Graduate Student Research Interests

Graduate student names, universities, dissertation titles, and research interests
Oriah Amit, University of California Los Angeles
Dissertation: Tentatively titled "When Safes Stop Being Safe: Security and the Victorian Novel"
The novel, crime and detective fiction, journalism and the periodical press, and representations of security in mid- to late-Victorian fiction.
Spencer Armada, University of California Santa Cruz
Interests: Ethics; History and Theory of the Novel; The Novel in English, C19-present; Realism; Literature of the Americas
Tali Banin, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Dissertation: "Posthuman Intimacy: The Nonhuman Turn in the Discourses of Love of D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, and Ford Madox Ford"
Interests: Modernism, Animal Studies, Posthumanism, Philosophies of Love, Feminist Theory
Phillip Bax, Southern Methodist University
Interests: Science and Technology Studies, Epistemology and the Novel
Ava Bindas, University of California Davis
Victorian and modernist literature, queer theory, architecture, suicide, and science writing.
Hayle Braithwaite, University of York
Dissertation: "The Explained Supernatural in George W. M. Reynolds’ The Mysteries of London"
Interests: I am primarily interested in the gothic literature of the long-nineteenth century (1790-1900). My current research focuses on use of gothic tropes in the penny fiction of George W. M. Reynolds but I have previously worked on nineteenth-century vampire fiction, gothic geography (and geocriticism), and Victorian consumer culture.
Shannon Branfield, University of Kentucky
Dissertation: "'Nobody Could Discern Him': Character & Concealment in Victorian Sensation Fiction"
Interests: Victorian popular genres, sensation and detective fiction, gender theory, the law.
Alex Buckley, University of Virginia
The Victorian novel; sensation fiction; novelistic realism; novelistic form; narrative studies; print culture; popular/mass-market culture, including modern pop culture
Steph Buongiorno, Southern Methodist University
Rachel Cason, University of Mississippi
T.J. Cienki, Vanderbilt University
Interests: I study the politics of home and belonging in the long British nineteenth century (Romantic and Victorian periods). I am especially interested studies of the novel, depictions of domesticity, and moments of political/national crisis.
Christie Cognevich, Louisiana State University
Dissertation: "Inside Voice: Charlotte Smith, (In)Sensibility, and the Emotional Cadence of Silence"
Interests: Research interests include Romantic and Victorian literature, sensibility poetry, the lyric, social and physical histories of affect, and the multi-faceted role of silence in expressing emotional and sensory excess.
Nina Cook, Rice University
Interests: I study British Literature of the nineteenth century, specifically the novel. I am interested in social activism and didacticism within the novel and with the interplay between the textual and the visual—especially in serialization. I have recently become interested in the question “Who can speak?” in the Victorian Era. The relationship between speech and silence, gender, and autonomy is intriguing and linked to many historical and political changes occurring during the century.
Chloe Coome, Ryerson University
"Deconstructing Mob Mentality"
Interests: I am interested in exploring how mob mentality, discrimination and the desire for a higher standard of living can lead to such immense violence as demonstrated through the Gordon Riots in Barnaby Rudge as well as how this manifests in modern times. I am also interested in supplementing my research with feminist scholars and perspective.
Lavaisa Ezell, Rutgers University
Interests: African American literature, feminist studies, science fiction, cultural studies
Hannah Fogarty, University of Buffalo
"Tactile Values: Touch in Victorian Literature and Psychology"
Victorian literature; history of psychology, science, and the senses; sensation
Jeremy Goheen, University of Texas, Austin
"Gothic infrastructures"
I’m interested in Victorian representations of gothic infrastructures.
Mary Grant, Ryerson University
Interests: Victorian Literature and Culture, Digital Humanities, Victorian Theatre, Shakespeare, Media Studies, Visual Culture
Laura Hayes, University of Iowa
"The Body Composed: Writing Matter in Victorian Literature and Culture"
Laura's dissertation research examines how Victorian authors write bodies using the language of mathematical physics. Her work interrogates the ways Victorian writers engage with the materialist discourses of natural and physical science and political economy to understand how high realist art represents a secular, progressive, and often paradoxical idea of human existence.
Beth Hightower, Rutgers University
Interests: The 19th Century novel, character, narration, psychoanalysis, trauma studies, queer theory, critical race theory, ethics
Katherine Hobbs, University of California Berkeley
Interests: My current project tracks what I call "melodramatic modes of argument" across several genres of writing associated with nineteenth-century women's rights reform. Rather than focusing on the use of melodrama or emotionally-charged rhetoric to underscore political argument, my work engages with the ways in which literary genres typically associated with emotion, melodrama, and the excesses of romance overlap on the structural level with political and legal logic. More general research interests include Victorian sensation fiction, Gothic literature, the history of marriage and women's rights law in England, and music.
Haejoo Kim, Syracuse University
"Organic Victorians: Alternative Health Practices and Medical Liberty in Nineteenth-Century Britain"
Haejoo Kim is an English Ph.D. candidate at Syracuse University. Her research interests include: nineteenth-century British literature and culture, history of medicine, health humanities, disability studies, and food studies. Her dissertation focuses on “alternative” practices of health and wellness, such as vegetarianism, the cold water cure (hydropathy), and anti-vaccinationism. As an interdisciplinary scholar, she is interested in how the liberal self and its perception of the individual body are negotiated at the intersections of medical and moral discourses.
