Graduate students in the UMass English Department hail from all over the United States and around the world, and they are wonderfully diverse with respect to age, race, sexual orientation, and professional interests. They regularly present papers at both regional and national conferences, and many leave with at least one publication at the time of their doctorate. Our students also compete successfully for University Fellowships, national fellowships, and the university's distinguished teaching awards. Students play an active role in program policy and governance, and they organize an annual conference, hosted by the English Graduate Organization.
Current Graduate Students
Dina Al Qassar
Faune Albert received her BA in Cultural Studies, Literature, and Creative Writing from Hampshire College and completed her MA in English at UMass Amherst. She is currently working on her PhD in American Literature and developing a focus in the literature and history of the U.S South. She is interested in exploring the intersections between race, class, gender, and sexuality, and thinking about the relationship between psychological and physical experiences of embodiment. Other related interests include, broadly, Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, utopian thought, spatiality and temporality, and the relationships between history, memory, and the body. She is also currently completing the Certificate in Advanced Feminist Thought through the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at UMass.
Sohini Banerjee received her M.A. in English Literature from Jadavpur University, India. She is currently in the first year of the PhD program, finishing coursework towards her degree. Her research interests include 20th century British literature, modernism and modernity, contemporary world literature, the Novel, feminist, narrative and transnational theory.
Michelle is a doctoral student studying medieval literature. Her research interests include Middle English literature, Chaucer, literary negation in later medieval prose and poetry, and medieval theories of affect. She is currently at work on her dissertation prospectus. Prior to attending UMass Amherst, Michelle received a BA and MA in English from California State University, Long Beach. Michelle is the Editorial Assistant for the Old English Newsletter. She also serves as Treasurer for the English Graduate Organization. Michelle has presented at the International Congress on Medieval Studies, the Medieval Association of the Pacific Conference, and the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association Conference.
Research Areas: Medieval Literature, Poetry and Poetics, Theory and Culture
Emily Campbell holds a BA in History and English, with a concentration in Creative Writing, from Hollins University. She is an MA-PhD candidate in English at UMass Amherst, with a focus on contemporary (cross)genre texts. In addition to theories of genre, her research interests address the interplay between gender, performance, affect, and temporality. Emily is co-chair of the 2014 English Graduate Organization interdisciplinary conference "Close Encounters: Remapping Discipline through Genre." She is also a Graduate Student Senate representative for the English Department.
Hayley studies the literature and culture of early modern Britain. Her dissertation, ‘On Neptunes Watry Realmes’: Maritime Law and English Renaissance Literature, probes the intersection of early modern legal rhetoric and the oceans of English Renaissance poetry and drama (Spenser’s Faerie Queene; Drayton’s Poly-Olbion; and Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, The Tempest, and Pericles). It places these literary oceans in the context of both the international law of the sea and the domestic battle for admiralty jurisdiction fought in the English courts. Hayley is also interested in Middle High German literature and the poetry of Tang and Song China.
Matthew Donlevy earned his BA in History from The University of Virginia's College at Wise, and his MA in English from UMass Amherst. He is currently an English doctoral student at the latter institution where he follows the American Studies concentration. Matthew's work traces the development of traditional, subversive and aloof masculinities in 19th century American literature. In particular he investigates the ways by which the Black and Working Class laboring body informs, resists, and subsumes white bourgeois masculine norms.
Research Areas: African, African American & African Diaspora, American Literature, Critical Race and Ethnicity, Gender and Sexuality, Marxist Literary Studies, Theory and Culture
Catherine E. Elliott is a PhD candidate in the English Department specializing in Renaissance Drama. Her dissertation, "Adaptive Transformations: Stranger Fictions on the Early Modern Stage" reimagines the cultural and social effect of alien, foreign, and stranger characters on the early modern stage and how they contribute to, alter, and imaginatively build the spaces of alien settlement in and around London. This project proposes and utilizes a new theory of adaptive transformation as a mode of engagement underway in the period, one that did not depend on galvanizing English nationalism or on relegating such characters to the station of issues that need fixing, defining, containing, absorbing, or assimilating, but that explored desirable, resistant, and often failing transformations of the as generative sites of unpredictable hybridity. Catherine is the recipient of the 2014 Folger Institute Grant-in-aid for "Mastering Research," and the 2017-18 Folger Institute Grant-in-aid for yearlong dissertation seminar "Researching the Archive," with Peter Stallybrass and Ann Blair. Catherine received her BA(hons) from Union College (NY) in 2012 and her MA in Renaissance Literature from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2015.
Research Areas: Drama & Performance, History of the Book, Medieval Literature, Renaissance Studies
Nicole S. Erhardt
Nicole Erhardt completed her BA in Poetry and Visual Art at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2013. She is currently in the American studies MA/PhD concentration, focusing on contemporary American poetry and poetics. Her current research interests include feminist and political theory, visual art, and the ways in which creative and critical works overlap. She is an Assistant Director for the Juniper Institute for Young Writers.
