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
Dina Al Qassar is an MA/PhD student studying early modern lyric poetry, Calvinist theology, religious discourse, and queer philology. She is interested in studying the intersections between religious affect and gender and sexuality in early modern poetry, namely the works of Milton, Donne, Lanier, and Herbert. She is also interested in the influence of Imperial Latin poets-Ovid and Lucan-on Renaissance literature. She enjoys bad puns, good coffee, and birdwatching.
Specializations: Seventeenth century lyric poetry, religious and devotional texts, Latin poetry
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.
Kate Artz is a Composition & Rhetoric PhD student with an MA/MAT in English from Salem State University. Her academic and research interests include feminist and queer theory, digital and multimodal composition, critical pedagogy, feminist history, and women’s writing and rhetorics. When not teaching or studying, she is hopefully playing Dungeons & Dragons and drinking a lot of coffee.
Specializations: Feminist rhetoric, collaborative writing, critical pedagogy, digital and multimodal composition
Crystal is a doctoral candidate in colonial and postcolonial literature. Her dissertation focuses on twentieth century narratives of secularism and secularization in South Asian literary history and Indian Ocean Anglophone literature. Her research incorporates religious studies, feminist theory, and eco-criticism perspectives. She is also interested in Buddhist influences on African American and Asian American literary representations. She is a digitization consultant for the American Institute for Lankan Studies Colombo which specializes in the preservation and digitization of rare archives. She received her BA in English from the Peradeniya University in Sri Lanka.
Specializations: Colonial and Postcolonial Literature, Comparative and Transnational Literature, Secularism Studies, Translation Studies, Digital Humanities
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.
Specializations: 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.
Ashley Canter is an MA/PhD student in Composition and Rhetoric. She is interested in transnational feminist rhetoric, circulation, transnational literacies, and digital rhetoric. She wants to study the ways that circulating rhetorics of wider systems like neoliberalism impact women's material lives around the world. She enjoys hiking around the valley with her dog, George, and doing yoga during her free time.
Specializations: Transnational feminist rhetoric, Circulation Studies, Transnational Literacies, and Digital Rhetoric
Rowshan Chowdhury earned her BA and MA in English from the University of Chittagong, Bangladesh and completed her second MA from North Dakota State University. She is currently pursuing PhD in English with concentration in American Studies at UMass Amherst. As a scholar of American literature, she is particularly interested in the interrelationships among various empires and reading literature through a transnational lens to explore more deeply the inter-continental relationships and rethink how they shape and reshape our contemporary global perspective.
Specializations: Long nineteenth-century American literature, Asian American and transnational literature, and serialized literature
Hayley Cotter's dissertation, 'On Neptunes Watry Realmes': Maritime Law and English Renaissance Literature, probes the intersection of legal and literary history. Using an interdisciplinary approach, it considers the fictional oceans of early modern poetry and drama in the context of contemporary legal debates concerning the law of the sea. Her second project investigates the role of Neptune in early modern English literary and visual culture. Broadly, she is interested in the visuality of English law, the relationship between text and image, sixteenth-century printed German books, and early modern English and German literature.
Specializations: Renaissance literature
Jarrel De Matas
Jarrel De Matas is from Trinidad and Tobago where he earned an MA in English Literature from the University of the West Indies. He is currently a PhD candidate specializing in Caribbean Postcolonial theory and Caribbean Science and Speculative Fiction. He has publications with the Journal of Comparative Politics, the Journal of West Indian Literature, Criterion, and the Caribbean Journal of Cultural Studies. He is also a Teaching Associate in the Writing Program and the Managing Editor of Paperbark Literary Magazine.
Specializations: Caribbean Literature, science fiction, speculative fiction, Postmodern theory, Postcolonial theory
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.
Specializations: American Literature, Creative Writing, Gender and Sexuality, Poetry and Poetics, Visual Culture
Becky S. Friedman
Becky Friedman received her BA and MA in English from the University of Pennsylvania. She is now a doctoral candidate at UMass and writing her dissertation on the representation of Jews and Jewishness on the English Renaissance stage.
