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Student Spotlight: Amy Foley

img_20160908_163433-1I am a fourth year PhD candidate at URI in Literature and Cultural Studies. I am currently in the process of writing my dissertation, entitled “Doorways to Being: Modernism and ‘Lived’ Architectures,” on phenomenology and architectural experience in select modernist fiction. My dissertation work began during the summer after my first year, when I began reading and rereading the writings of Walter Benjamin, Franz Kafka, William Faulkner, and Virginia Woolf. I was struck by the ways in which these texts narrate our everyday bodily experiences with our material environment and the modernist proposal of a new ontology and engagement. I continue to explore and reimagine how phenomenology intersects with cultural studies, particularly in the philosophies of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Benjamin.

This fall, I will attend the International Merleau-Ponty Conference in St. Catharines, Ontario to introduce keynote speaker, Rudolf Bernet’s discussion on “A Portrait of the Writer as a Philosopher.” Much of my critical writing during the program has revolved around this very concern. I have presented on Rilke’s spiritual ideas and his philosophy of sound and silence in The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge at NeMLA (Northeastern Modern Language Association). Also at NeMLA, I presented on Woolf’s temporal philosophy in Between the Acts. I continue to write on Woolf in a transatlantic, political, and philosophical context. In my long-term scholarship, the phenomenology of the body as it is philosophized in the modern novel is a burgeoning and ongoing concern; furthermore, I question to what extent fiction in its many forms instructs our “lived” motion in the world, borrowing language from Merleau-Ponty.

Modernism in a global and imperialist context is central to my research as well. In 2015, I won the URI Center for the Humanities Graduate Research Grant and the Hunt Scholarship from the Faulkner Society to study the architectures of Faulkner’s milieu in Oxford, Mississippi. While researching southern architectural history, I presented on Faulkner’s use of the mystery genre in relation to nineteenth century German southern mysteries at the annual Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha conference. In addition to the Global South, I have written on the fiction and non-fiction of Colm Tóibín in relation to Irish identity and the postcolonial collective consciousness. In my interview, “An Austere, Whispering Power: An Interview with Colm Tóibín,” I ask the author about short fiction genres in relation to Irish identity, as well as many other subjects such as family and sexuality as they exist in his writing.

I am also a writer of fiction. My stories are concerned with memory, the power of things, aloneness, permission and  the nebulousness of knowledge and events, the intersection of similarly and oppositionally politicized identities, and friendship. I am continually studying the relationship between my scholarly study of modernism and its effect on my fiction. My work has been published in The Journal of Popular Culture and Hotel Amerika, and is now under review with the Mississippi Quarterly and the Journal of Modern Literature.

I have enjoyed a range of teaching environments and experiences in my career. As an adjunct faculty person prior to my time at URI, I taught at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Monroe Community College, Roberts Wesleyan College, and at the U.S. Coast Guard in Rochester, New York. I have been fortunate to teach an array of courses at URI and elsewhere, such as Introduction to Literature, World Literature, The Short Story, Mythology, Ethnicity and Cultural Difference, Composition, and Advanced Composition. At URI, my role as Teaching Assistant Mentor allows me to regularly exchange pedagogical concerns with my graduate colleagues. The time I have spent with faculty and students at URI has been essential for my growth as a writer, scholar and teacher; I so look forward to another astonishing and stimulating year with everyone

Welcome Back!

Happy first day of the Fall semester! Hopefully everyone’s summer was both relaxing and productive and everyone is ready to start getting back into the full swing of things. There were many exciting things that happened while we were away, so a few congratulations are in order.

Spearheaded by Prof. Kathleen Davis, our department was awarded the NEH challenge grant to work on broadening employment opportunities for humanities PhDs. Congrats to everyone involved! In addition, Molly Hall was awarded one of the first fellowships, the Coastal Institute Graduate Fellowship.

We welcome Prof. Travis Williams as our new Department Chair and Prof. David Faflik as our new Director of Graduate studies.

