ISSG Graduate Certificate Recipients

2021 - 2022

Charles (Chas) Firestone East

Charles (Chas) Firestone East: Italian and Comparative Literature

Field/Topics: medieval studies, history of philosophy, Dante studies, gender and sexuality studies, history of science, intellectual history

Submission Reviewed by: Marianne Hirsch and Jack Halberstam

Chas Firestone East is a PhD candidate in Italian and Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University, where their research focuses on the intersection of classical, Arabic, and scholastic philosophy with medieval literature. Their dissertation concerns the body-soul problem and principles of individuation in Dante’s works by looking at his adoption of Aristotelian and Thomistic metaphysics and natural philosophy. Chas’s research in philosophical literature also delves into the influence of ethical philosophy on the depiction of sodomy and “sexuality” in both scholastic (via Aquinas and Dante) and popular (via Boccaccio) contexts and the influence of logic and rhetoric on literary depictions of medieval law and legal systems, particularly in regards to their representation and treatment of women and their desires.

Chas’s work towards the ISSG certificate has concerned historical and contemporary definitions and depictions of sexuality at the intersections of race and gender. Their culminating project for the certificate was a syllabus for an upper-level seminar in Comparative Literature-Italian titled “More Than Just Friends: Queer Relationships and Bodies in Ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance Texts,” which aims to have students assess the theoretical and historical validity of methodologies developed in various histories of sexuality since Foucault through the analysis of major classical Greek, medieval French, and medieval/early modern Italian texts.

Before coming to Columbia, Chas received a Master of Studies in Medieval Studies (history of philosophy and literature focuses) from Oxford University and a Bachelor of Arts in French and Italian with a minor in Medieval Studies from Princeton University.

Alyssa Basmajian

Alyssa Basmajian: Department of Sociomedical Sciences and Anthropology

Field/Topics: Politics of Care, Gender and Sexuality, Reproductive Justice Theory, Politics of Reproduction

Submission Reviewed by: Marianne Hirsch and Jack Halberstam

Alyssa Basmajian is a PhD candidate in Sociomedical Sciences with a concentration in medical anthropology. Her research interests are grounded in the social and political tensions surrounding reproductive health in the United States. For Basmajian’s master’s thesis research, she examined a new form of political expression known as the abortion or full spectrum doula by drawing on theories of embodiment and social transformation. She has received funding from the NIH PreDoctoral Traineeship in Gender, Sexuality, and Health and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF-GRF). For her dissertation, Basmajian plans to further investigate doulas and the reproductive care they provide in the Midwestern and Southern United States. Most recently, Basmajian has received funding from the National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (NSF-DDRIG) to further support her research.

Bing Quek

Bing Quek: Department of Arts and Humanities, Teachers College

Field/Topics: Ethics, Philosophy of Education, Women’s and Gender studies, Education Policy, Teacher Education, and Higher Education

Submission Reviewed by: Marianne Hirsch and Jack Halberstam

Bing Quek is a Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy and Education at Teachers College. Her research interests include ethics, feminist theory, issues of care and social reproduction, teacher well-being, and education policy. For her dissertation, she analyzes the caring experiences of U.S. public school teachers through an ethics of care so as to argue for wider and collective responsibility towards attending to the needs of teachers. Before TC, she designed and facilitated workshops for educators and school leaders in the Ministry of Education in Singapore. She previously taught English, Biology, and Service-Learning at the high-school level.

Elvira Blanco

Elvira Blanco: Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures

Submission Reviewed by: Marianne Hirsch and Jack Halberstam

Elvira Blanco is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures, where she is also an instructor of record. Her work lives at the intersection of cultural studies, film and visual studies, and political theory, and her scholarship focuses primarily on contemporary Venezuela. Additionally, she works as a translator and editor of literary and academic texts. 

Her cultural content courses at Columbia focus on the trajectories of social movements and radical political ideas––especially pertaining class, gender, and race––in the Spanish-speaking world. As part of her work toward the ISSG certificate, she developed an advanced undergraduate seminar titled “Political Imaginaries of the Common in Hispanic America and Spain” that offers a transnational survey of politics of common in the region, with emphasis on gender and labor perspectives. 

Elvira's dissertation, titled "Imaginaries of the Common in Contemporary Venezuela," examines cultural artifacts and political projects that represent or enact practices of mutual aid and solidarity, resource-sharing, de-privatization, and collectively managing the reproduction of life and work––in short, practices of "the common." Her research constructs an archive of urgent expressions of the common that have emerged at the margins of the Venezuelan state under the severe socioeconomic crisis that affects the country since 2010, tackling a varied corpus that comprises cinema, photography, the visual arts, and media produced by activist groups. These objects address four core topics: urban space, popular religiosity, environmental destruction, and migration. By reading together political practices and cultural artifacts, she builds and theorizes a multilayered cultural history of the common in contemporary Venezuela.

