Our Current Graduate Researchers
Tyler Scott Ball
Tyler Scott Ball is a doctoral student and SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier research fellow here at York. He specializes in contemporary world literature from around the Indian Ocean, focusing in particular on the novels of East Africa, South Asia and South East Asia. His dissertation utilizes a constellation theory approach to place texts from seemingly disparate cultural milieus into new assemblages for critical analysis.
He received a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Master’s Scholarship (2014-2015), an Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2016-2017), and was nominated for the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching (2016). He has also presented papers at conferences and colloquia for the Canadian Society for the Study of Comics (2015), the Institute for World Literature (2016), the African Literature Association (2017), and the Canadian Association for American Studies (2017). His forthcoming work, entitled “Sof’town Sleuths: The Hard-boiled Genre Goes to Jo’Burg,” is set to appear in Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry. His other areas of interest include comics and graphic novels, hardboiled crime fiction, contemporary Black poetics, and decolonial theory.
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. Her poetry collection, Spit on the Devil, was published by Mansfield Press in 2017.
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 is a Doctoral Candidate and SSHRC Doctoral Fellow studying on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation at York University. Her dissertation investigates three research objectives: (i) ascertain how processes of memory and storytelling interact with bonds of kinship toward establishing Indigenous resurgence, (ii) conceptualize how literary study can meaningfully contribute to decolonization without reducing it to metaphor, and (iii) introduce a new methodology aimed at decolonizing the way we study Indigenous world literatures. While a focus on literature and culture alone will never achieve decolonization absent the return of lands and economic sovereignty, literary scholars can do differently and do better by centering Indigenous voices. Vanessa’s other teaching and research interests include: Indigenous temporalities, postcolonialism, African literature, transnational American studies, and carceral geography. During the 2018-2019 academic year, she was a visiting lecturer and research associate at the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.
Vanessa holds a B.A. in English from the University of Calgary (2009), an M.Litt in Modernities from the University of Glasgow (2011), and is currently pursuing her Diploma in World Literature here at York. She is a recipient of the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2018-2019), multiple York University International Mobility Awards (2017-2019), and the Liberal Arts & Professional Studies International Study Abroad Award (2017). Vanessa has presented papers at conferences for the Law and Society Association (2019), the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers (2018), the Canadian Comparative Literature Association (2018), the American Comparative Literature Association (2018), the Harvard Institute for World Literature (2017), and the Canadian Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (2017). Her forthcoming work “Carceral Imaginaries in Science Fiction: Toward a Palimpsestic Understanding of Penality,” co-authored with Kaitlyn Quinn and Erika Canossini, is set to appear in The Palgrave Handbook of Incarceration in Popular Media.
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.
Kristina Getz is a PhD Candidate in the Department of English at York University. Her dissertation, "Portraits of the Artist as Mother: Feminist Reconfigurations of the Maternal in Modern and Contemporary Canadian Literature," employs feminist and maternal theory in order to explore the intersection of motherhood and creativity. She received her MA from McMaster University and her Hon.BA from the University of Toronto. She has presented her research at national and international conferences, including the Northeast Modern Language Association and ACCUTE/Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. She was awarded the Linda Lamont-Stewart Scholarship in Canadian Literature (2018) and her scholarly work has appeared in Canadian Literature.
Khem Guragain is a doctoral student in English at York University. He received his first M.A. in English from Tribhuvan University, and second M.A. in Literatures of Modernity from Ryerson University. He taught graduate courses on non-Western literatures and Postcolonial literatures, and undergraduate courses on creative writing, communications, and non-fiction at Tribhuvan University. He seeks to investigate the complexities of Hinduism, caste and subaltern, and examine how they are intertwined and convoluted in South Asian literature, broadly speaking.
