Past PhD Students

I was a member of the following committees:

Jordan Wingate (2019)“The Periodical Origins of the American Self”

My dissertation argues that early U.S. periodicals multiplied rather than unified popular opinions of who and what was American from the Constitution’s ratification to the doorstep of the Civil War. Instead of promoting cultural consensus by discussing or symbolizing national “imagined communities,” I show, periodicals regularly imagined new American affiliations that openly conflicted with nationalist sentiment or critiqued U.S. federal policy. In an interwoven narrative of four dissimilar periodicals – the monthly American Museum magazine; the quarterly North American Review; the political and commercial daily The Charleston Mercury; and the triweekly newspaper The Colored American – I describe the many possible social configurations represented in self-described American periodical communities, and their array of distinct imagined relationships to the United States. Depending on the periodical context, Americans could designate a people united by a shared natural history that overruled the dictates of U.S. naturalization law; or all the citizens in a hemispheric empire; or an economic alliance in which each of the United States remained a sovereign nation; or a minority nation oppressed by the U.S. government; or other equally distinctive communities. By assessing how a periodical’s editor and writers imagined these American communities in conversation with their periodical’s readership, my project looks beyond “public sphere” frameworks for understanding the social assumptions that shaped how writers addressed readers in print.

María de Lourdes Rubio Medrano (2018), “Performances of Mestizaje in 20th/21st Century Literature of the Americas”

Performances of Mestizaje in 20th/21st Century Literature of the Americas examines the relationship between representation, performance, and colonial discourse by 1) tracing crucial flashpoints in the evolution of a literary, performative, critical mestizaje and 2) by tracking iterative, textual performances of what I call colonial scripts—iterations of social behaviors or systems of power that reproduce and normalize colonial violence and the logic of racial difference. I use Latinx and Indigenous literature of the Americas to provide a comparative study of the ways in which mestizaje functions as both a discourse of dominance and resistance in a Mexican, Chicana, Indigenous, and Caribbean context. In considering these different contexts and their similar colonial histories, I argue that mestizaje can function as a space of creativity and cultural critique rather than as solely a tool of assimilation.

Renee Hudson (2016), “Revolutionary Futures: Romance and the Limits of Transnational Forms 1910-1986”

“Revolutionary Futures” examines the revolutionary unconscious of American literature. While revolution shapes American national identity, it also threatens that identity as evidenced by American support for oppressive regimes such as Ferdinand Marcos’s dictatorship in the Philippines. Despite this fraught relationship, there is, I contend, a persistent preoccupation with revolution in its literature. This unease reveals itself through genre, itself productive of futurity and national imaginaries in the prose of authors as varied as Richard Wright, Cormac McCarthy, Jessica Hagedorn, and Junot Díaz. This dissertation rethinks heterosexual romance as the paradigmatic frame for the nation by drawing upon recent queer theory to investigate how failures of romance offer new models of kinship. By resisting the prevailing understanding of romance as allegory, my project untangles more complicated, unsettled ways of imagining the future that do not rely on teleological conceptions of time, but, instead, are open-ended and generate new forms of historicity.

Amanda Hollander (2015), “The Fabian Child: English and American Literature and Socialist Reform, 1884-1915”

 “The Fabian Child: English and American Literature and Socialist Reform, 1884-1915” intervenes in current scholarship that addresses the impact of Fabian socialism on the arts during the fin de siècle. I argue that three particular Fabian writers—Evelyn Sharp, E. Nesbit, and Jean Webster—had an indelible impact on children’s literature, directing the genre toward less morally didactic and more politically engaged discourse. Previous studies of the Fabian Society have focused on George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, and Beatrice Webb and Sidney Webb to the exclusion of women authors producing fiction for child readers. After the Fabian Society’s founding in 1884, English writers Sharp and Nesbit, and American author Webster published prolifically and, in their work, direct their socialism toward a critical and deliberate reform of literary genres, including the fairy tale, the detective story, the boarding school novel, adventure yarns, and epistolary fiction.

Erin Murrah-Mandrill (2014, English, U of New Mexico, ABQ), “Out of Time: Temporal Colonization and the Writing of Mexican American Subjectivity”

My dissertation studies the ways that Mexican Americans experienced time as a colonizing force in the US Southwest between 1848 and 1940. I argue that Mexican American writing of this period exposes oppressive iterations of time within US modernity and often points toward possibilities of decolonizing time. The project focuses on political and economic constructions of US progress, which denied Mexican Americans presence within US temporal imaginings. My analysis moves from material to ideological temporal constructions as I analyze forms of time concerning wage labor, railroad operations, investment capitalism, judicial processes, congressional proceedings, Manifest Destiny, commodity fetishism, intellectual production, historical narrative, and sociological discourse.