The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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About

Students

Current Graduate Students

Dina Alqassar, MA/PhD Candidate 
Dina studies Renaissance lyric poetry looking at the intersections between faith and queerness in the works of Milton and the metaphysical poets (Herbert, Donne, Lanyer) with a focus on narratives of the Fall. She is also interested in the affective function of religious poetry of the early 17th century as a form of experiential piety. When not thinking about Eve and Satan, or taking Latin classes, she spends her time arguing about Star Wars and coming up with bad puns.

Daniel Armenti, PhD Candidate
Daniel is a candidate in Comparative Literature. His studies focus on the reception of classical literature in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, representations of gender, and the intersection of literature and law. His dissertation is titled "Moralizing the Rape of Philomela in the Medieval Commentary Tradition."

Grayson Chong, MA/PhD Candidate
Grayson is an early modern Caribbeanist. Prior to her arrival to Amherst, she graduated from the University of Toronto in 2019. Grayson is particularly interested in the processes of hybridization, creolization, and colonialism in the Renaissance. Using travelogues and early modern plays as passages, she considers how slavery in the New World influenced ideologies of race, language, gender, and family ties. Grayson uses these processes to trace and explore how these ideologies affect the present-day Caribbean.

Hayley Cotter, PhD Candidate 
Hayley Cotter's dissertation, 'On Neptunes Watry Realmes': Maritime Law and English Renaissance Literature, probes the intersection of legal and literary history. Using an interdisciplinary approach, it considers the fictional oceans of early modern poetry and drama in the context of contemporary legal debates concerning the law of the sea. Her second project investigates the role of Neptune in early modern English literary and visual culture. Broadly, she is interested in the visuality of English law, the relationship between text and image, sixteenth-century printed German books, and early modern English and German literature. 
 

Becky S. Friedman, PhD Candidate
Becky received her BA and MA in English from the University of Pennsylvania. She is writing her dissertation on the representation of Jews and Jewishness on the English Renaissance stage.

Melissa Hudasko, PhD Candidate
Melissa is an Anglo-Saxonist whose research interests span the pre/early modern period. Her dissertation examines Old English poetry, ecosemiotics, and the early modern origins of English lexicography. Melissa teaches courses in Writing and English Literature, including Shakespeare,The History of the English Language, and Literature and the Environment.

Yunah Kae, PhD Candidate 
Yunah is interested in early modern drama, critical race studies, the history of literature, and New Formalism.    

Merita Ljubanovic, PhD Candidate 
Merita is an MA/PhD student studying early modern English drama, particularly those set in the Mediterranean, that deal with religious, geographic, and racial difference. She holds a BA in English Literature from CUNY Lehman College. Her research focuses on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English interest in Balkan historical narratives, and how modern nationalist movements in the Balkan Peninsula assimilated English interpretations into their national ideology.

Lauren L. Rollins, PhD Candidate 
Lauren's dissertation "Fictions of Power" discusses traditionally disenfranchised groups and the representation of their political agency within Tudor and Stuart drama. She is also interested in early modern naval piracy and popular rebellion.

Gregory Sargent, PhD Candidate 
Gregory is writing a dissertation titled “The Violation of Theatrical Space in the Drama of Shakespeare and his Contemporaries.” His work investigates questions of decorum surrounding cultural geography and political spaces through the lens of dramatic representation. He is also writing a paper about Philip Massinger and the dangerous nuance of colonial expansion and foreign material greed. Through these projects, he endeavors to ask how the concept of social space in both an early modern and contemporary context can circumscribe useful cultural knowledge. He holds an MA from NYU and a BA from UCLA.

Ty Smart, PhD Candidate
Ty is an early modernist with interest in representations of North American Natives within 16thand 17th century English drama, prose, and venture company reports. When not playing in the archives for their comprehensive exams, Ty curates fragmented representations of queer intimacy in the form of poetry and photography. Currently they teach ENGWRT 112: Metaphors as Textual Media and meet biweekly with students to discuss how we interpret textual metaphors such as ‘Digital Native.’ Ty’s other research interests include early modern critical race studies and performance theory. They have been awarded a fellowship for Social Justice Pedagogy and are currently serving as a Tech Fellows for the UMass Writing Program.