Specializations: Renaissance drama
Robin earned her BA and MA at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research examines how the neoliberal age requires updated understandings of how writing functions in the lives of our students. She is particularly invested in how we can use these new understandings to develop pedagogies and programs that seek to critique and propose revisions to exclusionary institutional literacy practices.
Specializations: Writing centers, literacy studies, writing-across-the-curriculum/
Subhalakshmi is a PhD Candidate in English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She moved to Amherst after completing her BA at St Stephen's College and MA in Jadavpur University, in India. Her dissertation examines the connected representations of reproduction and citizenship in the post-globalization literary and cultural archives of South Asian and Caribbean diasporas. Her project analyzes the intimacies between race and gender, biological and social reproduction (especially its governance and labor divisions), as well as the development of contemporary rhetorics of national and transnational citizenship with a focus on labor, migration and colonial networks. Subhalakshmi is currently a fellow at the Five College Women's Studies Research Center.
Specializations: Colonial, Postcolonial and Transnational literature, Migration and Diaspora studies, Global Cultural studies, Gender and Sexuality, Anglophone Literatures, Composition and Writing Across Curriculum.
Sean Ash Gordon
Sean is a PhD candidate who specializes in 19th century American literature, the history of Atlantic world science, and interdisciplinary American Studies with a focus on race, gender, and science in context of settler colonialism. His research and teaching interests include ecocriticism, Caribbean theory, race and speculative fiction, slavery and abolition, and the literature of climate change.
Specializations: American studies, Science studies, Ecocriticism, Caribbean theory, Critical Ethnic studies
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.
Andrea is an 8th grade middle school teacher. She earned her BA and MA in English literature at UMass Amherst and is close to completing her doctorate in Comp/Rhet. Her dissertation focuses on writing instruction and critical pedagogy.
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.
Specializations: African, African American & African Diaspora, Colonial, Postcolonial & Transnational, Gender and Sexuality
Caroline B. Heafey
Caroline Heafey is a PhD student in English. She holds a Masters of Arts from New York University in Irish and Irish-American Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in English and French from Fordham University. Her research focuses primarily on 20th century Irish women writers, transnational modernism, and trauma studies. Her MA research specialized in the prison writings of Dorothy Macardle and she is currently editing a critical edition of these fiction and non-fiction works. Heafey is also editing and providing an introduction to a new edition of Macardle’s 1953 novel Dark Enchantment due out from Tramp Press next year. She lives between Brooklyn and western Massachusetts.
Specializations: Irish Literature, Modernism, Women's Studies
Gayathri Madhurangi Hewagama
A fourth year PhD candidate, currently writing her thesis on the transnational relations governing the production of an early 19th century gendered white American identity called "true womanhood." This research contributes largely to the field of transnational whiteness studies with special focus on the trio of America-Britain-'Orient,' in the first half of the nineteenth centur
Specializations: 19th Century American Literature
Annaliese Hoehling is a doctoral candidate (ABD). Her research explores global modernisms, narrative and feminist theory, (neo)baroque aesthetics, and textual facilitation of encounter. She’s the recipient of the Postcolonial Studies Association Post-Graduate Essay Prize, The John Hicks Essay Prize, and the LeeAnne Smith White Essay Prize. A recent article appears in The Journal of Postcolonial Writing.
Specializations: 20th century, Global Modernisms, Late Modernism, Feminist Theory, Postcolonial Theory, Neobaroque Aesthetics,
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 Arthur F. Kinney 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 20th 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.
Elena is a current PhD student in Composition and Rhetoric. She has previously taught courses in the Writing Program and Universities Without Walls and is currently a Teaching Associate in the English Department, where she teaches courses on professional writing, technical communication, coding, and web design. When she isn't on campus, you can find her hiking and biking Pioneer Valley or cuddling with her two cats.
Specializations: Professional writing and technical communication, rhetoric of health and medicine, disability studies
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.
Specializations: 18th & 19th Century British Literature, American, Atlantic & Hemispheric, Gender and Sexuality, Theory and Culture
Angela Rain Kim
Angela is an English PhD student with a concentration in American Studies. Her primary research focuses are racial-sexual embodiment, bodily materialism, and psychoanalysis. Currently, she is examining the fantasy constructions and vivisections of racialized bodies within the white supremacist national imaginary.
