Introducing the 2018 Connected Academics Career Development Boot Camp

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At its 2018 convention in New York City, the MLA will offer a four-day Connected Academics Career Development Boot Camp for current PhD students from across the United States. The boot camp will build on the success of the Connected Academics New York City Proseminar on Careers. Twenty boot camp fellows have been selected on a competitive basis to explore expanded career horizons through convention sessions, workshops, a site visit to the New York Public Library, and guided discussion sessions.

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 Mentorship Team

Mentorship and facilitation are provided for the boot camp by alumni of the New York City proseminar and Stanford University graduate education and career services professional Chris Golde.

Chris GoldeChris M. Golde (Facilitator) has worked for over 25 years in graduate education, as a student, faculty member, administrator, advocate, researcher, and scholar. Currently, she is at Stanford University, working as a career educator specializing in PhD students and postdoctoral scholars, at BEAM, Stanford Career Education.

Before joining BEAM, she served as Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Education at Stanford, Senior Scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She holds a PhD in education and an MA in sociology, both from Stanford University. She also writes a blog on graduate education called Grad|Logic.

Will FentonWill Fenton (Mentor) is the Elizabeth R. Moran Fellow at the American Philosophical Society and a doctoral candidate at Fordham University where he specializes in early American literature and the Digital Humanities. His dissertation bridges the religious and transnational turns in early American literary studies through the study of historical, political, and theological representations of the Society of Friends. His digital humanities project, Digital Paxton, serves as a digital archive, critical edition, and teaching platform for Pennsylvania’s first major pamphlet war. The project was awarded first prize in the NYCDH Graduate Student Digital Project Awards. Will writes regularly about the digital humanities and online education. His work has appeared in Common-placeSlateInside Higher Ed, as well as PC Magazine, where he writes the Autodidact column. This fall, he served as the Master of Ceremonies at ITHAKA: The Next Wave 2017.

Manoah FinstonManoah Finston (Mentor) works as a Student Affairs Officer at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University, and an academic coach and admissions consultant with Cambridge Coaching. He earned two honors BA degrees in English and French Language and Literature at the University of Chicago, and went on to earn an MA, MPhil, and PhD (Honors) in French Literature from New York University, with a specialization in 19th century French Realism. As an adjunct instructor at NYU, Manoah taught undergraduate courses in the humanities in both French and English. In his final year of graduate school, Manoah participated enthusiastically as a member of the inaugural cohort of the MLA Connected Academics New York City Proseminar.  

Sarah HildebrandSarah Hildebrand (Mentor) is a PhD candidate in English at The Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her research takes place at the intersection of the Medical Humanities and Environmental Psychology, examining spaces and ethics of care in 20th and 21st century life writing. Sarah teaches English Composition and Literature courses at Lehman College and has recently completed Fellowships through the Modern Language Association, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Vera Institute of Justice. Sarah has spoken on panels regarding the state of the humanities and presented research on trauma and illness narratives internationally. She publishes regularly for both creative and academic platforms on themes of social justice, pedagogy, and autobiography.

Carolyn Ureña

Carolyn Ureña (Coordinator) is a lecturer in the Princeton Writing Program. She earned her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature in 2017 from Rutgers University. Carolyn’s research and writing explores the intersection of the medical humanities, disability studies, and the lived experience of race and coloniality. Her current project, which builds upon the clinical and political writings of revolutionary psychiatrist Frantz Fanon, develops a decolonial framework for understanding how a sustained encounter between critical race and disability studies can generate new conceptions of health and healing. She was a 2016–17 Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellow and a 2016–17 Connected Academics Proseminar Fellow.


Meet the Cohort

Molly AppelMolly Appel is a doctoral candidate in comparative literature with a minor in Latin American Studies at Pennsylvania State University. Her research focuses on how literature has worked as a space of teaching and learning for human rights and social justice in the Americas. Her work is informed by her years as a Teach for America corps member and ESL instructor in New York City and Philadelphia. During graduate school, Molly has collaborated with local organizations to design and teach a literature and creative writing course to female inmates at the county jail and organized a global languages “storytime” series at the local library. Molly also makes as much time as possible for singing, video games, and her cat.

Caroline BartaCaroline B. Barta is a PhD student in English literature at the University of Texas, Austin. Her dissertation project about kitchen literacies examines the surge of cookbooks and household guides in England from 1650 to 1725 to uncover connections between economic aspiration, social change, and self-improvement. Eventually, she aims to influence not only her field within higher education but also literacy advocacy. Currently, Caroline applies her interests in her role as an assistant director for lower-division writing for UT’s Department of Rhetoric and Writing, where she helps mentor first-time graduate instructors, develop curriculum and assessment tools, and provide administrative support.  

Dantzel CenatiempoDantzel Cenatiempo is a current Hanauer Fellow and doctoral candidate in French Studies at the University of Washington, with an emphasis in Gender Studies. Her research interests include cross-dressing, race, class, and female biography. In her dissertation, she conducts a case study of dress and grooming as a power technique in the careers of George Sand, Sarah Bernhardt, Colette, and Josephine Baker.


