Graduate Students

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Graduate Students

Amanda Awanjo

Amanda Awanjo comes to Pitt from Rutgers University-Camden, where she received her Masters of Arts in English, and from Wesleyan College, where she studied English and Political Science. Her research looks at the intersections between African American matriarchal genealogy, affect, and the representations of children within Black science fiction and Afrofuturist texts. She also looks at twentieth century representations of African American children as activists and muses within the Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts Movement. Her research questions are focused on the ways in which the radical black imaginative is able to articulate subjectivity, futurity, and a radical surviving of oppressive structures through black texts and black poetics. 

Gabby Benavente

In 2015, Gabby Benavente completed her undergraduate and Master's degrees in English at Florida International University. Gabby was born in Callao, Peru, and migrated to Miami, Florida at the age of 9. She holds dearly to her heritage, which informs various aspects of her academic interests. Gabby is interested in speculative fiction's capacity to imagine worlds that challenge oppressive structures. She is specially interested in speculative fictions that look at the intersections of gender, sexuality, and race, and how marginalized groups resist the increasing violence of climate change. In looking at narratives of resistance, Gabby hopes to draw connections between literary texts and their capacity to inspire people towards activism. In an age of increasing white supremacist and environmental violence, Gabby seeks to highlight how contemporary narratives by migrants, people of color, trans, and queer people can both nourish and provide solutions for communities most impacted by oppressive violence.

Ariana Brazier

Ariana (Ari) Brazier is a play-driven community-organizer and educator. She is an English, Critical & Cultural Studies, Doctoral Candidate at the University of Pittsburgh. Ari conducts community-based ethnographic research with Black students and families living in poverty in the southeast United States in order to document how Black child play functions as a grassroots praxis. She is the Founder and CEO of the 501(c)3 nonprofit, ATL Parent Like A Boss, Inc. (Parent LAB). Parent LAB’s mission is to enhance generational literacies through PLAY in underserved African American communities. 

Christine Case

Christine Case arrived at Pitt in autumn 2018 to further pursue her interest in articulations of queer enchantment, queer temporality, and queer kinship in children’s literature, fairytale adaptation, and popular culture.  At Pitt, Christine is further affiliated with the Children’s Literature and Childhood Studies program and the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Department; her fundamentally interdisciplinary research also imbricates performance studies, critical race studies, media studies, cultural studies, and rhetoric.  

At Williams College (2015), Christine majored in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, as well as Spanish Language and Literature; her honor’s thesis explored the queer potential of 21st-century Disney fairytale retellings, namely 2014’s Maleficent.  During her year with the MA Program in the Humanities at the University of Chicago (2016-2017), she interrogated mechanisms of foreclosure and the resistant, liberative models of nostalgia of J.M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy and A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.  This led to a deep interest in extending Tolkien’s theorization of the realm of faerie to account for a simultaneously spatial and temporal site of queer resistance, applicable to current academic conversations regarding feminist new materialisms and critical fabulation.  Her recent work has explored the queer temporal, generic, and generational manipulations of the Mary Martin Peter Pan productions, as well as the relationships between Broadway aesthetics, the fairy story, and US identity-formations.  

Sritama Chatterjee

An alumnus of Presidency University and Jadavpur University, India, I am a third year PhD student and I work at the intersections of Postcolonial Studies, Environmental Humanities and Black Studies . My current research on the poetics and politics of water in the Global South takes on two key questions: How does ‘postcolonial Anthropocene” reframe the notion of critique? How is critique related to forms of world-making? I ruminate on these questions grounding my inquiry in anticolonial environmentalisms and contemporary urban histories in South Asia and East Africa. My engagement with modes of critique in the arts and the different forms that it might take : archival research, fieldwork, “critical fabulation” animate my methodology and public scholarship. As a columnist of Inside Higher Ed and contributor forEnvironmental History Now, I have written on a diverse range of topics including pedagogy, being an international student in the US,  archives and water in place-based research. 

My research and investment in pedagogy has been recognized through a number of grants and fellowships including Sasakhawa Youth Leader Fellowship(SYLFF) from Tokyo Foundation, Japan for my M.Phil project on imperialism and the river Hugli in India.  This year, I have been awarded the inaugural Curriculum Development Grant of the Humanities Engage Program at Pitt, funded by Andrew Mellon Foundation to develop a module titled, “Fragments, Ephemera and Periodicals: Reimagining Global Trans History” for a class on Transgender Studies, taught by Dr. Julie Beaulieu that brings together my interest in archival research and gender studies in the Indian Ocean Realm. In the Fall of 2020, I am also serving as a mentor for new teachers, who would teach writing in the Composition Program. You could follow me on my Medium blog and my Inside Higher Ed page.

