Current PhD Students

Kate Albrecht

Fields: Early modern and medieval studies, gender and sexuality studies, ecocriticism, digital humanities

Degrees(s): BA (English), Creighton University; MA (English), University of Miami

Kate M. Albrecht (email) is a fourth-year PhD student of English literature. She is a mentor for Empower Me First and the secretary of the English Graduate Organization. She has presented at conferences such as the International Conference on Education, Symposium on Education and Culture Development of the Greater Bay Area, Medieval and Early Modern Studies Festival, and SAMLA. She has chaired panels at the Nova Southeastern Crossroads Conference and NEMLA. A former instructor of Writing Studies, she is currently the UGrow Writing Studies fellow. She has been awarded fellowships to work on DH projects such as Archbio and co-directs the Early Modern Care project.

Qualifying Exam Committee: Pamela Hammons (chair), Jessica Rosenburg, Lindsay Thomas

Jovante Anderson

Fields: Caribbean literature and popular culture, gender and sexuality studies, theories of space, and diaspora studies

Degree(s): BA (English), Lafayette College

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

Laura Bass

Dissertation: “Austere Lives: Neoliberal Nationalism and the Shaping of the Caribbean North Atlantic”

Fields/Research Interests: Global Anglophone literature, Caribbean literature, Comparative Race and Ethnic Theory, Auto/Biography studies

Degrees: BA (English), Queen Mary University of London; MA (Contemporary Literature), Queen Mary University of London; MA (English), University of Miami

Laura Bass (email) is a sixth-year PhD student. She is currently working on her dissertation project, a transnational (U.K., U.S., and Canada) study that critically examines the racialized, classed, and gendered effects of austerity on Caribbean immigrant communities from the long 1980s to present. Since 2018, Laura has been involved in various capacities with Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal; she is currently the Managing Editor. She has also served as the UGrow Fellow for the Manuscripts and Archives Management Department at UMiami Libraries. In 2020-2021, Laura was selected as the Distinguished Teaching Fellow for the University of Miami Institute for the Advanced Study of the Americas, during which time she designed and taught a Caribbean Studies course under the Latin American Studies Department and the Department of English. Laura has additionally served in research assistant roles for the Office of Community and Civic Engagement’s project, “Race, Housing, and Displacement in Miami”; the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures; and the Cuban Heritage Collection. Laura has presented her research at conferences such as the West Indian Literature conference; MELUS; International Auto/biography Association (Americas Chapter) conference; and the Literary London Society.

Dissertation Committee: Donette Francis (chair), Tim Watson, Jafari Allen, and Asha Jeffers (outside reader).

Erica Christmas

Fields: 19th century literature, 19th century children’s literature, gothic, gender and sexuality studies

Degrees: BS (Biology & English), University of Miami; MA (English), University of Miami

Erica Christmas (email) is a fifth-year PhD student. Her work seeks to navigate the boundaries between gothic and children’s literature in the fin de siécle.

Qualifying Exam Committee: Tassie Gwilliam (chair), Catherine Judd, John Funchion

Micaela Donabella

Fields: disability studies, contemporary literature and media, digital humanities

Degrees: B.A. (Sociology and Creative Writing), College at Oswego, SUNY; M.A. (English) University at Buffalo

Micaela Donabella (email) is a second-year PhD student. While her M.A. thesis focused on political agency in Irish modernism, she currently examines disability representation in contemporary literature and media. She has presented her work at SEGUE (College at Brockport, SUNY)  and will deliver a paper  at the Northeast Popular & American Cultural Association’s annual conference this fall.

Sadé Gordon

Fields/Research interests: Caribbean Studies, Afro-diasporic literature, Afro feminisms

Degree: BA (English and Africana studies), CUNY Hunter College

Sadé Gordon (email) is a second-year PhD student with interests located in Caribbean Space, Migration and Afro-diasporic feminisms. Her latest project "Finding Our Mothers Garden: The Feminine Spirit in Aeriel Space", explores artist Firelei Baez's  visualization of an Afro-diasporic global feminine network in her Untitled mural, which takes a turn toward the spirit to answer Alice walkers  call in "In Search of My Mother's Garden". Sadé is also a former Ronald E McNair scholar and was awarded The Helen Gray Cone Fellowship for Graduate Study in English (2020-2021).

