Carolyn Betensky

  • Professor, Department Chair
  • Phone: 401.874.7437
  • Email:
  • Office Location: 114A Swan Hall


I teach nineteenth-century British and world literature, as well as courses on the literature of protest.

My 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 the translation I co-authored with Jonathan Loesberg of Eugène Sue’s 1843 blockbuster novel The Mysteries of Paris. I’m currently working on two new projects:  a translation from the French of Le Bachelier (The Graduate), a novel by the nineteenth-century author and revolutionary Jules Vallès, as well as a book about the compartmentalization of experience in Victorian culture.

Academic labor, freedom, and equity are very important to me.  I served on the board of URI-AAUP from 2014 through 2023, and as the chapter’s secretary from 2019 through 2023. From 2018 through 2022, I represented District X as an elected member of the National Council of the AAUP.  I am currently a Contributing Editor to the AAUP’s Academe blog. In 2017, I co-founded Tenure for the Common Good, a nonprofit organization that aims to engage tenured faculty in the ongoing national campaign for labor equity on college campuses. 

In my spare time, I enjoy playing a large brass instrument called a euphonium. I’m a member of the Extraordinary Rendition Band, based in Providence, RI.


Victorian Literature and Culture; Literary and Cultural Theory; Psychoanalysis


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