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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 is a fifth year PhD Candidate. She entered the program in 2010 (M.A., English, Appalachian State University; B.A. English; Sociology, Appalachian State University). She is currently at work on a chapter of her dissertation, "Bearing Memory in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale," to be published in the 2nd edition of Dympna Callaghan's The Feminist Companion to Shakespeare. Her primary research interests explore how ideas circulating about the classical ars memoria in Renaissance England supplied authors with a theory and practice of literary invention. She has taught courses including ETS 153: Interpretation of Fiction, ETS/WGS 192: Gender and Literary texts, and ETS 113: Survey of British Literature to 1789. She is currently teaching ETS 182: Race 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 (MA in English Literature, St. Thomas University, 2008) began the Ph.D. program in 2010. Her dissertation focuses on the potential intersections of genre hybridity and theories of transnational cinema in the resurgence of the British horror film post-2002. Her research interests include the horror genre, British cinema, transnational cinema studies, zombies, and genre hybridity. She also works on feminist and LGBT issues surrounding representations of embodiment and parenthood in US romantic comedies. Her teaching interests include, but are not limited to: US film and popular culture, British cinema, film theory, horror, transnational cinema studies, women’s and gender studies, and British literature.

Jacqueline DeRobertis

Jackie entered the MA program in 2014. Her research and teaching interests include modern American literature, aesthetic theory, feminist theory and gender studies, disability studies, and the crossover between philosophy and literature

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

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 began the Ph.D. program in 2010. His teaching interests center British literature with a particular emphasis on the eighteenth century to the present. He enjoys teaching theoretical classes as well, and has taught courses on feminisms and gender studies, Marxism and theories of class, theories of power, narratology and book history, and reception studies. His primary research interest centers on Victorian literature and culture, specifically the intersections between Victorian science, the literary market, ethics, and constructions of the “right way” to read a novel. Other research interests include serialization, physical violence in the novel and in Victorian culture, and depictions of socialism. His theoretical interests lie in the intersections between theories of affect, cognition, and reception studies. He takes a materialist approach to these theories through the History of the Book, through which he examines the relationship between the material production of text-objects and the meaning-production within the bodies encountering those objects.

Haejoo Kim

Haejoo (MA in English Literature, Seoul National University, 2012) began the Ph.D. program in 2014. Her research interests center around nineteenth-century British novels, with a specialized focus on gender and sexuality. In particular, she is interested in pursuing the radically unassimilable sexualities, desires, and affects that exceed the normative category of productivity in Victorian literature.

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

Jesse Menn


I focus on literature of the long eighteenth century (particularly literature involving food and India), and dabble in digital humanities. I entered the PhD program at Syracuse in 2012 after earning an MA in English at CSU Long Beach.

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


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

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 began the PhD program in 2013.  Her research and teaching interests include nineteenth-century American literature and culture, with a particular focus on women writers, first-wave feminism, and reform writing.  Other interests include women and religion, the reclamation/ reinterpretation of sacred texts for feminist and progressive ends, literary biblical criticism, feminist studies, 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. ​

Melissa Welshans


Melissa (B.A. George Mason University) began the PhD program in 2008. She is currently working on a dissertation that explores the influence of biblical typology on prose and poetical works of seventeenth century England. Specifically, her research is concerned with the ways in which biblical typology affects authors' conceptualizations of gender and the female life cycle. Melissa teaches courses in early modern English literature, including "ETS 192: Gender and Marriage in Early Modern England," "ETS 113: Survey of British Literature," and "ETS 440: 'Time' in Early Modern England." Melissa plans to defend her PhD in the Spring of 2015.

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 research focuses on historical drama, particularly the construction of gender, sexuality, and the family as inflected by and through film studio and television network branding.  He is especially interested in three related trends in late 20th and early 21st Century media:  the discourse of quality product, both “good” and “bad”; what this discourse means for contemporary relationships to and understandings of the Greco-Roman past; and how this becomes refracted and particularly meaningful through the presence of a transgressive masculinity characterized by physical violence, aggressive sexuality, and the potential disruption of the family and the nation-state.  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, 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.