Sarah Gerth v.d. Berg

Sarah Gerth v.d. Berg: Department of Curriculum & Teaching, Teachers College

Submission Reviewed by: Marianne Hirsch and Jack Halberstam

Field/Topic: Curriculum Theory and Design, Affect, Aesthetics, Queer Theory 

Sarah Gerth v.d. Berg is an Ed.D. candidate in Curriculum & Teaching at Teachers College. Her research involves curriculum theory and design, looking to transdisciplinary and social practice art in her efforts to expand the possible forms and fields for curriculum. Her dissertation considers the role of aesthetics, senses, and affect in curricular experiences. She is a coordinator of Black Paint Curriculum Lab at TC, a site for creatively exploring curriculum in public spaces and public conversations about curriculum. Prior to Columbia, she taught middle school English and studied art history and American studies at Princeton University. 

2020 - 2021

Kit Hermanson

Kit Hermanson: Department of Religion 

Field/Topics: Race, gender, and economics in 19th Century religious utopias

Submission Reviewed by: Marianne Hirsch

Kit Hermanson (they/them) is a doctoral student in the Department of Religion, subfield of North American Religion. They obtained their BA in Gender and Women’s Studies from the University of Arizona before coming to Columbia to earn their MA and MPhil in Religion. Their past publications have focused on the role of queerness, discipline, and the archive in Mormon history. Their dissertation research focuses on eighteenth and nineteenth century religious (and anti-religious) separatist communities such as the Rappites, Weeksville, early Mormons, individualist anarchists, and the Oneida Community. They are particularly interested in these communities’ religious ambiguities around colonization/settlement, gender, sex, sexuality, and race as related to social, economic, political, and spiritual innovation at the dawn of secularist thought.

Katrina Dzyak

Katrina Dzyak: Department of English and Comparative Literature

Field/Topics: American Literature Pre-1900

Submission Reviewed by: Marianne Hirsch

Katrina Dzyak is a PhD candidate in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where she studies American literature pre-1900. Her dissertation considers how life writing in especially the nineteenth century engages and critiques Atlantic world natural history, understood as a literary genre and arm of empire, by theorizing a politics of exhaustion that manifests ecologically, religiously, interpersonally, and individually. She is a coordinator for the Nineteenth Century Americanist Colloquium at Columbia, and has been a Graduate Fellow at Columbia’s Center for the Study of Social Difference, where she collaborated with the Motherhood and Technology working group. Towards the IRWGS graduate certificate, she developed the course “Island Thresholds: Currents, Drift, and Early American Literature.” Before coming to Columbia, she earned degrees in English and Political Science from Tufts University.

Tianyuan Huang

Tianyuan Huang: Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

Field/Topics: History of Medicine, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality History, Feminist Science Studies, Agnotology, Praxiography.

Tianyuan Huang is a PhD candidate in early modern and modern Japanese history. In conversation with feminist science studies, her research explores the interplay of medical knowledge, gender and sexual ideologies, and power relationships. Tianyuan’s dissertation examines the (en)gendering of medical enigmas through the discourses, practices, and sensory experiences surrounding allegedly female-specific health conditions. Her research interests also encompass the coevolution of different systems of medicine, especially the interaction between indigenous/ “traditional” health knowledge and biomedicine/ medical “science.”

Prior to coming to Columbia, Tianyuan studied public policy at the University of Tokyo and International Politics at Peking University. At Columbia, she has served as a teaching assistant for the courses Colloquium on Major Texts: East Asia as well as Culture, Mental Health, and Healing in East Asia. Tianyuan is in the process of completing the Advanced Track of the Teaching Development Program at the Center for Teaching and Learning and volunteers as a HIPAA-certified Peer Advocate at the Gay Health Advocacy Project and Women’s Health Advocacy Project.

Niyati Shenoy

Niyati Shenoy: Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies

Field/Topics: Sexuality and Masculinity Studies, Archive Theory, Affect and Victimhood, Early Modern Persianate Histories and Cultures

Submission Reviewed by: Marianne Hirsch

Niyati Misra-Shenoy is a PhD candidate at the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies. A native of Bombay, she holds a BA in History and Politics from Pomona College, California, has studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, and has been a Princeton in Asia Fellow and a Young India Fellow. Her dissertation 'Rape and Retributive Justice in Colonial North India' aims to address the origins and causes of sexual violence in India as questions of concept history. Her broader interests include sexuality and masculinity studies, archive theory, affect and victimhood, early modern Persianate histories and cultures, and political thought as it relates to the imagination of caste and sexual difference.

Catherine Bloomer

Catherine Bloomer: Italian and Comparative Literature

Field/Topics: Writing from Venice, Writing from the Cloister; Disability and the Middle Ages: Theory and History of “Eccentric Bodies”; Seeing the Body, the Soul, Gender, and Text in Dante)

Submission Reviewed by: Marianne Hirsch and Jack Halberstam

Catherine Bloomer is a PhD candidate in Italian and Comparative Literature. Her research interests include the body and gender in medieval literature with special regard to disease, disability, and violence. Her dissertation focuses on the historical conception of disability in Dante Alighieri’s works. She holds an MA and MPhil from Columbia University, an MFA in fiction from the New School, and a BA in Italian and English with a concentration in Creative Writing from Barnard College. Catherine is the Associate Director for the arts education program WriteOn NYC.

