Dr. Alison Shonkwiler

Alison Shonkwiler
Department, Office, or School
Department of English
  • Professor

My areas of interest include literatures of capitalism, globalization, and work. I teach courses in literary theory, nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature, postmodernism (or post-postmodernism—whatever that is). In all my courses I ask fundamental questions about why we read, what counts as literature, and what relevance literature 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” was published in Public Culture in 2020. I am the author of a book, The Financial Imaginary: Realism in an Era of Economic Mystification (2017), about representations of abstract capitalism in the contemporary American realist novel. I have also co-edited a book, Reading Capitalist Realism (2014), that brings together the work of several scholars on the dimensions and limits of narrative in the age of neoliberal austerity. 

I began teaching at RIC in 2011, having previously taught at Rutgers University, Cornell University, and the University of Pennsylvania. When not in Craig-Lee I am reading, doing the NYT crossword, scouring thrift stores, and seeking deeply absorbing TV characters. 


B.A., Amherst College

M.A., Rutgers University, New Brunswick

Ph.D., Rutgers University, New Brunswick

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). http://literature.oxfordre.com/ 

"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)


FYS 100 American Survivalism
FYW 100 Introduction to Academic Writing
ENGL 120 Studies in Literature
ENGL 209 American Literature
ENGL 230 Writing for Professional Settings
ENGL 250 Copyediting
ENGL 267 Books That Changed American Culture (Connections)
ENGL 300 Literary Theory
ENGL 302 American Literature, 1860-1914
ENGL 307 Studies in Modernist Literature
ENGL 308 Studies in Contemporary Literature
ENGL 343 Recent Fiction
ENGL 460 Senior Seminar: Money and Work in the American Century
ENGL 501 Introduction to Graduate Study
ENGL 541 Topics in American Literature since 1900
HONR 351 Junior Honors Colloquium