Participants 2017

Featured Speakers

Melissa BartonMelissa Barton is Curator of Drama and Prose for the Yale Collection of American Literature at Beinecke Library. She curated the exhibition “Gather Out of Star-Dust: The Harlem Renaissance and The Beinecke Library,” on view through April, and wrote the companion volume Gather Out of Star-Dust: A Harlem Renaissance Album, available from Yale University Press. Throughout the 2016-17 academic year, she has co-coordinated a series of exhibitions and events celebrating the 75th anniversary of the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters. Melissa earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Chicago.


Jordan Brower is a lecturer in the English department at Yale University, where he received his PhD in English and in Film and Media Studies in 2016. He is writing a book tentatively titled “Shadowing Hollywood: A Literary History of the Studio System.” He is an editor of the American Literature in the World anthology, and his essays on nineteenth- and twentieth-century fiction, modernism, and American cinema have appeared or are forthcoming in ELH, the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, the James Joyce Quarterly, the Journal of American Studies, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and MLQ.

Edgar Garcia is a poet and scholar whose poetry, translations, and essays have appeared in a number of publications. Currently, he is a postdoctoral scholar and Neubauer Family Assistant Professor in English at the University of Chicago. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 2015 with a dissertation (now a book project) on the circulation of indigenous semiotics in twentieth-century North American and Latin American poetry and poetics, a thesis that he completed under the supervision of Wai Chee Dimock, Langdon Hammer, and Anthony Reed. During that time, he helped to co-edit the anthology, American Literature in the World, as well as to organize its first conferences. 

Graduate Student Panelists

Wendi Bootes is a graduate student in Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley, where she focuses on Russian and English realisms and modernisms, theories of the novel, and legacies of nineteenth-century German intellectual thought. She is interested in revolution and the politics of aesthetics, and is pursuing a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. She received an M.A. from Yale in European and Russian Studies, and a B.A. from Macalester College in English and Russian.


Aaron Coleman is the author of St. Trigger, which won the 2015 Button Poetry Prize and Threat Come Close (Four Way Books, 2018). Currently a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow in Washington University in St. Louis’ Comparative Literature PhD program, his areas of interest include 20-21st Century U.S. Poetry, Black Atlantic Diasporic Studies, Translation Studies, and Creative Writing. A Fulbright Scholar, Cave Canem fellow, and graduate of Washington University in St. Louis’ MFA program, Aaron has lived and worked with youth in locations including Kalamazoo, Chicago, Spain, and South Africa. Winner of the Tupelo Quarterly Poetry Contest and The Cincinnati Review Robert and Adele Schiff Award, Aaron’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Apogee, Boston Review, Fence, Southern Humanities Review, and elsewhere.

Jess Cotton is a third-year PhD candidate in English Literature at University College London, and a Visiting Assistant in Research at Yale in Spring 2017. Her thesis examines the representation of queer childhood in the work of John Ashbery, Elizabeth Bishop, Joe Brainard and James Schuyler. She is also interested in collaborative sensibilities, photographic afterlives and queer futurities. Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in Reading Elizabeth Bishop: An Edinburgh Companion, Harper’s, Modernist CulturesOxford Poetry and The White Review.


C. O. Grossman is a PhD candidate in English Literature at Stanford and co-curator of the Cantíl Reading Series. Grossman has written collaboratively with Juliana Spahr for n+1 and The Two-Sided Lake (published as part of the 2016 Liverpool Biennial).



Matthew Holman is a PhD candidate at UCL, where his thesis is entitled ‘Frank O’Hara Abroad: Cosmopolitanism, Curatorship & The Cold War’ and is fully-funded by the London Arts & Humanities Partnership. Before UCL, he was an F. R. Leavis Scholar at the University of York where he took an MA in Modern & Contemporary Literature & Culture. Matthew is currently working on the Terra Foundation / Tate ‘Refiguring American Art: 1945-80’ research project, and writes reviews for Oxford Poetry and the Oxford Art Journal. He is editor of Moveable Type, the UCL English department graduate journal.


John James is completing an M.A. in English at Georgetown University, where he serves as graduate associate to the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice and directs the Summer School’s Creative Writing Institute. He researches poetry and poetics from 1750-present, especially in relation to burgeoning technologies and political ecology. His thesis investigates William Blake’s illuminated books, and an article, co-authored with Nathan K. Hensley, is forthcoming in BRANCH: Britain, Representation and Nineteenth Century History. Also a poet, his poems appear or are forthcoming in Boston Review, Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, Best New Poets 2016, Best American Poetry 2017, and elsewhere.


Jeremy Miller is a second-year Master’s student at the University of Arizona. His interests include the intersections of postcolonial and environmental literatures and theory that explores those intersections. Prior to graduate school, he taught English in Mauritania with the Peace Corps. He also has a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction writing from the University of Kansas.



Hayley O’Malley is a PhD student in English at the University of Michigan and has a master’s in Film Studies from Oxford. Her work focuses on 20th- and 21st-century American literature and visual culture, and her current project examines how American authors and artists have explored questions of modern mediation and subjectivity through children or characters cast as childlike. She has presented papers at the Modernist Studies Association, the American Literature Association, and other conferences. At Michigan, she coordinates the American Studies Consortium and the Modernist Studies Workshop.