2019 - 2020

Rohini Shukla

Rohini Shukla: Department of Religion

Field/Topics: South Asian Religions, Gender and Sexuality, Hinduism, Hagiographies, Transmission, Community Formation

Submission Reviewed by: Marianne Hirsch

Rohini Shukla is a Ph.D. student in South Asian Religions at the Department of Religion, Columbia University. Her primary research interests are gender, caste, and labor in early modern India. She focuses on Marathi and Tamil literature, and Hinduism more broadly. Her other research interests are B.R. Ambedkar's intellectual history, medieval Indian philosophy and hagiographies, and community formation. Her recent publications and artwork can be found here.

Katherine Bergevin

Katherine Bergevin: Department of English and Comparative Literature

Field: Pregnancy and Imprisonment in early 18th-century
Submission Reviewed by: Marianne Hirsch and Julie Crawford

Katherine Bergevin is a PhD Candidate in English and Comparative Literature, specializing in anglophone literatures of the Atlantic world. Her dissertation, “Clarissa’s Belly,” examines the emergence in the long eighteenth century of recognizably modern representations of pregnancy and the foetus, in dialogue with the expansion of the penitentiary; demonstrating that descriptions of pregnancy, gestation, and childbirth comprised a vital thread within the emergence of modern structures of carceral discipline. She has taught a variety of courses at Columbia, including Literature Humanities, University Writing, and the senior undergraduate seminar Jane Austen and the Enlightenment Mind. She is the current Rapporteur for the Columbia University Seminar in Eighteenth-Century European Culture.

Ami Yoon

Ami Yoon: Department of English and Comparative Literature

Field: American Literature, Poetry/Poetics and Ecology
Submission Reviewed by: Marianne Hirsch and Jack Halberstam

Ami Yoon is a PhD candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where her research focuses on early and nineteenth-century American literature, poetry and poetics, and ecology. She is currently at work on a dissertation entitled “Practicing Truth: Poetry, Natural History, and Violence in Nineteenth-Century America.” Prior to her time at Columbia, she received her B.A. degree in English and French at Vanderbilt University.

Savannah Cooper-Ramsey

Savannah Cooper-Ramsey: Department of Italian

Field: Feminisms, Medievalisms, Comparative Literature, Gender and Sexuality
Submission Reviewed by: Lila Abu-Lughod and Jack Halberstam

Savannah Cooper-Ramsey is a PhD candidate in the Department of Italian. She holds a M.A. in Comparative Literature from Dartmouth College and a B.A. in History from Bard College. Her dissertation, “Dante Tenzonante”, offers a narrative reading of Dante’s use of the dialogic poetic form, tenzone, which she argues was fundamental both to Dante’s ethical development and to the codification of the early Italian vernacular. Savannah is the author of the artists’ book “Not Fit For Print”. Her poems can be found in publications like BOMB magazine and Bedfellows.

Alec Joyner

Alec Joyner: Department of English and Comparative Literature

Submission reviewed by: Marianne Hirsch and Jack Halberstam

Alec Joyner is a doctoral candidate in English and Comparative Literature. His research focuses on the aesthetics and the political affordances of humor in US and transnational American literature of the twentieth century, with attention to feminist theory, affect theory, theory of the novel, and the politics of aesthetics. More sporadically, he also studies Francophone literature and works on French-English translation projects. He is the rapporteur (organizer) for Columbia’s University Seminar on Affect Studies. Toward the IRWGS graduate certificate, he developed a course called “Feminist Approaches to Humor and Comedy.” Before coming to Columbia, he received a B.A. in English (Writing Concentration) from Yale, and worked as a book scout for foreign publishers.

Diana Newby

Diana Newby: Department of English and Comparative Literature

Field: 19th Century British Literature, History of Science, Affect Studies
Submission reviewed by: Marianne Hirsch and Jack Halberstam

Diana Newby is a 4th year PhD candidate in Columbia’s Department of English & Comparative Literature. Her research sits at the intersection of 19th century literature, science, and affect theory, with a particular focus on old and new materialisms in the Victorian novel. Her dissertation project, “Passive Passions,” examines Victorian writing—particularly women’s writing—that challenged Western Enlightenment dualisms of reason/emotion, body/mind, self/other, and human/environment. Diana’s tenure with IRWGS has helped her draw out important affinities that these 19th century reformulations of embodiment, identity and agency share with contemporary new materialisms and feminist and queer affect studies. In general, her goal is to bring together literary and theoretical archives that make possible a non-normative understanding of embodied subjectivity as passive and relational.

At Columbia, Diana is an IRWGS Graduate Fellow (2019-2020) and has held multiple fellowships with the Center for Teaching and Learning. She has taught literature and writing course at Columbia, Barnard College, and Mills College, where she earned an MA in 2015. She is a contributing writer for Synapsis: A Health Humanities Journal, and her work has also been featured in Texas Studies in Literature Language and on Politics/Letters.

