Comparative Literature, LLC



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August 2015

2015 Incoming Students

1. M.A. in Translation Studies

Joe Keady served for seven years as a freelance translator specializing on legal and technical translating. He has certifications from New York Univeristy and the American Translators Association. He received his BA in music from Queens College, CUNY. His current interests include socail movements and social theory.

2. Ph.D. in Comparative Literature

Jeff Diteman received his BA from the College of Idaho and studied at the Sorbonne Paris IV and the University of Granada. He has worked as a professional translator specializing in biomedicine. He also works as a multimedia artist, with paintings exhibited at the Gallery Homeland in Portland, Oregon. His book of poety "Dnghu Kantos" written in ancient proto-Indo-European was published in 2015 by Spiral House Press.

Noor Habib completed her BA in Humanities at Lahore University in Pakistan. She has worked as a teaching assistant and taught courses in language, literature, and history. She is currently editing a series of English translations of Urdu short stories. Her interests include the study of urban, colonial India and the literature of displacement and exile.

Sandra Joy Russell received her BA in Literature and Philosophy and her MA in English Literature from Central Michigan University. She served in the Peace Corp in Luts'k, Ukraine where she taught English and American Studies at Lesya Ukrainka Eastern European National University. She is interested in the relations between post-Soviet nations and the West, particularly how physical and imaginary spaces contribute to national identity.

Li Xu received MAs in English from Miami Univeristy and the University of Macau. He has worked as a journalist and educational counselor in China. His academic interests include comparative poetics, ecocriticism, continental philosophy, and Chinese intellectual history. He is currently doing research on ecological crises, global trade, and English subjectivity from 1644-1840.

August, 2014

2014 Incoming Students

1. M.A. in Translation Studies

Marcus Khoury

Marcus Khoury received his B.A in French & Francophone Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2012. His academic interests include the intersection of politics and 20th century French literature, translation studies, and the reception of texts across different literary cultures. He is also interested in the national and indigenous literatures of Latin America, and hopes to work with the Spanish and Arabic languages as well as French.

Muira Mccammon

Muira Mccammon grew up in South Carolina but has Midwestern roots. After earning her B.A. in French & International Relations from Carleton College, Muira headed to eastern Turkey, where she taught English as a Fulbright grantee, began learning Pashto and Turkish, and gained a better understanding of local freedom of expression issues. She is the recipient of the prestigious Beinecke Fellowship. Her current research interests include translators' rights in conflict zones, ethical quagmires associated with legal/court interpretation, and literary translation theory. Currently, she is working on translating Leila Sebbar's Métro.

Bill Ollayos

Bill Ollayos is a Connecticut native and completed his B.S. at the University of Connecticut in Biological Sciences and English. His research interests include bridging the space between the humanities and hard sciences. Furthermore, he focuses on inter-semiotic translation in regards to the exotification of marginalized populations. Bill works as a Learning Communities Graduate Assistant on campus.

2. M.A. in Comparative Literature

Chamila Somirathna

Chamila Somirathna received her B.A. in Sinhala Language and Literature from the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka and is a Fulbright grantee. She is interested in fiction, travel literature, poetry and literary theory, particularly, feminist literary theory and post-colonialism.

3. Ph.D. in Comparative Literature

Siobhan Anderson

Siobhan Anderson was born and raised in mid coast Maine. She received her Bachelor's degree in English and French literature from Mount Holyoke College in 2011. She went on to continue her studies in Paris where she received her Master's degree in Comparative Literature from La Sorbonne Nouvelle in 2013. Siobhan's research focuses primarily around Belgian national poet Emile Verhaeren (1855-1916) and ties between the symbolist movement in France and Belgium and the emergence of modern American verse.

Shastri Akella

Shastri Akella moved to Amherst three years ago to do his MFA in fiction at UMass which he completed earlier this summer. Prior to that, he worked for Google in their India, San Francisco, and Dublin offices and also with a street theater in India. His primary research interest is migration literature and its expression in fiction, cinema and photography. Specifically, he would like to compare the migratory narratives that emerged across the India-Pakistan, Germany-Poland, and the US-Mexico borders.

Adile Aslan

Adile Aslan has a B.A. in English from Bogazici University, an M.A. in Comparative Literature from Istanbul Bilgi University and a second M.A. in Cultural Studies from Sabanci University. In addition, she has worked as an instructor and teaching assistant at different universities in Istanbul. Adile is interested in modernism, psychoanalysis, Middle Eastern Studies and is looking forward to learning Arabic and Farsi.

