Jess Engebretson: Department of English and Comparative Literature
Field: 20th c. British, Irish & African literature, violent conflict, modernism and empire, human rights, ethics
Submission reviewed by: Marianne Hirsch and Jack Halberstam
Jess Engebretson is a PhD candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature. Her dissertation, “Sovereign Fictions: Self-Determination and the Literature of the Nigerian Civil War,” explores visions of postcolonial sovereignty in the literature and reportage of the Nigerian Civil War (also known as the Biafran War). Her broader research interests include law and literature, violent conflict, empire & decolonization, and postcolonial theory. At Columbia, Jess is a writing consultant at the Graduate Writing Studio and has worked extensively with the Center for Teaching and Learning. Outside of Columbia, she is a co-coordinator of the VIDA Count, which tracks gender representation in literary publishing. Jess earned her BA from Swarthmore College, in English and philosophy, in 2009. Before beginning her doctoral studies, she worked for seven years as a radio journalist in the US, Liberia, and South Sudan.
Lien Van Geel: Department of Classics
Lien Van Geel is a PhD candidate in Classics at Columbia University. Before completing the coursework for the M.A. in Classics at Columbia, she –a Belgian native– earned her B.A. at Mississippi State University in Classics and English (summa cum laude, 2016). As a third year in the 2018-19 academic year, she is dividing her time between teaching for the Classics department and writing her M.Phil papers before entering the dissertation phase. For her Latin qualifying paper, she has been working on female sleep and sleeplessness in Latin poetry, and, on the Greek side, she is currently working on sisterhood dynamics in Greek tragedy. She is keen on continuing her work on gender in the Classics, for which the IRWGS graduate certificate has been very helpful indeed.
Maria Fantinato: Department of Music
Field: Music (Ethnomusicology)
Submission reviewed by: Marianne Hirsch and Jack Halberstam
Maria Fantinato received her MA in Communication and Culture from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, with a thesis on the relationship between music, communication and aesthetics among local experimental musicians. As a PhD candidate at Columbia University she works at the intersection of sound studies, anthropology of the senses, Brazilian ethnomusicology and queer theories of the sensorial, focusing on the sonic as formative of the political. In her work, listening is a conceptual-political entry point to understand violent and transforming processes that take place in Amazonian territories in the name of “development”.
Christina McGrath: Department of Italian
Field: Medieval literature, gender and sexuality
Submission reviewed by: Marianne Hirsch and Jack Halberstam
Christina McGrath is a PhD candidate in the Department of Italian and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. Her research interests include Boccaccio, Dante, the courtly lyric, gender, and the application of ethics and moral philosophy within medieval texts.
Before earning her MA at Columbia in 2017, Christina was an exchange student at the Università degli Studi di Firenze; she received her BA in Italian and Art History from Georgetown University in 2015, graduating magna cum laude. She has been recognized with various awards, including the Georgetown University Dante Award for excellence in Italian studies, the NIAF Abruzzo Molise Heritage Scholarship, and the Benjamin A. Gilman grant for foreign study. In 2015, she was selected as an alternate for the Fulbright Scholar Program to Italy, and she was invited to represent the United States at the American pavilion at EXPO Milano.
Liz Bowen: Department of English and Comparative Literature
Examiners: Marianne Hirsch and Jack Halberstam
Liz Bowen is a Ph.D. candidate in English and comparative literature who works at the intersections of 20th and 21st century American literature, disability studies, and critical animal studies. Her dissertation, “Animal Abilities: Disability, Species Difference, and Aesthetic Innovation in the Long 20th Century,” traces the intertwined deployments of disability and animality as sites of literary experimentation, from Faulkner to the Harlem Renaissance to contemporary poetics. Her scholarly work and critical reviews have been published in The Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, Humanimalia: A Journal of Human/Animal Interface Studies, and the edited collection Animaladies: Gender, Animals, and Madness (Bloomsbury 2018). Liz has been the graduate organizer for Columbia’s University Seminar on Disability, Culture, and Society for the past three years, and is the assistant editor of Synapsis: A Health Humanities Journal.
