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University of Massachusetts Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst

English Department

Graduate Students in American Studies

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Eli Bromberg

Eli Bromberg received his BA from Amherst College and his MA from Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English. After working in college admission, he is now pursuing his PhD in English with a concentration in American Studies, and a focus on Jewish American studies. His current research interests include trauma theory, literary narratives involving intermarriage and incest, and feminist theory.

Amherst College Memorial Fellowship in English and American Literature. 2013-2014.
Amherst College Memorial Fellowship in English and American Literature. 2012-2013.

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Adam Daniell

Adam Daniell completed an MA (a Scottish undergraduate degree) and MLitt at the University of Aberdeen. He is currently working towards an MA/PhD in English (American Studies) with a focus on Native American Studies. Building on his previous work concerning trauma theory, he is also interested in the ways in which analytic philosophy (as opposed to the continental model), alongside contemporary scientific research, might be usefully applied to studies of literature and culture.
"Forgetting the taint of death in Heart of Darkness: the centrality of lying" Joseph Conrad Society (UK) Annual Conference. London. August 2011.

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Rachel Jessica Daniel

Rachel Jessica Daniel is a doctoral candidate in the American Studies Program. Daniel has her Graduate Certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her research and teaching interests are 20th and 21st century African American Literature and Popular Culture.

Her dissertation,Resurrection: the Black Church in a Post Civil Rights Movement Era, examines contemporary representations of black church culture in films, stage plays, black Christian popular fiction, and rap music. In Fall 2013, Daniel gave a public lecture at Ursinus College based on this research entitled, "Dragging the Black Church: Comedic Performances of Black Women." She is currently revising this talk for publication.

Daniel's first article, "Art in the Age of Political Correctness: Race in the TEAM's Architecting" argues for ethical performances of race. It was published in the Winter 2010 edition of The Drama Review.

Daniel has also taught a wide variety of writing and literature courses. Her Fall 2013 course, Gender, Sexuality, Literature and Culture, focused on immigration and migration in the African Diaspora. Daniel is currently teaching Ethnic American Literature. This class examines constructions of blackness in African American and Latino/a American literature and popular culture.

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Isabel Espinal

Isabel is in the American Studies PhD program and is also a full time librarian in the W.E.B. Du Bois Library here at UMass. Her interests are Latino studies, Dominican writers, healing in literature of people of color, and participatory action research. She has an approved prospectus titled “Using Participatory Action Research to Study Dominican Women Writers in the United States.” An early paper she wrote for a class in the program, "A Bridge to Brown: The Politics of Latin@ Reading," was published in the book Technofuturos: Critical Interventions in Latina/o Studies. She hopes to finish her dissertation in the coming year. But she will also be busy as Vice President/ President Elect of REFORMA: The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking. Isabel is also Co-Chair of the Latino Caucus of the Green Party of the United States. She has three teenage children.

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Sean Gordon

Sean Gordon received his BA in English Literature from Boston University. He is currently in his third year of the MA/PhD program in English Literature with a concentration in American Studies and a period focus on the nineteenth century. His interdisciplinary research interests include the cultures of US imperialism, literature as political theory, the history of US democracy, and transnational and postcolonial American Studies. Sean has taught many sections of College Writing. In the spring of 2012, he co-taught the writing workshop, "Writing as Social Action," a course that he co-designed. He co-chaired the UMass-Amherst English Graduate Conference, "Citizenship and Its Discontents: Belonging in a Global World" (2012-13) and is currently the co-chair of the English Graduate Organization.

"Remapping Democracy: New England in the Colonization Movement." New England American Studies Association. Mashantucket, CT. September 2013.

"Dickinson and Democratic Citizenship." Emily Dickinson International Society. College Park, MD. August 2013.

"'The Colonial Sin of Imitation': Inter-Imperialism in Poe's 'A Tale of the Ragged Mountains.'" Studies Association Annual Conference. San Juan, Puerto Rico. November 2012.

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Rebecca Griffin

Rebecca Griffin received her BA in English-journalism from the University of New Hampshire. Rebecca worked a newspaper reporter for nearly a decade, prior to earning her MA in English from the University of Maine. At UMass, she is working on her PhD in English Literature with a focus on modernist American literature. Her current research interests include proletarian poetry and fiction of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Rebecca has presented at the Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture since 1900, the Southern Connecticut State University Graduate English Conference, and the UMass English Graduate Conference.

