Current Students-Department of English - Carnegie Mellon University

Julie Bowman

Julie Bowman

Ph.D. Student, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: jdbowman@andrew.cmu.edu

My research focuses on early modern drama and the domestic lives of early modern individuals. In my work, I seek to situate the plays in their moment in order with the assumption that historically contextualizing the plays aids interpretation, exposes how early modern audiences (across class and gender) might have experienced the plays, and, finally, suggests how the dramas engage with emerging structures of thought. In other words, I ask how did it feel to inhabit those bodies, in those times, in those spaces, and how does that produce meaning?

Specifically, my dissertation project historically contextualizes the early modern domestic nation, household, and body as a hermeneutic frame for reading the spatial organization of the plays. Reading this way challenges the analogical assumption of the home as a miniature nation-state by literally reading the home space to expose moments of privacy, intimacy, and individual interiority, to various degrees. I contend that  we can see these features of domestic experience--which become more fully developed in later centuries-- in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century through the dramas’ use of domestic space when we read the spaces in conjunction with the period’s political, social, economic, and religious concerns.

My previous degrees include a B.A. in Humanities from Brigham Young University and an M.A. in English from Rhode Island College.

David Cerniglia

David Cerniglia

Ph.D. Student, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: dcernigl@andrew.cmu.edu


Marisa Colabuono

Marisa Colabuono

Ph.D. Student, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: mcolabuo@andrew.cmu.edu

I received my BA in languages and literature from Bard College, and my MA in Literary and Cultural Studies from Carnegie Mellon. I work on early modern literature and culture through the lens of book history and the history of reading, and focus specifically on the circulation and production of information and knowledge in early modern Europe. I have worked on topics relating to natural philosophy, early modern medicine and the Republic of Letters.


Jacob Goessling

Jacob Goessling

Ph.D. Student, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: jgoessli@andrew.cmu.edu

My interest in literary and cultural studies lies in both twentieth century Continental philosophy and material culture. I earned a B.A. in Philosophy and an M.A. in English at the University of Louisville, where I also taught first-year composition. While my undergraduate studies focused on the critical theory of Theodor Adorno, my Master's Thesis utilized Alain Badiou's thought in conjunction with several works of Los Angeles noir literature and film to develop a conception of noir as a spatial ontology. Recently, my interests have branched into posthumanist studies as a method of investigating twenty-first century culture.

Steven Gotzler

Ph.D. Student, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: sgotlzer@andrew.cmu.edu

My research centers on the study of intellectuals and their publics. While I maintain an interest in 20th century intellectual and cultural history generally, I am particularly interested in exploring the culture and politics of intellectual life in the US and Europe during the immediate post-war period (1945-65). In this vein, I have related interests in mid 20th century political economy, literary history, film studies and musicology. My research is also informed by an engagement with, and concern for, the politics of academic life. More specifically, I am interested in examining the history of cultural studies itself as both a unique field of study, and a site of intellectual and political struggle. Originally from California, I graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz with a B.A. in American Studies and received my M.A. in Literary and Cultural Studies from Carnegie Mellon University.

David Haeselin

David Haeselin

Ph.D. Student, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: dhaeseli@andrew.cmu.edu

The changing nature of textuality drives my research interests. An increasingly digital age brings with it a host of consequences, not just for books but for study in the humanities more generally. To that end, I'm invested in helping chart the emerging field of the digital humanities, that is, the transcoding of our print archive and the creation of networked scholarly apparatuses while envisioning strategies to salvage the idea and practice of critique in the "late age of print." With specific regard to American literature and culture, my work attempts to construct an alternate history of the novel's relationship to "information," the technical concept promulgated by Post-World War II scientific discourse and cybernetics, the forebears of modern computation. In focusing on attributes that make literature a form of media in its own right, I hope to open up new ways to question the oft-cited contemporary dominance of information and data as opposed to more "literary" categories of knowledge and interpretation.

I have previously taught classes on the contemporary crisis surrounding intellectual property law (and its nefarious double, piracy) and am currently teaching a course that investigates new media's role in defining the so-called "posthuman" condition.


