Our Current Graduate Researchers
Samantha Bernstein is a Doctoral Candidate looking at the ethics of aestheticising poverty. Her dissertation "Sympathy for Strangers: The Ethics of the Picturesque," brings together 18th century moral and aesthetic theory, 19th century realist literature, and contemporary interest in dereliction to theorize picturesque aesthetics as both a strategy for coping with class inequality and as a vantage point from which to analyze the social and ethical dilemmas of middle-class life. Her memoir, "Here We Are Among the Living," was published by Tightrope Books in 2012.
MLA Chernoff is a SSHRC Doctoral Fellow, focusing on Jewish literatures within the socio-political landscape of Canada. Their dissertation, Ordinary Eternal Machinery: Radical Poetry and Revelation in Jewish Canada, attempts to effectively reroute the liberal humanist criticism surrounding Jewish-Canadian literature by theorizing its poetry as radically experimental and demonstrative of a leftist political inclination, one that veers towards messianism. MLA has thus far presented their research at ACCUTE, ACQL, and various colloquia; a chapter-length adaptation of their NeMLA presentation on Jewish gematria and conceptualism will be included in an upcoming collection on Canadian digital poetics, via McGill-Queen's University Press. Their other research interests include deconstruction, psychoanalysis, queer theory, and Xenofeminism. A practising "poet," MLA's debut chapbook, delet this: pomes, memes, n dreams, is forthcoming from Hybrid Heaven in 2018.
Elizabeth’s doctoral research focuses on the intersection of McCarthyism and Cold-War politics with fears of gender and sexual non-conformity as it permeates the era and is found in the popular literature of the United Sates.
A current project that Elizabeth is working on examines the experiences of gender queer newcomers to Canada. In this study, the author takes into consideration the barriers that newcomers to Canada face based upon language, culture and access to employment initiatives, and subsequently juxtapose this with issues that relate to the performance of gender and sexuality.
Elizabeth is a social activist, member of The Indigenous Solidarity Coalition and works to advocate for Aboriginal women in Canada as they work to reclaim a fractured identity through amongst other issues, food sovereignty, the Idle No More movement, TRC and an open discussion of the impacts of the Sixties Scoop. Reproductive rights are also of great concern from multiple perspectives as they intersect with government legislations, race, class and sexual orientation.
Matthew Dunleavy received his BA (Hons. with Distinction) from Concordia University and his MA from our very own York University. His work examines the gender politics among the inhabitants, philanthropists, and journalists of the Late-Victorian/Early-Edwardian East-End London slums in a dissertation tentatively titled “Cleaning Up the Streets and the Sheets: The Reform Work of Clementina Black and Margaret Harkness, 1880-1915.” The work will also interrogate the intersection of language that illustrates a preoccupation with poverty, dirt, and sex when dealing with these slums.
He is the recipient of the SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canadian Graduate Scholarship (2014), St. George Society of Toronto Endowment (2015, 2016, and 2017), Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2016 and 2017), the York University Entrance Scholarship (2014 and 2015), and short-listed for the Compton Lamb Memorial Scholarship (2012).
Vanessa Evans researches indigenous subjectivity within the fields of world literature, postcolonial literature and theory, and indigenous literature and theory. Her dissertation mobilizes indigenous literature from settler states in order to disrupt aboriginal stereotypes that isolate indigeneity and actively obstruct the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a requirement of the TRC. By leveraging a world literature comparative methodology her research aims to facilitate decolonization by exploring how reading, as an act of listening, can assist reconciliation. Other interests include postcolonial temporality and the development of a methodology for reading time in translation on which she has presented papers at the Harvard Institute for World Literature and the Canadian Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies.
Alex Ferrone received his B.A. (Spec. Hons.) in 2010 and M.A. in 2012 from York University. He researches theatre and performance, with a special focus on modern and contemporary drama from the UK. His dissertation, “‘Same Suits, Same Hair’: Contemporary British Drama and the Neoliberal Consensus,” examines the ways in which British theatre has resisted — while (perhaps unwittingly) absorbing the values and strategies of — neoliberal consensus politics since 1979. Alex has presented his work at the American Society for Theatre Research, and his article on Philip Ridley’s Mercury Fur was published in Theatre Survey in 2017. He is the recipient of three Ontario Graduate Scholarships, two St. George’s Society of Toronto Endowments, and a Department of English Teaching Award for Outstanding TA (shared with the wonderful Rachelle Stinson). He is the co-editor of Pivot: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies and Thought and an editorial assistant at Modern Drama.
