Current PhD Students
Kira Apple holds an M.A. and a B.A. in English from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, where she focused mainly on contemporary fantasy literature and fairy tale studies. As the Vice President of FAU's Comparative Studies Student Association, she helped to plan CSSA's April 2016 interdisciplinary conference. Her current research interests are fantasy storytelling (broadly), video games, transmedia, and geek and pop culture, especially in terms of fan engagement and immersion.
Mitchel Baccinelli holds a B.A. in English from the University of North Texas and an M.A. in Comparative Literature from Florida Atlantic University focusing on Early Modern Italian and Spanish literature. His Master’s thesis explored the development of the portrayal of women’s desires in Early Modern Italian, English, and Spanish Drama. Currently, his main area of study is in Argentinean Literature, specifically looking at the European influences on the founding of Argentinean Literature, as well as the effect of immigration on the country’s literature.
Ariana Cascio Bianchi is a full-time English professor at Broward College. She holds an M.A. in rhetoric and composition and a B.A. in English from the University of Florida. Her doctoral research focuses on feminist theory, body studies, and critical race theory as she examines representations of women in literature and on screen.
Cora Bresciano holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from FAU and a B.S. in Music Education from Hofstra University. She is the co-founder and co-executive director of Blue Planet Writers’ Room, a nonprofit organization that partners South Florida students with their peers in other countries to collaborate on writing- and arts-based story exchanges; the company's international partners include schools and cultural organizations in Mexico, the UK, Scotland, Mali, Ireland, Japan, China, and Thailand. Her research in the Comparative Studies Ph.D. program intersects with her work at Blue Planet by focusing on the ways in which first-person and fictional stories can interrogate and rupture national and cultural narratives, thus creating hybrid, alternate, and more inclusive representations of nations, cultures, and their people.
Betsaida Casanova has a B.A. in Social Sciences, a B.A. in Arts and Humanities and an MA in Spanish from Florida Atlantic University. Her current area of study is Spanish-speaking Caribbean Literature written inside and outside the Caribbean with a major concentration on Cuban writers. She is interested in exploring not only literature but other cultural production from artists inside Cuba and in the diaspora.
Skye Cervone is a Ph.D. candidate who holds an M.A. in Science Fiction in Fantasy Literature. While her M.A. work focused on world building through language in fantasy, her current scholarship focuses on intersections of biopolitics and animal studies in science fiction. Her other scholarly interests include the fantasy literature of Lord Dunsany, literary theory, 20th-century transatlantic movements, and digital humanities. She is currently the Public Information Officer for the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (IAFA). She served as the IAFA Student Caucus Representative from 2014-2016 and the Secretary for the Comparative Studies Student Association from 2013-2015. For more information about Skye, please visit her website (www.skyecervone.com).
Rachel Copley holds a B.A. in Journalism from Bob Jones University, and an M.A. in Communication from Indiana University. Her research focuses on Evangelical Christianity, cultural studies, purity culture, gendered violence, sex trafficking and prostitution. Of specific interest is the verbal and visual discourse surrounding Evangelical Christian organizational attempts to “rescue” and “restore” sex trafficked women and prostitutes. Other areas of interest include pedagogical competency, in which she has co-authored a chapter on visual literacy, rhetoric and design. She has taught several communication and gender classes at universities in both Indiana and Florida. She currently teaches public speaking and gender classes as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at Florida Atlantic University, where she is a Ph.D. student in the Comparative Studies department.
Daniel Creed earned his M.A. in English with a focus on fantasy literature from FAU and is now a Ph.D. candidate whose work focuses on fantasy literature, theory, and the creation of fantastic space in non-genre narrative. His secondary interests include science fiction, philosophy, and the representation of the pseudosciences in Victorian literature. Dan has been appointed the Division Head of Fantasy Literature for the International Association of Fantastic in the Arts (term to begin in March, 2017), and is the former President of both the Comparative Studies Student Association (2013-2015) and Sigma Tau Delta (2009) at Florida Atlantic University. As a graduate teaching assistant, Dan has taught first-year writing, literature, and theory courses for the English department. In addition, he was a guest lecturer in graduate and undergraduate courses on fantasy literature, introduction to literary studies, and literary theory. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.