Exam Topic: Gender, Life Writing, and Self-Making
Examiners: Marianne Hirsch and Gil Hochberg
Alex Pekov is a Ph.D. candidate in Slavic Languages and Comparative Literature at Columbia and currently entering the post-M.Phil. stage of his doctoral studies. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy (Moscow State University Lomonosov) and an M.A. in Slavic and Jewish Studies (Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg). His doctoral thesis focuses on the Sephardi authors from the former Yugoslavia and the Maghreb who articulate Sephardi experience and identity in minoritarian and colonial settings throughout the 20th century. In this project, Alex argues that the literature of an inherently multilingual ethnic minority is able to carve out a space of inner plurality within the dominant homogeneous monolingualism of the “host culture” or the métropole by appropriating their languages.
Alex’s broader research interests include the study of liminal and hyphenated identities, literary representations of the Shoah in Central and Eastern Europe, genocide and gynocide, gender in life writing and autofiction, and writing as a decolonizing practice and space of postmemory. The IRWGS coursework has given him access to a vast array of reading strategies that prompted him to simultaneously learn and unlearn in order to listen closely to the embodied voices in the narratives. Outside of the ivory tower, Alex experiments with poetry and autofictional writing in English, German, French, and Russian and actively practices skygazing.
Victoria Wiet: Department of English and Comparative Literature
Victoria Wiet is a PhD candidate in English and Comparative Literature. Her dissertation, “Eccentric Conduct: Theatre and the Pleasures of Victorian Fiction,” uses the ubiquity of theatergoing and theatrical culture in Victorian life to uncover the importance of the term “conduct” to Victorian thinking about sexuality. Associated with transgressive practices such as cross-dressing, cruising and women’s sexual willfulness, theatre provided the Victorian novel with both formal strategies and narrative content for representing pleasures detached from the hierarchical order of the reproductive home. This project has been supported by several grants, including the Midwestern Victorian Studies Association’s Walter L. Arstein Prize for Dissertation Research in 2018.
Victoria was the 2015-2016 IRWGS Graduate Fellow and has taught widely in the area of gender and sexuality studies, including University Writing: Readings in Gender and Sexuality and TAing for Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies. For her graduate certificate, Victoria submitted her syllabus for her Teaching Scholars seminar “Melodrama: Race, Gender, Sexuality, 1850-present.” Combining Victorian melodrama, classic Hollywood cinema and contemporary culture (including Mad Men), this course examines how melodramatic conventions continue to shape representations of social difference.
Iria Ameixeiras Cundins: Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures
Field: Iberian intellectual and cultural history, popular culture, feminism, decolonial theories, critical thinking, the idea of Europe and fascism.
Examiners: Marianne Hirsch and Ana Paulina Lee.
Iria Ameixeiras holds a B.A. in Journalism (Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Galiza) and two M.A.s in International Studies (Universidade de Santiago de Compostela), and in European Studies (Aarhus University, Denmark). In 2012, she worked as a research assistant in the Department of Communication at Santiago to study the impact of European Union programs on the Galician cultural field. Iria is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures at Columbia University, and her project explores the idea of Europe in the Iberian fascisms of the Interwar period. She is particularly interested in the way fascist organizations of Spain and Portugal portrayed their views on gender, race, and national identity in their periodicals, and other cultural devices (ranging from literature to music). In so doing, she tries to keep feminist, decolonial and critical glasses to analyze problematic materials.
Allison DeWitt: Department of Italian
Field: Feminist geography, sexual difference theory and Muslim-Christian relations in the medieval Mediterranean
Submisssion reviewed by: Lila Abu-Lughod
Allison DeWitt is a PhD candidate in the Department of Italian and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. Her dissertation is on the use of geography in Dante’s Divine Comedy specifically focused on representations of the world outside of Europe. This will be accompanied by a digital map to be hosted on Columbia’s Digital Dante site, for which is an assistant editor. She has written and presented on the use of digital tools for research and the classroom and has worked extensively with the Center for Teaching and Learning on graduate student pedagogical development. Her research interests also include feminist geography, sexual difference theory and Muslim-Christian relations in the medieval Mediterranean.
Leah Werier: Department of Art History
Examiners: Marianne Hirsch and Rosalyn Deutsche
Field: Vision, Photography and TV
Leah Werier is a PhD student in the Department of Art History at Columbia University. She is a 2016-2017 IRWGS Graduate Fellow. Her doctoral work focuses on modern and contemporary art. Her research interests include architecture and public space and its’ intersections with vision, desire, feminist and queer theory. Leah has also completed the certificate program at the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society (Columbia University). She completed an MA in Art History at the Courtauld Institute on the subject of art and psychoanalysis which was supervised by Mignon Nixon and Juliet Mitchell.
