The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Each academic year the Center welcomes new graduate students who plan to focus their studies on aspects of the early modern or the premodern period. The Center offers graduate student office space, and access to all Center resources for research, including advising and information about Renaissance scholars throughout the Five College area.

Graduate seminars are held in the Center's Reading Room and Cheney Room. Each year the Center hosts the Graduate Student Conference, organized by current students, for scholars from around the world. Several graduate-organized groups have been formed, including the Premodern World Working Group.


Current Graduate Students

Dina Alqassar, MA/PhD Candidate 
Dina studies Renaissance lyric poetry looking at the intersections between faith and queerness in the works of Milton and the metaphysical poets (Herbert, Donne, Lanyer) with a focus on narrative of the Fall. She is also interested in the affective function of religious poetry of the early 17th century as a form of experiential piety. When not thinking about Eve and Satan, or taking Latin classes, she spends her time arguing about Star Wars and coming up with bad puns.

Daniel Armenti, PhD Candidate
Daniel Armenti is a candidate in Comparative Literature. His studies focus on the reception of classical literature in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, representations of gender, and the intersection of literature and law. His dissertation is titled Moralizing the Rape of Philomela in the Medieval Commentary Tradition.

Grayson Chong, MA/PhD Candidate
Grayson Chong is an early modern Caribbeanist. Prior to her arrival to Amherst, she graduated from the University of Toronto in 2019. Grayson is particularly interested in the processes of hybridization, creolization, and colonialism in the Renaissance. Using travelogues and early modern plays as passages, she considers how slavery in the New World influenced ideologies of race, language, gender, and family ties. Grayson uses these processes to trace and explore how these ideologies affect the present-day Caribbean.

Hayley Cotter, PhD Candidate 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.   

Liz Fox, PhD Candidate 
Liz Fox is a PhD candidate in English specializing in early modern drama. Her current research project, “Theatre of Exchange: The Cosmopolitan Stage of Jacobean London,” examines how playwrights engaged with London’s emergence as a world city through depictions of commodities such as coins, art objects, sex, and theatre. Liz’s essay, “‘These Very Pictures Will Surmount My Wealth’: Aesthetic and Economic Competitions in Thomas Heywood’s If You Know Not Me, II” is forthcoming in Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England. She is the current Editorial Assistant for English Literary Renaissance.

Becky S. Friedman, PhD Candidate
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.

Melissa Hudasko, PhD Candidate
Melissa is an Anglo-Saxonist whose research interests span the pre/early modern period. Her dissertation examines Old English poetry, ecosemiotics, and the early modern origins of English lexicography. Melissa teaches courses in Writing and English Literature, including 'Shakespeare,' 'The History of the English Language,' and 'Literature and the Environment.'

Yunah Kae, PhD Candidate 
Yunah is interested in early modern drama, critical race studies, the history of literature, and New Formalism.    

Merita Ljubanovic, PhD Candidate 
Merita Ljubanovic is an MA/PhD student studying early modern English drama, particularly those set in the Mediterranean, that deal with religious, geographic, and racial difference. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from CUNY Lehman College. Her research focuses on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English interest in Balkan historical narratives, and how modern nationalist movements in the Balkan Peninsula assimilated English interpretations into their national ideology.

Lauren L. Rollins, PhD Candidate 
Lauren L. Rollins's dissertation "Fictions of Power" discusses traditionally disenfranchised groups and the representation of their political agency within Tudor and Stuart drama. She is also interested in early modern naval piracy and popular rebellion.

Gregory Sargent, PhD Candidate 
Gregory Sargent is writing a dissertation tentatively titled “The Violation of Theatrical Space in the Drama of Shakespeare and his Contemporaries.” He holds an MA from NYU and a BA from UCLA. When he isn’t working on early modern literature or reading theory, he enjoys reading Victorian fiction, watching soccer on TV, and immersing himself in Star Wars movies.