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Celine Nader

Celine is an American Studies & English PhD student committed to bringing her own studies into the classrooms in which she teaches; fostering critical thought and deep engagement with students are priorities. Her paper "Myth, Medicine & Merriment: Maximo and Bartola, Mid-19th Century Othering, and the Curious De/Construction of Citizen-Subjects" was awarded the 2009 Book Prize in Cultural Studies at UMass, Boston. She will be presenting the paper "Puertorriqueño in the Classroom: Bilanguaging / Biculturing as Emancipatory Pedagogical Foundation" at a conference in the spring of 2014, and is currently developing a dissertation topic around the negotiation, critique, and exploration of citizenship and identity in Puerto Rican cultural productions. Celine has lived and taught in the U.S. and Spain.

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Heather Nielsen

Heather Nielsen received her BA from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she studied American Studies and public history. She is currently an MA/PhD in American Studies, and her research interests include cultural history, collective memory, citizenship and (trans)national identities, and public humanities.

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Gina Marie Ocasion

Gina Ocasion received her BA and MA in English literature from California State University Fullerton.  She is currently working on her dissertation tentatively titled, "(De)Constructing American Identities: 19th Century Children and Cultures of National Memory".  Her interests include children's culture, Native studies, critical race studies, national identity, national histories, U.S. women's histories, and politics of reproduction.

Classes taught:
English 115 - American Experience (Spring 2014)
College Writing 112
English 361 - The Modern Novel, 1900-1945

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Tom Poehnelt

Tom Poehnelt received his dual-BA in English and Public Communications from Buffalo State College and completed his MA in English and American Literature at NYU. He is currently working on his PhD in English via the American Studies track, specializing in Asian American literature and graphic novels. His current research interests include American orientalism, critical race theory, diaspora, violence and war, and counter-hegemonic cultural practices. Tom has presented at the SUNY Stony Brook Graduate English Conference. He has also been the recipient of the Mary S. Morris Sterling Academic Scholarship and is a member of the Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society.

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Emilia Sawada

Emilia Sawada received her BA in Asian American Studies from Scripps College and is a former Fulbright Scholar (South Korea 2011-2013). She is currently working on her MA/PhD in English Literature with a focus on 20th and 21st century Asian American literature. Her current research interests include feminist theory, queer theory, post-colonial theory, autobiography studies, and transnationalism.

“The Literary Process of Political Becoming: Reconceptualizing the Praxis of Autobiography.” Asian Americans in the Ivory Tower. Annual Conference of the Association for Asian American Studies. New Orleans, LA. May 2011.

Fulbright Scholarship, 2011.

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Lauren Silber

Lauren received her BA in English with a minor in Economics from University of Connecticut and her MA in English and American Studies from University of Massachusetts Amherst.  She is currently working on her Area exams, which compare 20th and 21st century (American) immigrant fiction through optics of empire, race, gender, sexuality, class, labor, the law, and the family.  Her research interests include ethnic and critical race theory, literature and the law, critical race feminisms, memory and trauma, psychoanalysis, American empire studies, and popular culture.

"The Real Housewives of Bravo TV: Teaching, Critiquing, and Creating Women's Work." New England Popular/American Culture Association. Colchester, Vermont: October 2013.

"The Inequality of Equations: Indian Killer's offer to Native Identity Politics." New England American Studies Association. Mashantucket, Connecticut: September 2013.

"Following the Ghetto Girl: Interrogating the Politics of Recognition in Anzia Yezierska's Salome of the Tenements." American Comparative Literature Association. Toronto, Canada: April 2013

"Rethinking the Black-Jewish Alliance: Leo Frank's lynching in The Crisis." University of Massachusetts Amherst English Graduate Organization Conference. Amherst, Massachusetts: March 2013.

"Leo Frank in The Crisis:  Reversing the Gaze of the Black-Jewish Alliance." Eastern American Studies Association. Harrisonburg, Virginia: March 2013.

"Jewish Melancholia?  Re-reading the Neurotic, Self-Loathing Jew." 180 in Progress: Lightning Shorts from the Next Generation (Graduate Student Panel). American Studies Association. San Juan, Puerto Rico: November 2012.

"Langston Hughes' 'America' in the Dialect Poetry of Immigrant Proletarian Writers." New England Modern Language Association. Rochester, New York: March 2012..

COWL Jewish Leadership Fellowship, National Yiddish Book Center, 2011.

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Damien Weaver

Damien Weaver holds a BA in American Studies from Texas A&M University. He received his MFA in creative writing from The New School, and his MA in American Studies from NYU. He is currently working on a PhD in American Studies with a focus on jazz and blues literature of the mid-twentieth century.

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