Sharanya Sridhar, PhD Candidate 
Sharanya is working on her dissertation titled: "'She is a woman, therefore to be won': Narratives of Taming, Shaming, and Honor Killing in Early Modern English Drama and Indian Shakespeare(s)." She works with Tamil adaptations of Shakespeare from the colonial and post-Independence era. One of her goals is to investigate how whiteness and values associated with whiteness are constructed, critiqued, and appropriated in Tamil plays and films while simultaneously pointing to affinities between early modern English and Tamil culture. Her research interests include Shakespearean and non-Shakespearean drama, feminist theory, post-colonial theory, and film theory. At Umass, she has taught courses such as Gender, Sexuality, Literature, and Culture, Society and Literature, and College Writing. This semester, she is teaching a course titled "Women Writers Across the Globe." She is excited to introduce her students to stories and writers from diverse backgrounds.

Chandler G. Steckbeck, PhD Candidate
Chandler’s work focuses on the power and impact of non-human entities in Shakespeare’s dramatic works. Her MA Thesis, “‘Is man no more than this?’ Atypical Agency, Lack of Hierarchical Power, and the Futility of Human Superiority in Shakespeare’s King Lear,” examines entities such as the feather of Act V to argue that non-human entities can have as powerful an impact on the progress of the play as the human characters. Chandler earned her BA in English from Northwestern Oklahoma State University in 2017 and her MA in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2019.

Catherine Elliott Tisdale, PhD Candidate 
Catherine specializes in Renaissance drama. Her dissertation, “Adaptive Transformations: Stranger Fictions on the Early Modern Stage” reimagines the cultural and social effect of alien, foreign, and stranger characters on the early modern stage and reenvisions how these characters contribute to, alter, and imaginatively build new epistemologies for understanding difference in early modern London. Catherine is the recipient of the 2014 Folger Institute Grant-in-Aid for “Mastering Research,” and the 2017-18 Folger Institute Grant-in-Aid for the year-long dissertation seminar “Researching the Archive,” with Peter Stallybrass and Ann Blair.

Matthew Walsh, MA/PhD Candidate 
Matthew is interested in animal studies. In the summer of 2019, he completed a summer fellowship tracing seventeenth-century conceptions of the animal, namely how cross-species comparisons function in the period to modulate a wider network of mutualities between race, sexuality, and able-bodiedness. Matthew’s previous fellowship explored the ecocritical affinity between Thomas More’s Utopia and England's early colonial propaganda. He received his BA in English Literature at Fitchburg State University, where he graduated valedictorian of his class.

 

Alumni

Will Steffen (2018) - Assistant Professor of English—American International College, MA

David Katz (2018) - Visiting Assistant Professor—College of the Holy Cross, MA

Meghan Swavely (2018) - Adjunct Assistant Professor—University of San Diego, CA

Josephine Hardman (2017) - Lecturer in English Language & Literature—Smith College, MA

Katey Roden (2016) - Lecturer of English and Women's & Gender Studies; Director of Digital Humanities—Gonzaga University

Anne-Marie Strohman (2014) - Children's Writer and Freelance Editor

Marie Roche (2013) - Translator English and French at UMass Amherst Translation Center

Nathaniel Leonard (2013) - Associate Professor of English & Associate Coordinator of Digital Blue—Westminster College

Philip Palmer (2013) - Robert H. Taylor Curator and Department Head at the Morgan Library and Museum—New York City

Timothy J. Zajac (2013) - Brother with The Dominican Friars Foundation

Anne Garner (2012) - Managing Director, InterAct Theatre Company

Graham Christian (2012) - Dance historian & author of The Playford Assembly: 100 Years of Country Dance & Song (2016)

Jessica Landis (2012) - Assistant Professor—Franklin Pierce University

Kevin Petersen (2012) - Associate Teaching Professor—University of Massachusetts Lowell

Matteo Pangallo (2012) - Assistant Professor—Virginia Commonwealth University

Youngjin Chung (2011) - Assistant Professor—Ewha Womans University, Seoul, South Korea

Timothy Watt (2011) - English Teacher—Chase Collegiate School

David Swain (2007) - Professor & Department Chair—University of Southern New Hampshire