Marianna De Tollis has a B.A. in Languages and Foreign Cultures from the University of Roma Tre, an M.A. in Comparative Literature with an emphasis in Italian and Caribbean Studies, and an M.A.T. in Spanish from Florida Atlantic University. The main concentration of her current scholarly research has been analyzing how women’s bodies have been portrayed in both literature and visual arts. Also, she is interested in how feminine stereotypes have been built and deconstructed through time, space and different circumstances. Marianna will be focusing on how female writers subvert the male-dominant society through their writings especially within the Italian and Spanish/Mexican traditions.
Amanda Dutton has a foundation in English and literature from FAU, and the main focus of her Ph.D. is in pre-modern literature and mythology. The Comparative Studies Program is a perfect fit for Amanda because it will allow her to integrate many of her interests in disciplines such as history, psychology, anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, and literature in her course of study.
Valorie Ebert holds an M.A. in Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature. Her research focuses on hope in science fiction dystopias, especially Cold War science fiction. Her other scholarly interests include media studies, eco-criticism, and animal studies. In addition, Valorie is on the Executive Board for the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts and holds the position of the Registration and Membership Coordinator, and she is the current Vice President of the Comparative Studies Student Association.
Hussein El-Ali 's academic background includes international studies, creative writing and film production. He holds an M.F.A. from Boston University. He plans to use his diverse interests to research how folklore, art, locale, and signs and symbols contribute to ethnic, sectarian and nationalistic identities.
Natale Filice worked as a professional actor and then as an opera director for 20 years. His main experiences are the following: Laurea (MA equivalent) in letters (cum laude); International (post graduate) scholarship at the University of Leuven; and MA in Stage Direction for opera at the Accademia Nazionale D'Arte Drammatica "Silvio D'Amico" of Rome (National Academy of Dramatic Arts "Silvio D'Amico"). He is about to complete his Ph.D. in Italian at the University of Leeds. He worked as a Professor of Stage Direction and History of Theatre at university level; has published some articles, directed more then 50 operas and dramas and written several plays and librettos. His current academic research includes Theatre, New Media, Film Studies, Literary Theory, Semiotics, Anthropology and Philosophy.
Stephanie Flint has a B.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara's College of Creative Studies in Literature and an M.A. in English from California State University, Fullerton. Her research focuses on monstrosity in literature, film and popular culture, especially in relation to hybridity in form and identity, and its constantly evolving social reception in popular media. She also enjoys working with border studies, literary theory, independent publishing and creative writing. She looks forward to continuing her exploration of the monstrous beyond conventional disciplinary boundaries, toward a more comprehensive understanding of its creative interpretations. Stephanie is currently president of the the Comparative Studies Student Association and teaches English as a GTA at FAU.
Bonnie Flory completed B.A. degrees in Sociology and Political Science and an M.A. in Sociology at Florida Atlantic University. She is ABD. While taking graduate classes, she had the opportunity to learn how to deconstruct global economic policies by embedding them in the lives of people. It was an invaluable learning experience that helped her connect her interest in social justice and government policies, leading to her focus on social activism.
Elizabeth Gillespie has a B.A. in English with a minor in Spanish, as well as an M.A. degree in English and an M.S. in Economics. In this program, her study interests include 19th-and 20th-century North and South American writers, specifically how these writers pursued artistic, political and spiritual liberty. Some of her favorite writers include Pablo Neruda, Mark Twain, Gabriel García Márquez, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Swati Gilotra has a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from University of Delhi, India and a Master’s degree in English Literature from Ambedkar University, Delhi. Her Master's thesis was on "The politics of desire in Muddupalani’s Radhika Santawanam". Her thesis explored how women’s desire and sexuality remains an unnoticed and invisible facet in our society. She further wants to work on Indian Literature with her central focus on gender and sexuality both as theoretical concepts and as concepts expressed by women writers and protagonists. Her primary research interests are feminist theories, gender, sexuality and women studies. She also enjoys working on postcolonial literature, decoding myths in Indian religion, fairies and monsters and their representation in literature, film and pop culture. Swati is currently teaching English as a GTA at FAU.