Research Areas: American Literature, Creative Writing, Gender and Sexuality, Poetry and Poetics, Visual Culture
Liz Fox received her BAs in English and Drama from Ithaca College and completed her MA in English at UMass Amherst. She is currently working on her PhD in English Literature with a focus on early modern drama. Her current research interests include representations of audiences on stage and the codes of signification through which early modern drama was made and understood.
Travis D. Grandy
Travis Grandy is a Doctoral student studying Composition and Rhetoric at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His research areas include discourse & genre studies, queer & disability studies, writing in new media, and writing across the curriculum. As a graduate student, Travis has taught courses on composition, writing in social media, and writing center studies. Read more about him at his website, travisgrandy.com.
Andrea is an 8th grade middle school teacher. She earned her BA and MA in English literature at UMass Amherst and is slowly working on her doctorate in Comp/Rhet. She is particularly interested in critical pedagogy, writing workshop and writing assessment. She has five children and one husband with whom she lives in Shelburne Falls.
Joy Hayward-Jansen is a doctoral student working in the intersections of queer and postcolonial studies with a particular interest in South African literature. Inspired by work being done in queer of color critique in the U.S. and transnational feminism(s) at large, her research revolves around questions of temporality, homonationalism(s), and futurity. She won the Postcolonial Studies Association postgraduate essay prize, and her article "Ibn Fadlan: Crossing Over and the Nature of the Boundary" was published in The Postcolonialist June 2014.
Research Areas: African, African American & African Diaspora, Colonial, Postcolonial & Transnational, Gender and Sexuality
Gayathri Madhurangi Hewagama
She received her BA in English in University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, and her Mphil in English from the same university. She also worked as a lecturer in English in the Department of English, University of Peradeniya before enrolling in a PhD in English in UMASS-Amherst. She is currently working on African American women's narratives of the 19th century.
Research Areas: African, African American & African Diaspora
Annaliese Hoehling holds a BA in English (Henderson State University), MA in English Literature, and MFA in Literary Translation (University of Arkansas). After receiving her MFA, Annaliese worked in the nonprofit sector before returning to pursue her PhD, with a focus on British and Atlantic Modernisms, fin de siècle and twentieth-century fiction. Her interests include narrative and feminist theories; transnational inquiries and methodologies; global modernisms; and textual facilitation of encounter. She has served as Communications Officer ('14-15) and Co-Chair ('15-17) of the English Graduate Organization at UMass. She is the recipient of the John Hicks Essay Prize ('15), the LeeAnne Smith White Essay Prize ('15), and the Postcolonial Studies Association Post-Graduate Essay Prize ('15). Her current research combines feminist phenomenology with neobaroque aesthetics to describe literary manifestations of Atlantic Modernisms.
Research Areas: 20th Century British Literature, Colonial, Postcolonial & Transnational, Theory and Culture
William Hrusovsky received his BA in literature from Kent State University and his MA with a focus in Renaissance Literature from Texas Tech University. He is currently working on his PhD in Renaissance Literature with research focusing in Early Modern poetry and prose, Textual Studies and Book History, and Digital Humanities. William is currently the Editorial Assistant for English Literary Renaissance housed at the Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies.
Nirmala Iswari received her BA (2007) and MA (2009) in English Literature from Stella Maris College, Chennai, India. She is currently in the PhD program at UMass Amherst. She is still working on defining a focus for her dissertation in which, broadly put, she will be situating some early twentieth century African-American texts in a transnational context where ideas about blackness and democracy circulated, reading them as a body of political thought. Her broader interests include approaches to reading American literature in transnational contexts, postcolonial approaches to reading literature, with particular attention to the literatures of South Asia and the South Asian diaspora (primarily those written in English), and intersections between (creative / non-theoretical) literature and political theory (particularly those with special attention to democracy in global contexts).
Florianne is currently in coursework towards the PhD in Composition and Rhetoric. Her research interests lie in Philippine studies, transnationalism, migration, and Filipino rhetoric. She has most recently presented at the Thomas R. Watson Conference on Composition and Rhetoric and the UMass Boston Conference on Teaching.
Sunmi received her BA and MA in English literature from Seoul National University in South Korea. Sunmi is currently a PhD candidate in English at UMass Amherst, with a focus on nineteenth century British literature. Her research interests include Victorian studies, Gothic fiction, monster/spectre studies, gender and sexuality studies, cultural studies, queer theory, affect theory, critical theory, and psychoanalysis.