Her dog, Minka, calls her ARK...ARK! ARK! ARK!
Specializations: Asian/American Studies, Racial Embodiment
Anna Ewa Klebanowska
Anna is a PhD student focusing on the depiction of class and race in late 19th- and early 20th-century American literature. She is particularly interested in naturalism and realism. In her work, she combines literary studies, visual studies, and critical race theory to investigate the mechanisms behind the ways in which white middle-class writers portrayed poverty and race, and the ways in which the subjects of this portrayal responded to it.
Specializations: American studies
Stacie Klinowski is a first year MA/PhD student in Composition and Rhetoric. She has BA degrees in English and history. Although she is still working towards narrowing the scope of her research, she is interested in disability studies, writing center studies, early American literature, etc. In her free time, Stacie is an avid - but novice - hiker, rock climber, and knitter.
Specializations: Disability studies, writing center studies, early American literature
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 18th 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 18th century. His current research interests include 18th century British women writers, materialism and consumer culture of 18th century Britain, satire, and the colonial literature.
Leslie Leonard is a PhD candidate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst studying nineteenth-century American Literature and American Studies. Her dissertation, The Burdens and Blessings of Responsibility, focuses on alternative conceptions of responsibility, duty, and community, particularly as they appear in archival texts and non-canonical literature. Her most recent work - on Frederick Douglass - will appear in a forthcoming 2021 issue of J19.
Specializations: American Studies, 19th century literature
Jeremy Levine is a PhD student from Long Island, New York. His main research interests involve the intersection of education policy and literacy development in high schools and colleges. He is particularly interested in how writing assessments create definitions of writing for students and teachers. Outside of academics, he is a musician, below-average bicyclist, and amateur breakfast chef.
Specializations: Writing development, education policy
Kelin’s dissertation, "When Your Words are Someone Else's Money: Rhetorical Circulation, Affect, and Late Capitalism," studies the conversation forums of several fantasy football leagues to learn how rhetoric influences the movements of contemporary forms of capital--and how it habituates the behavior of neoliberal subjects. Her chapter "'Let's Listen With Our Feet': Animals (Non/Human, Neurodivergent), Vulnerability, and Haptic Rhetoricity" is included in the collection Rhetorical Animals: Boundaries of the Human in the Study of Persuasion (Lexington Books, 2017). She is the author of volumes of poetry, The New Fate of Kelin Loe (Birds, LLC, 2020) and These Are the Gloria Stories (Factory Hollow, 2014). Her service dog’s name is Phantom.
Sally Luken is a PhD student studying Early Modern English literature's relation to performative utterance and religious ritual speech and practice. She has a Master of Arts degree from the University of Cincinnati where she gained an interest in the Digital Humanities. She hopes to continue exploring how religious and literary performances inform one another in surprising ways during her time at UMass Amherst. When she isn't buried under the usual pile of books, Sally enjoys being outdoors to hike, run, or embarrass herself in team sports.
Specializations: Early Modern English Literature, English Religious History, Performative Utterance, Digital Humanities
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.
Shannon Mooney is an English PhD candidate concentrating in American Studies. Broadly speaking, her work focuses on contemporary multi-ethnic literature, television, and film. Her dissertation, titled “No There There: Writing New Jersey in Literature and Popular Culture Since 1990,” explores the proliferation of literary and cultural texts set in the state of New Jersey in the 1990s and early 2000s. Shannon has taught courses in the Writing Program and the English Department, and she is currently an Assistant Director at UMass’s Writing Center.
Specializations: American Studies
Rob Murray is an MA/PhD student invested in writing center scholarship, sociological theory, and writing pedagogy. His writing interest revolves around the use of cross-disciplinary strategies between sociology and writing studies to think about the future of teaching writing in an increasingly progressive world. He hopes to bridge the writing and research strategies of these fields of study.
Specializations: Writing pedagogy, literacy studies
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.
Russell Nurick is a PhD candidate in English. His dissertation examines the moments when African American narratives become self-conscious of the risks that they are taking in representing suffering. It also explores how these texts rationalize and mediate those risks. In addition to African American literature, Russell also has interest in 20th Century American literature, American modernism, psychoanalysis, crime fiction, and gender studies.
