Meet the 2019 Career Development Boot Camp Fellows

MLA 2019 logo

At its 2019 convention in Chicago, the MLA will offer its second Career Development Boot Camp for current PhD students from across the United States. This year, twenty boot camp fellows from MLA fields will be joined by five fellows from history to explore expanded career horizons through convention sessions, workshops, a site visit to the Newberry Library, and guided discussion sessions. Chris M. Golde, career coach at Stanford Career Education, will facilitate the boot camp.

Support for the boot camp is provided by the MLA’s Paving the Way: For the Future of the Humanities fund. Among the initiatives that Paving the Way supports is early career readiness for humanities PhDs.

Meet the 2019 Cohort

Patty ArgyridesPatty Argyrides is a fifth-year doctoral candidate in English Language and Literature at Queen’s University. Her dissertation, “Embodied Language in Modernist Literature and Dance: What Does Modernity Feel Like?” examines the performativity of language and gesture in modern narrative form. Her next project explores feminist reconstructions and re-imaginations of language and the body. Patty has presented the results of her research at both national and international conferences and recently co-organized a panel for the Modernist Studies Association 2018 conference. Patty is a professionally trained ballet dancer and continues to be actively involved with the dance community.


Margarita CastromanMargarita Castroman is a PhD Candidate in the English department at Rutgers-New Brunswick. Her research and teaching focus on twentieth and twenty-first century Caribbean and US—particularly African American and Latinx—literatures. She is currently at work on her dissertation, “Collecting Race: The Archival Impulse in Twentieth Century Black Literature and Culture,” which proposes a new theory of the black archive that shifts attention away from the objects collected to the motivations and expectations of those who collect. She has taught courses for English, American Studies, and Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies and has presented work at Futures of American Studyies, ACLA, NeMLA, MELUS, and Yale’s “American Literature in the World.”


Ashton Foley-SchrammAshton Foley-Schramm is a doctoral candidate in English at the University of Rhode Island, specializing in Victorian literature. Her dissertation investigates characters who read within nineteenth-century novels, and asks questions about who reads, why, and under what circumstances. In addition to her work in literature, Ashton is also the current and founding coordinator of the Graduate Writing Center at URI. She has experience both teaching and tutoring writing, and enjoys working with students in diverse settings. Whether inside or outside of higher education, Ashton hopes to find a fulfilling career path that combines her passion for helping people and her love of learning with her administrative background.


Francesca GachoFrancesca Gacho is a PhD candidate in the department of English at Claremont Graduate University. Her dissertation examines the contact zones between the development of social statistics in the 19th century and representations of aggregates and populations in the Victorian novel. Francesca is a first-generation immigrant by way of the Philippines. Her pedagogy has been shaped by ten years of experience in writing center work, as well as her experience teaching composition courses at California community colleges, and her work with McNair Scholars and Upward Bound. Currently, she serves as the Graduate Writing Coach at the University of Southern California in the Annenberg School of Communication.


Olivia HagedornOlivia Hagedorn is a PhD candidate in history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she studies women, gender, race, sexualities, and the African diaspora. Her dissertation is titled, “‘We Are an African People’: Black Women and Diasporic Cultural Feminism in Chicago, 1930-1980.” It examines the diasporic cultural activism of four extraordinary black Chicago women from the Chicago Black Renaissance through the Black Arts Movement. In chronicling the lives of these women, she demonstrates the significance of Chicago as a key site for the production of a diasporic cultural feminism that linked this U.S. Midwestern metropolis to the African world.


DeLisa HawkesDeLisa Hawkes is a PhD candidate in the English Department at the University of Maryland-College Park. Her research centers on representations of intraracial tensions in nineteenth and early-twentieth century African American literature. She teaches university and community college-level courses in African American literature, black diaspora literature, literatures of the Americas, and composition. Currently, DeLisa works as an academic advisor and student groups coordinator for undergraduate English majors. She also volunteers at a local food pantry and through various community programs sponsored by the Pearl Elegance Foundation, Inc.


Laura HayesLaura Hayes is a doctoral candidate at the University of Iowa specializing in Victorian literature. Her dissertation research examines how Victorian authors write bodies using the language of Darwinian evolution and mathematical physics. Laura’s 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. Currently, she teaches General Education Literature and Rhetoric at the University of Iowa, consults in the Graduate Pedagogy Studio and the Rhetoric Writing Center, and works in the University’s Department of Distance and Online Education.