Ashley Hemm

Dissertation: “A Genre of Our Own: Online Media Fandom and the Making of Speculative Fiction”

Fields: Speculative fiction, fan studies, post-45 American literature, digital humanities

Degrees: BA (English), University of New Orleans, MA (English), University of New Orleans

Ashley Hemm  (email) is a sixth-year PhD candidate. She is currently a research assistant for CONNECT, an NSF-funded U-LINK project which studies the creation and dissemination of conspiracy theories and misinformation. She has previously served as a HASTAC Scholar (2018-20), UGrow Fellow at HistoryMiami (2018-2019), WhatEvery1Says research assistant and project manager (2019-2020), and American Studies Fellow (2020-2021). She was awarded the 2019-2020 Outstanding Graduate Research Assistant award by the UM Graduate School for her work with WhatEvery1Says. She currently serves as secretary of the Graduate Student Association, and has served in various leadership roles in that organization since 2020. In Spring 2022, she received the GSA Helping Hand Award. She has presented at numerous conferences, including the Society for the Study of Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States (MELUS), South Central Modern Language Association (SCMLA), Science Fiction Research Association (SFRA), and a symposium on fan cultures and the pre-modern world at the University of Oxford.

Dissertation Committee: John Funchion (chair), Lindsay Thomas, Patrick McCarthy

Gabrielle Jean-Louis

Fields: Caribbean Studies, Haitian  Studies, Black Feminist Theory

Degree(s): BA (English Secondary Education Youth Services), CUNY Queens College

Gabrielle M. Jean-Louis (email) is a third-year PhD student. She primarily works with contemporary Haitian literature and explores the ways in which Haitian women creatives present modes of resistance to sexual anxieties apparent during U.S. imperialism (1915-1934, 1994) to the father-son Duvalier regime (1957-1986). Her forthcoming essay “A Black Feminist Gaze: Haitian Female Artists Reimagining Spiritual Iconography” turns to the work of Myrlande Constant and Naudline Cluvie Pierre to argue how Haitian female artists render a gaze that disrupts patriachial dominance and Eurocentric religiosity.  She has presented at the Mellon Mays Graduate Initiatives Summer Conference (SSRC-MMGIP).

Hyekyung Jung

Fields: Medieval and Early Modern Literature, Women’s Writings, Travel Literature, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Degrees: BA (English and History) and MA (English), Ewha Womans University, South Korea

Hyekyung Jung (email) is a second year PhD with research interests in the topics of (fe)male bonds, women’s travels in writings, and emotion and masculinity.

Benjamin Moats

Dissertation: “Black American Revolutionaries in Cuba: A Literary Analysis of Autoethnography and Quiet Care”

Fields: African American Literature; Caribbean Studies; Black Studies; Postcolonial Studies; Cuban Studies

Degrees: BA in English and Spanish from Rockhurst University; MA in English Language and Literature from The University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Ben Moats (email) is in his final year of studies at UM. His dissertation focuses on the writings and inner lives of African Americans who sought refuge in post-revolutionary Cuba. While at UM, he has served as a graduate teaching assistant; the American studies fellow; managing editor for Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal; and as an instructor with Exchange for Change, a non-for-profit organization that leads writing courses in South Florida prisons. Prior to joining UM’s PhD program, he worked as a full-time lecturer at The University of Missouri-Kansas City.

‌Set-Byul Moon

Dissertation: “Loving the Unlovable: Binding Black American and Korean American Narratives”

Fields: multi-ethnic literatures, Women’s studies, comparative literature

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

Set-Byul Moon (email) is a sixth-year PhD student working on her dissertation navigating Black-Korean conflicts and solidarity in contemporary American narratives.