Marianna Gleyzer holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Central Florida, and an M.A. in English Literature from Florida Atlantic University. She has completed her coursework in the Comparative Studies Program at FAU in the areas of literature and film studies, and has advanced to candidacy as well. She is currently writing her dissertation on the cultural influences behind dystopian young adult fiction, under the direction of Dr. Susan Love Brown. Her other scholarly interests include Elizabethan, Victorian and Modern Literature. Her previous M.A. thesis dealt with American and British film adaptations of Wuthering Heights, and she wishes to pursue similar angles in the future as well. Currently, Marianna teaches first-year writing in the English department and loves the experience and atmosphere that comes with this engaging opportunity.
Rachel Harrison has a B.A. in Political Science, a B.S. in Public Relations, and a Certificate in Public Affairs from the University of Florida and an M.A. in Linguistics from Florida Atlantic University. Her current areas of study are English historical linguistics, focusing particularly on the Middle English/medieval period, and cognition and mind. Rachel's main interests include Germanic languages and cultures, English etymology and morphology, and medieval English history and literature. She is especially interested in investigating how current theories of language storage and processing can be integrated with research on language change and language contact.
Candy Hurtado is a native of Jauja, Peru. She holds a M.A. in Latin American Studies from Florida International University and a B.A. in Political Science with minors in Economics and International Relations from the same institution. Prior to entering the Ph.D. program she worked as a senior management consultant in two of the top global executive search firms. Her research focus is on Latin American culture, through perspectives from cultural anthropology, development studies, ethnomusicology, and ethnohistory. She is specifically interested in Andean dance and music and their role in creating a liminal space where identity is formed, history is recorded, and agency is restored. Her current research is on the musical and dance traditions of the Mantaro Valley. Ms. Hurtado is a founding member of the Kuyayky Foundation, an NGO that works to foster the social, political, cultural and economic development of Andean culture through lectures, performances and recordings. Past NGO partners of the foundation include the American Red Cross, Project Amazonas and Un Techo Para mi Pais.
Vincenza Iadevaia holds a laurea (the equivalent of a B.A. and M.A.) in Italian Literature with an emphasis on Film Adaptation from Federico II in Naples and an M.A. in Italian Studies from the University of Connecticut. She worked in the film industry, and this opportunity gave her the passion and the ability to integrate practical and theoretical aspects of Italian films. Her passion about movies, television, history and culture helps her analyze Italian society from an interdisciplinary perspective. While taking graduate seminars, she taught Italian Film and Italian Culture to American students in addition to Italian language classes. Her interests center on cinema and postcolonialism, the Italian diaspora, and "Otherness" in Italian cinema. She is currently working on Transnational Cinema, exploring both the relation between Turkey and Italy and the second generation immigrant directors, whose parents migrated to Italy. For fun, she enjoys biking and writing reportage for an Italian national magazine.
Adella Irizarry is currently working as an Associate Professor of English at Palm Beach State College. Her scholarly interests in rhetoric and composition, media studies, and women, gender, and sexuality studies come in handy when teaching her students about writing and critical thinking! After earning her Associate of Arts degree at Palm Beach Community College, she moved west to earn her Bachelor's degree in British and American Literature from New College of Florida in Sarasota. After a few years of working odd jobs such as a tutor and a retail worker, she decided her true calling was education and has never looked back! She earned her Master's degree at FAU in English Composition and Rhetoric and is looking forward to her comprehensive examinations for her PhD.