Sreemoyee Dasgupta

I joined the PhD program at Pitt in 2012 after completing BA and MA degrees in English Literature at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India. After my Masters, I took a year off, interning in a publishing house and teaching at the Kolkata Muslim Orphanage for Girls on behalf of an Indian NGO called Make A Difference. In spite of dwelling in a perpetual vortex of intellectual confusion, I have discovered that my primary interest lies in children’s literature and childhood studies. I am also interested in women’s and gender studies, postcolonial literature, nineteenth-century British literature, and fantasy literature.  For my dissertation, I would like to explore the intersections of childhood studies and postcolonial studies, looking at indigenous responses to Anglo-American children’s literature. I am interested in literary influence and counter-influences affected by the processes of imperialism as well as imperialism’s effects on the relationships formed by children with adults, their peers, and their socio-historical surrounds, taking into account the material and ideological transformations associated with modernity.

Marlee Fuhrmann

Before beginning the PhD program at Pitt in 2014, I earned my BA in Literary Studies and Creative Writing with a minor in Anthropology at Beloit College in Wisconsin. I continued my work at Beloit after graduation as an honors fellow, researching and strengthening English-language support services for non-native speakers on campus. My research interests include queer theory, gender studies, ecocriticism, and the nineteenth-century novel. More specifically, I am interested in narrative as a method for managing dissonance between lived realities and cultural norms, particularly with regards to masculinity, heteronormativity, and compulsory sexuality. 

Victoria Glavin

Victoria Glavin is a first-year PhD student in Critical and Cultural Studies whose current research examines the political economy of cultural institutions and the activist responses they incur. Her work engages popular culture/visual studies, Marxism, critical race studies, and Afro-pessimism to investigate the relationship between cultural production and neoliberal hegemony. To explore these issues, she focuses on 20th and 21st century American cultural texts, particularly aesthetic representations of racial and state violence. She holds an M.A. in Literary and Cultural Studies from Carnegie Mellon University and a B.A. in American Studies and English Literature from Emmanuel College.

Treviene Harris

My research considers the form, function, and representation of sound in C20 Caribbean fiction. I’m interested in the ways in which sound, aurality, and orality are deployed to complicate our relationships to history, collective memory, and cultural memory. I question what it means that these texts try to elicit close listening, not just close reading, from an audience/reader.

Yujin Jang

I came to Pitt after earning my B.A. and M.A. in English from Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea. My research interests include early modern British literature, the Victorian Fin de Siècle, and the interdisciplinary relations between literature and music.

Brittney Knotts

I came to Pitt in 2017 after earning my B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. My research focuses on representations of girlhood in popular culture, including television, music, and social media. I am interested in the intersections of girlhood, sexuality, race, and creative agency. In addition, from a more ethnographic perspective, I like to consider how adolescent girls are making meaning of these popular texts.  

Apala Kundu

Prior to joining the Ph.D program at Pitt in 2019, Apala earned her B.A and M.A. in English from Presidency University in 2015 and 2017 respectively, graduating top of her class in the M.A. program. Her research interests include postcolonialism, migration/diaspora and mobility studies, Indian Ocean literature, gender and sexuality studies, and graphic narratives. In working with literary representations of migration within the Indian Ocean world during the 19th  and 20th centuries, Apala’s research is grounded in the global South. Her work attempts to engage with questions of imperial im/mobilities fostering transnational cultural connections and conflicts and review the postcolonial through the lens of the oceanic. 

Thomas Lawson

A Saint Paul native, Thomas received his B.A. in English from Hamline University in 2015. He came to Pitt in 2017 to begin his PhD, holding a Provost’s Humanities Fellowship upon entering the program. Thomas's research concerns new media writing in the context of music criticism. Specifically, his work looks at the perceived rise of retro pastiche in popular music and how new media’s affordances for writing about music (e.g. hyperlinks and digital archives) promote a historiographical logic of retrofitting the past to confirm the stylistics of the present. At its heart, however, Thomas's project asserts the primacy of affect in constituting new subcultural publics online, theorizing object-centered approaches to writing criticism through sound art (electroacoustic improvisation or "EAI"). At Pitt, Thomas hopes to extend the interests informing this research into a more sustained study of digital media and writing, technics, narrative theory, the attention economy, and sound studies.

Rachel Maley

I began the PhD program at Pitt after earning a BA in English and a PA English (grades 7-12) teaching certificate at Saint Vincent College, Latrobe in the Spring of 2011. During my year off, I was a substitute teacher and a daycare school-age teacher. In addition to my love for teaching, I am greatly interested in nineteenth century American Literature, specifically women’s sentimental novels and domestic fiction and children’s literature. At Pitt, I hope to further explore and connect womanhood and the girlhood of nineteenth-century America, especially in regards to education, through women’s writing and children’s books for girls.