Dissertation committee: Marina Magloire (chair), Brenna Munro, Lindsay Thomas, and Dr. Kita Douglas (outside reader)

Alexandria Morgan

Dissertation: "Embodied Temporalities in Early Modern Women's Poetry"

Fields: Early Modern Women's Studies, Early Modern Studies, Shakespeare, Feminist Theory, Queer Theory, Digital Humanities.

Degree(s): BA (English), Newcastle University, U.K; MA (Shakespeare Studies), King’s College, U.K.

Alexandria Morgan (email) is a final-year PhD student currently completing her dissertation on seventeenth-century women's poetry. She has presented at How to Do Things With Early Modern Words (2022), the Digital Humanities Summer Institute 2021 Conference and Colloquium, and the Renaissance Society of America 2021.

Alexandria is also the recipient of the Society for the Study of Early Modern Early Modern Women and Gender Graduate Travel Award, 2022 as well as two University of Miami Digital Humanities grants (2020 and 2021) and the University of Miami Dean’s Summer Research Grant (2020).

She has a digital humanities project exploring the afterlives of early modern women, titled “Mapping Women Writers: Appearances, Disappearances and Reappearances Across the Archive." Her article "Asexual Narrative and Identification in William Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis (and Thomas Edwards' Narcissus)" is forthcoming from an anthology on asexuality and early modern studies.

Dissertation committee: Pamela Hammons (chair), Tassie Gwilliam, Jessica Rosenberg, and Erin Murphy (outside reader).

Rachel Northrop

Fields: Late 20th Century US Literature, Black and Indigenous Literatures of the Americas, Finance and Economics

Degree(s): BS (Secondary English Education), New York University; BA (English), City College of New York

Rachel Northrop (email) is a third year PhD student. She has presented at the NSU Crossroads Humanities Student Conference and the UM Graduate Research Symposium. Her archival and literary research inform her work as a first-year writing instructor. Rachel's anticipated dissertation project studies financial and economic value narratives together with US literature published in the 1970s, focusing on bodily interactions with place.

Qualifying Exam Committee: Dr. Tim Watson (chair), Dr. Marina Magloire, Dr. Lindsay Thomas.

Carmen Petaccio

Carmen Petaccio

Dissertation Title: “Books Aren't Magic: Amazon, Indie Bookstores, and the Utility of Literature”

Fields: Contemporary Literature, American Studies, Book History

Degrees: BA (Economics), New York University; MFA (Fiction), Columbia University; MA (English), University of Miami

Carmen Petaccio (email) is a sixth-year PhD student. His fiction, nonfiction, and criticism have previously appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Atlantic, The New Inquiry, and The Baffler.

Claire Richie

Fields: Early Modern Studies, Manuscript Writing, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Digital Humanities

Degree(s): BA (English and History), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; MA (Early Modern English Literature), King’s College London; MA (English), University of Miami

Claire Richie (email) is a third-year PhD student and the 2022-2023 UGrow Fellow at the UM Center for Humanities. She has presented at conferences such as the Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) and the University of Kent’s MEMS Festival. She has forthcoming presentations at the Sixteenth Century Society Conference and the South Atlantic Modern Language Association (SAMLA). She has also served as a research assistant for the Archive of Biographical Writings in Medieval and Early Modern Iberia (ArchBio) and is a recipient of a Digital Humanities Graduate Fellowship. She is co-director of the Early Modern Care project. Website:

Qualifying Exams Committee: Jessica Rosenberg (chair), Pamela Hammons, Tassie Gwilliam

Vanessa Barcelos

Fields: Early Modern and Medieval Studies, Witchcraft, Early Modern Literature, Digital Humanities

Degrees(s): BA (English), Universidade Estadual do Ceará (Fortaleza, Brazil)

Vanessa Barcelos  (email) is a second-year English PhD student and a 2022-2023 leading organizer of UM Digital Humanities Research Institute (DHRI). She was awarded a graduate fellowship to work on the “Mapping Imaginary Miami” project, and  works as a research assistant for the Chair of the Modern Languages and Literature, Dr. Yolanda Miguel. Her major research interests are the political and literary aspects of discourses of witchcraft in Early Modern England and Germany, and decolonial approaches to representations of witchcraft in the New World, especially in Brazil.

