, Stephen Marchand, Dan Facchinetti, Eva Jones, Jenn Brandt, and Laurie Rodrigues) produced the Second Annual Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference on March 29 on the theme of Space, Place, and Imagination. The event, a year in planning, represented graduate work from more than thirty institutions, seven countries, and a variety of disciplines including English, History, Film Studies, Textiles, Music, Environmental

Studies, and Psychology. Dr. Claire Reynolds drew on her experience from the 2007 Conference to advise this year's committee. Professor Josie P. Campbell, Director of English Graduate Studies, gave enthusiastic support and guidance with every aspect of the event. Thanks to Professor Campbell, we had the extraordinary pleasure of hosting two dynamic keynote speakers: author Deborah Davis spoke in the URI Club about the many aspects of a career in writing and publishing, and ThinkFilm's Mark Urman presented a lecture in the Multicultural Center on the history and trajectory of independent film. Both presentations were extremely well-received. In the wake of this successful event, Stephen Marchand has stepped forward as Director of next year's conference.


Stephen Barber and Jennifer Jones brought two eminent scholars to URI English this year: Professor Julie A. Carlson, from the University of California, at Santa Barbara, presented a paper entitled "Getting Inside England's First Family of Writers" from her latest book, England's First Family of Writers: Wollstonecraft, Godwin, Shelley (Johns Hopkins 2007) and Professor David L. Clark, from McMaster University in Toronto, presented a paper entitled "Imagining Peace: Kant's Wartime and the Tremulous Body of Philosophy" from his forthcoming book Bodies and Pleasures in Late Kant (Stanford 2008). Both Drs Carlson and Clark took the opportunity to teach students as well. Dr. Carlson was a guest professor in English 610: Romanticism and Italy, where she taught texts by or about Mary Shelley, including her own work. Dr. Clark held a supernumerary seminar open to graduate and Honors undergraduate students focused on the topic of animality and post-Kantian philosophy


Naomi Mandel arranged for Professor Marco Abel (University of Nebraska), author of Violent Affect: Literature, Cinema, and Critique After Representation (University of Nebraska Press, 2007) to speak at URI on "Violence, Affect, Ethics: Thinking the Violence of Ethics as the Ethics of Violence" as part of the Violence and Ethics Public Symposium. Abel's visit to URI was funded by URI's Center for the Humanities and the Honors Program.


Naomi Mandel and Alain-Philippe Durand organized a Public Symposium on Violence and Ethics (1 April 2008), hosted by the Honors Program, Dept. of English, French and Francophone Studies, Comparative Literature, and the John Hazen White Sr. Center for Ethics and Public Service. Featured speakers were Stephen Barber and Galen Johnson of URI, and Marco Abel of University of Nebraska.


Naomi Mandel and Alain-Philippe Durand co-directed this year's immensely successful Honors Program Spring Colloquium on Novels of the Contemporary Extreme. As part of this program, Mandel and Durand arranged for acclaimed British Author Chris Cleave (author of Incendiary) to spend a week at URI as Writer-in-Residence. Cleave delivered a public lectures: "Better Make Them Laugh if You Want To Change Their Minds" and gave a reading from his forthcoming novel Little Bee. Cleave also ran several creative writing workshops for URI students. Cleave's Visit to URI was sponsored by the Honors Program, the Center for the Humanities, and the College of Arts and Sciences.


Peter Covino has coordinated the second annual Ocean State Summer Writing Conference (for Summer 2008), featuring such luminaries as Nina Cassian, Nick Carbó, Denise Duhamel, and Ann Hood. See for more information about this enormously successful writing conference.


Covino and Mary Cappello also continue to coordinate the hugely successful Read/Write Series, which hosts regular readings by national and local creative writers. This year, Covino hosted five different sets of writers each semester. For a full line-up of poets, fiction, and nonfiction writers featured in this year’s series, go to the English Department website.


Naomi Mandel worked with Peter Covino to establish Read/Write Providence, a speaker series in Providence designed to showcase the scholarship and creative work of instructors at that campus and to build bridges between the University of Rhode Island and the community. The series featured Jane Berard, Michael Cirelli, and Milton Coykendall in Fall 2007; in Spring 2008 Chris Cleave was the featured speaker.


In December 2007, Stephanie Dunson lead a workshop for the Institute for Writing and Thinking at Bard College entitled, "Writing and Thinking." This workshop provided a retreat where teachers reflected on the way they teach writing. I provided writing prompts and collaborative activities that allowed participants to explore their values and concerns as writers and teachers. Some work also focused on such topics as invention strategies, coaching the writing process, and revision. Through the activities, the participants were able to become more aware of the composing process and of their students' struggles to acquire the ability to produce expressive, well developed, and engaged writing.