Research Areas: 18th & 19th Century British Literature, American, Atlantic & Hemispheric, Gender and Sexuality, Theory and Culture
Jenny Krichevsky received her BA in English Literature and her MA in English with a specialization in Composition and Rhetoric at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Jenny is the Assistant Director of the UMass Amherst Writing Center, has served as co-chair of the annual UMass English Graduate Conference, and is currently the co-chair of the English Graduate Organization. Entering her last semester of coursework, she is working in Critical University Studies scholarship to engage with the ways representations of nation and citizenship collide with literacy practices and inform pedagogical, administrative, and disciplinary structures.
Rohit Lanez-Sharma received his BA in Creative Writing from Hunter College, City Universities of New York and completed his MA in English, with a concentration in Eighteenth-Century British Literature, at Fordham University. He is currently working on his PhD in English Literature with a focus on British literature of the long eighteenth century. His current research interests include eighteenth-century British women writers, materialism and consumer culture of eighteenth century Britain, satire, and the colonial literature.
Research Areas: Composition and Rhetoric, Creative Writing, Gender and Sexuality, Poetry and Poetics
Kelin Loe received her MFA in poetry from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (2012) and her BA in Literatures in English and in Asian Studies with a concentration in China area studies from St. Olaf College (2008). She is currently working on her MA/PhD in Rhetoric and Composition. Her current research interests are in the crossover between rhetoric and poetics, creative writing and composition. She is the author of the chapbook The Motorist, published by minutesBOOKS (2010). Her poetry can be found online in jubilat, H_NGM_N, and Jellyfish Magazine.
Patricia Matthews is a student in the PhD program with interests in 20th and 21st century experimental women’s writing and performance. She is drawn toward questions of form, namely the ways in which innovative and experimental texts make unique demands upon the attentions and interpretive practices of their readers. Pat holds a BA in French and Comparative Literature from the University of Rhode Island and an MA from UMass Amherst.
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.
Research Areas: 20th Century British Literature, Colonial, Postcolonial & Transnational
Rebecca is a PhD candidate in Composition and Rhetoric. Her research looks at how disciplinary scholarship is mobilized in Writing Programs across the U.S., with a focus on computers, digital literacy, and First-Year composition. She is also interested in Higher Education Administration, and is currently the Graduate Assistant for the UMass General Education Council and the Junior-Year Writing Program Coordinator. When not working or researching, you can find Rebecca drinking coffee, binging new shows with her two cats, or traveling the world one destination at a time.
Specializations: Digital Composition, Writing Program Administration
Thomas John Pickering
Thomas John Pickering holds an M.A. in rhetoric and composition from Washington State University and is currently a doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts. His work occurs broadly at the intersections of composition/rhetoric and marxism, and his interests include critical pedagogy, rhetorical ecology theory, basic writing, circulation, and digital writing theory and practice.
Research Areas: Composition and Rhetoric, Digital Humanities & Media, Theory and Culture
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.
Neelofer Qadir is a PhD candidate in the English department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her dissertation, Afrasian Imaginaries: Global Capitalism and Labor Migration in Indian Ocean Fiction, 1990 - 2015, argues for re-orientations in postcolonial, transnational, and global Anglophone literary studies by taking as its central focus relationships between African and Asian peoples to assert that turning to these Indian Ocean fictions provides fresh opportunities to engage with global capitalism both in its historical development and its contemporary manifestations. Neelofer has taught composition courses and literature courses at UMass, including College Writing, World Literature in Film, Later British Literature 1700-1900, and Film & Literature. She was also the co-chair of the annual graduate conference, Citizenship and Its Discontents: Belonging in a Global World, in 2013 and she is a co-organizer for Methods Symposium 2016: New Approaches in Queer, Postcolonial, and Black Studies.
Research Areas: African, African American & African Diaspora, Asian American & Asian Diaspora, Colonial, Postcolonial & Transnational, Critical Race and Ethnicity, Theory and Culture
Lauren Rollins received her BAs in Government and International Politics and English from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, and her MA in English from Georgetown University. She is currently completing a PhD in Renaissance English literature. Her research interests include Tudor and Stuart drama, particularly the work of Thomas Heywood, diplomatic relations between England and Spain, and early modern naval piracy.
Anna-Claire Simpson Steffen
Anna-Claire Simpson Steffen received her BA in English Literature from UCLA. She is currently working on her MA/PhD in English Literature at UMass Amherst, with a focus on Renaissance drama. Her interests include representations of childhood onstage, child actors/acting troupes, marginalized figures (in terms of age, socioeconomic status, and race), and performance theory.
Will received his BA from Hampshire College in 2011. He is currently transitioning from finishing his MA coursework to beginning his PhD coursework. His primary research focuses on early modern English drama and travel writing, empire studies, and cannibalism.
Research Areas: Drama & Performance, Renaissance Studies
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.