Krystal Marsh

I came to Pitt after earning my MA in Shakespeare Studies from King’s College London and my BA in English and Writing from Ithaca College. My research is grounded in early modern drama and women’s writing. I am particularly interested in cosmetics, space, and how the body “performs” morality. 

Alyssa Quintanilla

Alyssa came to Pitt after receiving her MA in English from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She also holds a BA in English with a minor in Psychology from the University of North Texas. Her dissertation, “A Matter of Waste and Bodies: Life, Death, and Materiality in the United States-Mexico Borderlands 1990 to the Present” considers the intersections of materiality, waste, and mourning. Using representations of migrants and migrant bodies from literature, digital archives, and art, she examines the reduction of migrants to waste and wasteful within demands for heightened border security.

She is the inaugural recipient of the Mellon funded, Immersive Dissertation Research Fellowship. She is using the fellowship to create a digital memorial for migrants who have died in the Southern Arizona desert.

Gabrielle Ralambo-Rajerison

Gabrielle Ralambo-Rajerison is specializing in the contemporary visual cultures of Africa and its diaspora. Her research interests include global theories of Blackness, aesthetic confrontations with antiblack violence, and sensuousness in criticism. She is a 2018-2019 Carol Kay Dissertation Fellow and in Spring 2017 was an Artist-in-Residency in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. 


Jiwon Rim

Jiwon Rim is a fourth year Ph.D. candidate in English Literature at University of Pittsburgh. Her area of interest is animal studies (especially. ethics of animal consumption) and children’s picture books from the early twentieth-century Anglo-American culture. Her dissertation focuses on ethical, epistemological, and aesthetic construction of the animal in picture books for children: her project aims to give explanation for the puzzling coexistence of the heightened sensibility about individual animal suffering and the systematic exploitation of animal bodies en masse in our cultural present. She holds a B.A. in Aesthetics and a M.A. in English Literature, both from Seoul National University. 

Jane Rohrer

Before beginning my PhD at Pitt in 2018, I earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2018 and a BA in English from Franklin & Marshall College in 2014. Both my creative work and academic research focuses most often on contemporary, sometimes hyper-contemporary, poetry and its relationship to sound, place, mass media, oral history, and cultural literacy. My work is often interdisciplinary and seeks to maintain an ethnographic, real-life applicable approach to literary studies. 

Emilee Ruhland

I earned my BA and MA at North Dakota State University before coming to Pitt in 2017  for my PhD in English Literature. My research centers on medieval drama, medievalism, and digital pedagogies, with a specific focus on heritage as a site of medievalism. Currently, I am working with the performances of the York Mystery Plays, revived in 20th century York, England and intermittently staged ever since, and virtual reality video as a pedagogical device for students studying the Bible as literature, inviting them to compare the effects of environment on each episode as it moves from station to station.

Nozomi Saito

I came to Pitt after receiving my MA in English from Boston University and a BA in English from the University of Colorado. My research focuses on Afro-Asian encounters in the context of the Cold War. My fields of analysis include memory studies; discourses of migration, nation, and displacement; comparative race and ethnicity studies; BIPOC feminist theorizing; and area studies with a particular focus on the histories of US occupation in the Ryukyuus/Okinawa. 

Tyrica Terry Kapral

I began the English PhD program in 2012, after receiving a BA in English at Texas State University. My research has revolved around the intersections of race, affect, popular culture and the African Diaspora. Since becoming a doctoral candidate in the program, I have earned a Masters in Library and Information Science, and I am currently working as the Humanities Data Librarian at Hillman Library in Digital Scholarship Services. Meanwhile, I am continuing my dissertation work, which is an analysis of affect on the color line in U.S. race relations. Engaging with key critics of race relations since the early republic, I explore what I call affective politics, which refers to affective negotiations of interracial affairs and the strategic positioning of feeling subjects along the color line. Affective politics entails its own set of values, codes, and conflicts, in which the power struggle arises from affective subjectivity, i.e. the capacity of subjects to affect and be affected by the Other—or, more specifically, the racial Other.

Briana Wipf

I study medieval literature, focusing on the literature of contact and intellectual exchange between Christians and Muslims. I also study digital humanities, with my work there focusing on computational text analysis. Before studying at Pitt, I received a master's degree in literature from the University of Montana in 2017. My work is broadly interested in how literature demonstrates attitudes toward people considered to be "different," whether that difference is based in gender, religion, ability, or race. Before going back to school to pursue my master's degree, I worked as a journalist in my home state of Montana, first at independent weekly papers (including my hometown paper) and later as a health, arts and entertainment, and business reporter for one of Montana's large dailies. I continue to freelance as my schedule allows.