Rebecca Karimi's areas of study focus on oral history, Mexican American history, and social justice, but she also loves writing creatively. When not teaching English composition classes at Nova Southeastern University or Broward College, she enjoys discussing the importance of educating women and girls.
Fayez Kloub has a B.A. in Media & Cultural Studies with minors in Sociology & English and an M.A. in Communication Studies from Florida Atlantic University. His area of expertise is in mass media, psychoanalytic film theory, audience analysis, and sociological perspectives. His experience as a teaching assistant and an editor for the SCMS newsletter as well as his graduate work in Communication Studies has motivated him to further pursue a Ph.D in Comparative Studies. His Master's thesis researches how surveillance cinema places viewers in the camera's point-of-view in order to reflect on their understanding of contemporary surveillance in America from the 1990's to the 2010's. Fayez aims to expand this study further beyond film by using its analysis on cinematography to examine how broadcast journalism and viral video footage offer viewers a similar understanding of contemporary society.
Edna Lubonja has a degree in International Business from FAU and also a master's in Comparative Literature (Italian and Spanish, translation track). She is currently working on her dissertation exploring the Arbëresh culture through Carmine Abate's books; cultural observation and interviews. Her Master's thesis covered a book translation into English written by Viktor Canosinaj titled They Were Seeking Happiness. Throughout the graduate course, Edna has been teaching Italian classes and Intro to World Literature as a GTA. She has also participated in two consecutive NEMLA conferences in Toronto and Connecticut; at the CHIASMI conference at Brown University, and also at the FAU CSSA conference.
Damara Martin is a first year PhD student. She is primarily obsessed with anthropological linguistics, and how culture shapes the concepts of folklore and literary realism and idealism, specifically concerning racial structures in America. She is attempting to discern these structures in non-canonical works of fiction, poetry, and lyric essay.
Dyanne Martin is a native of Jamaica. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Education (Florida International University) and a master’s degree in English with an emphasis on teaching writing (Florida Atlantic University). Her research interests include semiotics, philology, classical and neo-classical rhetoric, and the dialectics of Caribbean literature. Her publications include articles on adolescent immigrant experiences in Caribbean literature (the ALAN Review) and the semiotics of racial passing (Philip Roth Studies, forthcoming). Dyanne is pursuing her doctorate while working as an assistant professor of English at Broward College, where she teaches Caribbean literature, composition, creative writing, and technical writing.
James Martin is the Associate Dean of English at Broward College's Central Campus. Born in Boston, he has a Master's in English Education from Boston College and a Bachelor's in Humanities from Harvard University Extension. His interests range from linguistics to philosophy to lyric poetry. He is pictured at Elizabeth Bishop's house in Key West.
Elaine Mendelow holds a B.A. and an M.A. from SUNY at Buffalo (Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude, High Distinction in English). Her teaching career spans many levels and decades, including a TESOL specialty in mastering the American accent. She is the founder and director of HeritageBiographyInternational.com, which produces DVD life story interviews. Auto/biography and Jewish studies are her areas of academic concentration. As a student in the FAU Comparative Studies PhD Program, she is grateful and delighted to be living the words of George Eliot: "It is never too late to be what you might have been."
Lochard Noel is originally from Haiti. He holds an undergraduate degree in mass communication and journalism and an M.A. in French from Florida Atlantic University. His main interests are languages, literature and cultural movements. He has a special interest in writing and has published a dozen of books, both in poetry and prose, some of which have been acclaimed by many critics in Haiti and abroad. Upon completion of his Ph.D. he plans to work in the area of research and teaching, mainly on the subject of French Caribbean literature.
Jason O'Connor has a BA in Judaic Studies and Political Science from Florida Atlantic University, an MA in Near East and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University and an MA in Holocaust and Genocide Studies from Gratz College. His interests include post-Holocaust memory and commemoration in Eastern Europe and Post-Communist Polish Jewish relations.
