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Graduate Student Alumni

Are You a Graduate Student Alum?

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Recent Graduate Alumni

PhDs in 2018/19

Inci Sariz Bilge (, born and educated in Turkey majored in Translation Studies at Bogazici University and earned an MA in Comparative Literature from Istanbul Bilgi University. Borrowing from Franco Moretti’s seminal essay on “distant reading,” she has also been reexamining the relation between Comparative Literature and Translation Studies. Inci has published translations of short stories from English into Turkish and has experience in language instruction. Among her scholarly interests are the nexus of translation, censorship, and nation building; intersections of life writing and memory studies; and cognitive approaches to literature.

PhDs in 2017/18

Nicole Calandra ( defended her dissertation in September 2018

Lara Matta ( defended her dissertation in May 2018. She holds an MA from Paul Valéry University in Montpellier France and a BA from the National Lebanese University in Tripoli, in English Language, Literature, and Culture. She encountered Comparative Literature as she was completing a Five College Certificate in Critical Social Thought and joined the PhD program in Comparative Literature at the University of Massachusetts while teaching French at Mount Holyoke College. Her doctoral research addressed the politics of the sensible, the multimodalities of loss and memory, untranslatability, and the ineffable through metaphors of reading and writing. Lara’s dissertation on the Poetics of Texture offers case studies in American Book Arts, in selected French picturebooks and in modern Lebanese poetry with her own translations from Arabic. From 2013 to 2015, Lara was a research associate at the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center, and in 2015-2016, a Mellon-Sawyer Ph.D. Fellow in the World Studies Interdisciplinary Project.

Andrés Amitai Wilson defended his dissertation in January 2018. He examined the influence of the commentary tradition of the Song of Songs on medieval literature from Dante and Chrétien de Troyes to Marguerite Porete and the Zohar. Although he is able to conduct research in several other languages, Andres only claims English (Old and Modern), Romance Languages, Medieval Latin, and Hebrew/Aramaic as the ones in which he "works." His interests range from Dante, medieval multiculturalism, exegesis and spiritual autobiography, to the recycling of mythic narratives, and Modernist poetry and poetics. Andrés earned his MA in Comparative Literature (en passant) from the program in 2014. He also holds a BM in Professional Music from the Berklee College of Music, and a M.A. in Medieval Studies from Columbia University, where he focused on medieval philology and completed the study "Dante's Chariot: Ezekiel and Prophetic Mimesis in an Exile's Eden." Before coming to the University of Massachusetts, Andrés spent a year intensively studying Judaic texts in Hebrew and Aramaic as a full-time fellow at Yeshivat Hadar in New York City. He is also a poet and working guitarist with numerous publication, recording, and performing credits: 

Daniel Nevarez Araujo ( defended his dissertation in December 2017. He also holds a BBA in Accounting and an MA in English Literature from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. He also received an MA in Comparative Literature at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Daniel is finishing his dissertation entitled “Bodies Under Siege: The Language of Warfare in HIV/AIDS Narratives,” in which he explores the experiential intersections between war casualties and People With AIDS in literature and film. His areas of research include Film Studies, Documentary Studies, Disabilities Studies with an emphasis in Mental Illness, Medical Humanities, and Theories of the Body. He developed and has taught the course The Mind and Its Discontents: Narratives About Mental Illness as part of the Medical Humanities Certificate offered at university. Daniel has also served as assistant editor for the literary journals Tonguas (UPR) and The Massachusetts Review (University of Massachusetts). His essay "My Body is a Temple and a Prison: Derek Jarman's Body-of-Work" has been selected by Trespassing Journal for their September 2016 issue.

Madalina Meirosu defended her dissertation in August 2017. She received her BA from Transylvania University of Brasov majoring in both English and German, winning prizes for her work in both languages, while also maintaining fluency in French, building a solid foundation in Latin and Spanish and helping to revise the third edition of the Romanian Academy’s German-Romanian Dictionary. She has published translations of essays by Hans Bergel and an article on Thomas Brussig. Psychoanalytic approaches to myth and literature are among her preferred pursuits, along with photography, travel and teaching. 