Christofer A. Rodelo is a Ph.D. student in American Studies at Harvard University. He holds a BA in American Studies and Ethnicity, Race & Migration from Yale University. Broadly, his research interests include theater and performance studies, 19th-early 20th century American literature and drama, Latinx and Afro-Latinx literary and cultural studies, critical race/gender/queer/feminist studies, archival thought, aesthetics and visual culture, and critical theory. Situated between literary studies and performance studies, his prospective dissertation is a critical study of Latinx, Afro-Latinx, and Indigenous performance cultures in the long hemispheric 19th century. It historically indexes 19th century minoritarian aesthetic practices, theorizes the affective and material contours of blackness and brownness, and rubs together the methodological tenets of literary and performance studies for an equally textual and embodied mode of critique. At Harvard, he serves as a co-founder/co-coordinator of the Harvard Race and Ethnicity Working Group, Latinx Studies Working Group, and Theater and Performance Colloquium. He is a graduate affiliate of the Afro-Latin American Research Institute at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research.

Simona Schneider is a filmmaker and PhD candidate in Comparative Literature and Film & Media at the University of California, Berkeley, working at the intersection of film, ethnography, and lyric poetry. Since 2015, she has been a fellow at the Harvard Film Study Center. Her dissertation, “Lyric Spectatorship: Representational Strategies for Cross-Cultural Encounter,” argues how watching “lyrically” evidences affectively contingent and charged relationships that interfere with epic, national narratives and the ideology of economic globalization.


Sara Gabler Thomas is a PhD student in English (Literary Studies) at the University of Wisconsin—Madison where she studies twenty and twenty-first century US and transnational literature and culture with an emphasis on gender and sexuality. Her research includes US Southern Studies and most recently traces the intersection of feral ecologies, technologies of racialization, and queer futures in works by Alice Walker, Monique Truong, and William Faulkner.


Tobi Haslett is a first-year doctoral student in English at Yale University. His research interests include Black literature and the changing political fortunes of the New York Intellectuals, with a specific focus on cosmopolitanism and leftist internationalism.



Shayne McGregor is a first-year graduate student in English at Yale University. His research interests revolve around representations of liberation and freedom in 20th-and 21st-century African American literature, questions related to time and temporality, futurity, and Hip Hop.



Maryam Ivette Parhizkar is a PhD student in African American Studies and American Studies at Yale. She studies the experimental performance, literary, and visual practices of racialized artists in the long 20th century U.S. and the intersecting politics of migration, aesthetics, ethnographic representation and transnational racial formations. She is a poet and co-founder/co-convener of the Race & Innovative Poetics Working Group at Yale and editorial board member of small publisher Litmus Press.


Cera Smith is a first year PhD student in African American Studies and English at Yale University. Prior to graduate school, Cera earned degrees in English Literature and Creative Writing at CSU Long Beach where they focused on radical protest literatures of the U.S., especially those by writers of color from the 20th and 21st centuries. Now, their work focuses on the ways that Black literatures expose processes of race-making as well as how racialization is chronicled, interpreted, upheld, and/or resisted through the racialized body. Ultimately, they are most interested in whether or not representations of the racialized body create successful access points for readers to find solidarity with characters and whether or not these representations result in reader engagement in political struggle against oppression.


Organizing Committee

wai-cheeWai Chee Dimock teaches English and American Studies at Yale University. Her web-and-print anthology, American Literaturein the World (2017), coedited with Jordan Brower, Edgar Garcia, Nick Rinehart, and Kyle Hutzler, was published by Columbia University Press this January.


brandon menke photoBrandon Menke is a poet and Ph.D. candidate in English Literature at Yale University. His dissertation examines queer identities, lyric form, and regionalist aesthetics in American literature and visual art in the long 20th century. He is also deeply interested in the confluence of feminism, ethnic studies, and ecocritical thought. In addition to being this year’s conference coordinator, he serves as the editor-in-chief and poetry editor of Palimpsest: Yale Graduate Literary and Arts Magazine, directs the Graduate Poets Writing Series and Writing Workshop, and co-convenes the Literature, Arts, and Environment Colloquium. He’s currently at work on a book project with artists Kyle Goldbach and Martin Bek.

Carlos PortraitCarlos Alonso Nugent is a third-year graduate student at Yale University. He works at the intersections of English, Latina/o studies, and the environmental humanities. He is writing a literary and cultural history of five “imagined environments” that reshaped the U.S. and Latin America in the twentieth century. He co-convenes Yale’s 20th- and 21st-Century Literary Studies Colloquium and helps organize this conference.


courtney sato photoCourtney Sato is a fourth year in the American Studies doctoral program at Yale University. She received her B.A. in English from Wellesley College and an M.Phil. in Modern South Asian Studies from the University of Cambridge. Her dissertation examines transnational Asian and Asian American intellectuals and their lecture circuits, travels, and writing that responded to Asia’s radical geopolitical repositioning during the early twentieth century. She is also pursuing the concentration in Public Humanities developing a digital portal for WWII Japanese American incarceration history (


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