Lauren Fournier is a SSHRC Doctoral Fellow in English Literature at York University.
Her research focuses on emergent trends in feminist practice, paying particular attention to the intersections between theoretical fiction & auto-theory, art writing, and time-based media (performance, video). Her other research interests include hysteria, radical narcissism, sex work, and mental health. She specializes in gender and sexuality studies, performance studies, and critical theory. She holds an MA in
English (SFU) and a BA in Fine Arts (Regina). She is a practicing artist and is currently on the Board of Directors for both the Feminist Art Conference and Trinity Square Video. (www.laurenfournier.net)
Mitchell Gauvin’s interdisciplinary research spans the at times tenuous division between English Literature and Philosophy, with specific focus on how regional literatures serve as primary conduits for expressing, shaping, or maintaining particular moral attitudes. He has presented on the way the two disciplines cross-pollinate at the 2014 University College Dublin Philosophy and Literature Graduate Symposium and at the 2017 University of Toronto English Graduate Conference. His M.A. dissertation on forgiveness in the philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard, titled “Can Isaac Forgive Abraham?”, was published in the Journal of Religious Ethics in Spring 2017. Gauvin is also a fiction writer, with his short stories appearing in multiple publications. His debut novel Vandal Confession (NoN Publishing) was released in Fall 2015, and translated into French, Confession d’un vandale (XYZ Editeur), in Fall 2017.
Renée Jackson-Harper, B.A. (University of Toronto), M.A. (York University), is a PhD Candidate at York University and a faculty member in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Selkirk College in Nelson, B.C. Her dissertation, “Sənk’líp and the ‘Land of Fruit and Sunshine’: An Ecocritical Reading of Epistemic Land Claims in Contemporary Okanagan Literature, 1985-2016,” examines the work settler narratives do to write (and overwrite) British Columbia’s unceded territories. Her work has been supported by a SSHRC Joseph–Armand Bombardier Master’s Scholarship (2010-2012) and a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship (2014-17). Her scholarly work has appeared in Studies in Canadian Literature and in the John M. Kelly Library Publication Series. She has presented papers at conferences with, The Association for Canadian and Quebecois Literature; The Peace and Justice Studies Association; The American Comparative Literature Association; The Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies; The Rhetoric Society of America; and with the Association for Literature, Environment, and Culture in Canada. Her poetry has been published in Contemporary Verse 2, The Puritan, Prism International, Magazine, aired on CBC Radio’s “A Verse to Summer,” and has been long-listed for the 2015 CBC Poetry Prize and the 2017 Pacific Spirit Poetry, short-listed for the 2016 Prism International Poetry Prize, and forwarded by Prism International to the 2017 National Magazine Awards competition.
Geoffrey MacDonald teaches and researches global anglophone literature and resistance theory, with special attention to how Caribbean and Indigenous North American textualities intersect with feminism, decoloniality, and aesthetics, the subject of his dissertation, Liberation Textualities. Other interests include queer theory, and South Asian, South Pacific, and African literatures. He has published a chapter on Caribbean indigenous presences in the collection Practices of Resistance (Routledge, forthcoming). He has presented on the aesthetics of globalization, madness in Canadian novels, and fictional challenges to settler colonialism at the Caribbean Studies Association, the American Comparative Literature Association, and the University College London Institute of the Americas. Awarded an Ontario Graduate Scholarship in 2014 and 2016, he is also the recipient of the York University doctoral entrance award and was a nominee for the Elia Scholars Program. An emerging playwright and novelist, his non-academic life is consumed with rewrites.
Steven Rita-Procter is a PhD candidate at York University and a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier and Susan Mann research fellow, whose research works at the intersection of transitional justice, memory studies, and narratology. His doctoral thesis, Transitional Justice and the Politics of Shared Remembrance in Post-Traumatic Societies: Truth and Reconciliation in Germany, Argentina, and Canada, reads truth commission reports from a “literary perspective,” underscoring and acknowledging the significant degree of artistry that go into their composition as narrative reconstructions of historical truths—including the degree to which our the ethical and political vicissitudes of “truth” and “reconciliation” are shaped by their narrative form. He has worked as an Archival Researcher at the Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School and Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford, Ontario, and has sat-in as an “honourary witness” to the ongoing Argentine human rights trials in Buenos Aires. Given the solemn and far-reaching weight of final reports on truth commissions and their afterlife as living historical and political artifacts, Steven’s research maps the processes by which final truth commission reports directly shape the ways in which shared national traumas become hegemonic in public discourse and are absorbed into the cultural storytelling process of a nation. His work has been featured in various academic journals, including the Canadian Review of Comparative Literature and Canadian Literature: A Quarterly of Criticism and Review, as well as the forthcoming book The Manifesto of Testimony (University of Alberta Press).