Kate Hamilton

Kate Hamilton

Ph.D. Student, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: khamilton@cmu.edu

After receiving my B.A. in English at the University of Connecticut, I joined the Carnegie Mellon LCS program in Fall 2009. At CMU, I am interested in how issues of identity, gender, and class play out on the global and local stage. My primary focus is 18th century England, but I also examine 19th century and contemporary feminist and postcolonial texts. Specifically, I enjoy studying how women fit into city life—how they confront the commercialization of leisure, the clash between public and private life, and female vulnerability in the male gaze. How do urban culture landscapes affect women's expectations, choices, and experiences? How can the 18th century offer new perspectives on modern culture? Finally, I am interested in marginal subjects, such as prostitutes, servants, and those whom Gayatri Spivak deems the "subaltern." As academics and researchers, how can we truthfully reclaim these lost voices?

Kate Holterhoff

Kate Holterhoff

Ph.D. Student, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: kholterh@andrew.cmu.edu

I am a Ph.D. student in Carnegie Mellon University's Literary and Cultural Studies program focusing primarily on science, anthropology and aesthetics in the Victorian period. My essay entitled "Liminality and Power in Bram Stoker's 'Jewel of Seven Stars'" was published by McFarland in the anthology "Critical Essays on Victorian Gothic and Sensation Fiction from Wollstonecraft to Stoker" (2009). I was awarded Best Paper in 2008 at Ball State University's Practical Criticism Midwest Conference for her essay "Writing as a Therapy for Mental Illness in Michael Cunningham's The Hours, and Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves." I am also a professional artist, and have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, with a concentration in painting, from the University of Cincinnati's college of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning.


Robert Kilpatrick

Robert Kilpatrick

Ph.D. Student, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: rkilpatr@andrew.cmu.edu

My work on contemporary American literature seeks to address both broad trends (genre-bending, representations of 9/11) and individual authors (Jonathan Franzen, Jonathan Lethem, Sam Lipsyte, David Foster Wallace). I am currently building a study of family narratives set across the postwar period—from Richard Yates' and John Updike's portrayals of suburbia to the post-9/11 familial depictions found in novels by Don DeLillo, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Ken Kalfus, among others. Additionally, I have a burgeoning interest in science fiction, and am keen to understand generic conventions and concerns both in terms of the theories and practices of science fiction studies and in relation to the piecemeal adoption of the genre by so-called literary authors (e.g., Margaret Atwood, Michael Chabon, Jennifer Egan, Gary Shteyngart). Born and raised (for the most part) in Switzerland, I am a graduate of McGill University (B.A. in English) and Carnegie Mellon University (M.A. in Literary and Cultural Studies).

Matthew Lambert

Ph.D. Student, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: mmlamber@andrew.cmu.edu

I received my B.A. in Literature at the University of North Carolina-Asheville and my M.A. in English at the University of South Alabama. As a M.A. student, I became fascinated by proletarian literature and the Popular Front. I've been particularly interested in how the aesthetics of the beautiful and the sublime were appropriated by the Popular Front through various mediums—film, photography, literature, drama, painting, etc.—to perform cultural and ideological work on an American society in economic turmoil and transition. Recently, I've become interested in the critical theory aspects of science fiction (and fact) and plan on extending my critique of radical political culture onto nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first century science fiction novels, stories, and films.


Daniel Markowicz

Daniel Markowicz

Ph.D. Student, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: dmarkowi@andrew.cmu.edu


Matthew Nelson

Matthew Nelson

Ph.D. Student, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: mrnelson@andrew.cmu.edu

I came to the Literary and Cultural Studies program after receiving my B.A. in English and American Studies from the University Iowa, and my M.A. in American Studies from California State University Fullerton. At Iowa, I was a research assistant for both the American Studies Department and the International Writing Program. At Fullerton, I worked as an editorial assistant at the American Quarterly. I also worked as a graduate research assistant for the Associate Dean of Social Sciences and Humanities. I'm currently in my second year of the Ph.D. program here at Carnegie Mellon with interests in contemporary American fiction, road narratives, and regional studies.

Juliann Reineke

Juliann Reineke

Ph.D. Student, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: jreineke@andrew.cmu.edu

During my graduate studies at The Ohio State University, I explored how bodies are represented in eighteenth and nineteenth-century novels. I was most concerned with how the passions and sensibility were at the heart of discourse of the body. Currently, I am primarily interested in how scientific discoveries of those time periods influenced constructions of the human body within literature. While at Ohio State, I was able to teach composition and technical writing. I have also taught composition and literature at Greenville Technical College. I look forward to teaching composition within the First Year Writing Program in Fall 2010.

