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Graduate Students

Shastri Akella ( earned an MFA in Creative Writing before joining the Comparative Literature PhD in 2014. He lived all over India, Dublin, and San Francisco, before moving the valley. He previously worked for a street theater troupe and for Google. His fiction and essays have been published or is forthcoming in Guernica, Electric Literature, The Common, The Rumpus, and Hypothetical Review, among other places. He has taught at the university for 5 years and was one of two teaching associates to win the campus-wide Distinguished Teaching Award for the academic year 2015-2016. His dissertation topic is a comparison of the perception of children in horror films and the perception of refugees. His other interests include film and translation, and he is working to get certified in both areas.

Daniel Armenti ( received a BA in Languages and Literatures from Bard College, with a focus on classical Latin and Medieval literatures. His current interests are the intersection of literature and law, problems in representations of violence, and the reception of classical literature in the Middle Ages. He has worked as an editorial assistant with several journals, including Digital Philology: A Journal of Medieval Cultures and NeMLA Italian Studies, and is the graduate research assistant for the Pompeii Bibliography and Mapping Project.

Adile Aslan ( is a third-year doctoral student and teaching associate. She has a BA degree in Western Languages and Literatures (Bogazici University), an MA degree in Comparative Literature (Istanbul Bilgi University), and a second MA degree in Cultural Studies (Sabanci University). Her research interests are comparative modernisms, postcolonialism, Middle Eastern Studies, psychoanalysis, world literature and Global South. She has worked as a teaching assistant, English instructor, and translator at various institutions and universities in Turkey, Spain, Qatar, and the US.

Davey Bendiksen (, a native of Texas, received his BA in both English and Romance Languages at Carleton College, where double majors are a rare phenomenon. Director of the Student Photography Cooperative at Carleton and a three year member of the Carleton College Competitive Ballroom and Latin Dance Team, Bendiksen curated an exhibit of Sandburg’s “Chicago” poems and early 20th century photographs of Chicago at the Carleton Library.  His scholarly interests lie in the areas of 20th century American and French Literature and Photography & Film Arts. 

Manuela Borzone ( joined the program in 2011. Her dissertation focuses on twentieth-century Argentinian gauchesca, Western American literature and film, and pop culture. She holds an MA in Comparative Literature from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and an MA in English from Nottingham University, England. 

Juan Carlos Cabrera Pons ( was bon in San Cristobal de las Casa Chiapas. He received a BA in Literature and Linguistics from the University of the Cloister of Sor Juana, witha  focus on Translation Studios, and an MA in Cultural Studies from the Autonomous University of Chiaps, with a focus on Socio-cultural Language Studies. His research interests revolve around colonial Latin American literature and historic identity discourses. His poetry has deserved him the National Poetry Award "Merida" 2008 and grants from the State Council for the Cultures and the Arts (CONECULTA) of Chiapas and the National Fund for the Cultures and the Arts (FONCA) of Mexico.

Sara Ceroni ( received her BA in English, Portuguese, and Russian and her MA in Italian Studies from the University of Bologna, Italy. She studied at Trinity College Dublin (2008-2009) and at the Trieste Joyce School (2015), and was a PhD Fellow in the 2015-2016 Mellon-Sawyer Seminar “Beyond Medieval and Modern: Rethinking Global Paradigms of Political Economy and Culture” at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Before joining the Comparative Literature program in 2013, she worked as a special education tutor in Italian high schools and served as a foreign language teaching assistant at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. Her primary research interests are the intersection between global modernism and colonialism/imperialism and the notion of “postcolonial modernism,” with an emphasis on Anglophone, Italophone, and Lusophone contexts. These interests also extend to the interrelations between visual arts and literature in modernist writing and nineteenth-century gothic fiction as embodiment of national narratives. Sara has published on the figures of flâneur and tourist in Antonio Tabucchi and Wim Wenders (University of Algarve, 2016) and has a forthcoming article in Annie Chartres Vivanti: Transnational Politics, Identity, and Culture (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2016).