Jonas Oliver grew up in St. Augustine, Florida. He has an MFA in fiction from the University of Central Florida and an MA in English from West Virginia University. His primary research interests are 20th century women's literature, fairy tale studies, and narratives of paranormal experience.
Viviana Pezzullo has a Bachelor's degree in Humanities and a Master's degree in Philology from the University of Naples. She spent a semester at the École normale supérieure de Lyon and her research focused on the influence of Honoré Balzac on Henry James' works. Her main areas of interest are foreign literatures and her article about Gabriel García Márquez has been published (Le attese, ad est dell'equatore, 2016). She is a Graduate Teaching Assistant of French at Florida Atlantic University.
Lori Porges retired to South Florida from the New York area a fter spending over 25 years in the pharmaceutical software industry, and she decided to return to school to finish her degree. She loved being back in school, finding it quite a different experience as an adult. After graduating Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in History from Florida Atlantic University, she continued her education, earning a master’s in Political Science. Presently Lori is pursuing her Ph.D. with a focus on militant Islamic ideology. Having completed her coursework, Lori is presently working on her dissertation, titled "Pakistan: The Failure of Subaltern Education and the Rise of Militant Islam."
Michelle Rovere earned her B.A. in American Literature at FAU in 2003. She spent the next ten years teaching high school English at a variety of levels. In Aug. 2013, Michelle returned to FAU to pursue an M.A. in English Literature. While pursuing her M.A., Michelle worked as a teaching assistant and as a consultant in the the University Center for Excellence in Writing. Her areas of interest include feminine African American spiritual narratives as they relate to forms of feminine social discourse (sentimental literature, jeremiad, resistant orality, and sass) in the nineteenth century.
Melissa Annette Santiago is a mother, teacher, and author who holds both an M.A. and B.A. in English Literature. Puerto Rican by descent, her graduate work thus far has centered on how written discourse is used to shape identity in genres ranging from Shakespearean Drama, to Colonial American Literature, to Caribbean and Latin American Studies. Her areas of interest include American Literature, U.S. Multi-Ethnic Literature, Postcolonial and Feminist Studies. Her published works include a personal essay entitled "Swim Like a Fish," which was printed in Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul (2007) after the birth of her first daughter. She currently teaches American, British, and World Literatures at a private college preparatory school in Plantation, Florida.
James Stewart is currently an Assistant Professor at Broward College and will be starting the Comparative Studies Program concentrating on digital humanities and narratology in the Fall. He received a B.A. in English and a B.F.A. in Theatre from the University of Southern Mississippi. He also received an M.A. in English from the University of Alabama, Birmingham. For fun, he enjoys reading; binge-watching episodic television on Netflix; collecting records; playing guitar; and spending time with his wife, Adrienne, and his two-year-old son, Wallker.
Virginia Wells has a B.A. in English and a M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Florida International University. She has completed her coursework in the Comparative Studies Program in the areas of film studies and literature and is currently completing her dissertation under the direction of Anthony Guneratne, Ph.D. Her dissertation explores the use of sound in four film adaptations of The Tragedy of Richard III, by William Shakespeare.
Lucas Wilson holds a BA in English, summa cum laude, from Liberty University, as well as an MA in English from McMaster University. He went on to Vanderbilt University to complete his MTS with a Certificate in Jewish Studies and received The Academic Achievement Award for graduating with First Honors in his program. He then taught for a year as an adjunct professor at Lipscomb University, teaching both literature and composition. Lucas came to FAU to study under the supervision of Dr. Alan Berger and work on a dissertation that explores representations of domestic space and the transmission of trauma and memory in second generation Holocaust witness literature. He has received several fellowships for his work in Holocaust studies, including a European Holocaust Research Infrastructure Fellowship, an Auschwitz Jewish Center Fellowship, the Zaglembier Society Scholarship awarded by The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, a Charleston Research Fellowship, and a New York Public Library Short-Term Fellowship