Gabrielle Ferrari

Gabrielle Ferrari: Department of Music

Field: Historical Musicology
Submission reviewed by: Marianne Hirsch and Jack Halberstam

Gabrielle Ferrari is a Ph.D. student in Historical Musicology.  Her research explores the intersections of gender, sexuality, trauma, and nostalgia in British music after World War I, as well as the intersections between modernist literature, gender, and modern music in both the British Isles and the United States. She is interested in questions of voice, body, and performance, and the ways music connects these issues in the articulation of identities, personal and national. She received degrees in both English Literature and Music from Southern Methodist University, as well as a Master’s degree from Columbia University. She is also a performing soprano in musical ensembles across Columbia University and Barnard College.

Carina del Valle Schorske

Carina del Valle Schorske: English and Comparative Literature

Submission reviewed by: Marianne Hirsch and Jack Halberstam

Carina del Valle Schorske is a PhD candidate in English and Comparative Literature, with certificates from ICLS and the Psychoanalytic Studies program. Her scholarship focuses on women’s performance and multimedia practice in the Americas from Zora Neale Hurston through Ana Mendieta, and her broader interests include Caribbean aesthetics and theory, psychoanalysis, and feminism. She is part of the Women & Performance editorial collective and formerly served with the Digital Black Atlantic Project working group.

Katherine Fein

Katherine Fein: Department of Art History and Archaeology

Submission reviewed by: Marianne Hirsch and Jack Halberstam

Katherine Fein is a PhD student in the Department of Art History and Archaeology. She studies art and visual culture in North America and the Atlantic world in the long nineteenth century. Her interests include representations of the human body, issues of race and gender, and the history of photography. Her research has been supported by the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Endowed Fellowship. Before arriving at Columbia, Katherine received a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and worked at the Brooklyn Museum.

2018 - 2019

Jess Engebretson

Jess Engebretson: Department of English and Comparative Literature

Field: 20th c. British, Irish & African literature, violent conflict, modernism and empire, human rights, ethics
Submission reviewed by: Marianne Hirsch and Jack Halberstam

Jess Engebretson is a PhD candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature.  Her dissertation, “Sovereign Fictions: Self-Determination and the Literature of the Nigerian Civil War,” explores visions of postcolonial sovereignty in the literature and reportage of the Nigerian Civil War (also known as the Biafran War).  Her broader research interests include law and literature, violent conflict, empire & decolonization, and postcolonial theory. At Columbia, Jess is a writing consultant at the Graduate Writing Studio and has worked extensively with the Center for Teaching and Learning.  Outside of Columbia, she is a co-coordinator of the VIDA Count, which tracks gender representation in literary publishing. Jess earned her BA from Swarthmore College, in English and philosophy, in 2009. Before beginning her doctoral studies, she worked for seven years as a radio journalist in the US, Liberia, and South Sudan.

Lien Van Geel

Lien Van Geel: Department of Classics

Field: Classics

Lien Van Geel is a PhD candidate in Classics at Columbia University. Before completing the coursework for the M.A. in Classics at Columbia, she –a Belgian native– earned her B.A. at Mississippi State University in Classics and English (summa cum laude, 2016). As a third year in the 2018-19 academic year, she is dividing her time between teaching for the Classics department and writing her M.Phil papers before entering the dissertation phase. For her Latin qualifying paper, she has been working on female sleep and sleeplessness in Latin poetry, and, on the Greek side, she is currently working on sisterhood dynamics in Greek tragedy. She is keen on continuing her work on gender in the Classics, for which the IRWGS graduate certificate has been very helpful indeed.

Maria Fantinato

Maria Fantinato: Department of Music

Field: Music (Ethnomusicology)
Submission reviewed by: Marianne Hirsch and Jack Halberstam

Maria Fantinato received her MA in Communication and Culture from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, with a thesis on the relationship between music, communication and aesthetics among local experimental musicians. As a PhD candidate at Columbia University she works at the intersection of sound studies, anthropology of the senses, Brazilian ethnomusicology and queer theories of the sensorial, focusing on the sonic as formative of the political. In her work, listening is a conceptual-political entry point to understand violent and transforming processes that take place in Amazonian territories in the name of “development”.

Christina McGrath

Christina McGrath: Department of Italian

Field: Medieval literature, gender and sexuality
Submission reviewed by: Marianne Hirsch and Jack Halberstam

Christina McGrath is a PhD candidate in the Department of Italian and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society.  Her research interests include Boccaccio, Dante, the courtly lyric, gender, and the application of ethics and moral philosophy within medieval texts.
Before earning her MA at Columbia in 2017, Christina was an exchange student at the Università degli Studi di Firenze; she received her BA in Italian and Art History from Georgetown University in 2015, graduating magna cum laude.  She has been recognized with various awards, including the Georgetown University Dante Award for excellence in Italian studies, the NIAF Abruzzo Molise Heritage Scholarship, and the Benjamin A. Gilman grant for foreign study.  In 2015, she was selected as an alternate for the Fulbright Scholar Program to Italy, and she was invited to represent the United States at the American pavilion at EXPO Milano.

