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Current M.A. & Ph.D. Students

Name / Email Research & Teaching Interests

Sarah Barkin


Sarah began the PhD program in 2009. (M.A., English, Syracuse University; M.A., History, SFSU).  Her research and teaching interests involve visual culture, focusing on the ways in which documentaries, graphic narratives, and photography engage with the interplay of history, memory, geography, and trauma in Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon. In addition she is interested in Jewish and Arab diasporas, gender, social problem films, and pop culture.

Christopher Barnes


Christopher's research and teaching interests focus on postcolonial and trauma theory and their intersections in representations of September 11th and the War on Terror in film and literature. I am also more broadly interested in discourses on terrorism and political violence and how they are produced and represented through different texts.

Amy Burnette


Amy Burnette entered the Ph.D. program in English in 2010 (M.A. English, Appalachian State University, 2010; B.A. English and Sociology, Appalachian State University, 2008). She is currently at work on her dissertation project, ​Praxis Memoriae: The Technique of Memory in English Renaissance Literature, 1580-1630, which explores how ideas circulating about memory, namely within the context of the humanist revival of the classical ars memoria, supplied authors with a theory and practice of literary invention. She has taught courses including ETS 113: Survey of British Literature to 1789, ETS 121: Introduction to Shakespeare, ETS 153: Interpretation of Fiction, ETS 182: Race and Literary Texts, and ETS/WGS 192: Gender and Literary texts. 

Maxwell Cassity

I am an American Modernist interested in examining the transition to modernism and the development of modernist techniques as well as the more contemporary shift from this aesthetic to what is being termed “Post” Modernism. When it comes to theoretical underpinnings I am a Marxist scholar interested in examining the politics and aesthetics of globalization. I have always been enthralled by the contemporary canon of American modernists, such as Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and others. I am, however, also interested in a more global sense of modernity and modernism. Most recently I have been working with formulations of modernity in works of fiction that decentralize the core/periphery dynamic of traditional British and American modernists. 

Matthew Chacko mwchacko@syr.edu

Matthew began the MA program in 2014 after completing his bachelor’s degree at Andrews University (BS in Biology and BA in English).  His research interests focus on early modern literature and its intersection with gender and sexuality.  He is also interested in how the development of science in the Renaissance both harmonizes and conflicts with the period’s literary texts

Vicky Cheng

Vicky entered the Ph.D. program in 2013 (B.A., English, Furman University). Her research and teaching interests focus on nineteenth-century British literature and culture, with a specific focus on queer and feminist readings of Victorian texts. Additional research interests include theories of narrative representation, mediations between textual description and visualization, and the politics surrounding the interplay of deformed bodies and disruptive desires. She has assisted in teaching courses including ETS 114: "Survey of British Literature, 1789 to Present" and ETS 145: "Reading Popular Culture." She will be teaching ETS/WGS 192: Gender and Literary Texts in Fall 2015.​

Lindsey Decker


Lindsey began the Ph.D. program in 2010. Her dissertation focuses on the relationship between genre hybridity and transnationality in the post-2000 resurgence of the British horror film. Her research interests include horror films, British cinema, transnational cinema studies, and genre studies. She is also interested in feminist and LGBT issues and film. Her teaching interests include, but are not limited to: British cinema, the horror film, genre studies, national and transnational cinema studies, film cultures, film theory and history, US film and popular culture, women’s and gender studies, and British literature.

Jacqueline DeRobertis

Jackie entered the MA program in 2014 (B.A. English Literature, B.A. Philosophy, Louisiana State University). Her research and teaching interests focus on modern and postmodern American literature. She primarily focuses on analyzing feminist and queer identities, with a particular emphasis on queer family constructs that subvert capitalist and heteronormative ideologies. Additional research interests include the reclaiming of female and minority voices, questions of power and agency, and body politics.

Knar Gavin

Knar began the MA program in 2014 (MFA, Poetry, University of Iowa, and BA, English, University of Utah). Her research and teaching interests in 20th century literature are guided by a dedication to comprehensive critical inquiry. Among central figures in her work are queer theory, postcolonial studies, politics of location, and issues of power and authority. In poetry specifically, she has an interest in the capacity for contemporary poetry, and especially re-invented texts, to propose and even elevate social awareness around issues of gender, power and the environment. Other interests include the avant-garde, women writers, the artist/mad(wo)man relationship, and the interplay between aesthetics and movements toward justice.

Elizabeth Gleesing

Elizabeth Gleesing (BA, University of Washington, MA, Western Washington University) entered the PhD program in 2015. Elizabeth's current research interests lie in looking at auto/biographic texts from contemporary global literature, documentary film, and popular culture (with specific attention to reality television). Within these fields, she is particularly focused on investigating how a subject's agency, speaking ability, and the purported authenticity of these texts are shaped and reconfigured by the contemporary forces of globalization and branding. 