Hyongrae Kim

Hyongrae Kim has an M.A. in Interpretation and Translation from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in South Korea. Before joining UMASS he worked as an interpreter/translator at the Ministry of Unification. His research interests include Translation Studies and North Korean translation.

July, 2014

Updates from Recent Graduates

Congragulations to Our Graduates Nahir Otaño Gracia

Nahir recently received her Ph.D. from the Comparative Literature Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She currently holds a 3 year Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. She is working on her book manuscript which addresses the necessarily multicultural nature of the Mediterranean of the north, where Irish, British, Iberian, and Scandinavian cultures interacted through and across the various waterways of Europe, most notably the Irish Sea and the Atlantic littoral. She specifically analyzes rewritings of Arthurian texts by focusing on the relationship between kings and their subjects, both male and female, as a medium to interrogate the function Arthurian stories play in different constructions of sovereignty. She also studies the use of medieval imagery by Caribbean writers and Medievalism in Popular Culture. One of her long term goals is to provide translations of Nordic and Irish myths into Latin American Spanish. For more information check out her website

Congragulations to Our Graduates Anna Strowe

Anna is at the end of a busy spring semester that started with receiving her doctorate in February and ended with a job offer and Commencement. Having completed and defended her dissertation, which examined meta-narratives of authorship in early modern Italian and English short stories, she stayed with the department this semester as a lecturer, teaching interpreting studies and a new course on book history. She has already started her next book project, on book history and translation studies, which is under contract with Routledge, but plans to return to her dissertation for her second book. In September she will be joining the faculty of the Translation and Interpreting Studies program at the University of Manchester.

Congragulations to Our Graduates Liz Medendorp

Immediately after completing her MA in Translation Studies in the summer of 2013, Liz began teaching English composition and literature at several colleges within the Colorado Community College System, including Pikes Peak Community College, Arapahoe Community College, and Colorado Springs Early Colleges. In the summer of 2014, she also secured a position at the Community College of Aurora teaching translation in their career and technical school.

Congragulations to Our Graduates Madalina Meirosu

After successfully passing her Comprehensive Examination in January 2014, Madalina Meirosu was awarded the Graduate School Dissertation Grant to support her research that seeks to connect the world of the Humanities with the world of Sciences. Her dissertation looks at the ways in which 19th century advancements in technology, and in particular medical technology, influenced the understanding of what it is to be human. In particular, she seeks to highlight how these various technological discoveries that also brought about new philosophical ideas are portrayed in 19th century fantastic literature on the theme of creating artificial humanoids.

Congragulations to Our Graduates Frans Weiser

In August 2014, Frans began his role as Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Latin American Studies at the University of Georgia. His research explores Hemispheric American literary and cultural studies as well as historical fiction. In addition to articles in journals such as Rethinking History, Hispania and Portuguese Literary and Cultural Studies, he has had chapters published on contemporary Luso-Hispanic historical fiction and film. His current book project explores alternatives to the politics of historiographic metafiction by analyzing contemporary Hemispheric American literature that imitates the conventions of historical documents and historiography.

June, 2014

This Year's Graduate Degree Recipients in Comparative Literature!

Congratulations to this year's graduate degree recipients in Comparative Literature! It's a great year in the department, with 5 doctoral degrees and 5 masters degrees.

Ph.D. receipients:

Matthew Goodwin (September 2013)
Daniel Pope (September 2013)
Kanchuka Dharmasiri (February 2014)
Anna Strowe (February 2014)
Nahir Otaño-Gracia (May 2014)

M.A. recipients:

Liz Medendorp (September 2013)
Lex Joy (February 2014)
Barry Spence (February 2014)
Christine Gutman (May 2014)
Madalina Meirosu (May 2014)

Good job to all--degree recipients, advisors, professors, and colleagues--on a great year!

March, 2014

International Shakespeare Conference

Looking at the translation, production, and reception of Shakespeare worldwide, as well as on the impact of these phenomena on the interpretation of Shakespeare’s texts.

March 7th Reception at the Renaissance Center

March 8-9th in Herter Hall at UMass Amherst

Saturday March 8th: 8am - 6:20pm

Sunday March 9th: 8:30am - 7:30pm

Keynote speakers:
Jean-Michel Déprats (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense)
Peter S. Donaldson (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Edwin Gentzler (UMass Amherst)
Anston Bosman (Amherst College)

February, 2014

Submit to mOthertongue!

mOthertongue, the Multilingual Journal of the Arts, is seeking submissions for their 20th issue!