Matthew Klopfenstein Matt Klopfensteinis a PhD candidate in history at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign. He works on the development of the public sphere and popular culture in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century Russia. His dissertation focuses on the celebrity funerals of female performers in the late Russian Empire to explore the connections between public life, gender, emotion, and media. He is the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship, as well as two Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowships for Russian language. He has worked as an editorial assistant for the journal Slavic Review and prior to graduate school taught middle and high school history for four years at an international school in St. Petersburg, Russia.


Brendan MackieBrendan Mackie is a PhD candidate in British history at UC Berkeley. He’s currently writing his dissertation about clubs and societies. He is also the technical lead on the Project for Arms Trade History, a project that is assembling data on the historical arms trade. He hosts a podcast, “Making of a Historian” (, in which he discusses the ins and outs of what it’s like to get a PhD.



Daniel MagersDan Magers is a PhD student in English at the University of Illinois-Chicago. His research interests include creative writing, twenty-first century American literature, British romanticism, the history of the novel, and Black Studies. His book of poems, Partyknife, was published in 2012, and was positively reviewed and profiled by periodicals Publisher’s Weekly, Vice, Kenyon Review Online, and Huffington Post. His dissertation is a novel that combines an interest in nineteenth century narrative with an interest in polyvocality and formal experimentation most often found in contemporary experimental poetry. He is the former assistant director of UIC’s First Year Writing Program and the outgoing Vice President of UIC’s English Graduate Student Association.


Arpita MandelArpita Mandal is a scholar, educator, and doctoral candidate in English specializing in Anglophone and postcolonial theory and literatures of South Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. Her research interests include human rights theory and trauma theory. When not burning the midnight oil over her dissertation, she spends her time engaging students in writing, reading, and thinking critically about Anglophone literatures by employing humor, media, and popular culture to enhance active learning.



Dadland MayeDadland Maye is a PhD candidate in English at the CUNY Graduate Center and a visiting fellow in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University. His dissertation, “The Making of a Queer Caribbean: Grassroots Activists, Dancehall Activism, and Literary Advocacy (1975-2015)” examines the history of queer activism in the Caribbean in juxtaposition with the writing and lyrical culture it engendered. Outside academia, he likes world travel, exercising, and living healthy.



Rose MiyatsuRose Miyatsu is a 6th year PhD candidate at Washington University in St. Louis, finishing up a dissertation on post-1945 American novels that take place in mental asylums. Her essay “‘Hundreds of People Like Me’: A Search for a Mad Community in the Bell Jar” has recently been published in the collection Literatures of Madness: Disability Studies and Mental Illness. Over her graduate career she has engaged in a number of writing and editing projects and is currently working as a blogger for Washington University Libraries’ Special Collections department. She has also proposed and helped design and implement a university-wide campaign to increase communication between faculty and students about non-academic jobs.


Esther MoonEsther Moon is a PhD candidate in English literature at the University of Dallas. Her dissertation rereads The Canterbury Tales in the context of the global medieval debate over how to respond to poverty, as well as through the lens of game theory. At the University of Dallas, she recently completed a year’s tenure as Director of the Writing Lab and affiliate faculty member, and has taught medieval literature, Greek and Roman epic, Dante, Milton, Shakespeare, lyric poetry, composition, and rhetoric. Due to her background as a modern dancer and visual artist, she hopes to pursue interdisciplinary research in visual arts, movement, and literature.


Sarah NicholusSarah Nicholus is the Embrey Family Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellow in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. They recently earned their PhD in Luso-Brazilian Cultural and Media Studies. Sarah’s research examines contemporary LGBT+ cultural productions in Northeastern Brazil including quadrilha dance performances, cordel folk poetry, and the ephemeral spaces of traditional June festivals. By examining how queer communities reinvent tradition and re-claim space in the Brazilian Northeast, this research complicates representations of the region as rural or “anti-modern,” and therefore unwelcoming of alternative sexualities and gender expressions.


Phillip NinomiyaPhillip Anthony Ninomiya is a PhD candidate in history at the University of California-Irvine. He has a BA in Spanish and Japanese, and an MA in Latin American Studies, both from UCLA. Before starting graduate school, he taught English in Japan to junior high school students and foreign languages at the high school and community college levels. His dissertation, “Colonial Cosmopolitanism: Pacific Goods, Intermediary Merchants, and Local Consumption in Mexico, 1620-1670,” seeks to understand the cosmopolitan heritage of New Spain through Asian commerce. He tracks the trade and movement of Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and Philippine imports into various locations through the merchants who handled these goods.