Evan Hixon

Evan entered the MA Program in 2013 (BA in English, Purdue University).  He is primarily interested in exploring Medieval and Early Modern intertextuality, with an emphasis on the works of Shakespeare and Chaucer.  In addition, his research focuses on ideas of statecraft and the political dimensions of the Early Modern canon.  He is also interested in modern and postmodern literature, specifically as they relate to questions surrounding the idea of literary traditions.

Peter Katz


Peter entered the Ph.D. program in 2010. He researches Victorian Studies, with particular emphasis on sensation fiction, the history of science, and the history of the book. Other research interests include novels’ representations of novel-reading and novel-writing, Victorians’ theorization of nineteenth century novels, Victorian fictional and nonfictional representations of literary and historical scholarship, and physical violence (real and represented) in the nineteenth century. His teaching interests include period courses in British literature, the history of the novel, and courses with emphases on theories of gender, class, race, and embodiment.

Haejoo Kim

Haejoo began the Ph.D. program in 2014 (MA in English Literature, Seoul National University, 2012). Her research interests involve nineteenth-century British literature, kinship and incest, food studies, affect theories, the Enlightenment and liberalism. Recently she is interested in historicizing sympathy and cannibalism, exploring the possible intersection between affect theories and food studies. 

Adam Kozaczka


Adam Kozaczka entered the PhD program in 2012 after receiving a Master's degree in English also from Syracuse University. He studies the internal colonialisms visible at the intersections of British literature and history in the long nineteenth century. His work attempts to locate Scotland as a colonized partner in Empire that was enfranchised through a series of measures that made their marks on the literary and visual cultures of the Romantic and Victorian periods. His research relies heavily on crossing disciplinary boundaries into history and art history, and his Comp. Lit. BA from Fordham means that French and Polish-language sources make appearances in his work. He enjoys watching South Park, and has taught a second-year writing class focused on the critical issues raised by the show.

William Marple

Wil entered the MA program in 2015 after completing his BA in English at Gettysburg College. His research interests focus on 19th Century American literature, with some emphasis on race studies and African American literature. He is particularly fascinated with questions of identity, and hopes to focus on the emergence of an American literary identity during this time period.

Jesse Menn


I focus on literature of the long eighteenth century (particularly literature involving food), and dabble in digital humanities. I entered the PhD program at Syracuse in 2012 after earning an MA in English at CSU Long Beach and, before that, a BA from Humboldt State University. I teach classes on British literature and fiction. 

Ashley O’Mara


Ashley O’Mara (BA, Le Moyne College; MA, Syracuse University) entered the PhD program in 2014. She studies how Ignatian imagination and Catholic iconology shape representations of sacred femininity in Early Modern devotional writings. This research is informed by medieval and Renaissance mysticism and the politics of the European Counter-Reformation. She has related interests in feminisms, asexuality, and queer studies. In the past, she has taught a sophomore composition class on gender and the politics of world religions.


David Peterka


David entered the MA program in 2015 (BA, English, University of Minnesota). His research and teaching interests lie in the literature of the long nineteenth century, particularly works marked by the material and discursive administration of time and space, and how certain theorists have discussed these uniquely modern constructions—from Foucault’s descriptions of the disciplinary regime’s perfect geometries, to Walter Benjamin’s “homogenous, empty time.” Drawn to works that grapple with the experience of modernity, David’s interests in the relationship between subjectivity and materiality are epistemologically grounded in the dialectical thought of the Hegelian and Marxist traditions.

Patrick Riedy


Patrick entered the PhD program in 2013. His research and teaching interests include 20th and 21st century American poetry, innovative fiction, and publishing history with a focus on little magazines and chapbooks. He received his BA from the University at Buffalo in 2012 and runs a small poetry and fiction press under the name PressBoardPress.

Jonathan Sanders

John entered the PhD program in 2015 after graduating from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His research interests primarily involves the study of games (both digital and analog) and new media, especially in regard to their unique formal properties. By focusing on all media as forms of facilitated experience, John hopes to strike a balance between literary and ludic approaches to digital literature in order to better understand the intricacies of all types of games. He also has a wealth of other interests, including genre studies, intersemiotic translation, affect studies, educational game design and pedagogy, postmodernity, medievalism, and religious experience in literature.

Ruma Sinha


Ruma entered the Ph.D. program in 2011. Her research and teaching interests include postcolonial and anticolonial studies, critical race studies, and gender studies. She is especially interested in the works of Frantz Fanon; diasporic literature; subaltern studies; and Indian Literature(s) in English with particular focus on Dalit literature.

Rachel Snyder-Lockman

Rachel entered the Ph.D. program in 2013 (M.A., English, SUNY Buffalo; B.A., English and Inclusive Education, Nazareth College).  Her research and teaching interests include the literature and history of social reform movements in the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century United States, with a particular focus on the literature of the woman’s rights movement.  Other interests include women writers, religion and reform, and writing pedagogy.