Trevor Corson: Graduate Writing Program, School of the Arts at Columbia University
Examiners: Rebecca Jordan-Young and Kathryn Tabb
Field: History and philosophy of biology
Trevor Corson is a literary science journalist who writes about the relationship between the natural world and society. After writing two books involving the ecology, sex lives, and gender roles of sea creatures, and their relationship with human food harvesting, he is now working on projects related to how human behavior and biology interact with cultural habits and ideas. While pursuing a mid-career MFA in writing at Columbia’s School of the Arts he served as a teaching fellow in Columbia’s Department of English, where he taught first-year seminars in the gender & sexuality course track of the Undergraduate Writing Program. Trevor has written for many mainstream publications and taught at Boston University, The New School, the University of Memphis, and the Key West Literary Seminar in addition to Columbia. Previously he was the managing editor of the journal Transition at the W.E.B. DuBois Institute at Harvard University.
Danielle Drees: Ph.D. Program in Theatre, Columbia University
Danielle Drees studies the interactions among modern theatre, political economy, and feminist theory. Her dissertation “Staged Sleep: Sleep Theatre in Late Capitalism” focuses on contemporary theatre and performance art about sleep in a global context, arguing that sleeping characters onstage reveal an array of social and state relations, from relationships with partners and neighbors to the systems of private property, rental, and state support we depend on for shelter. Before coming to Columbia, Danielle lived on a farm in Iowa, stage managed countless college theatre productions, and taught writing in Abu Dhabi. At Columbia, she has taught Gender and Sexuality sections of University Writing and was also selected as a teaching assistant for Columbia University in London, in partnership with Queen Mary University. Danielle is committed to connecting her academic work to art and activism in New York, having volunteered as a coordinator for Columbia’s Theatre Colloquium, a play reader for non-profit theatre company New Georges, and an organizer with Graduate Workers of Columbia. Her work has been published in Performance Research.
Tiana Reid: Department of English and Comparative Literature
Tiana Reid is a doctoral candidate in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where she is also pursuing a concentration from the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. Her research focuses on literatures of the African diaspora, marxism, and feminism. For her graduate certificate in feminist pedagogy from Columbia’s Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality, she developed a course called “Experiments in Feminist Reading: Poetry in the Reagan Era.”
Tiana is a writer whose work has appeared in or on Bitch, Mask Magazine, Maisonneuve, VICE, Full Stop, Rabble.ca, The Feminist Wire, The Toast, The Recluse, and more. She is also a senior editor at The New Inquiry and an editorial assistant at Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism.
Abbe Schriber: Department of Art History and Archaeology
Field: Modern and contemporary art; African-American art and art of the African diaspora; media and performance
Abbe Schriber is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University. She examines modern and contemporary art with an eye toward black studies, and decolonial and feminist theories.
Her dissertation takes up the cross-media work of David Hammons in New York between 1974 and 1989, arguing that he stages obscurity in order to reveal the ethics of social and artistic visibility. Her writing has appeared in Texte zur Kunst, Artforum, Art in America, and The Brooklyn Rail, and has been commissioned by institutions including the Museum of Modern Art and The Studio Museum in Harlem. She received her BA from Oberlin College in 2009.
In 2017-18, Abbe will be the Douglass Foundation Predoctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Hinasahar Muneeruddin: Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Hinasahar Muneeruddin is currently a PhD student at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Religious Studies. She completed her Masters degree in Islamic Studies as well as the IRWGS Graduate Certificate in Feminist Scholarship at Columbia University in the City of New York in 2017. Hina graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Northwestern University in Psychology and Middle East Studies in 2014. Her overall research interests lie at the intersection of Islam, gender (feminism), race, and subjectivity.
Maeve Sterbenz: Department of Music
Field: Music Theory
Maeve Sterbenz is a PhD student in the Department of Music, where she recently defended her dissertation, “Moving with Music: Approaches to the Analysis of Movement-Music Interactions.” Her current research combines music analysis and movement analysis to investigate relationships between music and movement in music videos, ballets, modern dance works, and dance films. Her work aims to account for structural complexities in movement-music interactions and to examine the role of such interactions in articulating identities and politics. Maeve has published some of this work in an article for a special issue of Music Theory Online on feminist music theory. Generally, Maeve is interested in approaches to music analysis that acknowledge the subjective and embodied nature of listening experiences. Maeve also completed her BA at Columbia University in music and physics.