Liz Bowen

Liz Bowen: Department of English and Comparative Literature

Examiners: Marianne Hirsch and Jack Halberstam

Liz Bowen is a Ph.D. candidate in English and comparative literature who works at the intersections of 20th and 21st century American literature, disability studies, and critical animal studies. Her dissertation, “Animal Abilities: Disability, Species Difference, and Aesthetic Innovation in the Long 20th Century,” traces the intertwined deployments of disability and animality as sites of literary experimentation, from Faulkner to the Harlem Renaissance to contemporary poetics. Her scholarly work and critical reviews have been published in The Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability StudiesHumanimalia: A Journal of Human/Animal Interface Studies, and the edited collection Animaladies: Gender, Animals, and Madness (Bloomsbury 2018). Liz has been the graduate organizer for Columbia’s University Seminar on Disability, Culture, and Society for the past three years, and is the assistant editor of Synapsis: A Health Humanities Journal.

Liz is also a widely published poet and poetry critic. She is the author of the poetry collection Sugarblood (Metatron 2017) and the chapbooks Compassion Fountain (Hyacinth Girl Press 2018) and NO HEROES (Big Lucks 2019). Her writing has appeared in The New Inquiry, Lit Hub, Boston ReviewAmerican Poetry Review, The Wanderer, Cosmonauts Avenue, The Atlas Review, and elsewhere. She is a poetry editor for Peach Magazine and assistant poetry editor for Anomaly. For further publications, press, and CV, please visit her website at liz-bowen.com.

Alex Pekov

Alex Pekov: Slavic Languages and Comparative Literature

Field: Gender, Life Writing, and Self-Making
Examiners: Marianne Hirsch and Gil Hochberg

Alex Pekov is a Ph.D. candidate in Slavic Languages and Comparative Literature at Columbia and currently entering the post-M.Phil. stage of his doctoral studies. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy (Moscow State University Lomonosov) and an M.A. in Slavic and Jewish Studies (Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg). His doctoral thesis focuses on the Sephardi authors from the former Yugoslavia and the Maghreb who articulate Sephardi experience and identity in minoritarian and colonial settings throughout the 20th century. In this project, Alex argues that the literature of an inherently multilingual ethnic minority is able to carve out a space of inner plurality within the dominant homogeneous monolingualism of the “host culture” or the métropole by appropriating their languages.

Alex’s broader research interests include the study of liminal and hyphenated identities, literary representations of the Shoah in Central and Eastern Europe, genocide and gynocide, gender in life writing and autofiction, and writing as a decolonizing practice and space of postmemory. The IRWGS coursework has given him access to a vast array of reading strategies that prompted him to simultaneously learn and unlearn in order to listen closely to the embodied voices in the narratives. Outside of the ivory tower, Alex experiments with poetry and autofictional writing in English, German, French, and Russian and actively practices skygazing.

2017 - 2018

Victoria Wiet

Victoria Wiet: Department of English and Comparative Literature

Victoria Wiet is a PhD candidate in English and Comparative Literature. Her dissertation, “Eccentric Conduct: Theatre and the Pleasures of Victorian Fiction,” uses the ubiquity of theatergoing and theatrical culture in Victorian life to uncover the importance of the term “conduct” to Victorian thinking about sexuality. Associated with transgressive practices such as cross-dressing, cruising and women’s sexual willfulness, theatre provided the Victorian novel with both formal strategies and narrative content for representing pleasures detached from the hierarchical order of the reproductive home. This project has been supported by several grants, including the Midwestern Victorian Studies Association’s Walter L. Arstein Prize for Dissertation Research in 2018.

Victoria was the 2015-2016 IRWGS Graduate Fellow and has taught widely in the area of gender and sexuality studies, including University Writing: Readings in Gender and Sexuality and TAing for Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies. For her graduate certificate, Victoria submitted her syllabus for her Teaching Scholars seminar “Melodrama: Race, Gender, Sexuality, 1850-present.” Combining Victorian melodrama, classic Hollywood cinema and contemporary culture (including Mad Men), this course examines how melodramatic conventions continue to shape representations of social difference.

Iria Ameixeiras Cundins

Iria Ameixeiras Cundins: Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures

Field: Iberian intellectual and cultural history, popular culture, feminism, decolonial theories, critical thinking, the idea of Europe and fascism.
Examiners: Marianne Hirsch and Ana Paulina Lee.

Iria Ameixeiras holds a B.A. in Journalism (Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Galiza) and two M.A.s in International Studies (Universidade de Santiago de Compostela), and in European Studies (Aarhus University, Denmark). In 2012, she worked as a research assistant in the Department of Communication at Santiago to study the impact of European Union programs on the Galician cultural field. Iria is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures at Columbia University, and her project explores the idea of Europe in the Iberian fascisms of the Interwar period. She is particularly interested in the way fascist organizations of Spain and Portugal portrayed their views on gender, race, and national identity in their periodicals, and other cultural devices (ranging from literature to music). In so doing, she tries to keep feminist, decolonial and critical glasses to analyze problematic materials.