Jeff Diteman ( is a translator, linguist and multimedia artist. He studied at the College of Idaho (BA 2002), the Sorbonne Paris IV (2002-2003), and the University of Granada (2011). He has ten years of experience as a professional translator and writes essays on culture and politics for Nailed Magazine. He has published translations of works by the Oulipian writers Raymond Queneau and Pablo Martín Sánchez. His primary research interests are dissident and clandestine writings from Spain, Latin America, and France.

Kate Edwards (kredwards@umass.edugraduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2018 with an AB in Russian and in Classical Languages. She joins the MA/PhD program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst with interests in the effect of societal and natural disasters upon later, non-participatory generations and in the spiritual versus the corporeal grotesque.

Maryam Fatima ( joined the doctoral program in 2012 with a Masters in Media and Cultural Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Mumbai, India) and a Bachelors in English Literature from St. Stephen’s College (Delhi, India). She has also worked as a curatorial assistant on several independent film festivals. Her doctoral dissertation, Generic Palimpsests: Urdu and Arabic Postcolonial Novels in the Longue Durée, which has been supported by a Mellon-Sawyer fellowship, explores how postcolonial writers draw on precolonial literary traditions like the dastan, qissa, shahr-e ashoob, and the rihla in ways that complicate Eurocentric narratives of the rise of the novel. Her scholarly interests lie at an intersection of postcolonialism, novel studies, world literature, Indian Ocean studies, and comparative history.

Nefeli Forni Zervoudaki (nforni@umass.edureceived an Associate's Degree (University of ORT, Uruguay) and a BA in Audiovisual Communication (University of Vic, Spain) with a focus on film and gender studies and began a MA on Women, Gender and Citizenship Studies (Interuniversitary, Spain). She obtained the Francesca Bartrina Prize for best gender thesis of Catalonia for her work “The Plumber: Study on the socializing effect of pornography”. She has worked in translation and education, and has taught Culture, Gender and Environment to unaccompanied minor refugees in Barcelona. Her main interests are the representations of gender and sexuality, the effects of film on society and the interaction between literature and film.

Rafael Freire (, Brazilian, has a BA in Comparative Literature (Hamilton College) and an MA in Translation Studies (University of São Paulo). For his Master's thesis he analysed and rendered into Portuguese a section of the travelogue EIMI by E. E. Cummings. The process of translating this work also spurred a reflection on the phenomenon of translation in general; he guided such discussion on the thought of the French intellectual Henri Meschonnic. With a background in modernism, Rafael's current research interests include translation, Judaism and feminism. He has worked as a visiting professor at the University of Rio Grande do Norte (Brazil).

Maryam Ghodrati ( received her BA in Persian Literature in Tehran, Iran and her MA in English Language and Literature from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She has worked as a research fellow for the William Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences at UMass Boston. Her research interests include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; Traumatic Brain Injury; Impact of war on women, minority groups, art, and culture; Process of trauma and recovery related to individuals, families, and cultures. She copy edited the Persian translation of the e-book Qazaqia by former Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, Karim Massimov. She is currently an intern for CONSEQUENCE, an international literary magazine focusing on the culture and consequence of war.

Christine Gutman ( holds a BA in French and International Relations from Simmons College. Her scholarly interests include the representation of urban transformation and revolution in the nineteenth-century French novel, textuality of space and body in surrealist and postmodern literature, urban Yiddish literature, and translation studies. Her article, “Smuggled Words: Textual Migration and Subversive Assimilation in the Translations of Isaac Bashevis Singer,” appeared in the spring 2013 issue of translation.

Noor Habib ( completed her B.A in the Humanities at the Lahore University of Management Sciences in Pakistan. She has worked as a teaching assistant and taught courses in language, literature, and history. Her research interests include postcolonial theory, modern Urdu fiction, poetry of resistance across the Muslim world and translation studies. She is hoping to work with Persian and Arabic literatures as well.

Elena Igartubuturu ( comes to the University of Massachusetts from Puerto Real, Spain. She holds an MA in Gender Studies, Cadiz, Spain, and a PhD in Gender Studies from the University of Oviedo. She has also served as a Lecturer at SUNY New Paltz. Her research focuses on hybrid identities, mostly Latin American and Chinese.

