Current Ph.D. Students

Ana-Christina Acosta Gaspar De Alba's research is focused in Latinx literature and politics, and the intersection between cultural representation and political agency. Her scholarship is informed by her activism and vice versa. She holds a BA in English/Latino Studies from Indiana University and a Creative Writing MFA from Virginia Tech.

Roxana Ambrosini obtained a Master’s degree from the Language, Linguistics, and Comparative Literature Program, Spanish with emphasis on Teaching Spanish on May 2019. She is a first-year student of the Comparative Studies PhD Program, The Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters. Her field of research will be on Latin-American Literature, mainly on XIX century female writers. She will connect their works, especially from Peruvian female writers, and research their views on gender, morality, and agency in late-nineteenth-century Peru. Ambrosini’s research will be focused on how these female writers impacted the society and open the doors to change through their female discourse and the effects over the ruling hierarchy of those times highlighting political chaos, race and class abuse, societal decay, and gender inequalities.

OlaOmi Amoloku is a graduate of Fisk University and Middle Tennessee State. Her focus is African American literature with an emphasis in Afrofuturism and Black Women's Literature.

Kira Apple is a Ph.D. candidate who holds an M.A. and a B.A. in English from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. She obtained a graduate certificate in Film & Culture from Florida Atlantic University in Spring 2017. Her dissertation merges affect theory, fantasy studies, media theory, sound studies, and fan studies in order to investigate the ties between audio dramas and their audiences. Tentatively, this work is titled "The Sound of Belonging: Reimagining Interconnectivity in Fantasy Audio Fictions and Listening Cultures." She is currently teaching Rhetoric & Composition at Penn State Lehigh Valley.

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 received her M.A. from the University of Florida and is currently in the Comparative Studies PhD program at Florida Atlantic University. She is also full-time faculty in the English department at Broward College and a full-time wife and mother of two spirited teens. Bianchi specializes in feminist theory and 19th and 20th century American and British literature. Her research interests include women's poetry, modernist studies, body studies, and visual culture. Broward College Profile

Cora Bresciano holds an MFA in Creative Writing from FAU, where she received the Frank and Courtney Brogan Award in Fiction, and a BS in Music Education from Hofstra University. She is a Visiting Instructor in FAU's English Department, teaching myth and magical realism in fiction, creative writing, and composition. She is the co-founder of Blue Planet Writers' Room, a non-profit global education organization that connects students across borders in creative story exchanges and provides professional development to teachers on globalizing the classroom. Cora works at the intersections of myth, literature, and global studies; myth studies, absence theory, 20th century Spanish history, and the uses of story to subvert existing hostile narratives are central to her research interests. Her dissertation research focuses on connecting political myth during the Franco regime in Spain with myth in historical fiction that works to recuperate the absences of the people "disappeared" by the regime. Blue Planet Writers' Room

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. Website

Gail Choate holds a BA in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences with minors in history and political science. In 2015 she earned a MA in Political Science from FAU with an emphasis in comparative politics. Her research emphasized the role of economic development in democratization. Gail has a certificate in Peace Studies from FAU and was the recipient of the Peace Studies Fellowship. Today, as an adjunct professor (FAU and Broward College) she teaches international relations and comparative politics of ethnic conflict and is an affiliate in FAUs Peace, Justice, and Human Rights program. Gail is currently pursuing her PhD in Comparative Studies: Culture, Society and Politics and is exploring the intersection of individual identity, social movements and political structures.

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.

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 is a PhD candidate in Comparative Studies at FAU. She received a Master's degree in Spanish and Literature from Florida Atlantic University and 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, one of plays; the other four are novels. Carmen also has years of experience in television news writing and production, and has worked as a radio producer, talk show host, and journalist. The author has been interviewed and reviewed in several newspapers, books and literary publications, including: CNN en VIVO, The Miami Herald, Ellas Hablan de la Isla, Especulo of the Complutense (Univeristy of Madrid), New York Times, and Nuevo Herald. Website

Valorie Ebert is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Broward College, and she is the First Vice President of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. Her research focuses on the many intersections contained in science fiction and fantasy literature, and how, through interpellation, the ideas contained within these works may influence a reinforcement of less than ideal ideas instead of working to negate them.