We’re looking for:

- Original Artwork or photography

- Poetry in a non-English language (w/ translation)

- Short prose pieces in a non-English language (w/ translation)

Get creative! Write in Greek, Spanish, Hebrew, Urdu, Chinese, Klingon, C++ -- show off your artistic and language skills!

Deadline: February 14th, 2014
Send all submissions and questions to the editors at:


August, 2012

Season of Renewal

Fall 2012 is marked by renewal. Professor Annette Lienau, an Arabist from Yale, is arriving after a postdoctoral appointment at UCLA. Professor Moira Inghilleri, a theorist of translation and teacher of interpreting, will join Annette on the 5th floor of Herter. Professor Maria Barbón comes to us from the Spanish and Portuguese Department. And we welcome back Professor Regina Galasso and Professor Kathryn Lachman.

We’re also delighted that Chandrani Chatterjee will be joining us on a teaching Fulbright.

The future has arrived, but the past hasn’t left yet. This is a moment of abundance.

Year of the Maryams: We welcome Maryam Zehtabi, Maryam Fatima, Maryam Ghodrati, and Chris Schafenacker to the doctoral program, and Esin Ghafoor to the MA program in translation. Dharshani Lakmali Jayasinghe will join the doctoral program in a year, when she completes her MA on a Fulbright.

October, 2010

Seeking Applications for Assistant Professors of Comparative Literature and Interpreting

Comparative Literature is currently accepting applications for two Assistant Professor positions. See position postings.

March, 2007

Graduate Students to Present at 2007 ACLA Conference

Comparative Literature Graduate Students presenting at the ACLA Conference 2007Comparative Literature graduate students, (from left in photo: Frans Weiser, Juan G. Ramos, María Antonia Carcelén Estrada, Cris Mazzei, BK Tuon, Nicole Calandra, and Rhona Trauvitch; not pictured Nikolina Dobreva and estheR Cuesta) will present their work at the annual American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA) conference.

The 2007ACLA conference—Trans, Pan, Inter: Cultures in Contact will be held April 19-22 in Puebla, Mexico. For more information about these students and their interests, see the Current Graduate Students and Incoming Graduate Student pages.

September 03, 2006

Comparative Literature Welcoming Party!

We invite graduate students and faculty to a reception for all new incoming Comparative Literature graduate students. Refreshments will be served.

September 12, 2006
3:00 – 5:00
4th floor Herter lobby
(Opposite elevator area)

April 21, 2006

Achievements of Comparative Literature Graduate Students and Recent Graduates

estheR Cuesta has been awarded a Summer Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship for 2006 to attend the Arizona State University's Center for Latin American Studies Ecuador Field School sessions on the Quichua language in Ecuador. The fellowship will enable her to undertake research ad document testimonies of indigenous women from the Andean and Amazon regions.

Alessandra DiMaio has been awarded a two-year fellowship by the UCLA Mellon Postdoctoral Program in the Humanities for her project, "The Narration of Immigration in Contemporary Italy: Migrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Legal and Literary Texts." She will defend her dissertation in May.

Lan Dong (PhD '06) has accepted a tenure-system position as assistant professor in the English Program at the University of Illinois at Springfield, beginning fall 2006. In May, she will defend her dissertation, "Cross-Cultural Palimpsests of Mulan: the Woman Warrior from Pre-Modern Chinese to Contemporary Asian American Representations."

Dale Hudson (PhD '04) will be joining the faculty in English to teach Film Studies at Amherst College for 2006-07. After defending his dissertation, "Border Crossings and Multicultural Whiteness," he was appointed assistant professor in the Department of Cinema and Photography at Ithaca College.

Ada McKenzie is one of 40 women graduate students in the United States to receive an American Association of University Women Fellowship for 2006-07 to support fulltime research on her dissertation, "Creolization, Possession, and Performance in Caribbean Cultural Discourses." The fellowship will enable her to return to Cuba to continue the research on visual culture she began last year.

Meriem Pages (PhD '06) has accepted a tenure-system position as assistant professor of English at Keene State College. Her dissertation, "The Image of the Assassins in Medieval European Texts," will be defended in May.

Shawn Smolen-Morton (PhD '04) has been appointed assistant professor of English at Francis Marion University, South Carolina. "Acting the Child: Separating the Infantile from the Masculine in Film and Literature, 1835-1985" is the title of his dissertation.


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