Kurt Sampsel

Kurt Sampsel

Ph.D. Student, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: ksampsel@andrew.cmu.edu

My research, reading, and writing focus on the history of the American mass media system.  My dissertation, “The FCC, Media Policy, and American Culture,” intends to treat the Federal Communications Commission both as an agency of media policy and as a cultural institution.  In this study, I am trying to challenge three of our usual assumptions about the FCC: that it is a body of moral guardians protecting us from “indecency,” that it is a bitter antagonist to the media industries, and that it would function as a virtuous defender of the public if only it were not “captured” by business interests.  In order to work past these limiting assumptions, my dissertation considers the FCC from 1934-today not as a monolithic, bureaucratic agency but as an institution made up of real people working in a cultural and economic matrix.  Because the people, the culture, and the economic situation change, the FCC has a varied record, including many righteous advances as well as awkward retreats.

I have taught 76-101 (Interpretation and Argument) and 76-238 (Media and Film Studies).  My 101 course is entitled "Is Popular Culture Ruining Our Children?" and focuses on issues of mass-media anxiety, censorship, and reception.  Students read everything from Anthony Comstock to Tipper Gore, and we often base our discussions around questions like “What do media do?” and “In what ways does popular culture influence our daily lives?”  My 238 course, “Meanings and Functions of Mass Media,” is a class on media interpretation and criticism.  We read works by scholars like John Berger, Dallas Smythe, and Louis Althusser and criticize media from a number of different stances, including aesthetic, technological, ideological, and political economy approaches.

Previous Degrees:

M.A., English, Ohio University, 2007 

B.A., English, Kent State University, 2004


D.J. Schuldt

Ph.D. Candidate, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: dschuldt@andrew.cmu.edu

My primary research interest is the importance of the seventeenth-century English Revolution for understanding literary production and political discourse in the early Romantic period. Specific figures of interest for my research include the writings of John Milton, James Harrington, Algernon Sidney, John Toland, William Godwin, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Joseph Priestley, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I am also interested in the cultural evolution of comic books, from their birth as a medium to the economic structures of distribution. I enjoy balancing my research with my teaching. I have taught 76-240: Milton and Popular Culture, 76-327: Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings, and I have taught numerous sections of 76-101: Interpretation and Argument, one of which is on the comic book in American culture. I am also the Assistant Director of the Pittsburgh Consortium for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and sit on the Student Advisory Council to the university's libraries. I hold a B.A. in English from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire and an M.A. in Literary and Cultural Studies from Carnegie Mellon University.


Salita Seibert

Salita Seibert

Ph.D. Candidate, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: sseibert@andrew.cmu.edu

By the end of the seventeenth-century a newly coherent discourse of economic theory had developed. The economic discourse played an important role in defining the proto-class structure of eighteenth-century England. My project examines the formation of criminals in eighteenth-century England as a discrete class with a distinct population of people characterized by their perceived and actual relationship to forms of labor and social hierarchies. The poor and the criminal-the express subjects of social control-play a central role in the texts I examine. My work starts with the Restoration period and end in the 1750's. There are several questions that this project asks including who was criminal? What did it mean to be criminal? When was criminality understood as an experience within poverty and when was it not? How were poverty and criminality theorized as economic problems, social problems, or class problems? At what moments and in what sorts of texts do these problematics overlap? The first conclusion I have come to based on the texts I have examined at this point is, economic exigencies implicitly or explicitly inform all articulations of the problem. My second conclusion is that the fundamental connection between criminals is the relationship to labor. The poor are valorized for being industrious-laboring to support the state, however, criminals are condemned because their industry directly benefits informal economies and only indirectly the state.


Jamie Matty Smith

Jamie Matty Smith

Ph.D. Student, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: jmatty@andrew.cmu.edu

I have received degrees from John Carroll University (2009, B.A. in English Literature and Writing) and Boston College (2011, M.A. in English Literature) where I first became interested in eighteenth-century British literature, history and culture. Particularly, my interest lies in matters of gender identity and sexuality, as well as material culture and fashion during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Though my attention to literary and cultural studies has largely been informed by feminist criticism thus far, I am also intrigued by and eager to explore different fashions of theoretical literary criticism as well, particularly Marxism and postcolonial theory. At Boston College, I was able to teach in the First Year Writing Program and I look forward to teaching at Carnegie Mellon.