2016 - 2017

Allison DeWitt

Allison DeWitt: Department of Italian

Field: Feminist geography, sexual difference theory and Muslim-Christian relations in the medieval Mediterranean
Submission reviewed by: Lila Abu-Lughod

Allison DeWitt is a PhD candidate in the Department of Italian and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. Her dissertation is on the use of geography in Dante’s Divine Comedy specifically focused on representations of the world outside of Europe.  This will be accompanied by a digital map to be hosted on Columbia’s Digital Dante site, for which is an assistant editor.  She has written and presented on the use of digital tools for research and the classroom and has worked extensively with the Center for Teaching and Learning on graduate student pedagogical development.  Her research interests also include feminist geography, sexual difference theory and Muslim-Christian relations in the medieval Mediterranean.

Leah Werier

Leah Werier: Department of Art History 

Examiners: Marianne Hirsch and Rosalyn Deutsche
Field: Vision, Photography and TV 

Leah Werier is a PhD student in the Department of Art History at Columbia University. She is a 2016-2017 IRWGS Graduate Fellow. Her doctoral work focuses on modern and contemporary art. Her research interests include architecture and public space and its’ intersections with vision, desire, feminist and queer theory. Leah has also completed the certificate program at the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society (Columbia University). She completed an MA in Art History at the Courtauld Institute on the subject of art and psychoanalysis which was supervised by Mignon Nixon and Juliet Mitchell.

Trevor Corson

Trevor Corson: Graduate Writing Program, School of the Arts at Columbia University

Examiners: Rebecca Jordan-Young and Kathryn Tabb
Field: History and philosophy of biology

Trevor Corson is a literary science journalist who writes about the relationship between the natural world and society. After writing two books involving the ecology, sex lives, and gender roles of sea creatures, and their relationship with human food harvesting, he is now working on projects related to how human behavior and biology interact with cultural habits and ideas. While pursuing a mid-career MFA in writing at Columbia’s School of the Arts he served as a teaching fellow in Columbia’s Department of English, where he taught first-year seminars in the gender & sexuality course track of the Undergraduate Writing Program. Trevor has written for many mainstream publications and taught at Boston University, The New School, the University of Memphis, and the Key West Literary Seminar in addition to Columbia. Previously he was the managing editor of the journal Transition at the W.E.B. DuBois Institute at Harvard University.

Danielle Drees

Danielle Drees: Ph.D. Program in Theatre, Columbia University

Danielle Drees studies the interactions among modern theatre, political economy, and feminist theory. Her dissertation “Staged Sleep: Sleep Theatre in Late Capitalism” focuses on contemporary theatre and performance art about sleep in a global context, arguing that sleeping characters onstage reveal an array of social and state relations, from relationships with partners and neighbors to the systems of private property, rental, and state support we depend on for shelter. Before coming to Columbia, Danielle lived on a farm in Iowa, stage managed countless college theatre productions, and taught writing in Abu Dhabi. At Columbia, she has taught Gender and Sexuality sections of University Writing and was also selected as a teaching assistant for Columbia University in London, in partnership with Queen Mary University. Danielle is committed to connecting her academic work to art and activism in New York, having volunteered as a coordinator for Columbia’s Theatre Colloquium, a play reader for non-profit theatre company New Georges, and an organizer with Graduate Workers of Columbia. Her work has been published in Performance Research.

Tiana Reid

Tiana Reid: Department of English and Comparative Literature

Tiana Reid is a doctoral candidate in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where she is also pursuing a concentration from the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. Her research focuses on literatures of the African diaspora, marxism, and feminism. For her graduate certificate in feminist pedagogy from Columbia’s Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality, she developed a course called “Experiments in Feminist Reading: Poetry in the Reagan Era.” 

Tiana is a writer whose work has appeared in or on Bitch, Mask Magazine, Maisonneuve, VICE, Full Stop, Rabble.ca, The Feminist Wire, The Toast, The Recluse, and more. She is also a senior editor at The New Inquiry and an editorial assistant at Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism.

Abbe Schriber

Abbe Schriber: Department of Art History and Archaeology

Field: Modern and contemporary art; African-American art and art of the African diaspora; media and performance

Abbe Schriber is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University. She examines modern and contemporary art with an eye toward black studies, and decolonial and feminist theories.

Her dissertation takes up the cross-media work of David Hammons in New York between 1974 and 1989, arguing that he stages obscurity in order to reveal the ethics of social and artistic visibility. Her writing has appeared in Texte zur KunstArtforumArt in America, and The Brooklyn Rail, and has been commissioned by institutions including the Museum of Modern Art and The Studio Museum in Harlem. She received her BA from Oberlin College in 2009.

In 2017-18, Abbe will be the Douglass Foundation Predoctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Hinasahar Muneeruddin

Hinasahar Muneeruddin: Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Hinasahar Muneeruddin is currently a PhD student at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Religious Studies. She completed her Masters degree in Islamic Studies as well as the IRWGS Graduate Certificate in Feminist Scholarship at Columbia University in the City of New York in 2017. Hina graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Northwestern University in Psychology and Middle East Studies in 2014.  Her overall research interests lie at the intersection of Islam, gender (feminism), race, and subjectivity. 