One of the first events of the new semester is this Sunday, 09/11. The event, Memory V. Representation: Soldier’s Homecoming in History, Literature, and Testimony, is sponsored by URI and The Rhode Island Council for the Humanities and will bring together scholars and veterans to talk about the homecoming experience. The symposium this Sunday is just the first of three panel discussions concerning veterans and homecoming. This event will be held in Doody Auditorium from 2:00-3:30pm. More information can be found here: http://rivetsspeak.weebly.com/

The blog will be kicking off the new semester with a wonderful three-part series of interviews conducted by Molly Hall. In it she asks students from multiple schools about the comprehensive exam and rationale writing process. It is filled with some great insights and a slew of different approaches to studying, note-taking, writing the exams, and preparing for orals. Don’t forget to check it out!

As always, thanks to everyone who continues to make the blog work by contributing all of our wonderful write-ups, spotlights, and interviews.

Letter from the Editor: Spring 2016

During the frantic last week of the semester, as we’re all trying to meet our deadlines for grading and term papers, we over here at the blog wanted to take a moment to remind everyone how incredible this semester has been. Our department has had some amazing ups, and some heartbreaking downs, but we’ve made it through together.

I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has contributed to the blog this semester. From student spotlights, to write-ups on some of the impressive and riveting speakers who have presented on campus, to covering the department’s exciting events, your contributions are what make this blog happen.

Just because the Spring semester is over, doesn’t mean the fun has ended! The department and university have a number of exciting events during the summer months, and the blog will continue to update content, so don’t forget to check back to see what’s happening!

A big congratulations goes out to those students who are graduating! We wish you the best in all your future endeavors.

Sarah Kruse

Rose Keefe

Becky Greene

Katie Burton

Barnaby McLaughlin

Brittany Hirth

John Renzi (M.A.)

kara 2

Finally, it would be impossible to look back on this semester without remembering our dear friend Kara. Always ready with a smile or joke, Kara was an integral and beloved part of our department and she will be sorely missed. A GoFundMe has been started in order to honor Kara’s memory with a bench behind Swan Hall (you can donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/karasmemorial) and a scholarship to benefit LGBTQ students has been established in her name so that we can give back to others in the same way Kara gave so much to us (donations can be made here: https://www.gofundme.com/2xxnfghg).

Have a wonderful summer and we look forward to seeing everyone in the Fall.

Student Spotlight: Alyssa Taft

alyssaHello there! My name is Alyssa Taft and I am a second year masters student in both the English Department and the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies. I am currently working towards my MA in English and my MLIS with a concentration in School Library Media and Youth Services. In spring of 2015 I was awarded a research assistantship with the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies to work on a grant-funded project titled Media Smart Libraries, in which we develop and implement continuing education programming for school and public librarians on media and digital literacy topics. I also work part time at the URI Carothers Library in the Curriculum Materials Library where I teach URI 101, co-teach EDC 102, and provide reference services to URI’s education department.

My professional interests include media and digital literacy, contemporary fiction, genre studies, creative writing, children’s literature, library advocacy, censorship, intellectual freedom, and collection development. My time in the English department has been spent working on sharpening my creative writing and exploring intersections between literature and education, and literature and adolescence. I complete my English coursework this coming spring and next fall I will be putting together my portfolio. This will be followed by a semester of student teaching in two of Rhode Island’s public schools as a school librarian before graduation in May 2017.   

In addition to my studies, I am also the School Librarians of Rhode Island (SLRI) student board member, co-chair of the English Department’s graduate social committee, a member of the English Department’s graduate writing group, and a member of the Middletown Author’s Circle. I am involved in a number of professional organizations and committees including URI’s chapter of Student ALA, URI’s Graduate Student Conference, the Society for Children’s Writers and Illustrators, and SLRI’s advocacy committee. In Fall 2015 I was awarded the RI Coalition of Library Advocates Scholarship.  

When I’m not working or studying, I can be found reading for (gasp!) fun, playing with my rescue pup Bernie, or spending time with my husband Lee.

Spring 2016 Welcome Back!

