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PhDs Awarded 2022-2023

Congratulations to the following Comparative Literary Studies graduate students who received their PhDs in 2022-2023


  • 190x218-azadeh-safaein.jpgAzadeh Safaeian (Middle East and North African Studies)
    Title: “Toward a Minor Theory of Trauma: Literature and Cinema of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-present)”
    Advisors: Hannah Feldman (Chair), Rebecca Johnson, Anna Parkinson, Kamran Rastegar
    • My research examines minorities’ representations of psychosomatic traumas in the context of the Iran-Iraq War literature and cinema. Drawing on my archival studies in Iran, I specifically attend to the intersectional accounts of ethno-linguistic minorities, women, underage children, and disabled veterans/civilians. These “minor” figures, I argue, open the possibility for the emergence of repressed psychosomatic traumas. In particular, when the multilingual subject attempts to express her pain, the narrative often switches between Persian as the national language and minor languages such as Arabic and Kurdish. This restless codeswitching primarily points to concealed traumas. Furthermore, by disrupting the hegemonic language, the minor traumatized subject represents the embodied pain through the materiality of the medium, i.e., language and film.

      I was the CLS postdoctoral fellow for the 2022-2023 academic year during which I taught two courses: Disability in World Literature: Alternative Corporealities (Fall 2022) and Studies in Film, Media, and Visual Culture: Cinemas of Care (Spring 2023). In Spring 2023, I also co-organized and moderated a roundtable, Trauma and Its Afterlives, fort the Middle East and North African Studies Program. In Fall 2023, I will start a new position at the University of Illinois Chicago as the Bridge to Faculty Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Department of Disability and Human Development.
  • 190x218-wenhan-zhang.jpgWenhan Zhang (English)
    • Title: “Conscience under Tyranny: Resistance and the Problem of Judgment in Sixteenth-century English and Scottish Thought”

    • Advisors: Barbara Newman, Laurie Shannon, William West (Chair)

    • I am planning to defend my dissertation in September 2023. This project was conceived during my graduate study at Northwestern when worldwide political conflicts became increasingly more palpable. We experience, unfortunately, how different forms of tyranny keep posing threats to our society throughout the world; and fortunately, we witness individual consciences heroically—though also problematically in their own ways—resist against their chains. This contemporary reality found its distant echoes on the British Isles in the sixteenth century, which impelled me to research and write with a sense of urgency and curiosity, trying to make sense of the two worlds that oppose yet also resemble each other. The very purpose of comparative literature, I think, is that by placing texts of different time periods, cultural backgrounds and languages against each other, we learn how to make sense of the world around us, and eventually ourselves. 

      I am thrilled to continue my journey at Northwestern as a postdoctoral fellow in CLS this Fall as I work with the brilliant community of scholars and students at Northwestern. This position provides me an invaluable opportunity to revise my dissertation into a monograph and teach four courses: two undergraduate seminars, an introductory course to literary theory, and a course on world literature. I am more than excited to be among friends, and am looking forward to meeting new students.

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