Barry Spence defended his dissertation in April 2017.  He is has a position as a Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and is Associate Faculty in Comparative Literature. His primary areas of concentration are ancient Greek and Latin tragedy and epic, James Joyce, the aesthetics of literary and cinematic modernism and postmodernism, art-house cinema, and the material culture of the book. His research interests include semantics, narratology, paratextuality, theories of metaphor and figurative language, and cognitive approaches to literature and film. He has presented papers on conceptual metaphor in Sophocles, on Pier Paolo Pasolini’s film and semiotic theory, and on modes of polysemy in James Joyce’s Ulysses. (

PhDs in 2015/2016

Alexander Joy defended his dissertation in September 2016. He studies world literature between the World Wars, with especial emphasis on the literature of the Spanish Civil War. His research focuses on depictions of violence, representations of war, and the sometimes strained relationship between aesthetics and ethics. Lex also has a fondness for haiku and other short verse, and has published haiku in journals across four continents. 

Emir Benli is currently Instructor of English, Yeditepe University, Istanbul, Turkey. The topic of his dissertation was "Subjects of Fatih Akin’s Melodramas: A Genealogical Reading through the Films of R.W. Fassbinder, Yilmaz Guney and Atif Yilmaz." He received his BA in English Language and Literature from Bogazici University, where he also worked in the film center and wrote articles for the monthly film magazine Altyazi. Besides German literature and thought, Emir is interested in adaptation and cinema studies, specifically in New German Cinema, Fassbinder, transnational cinemas, Turkish-German cinema and minority cinemas, with a focus on Kurdish cinema in Turkey.

Fatma Betul Cihan-Artun is currently a part-time Lecturer in the English Writing Program at Rutgers University, Brunswick, NJ. She wrote her dissertation on the topic "Rumi, the Poet of Universal Love: The Politics of Rumi's Appropriation in the West." She holds a BA in English and an MA in History from Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey. She is interested in the politics of cultural representation, late Ottoman and modern Turkish literature, and translation studies.

Antonia Carcelén-Estrada holds a tenure-track job at the University of San Francisco at Quito (USFQ) Before taking up this position, she was Visiting Lecturer of Spanish, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA. The topic of her dissertation was “Golden Palimpsests: America, Cervantes, and the Invention of Modernity/Coloniality.” Her research interests include postcolonial literature, colonial and contemporary Latin America, translation studies, philosophy, cultural studies, art history, anthropology, and oral literature. Her publications include "Covert and Overt Ideologies in the Translation of the Wycliffe Bible into Huao Terero" in Translation, Resistance, Activism (University of Massachusetts Press, 2011); "Latin American Historiography in Emerging Capitalism: Afro-Indigenous Palimpsests at the Birth of Spanish Modernity" in Ethnicity from Various Angles and Through Varied Lenses: Yesterday´s Today in Latin America. (New York: Sussex Academic Press, 2011); and "Tierra, riqueza, cuerpos, diferencia: la construccion ontologica de la feminidad y su persistencia." Actas del I Congreso Internacional de Literatura Comparada. (Universitat de Valencia Press, 2011). 

Lara Curtis served as Associate Director of the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her dissertation, “Writing, Resistance, and the Question of Gender: Charlotte Delbo, Noor Inayat Khan, and Germaine Tillion,” was on women writers operative in the French Resistance during World War II. Lara also holds masters degrees in French and Francophone Studies and Comparative Literature. She has taught many courses on European film and literature. Among her recent writings are essays on ‘Beur’ Cinema, the films of Karin Albou and Alain Resnais, and a study on the aesthetics of Holocaust documentaries. She is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. 

Scott Vangel wrote his PhD dissertation on “Deconstruction of the Sacred, Ontologies of Monstrosity: Apophatic Approaches in Late Modernist Cinema.” Scott is interested in philosophy, film studies, and French language and culture. He received his BA in English/Film from Framingham State and his MA in Religion/Literature from the University of Chicago.

PhDs in 2014/15

Shannon Farley defended her dissertation in 2015, “Translation, Rewriting, and Fan Fiction: A Literary History of Transformative Work” on the literary heritage of fanfiction and other transformative works by fans of media culture. Shannon holds a BA in Classics and History from Williams College and earned her MA in Comparative Literature at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2008. Her MA thesis was a translation of Euripides' Bakkhai with commentary, highlighting the reception of the play from a postcolonial perspective.

