Welcome New Cohort!

A new year brings new faces, we’re happy to welcome nine graduate students as the 2018 cohort! We asked everyone to share a bit about themselves to get to know them better.

Afua Ansong is a Ghanaian American writer and artist who teaches contemporary and traditional West African dance. Afua recently completed her MFA in Creative Writing & Literature at Stony Brook University. Her research and manuscript interrogates the challenges of the African immigrant in the United States, exploring themes of transition, citizenship, and identity. As an artist and a scholar, Afua really appreciates that she can be the sender and receiver in different ways. She feels at home at URI.


A. H. Jerriod Avant is from Longtown, Mississippi. A graduate of Jackson State University, he’s earned MFA degrees from Spalding University and New York University. A graduate of the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, his poems have appeared in the Mississippi Review, Boston Review, Pinwheel, Ecotone, Callaloo, The Baffler and other journals. Jerriod has received two poetry fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. He’s a 1st year Ph.D. English student and graduate teaching assistant, at the University of Rhode Island. In large part, Jerriod was drawn to URI because it’s the only English PhD in the northeast that offers a creative dissertation.


Steven Connors is a first-year Phd student in the English program.  He finished his Master of Arts degree in English at Clark University in 2018 for which he wrote a thesis entitled “The Subject of Indeterminacy: Exploring Identity in Conrad and Salih.”  This work explored the dynamism of language, culture, and identity as well as the masculine portrayals of characters in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Tayeb Salih’s Season of Migration to the North.  His current scholarly interests revolve broadly around critical theory, film, and the novel.


Damiano Consilvio was born in South Philadelphia and grew to work as an urban activist during his undergraduate and graduate studies at Rutgers–Camden. He has taught basic reading and writing skills at primary and the middle and high school levels in Camden, as well as ninth, tenth, and eleventh grade English, along with also teaching first-year writing at Rutgers–Camden as a TA. Currently his research focuses on the digital humanities and its application to textual editing, with the essential goal of using computer-based resources to edit, document, and disseminate literature in a way that appeals to future generations of students.


AnnMarie DeMichiel is a PhD student in the English Department at the University of Rhode Island, where she is a Teaching Assistant for Writing 104. She is originally from Connecticut, where she received her BA in English from Albertus Magnus College and her MS in English from Southern Connecticut State University; her Master’s thesis focused on the figure of the doppelgänger in the literature of Jorge Luis Borges. Her areas of interest include gothic literature, magical realism, and Modernism.


Jonas Halley comes to the University of Rhode Island after working in higher education for 10 years, 4 of which has been spent teaching English and Philosophy at Dean College in Franklin, Massachusetts. His primary goal is to continue his current research around the long 18th century, its political discourse, and the possible ways that sublime ideas and language influence our rhetorical environments. Having just moved to Rhode Island, Jonas is excited to explore everything the Ocean State has to offer but is most concerned with finding a reliable pub trivia team.


Nick Mendillo is a Masters student in the URI Graduate Program for English. He received his BA from URI in 2008 in English Education, with minors in Film/Media and Theatre. Currently, he teaches and performs at the Providence Improv Guild in Providence, RI, and is the Theatre Director at Mt. Hope High School in Bristol, RI. Nick received his dual certification in English and Theatre Education for both Rhode Island and Massachusetts through an accelerated post-baccalaureate program at Bridgewater State University.  At URI, Nick focuses on the cross-disciplining of creative fiction genres and mediums. He hopes to combine narrative theories of novels with screenplays, pilots, and plays, while also adding artistic elements of multimedia, not limited to visual art and music.


Rachel Rothenberg is a joining the English department as a PhD student. She has received degrees from Tufts University in Medford, MA and Brown University in Providence, RI. She has made her home in Rhode Island for years now and is happy to join the academic community at URI.


Michael Stutz is a first-year doctoral student in English. His research interests include rhetoric, argument theory, media studies, political communication, film studies, and screenwriting. Particular areas of interest include argumentation in the public sphere and the place of the press in different periods in American cultural, civic, and political history. Other research interests include the craft of films and screenwriting; the aesthetics of film and media, including documentary; and the use of documentary film as a tool for social change. He holds a BA in Philosophy and MA in English from the University of South Carolina.

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