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 Baines received her BA in English literature and language studies from the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. She is currently reading for a PhD in English literature with a concentration in Indian ocean Anglophone literatures, contemporary Sinhala literature, human rights and development studies. She is also interested in the development of the English novel in late 19th and early 20th century South Asia. Her secondary research interests include Translation Studies and Performance Studies.
Specializations: Colonial and Postcolonial Literature, Translation Studies
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
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. She has presented papers on a variety of topics, including the English admiralty jurisdiction debates, maritime boundaries in Michael Drayton's Poly-Olbion, and maritime law in Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene. She has forthcoming articles on printed maritime law in seventeenth-century England and popular English accounts of piracy, 1609-1675.
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
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.
Specializations: African, African American & African Diaspora, American Literature, Critical Race and Ethnicity, Gender and Sexuality, Marxist Literary Studies, Theory and Culture
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
Liz Fox is a doctoral candidate in English specializing in early modern drama. Her research project, "Theatre of Exchange: The Cosmopolitan Stage of Jacobean London," investigates representations of goods on stage including coins, art objects, and plays themselves, as well as commercial services including the sex trade, to argue that the period's drama engages in processes of reevaluation across economic and cultural networks. She is the Editorial Assistant for English Literary Renaissance.
Specializations: Early modern drama, performance studies, and early modern material 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 and is now a PhD student working on her areas exams. She is interested in writing centers, literacy studies, and writing as social action. Outside of graduate school, she likes debating Hogwarts Houses, riding her bike, and scouting out the Valley's different ice cream spots.
Specializations: Writing centers, literacy studies
Subhalakshmi is a PhD Candidate in English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She moved to Amherst after completing her BA at St Stephens 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 in the United States. Her project analyses the intimacies between biological and social reproduction—especially its governance and labor divisions—and the development of contemporary rhetorics of national and transnational citizenship with a focus on labor, migration and colonial networks. Subhalakshmi holds fellowships at the Interdisciplinary Studies Institute and the Five College Women's Studies Research Center. She is currently the president of the Graduate Students of Color Association.
Specializations: Colonial, Postcolonial and Transnational literature, Migration and Diaspora studies, Gender and Sexuality, Global Anglophone and World literature, 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 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.
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 recieved a BS in English at Towson University and is a current MA/PhD student in Composition and Rhetoric. She has previously taught courses in the Writing Program and Continuing and Professional Education and is currently a Teaching Associaste 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 Kim is an English PhD student with an American Studies concentration. She is primarily interested in texts that are subversive in content and form. She enjoys hiking with her dogs and drinking IPAs.
Specializations: American Studies, Postmodern literature, gender and sexuality, queer theory, and video games
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 student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst studying 19th century American literature with a concentration in American Studies. Leslie is currently interested in new materialism, performance studies, and histories of technology. Her work hopes to address complicated interactions between objects, persons, and environments. In her own classroom, she strives to highlight structures of power and methods of resistance.
Specializations: American Studies, 19th century literature
Jeremy Levine is an MA/PhD student from Long Island, New York. He is interested in genre studies, writing assessment, and sonic rhetorics, with an overarching interest in how rhetors work through social and material restrictions on their ability to communicate. Apart from his coursework, he loves to listen to and make music, update his ever-growing spreadsheet of Pioneer Valley coffee shops, and cook elaborate breakfasts.
Specializations: Genre, Assessment, Sonic and Musical rhetorics
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 received her BA from the University of Maryland (2015) and her MA from the University of Connecticut (2018) and is currently a PhD student in English pursing the concentration in American Studies. Her research focuses on twentieth and twenty-first century American literature, TV, and film, particularly the ways in which different bodies inhabit, interact with, and are surveilled within public and private spaces.
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
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.
Specializations: Composition and rhetoric, digital humanities & media, theory and culture
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 interests span Early Modern race, Africana Studies and Post Colonial Studies, particularly the relationship between Early Modern racialization and transnational expressions of blackness—both modern and historical—as manifested through language, literature, music, and film.
Specializations: Early Modern Race and African Diaspora
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.
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
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.
Sarah Mazun Stetson
Sarah is a PhD student in Composition and Rhetoric. She received her BA in Religious Studies from New York University and her MFA in Poetry from Queens College, CUNY, where she taught composition, literature, and creative writing courses from 2011 to 2015. Currently she is Basic Writing and Placement Coordinator for the UMass Writing Program and a Research Assistant at the Office of Academic Planning and Assessment at UMass. Sarah's research focuses on developmental writing theory and pedagogy, writing assessment, and questions of college access, equity, and success.
Specializations: Composition theory and pedagogy, basic writing, assessment, qualitative methods
Catherine Elliott Tisdale
Specializations: Renaissance Drama, LGBTQ Studies, Digital Humanities, Women and Gender Studies
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