Esther Cuesta is a native of Guayaquil, Ecuador. Her dissertation “Documenting the (Un)documented: Diasporic Ecuadorian Narratives in Southern/Mediterranean Europe” focused on Italy and Spain, informed by subaltern and postcolonial studies, as well as decolonial and feminist theories. Her work has been published in the U.S., Italy, and Ecuador. Dr. Cuesta has presented her research in multiple conferences in Europe, the Caribbean, North and South America. In December 2009, she embarked on a diplomatic career as Consul of Ecuador in Genoa, Italy, and two years later, as Consul General (2011-2016). In June 2016, she was appointed Vice Minister of Human Mobility at Ecuador’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She is currently Asambleísta (Member of the Ecuadorian Parliament), representing Ecuadorian migrants in Europe, Asia, and Oceania. At Ecuador’s Asamblea Nacional, she serves as Vice President of the Commission on Sovereignty, Integration, International Relations, and Comprehensive Security and as President of the Ecuadorian-Italian Interparliamentary Group.

Kanchuka Dharmasiri currently Assistant Professor of Theater, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. Her dissertation topic was “Transgressing Space and Subverting Hierarchies: A Comparative Analysis of Street Theater Groups in Sri Landa, India and the United States.” Her interests include postcolonial theory, travel literature, women's studies, visual culture, translation, and theatre, particularly modern Sinhala theatre from the fifties to the present. She actively engaged in theatre in Sri Lanka with her translations and productions of plays, including a recent production of Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano.

Nahir I. Otaño is currently Assistant Professor in Early British Literature at Beloit College and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation was on medieval Arthurian texts and related materials in the Celtic (Welsh and Irish), Iberian, and Scandinavian peripheries. By reimagining medieval Arthurian literature as transnational, she explored the various forms of interactions between these different societies with particular focus on the relationship between kings and their subjects. She also studied 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.

Anna Strowe is currently Assistant Professor of Translation and Interpreting Studies, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom. Her dissertation, "‘Io scrittore’: Authorial Self-Construction in Renaissance Italian Literature and its Translation into English,” explored the relationships between author, text, and audience in the late medieval and early modern Italian novella and the ways in which those relationships are altered through translation as the novella moves to England. Her research interests include translation, late medieval and early modern literature, and book history. Two articles related to her dissertation have been published.

PhDs from 2011-13

Matt Goodwin (2013) explored the topic of migration in science fiction in dystopian states and virtual reality in his dissertation “The Fusion of Migration and Science Fiction in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the United States.” Matthew has an MA in Philosophy of Religion and Systematic Theology from the Graduate Theology Union in Berkeley. His anthology Latino Rising, a collection of Latino science fiction and fantasy literature is coming out soon and he is translating the work of Pablo Brescia from Spanish to English.

Daniel Pope (2013) currently holds a position as a Lecturer in Film Studies and Assistant Curator for the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His dissertation topic was “Enigmatic Realism: Doing Justice through Photography and Figuration in Sebald, Marias, and Hemon.” He earned his BA in English literature, then studied poetry in Peru with a Fulbright scholarship. His interests include word/image narratives, tropes of travel, transnational cinemas, documentary film, Caribbean literature, and rhetoric of narrative.

Hongmei Sun (2013) is currently Assistant Professor of Chinese, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA. Her dissertation topic was titled “Translating Trickster, Performing Identity: Representations Of The Monkey King (Sun Wukong) in Chinese and Asian American Rewritings.” She graduated from Peking University with an MA in Comparative Literature. Her interests include Asian American literature, translation studies, and Asian mythology. She recently published the book Transforming Monkey: Adaptation and Representation of a Chinese Epic (Seattle: U of Washington Press, 2018).

Rhona Trauvitch (2013), originally from Haifa, Israel, now works as an instructor in the Department of English at Florida International University, teaching mostly literature and film courses. Her PhD dissertation is titled “Adventures in Fictionality: Sites along the Border between Fiction and Reality.” She holds an MS in Social & Public Communication from the London School of Economics, and spent a year at Oxford University. Her most recent publication is “Mise en Abyme and Quantum Mechanics: The Reader as Observer” in Interface between Literature and Science: Cross-disciplinary Approaches to Latin American Texts, ed. Victoria Carpenter (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing).

Brandon Shaw (2012) currently teaches Dance Studies at the School of Performing Arts at the University of Malta. The title of his dissertation was “Sitting-There: Embodied Perception, Kinesthetic Empathy, and Reading Pain in Dance Spectatorship.” He went on to a post-doctoral Mellon Fellowship at Brown University. His research interests include literature and dance, representations of the invisible in dance, phenomenology, kinesthetic empathy, and experiential pedagogy, and he is a contemporary dancer and choreographer with an emphasis in partnering.