Heather Steffen

Heather Steffen

Ph.D. Candidate, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: hsteffen@andrew.cmu.edu

I am currently finishing my dissertation, "Academic Labor in an Age of Change: Criticism of the U.S. University, 1890-1930," which asserts that to understand our own troubled era, we must look back to the university’s emergence. Early-twentieth-century faculty witnessed troubles much like our own: a contingent, untenurable workforce; limited academic freedom; tense faculty-administration relations; worrying university-industry collaborations; and uneven professionalization. In response, observers like Upton Sinclair, Thorstein Veblen, James McKeen Cattell, and a host of now-forgotten professors produced a vivid corpus of critical texts in scholarly and popular venues. Writers like Owen Johnson, Percy Marks, Willa Cather, and Robert Herrick joined ranks with the critics, and their novels brought the university’s tensions into the public arena. These texts have usually been overlooked by historians of the university and by literary scholars. Thus, my project is half recovery effort and half explication of the intellectual genealogies of key scholarly concepts (academic labor, shared governance, and professionalism, for example). In the record of early university critics’ successes and failures, I argue, we find not only the origins of higher education’s present challenges but also hints at innovative ways to overcome them. Thanks to generous funding from an American Dissertation Fellowship from the American Association of University Women during the 2012-2013 academic year, I am on track to defend during spring 2014.  I also write about contemporary academic labor issues, and have published on graduate education and student internships in the minnesota reviewAcademe, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Cultural LogicThe Critical Pulse: Thirty-Six Credos by Contemporary Critics, which I co-edited with Jeffrey J. Williams is was published by Columbia University Press in 2012. My teaching focuses on late-19th- and 20th-century American literature, with emphases on realism and naturalism, popular fiction, and literary and cultural theory, as well as the history of the university.  I have also developed 76-101 courses on topics like the "corporate university" and Millennial students, and in 2011 I was honored to receive both the Department of English and Dietrich College Graduate Student Teaching Awards.  Currently I serve as a member of the Modern Language Association's Delegate Assembly, am active in the Adjunct Faculty Association of the United Steelworkers, and administer GradSource, an online resource center for graduate students in English at Carnegie Mellon.

Previous Degrees:

M.A., Literary and Cultural Studies, CMU, 2004

B.A., English, Bowling Green State University, 2003




Natalie Suzelis

Natalie Suzelis

Ph.D. Student, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: nsuzelis@andrew.cmu.edu

During my undergraduate dual studies at Carlow University (B.A. English, B.A. Philosophy, 2010), I found particular fascination in tracing the influence of ancient culture on Medieval and Renaissance ideas. More precisely, the influence of Greek comedy, tragedy, history, and philosophy on the Early Modern age. I am deeply interested in the works of Shakespeare and Geoffrey Chaucer. Comic and tragic convention, or the lack thereof, influences my approach to these works, as well as a character’s struggle for autonomy in either chaotic or seemingly predestined circumstances, and an examination of the cultural and historical conflicts between personal ethics, law, and religious institutions, and the philosophical problems which result from uniting these forces.

Pavithra Tantrigoda

Pavithra Tantrigoda

Ph.D. Student, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: pkt@andrew.cmu.edu

I received my B.A. in English at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka  and my M.A. in Literary and Cultural Studies at Carnegie Mellon University. In my graduate studies, I became interested in theories of globalization, more specifically, the racialization and feminization of labor within the structures of transnational capital. My research examines the spaces occupied by third world women and female migrants within the transnational sites of labor and capital, their embodied relation to work, the physical and mental costs of labor, and their modes of resistance to exploitation. Additionally, I'm interested in poststructuralism and its contemporary applications and, particularly, in the works of Jacques Derrida.

Eric Vázquez

Eric Vázquez

Ph.D. Candidate, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: evazquez@andrew.cmu.edu

My research explores points of contact between the geopolitical power wielded by the United States and resulting narrative/cultural forms. More specifically, my dissertation charts the conflict between governmental articulations of unconventional or low-intensity warfare and the attempts by Latino refugees, solidarity activists, and novelists, writing from the United States, to counter these dominant articulations. Exploring this intersection during the Reagan-era proxy wars in Central America my dissertation asks questions about how warfare calls into question distinctions between universal and particular, the function of representation with regard to conflict zones, and the persistence of alternative political visions against violent, seemingly irremediable, historical moments. My other interests include documentary cultural forms, the intellectual history of materialism, and theories of desire.