His dissertation “The End of Postcolonialism: Dalits, Adivasis and the Rhetoric of “Antinationalism” in South Asian Literature” looks at the emergence of Dalit and Adivasi literatures, and analyses how they interrogate the nationalist discourses and expose the inner contradictions of the nation-states. Khem argues that the texts coming from the Dalits/Adivasis and tribal writers in the contemporary South Asian literature, mark the break, not only, from the dominant discourse that perpetuates the Brahminic undertones in every aspect of life, but also, from the postcolonialist literary domain which fails to sufficiently address the nuances of heterogeneity, particularly, the complexities of caste and its various projections in nationalist imaginary. He argues that the Dalit/Adivasi voice dismantles the coloniser-colonised binary and shows that the nature and shape of Dalit/Adivasi/tribal subalternity are quite different from those produced by colonial relations. He proposes to go beyond the theoretical paradigm of postcolonialism and its limitations, and dissect the exclusionary singularity of Hinduism and its strategy of building a homogeneous nation-state. His work interrogates the centuries-old Brahminist practices that negate the possibilities of social and political solidarity across caste lines, Adivasis, and tribal people, and suggests that the emergence of Dalit/Adivasi/tribal literature destabilises the hegemony of the elitist discourse transcending the complacency of postcolonial theorists and subaltern historians who seem to ignore the centrality of caste and its contradictions, inconsistencies and injustices inflicted upon the Other. Khem has presented various papers at SALA, CACLALS, ACGS, South Asia Conference, and MLA.
Emily Howe researches post-World War II North American literature with special attention to the ways in which women and people of colour have historically experienced alienation from mainstream American culture. Her dissertation will focus on issues of mobility and transience in North American literature with special attention to the road narrative as a genre that investigates identity at not only the personal level, but also that of the community and the nation. This topic was first examined in her Master’s Research Paper entitled “‘Nowhere to Go but Everywhere’: Examining Transience, Mobility, and Alienation in On the Road, Thelma and Louise, and Housekeeping. Other interests include the hip hop genre as a means of producing mainstream space for minority groups, a subject that she has presented on at the conference of the Popular Culture Association.
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.
Aaron Kreuter is a SSHRC-funded PhD candidate who works on Jewish North American fiction, world literature, and Israel/Palestine studies. He was the winner of the 2018 Philip Roth Society Siegel McDaniel Award for Graduate Student Writing, as well as the English department's TA award in 2018. He is the author of the 2018 short story collection You and Me, Belonging, and the 2016 poetry collection Arguments for Lawn Chairs.
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.
Stephanie Martins is a researcher of post-colonial and black Canadian literature with a specific interest in how poetry re-represents marginalized narratives and provides a subversive experience. This year, Stephanie is expecting to publish an interview with Canadian Poet Laureate George Elliot Clarke in which she discusses the different subversive capabilities of both poetry and fiction. Recipient of the Toronto Portuguese Federation Scholarship in 2009 and The Dean’s List Scholarship from the University of Toronto in 2015, Stephanie was awarded the SSHRC CGS Master's Scholarship in 2016. When Stephanie is not immersed in her studies, she works as a freelance writer, editor and tutor; she works closely with students from the Schulich School of Business by editing their major research projects and reports. Currently, Stephanie is developing her own tutoring business that connects students of all ages with a network of scholars across the GTA.
Justyna Poray-Wybranowska is a doctoral candidate specializing in postcolonial studies with a focus on climate change, ecological catastrophe, and human-nonhuman relations. Grounded in the environmental humanities, her dissertation project, “Negotiating Catastrophe through Postcolonial Fiction,” analyses representations of ecological catastrophe and the present-day impacts of anthropogenic climate change. This project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Justyna has worked as a Composition Instructor at Concordia University and has published articles in Otherness: Essays & Studies and in Studies in Canadian Literature, among others. She represented York University at the Human Environments in a Changing World program organized by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (2017), and at the Institute for World Literature program hosted by the University of Lisbon (2015). Justyna has also presented her research at many national and international conferences, including the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences (2017), the John Douglas Taylor Conference (2017), the Environmental Humanities Initiative at UCSB (2016), and NeMLA (2014 and 2015).
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.
Monica Sousa received her B.A. (Honours) in 2017 and her M.A. in 2018 from Brock University. She is currently a doctoral student in the department of English at York University. She is specializing in contemporary literature, and her research focuses on animal studies and posthumanism in the genres of speculative fiction and science fiction. Her research explores human and nonhuman relations, paying particular attention to animal communication practices and animal ownership. Her other research interests include technology and artificial intelligence, feminist theory, and ecocriticism.
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.
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.