Loc Quoc Pham (2011) currently serves as the Dean of Faculty of Languages and Cultural Studies at Hoa Sen University in Ho Chih Minh City, Vietnam. He wrote his dissertation on “Translation in Vietnam and Vietnam in Translation: Language, Culture, and Identity.” His research interests include translation studies, gender, postcolonial studies, and issues in the Vietnamese representation of wars. His article, “Western Others (and ‘Other’ Westerns): Translating‘Brokeback Mountain’ into Vietnamese Culture,” appeared in Re-engendering Translation: Transcultural Practice, Gender/Sexualityand the Politics of Alterity, edited by Christoph Larkosh.

Juan Ramos (2011) works as an Assistant Professor in the Spanish Department at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. He wrote his dissertation on “Latin American decolonial aesthetics: Antipoetry, nueva cancíon, and third cinema as counterculture (1960--1975).” His areas of interest include 19th-21st Century Latin American and Spanish literature; Latin American Film and Music; Latin American Critical Thought.

Frans Weiser (2011) currently works as an 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.

MAs in 2017

William Bruce Ollayos ( completed his BS at the University of Connecticut in Biological Sciences and English. He has worked as a private tutor, a Resident Director at the Rhode Island School of Design and a Learning Communities Summer Specialist here at the University of Massachusetts. His research interests include cultural translation and gender studies, with a focus on representations of white female criminals in the media. By combining his passions for sociology, student development and multicultural education, Bill hopes to pursue a career in Student Affairs after graduation. He is currently employed with the department of Residential Life on campus. 

MAs in 2016

Marcus Khoury ( received his BA 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.

Froy Batsielilit was born in Gabon and studied Spanish, Chinese, and International Relations at the University of Alabama. She has lived in both Chile and Guatemala. She hopes to work at the UN or Amnesty International in the future. Froy spent one year as a research assistant working in quality control and project management in the University of Massachusetts Translation Center.

Emily Heilker holds a BA from the University of Georgia, where she majored in Comparative Literature and from which she escaped repeatedly in order to study in France (Paris and Lyon), Italy, and Costa Rica. Her research interests focus primarily on (1) the ways mystical, ecstatic, inner, and limit experiences, both medieval and modernist, may be read as sites of performance and trauma and (2) how testing the limits of consciousness and testing the limits of cultural consciousness have been mediated through Orientalist discourses in the twentieth-century (especially in the case of French and German travel writing through India). She is also a poet.

Jocelyn Langer wrote her MA thesis on “Collaborative Approaches to Translation in Social Change Movements,” focusing, among other texts on collective translations of Our Bodies, Ourselves in Latin America. Jocelyn came to the MA in Translation Studies after studying Community Health Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has taught and studied language and healthcare practices in Latin America, Asia, and Europe. In the United States, she has worked as a health practitioner and bilingual health educator, and served as Executive Director of a non-profit wellness center. Jocelyn specializes in medical translation.

Muria McCammon ( is a Beinecke Scholar and former Turkey Fulbrighter. She conducts research in that overlapping terrain between law, libraries, and wartime archives. Her writings on Guantánamo have appeared in the Kenyon Review Online, Slate, MIT’s Image Series, the Massachusetts Review, and elsewhere. She previously worked as a research assistant at the Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society and was most recently a summer 2016 Fellow at the Harvard Law Library Innovation Lab. Her MA thesis probed stories that have been told about the Guantánamo Bay Detainee Library.

Zainab Sattar joined the MA program in Comparative Literature as a Fulbright fellow after receiving her BA in Humanities from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Pakistan. Her thesis topic was "Songs of Ishq, Freedom and Rebellion: Selected Kafis of Bulleh Shah in Translation.” She is particularly interested in the work of Edward Said, the regional Sufi poetry of Punjabi and Seraiki. She plans to teach Comparative Literature in Pakistan.

Chamila Somirathna is currently Lecturer in Qualitative Research Methods at the Colombo Institute of Research and Psychology, a private higher education institution in Sri Lanka. She wrote her MA thesis on the topic "Re-envisioning a Discipline: Martin Wickramasinghe’s Contribution to Comparative Literature." She received her BA in Sinhala Language and Literature from the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka and is a Fulbright grantee. She is interested in Sinhalese Literature, fiction, travel literature, poetry and literary theory, particularly, feminist literary theory and post-colonialism.

MAs from 2014-15

Shushanik Gavalyan (2015) came to the university as a Fulbright Fellow from Uzbekistan and completed her MA in Translation Studies on the topic of advertising and mass media. Though a student in International Economic Relations at her home university, she always had a strong interest in translation. She now works as a Russian translator with the firm Indigo Travel.