Kate CostelloKate Costello is a doctoral candidate at the University of Oxford, specializing in modern Chinese literature and culture. Kate completed her BA at the University of Pennsylvania (studying Chinese, Arabic and Hebrew) before earning her Mst from Oxford in Oriental Studies. Her doctoral thesis examines bilingualism, language games and word play in modern and contemporary experimental literature. Paying special attention to the creative manipulation of sound, script, and syntax, she examines the playful, devious, and irreverent ways that bilingual competencies manifest themselves in experimental writing. She is also co-convener of the Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation Discussion Group.

Norrell EdwardsNorrell Edwards is an English literature doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland, College Park. Norrell specializes in 20th and 21st century African American and Black diaspora literature with research interests in cities, cultural memory, socio-linguistics and global Black identity. Her dissertation examines the memory of the Duvalier dictatorship in fictional narratives in New York, Port-au-Prince, and Paris. Her project contends that an analysis of characters’ mobility within fictionalized urban space provides insight on national politics, as well as urban memory construction and its connection to the Duvalier dictatorship. Norrell has taught courses in global literature and social change, Black diaspora literature and culture, and Writing 101. In addition, as a Graduate School Writing Fellow, Norrell supports students in mastering academic language and the intricacies of English grammar.

Geoffrey GimseGeoffrey Gimse is a doctoral candidate in professional and technical communication at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His research interests include the social impacts of digital architecture, data structures, media management systems, and participatory culture in online and offline spaces. His current work focuses on the rhetorics that shape the development and creation of networked digital architectures and the impact of that development on broader socio-political discourses.


Jose Juan GomezJosé Juan Gómez-Becerra is a PhD candidate in Spanish literature and culture specializing in Chicana/o literature at Arizona State University. His dissertation explores the representation of the barrio in Chicana/o theatre, concomitantly offering a typology of the barrio and a reading of its semiotic function in confabulating the dramatic atmosphere in these plays. His humanistic endeavors revolve around Spanish heritage language, Latinx and twentieth century Latin America literature and culture. José Juan is currently serving as the Rocky Mountain Foco representative for the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies. At ASU, he is a 2017-2018 PFx Emeritus Faculty Fellow and has received awards for mentorship, teaching, and publication. In 2016, he served as a research fellow for Connected Academics at ASU.

Amanda GreeneAmanda Greene
is a PhD Candidate in English, with a graduate certificate in Science, Technology, and Society, at the University of Michigan. Her research operates at the nexus of digital studies, visual culture, media theory, and the health humanities. Her dissertation focuses on the affective patterns engendered by the mass visual documentation of everyday life, examining how visual social media ecologies condition habits of sense-making and storytelling in embodied encounters with pain and vulnerability. This project explores new methodological directions for humanities-grounded media studies scholarship in a digital age. In this work and through several cross-disciplinary research collaborations, Amanda is committed to bringing humanist expertise into dialogue with other analytic approaches from social and data science.  

Rachel Heffner-BurnsRachel Heffner-Burns is a doctoral candidate in the English department at Lehigh University. Her dissertation examines the poetry of Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, and H.D., and how they adapted their experiences with particular religious cultures as a means of effecting cultural change through their political verse. Rachel is currently an adjunct faculty member of the English department at Norwalk Community College, where she designs and teaches first year composition classes and developmental workshops for first-generation, low-income undergraduates. She feels strongly that her work in the community college humanities classroom, instructing the diverse members of NCC’s student body, extends and complements her academic studies of literature and social justice.

Kara HisatakeKara Hisatake is a PhD candidate in the Literature department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her dissertation reads Pidgin (Hawai’i Creole English) literature from Hawai’i to consider how multiethnic Pidgin culture builds community and solidarity with indigenous sovereignty. At UCSC, Kara is an instructor of Asian American and Pacific literatures and a writing tutor; she has also led the Asia and Pacific Reading Group for graduate students. Additionally, Kara is a grant writer with the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, where she helps to build projects, exhibits, and operational support. Born and raised on O’ahu, Kara’s home is never far from mind. She continually thinks about community and social responsibility and how to bring people together to work for change where they live.

Dinidu KarunanayakeDinidu Karunanayake is a PhD Candidate in the Department of English at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. His research interests include postcolonial South Asia, South Asian America, post-war Sri Lanka, genocide, refugeeism, diaspora, and memory. His dissertation examines politics of memory at the intersections of postcoloniality, neoliberalism, and human rights in global South Asian literature and popular culture. His work has been published in South Asian Review and The Subjects of Human Rights: Critical Asian and Asian American Studies (forthcoming).

Pam KirkpatrickPam Kirkpatrick is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Her dissertation explores the depiction of kinship and child-rearing practices in medieval literature, including Beowulf, The Nibelungenlied, and Raoul de Cambrai. Her broader work focuses on the depiction of children, childhood, orphans, adoption, and fostering, particularly when viewed through multiple cultural and religious lenses. In her career as a teacher and a writer, she would like to help students of a variety of abilities and interests by nurturing their love of learning and literature.