Matthew Ari Elfenbein holds his M.A. in Cinema Studies from New York University and a B.A. in Multimedia Studies from Florida Atlantic University (Go Owls!). His research interests mainly reside in the film musical with emphasis on the body, gender roles, and social culture representations. He is also interested in looking at war films as sources of understanding the U.S. political and social climate of their times. He loves to branch away from the canons of film scholarship and integrate new approaches and ideas into his work, thus making his work interdisciplinary when appropriate. When Matthew is not watching films or reading, which is not very often, you can find him taking a stroll around campus, listening to music, or playing with his dog. Website

Roxanne Ten Eyck is a graduate student in the PhD in Comparative Studies CLL Program at FAU. She received an MA in Communication and Multimedia Studies at FAU and BA in Journalism at Wichita State University. Roxanne comes from a background of media advertising sales in the South Florida market during her business career. Interests of study lie in rhetoric and its effect on culture, politics, the media, and social systems.

Sara Fitzgerald is an instructional librarian at Indian River State College whose scholarly interests lie at the intersection of digital rhetoric, critical information studies, and feminist theory. Her current research is broadly focused on the theoretical and cultural implications of algorithmic surveillance and its impact on social justice issues. Sara holds an M.S. in Library and Information Studies from FSU and a B.A. in English from FAU. HASTAC

Stephanie Flint is a PhD Candidate in Florida Atlantic University’s Comparative Studies program. Her dissertation focuses on representations of monstrous women in literature and film in 1930s America. She is currently working as a lecturer for the University of California, San Diego's Analytical Writing Program. Recent publications include "The Limits of ‘Sundowning’: M. Night Shyamalan's The Visit and the Horror of the Aging Body" in Elder Horror: Essays on Film's Frightening Images of Aging (Edited by Cynthia Miller and A. Bowdin Van Riper) and “From Revulsion to Revival: Representation and Reception of Monstrosity in Tod Browning's Freaks” in Monster Media in their Historical Contexts (edited by Verena Bernardi and Frank Jacob). Her research interests include popular culture studies, representations of monstrosity in literature and film, and gender and disability studies..

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. Broward College Profile

Ali Friedberg Tal-mason is in her third year in the Comparative Studies P.h.D. program at F.A.U. She 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. Her interdisciplinary perspective combines literary and legal analysis and archival research to examine discursive as well as socio-legal aspects of colonialism and postcolonialism in the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean, within a transoceanic context. Her work explores the colonial roots of contemporary social justice issues and inequalities, particularly with respect to labor, migration, land, and citizenship.

Charlie Gleek is a Ph.D. candidate in the Comparative Studies Program at Florida Atlantic University, under the co-direction of Dr. Taylor Hagood and Dr. Marcella Munson. Overtly interdisciplinary by training, Charlie's scholarly concentration focuses on the print culture of southern literature during the late-capitalist period. His dissertation project, "Southern Fringes: The Role of Paratext in Larry Brown's Short Fiction," demonstrates how paratext points to the material and social conditions that make Brown's short stories possible, which in turn, provides a context for understanding southern literature and culture. Charlie's recently published work appears in Penumbra: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Critical Inquiry, i.e.: inquiry in education, and on Humanities Commons. Charlie's most recent teaching experience includes undergraduate courses in the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters' Interdisciplinary Studies program, the Department of English, and the Department of History. Charlie also works as a Program Assistant in the College's School of Interdisciplinary Studies. Humanities Commons 

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.

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.

