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Alison Shonkwiler​​​​

Craig-Lee Hall (CL) 142​​
(401) 456-8680
(401) 456-8028

Academic Background

B.A. Amherst College
M.A., Ph.D., Rutgers University, New Brunswick

My areas of interest include literatures of capitalism, globalization, and work. I teach courses in nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature, postmodernism (or post-postmodernism—whatever that is) and literary theory. In all my courses I ask fundamental questions about why we read, what counts as literature, and what relevance reading has to our thinking about the world.

My current research is on homesteading, survivalism, and the collapse of work. An article I wrote about neo-homesteading and the rise of “home work” is forthcoming in Public Culture in 2020. My earlier research was on representations of capitalism in American fiction. In 2017, I published a book, The Financial Imaginary: Realism in an Era of Economic Mystification, about the ways that contemporary novelists experiment with making an increasingly virtualized, abstract, and apparently hard-to-control capitalism legible within the conventions of the realist novel. I have co-edited an essay collection called Reading Capitalist Realism that brings together the work of several scholars on the dimensions and limits of narrative in the age of neoliberal austerity. 

I first came to teach at RIC in 2011. I have taught at Rutgers University, Cornell University, and the University of Pennsylvania. When not in Craig-Lee Hall I am reading, doing yoga, riding my bike, scouring thift stores, and seeking a good California-style taco. I have a website/blog at

Courses Taught

First-Year Seminar: American Survivalism

FYW 100P: Introduction to Academic Writing

English 120: Studies in Literature

English 209: American Literature

English 230: Writing for Professional Settings

English 250: Copyediting

English 267: Books That Changed American Culture (Connections)

English 300: Literary Theory

English 302: American Literature, 1860-1914

English 307: Studies in Modernist Literature

English 308: Studies in Contemporary Literature

English 343: Recent Fiction

English 460: Senior Seminar: Money and Work in the American Century

English 501: Introduction to Graduate Study

English 541: Topics in American Literature since 1900

Honors 351: Junior Honors Colloquium

Selected Publications


The Financial Imaginary: Economic Mystification and the Limits of Realism. University of Minnesota Press, 2017

Reading Capitalist Realism. University of Iowa Press, 2014.


“Neo-Homesteading: Domestic Production and the Contradictions of Post-Wage Labor.” Public Culture, 2020

“Realisms.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature (Fall 2019). 

"Survivalism and Other Class Fantasies.” American Literary History 31.4 (Winter 2019)

“Real Estate Confessions: Moral Realism in a Risk Economy.” Chapter in Routledge Companion to Literature and Economics, ed. Michelle Chihara and Matthew Seybold. Routledge, 2018

“DeLillo’s Financial Sublime,” Contemporary Literature 51.2 (Summer 2010). Awarded L.S. Dembo Prize for best essay published in Contemporary Literature in 2010.

“Towards a Long View of Capitalism: Dehistoricized Finance in The Financier.” Studies in the Novel 41.1 (Spring 2009)

“The Selfish-Enough Father: Gay Adoption and the Late Capitalist Family.” GLQ 14.4 (Fall 2008)

Page last updated: May 27, 2020