Maeve Sterbenz

Maeve Sterbenz: Department of Music

Field: Music Theory 

Maeve Sterbenz is a PhD student in the Department of Music, where she recently defended her dissertation, “Moving with Music: Approaches to the Analysis of Movement-Music Interactions.” Her current research combines music analysis and movement analysis to investigate relationships between music and movement in music videos, ballets, modern dance works, and dance films. Her work aims to account for structural complexities in movement-music interactions and to examine the role of such interactions in articulating identities and politics. Maeve has published some of this work in an article for a special issue of Music Theory Online on feminist music theory. Generally, Maeve is interested in approaches to music analysis that acknowledge the subjective and embodied nature of listening experiences. Maeve also completed her BA at Columbia University in music and physics.

Erica Richardson

Erica Richardson: Department of English and Comparative Literature

Erica Richardson is a seventh year PhD candidate in English and Comparative Literature. Her research explores “how black authors and intellectuals from the 1890s through the 1930s use aspects of sociology in their literary production as a means of representing black social life during a time of racial violence and constraint.” Richardson explains that in her work “categories of gender and sexuality are central to defining and theorizing black racial uplift.”  In the fall, Richardson will also serve as a Literature Humanities Preceptor in Columbia University’s Department of Core Curriculum.  When Erica isn’t teaching or working on her research, she spends her time enjoying healthy Southern cooking (it does exist!), weight training, and making collages.

2015 - 2016

Grace Delmolino

Grace Delmolino: Department of Italian

Field: Gender, language, and law
Examiners: Marianne Hirsch & Martha Howell

Grace Delmolino is a PhD candidate in the Department of Italian and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. Her research interests include Boccaccio, Dante, Petrarca, legal and economic history, and gender studies. Her dissertation, titled “The Legislation of Sex: Canon Law, Gender, and Humanism in Boccaccio’s Decameron,” offers a historicized reading of the intersection between law, literature, and gender in the works of Giovanni Boccaccio. This work on medieval law and literature is guided by an interest in contemporary critical and feminist theory: in addition to her concentration in Comparative Literature and Society, she is pursuing the certificate in feminist scholarship at Columbia’s Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality, where she was awarded the 2014-15 IRWGS Graduate Fellowship. She is also one of twelve Teagle Fellows in the academic year 2014-15 and currently serves as Senior Assistant Editor of Digital Dante.

Elizabeth Dolfi

Elizabeth Dolfi: Department of Religion

Field: Feminist and Queer Studies of American Religious History
Examiners: Josef Sorett & Janet Jakobsen

Liz Dolfi entered the doctoral program in Religion at Columbia University in 2012 in the North American Religions subfield. She is primarily interested in feminist and queer studies of American Religious History, with an emphasis on twentieth-century evangelical media. She received her MA in Religion and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Yale Divinity School in 2012, and her BA in Religion and Women’s Studies from Vassar College in 2009.

Christopher Edling

Christopher Edling: School of the Arts/Program in Nonfiction Writing

Field: Gender, Transnational Feminism, and Anthropological Approaches to Bride Abduction in Central Asia
Examiners: Lila Abu-Lughod & EC Crandall

Chris Edling earned an MFA in nonfiction at the School of the Arts. He spent three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Armenia. Between 2009 and 2012, he began to research bride kidnapping, a practice common in that region of the former Soviet Union. Chris is spending the 2015-2016 academic year in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on a Fulbright fellowship in order to develop a book project.

Susanna Ferguson

Susanna Ferguson: Department of History

Field: Women’s History and Feminist Theory in the Modern Middle East
Examiners: Lila Abu-Lughod & Neferti Tadiar

Susanna Ferguson is a PhD Student in the History of the Modern Middle East, with interests in women and gender, histories of thought, and genealogies of feminism in the Arab world. She is also a certificate candidate at Columbia’s Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality (IRWAGS) and a Graduate Fellow of the Women Creating Change project at Columbia’s Center for the Study of Social Difference. Her dissertation tentatively focuses on the transformation of the concept and practice of tarbiya in Egypt and Mount Lebanon at the turn of the 20th century, when the term began to invoke new notions about education and childrearing which would help to shape Arab feminist trajectories into the 20th century.

Nicole Gervasio

Nicole Gervasio: Department of English

Field: The Ethics and Politics of Representing Sexual Difference in Queer and Feminist Theory
Examiners: Sharon Marcus & Rosalind Morris

Nicole Gervasio is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Her dissertation is on the ethics of representing mass political violence in contemporary postcolonial literature. Her work focuses on intersections between queer, postcolonial, and feminist theory in relation to themes of survival, embodiment, and trauma in literatures of the Global South. She also has a B.A. in English and Growth & Structure of Cities from Bryn Mawr College and has been the recipient of Mellon Mays, Beinecke, and Javits Fellowships.

