Current PhD Students

Samina Gul Ali

‌Dissertation: "Bad Women and the Politics of Recognition in Post 9/11 US Literature"

Fields:  Contemporary US literature, Latinx literature, Islam in US literature, and feminist theory

Degree(s): BA (English; Women's Studies minor), Pennsylvania State University; MA (English; Certificates in Gender Studies and Media Arts), Duquesne University 

Samina Gul Ali (email) is a PhD candidate in English. This academic year (2018-19) she is the Marilyn Yarbrough Dissertation/Teaching Fellow in Women's and Gender Studies at Kenyon College. She previously served as the managing editor for Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal.

Dissertation Committee: Donette Francis (director), Lindsay Thomas, and Lillian Manzor (UM Modern Languages & Literatures)

Laura Bass

Fields: Gender, race and empire, Caribbean studies, cultural studies, life writing

Degree(s): BA (English), Queen Mary University of London; MA (Contemporary Literature), Queen Mary University of London

Laura Bass (email) is a second-year PhD student who comes from London. She is currently the graduate research assistant for Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal. In 2018, she presented at two conferences in London - one at QMUL and one at the Literary London Society. She helped to organize and presented at the West Indian Literature conference at the University of Miami in October 2018. In 2019, she will present work at MELUS and the International Auto/Biography Association of the Americas in Kingston, Jamaica.

Erica Christmas

Fields: Feminist theory and Gothic literature within the Victorian era

Degree(s): BA (English and Biology), University of Miami

Erica Christmas (email) is a first-year graduate student in the English PhD program. 

Diana I. Dabek

Dissertation: "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Theater: Women Dramatists and the Early Republican Stage, 1795-1815"

Fields: Early American literature, Atlantic theater and performance, and transatlantic print culture

Degree(s): BA (English), Florida International University; MA (English), Florida International University

Diana I. Dabek (email) is a PhD candidate in English. Her dissertation project examines how Americans used print and performance drama to establish a national identity throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Dissertation Committee: John Funchion (director), Pamela Hammons, and Joe Alkana 

Suchismita Dutta

Fields: Contemporary American immigrant writing, multiethnic literature, and citizenship studies

Degree(s): BA (English; minors in journalism and film studies), Loreto College, University of Calcutta; MA (English), University of Delhi; MA (English), University of Miami

Suchismita Dutta (emailis a fourth-year PhD student. She has published a review of Show Town: Theater and Culture in the Pacific Northwest, 1890–1920 by Holly George, Texas Theatre Journal 14 (2018). She has also presented several papers: "Lost an arm on my last trip home": Linking Epigenetics with Race Memory and Trauma in Octavia Butler’s Kindred," at MELUS, The Society for the Study of Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States (2018); "The Ontology of Half Citizenships in Teju Cole’s Open City" at The Futures of American Studies Institute, Dartmouth College (2017); and "Reading Angry Transnational Voices: Migrant Bodies and Their Belongings in Shalija Patel’s Migritude" at MELUS: The Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States (2017). She is currently the Managing Editor for Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal.

Qualifying Exam Committee: Donette Francis (chair), Lindsay Thomas, and John Funchion

Tiffany L. Fajardo

Fields: Modernisms, science studies, sexuality, and the digital humanities

Degree(s): BA (English and Philosophy), Florida International University; MA (Literature), Florida International University

Tiffany L. Fajardo (email) is a PhD candidate in English. She previously the Managing Editor of the James Joyce Literary Supplement. Her work on Joyce was awarded the Mary K. Parker prize and has appeared in the New Hibernia Review. She previously served as Social History Researcher for Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.

Dissertation Committee: Pat McCarthy (director), Lindsay Thomas, and Jessica Rosenberg

Jared Flurry

Fields:  Caribbean Literature

Degree(s): BA (English), United States Military Academy

Jared Flurry (email) is a fourth-year PhD student and active-duty Army officer. He came to the University of Miami in order to study Caribbean Literature and currently teaches literature and composition at the United States Military Academy. He is particularly interested in European representations of West Indian soldiers in the First World War.

Qualifying Exam Committee: Pat Saunders (chair), Brenna Munro, and Tim Watson

Marta Gierczyk

Dissertation: "Scattered Intimacies: Fictions of Immigrant Placemaking
and America’s New Urban Crisis"

Fields: Contemporary immigrant literature and urban studies, African diaspora studies, and critical race theory

Degree(s): BA and MA (Polish Literature and Linguistics), University of Silesia; MA (English), University of Miami

Marta Gierczyk (email) is a PhD candidate in English. She previously received of the graduate teaching fellowship in the American Studies Program.

Dissertation Committee: Tim Watson (chair), Donette Francis, and Brenna Munro

Ashley Hemm

Fields: Speculative fiction, fandom studies, and digital humanities

Degree(s): MA (English with a concentration in US Literature), University of New Orleans

Ashley Hemm (email) is a second-year PhD student. She is a HASTAC Scholar (2018-20), WhatEvery1Says Research Assistant (2019), and a UGrow Fellow (2018-19) at History Miami. She previously served as Instructor of English and Coordinator Associate of English for two years at the University of New Orleans. 

