Honors Program

Rebecca Nisetich Ph.D.

Assistant Professor and Director

Office Location

Luther Bonney 250

Faculty Office Hours Fall 2018

Monday-Friday, by appointment


(207) 780-4189

Academic Degrees

  • Ph.D., English
  • M.A., English
  • B.A., English, Anthropology


Rebecca earned her Ph.D. in English at the University of Connecticut, where she organized and co-led the Community Service Learning Community. While at UConn, she also also served as Lead Graduate Assistant for the university's Learning Communities Initiative, Lead Coordinator of Writing Assessment in Learning Communities, and interim Coordinator of the Writing Center.

At USM, Rebecca leads the Honors Thesis Writing Workshop, and teaches Honors interdisciplinary seminars with social justice and service learning themes, including "Race: Reflection and Reality" and "Multi-ethnic Graphic Novels." Her dissertation is entitled Contested Identities: Racial Indeterminacy and Law in the American Novel, 1900-1942.

Rebecca's engagement with Honors reaches back to her schools days: she wrote an undergraduate Honors Thesis at Colby College and a Masters Honors Thesis at the University of Massachusetts. 

Research Interests

Multi-ethnic American literature; service-learning; graphic novels and memoirs; law and literature; Faulkner.

Areas of Scholarship

20th century American literature; African American literature; multi-ethnic American literature; law & literature; service-learning; rhetoric and composition.

Recent Publications

“Reading Race in Nella Larsen’s Passing and the Rhinelander Case.” African American Review, Volume 46.2 (Summer 2013). Runner-up for the Weixlmann Prize.


  • “Passing out of Race: Leaving the South in Faulkner and Chesnutt.” The Society for the Study of Southern Literature. Boston, MA: March 2016.
  • “Non-Identity, Dis-Identity: Contesting Identities in Modern American Literature.” New England Modern Language Association Conference. Hartford, CT: March 2016.
  • “Colonial Resonances: Global Anglophone Literature and the Politics of Nostalgia” (chair). American Literature Association Conference. Boston, MA: May 2015.
  • “Building Writing Support into Advanced Composition Courses: The Honors Thesis Curriculum at the University of Southern Maine.” Engaging Practices: Conference on the Teaching of Composition. Boston, MA: March 2015.
  • “Alternative Systems of Justice in Louise Erdrich’s The Round House.” NeMLA. Harrisburg, PA: April 2014.
  • “Law and Legal Figures in Twentieth Century Ethnic American Fiction” (chair). NeMLA. Harrisburg, PA: April 2014.
  • “Becoming a Lawyer: Exploring Race and Identity in Light in August and Absalom, Absalom!” Southern Writers, Southern Writing Conference. Oxford, MS: July 2013. Winner of the Faulkner Paper Prize, 2013.
  • “Deconstructing the Color Line in The Quarry.” American Literature Association. Boston, MA: May 2011.
  • “Race and Marriage in Charles Chesnutt’s Paul Marchand.” Multi-Ethnic Literature in the United States (MELUS). Boca Raton, FL: April 2011.
  • “Building Service Engagement into a Learning Community.” The University of Connecticut Learning Communities Institute. Storrs, CT: May 2010.
  • “Reading Race in Nella Larsen’s Passing and the Rhinelander Case.” Multi-Ethnic Literature in the United States (MELUS). Scranton, PA: April 2010.
  • “Localizing Academic Discourse: Students’ Experiences as Critical Texts in Service Learning Courses.” The University of Connecticut’s Professional Development Workshop. Storrs, CT: March 2010
  • “Service Learning in the Freshman English Classroom.” Center for the Improvement of Teaching. University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA: January 2010.
  • “The Nature of the Beast: Reading Race in McTeague’s Death Valley.” American Literature Association. Boston, MA: May 2009.
  • “Curriculum Development: Utilizing Students’ Personal Experience in the Writing Classroom.” Conference on the Teaching of Writing. University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT: March 2008.

Awards and Recognition

  • Maine Economic Improvement Fund Grant: Honors Comprehensive Abroad Program ($500,000), 2016
  • Center for Collaboration and Development’s Faculty Interest Group Grant, 2016
  • Weixlmann Prize, Honorable Mention, African American Review, 2015
  • Title III Mini Grant, University of Southern Maine, 2014
  • Faulkner Paper Prize, William Faulkner Society, 2013
  • Non-Teaching Dissertation Fellowship, UConn English Department, 2013
  • Pre-doctoral Fellowship, UConn English Department, 2012
  • Summer Dissertation Fellowship, UConn English Department, 2011
  • Summer Dissertation Fellowship, UConn Graduate School, 2010
  • Aetna Graduate Student Teaching Award, UConn English Department, 2010
  • Robert H. Elias Graduate Essay Prize, International Theodore Dreiser Society, 2009