Keturah NixKeturah C. Nix is a PhD candidate in American Studies at Purdue University. Her dissertation, “Is The Veil On or Off?: Uncovering America’s Racial Tensions Through the Symbolization of Booker T. Washington,” argues that during times of American social movement, black writers, community leaders, and artists evoke the image of Washington to symbolize overcoming Jim Crow segregation. This Montgomery, Alabama native graduated magna cum laude from Tuskegee University with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She received her MA in American Studies from Purdue University. Her research interests include: black popular culture, racial uplift politics, activism and social movements, material culture, difficult dialogues, and black feminist theory.


Obenewaa Oduro-OpuniObenewaa Oduro-Opuni is a PhD candidate in ILC at Arizona State University. She received her MA in German Language and Literature from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. Her dissertation examines collective black action, agency and advocacy in Germany and the US that are examples of social movements in response to political, legal, and cultural inequalities toward black people in white majority societies. Addressing the urgency of the moment, she investigates transnational social movements highlighting black resistance in the German context from the 18th to the 21st century.


Tera Reid-OldsTera Reid-Olds is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Oregon. Her research inflects the contemporary moment of the migrant crisis in Europe, considering the sea as a conceptual space within postcoloniality. Her research interests concern women’s testimonies, maritime borders, and translation studies, all of which support her larger work of tracing the intersections of storytelling and migration in the Global South. Beyond her doctoral work, she is passionate about the preservation of oral histories through the ethical curation of archives, accessible digital language learning technologies for migrant and refugee communities, and foreign language outreach.


Allison SerraesAllison Serraes is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Mississippi. Her dissertation, “Carceral Matrix: Black Women’s Writing in Response to Mass Incarceration, 1963-2017” reveals how black women writers since the 1960s have provided complex aesthetic models for exploring incarceration and confinement that attend to the intersecting components of race, class, and gender. For the last two years she has served as a teaching assistant in the University of Mississippi’s Prison-to-College-Pipeline Program, which offers college courses for credit to incarcerated people. Her research and pedagogy are dedicated exploring the relationships between literature and confinement in ways that can productively serve students and the community.


Jaqulyn TeohJacqulyn Teoh is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is completing a dissertation titled “Niche Formations: Rethinking Literary Opportunity in Modern Literatures of Southeast and South Asia.” Her work has appeared in Modern Fiction Studies and the Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies. Her work in the public humanities was honored with an excellence award by UW-Madison’s Morgridge Center for Public Service. She has recently worked as an assistant for a Humanities Without Walls consortium-funded project jointly led by Northwestern University and UW-Madison scholars.


Jess TraversJess Travers is a PhD candidate in English at Michigan State University. She also holds a graduate specialization in Women’s and Gender Studies. Her research interests include 20th-century American queer prose, queer theory, feminist critique, and subject formation. Jess is working on her dissertation, which travels through AIDS literature of the past as a way to inform feminisms of the present.



Jennifer VarelaJennifer Varela is a PhD candidate in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at NYU. Currently in the Cultural Studies stream, she has a background in history, political science, and area studies, with an MA from London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. She is completing her dissertation, “Contact, Confession, Reconciliation: Humanitarian Representations of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” which concentrates on the practice and promotion of liberal humanitarianism to international audiences through an analysis of nonfiction cultural texts and their associated transnational NGO networks. Prior to her PhD, she worked in the publishing and nonprofit worlds, and she is a freelance writer focusing on feminist and cultural issues.


Bethany Marie WadeBethany Marie Wade is a PhD student in history at the University of Pittsburgh with a focus on the visual and material culture of nineteenth century urban cemeteries. Her current research builds on her work with the material culture of nineteenth century Cuba, broadening her analysis to include other port cities in the Caribbean. Since joining the Pittsburgh community, she has actively worked to shape the discourse on career diversity training; she currently serves as co-chair of her department’s Career Diversity Committee and is on the planning committee of Pittsburgh’s NEH Next Generation Humanities PhD planning grant.


David YoungDavid Young is a PhD candidate in English at Duquesne University working in modernism, narrative theory, and film studies. He is currently working on a dissertation that investigates how narrative represents and responds to the violence of fascism and the Holocaust in the works of Nancy Mitford, Christopher Isherwood, D.M. Thomas, and Martin Amis. He has presented his work at the Modernist Studies Association, the International Society for the Study of Narrative, Literature/Film, and NEMLA. He recently lectured on the film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine.

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