Claudia Humphrey is an Attorney at Law and Counselor and an Adjunct Professor. For many years, she has practiced in the areas of fiscal responsibility, disciplinary process of public employees, contract law, and human rights. In the United States, her practice areas were immigration, business law, and employment discrimination. 

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. LinkedIn

Daniel A. Jones is the Associate General Counsel at FAU responsible for the management of University litigation and also serves as primary legal counsel for the Division of Student Affairs and the Department of Athletics. In addition to his work with the General Counsel’s Office, Mr. Jones teaches as an Adjunct Instructor for the Department of History in the College of Arts and Letters, as well as the Department of Higher Educational Leadership and Research Methodology in the College of Education. Mr. Jones received his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Samford University, his Juris Doctor from the University of Alabama School of Law, and his Master of Arts in History from FAU. His research interests are centered around the work of modern writers including Jim Harrison, Thomas McGuane, Guy de la Valdene, and Richard Brautigan and their influence on American culture.

Coraline Kandassamy is a graduate student in the Comparative Studies Program at Florida Atlantic University. Her field of studies concerns music and feminism in Guadeloupe, the French West indies where she was born. She specifically focuses on the expression of the female voice through music in the French Caribbean, and in the entire Caribbean in a greater perspective. Prior to her arrival at FAU, she studied part in the the University of Minnesota. She did her undergraduate studies in Paris Sorbonne university where she acquired a masters of English. She also visited Brunel University in London where she studied notions of gender, and York University, Toronto, Canada where she studied ethnomusicology. She was also a french language assistant in Whitman College, in Washington state. All these experiences contributed to her growing feminist conscience that she was able to exploit through her Master theses: :'Hypersexuality meets feminism through popular music' and 'Negociate black female identity through feminism and hypersexuality’.

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 an Associate Dean of English at Broward College. In his coursework at FAU, he has pursued interests in climate-change fiction and nineteenth-century American literature. Twitter

Stephen A. McGeary holds a B.A. in English from Bethel University as well as an M.A. in English from West Chester University. He is currently a Ph.D student in the Comparative Studies program at Florida Atlantic University, where his research interests include African American literature, Neo-slave narratives, early Atlantic history and religion. His future research will explore the representation of religious ritual and spiritual practice in 20th century African American fiction. Stephen currently teaches undergraduate courses for the Department of English and the Department of History.

William Norris is in his first year as a Masters en passant student in FAU’s Ph.D. program in Comparative Studies, and received his BA in Writing and Linguistics from Georgia Southern University. His current research interests focus on graphic novels, with a specific interest on the impact of the genre’s unique rhetorical and compositional format and its literary influence on American storytelling.

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 is a PhD Candidate in Comparative Studies, with a concentration on French, Francophone, and Italian Studies. She teaches French and Italian languages and cultures, and World Literature as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. She holds a Laurea triennale (Bachelor’s Degree) in Modern Arts and a Laurea magistrale (Master’s Degree) in Philology from the University of Naples “Federico II” in Italy. She participated in the Erasmus Exchange Program at École normale supérieure de Lyon in France (Fall 2013-Spring 2014). Her dissertation focuses on collaborative writing and the ethical implications of the power dynamics among interlocutors in multi-authored texts. This interest for so-told narratives and oral history led her to co-found the FAU Digital Collection, "Italian-American Oral History Collection," and the website, "Italian-American Memories: Documentary Archive," which she also developed. Her areas of expertise also includes Visual Arts–she is particularly passionate about la bande dessinee–Digital Humanities and Translation. Website

Cristina Melissa Pimenta received both her B.A., cum laude, and M.A. in Political Science from Florida Atlantic University. As an undergraduate, she developed a passion for international law and relations, and was selected to participate in FAU’s Leon Charney Diplomacy Program. As a master’s student, her research interests expanded to include comparative politics and political theory. In 2017, she competed in FAU’s 3 Minute Thesis competition, winning First Place and People’s Choice scholarships in the Arts & Letters Heat. She was also selected by her department to receive the Rae Raskin Memorial Scholarship in Political Science. Upon graduation, Cristina worked as an adjunct professor at FAU and Palm Beach State College, teaching government and politics courses. As a Ph.D. student, Cristina has served as an Administrative Assistant to the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and was selected to be an Advancing Research in the Humanities & Social Sciences Fellow for Summer 2019. LinkedIn

