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Department of English

Welcome to the

Department of English

Here you will find information about our undergraduate and graduate programs; our faculty, staff, students, and alumni; our Read/Write Series; our Faculty Colloquium Series; our writing contests and scholarship opportunities; our literary journals; our study abroad program; and links to related programs and resources. Through a rich array of course offerings in literary, film, and cultural studies, we rigorously train our students in critical reading, thinking and writing skills, and ensure their preparation in a broad range of canonical and non-canonical texts. While the theoretical, methodological, and historical training of our faculty is diverse, we share the conviction that close, sustained engagement with the written word can be at once aesthetically exhilarating, ethically compelling, and politically transformative.

Our undergraduate program is challenging and flexible; many of our students complement English with work in closely related fields such as African and African-American Studies, Art History, Communications, Comparative Literature, Creative Writing, Film Media, History, Modern Languages, Philosophy, Women's Studies, and Writing and Rhetoric. Others combine their English B.A. with a Secondary Education major, allowing them to become public- or private-school teachers immediately after graduation. Many receive the advanced training and professional advising that enables them to enter first-rate graduate programs in English, Creative Writing, Comparative Literature, Film and Media Studies, History, Medicine, and Business Administration. Others go on to some of the country's top Law Schools, while many find that their strong writing and analytical skills prepare them to enter careers in publishing, journalism, advertising and marketing, college administration, grant writing, non-profit organizations, social services, insurance, civil service, retail business, and NGO's.

Our M.A. students either go on to enter Ph.D. programs of their choice, or put their advanced degree to good use in both academic and non-academic jobs. A high percentage of our Ph.D. graduates find full time teaching jobs in colleges and universities around the country.

Whatever your professional or creative goals, a Major in English provides you above all with the expertise to be an active interpreter, rather than a passive observer, of the world around you.

Ryan Trimm
Chair of English Department

Out in the Field: See What Our Majors are Doing with Their Degrees

See how URI graduates of English are using their degrees.


Recent and Upcoming Faculty Publications


Professor Carolyn Betensky

The first new translation in over a century of the brilliant epic novel that inspired Les Miserables

Sensational, engrossing, and heartbreaking, The Mysteries of Paris is doubtless one of the most entertaining and influential works to emerge from the nineteenth century. It was one of France's first serial novels, and for sixteen months, Parisians rushed in droves to the newsstands each week for the latest installment. Eugene Sue’s intricate melodrama unfolds around a Paris where, despite the gulf between them, the fortunes of the rich and poor are inextricably tangled. The suspenseful story of Rodolphe, a magnetic hero of noble heart and shadowy origins, was spun out over 150 issues - garnering wild popularity, influencing political change, and inspiring a raft of successors, including Les Misérables and The Count of Monte Cristo. At long last, this lively translation makes the riveting drama of Sue's classic available to a new century of readers.


Professor Naomi Mandel

Generation X, comprised of people born between 1960 and 1980, is a generation with no Great War or Depression to define it. Dismissed as apathetic slackers and detached losers, Xers have a striking disregard for the causes and isms that defined their Boomer parents. In Disappear Here: Violence after Generation X, Naomi Mandel argues that this characterization of Generation X can be traced back to changing experiences and representations of violence in the late twentieth century.

Examining developments in media, philosophy, literature, and politics in the years Xers were coming of age, Mandel demonstrates that Generation X's unique attitude toward violence was formed by developments in home media, personal computing, and reality TV. This attitude, Mandel contends, is key to understanding our current world of media ubiquity, online activism, simulated sensation, and jihad. With chapters addressing both fictional and filmic representations of violence, Mandel studies the work of Bret Easton Ellis, Chuck Palahniuk, Claire Messud, Jess Walter, and Jonathan Safran Foer. A critical and conceptual tour de force, Disappear Here sets forth a new, and necessary, approach to violence, the real, and real violence for the twenty-first century.

Assistant Professor Derek Nikitas

Coming October 13th 2015 in hardcover and ebook!

"With Extra Life, Derek Nikitas gives us a weird-science thriller packed with inventive twists, dynamic action and characters we both care about and genuinely fear. Deeply satisfying."
–Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of ROT & RUIN

The first Young Adult novel, a mind-bending and time-bending thriller, from acclaimed author Derek Nikitas.

Assistant Professor Sarah Eron

Inspiration in the Age of Enlightenment reconsiders theories of apostrophe and poetic authority to argue that the Augustan age created a new form of inspiration, one that not only changed the relationship of literary production to authority in the modern period but also crucially contributes to defining the movement of secularization in literature from the Renaissance to Romanticism. Seeking to redefine what we mean by secularization in the early stages of modernity, Eron argues that secularization's link to enthusiasm, or inspiration, often associated with Romanticism, begins in the imaginative literature of the early eighteenth century. If Romantic enthusiasm has been described through the rhetoric of transport, or "unworlding," then Augustan invocation appears more akin to a process of "worlding" in its central aim to appeal to the social other as a function of the eighteenth-century belief in a literary public sphere. By reformulating the passive structure of ancient invocation and subjecting it to the more dialogical methods of modern apostrophe and address, authors such as the Third Earl of Shaftesbury, Alexander Pope, Henry Fielding, and Anna Laetitia Barbauld formally revise inspiration in a way that generates a new and distinctive representation of the author. In this context, inspiration becomes a social gesture - an apostrophe to a friend or judging spectator or an allusion to the mental or aesthetic faculties of the author himself, his genius. Articulating this struggle toward modernity at its inception, this book examines modern authority at the moment of its extraordinariness, when it was still tied to the creative energies of inspiration, to the revelatory powers that marked the awakening of a new age, an era and an ethos of Enlightenment.