Courtney Krolczyk, Rutgers University
Interests: Victorian Literature, Visual Culture (particularly book illustration), Print Culture
Jess Krzeminski, University of California Davis
"Tracing Time: Minding the Gaps for Hidden Narratives"
Interests: Literary scholars are currently focusing much attention on nineteenth-century geological accounts to parse early signs of global climate change, which today undermines the Victorians’ vision of scientific and industrial progress. My project unites this emergent method of Anthropocene reading—and its subcategory, stratigraphic reading, which focuses specifically on the ways in which the rock record both influences and undermines standardized conceptions of linear historical time—with longstanding queer reading practices, which expose how heteronormativity is maintained by suppressing the narratives that would subvert it. In so doing, I show how nineteenth-century adventure fiction was not only concerned with science’s impact on culture, but also was able to account for alternate histories, or “her-stories,” that did not make it into the geologic account of history being formalized and disciplined at the time. I thereby read these adventure novels as narrative accounts of what can emerge from the moments in the rock record where time is lost: stories of women and minorities; stories of death and rebirth; stories that refuse to fit within a white, linear paradigm.
Itar Mansour, University of Haifa
Dissertation: "Binaries and Contaries in the Bible, Blake’s and Milton’s works"
Interests: I have always been fascinated with the themes of binaries and contraries and self-fragmentation in different periods and fields. I have been interested in the Victorian Era, Children’s Literature, and William Shakespeare’s plays. But right now, I’m currently taking a closer look at Biblical studies, John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and several works of William Blake’s.
Katja May, University of Kent
"Everyday Textures: Practices of Needlework, Meaning-Making and Social Transformation"
My interdisciplinary research project explores the relationship between personal and social transformation, social movements, politics and the role of everyday practices on the level of affect, knowledge and the phenomenology of making.
My wider research interests include feminist theory, queer studies, material culture, affect, and activism.
Anna Merz, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Master's Thesis:
"'Perhaps I could attend more': An Investigation of Pedagogy, Practice, and Successful Learning in A Christmas Carol, Bleak House, Our Mutual Friend, and Great Expectations"
Research Interests: The works of Charles Dickens, children and education in Victorian Literature, Victorian women writers, Queer representation and Queer readings of Victorian literature, families and society, and gender performance
Meredith McCullough, Rice University
Interests: I am interested in nineteenth century poetry, the oceanic, feminist and de-colonial criticism. I enjoy thinking about ecological questions and how they appear in literature. Lately I've been reading and writing about transatlantic temporalities and spiritualism.
Maddison McGann, University of Iowa
Interests: Broadly speaking, my research is focused on Victorian reviewing and print culture in 19th-century England. Specifically, my latest project argues for the 1891 version of The Picture of Dorian Gray as an intertext of influence — a novel written and rewritten in it’s reviewing.
Trevor McMichael, Indiana University
Dissertation: "Revenge and British Romanticism"
Interests: I am a Ph.D. Candidate who studies Romantic and Victorian literature, and my secondary research interests include (new) formalism, affect theory, gender studies, and queer theory. My dissertation examines the ways in which Romantic and some early Victorian writers, including Joanna Baillie, William Wordsworth, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, and Robert Browning, theorize everyday forms of revenge as pleasurable and as possible to experience without recourse to conventional thematic and formal criteria like action, violence, and tragedy.
Annelise Norman, University of Georgia
Victorian literature, history and theory of the novel, form and genre, new materialism
Megan O'Donnell, University of Delaware
Interests: Megan's research interests include nineteenth-century speculative fiction, history of science, and ecocriticism. Her scholarship examines the relationship between nineteenth-century physics and speculative fiction to reveal how their convergence invites ecological perspectives. She is also interested in digital humanities and is currently collaborating on a project funded by the Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center using distant reading to analyze patterns between coral reef news media narratives, ecosystem state data, and conservation legislation over the past decade.
Sophia Panayiotou, Boston University
19th century novel, Transatlanticism, Social reform, Sentimentalism
Aran Park, University of California Riverside
"Influence and Image of the Easts in the Late Romantic and Early Victorian Poetry"
19th-century British and Anglophone poetry and culture. Currently I am interested in the cultural and poetic exchange between British Empire and the other three Empires from the late Romantics to the early Victorian period, focusing on the intersection of domesticity, class, and race.
Molly Porter, Louisiana State University
"Negotiating Englishness in Neo-Victorian Adaptation"
Interests: I'm a Victorianist with interests in neo-Victorian studies, adaptation studies, and postcolonial theory. I'm especially interested in British imperialism and identity. My work focuses on how the British imperial legacy shapes the identity of both the nation and the individual.
Irena Rudiakov, University of Haifa
Dissertation: "Fixed Fate, Free Will, Foreknowledge Absolute" – the Reading of John Milton's Paradise Lost as Family Drama
Interests: I am currently working on my PhD dissertation which focuses on the psychological interpretation of Milton's Paradise Lost as a family drama.