Welcome back! We hope everyone is excited for a new year and a new semester! As always, URI’s English Department has some amazing events, both official and through our amazing student-led groups, that are happening in the next few months. From professionalization meetings to get you ready for your next grant proposal or job interview, to bowling and beer tasting, to the amazing speakers that present their work, here’s just a glimpse of some of the things happening in the first half of 2016. Now let’s just all hope that the weather is a bit more cooperative than last year.

From the Professionalization Committee:

We will be collaborating with Jean Walton’s 511 course on a Job Market Event where a mix of successful alumni, recent hires, and faculty with hiring committee experience will all speak to the various facets of the job market. There will also be a discussion of Job Materials and search strategies. This will be Monday April 11th at 7pm in the Hoffmann Room. In mid-March we will also be holding an interdisciplinary panel on getting funding as a grad student, with a focus on outside funding sources and why that is important. It will be open to all grad-students at URI, though will be humanities-centered. Several experienced grant writers and fellowship winners will be speaking at this workshop.

From the Social Committee:

The social committee has a lot of great events coming up this semester. Our first event will be at Lang’s Bowlarama on February 19th at 5pm for an evening of bowling, craft beers, and catching up after winter break. The rest of the semester you will see a craft brewery tour, a happy hour, and an end of semester nature hike. Details of each event will be finalized approximately two weeks before each event occurs. Keep a look out for informational flyers around Swan Hall and posts on the English Party People Facebook. Our goal is to provide English department graduate students with one event per month this Spring to encourage camaraderie, relaxation, and fun!

Department Events:

February

17th 5:00pm Hoffman Room – Graduate Student Colloquium: Amy Foley

18th 2:00pm Hoffman Room – Rumowicz Lecture Series: “You are Pip” by Wendy S. Walters

24th 5:00pm Hoffman Room –  Guest Speaker: Grant Farred

March

8th 5:00pm Hoffman Room – Read/Write: Talvikki Ansel

18th – Essay in Public Conference, CCE

April

7th 5:00pm Hoffman Room – Graduate Student Colloquium: Brittany Hirth

11th 5:00pm Hoffman Room – Guest Speaker: Marta Werner

20th 5:00pm Hoffman Room – Read/Write: Lynn Emanuel

28th 2:00pm Gender and Sexuality Center – Annual Rumowicz Awards Ceremony

More info about all these events can be found here: http://events.uri.edu/search/events?search=english+department+of

Student Accomplishments

Greetings students, faculty, and visitors! As everyone is gearing up for the 2015-2016 academic year, we thought we’d start off by reviewing some of the accomplishments of our graduate students from last year. What better way to inspire us all to submit that article, chair that panel, give that talk, or take on that new project than by celebrating what our peers have already accomplished. We congratulate everyone on their success and look forward to an even more productive year! (If you have been left off of this list, please contact us so we can get you added and celebrate your success!)

Laura Marie Marciano, a first year PhD student, will publish her first full length book of poetry, Mall Brat, with Civil Coping Mechanism Press in 2016. She also continues to work in the online publication of female-identified and queer poets, through her collective Gemstone Readings. www.gemstonereadings.net.

Karen Shea presented “‘I Never Did This in My Country’: Easing Post-Secondary ESL Writers out of Their Comfort Zones by Introducing Them to Rhetorical Reading and Prezi” as part of a larger panel presentation entitled “‘But I Don’t Have Time to Teach Reading’: Using Multimodal Approaches to Teach Rhetorical Reading in the Composition Classroom” at the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) in March. She also presented “Not Only in Words: Multimodality and Prezi in Postsecondary ESL” at the Massachusetts Association of Teachers to Speakers of Other Languages (MATSOL) Conference in May.