In January of 2008, Dunson was invited to lead a workshop on Interdisciplinary Writing at St. Paul's School in Concord, NH, entitled “Writing to Learn." This workshop emphasized important questions about reading: how does one work illuminate another? What happens to understanding when we use performance to illuminate non-dramatic works of literature? How does personal writing connect the reader to a text and/or to a deeper understanding of complex texts? What can cultural boundaries teach us about differences between genres? Where are the roots of a persuasive argument? In leading the workshop, Dunson presented and modeled the Institute methods for encouraging "writing to read" (writing practices that show rather than tell students how writing clarifies the meaning of literary texts) as a central classroom practice. These concurrent workshops present writing strategies that allow the reader to make both personal and intellectual connections to the texts; support close, imaginative reading; and help students develop an appreciation for the intersections between related but different texts.


Dunson has been invited to lead a workshop on Writing and Critical Thinking this May at

Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, PA, entitled "Inquiry into Essay." This workshop will focus on the analytic essay as a finished product, emphasizing ways to pull together fragments of good writing and information into a coherent whole. Dunson plans to begin the workshop by defining the essay and encouraging participants to consider how its definition changes according to the purpose and content of the writing assignment. Then, by offering activities that allow participants to reflect on their own writing, she will provide guidance for them to explore the differences between the capacity for invention required for informal essays and the knowledge of conventions required for the academic essay. Working on their essays, participants will observe how an inquiring habit of mind helps determine the shape of what they write.


John Leo, at the request of the Polish-American Fulbright Commission (Warsaw) and Russian Fulbright Office (Moscow) secured funding, organized and ran a two-day conference for a group of US high school teachers selected by the Fulbright-Hays Program (US Departments of State and Education) to explore collaborative research projects with international peers. Given the size of the “Fulbright Footprint” at URI (measured by the sizeable number of faculty and student Fulbrighters), this outreach was sponsored in part the Offices of URI’s President, Provost, College of Arts & Sciences as well as individual departments and the Fulbright Association of RI. On another Fulbright note, Laszlo Sari, a scholar from Hungary, is applying for a Fulbright to the US and to URI in particular based on his interest in Naomi Mandel’s work on violence.



Professional and Community Service


Graduate Student Allison N. Petro was elected to the Steering Committee of the Second Language Writing Interest Section of TESOL for a three-year term (2008-2011.)


Mary Cappello has been invited as a public intellectual to be a Blogger on the new I-Italy site: The Italian American Digital Project (IADP). Cappello’s Blog, titled “Cicchetti” is described as: Marginalia, poetic forays, "free" writing, peripheral intensities, the cicchetto as a literary form, keeping my ears open to queer encounters of the Italian kind. In an attempt to counter logorrhea in the age of the Blog, she has founded a group called “Cicchetti,” in which people are asked to theorize and compose a new literary form in the spirit of the late afternoon Venetian snack, the cicchetto. Cappello will also be carrying out interviews, mostly but not exclusively, with queer artists and public intellectuals (interviews forthcoming this month with memoirist, Danielle Trussoni [Falling Through the Earth]; visual artist, Rebecca Allan [exhibit: Resident Earth]; and experimental filmmaker, Marie Martino [Strip, and Foreign Bodies]. Interviews in the works with Karl Schoonover on Italian neo-realist cinema, and with URI Graduate Student Brett Rutherford on Italian Opera.) I-Italy describes itself as “a network of independent journalists and public intellectuals determined to create an authoritative point of encounter, information, and debate on the Internet concerning Italy and Italian America…It will offer instruments for the creation of bilingual project on the Web open to all.”

Mary Cappello, together with the poet, Deidre Pope, has published to her website a guide to coping with chemotherapy. Pope and Cappello’s hope to provide cancer patients with all manner of hard-to-find practical advice for dealing with the chemotherapy ordeal. Their co-authored document can be found at:




Talvi Ansel was Visiting Assistant Professor of English and Writer-in-Residence at Centre College in Danville, KY for their January CentreTerm 2008


Graduate student Claire E. Reynolds was appointed Book-Review Editor USA & Canada for CLCweb: Comparative Literature and Culture, the scholarly online journal published quarterly by Purdue University Press


In April 2008, Assistant Professor Travis D. Williams was elected to be the treasurer of the URI chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.


In Fall of 2007, Stephanie Dunson sat on the Selections Advisory Board for the Institute for Writing and Thinking at Bard College. Dunson served on the hiring committee for the selection of the new Associate Director of the Institute. In Fall 07-Spring 08, Stephanie Dunson was elected to serve on the Council of the New England American Studies Association.