Erica Richardson: Department of English and Comparative Literature
Erica Richardson is a seventh year PhD candidate in English and Comparative Literature. Her research explores “how black authors and intellectuals from the 1890s through the 1930s use aspects of sociology in their literary production as a means of representing black social life during a time of racial violence and constraint.” Richardson explains that in her work “categories of gender and sexuality are central to defining and theorizing black racial uplift.” In the fall, Richardson will also serve as a Literature Humanities Preceptor in Columbia University’s Department of Core Curriculum. When Erica isn’t teaching or working on her research, she spends her time enjoying healthy Southern cooking (it does exist!), weight training, and making collages.
Grace Delmolino: Department of Italian
Field: Gender, language, and law
Examiners: Marianne Hirsch & Martha Howell
Grace Delmolino is a PhD candidate in the Department of Italian and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. Her research interests include Boccaccio, Dante, Petrarca, legal and economic history, and gender studies. Her dissertation, titled “The Legislation of Sex: Canon Law, Gender, and Humanism in Boccaccio’s Decameron,” offers a historicized reading of the intersection between law, literature, and gender in the works of Giovanni Boccaccio. This work on medieval law and literature is guided by an interest in contemporary critical and feminist theory: in addition to her concentration in Comparative Literature and Society, she is pursuing the certificate in feminist scholarship at Columbia’s Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality, where she was awarded the 2014-15 IRWGS Graduate Fellowship. She is also one of twelve Teagle Fellows in the academic year 2014-15 and currently serves as Senior Assistant Editor of Digital Dante.
Elizabeth Dolfi: Department of Religion
Field: Feminist and Queer Studies of American Religious History
Examiners: Josef Sorett & Janet Jakobsen
Liz Dolfi entered the doctoral program in Religion at Columbia University in 2012 in the North American Religions subfield. She is primarily interested in feminist and queer studies of American Religious History, with an emphasis on twentieth-century evangelical media. She received her MA in Religion and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Yale Divinity School in 2012, and her BA in Religion and Women’s Studies from Vassar College in 2009.
Christopher Edling: School of the Arts/Program in Nonfiction Writing
Field: Gender, Transnational Feminism, and Anthropological Approaches to Bride Abduction in Central Asia
Examiners: Lila Abu-Lughod & EC Crandall
Chris Edling earned an MFA in nonfiction at the School of the Arts. He spent three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Armenia. Between 2009 and 2012, he began to research bride kidnapping, a practice common in that region of the former Soviet Union. Chris is spending the 2015-2016 academic year in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on a Fulbright fellowship in order to develop a book project.
Susanna Ferguson: Department of History
Field: Women’s History and Feminist Theory in the Modern Middle East
Examiners: Lila Abu-Lughod & Neferti Tadiar
Susanna Ferguson is a PhD Student in the History of the Modern Middle East, with interests in women and gender, histories of thought, and genealogies of feminism in the Arab world. She is also a certificate candidate at Columbia’s Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality (IRWAGS) and a Graduate Fellow of the Women Creating Change project at Columbia’s Center for the Study of Social Difference. Her dissertation tentatively focuses on the transformation of the concept and practice of tarbiya in Egypt and Mount Lebanon at the turn of the 20th century, when the term began to invoke new notions about education and childrearing which would help to shape Arab feminist trajectories into the 20th century.
Nicole Gervasio: Department of English
Field: The Ethics and Politics of Representing Sexual Difference in Queer and Feminist Theory
Examiners: Sharon Marcus & Rosalind Morris
Nicole Gervasio is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Her dissertation is on the ethics of representing mass political violence in contemporary postcolonial literature. Her work focuses on intersections between queer, postcolonial, and feminist theory in relation to themes of survival, embodiment, and trauma in literatures of the Global South. She also has a B.A. in English and Growth & Structure of Cities from Bryn Mawr College and has been the recipient of Mellon Mays, Beinecke, and Javits Fellowships.
Gulchekhra Rikhsieva: Department of Art History
Field: Human Rights, Visual Culture, and Memory Studies
Examiners: Marianne Hirsch and Rosalyn Deutsche
Gulchekhra Rikhsieva completed an MA in Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies (MODA) from the Department of Art History at Columbia University. She is interested in intersections of visual culture with queer theory, feminist theory, and critical race theory.
Lucie Vágnerová: Department of Music
Field: Technology, gendered labor, race, music, sound, and postcolonialism.