Gerald MaaGerald Maa is a writer, editor, and critic whose academic research focuses on theater and prose in the British nineteenth century. He is a PhD candidate at the University of California, Irvine and a founding editor-in-chief of the Asian American Literary Review, a literary non-profit that publishes the only print journal dedicated to literature by and about Asian Americans. His essays appear or are forthcoming in places such as Studies in Romanticism, Criticism, Los Angeles Review of Books, and A Sense of Regard: Essays on Poetry and Race (UGA Press).  His poetry and translations appear in places such as Poetry, American Poetry Review, and Push Open the Window: Contemporary Poetry from China (Copper Canyon Press).  He currently lives in Long Beach.

Kelsey MadsenKelsey Madsen is a doctoral candidate in French at the University of Oklahoma. Her research focuses on 20th– and 21st-century French-language literature and culture from the perspective of memory studies. Her dissertation examines how texts by Lydie Salvayre, Patrick Modiano, and Zahia Rahmani employ genre tropes and intertextual references to create textual monuments that reframe traumatic family memories of the Spanish Civil War, the Nazi Occupation of France, and the Algerian War. Given recent public debates about monuments and history in American society, Kelsey is particularly interested in how local communities are reconsidering their own memorial landscapes as they grapple with how to interpret the past.  

Erica MelkoErica Melko is a doctoral candidate in English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). She also holds an MA in English and a graduate minor certification in Gender and Women’s Studies from UIUC. Her dissertation situates decolonial Indigenous studies within a contemporary multi-ethnic U.S. literatures context in order to examine ongoing processes of colonialism, racism, patriarchy, and heterosexism as entangled systems of power. In addition to her research, Erica has four years of editorial experience with the journal American Literary History—published through Oxford University Press—as New Media Editor, Assistant Editor, and Managing Editor. She has also written for the University of Illinois Extension Office of Web Development as a multimedia assistant.

Matthew John PhillipsMatthew John Phillips is a Ph.D. candidate in English literature at Rutgers University. His dissertation examines forms of literary characterization in the nineteenth-century British novel—from “singular” characters to examples, exceptions, and types—alongside questions about personhood and social belonging in a globalizing era. His research thus brings together questions of literary form, economics, national identity, and imperialism. An article, drawn from his chapter on Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, was recently published in Nineteenth-Century Contexts. He is a former Jacob K. Javits Fellow, as well as a former Graduate Fellow for the Center for Cultural Analysis at Rutgers. In addition to his research, he is also interested in fiber arts, food ethics, and animal rights.

Mallory Porch

Mallory Anne Porch is a PhD Candidate in the Department of English at Auburn University. Her dissertation provides a corrective to narratives of the development of eighteenth-century British epistolary fiction, arguing for the decentralization of Samuel Richardson and the creation of a more inclusive literary history. Currently, she is the Graduate Teaching Assistant for the Biggio Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (2016-2018).  Mallory has held several offices for the English Graduate Association at Auburn and chaired the graduate student caucus of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century. In 2015 she was honored as one of four Merriwether Fellows at the university.

Hannah RyanHannah Ryan moved from Long Island, NY to Mississippi as a child and lived there until early adulthood, when she relocated to Buffalo, NY to pursue graduate literary study. Her experience of living as an outsider in the South generated a lasting fascination with the region, which she combines with her interest in postcolonial studies in her academic work. Hannah’s research focuses on the conflicts between espoused philosophies and lived experience through the presence of mentally ill characters in the literature of the American South and Brazil. Whether she pursues a career inside or outside academia, Hannah hopes to deploy her academic training and interests to generate a greater public appreciation of literature and culture. In her free time, Hannah enjoys watercolor painting, swimming, and spending quality time with her cat.

Katrina SireKatrina Sire is a doctoral candidate at Claremont Graduate University and adjunct faculty for the writing program at the University of La Verne. Her dissertation examines how changing notions of color from 1830-1870 influenced narrative; it will be accompanied by a exhibition of the same title in the fall of 2018. While pursuing her doctorate in 19th century British literature, she developed an affinity with archives and found that teaching only further expanded her understanding and love of educating the public and fostered a commitment to best archival policies and practices. For the past four years, she has overseen volunteer hours with the community partner, ONE Archives, USC, and has led students in building queer history exhibitions, both on and off La Verne’s campus. She has also had the great honor of being named a La Verne Experience Fellow in 2015, receiving a grant to digitize video of interviews with artists and activists and performance art from the 1990’s New York East Village, and was a keynote speaker at the university’s rainbow graduation in 2017. She looks forward to taking the skills and passions she has acquired from her varied experiences with her to her future career.

Mariann J. VanDevereMariann J. VanDevere is a humorist whose primary language is laughter. Her dissertation, which focuses on contemporary African American stand-up comedy, is birthed from her pursuit of a joint-degree in English and Media Studies.  She plans to use all the blood, sweat, and tears accumulated from life in “PhD school” as fuel for her exodus from the academy into the bright lights of Hollywood.  As a consumer and creator of all things funny, Mariann will leave her mark on the entertainment industry by using her pen to bring to life the absurd, the tragic, and the ironic, or more simply put, the intersectional nature that is the human.


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