Eileen James, a Ph.D. student specializing in Rhet./Comp, published her poetry “Gardens Grow” in Contraposition Magazine and “Nightmares” in Monsters and the Monstrous: Global Interdisciplinary Research Studies. She also published “Encouraging Connections to Support a Positive Culture of Writing Assessment: Adjunct Composition Instructors, Students, and Campus Resources” in CCCC Forum. She presented her paper “Incomplete Soul: Problematic Portrayals of the Black Nerd Character in Contemporary American Media” at the National Association of African American Studies Joint Conference, as well as gave a poetry reading titled “One Normal Body: Black Mother, Black Girl, Human Being” at the English Graduate Organization Conference, UMASS Amherst. She was also a conference panel presenter at CCCC with fellow URI students Ashton Foley, Bridget Fullerton, and Jenna Morton-Aiken. Their panel was titled “Crafting a University-Wide General Education Writing Rubric: Taking on Thorny Public Practices in the Rose Garden.” Her paper was titled “Participant Recruitment and Rubric Development.”

Sara E. Murphy organized a discussion panel titled “Peter Weir’s Dead Poets Society 25 Years Later: Meditations on Melodrama, Trauma, Solidarity, and Suicide” for the Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Association Conference in Baltimore in November, in which she presented her work, “Dead Poets Society and the American Culture of Suicide,” alongside that of department student and alumnae Brittany Hirth, Gavin Hurley, and Don Rodrigues. In March, she was the invited speaker at a university-wide talk for the annual awareness week of the URI chapter of the National Nursing Fraternity, Alpha Tau Delta, giving a presentation titled “Breaking Silence: Perspectives on Contemporary Suicide.” Also in March, she presented her paper, “Suffering in Silence: The Stigma of Superheroism in Suicidality for the End-of-Life Population” at the American Comparative Literature Association Conference in Seattle. In April, she defended successfully her PhD dissertation, “Toward a Psychosocial Understanding of Suicide in American Literature and Culture of the 1990’s,” directed by Professor Martha Elena Rojas. Most recently, Dr. Murphy was elected to the Credentialing Council of the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Following commencement, she will continue her work as an instructor in the Honors Program and the Thanatology Program while conducting grief and suicide education seminars and intervention programs in the private and public sectors.

Barbara Farnsworth has a book chapter coming out in June 2015. The title of her chapter is “The Self-Analysis of Christopher Tietjens” and the book is: War and the Mind: Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End: Modernism, and Psychology (ed. Ashley Chantler and Rob Hawkes, Edinburgh University Press). Along with fellow URI students Ashton Foley and Beth Leonardo, she proposed and presented a panel at the Northeast Conference on British Studies at Bates College, ME. Carolyn Betensky was kind enough to join them on their road trip and moderate their panel. The panel’s name was “Exploring Perceptions of Women in Nineteenth-Century England.” Barbara’s paper was “Surplus Spinsters in He Knew He Was Right.” Along with six other students (Ashton Foley, Molly Hall, Beth Leonardo, Danielle Sanfillipo, and Kara Watts) from Travis Williams’ Fall 2014 Hamlet class, Barbara participated in a Round Table on April 18 at the URI Graduate Conference. The roundtable was titled: Possibilities in Discourses of Hamlet: A Roundtable.

Sarah Kingston has a chapter in a book coming out in June. The chapter is called “The Work of Sleep: Insomnia and Discipline in Ford and Sassoon.” The book is called War and the Mind: Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End, Modernism, and Psychology (editors are Ashley Chantler and Rob Hawkes, Edinburgh UP).

Ashton Foley participated in the self-proposed roundtable “Possibilities in Discourses of Hamlet: A Roundtable” at the URI Graduate Conference on April 18. Her paper was “From Geruth to Gertrude: Depictions of Motherhood in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Its Sources.” Fellow URI students Beth Leonardo, Barbara Farnworth, Kara Watts, Danielle Sanfilippo also participated in the panel. It was moderated by Prof. Travis Williams. She presented her paper “Crafting a University-Wide General Education Writing Rubric: Taking on Thorny Public Practices in the Rose Garden” (with Bridget Fullerton, Eileen James, and Jenna Morton-Aiken), at the Conference on College Composition and Communication Annual Convention, in Tampa, FL. She also presented “Recasting Fortune: Absence as Catalyst for Sentimental Education in Susan Warner’s The Wide, Wide World,” at Boston College’s Biennial English Graduate Conference in Chestnut Hill, MA. Finally, she presented “The Victorian Woman as Prescribed by Medical Science (Revised),” as part of self-proposed panel titled “Surplus, Succubus, or Slut? Exploring the Perceptions of Women of the 19th Century England” at the Northeast Conference on British Studies Annual Meeting in Lewiston, ME. She presented with fellow URI students Beth Leonardo and Barbara Farnworth, with Prof. Carolyn Betensky acting as respondent and moderator