Gulchekhra Rikhsieva

Gulchekhra Rikhsieva: Department of Art History

Field: Human Rights, Visual Culture, and Memory Studies
Examiners: Marianne Hirsch and Rosalyn Deutsche

Gulchekhra Rikhsieva completed an MA in Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies (MODA) from the Department of Art History at Columbia University. She is interested in intersections of visual culture with queer theory, feminist theory, and critical race theory.

Lucie Vágnerová

Lucie Vágnerová: Department of Music

Field: Technology, gendered labor, race, music, sound, and postcolonialism.
Examiners: Ellie Hisama & Alondra Nelson

Lucie Vágnerová is a PhD candidate in Historical Musicology at Columbia University. Her dissertation, titled “Sirens/Cyborgs: Sound Technologies and the Musical Body,” explores composers’ work with sound technologies that challenge traditional notions of the body in music, such as vocal filters, technologies of acousmatic address, gesture controllers, and other wearables. Focusing on women composers in the United States, Lucie studies constructions of electroacoustic and electronic musical bodies that challenge gendered technological and epistemological paradigms. She is broadly interested in critical theory, feminist musicology, the social life of technologies, and the intersection of commercial and listening practice. Lucie has presented her research at the University of California Berkeley, Stony Brook University, Harvard, Columbia, and Lancaster University. At Columbia,she has taught Masterpieces of Western Music, Critical Approaches to Music Technologies, and Sexing Sound Art. Lucie is a member of the editorial board of Current Musicology and Assistant Editor of Women & Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture.

Ibai Atutxa

Ibai Atutxa: Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures

Field: Contemporary Southern European democratic struggles, legal epistemologies, mass media, feminism and queer theory, continental philosophy, and cultural studies
Examiners: Elizabeth Povinelli & Ana Paulina Lee

Ibai Atutxa is in the Latin American and Iberian Cultures department at Columbia University.  In his current research work he approaches the collapse of legal and media discourses regarding oil spills, toxic assets and of the following criminals: the homosexual, the terrorist, the migrant and the insolvent, in contemporary Spain and Europe.He holds a B.A. in Basque Philology (Deustuko Unibertsitatea) and two M.A.s in Comparative Literature and Contemporary Philosophy respectively (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona).  He has also received an M.A and M.Phil. from Columbia University. His research interests include contemporary Southern European democratic struggles, minor literatures, legal epistemologies, mass media and the formation of lateral socialities. His theoretical framework is built upon feminism and queer theory, continental philosophy, and cultural studies.

Daniel da Silva

Daniel da Silva: Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures

Field: Lusophone world, exploring feminist and queer articulations through performance, music, film, literature and political struggle at transformative moments throughout the XX and XXI centuries
Examiners: Ellie Hisama & Elizabeth Povinelli

Daniel da Silva is in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures at Columbia University in the City of New York, completing a PhD in popular culture, performance and queer theory in the Portuguese-speaking world, where he was also awarded an M.A. and M. Phil. Previously, he received his B.A. in History at Rutgers University, Newark, with a concentration in Lusophone Studies. Before returning to academia, Daniel da Silva served as a director of new media and marketing for independent music labels, artists and publicity firms in New York, representing a broad spectrum of artists, from Chavela Vargas and Cesaria Evora to Bjork and Anhoni, among many others. Performance continues to form and transform his work, and in good years he can be found fronting the New York based band Vovete: thisisVovete.com.

Shenila Khoja-Moolji

Shenila Khoja-Moolji: Department of Curriculum and Teaching

Field: Girlhood Studies; Gender, Culture, and Human Rights
Examiners: Lila Abu-Lughod & Ellie Hisama

Shenila Khoja-Moolji is a scholar of gender and education with a focus on South Asia and immigrant diasporas. She is working on her first book that traces the discursive production of educated female subjects in the context of colonial India and postcolonial Pakistan. Shenila’s work has appeared in Signs (in press), Gender and EducationComparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle EastFeminist TeacherCompare: A Journal of Comparative and International EducationGirlhood Studies, and Journal of Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education, as well as in the form of several book chapters. Shenila will join the University of Pennsylvania’s Program on Democracy, Citizenship, and Constitutionalism, and the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies as a postdoctoral fellow in Fall 2016.

Alessia Palanti

Alessia Palanti: Department of Italian

Field: Feminisms, Gender, Sexuality, Queer Theory, Cinema
Examiners: Marianne Hirsch, Ellie Hisama

Alessia Palanti is a PhD candidate in the Department of Italian and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. She recently received her IRWGS certificate, and has been awarded the 2016-2017 IRWGS Graduate Fellowship. She is writing her dissertation on 21st century Italian women’s cinema that focuses on women’s lives and experiences from a female perspective. Her project traces the development of Italian feminisms and their place in the international landscape of feminist inquiry into gender and sexuality through an analysis of contemporary film, and examines the influences and possibilities of female subjectivity in visual media and representation. Alessia’s work has been published in the Journal of Modern Italian Studies, “Revising History: Elvira Giallanella’s Umanità and the Editing of Gender,” and in the Pirandello Society of America Journal, “Scripting il ‘cielo di carta’: The Men behind the Curtain in Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s Cesare deve morire.”