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English Literature

Roger Williams University offers a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, as well as an English Literature/Secondary Education dual major.

The English Literature program at RWU celebrates the British and American canon, while offering opportunities to explore authors and works from other traditions, including world literatures in translation and literatures that focus on cultures, genres, periods and themes representative of both non-western and western perspectives. Studies occur in an environment marked by strong faculty commitment to student-centered education. As a result, students are actively engaged in achieving individual excellence and are involved also in the larger life of formal and informal program activities in and out of class.

Social elements of the program include a literature society and the international honor society. The academic design of the curriculum fosters progressive intellectual development; depth and breadth of knowledge of literature and its many integrated contexts (especially philosophical, psychological, historical, aesthetic and cross-cultural); and the assembly of critical thinking, analytical writing, argument and defense, research, presentation and related skills, all of which prepare students for leadership roles, graduate study as well as a wide variety of professional careers in education and the for-profit and non-profit sectors.

Student Learning Outcomes

100-level courses:

  1. Formulate a succinct, well-constructed thesis statement
  2. Focus on primary texts and close reading
  3. Assign at least two formal short essays (3-5 pages)
  4. Require frequent, regular writing assignments—textual commentaries (TC) 1-2 pages
  5. In ENG 100 only, assign at least two annotated bibliographies (AB)
  6. Test for mastery of literary terms
  7. Convey to students that this knowledge and these skills are expected in subsequent English Literature courses

200-level:

  1. ABs and TCs continue in American and British survey courses (ENG 240, 260, 270, 290)
  2. Mastery of additional terminology relevant to these courses and reinforcement of those terms mastered at the 100-level continues
  3. Continue to focus on primary texts with the introduction and use of secondary sources
  4. Required essay length increases to 5-6 pages
  5. Exception to item 4 above: ENG 220 (Literary Analysis)
    a) Use a casebook approach
    b) Develop thesis skills
    c) Require students to participate in a colloquium
    d) Length of literary criticism / research essay: 8-10 pages
    e) Develop the paper in stages: proposal, draft of introduction with thesis statement, outline of paper, and multiple drafts

300/400-levels:

  1. Upper-level courses build on skills developed in lower levels
  2. Mastery of additional terminology relevant to these courses and reinforcement of those terms mastered at the lower-level courses continues
  3. TCs continue
  4. Integrate additional theoretical approaches to studying texts with continued emphasis on close reading of primary texts
  5. Require a major essay of at least 10 pages that includes integration of critical sources
  6. Require formal oral presentations
  7. Addition to items 1-7 above: Thesis (ENG 480 and 481) specific:
    a) A formal proposal with outline (ENG 480)
    b) Thesis – a minimum of 25-30 pages (ENG 481)
    c) Participation in a public colloquium (ENG 481)
Rebecca Karni
Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Contact Information
(401) 254-3140
GHH 316

Rebecca Karni

Rebecca
Karni
Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Contact Information
(401) 254-3140
GHH 316

Rebecca Karni completed her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), after which, having obtained a postdoctoral research fellowship, she was a Visiting Postdoctoral Scholar at Stanford University’s Departments of English and Comparative Literature. Her academic interests include 20th- and 21st-century global/world, British, American, Anglophone, Asian British and Asian American, Japanese, and French/Francophone literatures; literary studies in the contexts of globalization, transnationalism, and cosmopolitanism; the ethics of reading and representation; translation and mediation; affect and literary studies; diaspora studies; transnational (especially East-West) aesthetics, translation, and interpretation; the novel and narrative; film and visual culture; literary and critical theory; ecocriticism; and literature and/as performance.

Roberta E. Adams, Ph.D.
Associate Dean of Humanities and Performing Arts, Professor of English
A.B., English, University of Michigan M.A., TESL, University of Massachusetts Boston M.A. and Ph.D., English, Indiana University Bloomington
Contact Information
(401) 254-3828
GHH 308

Roberta E. Adams

Roberta E.
Adams
Ph.D.
Associate Dean of Humanities and Performing Arts, Professor of English
A.B., English, University of Michigan M.A., TESL, University of Massachusetts Boston M.A. and Ph.D., English, Indiana University Bloomington
Contact Information
(401) 254-3828
GHH 308

Teaching interests: survey courses in British and world literatures, medieval British and East Asian literatures. As Associate Dean, I teach one course per semester; these have included CORE 104, ENG 100, ENG 270 and special topics courses in Medieval Literature, Classics of World Literature, and World Short Story. As a member of the East Asian Studies program faculty, I also teach ASIA 100, Foundations of East Asian Studies.