Ying Xu (2015) wrote her MA thesis on “Translating Travel in the Spanish Sahara: English Verions of Sanmao’s Stories of the Sahara.” Xu Ying joined the MA in Comparative Literature program after receiving a BA in Business English from the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, China. Her research focuses on travel writing and film, and she has studied Spanish and German in addition to English and Chinese.

MAs from 2011-13

Liz Medenthorp (2013) currently teaches at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. Her research interests include cross-media translations, popular culture, and fan studies. Her MA thesis was titled “Rethinking Intersemiotic Translation through Cross-Media Adaptation in the Works of Joss Whedon.” She recently published an article titled “The Power of the Periphery: Reassessing Spatial Metaphors” in the latest issue of TranscUlturAl on Translating Peripheries (vol.5.1-2 (2013): 22-42).

Steffi Scheer (2013) is currently Senior Project Manager at LUZ, Inc. located in the Greater Boston area. Her MA thesis examined epistemology, cultural relativism, and the philosophy of meaning in relation to translation theory. She holds a BA in Linguistics, with a minor in philosophy, from McGill University in her hometown of Montreal.

Rio Hernandez (2012) defended his MA thesis of a translation of Shusaku Endo’s play Menamugawa no Nihonjin from Japanese to English. From Puerto Rico and a native speaker of English and Spanish, Rio also is fluent in Japanese. He received his BA from Cornell University, where he majored in History and won the De Kiewiet Prize, which goes to the top student in each graduating class. He currently works as a project manager for the University of Massachusetts Translation Center.

Yonjoo Hong (2012) did a translation of a play called Faust in Blue Jeans by the Korean playwright from the 1980s named Yun T-aek Yi, an excerpt of which was performed in the University of Massachusetts Theater Department in Amherst. She also holds an MA in Translation Studies from Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul, Korea.

Other Graduate Alumni/ae

Jana E. Braziel (Associate Professor of English and Comparative Litreature at the University of Cincinnati)

Siobhan Craig (Assistant Professor of English at the University of Minnesota)

Alessandra Di Maio (Assistant Professor Dipartimento di Scienze filologiche e linguistiche at the University of Palermo)

Nikolina I. Dobreva (Visiting Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies at Middlebury College)

Lan Dong (Assistant Professor of English at the University of Illinois, Springfield)

Caroline M. Dothee (Copywriter for LMS International)

Daniela Fargione (Assistant Professor of Anglo-American Language and Literatures at the Università degli Studi di Torino)

Lilian P. Feitosa (Adjunct Professor of Foreign Languages at James Madison University)

Enrique Garcia (Assistant Professor of Spanish at Middlebury College)

Neil C. Hartlen (Instructor in the English department at Dawson College)

Yehudit Heller (Lecturer for the Commonwealth College at University of Massachusetts Amherst)

Shu-Chen Huang (Assistant Professor of Critical Languages at Temple University)

Dale M. Hudson (Visiting Lecturer of Film and Media at NYU/Abu Dhabi)

Hussein Y. Ibish (Senior Fellow of the American Task Force on Palestine)

Li Lu (Professor of Chinese and Associate Dean for International Relations at Beijing University)

Anita Mannur (Assistant Professor of English at Miami University)

Ada Chinara McKenzie (Assistant Professor of English at the College of the Bahamas)

Mariela E. Mendez de Coudriet (Asssistant Professor of Latin American and Iberian Studies at the University of Richmond)

Corinne D. Oster (Maître des Conferences at Charles de Gaulle University - Lille III)

Theophilus E. Padnos (Journalist at the National Yemen Newspaper)

Meriem C. Pagese (Associate Professor of English at Keene State College)

Loc Quoc Pham (Director of the General Education Program at Hoa Sen University)

Juan G. Ramos (Assistant Professor of Spanish at Holy Cross)

Jennifer Rodgers (Principal Technical Writer at Websense)

Jonathan B. Sadow (Assistant Professor of English at SUNY Oneonta)

Shawn R. Smolen-Morten (Assistant Professor of English at Francis Marion University

Roger A. Stritmatter (Associate Professor of English at Coppin State University)

Bunkong Tuon (Assistant Professor of English at Union College)

Friederike Vonschwerin-High (Assistant Professor of German at Pomona College)

Beverly M. Weber (Assistant Professor of German and Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Colorado Boulder)

Frans-Stephen Weiser (Post-doc in Spanish at University of Pittsburg)