Lesley Kamphaus


Fields: Seventeenth-century British literature and print culture, queer theory, feminism, and affect theory

Degree(s): BA and MA (English), University of Central Florida

Lesley Kamphaus (email) is a PhD candidate in English. Her dissertation focuses on narratives of monstrous birth in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century drama, poetry, and pamphlets.

Dissertation Committee: Pamela Hammons (chair), Jessica Rosenberg, and Brenna Munro

Alex Ledgerwood

Dissertation: "Queer Narratives of Shame in Global Anglophone Literature"

Fields: Global Anglophone literature, postcolonial Literature, and queer studies

Degree(s): BA (Humanities), Blufield State College; MA (English), University of Miami

Alex Ledgerwood (email) is a PhD candidate in English. He is currently a full-time faculty member in the English and Communications Department at Pensacola State College. 

Dissertation Committee: Brenna Munro (director), Patrick McCarthy, and Tim Watson

Paige Miller


Fields: 20th-century British literature, Irish studies, modernism, and ideologies of language

Degree(s): BA (English and Spanish), Texas Christian University; MA (English), Saint Louis University

Paige Miller (email) is a Ph.D. candidate in English. She is the Assistant Editor at the James Joyce Literary Supplement. In summer 2017, she participated in Harvard's Institute for World Literature in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Dissertation Committee: Pat McCarthy (chair), Joel Nickels, and Tim Watson

Benjamin Moats

Fields: Postcolonial literature, African American literature, and critical race studies

Degree(s): BA (English), Rockhurst University; MA (English) University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC)

Benjamin Moats (email) is a third-year PhD student. Originally from Nebraska, he previously worked at UMKC as a lecturer. 

Julia Mollenthiel

Fields: Race theory, cultural theory, US literature, and African-American literature

Degree(s): BA (English; minor in Political Science), Howard University

Julia Mollenthiel (email) is a third-year English PhD student. After her undergraduate career, Julia served three years with Teach for America teaching English in North Miami. 

‌Set-Byul Moon

‌Fields: Contemporary US Multi-Ethnic literature, with specific interest in feminism, masculinity, and body studies.

Degree(s): BA and MA (English) Ewha Womans University, South Korea

Set-Byul Moon (email) is a second-year English PhD student. Born in South Korea, she worked as a lecturer at Pittsburg State University, KS, and at Ewha Womans University.

Alexandria Morgan

Fields: Feminism, gender and sexuality, Early Modern women's writing

Degree(s): BA (English), Newcastle University; MA (Shakespeare Studies), King's College London

Alexandria Morgan (email) is a third-year English PhD student, interested in feminist issues such as gender and sexuality, specifically in Early Modern women's writing.

Gil Mozer

Dissertation: "Writing Transgender across Genre: Speculative Fiction, Peronal Narrative, and Poetry"

Fields: Narrative, queer theory, and transgender studies

Degree(s): BA (English and German), University of Connecticut; MA (English), University of Miami

Gil Mozer (email) is a PhD candidate in English. They have an essay, "Popular vs Personal: Transgender Representation in Public Media Culture," forthcoming in Beyond Binaries: Trans Identities in Contemporary Culture (spring 2019). They are also currently a Center for the Humanities Dissertation Fellow.

Dissertation Committee: Brenna Munro (director), Patrick McCarthy, and Lindsay Thomas

Carmen Petaccio

Carmen PetaccioFields: Contemporary literature, economics

Degree(s): BA (Economics), New York University; MFA (Fiction Writing), Columbia University

Carmen Petaccio (email) is a second-year PhD student.

Mariana C. Petersen

Fields: Queer studies, gender and sexuality studies, and contemporary literature and film

Degree(s): BA/BS (English and Portuguese), Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul; MA (English), Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul

Mariana C. Petersen (email) is a first-year student in the PhD program. Prior to coming to UM, she worked as a full-time instructor of Portuguese and English and coordinator of an ESL program at Federal Institute of Education of Rio Grande do Sul. Her awards include an academic distinction (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, 2015) and an MA fellowship (Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel, 2015-2017). She has published in the journals Estação Literária, Letrônica, and Anuário de Literatura. She has presented papers at the VII Seminário Internacional Mulher e Literatura (2015), at the 11th Annual Conference of the Association of Adaptation Studies (2016), and at the VII Congresso Internacional de Estudos sobre a Diversidade Sexual e de Gênero (2016). 