My interest in medieval literature began in high school, when an English teacher recited Caedmon’s Hymn and snippets of Beowulf in Old English, and the opening of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in Middle English. That early encounter led me ultimately to write my Ph.D. dissertation on Chaucer; my interest in the ability of language to transport us to other worlds and other times shaped my later explorations of world literatures. As an English major at the University of Michigan, I also studied French and Russian language and literature; as a graduate teaching assistant at Indiana University Bloomington, I worked with faculty teaching world literatures, from classic to modern.

Jeffrey Rinehart
Adjunct Professor
Contact Information

Jeffrey Rinehart

Jeffrey
Rinehart
Adjunct Professor
Contact Information
James Tackach, Ph.D.
Professor of English
B.A. Montclair State College, M.A., Ph.D. University of Rhode Island
Contact Information
x3234
GHH 314

James Tackach

James
Tackach
Ph.D.
Professor of English
B.A. Montclair State College, M.A., Ph.D. University of Rhode Island
Contact Information
x3234
GHH 314

Like Bruce Springsteen, I was born in the U.S.A. (Passaic, N.J., to be specific), and I have a passion for American writing. When I was in college during the early 1970s, I wanted to be current and hip, so I gravitated toward contemporary American literature—the writers of the 1950s and 1960s. When I went to graduate school, I became interested in Ernest Hemingway and the Lost Generation, and my M.A. thesis focused on the American novel of World War I. For my Ph.D. dissertation, I moved back to the book that Hemingway claimed began American literature: Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Perhaps that text provoked an interest in the literature of slavery, so I found myself, for the past several years, absorbed in the American antebellum era. And lately, I’m finding the Puritans more and more fascinating. As time passes, I seem to move backward in my literary tastes.

Deborah A. Robinson, Ph.D.
Professor of English
B.A. Roger Williams University, M.A. Clark University, Ph.D. University of Rhode Island
Contact Information
x3435
GHH 315

Deborah A. Robinson

Deborah A.
Robinson
Ph.D.
Professor of English
B.A. Roger Williams University, M.A. Clark University, Ph.D. University of Rhode Island
Contact Information
x3435
GHH 315

Deborah RobinsonLooking at the courses I teach, some might say my literary interests are either eclectic or unfocused. In fact, the thematic thread that links these classes and fuels my passion is not located in a single period or genre, but rather in the mythological and symbolic processes inherent in all literature. What draws me to literature is its documentation of the vibrant creativity of the human imagination, especially our ability to construct abstract ideas and stories from the "stuff" of the concrete world around us in an attempt to order it, to explain and justify our existence. Homer's Iliad, Tolkien's Hobbit, a Native American creation myth, or Christine de Pizan's Book of the City of Ladies each stands as a cultural artifact, echoing at once the cosmology and ethos of the distinct culture that created it but also documenting the humanity that links us all across time and cultures.

Margaret Case, Ph.D
Assistant Professor of English
B.A., M.A., Ph.D. University of Virginia
Contact Information
x3232
GHH 312

Margaret Case

Margaret
Case
Ph.D
Assistant Professor of English
B.A., M.A., Ph.D. University of Virginia
Contact Information
x3232
GHH 312

Dr. Case's areas of specialization are the 18th-century novel and literary theory. Her dissertation focussed on the narrative innovations of Eliza Haywood, a prolific novelist in her own day (famously lampooned by Henry Fielding as "Mrs. Novel"). A century later, however, Haywood’s name had almost completely disappeared from literary history. The reasons she has been both "lost" and "found" reveal a great deal about the genealogy of literary and popular culture. Dr. Case's recent scholarship focuses on popular representations of traditional social conflicts (e.g. the relationship between social Darwinism and religious conflict in Battlestar Galactica, and "family values" in Breaking Bad.)