Joseph Keady ( has been a freelance translator for the past decade and is certified by New York University and the American Translators Association. He has a BA in music from Queens College, City University of New York, and his academic interests include narrativity in transnational social movements, the intersection of language and political ideology, and the semiotics of film music. He is currently an editor-at-large of Barricade: A Journal of Antifascism and Translation.

Hyongrae Kim ( received his BA in English Interpretation and Translation (2010) and his MA in Interpretation and Translation (2013) from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. Before joining the University of Massachusetts he worked as a military and government interpreter/translator in South Korea. He is currently translating "The Origins of the Panmunjom Regime: The Korean War and Liberal Peace Projects" by Hakjae Kim and "Cries of the Wandering Swallow" by North Korean defector turned poet Imu Baek. His scholarly interests include translation and power, the sociology of translation, North Korean literary translation, and interpreters in violent conflict situations.

Xu Li ( received his MAs in English from Miami University 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, Chinese intellectual history and material culture, as well as Asian American literature. He is currently doing research on ecological crises, global trade and English subjectivity from 1644 to 1840.

Marco Lobascio ( earned a BA in Philosophy from the University of Urbino in 2011, a BA in Linguistic and Cultural Mediation from the University of Bologna in 2014 and an MA in Conference Interpreting from Bologna in 2017. Before joining the PhD program in Comparative Literature, he was an exchange student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2016. A native speaker of Italian, he works out of English, German (he was an exchange student in Munich in 2013 and attended an intensive summer school for interpreters in Germersheim in 2015), Portuguese and French. He can also read Latin and Greek. His research interests include the intersection between corpus linguistics and translation studies, as well as the history of translation theories.

Adriana Marmolejo Soto ( is a second year MA student. She received a BA in Spanish from the Autonomous University of Aguascalientes in Mexico in 2015 and a year later she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship. She has taught and volunteered at literacy campaigns, focusing on older people and teenagers in high-risk circumstances. She has also advocated for the rights of Central American and Mexican immigrants crossing through Mexico.  Her current interests are representations of violence in Latin American narratives, border and migration literature, and narcoliterature.

Siobhan Meï ( graduated magna cum laude from Mount Holyoke College in 2011 with a double major in English and French literatures and earned her MA in Comparative Literature from La Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris, France in 2013. Her translations and original poetry have appeared in carte blanche, The Adirondack Review, Transference, and Asymptote. Siobhan is co-editor of the "Haiti in Translation" blog series supported by the Humanities and Social Sciences Online. Her co-authored book chapter, "Women (Re)Writing Authority: a Roundtable on Feminist Translation" is forthcoming in the 2018 Routledge Handbook on Translation, Feminism, and Gender. Siobhan currently teaches in the Commonwealth Honors College for the Writing Program here at UMass Amherst.

Mehtap Özdemir ( joined the MA/PhD program in Comparative Literature at University of Massachusetts in 2013. She earned her BA in Translation Studies from Bogazici University and MA in Comparative Literature from Istanbul Bilgi University. She participated in 2012 Istanbul session of the Harvard Institute of World Literature, Nida School of Translation Studies in 2015, and Mellon Sawyer Seminar Series as a Ph.D fellow in 2015-2016. Her current research focuses on the nineteenth century Ottoman and Arabic Literatures and Comparative Literature, The Thousand and One Nights and World Literature, Translation Studies, Post/Colonial Studies, and The Theory of the Novel.

Alexander Ponomareff ( received his BA in both Philosophy and History and an MA in Humanities and Social Thought from New York University. He is interested in the study of comic books and strips, critical theory, absences, gaps, ghosts, and space.

Benny Rangell ( is pursuing his Master of Arts in Translation Studies. He is interested in modern Hebrew literature and its reception in English translation. His current research concerns the poetry of Lea Goldberg [1911-1970]. Benny studies Arabic and Hebrew.

