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Graduate Program News and Updates

Incoming Comparative Literary Studies Graduate Students, Fall 2020

Comp Lit hosted a successful prospective graduate student weekend in March 2020. Several prospective students joined us for a weekend of exploring Northwestern and learning more about our PhD program. The weekend kicked off with a day full of meetings with prospective students and faculty, as well as cluster information sessions, interdisciplinary colloquium, and concluding reception. The lunchtime colloquium showcased new work and projects by Professor Rebecca Johnson (Crown Junior Chair in Middle East Studies; Assistant Professor, English, Comparative Literary Studies) and Comparative Literary Studies graduate student alum, Kritish Rajbhandari (Assistant Professor, English and Humanities, Reed College). Professor Johnson's presentation was titled, "History of the Novel in Mistranslation: Arabic Literature's Foreign Objects" and Professor Rajbhandari, "Anarchival Drift and the Limits of Community in Indian Ocean Fiction."

We welcome the following students to the Comparative Literary Studies PhD program starting in Fall 2020:

Timothy Cannon is a PhD Student in Comparative Literary Studies with a home department in German and a Mellon Fellowship in the Critical Theory Cluster. He did a BA in art at Williams College, an interdisciplinary MA in literature and Critical Theory at the University of Chicago, and began a PhD In Comparative Literature at UC Davis before moving to Northwestern. His current research relates to Benjamin’s concept of Natural History and Benjamin’s relation to Heidegger. He is also interested in Wordsworth, Hölderlin, Milton, and David Jones.

Yuqing (Eva) Cao is a Ph.D. student in Comparative Literary Studies with a home department in German and a Mellon Cluster Fellow in the Poetry and Poetics Cluster. Eva's current research interests include Hauntology; Avant-garde movements and art manifestos; Poetry and poetics: Hilde Domin, Roberto Bolaño, Brecht, Luo Fu. Art and literature in the DDR; Prose poem and cross-genre writing; Posthumanism; Biopolitics and biopower in video art; Deleuze and Guattari; Critical theory; Narrative theory; Aesthetics and Politics. Eva received a BA in Comparative Literature and German from Cornell University.

Jose Chavez is a Ph.D. student in the program of Comparative Literary Studies with a home department in English and a Mellon Cluster Fellowship in Rhetoric and Public Culture. His primary research interests include media philosophy and theory; computational logic and infrastructure; phenomenology; techno-ecologies of governance and power; theories of technology in aesthetics, literature, and politics. Originally from The Bronx, NY, Jose received his B.A. in Comparative Literature from Binghamton University. Other research interests include film theory, cultural techniques, continental philosophy, media archeology, information theory, machine aesthetics, and psychoanalysis.

Nava Cohen is a Ph.D. student in Comparative Literary Studies with a home department in Classics and a Mellon Cluster Fellow in Classics. She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Slavic Languages and Literatures and Mathematics with minor in Classics from Northwestern University and a Master of Science in Education from Northwestern University. Prior to returning to Northwestern, Nava taught Latin in Chicago and the northern suburbs. Her research interests include Latin poetry, reception of ancient literature in children's literature, and the ethics of reading ancient text, specifically how we integrate modern understandings of justice and equity with an implicit respect for the text and author.

Kang Kang (Connie) is a first-year Ph.D. student in Comparative Literary Studies with a home department in Asian Languages and Cultures and a Mellon Fellowship in the Comparative Race and Diaspora cluster. Her research interests include post-revolutionary and post-socialist affect, documentary/ethnography and fabulation, performance and popular media, translation, and the material and imagined structures of racial/ethnic solidarity and antagonism. Inspired by Afro-pessimist thinkers and practitioners, she hopes to work on “Sino-pessimism” as a critical idiom to destitute the “Chineseness” in historical experiences of Chinese modernity.  Connie received a BA in Comparative Literature and Society from Columbia University in 2015. She is an editor of the Guangdong Times Museum’s journal South of the South and has written for Artforum China, ArtReview Asia, The Brooklyn Rail, LEAP, and other publications. Her work as an artist, critic, and translator can be viewed here.

Ishan Mehandru is a PhD student in Comparative Literary Studies, with a home department in Asian Languages and Cultures. He is interested in reading the ways in which masculinity is constructed in women's writings in Hindi-Urdu literature. Prior to joining Northwestern University, Ishan worked at the Centre for Studies in Gender and Sexuality at Ashoka University, conducting workshops for students across colleges, and facilitating research on feminist media studies. Before that, he was a part of the Young India Fellowship and received a BA in English from Hansraj College, University of Delhi. He is interested in researching the relationship between standpoint politics and literary imagination, seeing how memoirs and fictions contribute to the formation of political archives and desires.

Jesús C. Muñoz is a Ph.D. student in Comparative Literary Studies affiliated with the Middle East and North African Studies program and a Mellon Cluster Fellow in the MENA cluster. His research interests include decolonial theory, Chicana feminist philosophy and literature, Critical Muslim Studies, feminist epistemology, spirituality, magic, and mysticism. His M.A. thesis, “Magic, Spirituality, Decoloniality: A Comparative Study of Magic in The House On Mango Street and Oral Discourse in Morocco” localizes concepts of “magic” across literary and oral contexts in a decolonial framework that explores an approach to a “South-to-South” dialogue with a focus on decolonial strategies of subjectivity formation and epistemologies. Language proficiencies: French, Spanish, Modern Standard Arabic. On the horizon: Otomí, Tashelhit.