Prior Education:

B.A. Kenyon College, Major: English, Minor: Philosophy


Bret Vukoder

Bret Vukoder

Ph.D. Student, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: bvukode@andrew.cmu.edu

While at the University of Tennessee, I discovered and cultivated an interest in early twentieth-century narratives, particularly those of the American interwar period. In Carnegie Mellon’s Literary and Cultural Studies program, I plan to continue research on the divergent, yet symbiotic relationship between the modernist and classical Hollywood narrative, the dialectic between these narratives and the audience, and their effect relative to America’s increasingly global political and cultural position. Ultimately, I hope to trace how the film and literature of this dynamic time—despite their differences—deeply valued the act of storytelling in both its fundamental and endlessly complex potential.  A few of my tangential interests include the movie theater space (specifically that of the movie palace), ekphrastic storytelling, “Pre-Code” cinema, and the “global vernacular” of early cinema.

As an undergraduate at the University of Tennessee, I received a B.S. in Business Administration (majoring in Public Administration, English, and Political Science with a minor in Cinema Studies).  Also at Tennessee, I earned an M.A. in English Literature, during which time I had the opportunity to teach English 101 and 102, (respectively) themed “The American Political Identity” and “The Golden Age of Hollywood.”

Christopher Wike

Christopher Wike

Ph.D. Student, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: cwike@andrew.cmu.edu

I am a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University (2010, M.A. in Literary and Cultural Studies) and Clarion University of Pennsylvania (2009, B.A. in English). My areas of research interest are modern and contemporary American literature, the institutional position of literature and the role of English studies in canon formation, and the American university. Currently, I am working on expanding research I conducted during my Masters year which ties together my interests in contemporary American fiction and the institutional position of literature in an attempt at updating Richard Ohmann’s "The Shaping of a Canon: U.S. Fiction, 1960-1975." In this project, I am attempting to construct a descriptive, rather than a prescriptive, canon of contemporary U.S. fiction by examining the course syllabi from the U.S. News and World Report's list of the top graduate programs in literature.

Michael Williams

Michael Williams

Ph.D. Student, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: mpwillia@andrew.cmu.edu

I received a B.A. in English with specializations in the philosophical tradition and history from the University of Texas Arlington in 2008. I earned my M.A. in English Literature and Language from Loyola University Chicago, with a focus on material culture and textual criticism, in 2013. I am interested in ideas, applications, and representations of technology, technological innovation across political and geographic venues, and the implications of the "national" on conceptions of natural resources and the privileging of geographic locales. Recently, I have been working on tracing a sort of trajectory from the mid-eighteenth century to the turn of the twentieth in the development of American technological and literary exceptionalism, universalism, and pluralism. This subject is particularly fruitful in conversation with historiographies of the natural and others recounting the transatlantic competition between nations concerning national character, facility with innovation, and cultural and racial differences. My research involves writings on natural philosophy and history, politics, technology, and nation formation- primarily from the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries--from both the New and Old Worlds.

Jessica Wilton

Jessica Wilton

Ph.D. Student, Literary and Cultural Studies

Email: jwilton@andrew.cmu.edu

I came to Carnegie Mellon's Literary and Cultural Studies Program after earning my B.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College in Boston, MA.  My interests are situated broadly in the field of British and American literary and cinematic modernism. My research examines the historical intersections of modernist literature, design, and film. The question of how these fields contributed to the development of an economy based on creative labor drives my inquiry into this history. I specifically want examine the effects of modernist aesthetic and economic ideals on contemporary corporate ideals of streamlined and individualized design, autonomous labor, and the democratization of creativity. These interests allow me to incorporate a broad range of authors and texts into my work such as Bertolt Brecht, Ralph Ellison, Steven Soderbergh, and Steve Jobs. I have taught several music and film-related topics in 76-101, Interpretation and Argument. I have also taught Introduction to Film Studies and more specialized upper-level film studies courses. I am in involved in several community organizations in Pittsburgh, primarily targeting educational reform and public art.