Jordan Rogers

Fields: Black Diaspora, Black Queer Studies, Cinema Studies, Caribbean Studies, Black Europe, Ethnography

Degrees: BA (African American Studies, French), Yale University; MA (English), University of Miami

Jordan Rogers (email) is a PhD Candidate in English. He is writing a dissertation on Black Queer Cinema, from a global perspective. During his time at UM, he has held a range of fellowships, including the University of Miami Fellowship and the Mellon Graduate Fellowship at the University of Miami Center for Global Black Studies. He is the recipient of the 2019 Brazilian Initiation Scholarship (BRASA), and two UM Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas/Tinker Grants (2019, 2023). He has also translated work from Italian and Portuguese to English, interned in film archives, produced documentary films, and curated museum exhibitions.

Dissertation Committee: Marlon Moore (Chair), Patricia Saunders, Brenna Munro, Terri Francis (Outside Reader)

Michael Sacks

Michael Sacks

Fields: Nineteenth-century American literature and twentieth-century American literature

Degree(s): BA (English), Iona College; MA (English), Iona College

Michael Sacks (email) is a fourth-year graduate student in the English Department’s PhD program.  Michael is the managing editor of the James Joyce Literary Supplement.

Qualifying Exam Committee: Joel Nickels (chair), John Funchion, Lindsay Thomas

Kathryn Elizabeth Sanford

Fields: Early Modern and Medieval Studies, Monster Theory, Psychoanalytic Studies, Digital Humanities

Degrees(s): BA (English), University of Florida; BS (Psychology), University of Florida; MA (English), University of Miami

Kathryn Elizabeth Sanford  (email) is a third-year PhD student of English literature. She currently serves as the 2022-2023 Co-Chair of the English Graduate Organization (EGO). She previously worked as an instructor of Writing Studies, but now serves as Administrative Assistant to the New Chaucer Society. Focusing on medieval and early modern literature, she is primarily interested in utilizing psychoanalytic approaches— namely trauma theory— to dissect narratives of the monstrous. In her future research, she intends to explore how monstrous elements impact romantic narratives in medieval literature.

Tarika Sankar

Dissertation: “Beyond the Culture Concept: Indo-Caribbean Identity as Diasporic Consciousness”

Fields: Indo-Caribbean diaspora; U.S. immigrant literatures; critical race, ethnic and gender studies; digital humanities

Degree(s): B.A. (English, honors), B.A. (Anthropology) University of Maryland, College Park; M.A. (English) University of Miami

Tarika Sankar  (email)  is a PhD Candidate in English. She received a 2022-23 Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship and an honorable mention for the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship. Her solo-authored and collaborative scholarship on Indo-Caribbean diasporic identity has been published in the Middle Atlantic Review of Latin American Studies (MARLAS) and the Journal of Indentureship and Its Legacies. She was a Community Leader for the Digital Humanities Research Institute (DHRI) in 2021-2022 and a graduate research assistant at the WhatEvery1Says Project from 2017-2020. She has served in various leadership roles in the Graduate Student Association (GSA) and English Graduate Organization (EGO).

Dissertation committee: Donette Francics (chair), Marina Magloire, Lindsay Thomas, Sumita Chatterjee


Daniel Scherwatzky

Dissertation: “All monarchs I hate, and the thrones they sit on”: Libertine Performance, the Diseased Body Politic, and the Rise of Empire from Rochester to Defoe

Fields: Restoration and 18th-century English Literature; early modern studies; comparative global history of colonialism and empire; gender, sexuality, and disability studies; plagues and pandemics; Caribbean studies; Florida history; Puritanism, witchcraft, and the occult; English Civil War and the Age of Revolutions 1650-1850; Romantics, special collections

Degree(s): B.A. magna cum laude (English, honors), B.A. magna cum laude (History) Rutgers University; M.A. (English) University of Miami

Daniel Scherwatzky  (emailis a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate and scholar of 17th & 18th-century English literature whose current research is focused on the works of John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester and Daniel Defoe. His scholarly interests include libertinism, the intersections of sexuality and politics, global colonial history, the cultures of Florida and the Caribbean, disability studies, Romanticism, and the history of witchcraft and the occult. He also has professional experience in academic libraries, working with rare books and archival materials, including Richter Library’s Cuban Heritage Collection and Florida International University’s Miami Metropolitan Archive. He was a fellow of the JET (Japan Exchange Teaching) Program for two years in Hino, Tokyo, Japan. He holds a B.A. magna cum laude from Rutgers University in English Literature & History and an M.A. from the University of Miami in English Literature.