Krzysztof Rowinski ( is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is working on a dissertation about uses of failure and rejections of success in twentieth-century American, Italian, and Polish literature, film, and performance.. See also (

Sandra Joy Russell ( is a PhD student in Comparative Literature at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She holds a BA in English and Philosophy and a MA in English from Central Michigan University, and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Lutsk, Ukraine. Her research interests include post-Soviet and Ukrainian diasporic literature and film, especially women’s and LGBTQ literary and artistic responses to Euromaidan and the war in Donbas, the (re)construction of national identity, memory, translation studies, and the development of queer and feminist thought. She is co-authoring the chapter, "Women (Re)Writing Authority: a Roundtable on Feminist Translation,” forthcoming in the 2018 Routledge Handbook on Translation, Feminism, and Gender.

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.

Ken Scriboni ( received his BA in Cultural Studies and Critical Pedagogy (BDIC) from UMass Amherst in 2011. His degree culminated in the UMass Alliance for Community Transformation (UACT) where he taught as a co-facilitator for courses on grassroots community organizing, practicing a pedagogy inspired by bell hooks and Paolo Freire. For 7 years after, Ken worked in the food and beverage industry as a wine sales-person, a restaurant manager, and a hospitality consultant. His current research interests are varied, but center around questions of identity development and narrative construction: a) Feminist interpretations of men and masculinity, queer masculinity, the construction of men as feminist subjects, the mythopoetic men’s movement, the Pick-Up Artist community. b) Esotericism and mysticism, Western interpretations of Zen Buddhism and other Eastern traditions, the esoteric influences on neo-fascist and radical left movements, Alan Watts, Julius Evola, and self-help literature c) Italian-American racial identity, Southern Italian identity, revisionism of the Risorgimento, migration and racial dynamics, Italian hip-hop, pizzica, “authenticity” in Italian tourism. d) Automation, affective labor, the “feminization of work,” leisure and play, neoliberal ethics of self-management, Italian autonomist Marxist interpretations of the Grundrisse, Ernst Jünger’s intellectual development, e) Italo Calvino as an ethical and political thinker.


Eyal Tamir (etamir@complit.umass.eduEyal Tamir received his BA in English and Psychology from Tel Aviv University and MA in English and American Studies from UMass Amherst, writing a thesis about cult literature and the work of Philip K. Dick.  He is currently writing a dissertation about Jewish comedy in the United States and in Israel. His academic interests include twentieth century literature, film, and popular culture. He also likes the Frankfurt School and he dreams sequels to classic childhood movies.

Una Tanović ( (Bosnia and Herzegovina) joined us from Sarajevo where she received her BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Sarajevo. While spending a year at Smith College, majoring in American Studies, she served as a conversation partner for undergraduates studying Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian. She was awarded the campus-wide Distinguished Teaching Award for the academic year 2014-2015.

Arianna Valocchi ( is a native of Illinois and received her BA in Comparative Literature from Oberlin College in 2015, where she focused on the translation of contemporary Italian poetry. After earning her first degree she spent two years in Milan, Italy, perfecting her language skills, working as a translator and interpreter, and teaching English. Her undergraduate thesis focused on living Italian poet Guido Catalano, and her translations were recently featured in an award-winning documentary, screened at the 2017 Torino Film Festival. Her research interests center around contemporary Italian poetry and include translation of living and performance poets, the study and translation of female Italian writers, and unconventional translation practices and theories.

Eric Vazquez Sanchez (

Fan Wang ( is devoted to the study of Classical Chinese poetry as well as drama and fiction in late imperial China; she has an M.A. in English from the Shanghai International Studies University. Comparative Literature at UMass will allow her the opportunity to study literary traditions, both East and West, and to expose the limitations which more conventional reading practices tend to impose.

Julianne Zala ( earned a BA in Comparative Literature from Ohio Wesleyan University in May 2018 with a concentration in Arabic Literature. She is an alum of the Arabic Summer Institute at University of Texas Austin where she studied Arabic language and culture. In her undergraduate years she focused on the Israel/Palestine conflict; at UMass she aims to study Hebrew in order to continue this research.

Maryam Zehtabi Sabeti Moqaddam ( is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature. She is particularly interested in women, gender, and sexuality studies and the intersection of religion and feminism. She is currently writing her dissertation on the representations of prostitution in Persian and Arab literature. She also aspires to introduce Iranian women writers to Western audiences through translation and criticism of their works. Her translations have appeared in Asymptote, The Guardian, M-Dash, and Silk Road Review.