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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 received a BA from the University of California, San Diego and a PhD from the Program in Literature at Duke University. I joined the Department of English at Rhode Island College in 2015. My courses and publications are situated at the intersection of literature and philosophy, and I have a particular interest in Romanticism and the history of literary theory and criticism.

In my research and in my courses, I explore ways that creative and literary works (novels, poems, plays—but also films and paintings) can illuminate the world of ideas. I am compelled by the possibility that literature helps us “think” and that in this sense literary works offer us much more than fictions, images, or representations. My classes thus often consider how aesthetic experience comes to be intimately bound to other kinds of experience—ethical, political, cognitive, or everyday. In the courses I teach at RIC, I encourage students to become critical and courageous readers of all kinds of texts.

My current book project, titled Romantic Interiority: Literature, Philosophy, and Expression of the Inner Life, traces how an emergent picture of selfhood comes into view in poetry, novels, and aesthetic theory around 1800 in a diverse constellation of writers—Immanuel Kant, William Wordsworth, John Keats, and Jane Austen. I have also written articles on a range of figures in Romanticism, literary theory, and philosophy.

My interests as a teacher and scholar expand every day. Most recently I have taken a more serious interest in the history of American cinema, the poetry of Emily Dickinson, the concepts of the “everyday” and “ordinary” in philosophical thought, and the little-known and outrageously good television show Rectify. I hope to write about all of these things, and I enjoy pursuing these expanding interests in my spare time. I also really like to sew, hike, and go to the movies.

Research Interests

Philosophy and Literature
History of Literary Criticism
Literature and the Arts

Courses Taught

ENGL 120: Literature and Everyday Life
ENGL 202: Theory and Criticism
ENGL 202: Ways of Reading
ENGL 206: British Literature since 1700
ENGL 206: Feeling Romantic, Feeling Modern
ENGL 354: Romanticism
ENGL 460: Writers of the Ordinary
ENGL 531: Romantic and Modern Identity
ENGL 560: Art and Ideas

Selected Publications

“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: January 18, 2019