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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 twentieth-century, postmodern, and contemporary American literature, nineteenth-century American literature, and literatures of capitalism, globalization, and work. I most regularly teach American literature and literary theory courses, with forays into contemporary global fiction and post-postmodernism—whatever that is. In my courses I try to ask fundamental questions about why we read, what counts as literature, and what relevance reading has to our thinking about the world.

My research is on representations of capitalism in American fiction. I am completing a book manuscript titled The Financial Imaginary: Realism in an Era of Economic Mystification, which is about the ways that contemporary novelists such as Richard Powers, Don DeLillo, Jane Smiley, Mohsin Hamid, and Teddy Wayne experiment with making an increasingly virtualized, abstract, and apparently hard-to-control capitalism legible within the conventions of the realist novel. I compare how these writers today navigate the same social, moral, and class preoccupations to be found in the work of iconic nineteenth-century “economic” novelists such as William Dean Howells, Henry James, Frank Norris, and Theodore Dreiser. I have also 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 have been getting acquainted with Providence and Rhode Island since 2011, when I first came to teach at RIC. I’m partial to the restaurant Abyssinia, the East Bay Bike Path, and antique/junk stores. I have a website/blog at Outside Link

Courses Taught

First-Year Seminar: American Survivalism
English 202: Literary Theory
English 207: Backgrounds in American Literature
English 230: Writing for Professional Settings
English 302: American Literature, 1860-1914
English 328: Modern American Fiction
English 329: Contemporary American Fiction
English 343: Recent Fiction
Honors 351: Junior Honors Colloquium
English 501: Introduction to Graduate Study

Selected Publications

Reading Capitalist Realism (co-editor), U of Iowa Press, 2014.

“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: September 11, 2019