Staci Stutsman


Staci Stutsman entered the PhD program in 2011 after completing a BA in English at Western Michigan University. Her dissertation considers performative femininity and unruliness in the woman’s film and female-centered television dramas. Her research interests include film and television studies, melodrama, performance, visual culture, and new media. She served as a 2014-2015 HASTAC Scholar. She teaches courses in film, popular culture, screen culture, and gender. ​

Loan Tran


Loan Tran began the PhD program in 2015 after completing her bachelor’s degree in Literary Studies from the University of Texas at Dallas. Her current research interests involve epic, fantasy literature, novel of ideas, and modernism. In addition, she is interested in working cross-disciplinary, specifically researching the interplay between literature and other fields such as visual arts, philosophy, and modern science.

Melissa Welshans


Melissa (B.A. George Mason University) began the PhD program in 2008. Her dissertation, "The Many Types of Marriage: Gender, Marriage, and Biblical Typology in Early Modern England," argues that marriage, especially for early modern women, could be understood through the pattern of fulfillment and supersession usually ascribed to biblical typology.  Melissa has received grants-in-aid from the Folger Shakespeare Library to conduct her research, and will serve as a 2015-2016 Humanities Center Dissertation Fellow through the Syracuse University Humanities Center. Previously, Melissa has taught both lower and upper division courses in early modern English literature, including survey courses and those focusing on special topics such as gender, feminism and time in early modern England. Melissa plans to defend her PhD in the Spring of 2016.

TJ West


T.J. began the Ph.D. Program in 2011, having also received his M.A. in English from Syracuse University with a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Women’s and Gender Studies.  His dissertation, tentatively titled “History’s Perilous Pleasures:  Experiencing Antiquity in Postwar Hollywood Cinema” explores the ways in which postwar epic films construct a complex interplay between antiquity and modernity, seeking to provide both a visceral experience and a distanced knowledge of the ancient world and of history more generally.  He has written about such films and television series as Quo Vadis, Gladiator, Agora, The Other Boleyn Girl, Rome, and The Tudors.  T.J. has also recently written about the television historical documentary, as well as the intersection of critical animal studies and posthuman theory in the film Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  He also maintains interests in feminist, gender, and queer theory more generally, masculinity studies, and The Golden Girls.  He teaches introductory courses in film, popular culture, race, fiction, and gender.

Melissa Whitworth


Melissa entered the M.A. program in 2015, after spending 16 years as a journalist writing for British and American newspapers and magazines. Her interest lies in Modernism and Modernists, particularly Ford Madox Ford and E.M. Forster.  In 2013, she began research in the Carl A. Kroch Rare and Manuscript Library at Cornell University, focusing on Ford’s writings from the trenches during the First World War, and his letters to Stella Bowen, Ezra Pound and Joseph Conrad. This research work came after taking classes with Modernist scholars, Professors Molly Hite and Daniel Schwarz. She is interested in the way trauma informs literature, both at a time in history when psychoanalysis was first being explored and today. How have the Modernist techniques been used and adapted for modern-day war literature? And what of the female war narrative, which has been all but neglected? She received her BA Hons. in English Literature and American and Commonwealth Arts from Exeter University in the UK.

Liana Willis

Liana began the M.A. program in 2014 (B.A. University of Oklahoma) with a focus on Renaissance and early modern literature.  She is primarily interested in exploring the intellectual history of Christianity and capitalism in relation to emerging discursive conflicts and critiques regarding social ethics and society within the period.  She is also interested in John Milton’s political theology and self-reflexivity in Shakespeare’s drama as well as the influence of Italian humanism and Greco-Roman philosophy on early modern English writers, such as Neoplatonism and apophaticism in John Donne’s poetry and Shakespeare’s (as well as Donne’s) revision of the Petrarchan sonnet tradition.  Along with these research interests, she also looks forward to beginning a foray into the digital humanities in order to create a project dedicated to creating sustained and meaningful interdisciplinary partnerships for the purposes of scholarly inquiry.

Thomas Witholt


Thomas began the PhD program in 2009 and researches film, TV, and other forms of popular culture through several vectors, including industry production, marketing, and reception studies. He focuses on gender, genre, and melodrama, with many tangential interests including adaptations and problems in time (time travel, anachronisms, and apocalypse). He teaches introductory courses in film and popular culture.

Jordan Wood


Jordan began the Ph.D program in 2012. His primary research interest lies in game studies, primarily of the digital variety. He is interested in the relationship between digital games and film as a site of remediation and creative invention. Approaching digital games as a unique creative form, he relies heavily on formal analysis and historicization for his work. Additionally, Jordan is interested in queer theory, porn studies, and popular visual culture. Jordan teaches introductory courses in film, popular culture, screen cultures, and American literature.