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Magdalena Ostas

photo of Magdalena Ostas

Craig-Lee 148​
(401) 456-8678

Academic Background

Ph.D., Duke University
B.A., University of California, San Diego


I teach and write at the crossroads of literature and philosophy. I am compelled by the possibility that literature offers us more than fictions or representations. In my courses and in my scholarship, I explore how literary and artistic works (novels, poems, plays, films, paintings, performances) illuminate what we understand, ways we know, and how we live. 

The relationship between art and literature and other kinds of experience—ethical, sensuous, everyday, political, cognitive—is at the center of my interests. I teach courses in eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century literatures, especially Romanticism and Modernism; literary theory and criticism; women’s writing and feminist theory; and the history of philosophical thinking about literature, art, and film. In my courses I ask students to be critical and courageous readers of all kinds of texts. 

I received a Ph.D. from the Program in Literature at Duke University and a B.A. from the University of California, San Diego. I have written on a range of figures situated at the crossroads of literature and philosophy, including Kant, William Wordsworth, John Keats, J.M.W. Turner, Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Stanley Cavell, Jeff Wall, and Michael Fried. Before coming to RIC, I taught at Florida Atlantic University and Boston University.

My interests as a teacher and scholar expand every day. I try to grate against the requirement to specialize as responsibly as possible. Most recently I have taken a more serious interest in the poetry of Emily Dickinson, the history of American cinema, the concept of the “ordinary” or “everyday” in philosophical thought, and in the little-known and outrageously good television show Rectify. I also really love to garden and go to the movies.

You can read more about teaching and writing here:

Research Interests

Nineteenth-Century Literature

Literature, Philosophy, and the Arts

Literary Theory and Criticism



History of Women’s Writing

Humanities Advocacy

Courses Taught

ENGL 120: Literature and Everyday Life

ENGL 120: Literature, Film, and Everyday Life

ENGL 202: Ways of Reading

ENGL 206: British Literature since 1700

ENGL 206: Feeling Romantic, Feeling Modern

ENGL 300: Literary Theory and Criticism

ENGL 354: Romanticism

ENGL 460: Writers of the Ordinary

ENGL 501: Literary and Cultural Theory

ENGL 531: Romantic and Modern Identity

ENGL 560: Art and Ideas

Selected Publications

“Storied Thoughts: Wittgenstein and the Reaches of Fiction,” Wittgenstein and Literary Studies, ed. Robert Chodat and John Gibson (Cambridge UP), forthcoming 2021

“Thinking with Austen: Literature, Philosophy, and Anne Elliot’s Inner World.” In Approaches to Teaching Austen’s Persuasion, ed. Marcia Folsom and John Wiltshire (Modern Language Association, forthcoming 2020).

“Interiority and Expression in Dickinson’s Lyrics,” in The Poetry of Emily Dickinson, ed. Elisabeth Camp (Oxford Studies in Philosophy and Literature, forthcoming 2019).

“The Aesthetics of Absorption.” In Michael Fried and Philosophy: Modernism, Intention, and Theatricality, ed. Mathew Abbott (New York: Routledge, 2018), 171-188.

“Keats’s Voice.” Studies in Romanticism. Special Issue: “Reading Keats, Thinking Politics.” 50.2 (2011): 333–348.

“Wordsworth, Wittgenstein, and the Reconstruction of the Everyday.” nonsite. Special Issue: “No Quarrels: Literature and Philosophy Today.” No. 3 (2011).

“Kant with Michael Fried: Feeling, Absorption, and Interiority in the Critique of Judgment.Symploke. Special issue: “Emotions.”18.1-2 (2010): 15–30.

“Keats and the Impersonal Craft of Writing.” In Romanticism and the Object, ed. Larry Peer (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 117–135.

“Rereading Nietzsche in Theory: Aesthetics and the Movement of Genealogy in the Early Work.” International Studies in Philosophy 37.1 (2005): 65–80. ​​​​​​​​​

Page last updated: May 27, 2020