The main fields of my academic research are Early Modern poetry and Drama, English epics, religious poetry and poetry inspired by the Bible, with an emphasis on psychological analysis of the literary texts.
Olivia Rutigliano, Columbia University
Dissertation: "The Performing Detective: Investigation, Audience, and Acting in Victorian Entertainment"
Interests: 19th century and early 20th century entertainment; Victorian literature and drama; film and performance; detectives, melodrama, and sensation fiction
Katherine Schneider, University of North Texas
"Subversive Monsters and Powerful Victims: Feminist Gothic and the Deconstruction of Women’s Roles in the 19th Century"
Interests: I am interested in Gothic literature of the Victorian Period. I specifically look at various female archetypes in some canonical, but mostly non-canonical Gothic texts to show the prevalence of these characters that deconstruct binaries relating to female roles in Victorian culture. I also examine the deconstruction of typical binaries in Gothic criticism, and how these archetypes relate to the idea of the Kristevan subject.
John Schulz, Princeton University
Dissertation: "Balladizing Britain: Balladic Reading and the Imagining of British National Consciousness in the Poetry of the Long-Nineteenth Century"
Interests: Victorian Literature, Romanticism, Poetry, Poetics, and Aesthetics, Historical Poetics, Nation and Empire, Genre Studies, Literary Historiography and History of the Discipline
Eleanor Shipton, University of Exeter
Dissertation: "Postal Bodies: Imagining Communication and Transportation Networks in Nineteenth-Century Literature"
Interests: I am a SWW DTP funded PhD student, with research interests in nineteenth-century literature, technology and the body. I am currently working with Professor John Plunkett (University of Exeter) and Professor Mary Hammond (University of Southampton) on a thesis centred on the concept of the ‘postal body’ in nineteenth-century literature, asking how literature utitlised travel on the mail in order to theorise and explore mobility and mobile subjectivities.
Erin Spampinato, City University of New York
Dissertation: "Awful Nearness: Rape and the English Novel, 1740-1900"
Interests: My dissertation argues that representations of rape and sexual violence have played an unrecognized role in the history of the novel, indeed that such plots epitomize the most important epistemological questions with which the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century novel grappled. This project is both literary historical and presentist; while it describes a new genealogy of the British novel, it also traces how representations of rape have substantively shaped our contemporary understanding and rhetoric of sexual violence, particularly within the academy.

Drawing on the work of a wide array of feminist thinkers, from Catharine MacKinnon to Kate Manne, I argue that novelistic rape has long been misread due to what I call “adjudicative reading”: the literary critical tendency to attempt to determine whether a fictional rape really happened in the world of the novel. Adjudicative reading treats characters as if they are legal subjects, imposing juridical categories of evidence and intent upon their actions (while, not to mention, ignoring the fictionality of all characters in novels). As I show, this style of criticism has tended to replicate prejudices common in the criminal adjudication of sexual violence.

By contrast, I argue for conceptualizing rape as a capacious category of phenomena, most defined by its use of sexualized violence to structurally disempower women. The metric by which I identify rape is not the legalistic ‘intent’ but the phenomenological ‘harm’. Ultimately it is my belief that rape, as a social structure and as a literary device, has informed the history of the novel far more fully than we often recognize. This project attempts to describe that forgotten history.
Seth Spencer, University of Mississippi
Women's writing, working-class authors, 19th-century American, factory narratives, labor reform, education reform
Gabrielle Stecher, University of Georgia
Victorian literature and visual culture; history and theory of the novel; feminist literary criticism and art historiography; network theory; film adaptations of Victorian novels
Jessica Terekhov, Princeton University
Interests: My dissertation will discuss wit in Shaftesbury, George Meredith, and T. S. Eliot. To make matters more intriguing, my other research interests involve book and print history, theories of language, and the early Soviet avant-garde. I have an undying devotion to the works of Charles Dickens.
Tara Thomas, University of California Santa Cruz
Dissertation: "Queer Decadent Classicism"
Interests: I research gender and sexuality in British and Roman imperial literature, specializing in late-Victorian classical reception. My dissertation examines the Decadent movement’s engagement with imperial Roman decadence and Epicureanism. I am especially interested in archival and translation studies, queer and feminist theory, and posthumanism.
Justin Thompson, University of Maryland
Dissertation: "Women Writing Empire: Gender, Genre, and Violence, 1840-1914"
Interests: Empire studies, women’s writing, genre theory, theory of the novel, adventure/ popular fiction
Michael Vignola, University of California Los Angeles
Dissertation: "Reform Aesthetics in the Victorian Novel"
Interests: 19th-Century Fiction, Political Reform, Time & Temporality
Hadas Wagner, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Interests: George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Toni Morrison, Feminist Criticism
Brendan Whitmarsh, University of York
"Henry James, Queer Theory, and the Feminine"
Interests: Henry James, Victorian Literature, Queer Theory, Psychoanalysis, Feminism
Ashley Yuill, Arizona State University
Late 19th to early 20th Century literature, as well as new forms of contemporary literature. Focus on postcolonial theory.