Institute for World Literature - virtual - summer 2020

"For IWL, I was in two seminars: Stefano Evangelista’s Citizens of Nowhere: Writing Cosmopolitanism and Mads Rosendahl Thomsen’s Between Nations: Migrant Writing and the Cultural Meeting in the Text. This year’s IWL, although via zoom was a momentous time of learning and networking. No doubt zoom is exhausting and there were a couple of times that the professors in both sections experienced unstable internet connections. However, we were able to laugh about it. Overall, the summer school has exposed me to a larger corpus on migrant writing and cosmopolitanism. I will be exploiting the knowledge I gained during this summer school as I write my prospectus; and later my dissertation." - 'Yemi Ajisebutu, summer 2020 IWL participant
"Participating in the IWL was a wonderful experience. I was able to learn from leading scholars in the field of world literature and to make invaluable connections with other participants from all over the world. Even though this year's session was held online, the organizers nevertheless managed to provide a great platform for vivid intellectual exchange and fascinating discussions both in the seminars and in the colloquia where the participants presented on their own research." - Piotr Kawuloksummer 2020 IWL participantgettyimages-485817692.jpg

Held in a different city each summer, the Institute for World Literature (IWL) is a month-long summer institute run by David Damrosch (Ernest Bernbaum Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard) that brings together scholars from all over the world to study literature in a global context. Participants leave IWL with an expanded sense of the variety of the world’s literary cultures and an enlarged community of scholars with whom to share their research. 

Since 2014, the Comparative Literary Studies Program along with the generous support of the Weinberg College Franke Fellows in the Humanities and The Graduate School, has been privileged to send a diverse group of students to cities around the globe. We are grateful for the support of both Weinberg and The Graduate School, which has allowed us to facilitate global partnerships and valuable learning opportunities for our students.

Our program’s participation in the IWL is part of a multi-front effort on the part of Comp Lit to expand the curriculum of literary studies at Northwestern to include previously underrepresented national languages and literatures. Due to COVID-19, this summer 2020 IWL was held virtually with a lively program organized. The Comparative Literary Studies graduate students who participated were 'Yemi Ajisebutu and Piotr Kawulok.

current graduate student updates

Raina Bhagat:  At the end of 2019-20, Raina completed Advanced Russian II at the Davis School of Russian, Middlebury Language Schools. The program is an intensive and immersive course that fits a year of language study into an 8-week program. Raina’s virtual attendance at Middlebury is due to receiving a Summer Language Grant awarded by The Graduate School. 

Sorrel Dunn was awarded the DAAD Graduate Research Grant for 2020-21 and will spend the year in Berlin. Sorrel’s paper, "Adalbert Stifter and the Nature of Color" was accepted at the 2019 American Comparative Literature Association conference. In addition, Sorrel’s paper, "'Die Taten und Leiden des Lichts': Goethe’s aesthetics of color and wonder" was accepted at the conference "Colors and Cultures" in Mulhouse, France.

Menglu Gao’s article "'Founding Its Empire on Spells of Pleasure': Brunonian Excitability, the Invigorated English Opium-Eater, and De Quincey’s 'China Question’” appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Literature and Medicine. During the 2019-2020 academic year, she received two external awards: Walter L. Arnstein Prize for Dissertation Research in Victorian Studies, and Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine Research Fellowship. At Northwestern, she got the fellowship award for Cornell University's School of Criticism and Theory (SCT).

Maïté Marciano: Although the meeting was canceled due to COVID-19, Maïté organized a seminar at the American Comparative Literature Association annual meeting. In addition, she presented a paper entitled “The Zero Degree of Affect” during the Graduate Student Colloquium in the French department at Northwestern University. She also led different workshops for Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching. She led workshops in the Fall at the New Teaching Assistant Conference on close-reading and teaching for Non- Native Instructors and in the Winter on facilitating inclusive discussions and intercultural pedagogy strategies. 

Scott Newman is joining the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as a postdoctoral fellow in the English Department starting in Fall 2020.

Azadeh Safaeian: In 2019-20, Azadeh submitted three conference papers which included: “Turtles Can Fly: Disability in Iranian War Cinema.” Society for Cinema and Media Studies Annual Conference, Denver, April, 2020; “Toward a Minor Theory of Trauma: The Case of the Iran-Iraq War.” American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA) Annual Meeting, Chicago, March, 2020; and “The Many Languages of Trauma: Trauma, Multilingualism, and Identity in Iran-Iraq War Memoirs.” Middle East Studies Association, Washington DC, October, 2020. In addition, Azadeh completed the Northwestern Searle Teaching Certificate and received The Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences/The Graduate School Teaching Fellowship Award. She also received certificates from the Middle East and North African Studies Cluster and Critical Theory Cluster. During Spring 2020, Azadeh taught her own undergraduate course, “Disability Representations in World Literature and Global Cinema.” For 2020-21, Azadeh received The International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF) from the Social Science Research Council


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