Dissertation committee: John Paul Russo (chair), Tassie Gwilliam, Catherine Judd

Michael Soriano

Fields: Seriality Studies, Media Studies, Lacanian Psychoanalysis, Digital Humanities, Cultural Studies, Contemporary US Literature.

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

Michael Soriano (email) is a second-year PhD student and 2022-2023 Treasurer of the English Graduate Organization (EGO). Michael is also a Community Leader and Organizer for the 2022-2023 UM Digital Humanities Research Institute (DHRI).

Preston Taylor Stone

Dissertation: “The Ghosted Protest: Deviance & Spectrality in American Protest Cultures”

Fields: Queer Theory, Critical Ethnic Studies, Multi-Ethnic American Literatures, Cultural Studies

Degree(s): BA (English), Clemson University; MA (English), University of Miami

Preston Taylor Stone (email) is a fifth-year PhD student and 2022-2023 Chair of the English Graduate Organization (EGO). He has been awarded the Dissertation Fellowship from the Center for the Humanities for Fall 2022 and the American Studies Graduate Teaching Fellowship for Spring 2023. He presented at such conferences as Society for the Study of Multi-Ethnic Literature of the U.S. (MELUS), the South Atlantic Modern Language Association (SAMLA), and UCLA’s Q-Grad:Queer Graduate Student Research Conference. Outside of his studies, he has been awarded the Best Senator Award and has served as Parliamentarian as well as the Chairperson of two committees of the Graduate Student Association (GSA). He is also a poet and the editor of KAIROS Literary Magazine. Website:

Dissertation committee: Lindsay Thomas (chair), Brenna Munro, Marlon Moore, Allison Schifani

Rebecca Vargas

Fields: Caribbean Studies, Ecocriticism, Contemporary Literature, Science and Literature, Digital Humanities

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

Rebecca Vargas  (email) is a second-year PhD student with current research intrests in the intersection between humanities and STEM fields (Biology, Ecology) in interpreting human embodiment in the natural world, with a specific focus on Florida and the Caribbean. They also have an accompanying interest in digital communities and how the formation thereof foster differing ideas of embodiment connected to expanding perceptions of taboo and monstrosity.

Barry Williams

Dissertation: What Lies Between: Representations Of Intergenerational Relationships In Caribbean LGBTQ Fiction.

Fields: Anglophone Caribbean Studies, Black Queer Studies, Postcolonial Literatures, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Degree(s): BA (English), University of The Bahamas, MA (English), University of The West Indies

Barry Williams (email) is a sixth-vear PhD student. He is a former Fellow of the Center for the Humanities and former Communications Fellow. He has presented papers at the 38th Annual West Indian Literature Conference (October 2019 and October 2022); The annual Caribbean Critical Symposium Series on African Diasporic Masculinities (November 2019) and Pride Bahamas: Creating A More Humane Bahamas Through Visibility, Inclusion, Allyship And Advancing Human Rights for LGBTQIA+ Community (October 2021). He also currently has papers under review for publication. Barry has taught in the Writing Studies department at UM for the last three years and in the English Department for the Spring 2023 semester. He also voluntarily teaches English to Incarcerated at the Everglades Correctional Institution in Miami. He is also a queer visual arts photographer whose work has been exhibited around the Caribbean. Barry lectured at the University of The Bahamas before attending University of Miami.

Dissertation Committee: Donette Francis (Chair), Brenna Munro, Jafari S. Allen, Michael Bucknor