Jillian Belanger received the URI Digital Literacy Summer Scholar Grant. She presented her paper “Summer Institute in Digital Literacy” at RIDE Innovation Powered by Technology Conference. She also presented “How Many Discourses Does It Take to Screw in a Humor Symposium?: Theorizing the Pedagogical Possibilities of Humorous Media” at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association Conference. At the International Society of Humor Studies Conference she presented “Rhetors and Jesters: Rereading the Stand-up Comedians as Sophists” and at the URI Digital Literacy Institute she presented “Tools and Technology in the ELL Classroom.” The Journal of Media Literacy Education accepted her book review of A Pedagogy of Powerful Communication: Youth Radio and Radio Arts in the Multilingual Classroom by Dana Walker, publication forthcoming.

Anthony Conrad Chieffalo presented a paper at the Dr. Henry Armitage Memorial Symposium during NecronomiCon Providence 2015, a biennial conference featuring numerous academic panels relating to native Rhode Island author H.P. Lovecraft. Titled “From Crawling Chaos to Elder Things: Mythic Evolution in Weird Fiction,” this marks his second contribution to the symposium. His paper from the 2013 conference titled “Poe, Lovecraft, and ‘The Uncanny’: The Horror of the Self” was recently published in Lovecraftian Proceedings No. 1 (editors are John Michel Sefel, Niels-Viggo S. Hobbs, and Robyn Hill, Hippocampus Press.)

Alumnus Thomas Barkman Writes Poetry at Bryant

This past spring, I was invited to Bryant University in Boston as part of the school’s events for National Poetry Month. With the help of another creative writer, Maria Anderson, I provided poems for any passer-by with the gumption to request one— they submitted a topic and I generated material. Poetry on demand: sitting at a typewriter, which was projected on a television screen, I cranked out poems (in triplicate) for four hours, with the clatter of keys resounding in the rotunda. Passing periods between classes were exceptionally busy and some of what was written includes: poems on dogs and sports; love poems for sisters, mothers, grandmothers, and lovers; and a sonnet on the subject of Greek Week. Bryant University was exceptionally hospitable and continued events through April (National Poetry Month), gearing up for a celebration of the 15th anniversary of The Bryant Literary Review, an annual publication of poetry and fiction. The Bryant Literary Review was founded by poet, Dean David Lux. I wrote on a Smith-Corona.

UPDATE: Alt-Ac’s URI History: An Interview with Donna Bickford

As a follow up to Kim Wickham’s interview with Donna Bickford that appeared on our blog on February 26th, we have learned that Dr. Bickford was recently honored with an Award for the Advancement of Women.  Dr. Bickford’s achievement is featured in the article “Three receive University Award for Advancement of Women,” available on The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s website.  We offer her our congratulations!

“Envying the Poor” A Talk by Professor Carolyn Betensky

Dr. Carolyn Betensky’s talk based on her recent article “Envying the Poor: Contemporary and Nineteenth-Century Fantasies of Vulnerability” examines the envy of vulnerability as an underlying tension that structures relations between 19th-century bourgeois readers and literary representations of the working poor. What makes Dr. Betensky’s argument especially illuminating is its transhistorical significance; she offers a unique pairing between the nineteenth-century novel and the right-wing rhetoric of the 2012 presidential campaigns, highlighting “resentment from above” and “fantasies of mastery.” The contemporary relevance is grounded in Mitt Romney’s avowal that the discontent of the “99%” with the “1%” betrays “a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach.” At issue in both the nineteenth century and our present moment is the vulnerable poor’s alleged special power, as perceived by the rich, derived from the sympathy aroused by the “precarity” of their situation.

Continue reading “Envying the Poor” A Talk by Professor Carolyn Betensky