Student Spotlight: Ashton Foley-Schramm

Ashton Foley-Schramm is a fifth-year PhD candidate in the English department focusing on the Reader in the Victorian Novel. Ashton recently received a tuition scholarship from the Graduate School and will be devoting the coming year to work on her dissertation, “Reading the Reader: Shifting Representations of Readers in Nineteenth-Century Fiction.” This project will explore changing depictions of reading in Victorian novels, including the disappearance of the male reader within fiction as well as contemporary concerns about time spent reading and what is being read.

Ashton received her MA in English from Simmons College in 2013 and her BA in English and Secondary Education from Stonehill College in 2009. At Simmons College, she worked as a Teaching Assistant for Dr. Pamela Bromberg and as a writing center tutor.

In addition to her work on the reader in the Victorian novel, Ashton has completed work related to writing program administration, specifically how graduate student professionalization can be best structured in WPA work. She is a co-author of the article “Preparing Graduate Students for the Field: A Graduate Student Praxis Heuristic for WPA Professionalization and Institutional Politics” with Bridget Fullerton, Eileen M. James, and Jenna Morton-Aiken, which won the Council of Writing Program Administrators Award for Graduate Student Writing in 2015 in an earlier iteration. This article develops a “Graduate Student Praxis Heuristic” to prompt ongoing critical reflection and conversation about expectations, strategies, and goals for both project leaders and graduate students to navigate tensions and obstacles that graduate students may be unaware of when engaging in this type of professionalization. Ashton continues to work in the Writing Center and to teach academic skills courses for New England Institute of Technology and has also worked as an assessor from 2015 to 2017 for SciWrite: Science Writing and Rhetorical Training Initiative, an NSF-funded project at URI, which created a new model for academic and non-academic graduate science writing.

As part of her assistantship from 2013 to 2018, Ashton has taught the classes Writing to Inform and Explain, The Short Story, and Introduction to Literature, bringing her specialty to bear with topics such as Adaptations of Austen, Monsters and Madness in Victorian Literature, and Victorian Short Stories. She received an Excellence in Teaching award from in 2016 and 2017 and served as a Teaching Assistant Mentor for the English department from 2015 to 2017. This two-year position focuses on helping new literature TAs develop classroom practice and pedagogy through training sessions in May and August, seminars throughout the fall semester, and observations.

In addition to her research and teaching, Ashton has an admirable service record to the department and larger URI community. This past year she served as the Professionalization Committee co-chair along with Molly Hall, working to put together programs and resources for graduate students in the English department, such as a Job Market workshop this fall with professors Christine Mok and Derek Nikitas. In the past she has also served as the Graduate Committee Liaison, participated in the Next Gen PhD Grant Initiative, worked on the Graduate Student Conference at URI, and negotiated the Graduate Assistant contract with Graduate Assistants United, the graduate assistant union at URI. Her CV does not show the full extent of her service, as she also informally offers her time and advice to many of these groups still and her colleagues in the English department.

We wish Ashton good luck with her dissertation this coming year and congratulations on her scholarship!


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