Ty Smart, PhD Candidate
Ty Smart (they/them) is a PhD student with interest in early modern discourse on nature as it intersects with affect, space, gender and sexuality, and race. They hold a M.A. in English from Syracuse University and a M.S. in Human Resources and Labor Relations from Michigan State University. Ty’s work investigates the way naturalized forms of affect and labor inform our understandings of gender and sexuality. They are particularly interested in the history of pastorals and science fiction. Ty is currently teaching College Writing and has previous experience with facilitating courses on Organizational Culture.

Sharanya Sridhar, PhD Candidate 
Sharanya Sridhar is a PhD candidate working on her dissertation titled: “She is a woman, therefore to be won”: Narratives of Taming, Shaming, and Honor Killing in Early Modern English Drama and Indian Shakespeare(s). She work with Tamil adaptations of Shakespeare from the colonial and post-Independence era. One of her goals is to investigate how whiteness and values associated with whiteness are constructed, critiqued, and appropriated in Tamil plays and films while simultaneously pointing to affinities between early modern English and Tamil culture. Her research interests include Shakespearean and non-Shakespearean drama, feminist theory, post-colonial theory, and film theory. At Umass, she has taught courses such as Gender, Sexuality, Literature, and Culture, Society and Literature, and College Writing. This semester, she is teaching a course titled 'Women Writers Across the Globe'. She is excited to introduce her students to stories and writers from diverse backgrounds.

Chandler G. Steckbeck, PhD Candidate
Chandler’s work focuses on the power and impact of non-human entities in Shakespeare’s dramatic works. Her MA Thesis, “‘Is man no more than this?’ Atypical Agency, Lack of Hierarchical Power, and the Futility of Human Superiority in Shakespeare’s King Lear,” examines entities such as the feather of Act V to argue that non-human entities can have as powerful an impact on the progress of the play as the human characters. Chandler earned her BA in English from Northwestern Oklahoma State University in 2017 and her MA in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2019.

Catherine Elliott Tisdale, PhD Candidate 
Catherine Elliott Tisdale specializes 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 reenvisions how these characters contribute to, alter, and imaginatively build new epistemologies for understanding difference in early modern London. 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 the year-long dissertation seminar “Researching the Archive,” with Peter Stallybrass and Ann Blair.

Matthew Walsh, MA/PhD Candidate 
Matthew is interested in animal studies. In the summer of 2019, he completed a summer fellowship tracing seventeenth-century conceptions of the animal, namely how cross-species comparisons function in the period to modulate a wider network of mutualities between race, sexuality, and able-bodiedness. Matthew’s previous fellowship explored the ecocritical affinity between Thomas More’s Utopia and England's early colonial propaganda. He received his BA in English Literature at Fitchburg State University, where he graduated valedictorian of his class.



Will Steffen (2018) - Assistant Professor of English—American Internation College, MA

David Katz (2018) - Lecturer at the Jacobson Center for Writing, Teaching, and Learning—Smith College, MA

Meghan Swavely (2018) - Adjunct Assistant Professor—University of San Diego, CA

Josephine Hardman (2017) - Lecturer in English Language & Literature—Smith College, MA

Katey Roden (2016) - Lecturer of English and Women's & Gender Studies; Visiting Scholar in Digital Humanities—Gonzaga University

Anne-Marie Strohman (2014) - Children's Writer and Freelance Editor

Marie Roche (2013) - Translator English and French at UMass Amherst Translation Center

Nathaniel Leonard (2013) - Assistant Professor & Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning—Westminster College

Philip Palmer (2013) - Head of Research Services at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library—UCLA

Timothy J. Zajac (2013) - Brother with The Dominican Friars Foundation

Anne Garner (2012) - Managing Director, InterAct Theatre Company

Graham Christian (2012) - Dance historian & author of The Playford Assembly: 100 Years of Country Dance & Song (2016)

Jessica Landis (2012) - Assistant Professor—Franklin Pierce University

Kevin Petersen (2012) - Lecturer—University of Massachusetts Lowell

Matteo Pangallo (2012) - Assistant Professor—Virginia Commonwealth University

Young-Jin Chung (2011) - Assistant Professor—Ewha Womans University, Seoul, South Korea

Timothy Watt (2011) - English Teacher—Chase Collegiate School

David Swain (2007) - Professor & Department Chair—University of Southern New Hampshire