Denise Pinnaro is a Ph.D student in the Comparative Studies program at Florida Atlantic University, and holds a B.A. in French and an M.A. in French Literature from the same institution. Her research interests include fantasy and speculative fiction in both the Francophone and Anglophone literary and filmic traditions, with a specific focus on how alternate history and uchronia narratives displace--or perhaps reinforce--notions of time, space, heritage, and nationalism. She is also interested in how these texts are representative of modern myth-making and its sociocultural impacts on ideologies and beliefs that originated with earlier myths and folklores. Denise currently teaches undergraduate courses for the Department of Languages, Linguistics, and Comparative Literature.

Matt Prater is a writer, researcher, and artist from Saltville, VA, and is currently in his second year as a Ph.D student in the Comparative Studies program at FAU. His work, creative and academic, focuses on cultural regionalisms and the relationship between group identity and control of narratives, especially in Appalachia. He has work available at CLCWeb, Poet Lore, New Ohio Review (online), and The Moth, among other publications.

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.

Jeannette H. Ronson holds a MFA in Creative and Professional Writing from Western Connecticut State University, as well as a MA in American Studies from Fairfield University and a MS in Education from the University of Bridgeport. Her focus in the FAU Comparative Studies PhD program involves the American cultural hegemony during the Allied occupation of Japan after WWII from 1945 through 1952. In particular, she is focusing on the affects of the U.S. military’s use of Hollywood films to re-acculturate the Japanese, particularly the women, to American norms concerning gender, sexuality, and consumerism. Over the past twelve years, she have taught as an adjunct history, English, and creative writing instructor at various universities in Connecticut, New York, and Florida. Several of her creative non-fiction essays have been published in literary magazines across the country.

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 discursive space delimits legibility for individuals in minority communities. Her areas of interest span such disciplines as American Literature, U.S. Multi-Ethnic Literature, Postcolonial Literature and Space and Place Studies. Her published works include a creative non-fiction essay entitled “Borne of Ghosts,” which was published in the Spring 2019 volume of Label Me Latina/o, as well as a critical article called “Approaching the ‘Realized:’ Time and the ‘Abject’ in Kiese Laymon’s Long Division” published in The Journal of the Future Humanities in 2018. She is currently a student in the Ph.D. in Comparative Studies Program at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, 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 completed his BA in English, summa cum laude, from Liberty University and finished his MA in English from McMaster University. He then completed his MTS with a Certificate in Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University, graduating first in his class. He is now a PhD candidate in Comparative Studies at Florida Atlantic University but is dissertating in his hometown of Toronto, Ontario. His dissertation, under the supervision of Alan L. Berger, explores the literature and oral history of children of Holocaust survivors. Apart from his central focus in Holocaust Studies, Lucas also does work on twentieth century American literature and on gay reparative or conversion “therapy.” His work has appeared in Flannery O’Connor Review and The Struggle for Understanding: Elie Wiesel’s Literary Works (SUNY Press), and he has a forthcoming essay in Teaching Jewish American Literature (The MLA of America).

Maha Wright is a PhD student in the Comparative Studies Program at Florida Atlantic University in the Culture, Society, and Politics path (CSP). Her main research interest centers on sociopolitical changes in Saudi Arabia and the broader Middle East. For her M.A. Studies, she sought a better understanding of the intersections of culture, society, and politics in the Middle East. For her PhD Thesis, she is working under the supervision of Dr. Adam Bradford. Maha Wright wishes to understand how states with strong cultural and religious foundations successfully transition to meet the needs of their increasingly modern populations in a global world.