Specializations: African American literature, 20th century American literature, modernism, gender studies
Jaclyn Ordway received her BA in English/Communications and BS in Education from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Currently, she is an MA/PhD student in Composition and Rhetoric. Some of her interests include writing centers and digital literacies.
Specializations: Writing Centers and Digital Literacies
Danielle Pappo is an MA/PhD student in Composition and Rhetoric. She came to UMass Amherst in 2016 from Seattle, where she graduated with a B.A. in Creative Writing. She is interested in community literacy, writing centers, and writing in spaces academic and beyond. When Danielle is not teaching, tutoring, or studying, she can be found writing poetry or walking her dog.
Specializations: Literacy studies
Specializations: 20th Century British Literature, Colonial, Postcolonial & Transnational
Kyle Piscioniere is an MA-PhD student studying the history of literacy, religious literacies, service learning, and writing centers. He's interested in the ways that belief intersects with literacy and education. Long term, he wants to investigate the ideological demands of literacy training. When he isn't teaching or tutoring, you can find Kyle biking Western Mass, writing, or receiving late fees on library books he swears he'll read.
Specializations: Literacy history, religious literacies, service learning, and writing centers
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.
David W. Pritchard
Specializations: Marxism, poetics, modernism, the avant-garde
N. K. A. Prempeh
N. K. A. Prempeh is an MA/PhD student whose work gravitates toward law and Black being, Afro-diasporic fugitivity as well as postcolonial and global Black literature.
Specializations: African Diaspora, Law, Fugitivity, Postcolonial
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.
Rachel Smith is a first-year MA/PhD student in the Rhetoric and Composition program. She is currently developing her areas of research, but it preliminarily interested in the roles of women in early religion and religious texts. She also has a background in secondary English education and loves teaching writing. In her free time, she enjoys going to concerts and exploring her new home in Western Mass.
Specializations: Women and gender studies; religious studies; history
Sharanya Sridhar: Specializing in early modern Drama. I am interested in writing about the politics of honour killings in Shakespearean and non-Shakespearean drama. Additional interests include female sexuality in city comedies, emerging ideas of domesticity in the early modern period, and proto-capitalist transformation of early modern London.
Specializations: Renaissance Drama and Feminist Theory
Chandler Steckbeck is a PhD student interested in exploring hierarchies of power between personified characters and non-human entities. Her past research has focused primarily on dramatic works by Shakespeare, most notably King Lear, but she plans to continue exploring themes of power and nature in works by other early modern dramatists.
Specializations: Early modern drama, ecocriticism, posthumanism
Sarah M. Stetson
Sarah is a PhD candidate who specializes in composition and literacy studies. Her dissertation is a mixed-methods study of basic writing teachers' self-identified socially just writing assessment praxes. Sarah's research and teaching interests include histories of basic writing, social, racial, and linguistic justice in literacy studies, non-traditional writing assessment processes, and qualitative methods. She received an MFA from Queens College, CUNY.
Specializations: Composition theory and pedagogy, basic writing, assessment, qualitative methods
Specializations: Drama & Performance, Renaissance Studies
Janell Tryon is a PhD student in English with a concentration in American Studies, studying concepts of home and homelessness. She plans on tracing the racist and xenophobic history of housing policy and mining contemporary American literature for examples of resisting state confinement and shelter. She spends her free time trying to keep her sourdough starter alive and biking.
Specializations: American 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-20th century.
Mitch Wells received his BA in German Language and Linguistics from Indiana State University and his MA in English from Arkansas State University. He is interested in game studies, digital rhetorics, and writing center administration. When not focused on his doctoral studies, Mitch can be found hiking, working on his poetry or fiction, or playing some kind of fantasy RPG.
Specializations: Game Studies & New Media Studies, Digital and Multimodal Rhetorics, and Writing Center Administration
John Yargo is a PhD candidate. His dissertation, Saturnine Ecologies, explores how literary representations of ecological disasters drove the formation of identities such as race and sexuality in the Renaissance. His articles have appeared or are forthcoming in the Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies and Studies in Philology. In 2020, he co-organized the conference, "Eco-Entaglements: Ruin, Grafting, Stratification." For more information, visit his website.