Current PhD Students



Ana-Christina Acosta Gaspar De Alba's research is focused in Latin@ literature and politics, with interests in codeswitching, family narratives, and writing across distance. Her creative writing is focused on the connective tissue between loved ones, the things we say and the things we mean, the people who shape us. She holds a BA in English/Latino Studies from Indiana University and a Creative Writing MFA from Virginia Tech.



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. 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.



Kathryn (Pewenofkit) Bridwell-Briner holds a D.M.A. in music performance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, an M.A. in performance from Florida Atlantic University, and a B.M. from Stephen F. Austin State University. She has completed all coursework for a second M.A. in music history and literature from FAU where she focused on Comanche hymns as liminal space for agency and identity in the post-Allotment era in southwestern Oklahoma. She has published articles about the Comanche and Kiowa/Plains Apache in the Great Plains Journal as well as entries in the New Grove Encyclopedia of American Music. Kate has presented papers at the Symposium of the International Horn Society, Southeast Horn Workshop, Northeast Horn Workshop, and at the International Feminist Theory and Music Conference. Of Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache descent, Kate is actively involved in the Comanche Nation's language revitalization program and her work here at FAU focuses on reclaiming Comanche cosmology through language and the arts supported by the creation of digital space where post-allotment Comanche identity may be created, nurtured, and sustained. Beyond language work, Kate's research interests includes intergenerational trauma and healing in Indigenous communities, sovereignty, Indigenous futurisms, identity and cultural rhetorics through Indigenous popular musics, and the creation of space/agency for Indigenous descendants in the U.S.



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 (



Rachel Copley holds a B.A. in Journalism from Bob Jones University, and an M.A. in Communication from Indiana University. Rachel has taught several communication and gender classes at universities in both Indiana and Florida. Rachel currently teaches classes in public speaking, communication, and gender as a graduate instructor at Florida Atlantic University. Rachel’s current doctoral research primarily focuses on evangelical Christianity, evangelical purity culture, and gendered violence within religious contexts.  Of specific interest to Rachel are the strategies evangelical Christian women employ in resisting the colonization of white evangelical culture. While Rachel regards these strategies as part of an expressivist social movement, she primarily considers these strategies as a distinct form of spirituality. Rachel Copley’s paper titled "Of Cookies, Dresses and Sex: Consumable Prostitutes and Second-Hand Brides” received the award for "Best Graduate Student Paper" at the 2017 annual Florida Communication Association Convention. Rachel’s other areas of interest include pedagogical competency, in which she has co-authored a chapter titled “Visual Literacy, Rhetoric, and Design at the Graduate Level: Preparing Graduate Teaching Assistants to Teach Visual Literacy” in Visual Imagery, Metadata, and Multimodal Literacies Across the Curriculum.



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.


de tollis

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.



Domenica Diraviam holds an M.A. and a B.A. in Secondary Education of French and Italian from the University of South Florida. Her academic interests as a doctoral candidate include the Italian diaspora and digital humanities. Currently Domenica is a Senior Instructional Designer at Broward College. In addition to years of experience as a blended and face to face course developer and instructor of French, Italian, and Spanish at the junior high, high school, and post-secondary level, she has also developed and facilitated study abroad programs to Italy. Her outside interests include family time, traveling, cooking, and running.



Carmen Duarte received a bachelor´s degree in Fine Arts with a major in theatre arts in her native Cuba, where she was a theater director, as well as playwright. She has two internationally performed plays and five published books. She received a Master's Degree in Spanish and Literature in Florida Atlantic University. The play ¿Cuánto Me Das, Marinero? has been performed in several Latin-American countries, including Colombia and Argentina and has been included in several theater anthologies. Other plays, such as Stradavarious, have been performed in different Latin-American countries, including Brazil. Duarte was invited to speak at the Second International Assembly of Dramatic Playwrights, in 1990, sponsored by the University of York, Toronto, Canada. In 1993 she was invited to be a speaker at the Fifth International Forum of Dramatic Playwrights, Frankfort, Germany, sponsored by the ASSITEJ. Carmen has presented her work at The Miami Book Fair International, and Editorial Egales, Spain. She has been interviewed and reviewed in several newspapers, books and literary publications, including: CNN en español, Miami Herald, Ellas Hablan de la Isla, Espéculo of the Complutense University of Madrid, New York Times, and Nuevo Herald. Carmen also has years of experience in television news writing and production, and has worked as a radio producer, talk show host, and journalist. She has taught Spanish and drama.



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.



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.



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 teaches English and Interdisciplinary Studies 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.



Ali Friedberg Tal-mason holds a J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law, where she held editorial positions at the University of Miami Inter-American Law Review. She received her B.A. in Arts and Humanities from Florida Atlantic University. Ali is the author of "Reconsidering the Doctrine of Discovery: Spanish Land Acquisition in Mexico (1521-1821)," 17 Wis. Int'l L.J. 87. Her professional practice experience includes public interest law, appellate law, and alternative dispute resolution. Her current research focuses on legal aspects of postcolonialism and colonialism in the Americas, particularly land, labor, and intellectual property. Ali is a GTA for the Department of English at FAU and currently teaches College Writing courses.



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.




Charlie Gleek holds a B.A. and M.A. in Political Science, as well as an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership. His research and teaching interests work across the fields of Literary and Cultural Studies, particularly in the areas of contemporary African American and Africana Literature and Book History and Print Culture. His dissertation project examines the cultural circuits of materials produced by black activist printers, especially artist's books, broadsides, pamphlets, and other printed objects. Charlie teaches undergraduate courses throughout the College of Arts and Letters, works in the Advanced Media and Production Lab, and serves as the President of our Comparative Studies Student Association. Charlie's work also travels outside traditional archival and classroom spaces, including partnering with the Jaffe Center for Book Arts, the Colored Conventions Project, and Blue Planet Writers’ Room on a variety of public-facing exhibitions, research, and teaching projects.

Jason Hawkins holds dual BA's in Latin and History from the University of Oregon, an MA in Spanish Literature from Florida Atlantic University, as well as graduate studies in Latin and Classics at the Universities of Georgia and Florida. During his doctoral studies, Jason has focused on early-modern Spanish manuscripts, archival research, and digital humanities. His specialties include piracy among Catholics and Protestants in the early-modern period, as well as technology focused on frequency/content analysis such as Corpus Linguistics and archival technology involving handwriting recognition.


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.



Damara Martin 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.



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.



Priscilla Renta is a dance and Latinx studies scholar whose recent work includes movement as a healing, transformational and spiritual practice. She is co-editor of the special issue Rhythm & Power: Performing Salsa in Puerto Rican and Latino Communities, published by the Centro Journal of Puerto Rican Studies in 2017. Her work on Afro-Latin dance has been published in the anthologies Salsa World (Temple University Press, 2013); Technofuturos: Critical Interventions in Latina/o Studies (Rowan & Littlefield, 2007), as well as in the Fall 2004 issue of the Centro Journal of Puerto Rican Studies. She has taught Caribbean dance and dance history in Chicago, New Jersey and New York.



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.



Caroline Webb is an Assistant Professor of English at Broward College.



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