Examiners: Ellie Hisama & Alondra Nelson
Lucie Vágnerová is a PhD candidate in Historical Musicology at Columbia University. Her dissertation, titled “Sirens/Cyborgs: Sound Technologies and the Musical Body,” explores composers’ work with sound technologies that challenge traditional notions of the body in music, such as vocal filters, technologies of acousmatic address, gesture controllers, and other wearables. Focusing on women composers in the United States, Lucie studies constructions of electroacoustic and electronic musical bodies that challenge gendered technological and epistemological paradigms. She is broadly interested in critical theory, feminist musicology, the social life of technologies, and the intersection of commercial and listening practice. Lucie has presented her research at the University of California Berkeley, Stony Brook University, Harvard, Columbia, and Lancaster University. At Columbia,she has taught Masterpieces of Western Music, Critical Approaches to Music Technologies, and Sexing Sound Art. Lucie is a member of the editorial board of Current Musicology and Assistant Editor of Women & Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture.
Ibai Atutxa: Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures
Field: Contemporary Southern European democratic struggles, legal epistemologies, mass media, feminism and queer theory, continental philosophy, and cultural studies
Examiners: Elizabeth Povinelli & Ana Paulina Lee
Ibai Atutxa is in the Latin American and Iberian Cultures department at Columbia University. In his current research work he approaches the collapse of legal and media discourses regarding oil spills, toxic assets and of the following criminals: the homosexual, the terrorist, the migrant and the insolvent, in contemporary Spain and Europe.He holds a B.A. in Basque Philology (Deustuko Unibertsitatea) and two M.A.s in Comparative Literature and Contemporary Philosophy respectively (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona). He has also received an M.A and M.Phil. from Columbia University. His research interests include contemporary Southern European democratic struggles, minor literatures, legal epistemologies, mass media and the formation of lateral socialities. His theoretical framework is built upon feminism and queer theory, continental philosophy, and cultural studies.
Daniel da Silva: Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures
Field: Lusophone world, exploring feminist and queer articulations through performance, music, film, literature and political struggle at transformative moments throughout the XX and XXI centuries
Examiners: Ellie Hisama & Elizabeth Povinelli
Daniel da Silva is in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures at Columbia University in the City of New York, completing a PhD in popular culture, performance and queer theory in the Portuguese-speaking world, where he was also awarded an M.A. and M. Phil. Previously, he received his B.A. in History at Rutgers University, Newark, with a concentration in Lusophone Studies. Before returning to academia, Daniel da Silva served as a director of new media and marketing for independent music labels, artists and publicity firms in New York, representing a broad spectrum of artists, from Chavela Vargas and Cesaria Evora to Bjork and Anhoni, among many others. Performance continues to form and transform his work, and in good years he can be found fronting the New York based band Vovete: thisisVovete.com.
Shenila Khoja-Moolji: Department of Curriculum and Teaching
Field: Girlhood Studies; Gender, Culture, and Human Rights
Examiners: Lila Abu-Lughod & Ellie Hisama
Shenila Khoja-Moolji is a scholar of gender and education with a focus on South Asia and immigrant diasporas. She is working on her first book that traces the discursive production of educated female subjects in the context of colonial India and postcolonial Pakistan. Shenila’s work has appeared in Signs (in press), Gender and Education, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Feminist Teacher, Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, Girlhood Studies, and Journal of Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education, as well as in the form of several book chapters. Shenila will join the University of Pennsylvania’s Program on Democracy, Citizenship, and Constitutionalism, and the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies as a postdoctoral fellow in Fall 2016.
Alessia Palanti: Department of Italian
Field: Feminisms, Gender, Sexuality, Queer Theory, Cinema
Examiners: Marianne Hirsch, Ellie Hisama
Alessia Palanti is a PhD candidate in the Department of Italian and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. She recently received her IRWGS certificate, and has been awarded the 2016-2017 IRWGS Graduate Fellowship. She is writing her dissertation on 21st century Italian women’s cinema that focuses on women’s lives and experiences from a female perspective. Her project traces the development of Italian feminisms and their place in the international landscape of feminist inquiry into gender and sexuality through an analysis of contemporary film, and examines the influences and possibilities of female subjectivity in visual media and representation. Alessia’s work has been published in the Journal of Modern Italian Studies, “Revising History: Elvira Giallanella’s Umanità and the Editing of Gender,” and in the Pirandello Society of America Journal, “Scripting il ‘cielo di carta’: The Men behind the Curtain in Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s Cesare deve morire.”