Student Spotlight: Beth Leonardo Silva

IMG_5092Beth Leonardo Silva joined the English department in September 2013 as a Master’s student and hit the ground running. Last year, Beth received the Student Excellence in the Humanities award for all the work she does in research, teaching, and service. Currently a Ph.D. student, Beth is working on preparing for her comprehensive exams towards her dissertation. Focusing on Victorian literature, she is most interested in sibling and sibling-like relationships in novels. Alongside this work, she has published one article, “Rethinking the Familiar: Social Outsiders in Eliza Lynn Linton’s The Rebel of the Family and Rhoda Broughton’s Dear Faustina,” in Victorians Institute Journal and has two more under review. “Rethinking the Familiar” asks readers to reconsider the New Woman novel to see the outlier as the heteronormative male suitor, rather than the threatening woman, due to the sibling-like relationships that are offered at the conclusion of the novels. “Milking the System: How Breastfeeding Opens Up New Readings of Doctor Thorne and the Familiar Marriage Plot,” currently under review, considers the relationship between breastfeeding and social climbing, and “Between Siblings: Performing the Brother in Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White and No Name,” also under review, looks more closely at potential incestous desire as a radical rewriting of the marriage contract.

In addition to her research, Beth is currently teaching with the Computer Science department in their Social Issues in Computing and with the English department leading recitations of Literatures of the World. Beth has a split Assistantship and works with the Center for the Humanities in addition to her teaching load, helping the director Annu Matthew with events, communications, outreach, and other daily responsibilities for the center’s continued goal of fostering intellectual exchange and independent inquiry, analysis, and interpretation of the humanities in research, teaching, and learning. In the past Beth has also taught The Short Story, Introduction to Literature, and Writing to Inform and Explain and worked with Africana Studies and the Ocean State Summer Writing Conference.

Beth is also well-known for her service to the department. She received Excellence in Service awards three of her four years in the program and is a driving force in updating and maintaining our social media presence. During the 2016-2017 academic year, Beth also served on the core committee, was the Digital Humanities and Big Data Subcommittee liaison, and sat on the Collaboration and Development committee for the NEH Next Generation Humanities PhD Planning Grant, culminated in a co-authored white paper, “Humanities at Large: Next Generation Humanities PhD Planning Grant White Paper” submitted to the National Endowment for the Humanities.

In addition to all the work she does at URI, Beth also manages to maintain her own blog, Townies Meet World, which focuses on her travels and most recently a home renovation project (of her childhood home, no less). Taking the RIPTA bus to campus, she enjoys the never ending adventure of wondering “will I get to my destination alive?” and uses it as a strong motivation to complete her studies as quickly as possible. Beth is also the oldest of five, which may be the source of her interest on siblings in literature, and she maintains a strong relationship with her family, including her husband Paulo, whom she married in the summer of 2016. She is looking forward to helping the English department work more on its online presence and outreach in the coming months, many more academic successes in her future, and continuing her journey with RIPTA for at least a few more semesters!

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