Current PhD Students

Kate Albrecht

Fields: Twentieth-century US literature, queer and feminist theory, and digital humanities

Degree(s): BA (English Language and Literature), Creighton University

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

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 (2019-2020) she is the Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellow. For 2018-2019, she was 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)

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

Fields: Global Anglophone literatures, Caribbean literature, Critical Race studies, Life Writing studies

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

Laura Bass (email) is a third-year PhD student who comes from London. She is currently the Managing Editor of Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal and this year's UGrow fellow in the Manuscripts and Archives Management department at the University of Miami libraries. She has presented at the West Indian Literature conference, MELUS, International Auto/biography Association (Americas Chapter) conference, and the Literary London Society conference.

Dissertation Committee: Donette Francis (director), Tim Watson, and Jafari Allen

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 digital humanities

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. 

Lauren Jones

Fields: Feminism studies, gender studies, critical race theory, and the depictions of sex, reproductive health, abortion, and bodily autonomy in literature

Degree(s): BA, Marquette University

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

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: Race Theory, Diaspora Studies, African American Literature, Cuban Studies, Postcolonial Theory

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

Benjamin Moats (email) is a fourth-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, gender and masculinity, and body studies.

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

Set-Byul Moon (email) is a third-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: Early modern women’s writing, gender and sexuality, queer theory, materialism

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

Alexandria Morgan (email) is a fourth-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

Bilha Njuguna

Fields: Twentieth century postcolonial and afro-diasporic literature, world and comparative literature, global English in the novel and short story, Chaucer and Middle English, modern political economy, cultural studies.

Degree(s): BA, City College of New York

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

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 second-year student in the PhD program and the 2019-2020 UGrow Fellow at HistoryMiami. She has taught Portuguese and English at the Federal Institute of Education of Rio Grande do Sul. She has published in the journals Estação Literária, Letrônica, and Anuário de Literatura, and she has presented papers at the 11th Annual Conference of the Association of Adaptation Studies (2016), at the VII Congresso Internacional de Estudos sobre a Diversidade Sexual e de Gênero (2016), and at the The International Margaret Cavendish Society Biennial Conference June (2019).

Michael Sacks

Michael SacksFields: Nineteenth-century American literature and twentieth-century American literature

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

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

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 fourth-year PhD student. She is a research assistant for the Mellon Foundation-funded WhatEvery1Says Project and received a 2019 UMIA Field Research Grant to study Indo-Caribbean feminist and social justice organizing in Queens, New York.


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: "Slow Resilience: Narrative Resistance to the Specter of Climate Change in Environmental Speculative Fiction"

Fields: Eco-criticism, climate fiction, science fiction, contemporary American literature

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

Anne Schmalstig (email) is a PhD candidate in English. She was a 2019 Center for the Humanities Dissertation Fellow, and recently presented her work at the ACLA. She served as the editorial assistant for Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal

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

Bryant Scott

Dissertation: "The Humanitarian Imaginary: Literature, Violence, and Human Rights in a Collapsing World"

Fields: world literature, postcolonial literature, American literature, critical theory

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

Bryant Scott (email) is a PhD candidate in English. He presented at the annual conferences of MLA (2019, 2020), MELUS (2018), ACLA (2018), SAMLA (2016), the American Literary Association (2015), and the Caribbean Studies Association (2014), among others. He organized and chaired panels for MLA (2019, 2020) and SAMLA (2016). Obtained certificates and scholarships from Cornell University's School of Criticism and Theory, and Harvard's Institute of World Literature. Summer research fellowship from UM to attend Harvard. Two review publications in The Goose: A Journal of Arts, Environment, and Culture in Canada. Essays in Literature Uniting Regions and Nations (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2017), Literature of South Asian Diaspora (Prestige Books, 2014), and The Helix Literary Magazine (2009). Communications and Curriculum Fellow, Department of English, 2016. Editorial team member of the scholarly journal Postcolonial Text.

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: Comparative ethnic studies, diaspora studies, American studies, global literatures

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

Preston Taylor Stone (email) is a second-year PhD student. He was a recipient of the 2018-2019 Graduate Student Association (GSA) Best Senator Award and a GSA Award for Academic Excellence, Leadership, and Service. He presented at the South Atlantic Modern Language Association (SAMLA) Annual Conference, The Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the United States (MELUS) Annual Conference, and the Marxist Literary Group Institute on Culture and Society.


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

Fields: Multi-Ethnic U.S. literatures and Caribbean literature

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

Miguel Antony Vasquez (email) is a second-year student in the PhD program. In Spring 2019, Miguel presented at FIU’s 12th annual Cuban and Cuban Studies conference as well as at the MELUS conference hosted by the University of Cincinnati. He has worked the length of the summer as a library assistant at the Cuban Heritage Collection, while conducting research in the Lydia Cabrera archives. In the Fall, he will be presenting a paper on Cabrera’s works at the 38th annual West Indian Literature Conference hosted by the University of Guyana. 

Oliver Wallis

Dissertation: "The Canon, the Cult, and the Cliché: Modes of Attachment in Modernist Literature"

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: Patrick McCarthy (chair), John Paul Russo, Joel Nickels, Lindsay Thomas

Barry Williams

Fields: Global Anglophone Post Colonial Literatures and Black Diaspora Queer Studies

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

Barry Williams (email) is a third-year student in the PhD program and the 2019-2020 UGrow Fellow at Center for the Humanities. He has presented papers at the 38th Annual West Indian Literature Conference (October 2019), and the annual Caribbean Critical Symposium Series on African Diaspora Masculinities (November 2019). He is also a photographer and currently working on a project that explores black masculinities through imagery. Barry lectured in English at the University of The Bahamas before attending the University of Miami. 

Qualifying Exam Committee: Donette Francis (Chair), Brenna Munro, Jafari Allen