Nicholas Reich

FieldsQueer studies, queer literature and film, waste studies, and ecocriticism

Degree(s): BA (English), University of Alabama at Birmingham; MA (English), University of Alabama at Birmingham

Nicholas Reich (email) is a first-year student in the PhD program. He published "Queering the Air: Increasing LGBTQ+ Inclusivity in the Writing Center" in The Peer Review, special edition on "Writing Centers and Relationality: Constellating Stories" (2018). Previously, he worked as a tutor and instructor (writing and literature) for three years at the University of Alabama at Birmingham where he served as the Assistant Director of the University Writing Center. He won the Lavender Inclusive Research & Initiative Award in 2017 and received a University of Miami Fellowship in 2018. He has presented his work at IWCA and SAMLA, and he will present at MELUS in 2019.

Tarika Sankar

Fields: Indo-Caribbean feminisms, Caribbean literature, gender and sexuality, and digital humanities

Degree(s): BA (English and Anthropology with Spanish minor), University of Maryland, College Park

Tarika Sankar (email) is a third-year PhD student. She is a University of Miami and Holmes fellow and a graduate research assistant at the What Every1 Says Project. She presented her paper, "Pumpkin-Vine Family": Finding Jahaji-Bhain Sisterhood in Exile in Ingrid Persaud’s If I Never Went Home" on a panel about Indo-Caribbean histories and identities at the 37th Annual West Indian Literature Conference.


Daniel Scherwatzky

Fields: British romanticism

Degree(s): BA (English) Rutgers Univeristy-New Brunswick

Danny Scherwatzky (email) is a second-year PhD student in English.  

Anne Schmalstig

Dissertation: "Sublime Failures: Climate Fiction and Its Gothic

Fields: Gothic novel, eco-criticism, climate fiction, the Anthropocene, and digital humanities

Degree(s): BA (English), Rollins College; MA (English), Purdue University

Anne Schmalstig (email) is a PhD candidate in English. She served as the editorial assistant for Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal. Her dissertation focuses on the use of the sublime and other Gothic tropes in contemporary climate fiction novels. 

Dissertation Committee: Tim Watson (chair), Lindsay Thomas, and Kathy Freeman

Bryant Scott

Dissertation: "Collateral Development: Precarious States,
Narrative Form, and the End of History"

Fields: Neoliberalism, novel, and Anglophone liteterature

Degree(s): BA (English), Central Connecticut State University; MA (English), East Carolina University

Bryant Scott (email) is a PhD candidate in English. He has recently studied Arabic at the University of Haifa and completed Harvard’s Institute for World Literature 2016 program. He has recently presented at the Caribbean Studies Association Conference, the American Literature Association Symposium, and the Annual British Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies Conference. He has a forthcoming essay in the collection Through the Looking-Glass: Literatures Uniting Regions and Nations

Dissertation Committee: Joel Nickels (director), Brenna Munro, and Tim Watson

Sydney Shamblin

Fields: Early modern drama, specifically in the works of Shakespeare, and gender studies

Degree(s): BA (English), University of Mississippi

Sydney Shamblin (email) is a first-year PhD student in English. 

Preston Taylor Stone

Fields: Economic criticism, critical global studies, post-coloniality, and Native American studies

Degree(s): English (BA), Clemson University

Preston Taylor Stone (email) is a first-year PhD student. He serves as the Chief Editor of KAIROS Literary Magazine and Flash Fiction Editor of Crack the Spine Literary Magazine.


Kerri-Leanne Taylor

Fields: Women writers, gender and sexuality studies, and ecocriticism

Degree(s): BA (English and Communications), Virginia Wesleyan College

Kerri-Leanne Taylor (email) is a third-year PhD student. Originally from Stockport, England, she served as the UGrow Fellow in Curriculum and Communications.

Ruth Trego

Fields: Modernism, contemporary US literature, Southern studies, and digitial humanities

Degrees: BA (English Secondary Education), Cairn University

Ruth Trego (email) is a fourth-year student in the English PhD program. She worked as a high school/middle school English teacher for 3 years before coming to UM. 

Qualifying Exam Committee: John Funchion (chair), Lindsay Thomas, and Tim Watson.  

Miguel Antony Vasquez

FieldsAfro-Caribbean Spirituality, African Diaspora Studies, Performance Studies, and Queer Rhetorics of Masculinity

Degree(s): BA (English), St. John's University (NY); MA (English), St. John's University (NY)

Miguel Antony Vasquez (email) is a first-year student in the PhD program. 


Oliver Wallis


Fields: Composition and mediators of modernisms, science/technology studies, and Irish literature

Degree(s): BA (English), Brigham Young University; MA (Irish and Irish-American Studies), New York University

Oliver Wallis (email) is a PhD candidate in English. 

Dissertation Committee: John Paul Russo (director), Pat McCarthy, Joel Nickels, and Lindsay Thomas

Barry Williams

Fields: Tropes of queer identity formation in Anglophone Caribbean/diasporic literature

Degree(s): BA (English), College of The Bahamas; MA (English), University of The West Indies, St. Augustine

Barry Williams (email) is a second-year PhD student. He lectured in English at the University of The Bahamas before attending the University of Miami.