department of english

114 Swan Hall, 60 Upper College Road, Kingston, RI 02881

Main Office: 401.874.5931 - Graduate Office: 401.874.4663

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Carolyn Betensky

  • Professor
  • Victorian Literature and Culture; Literary and Cultural Theory; Psychoanalysis
  • Phone: 401.874.7437, Office: 208A Swan Hall
  • Email:


Carolyn Betensky confesses to being in this business so that she can teach and write about things that make her uncomfortable. Although she is really pretty happy most of the time, she has spent most of her academic career thinking about such topics as guilt, disgust, and procrastination, and she writes regularly on the insidiousness of officially uplifting cultural phenomena. Betensky loves to work with British nineteenth-century texts because of their explicit renderings of certain awkward cultural negotiations and fantasies that remain very much with us today.

Betensky’s first book, Feeling for the Poor: Bourgeois Compassion, Social Action, and the Victorian Novel (2010), appeared in the Victorian Literature and Culture Series of the University of Virginia Press. In 2015, Penguin Classics published her co-authored translation of Eugène Sue’s 1843 blockbuster Les Mystères de Paris. She is currently working on a new book about intellectual fashion.


  • Ph.D. Columbia University, Comparative Literature
  • M.A., Columbia University
  • B.A., Barnard College

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