Eric Schmaltz researches Canadian Literature, with an especial attention to avant-garde and experimental poetics, which is the subject of his dissertation “The Language Revolution: Borderblur Poetics, 1963-1988.” Research related to his dissertation has been published in Canadian Literature, with several other articles undergoing peer–review. Other interests include sound-based literatures on which he has published in Forum and organized a double session panel, entitled “The Vibrational Nexus,” at the 2017 ACCUTE conference at Ryerson University. He has also presented at the 2016 Canadian Creative Writers and Writer's Program conference in Toronto, the 2016 “Crisis and Beyond” conference at the Universität Innsbruck, and the 2012 European Network for Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies conference at the University of Kent.
Awarded a SSHRC Joseph Bombardier Doctoral Scholarship in 2013 and an Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2016), he is also the recipient of the Provost Dissertation Scholarship (2017), Clara Thomas Doctoral Scholarship in Canadian Studies (2017), and The Linda Heather Lamont-Stewart Fellowship in Canadian Studies (2016), among other awards and distinctions that have supported his research.
A practicing artist and poet, his first chapbook entitled MITSUMI ELEC. CO. LTD.: keyboard poems was published in 2013 by above/ground press. His first collection of poetry, entitled Babeltech, is forthcoming from Invisible Publishing in Spring 2018. His visual work has been featured in Canada and the United States in places such as Havana Gallery (Vancouver), Lab T.O. (Toronto), Sugar City Arts Collective (Buffalo), the Critical Media Lab (Kitchener), and the Niagara Artists Centre (St. Catharines). More information can be found on ericschmaltz.com.
Rachelle Stinson is a Ph.D. Candidate and Victorianist in the Graduate English Program at York. Her dissertation, "Nostalgia and the Victorian Varsity Novel," is a study of Victorian university novels in conversation with other university-focussed literatures as proponents of Oxbridge nostalgia, a strategic participant in the Victorian knowledge industry. Rachelle has presented papers on her research and other areas of Victorian university culture, at conferences organized by NeMLA, ACCUTE, and MVSA among others. Awarded a SSHRC doctoral fellowship in 2016-17, she has also been the recipient of the Victor Hedges and St. George Scholarships as well as MVSA's 2017 William and Mary Burgan presentation prize.
Sydney Tyber researches feminist performance art, photography, and poetics. Her dissertation, “Reforming the Visible: Feminist Reimaginings of the Body Across Contemporary Media”, theorizes those intersections of performance and print media as experiential and corporeal. She has published in Theatre Survey, Canada Woman Studies, and Canadian Theatre Review. She has presented at multiple national and international conferences, including organizing a roundtable at the Canadian Association for Theatre Research (SSHRC Congress) and participating in the American Society for Theatre Research. She was awarded a SSHRC CGS Master’s Scholarship in 2013 and was a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship finalist in 2015. She was later granted a SSHRC CGS Doctoral Scholarship (2016-2019). She is also the recipient of the J.W. McConnell Award for Social Innovation for her site-specific performance work in the city of Toronto.
Stephen Van Andel
Stephen's current area of study is Prose Narrative, with special attention to the ways in which the polyvocality of the novel (its capacity to articulate many different perspectives within a single text) enables the interrogation of issues of gender, race, and class. He is also interested in reader-oriented approaches to the study of the novel.
Other interests include literary Modernism, which has been the focus of most of his previous research and course work.
Jonathan Vandor received his B. A. (Hons) from the University of Toronto and his M. A. from York University. His interests include Victorian literature, vocational choice, performativity, and queer theory.
Kathryn Walton holds a BA (Honours) from Queen’s University and a MA from York University; she is currently a doctoral candidate in the department of English at York University. Her dissertation, “Religion and the Invention of Magic: The Representational Relationship between Magic and Christianity in Middle English Romance,” explores the depiction of literary magic in five medieval romance manuscripts. She seeks to reveal how magic was established as an acceptable literary device during the Middle Ages and how it managed to remain prominent in literary and popular culture from the medieval period to today.