Participants 2018

Featured Speakers

Melissa Barton is Curator of Drama and Prose for the Yale Collection of American Literature at Beinecke Library. She curated the major 2017 exhibition “Gather Out of Star-Dust: The Harlem Renaissance and The Beinecke Library” and wrote the companion volume Gather Out of Star-Dust: A Harlem Renaissance Album, available from Yale University Press. Her exhibit “Richard Wright’s Native Son on Stage and Screen” appears as part of Beinecke’s spring 2018 exhibition “The Art of Collaboration. Melissa earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Chicago.


Gregory Cowles is an editor at the New York Times Book Review. He also writes the column Inside the List, about bestsellers.




Graduate Student Panelists

Michael Patrick Allen is a PhD candidate in English at Harvard University. He earned a Master’s from the University of Oxford for a dissertation on the poets W.H. Auden and Geoffrey Hill. Before that, he studied English and Political Science at George Washington University in Washington, DC, where he helped manage a bookstore. His dissertation research, from which this paper is drawn, investigates transatlantic literary relationships in the twentieth century. He also writes about John ​Keats and his work ​on that poet ​has appeared in the Keats-Shelley Review.


Diana Arterian is a doctoral candidate in Literature & Creative Writing and Russell Fellow recipient at the University of Southern California. Her dissertation, “Migratory Wounds: Relayed Trauma in Contemporary Poetics” considers the role of trauma transmitted through people, documents, ghosts—and creative production in response to these encounters. Her presentation on Philip’s work is an excerpt of an essay forthcoming in Afterlife in the African Diaspora, edited by Mae G. Henderson and Jeanne Scheper. Arterian’s first collection of poetry, Playing Monster :: Seiche, was the Editor’s Selection for the 1913 Press First Book Prize and published last year.


Cam Chiappe Bejar is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Multidisciplinary & Intercultural Inquiry at University College London, where he lectures in Comparative Literature, Spanish, and Theoretical Issues in History. His thesis ‘Reconfiguring the Extraterritorial’ focuses on the written work of immigrant authors, specifically Junot Díaz and Edwidge Danticat, and the intersections between history, language, and identity in contemporary literary texts.



Zak Breckenridge is graduate student in Environmental Humanities at the University of Utah. He holds degrees  from Bard College at Simon’s Rock and the University of Chicago, and a spent a year working as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Salzburg, Austria. His research interests include literature from the American West, geographies of American empire, new materialisms, and indigenous studies. His work has appeared in The CommonPost-Road MagazineColloquium Magazine, and Partisan



Margarita Castromán is a Ph.D. Candidate in the English department at Rutgers—New Brunswick. Her research and teaching focus on twentieth and twenty-first century Caribbean and US—particularly African American and Latinx—literatures. She is currently at work on her dissertation, “Minor Subjects: Deconstructing the Archival Turn in Post-45 US Literatures,” which explores the intersection of minority discourse and the “archival turn” of the latter part of the century. Examining figures like Schomburg, Ellison, Hurston, Brodber, Bradley, and M. NourbeSe Philip, the project examines radical challenges to the epistemological practices that govern the status of the archive and the position of the minor subject.


Gabrielle Everett is a PhD Candidate in the English Department at Rutgers University. Her research and teaching focus on nineteenth and early twentieth century African American literature. She is currently at work on her dissertation, “Blushing Bitterly: Managing Affect in the Black Post-Reconstruction Novel,” which seeks to offer an affective history of the racial uplift movement through novels that go against the grain of racial uplift philosophy. Gabrielle has presented her work at ACLA, MELUS, C19, and CUNY. She is also the coordinator for the African American and African Diaspora Literatures Interest Group at Rutgers. 


Matthew Liberti is a PhD student in English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan. His work focuses on the political implications of 20th- and 21st-century narratives of migration in the US and Mediterranean. He currently co-coordinates the Critical Contemporary Studies workshop at Michigan.




Jake McGinnis is a doctoral student in English at the University of Notre Dame and the managing editor of ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment. His research addresses the intersections of literature, affect, and environmental thought in the Antebellum United States.  His most recent project, “‘A Smack of Wilderness’: Affect and Enchantment in Thoreau’s First Taste of the Maine Woods,” is forthcoming in The Concord Saunterer.



Isaac Ginsberg Miller is a PhD student in African American Studies at Northwestern University, where he is also a member of the Poetry and Poetics Graduate Cluster. His critical work appears or is forthcoming in Callaloo: A Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters, The American Poetry Review, Berkeley Journal of Sociology, and English Journal. He earned an MFA in poetry at NYU, where he was a Goldwater Hospital Writing Workshop fellow. His poetry appears or is forthcoming in journals such as The Collagist, Muzzle Magazine, Colorado Review, Propter Nos, Palimpsest: Yale Graduate Literary and Arts Magazine, Watershed Review, and Callaloo.


Claire Nashar was born in Sydney and now lives in Buffalo, where she is a PhD candidate at the State University of New York. Her first collection of poems, LAKE, was published in 2016 by Cordite Books. She is the project editor of the Marianne Moore Digital Archive.




Jeff Peer is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature, in his fourth year at the CUNY Graduate Center. His dissertation investigates literary nonfiction and the boundaries between fiction and “fake news” in the North American literary nonfiction novel and the twentieth-century Mexican chronicle. He is interested in literature and literary theory in English, Spanish and French. In 2015, he received a Fulbright Research Fellowship to travel to Mexico to research urban chronicles of Mexico City. His essays and reviews have been published at Hyperallergic, The Millions and elsewhere.



Clare Spaulding is a master’s student in English Literature at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her interests lie more broadly in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American and transatlantic literatures. This paper is a portion of her thesis.



Michael J. Abraham is a first year PhD student in English at Yale University. He holds a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Humanities from NYU Gallatin, where he studied early twentieth century transatlantic feminism, and reactions against it, alongside modern poetics and critical theory. His thesis read the timeliness of H.D.’s Trilogy against its persistent uncanonicity as the result of its differently discordant positions in three transatlantic histories: religious, political, and autobiographical. He is currently working through questions related to the material histories of camp, disciplinary and discursive histories of gender in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and juxtapolitically fascistic discursive practices in Great Britain and the United States preceding the Second World War. He is also a poet, and his latest work can be found in Palimpsest, Vol. IX, or at


Victoria Baena is a third-year doctoral student in comparative literature at Yale. Her dissertation explores the mythologization of the provinces and the “provincial” in nineteenth-century British and French fiction. She also maintains an interest in nineteenth- and twentieth-century German and Latin American literature, and is particularly invested in the methods of environmental criticism, narrative theory, and social history.



Andie Berry is a first-year PhD student in English at Yale University. Her research interests focus on contemporary African American literature and dramatic literature as she explores the intersections between trauma, memory, performance, and race. Specifically, she is curious about common representations of black suffering and death that are being reappropriated and revised in the late-20th and 21st-century into more optimistic images.



Peter Conroy is a second-year doctoral candidate in English at Yale. He works mostly on 20th-century fiction, critical theory, and aesthetics. Lately his thinking has gravitated toward the politics of ecology, with particular attention to the affordances and hazards of anti-growth thought.




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 in January 2017.


brandon menke photoBrandon Menke is a poet and Ph.D. candidate in English Literature at Yale University, where he teaches American literature and creative writing. His dissertation examines queer identities, lyric form, and regionalist aesthetics in American literature and visual art in the twentieth century. 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, co-organizes the Graduate Poets Reading Series and Contemporary Poetry Colloquium, co-convenes the 20th- and 21st-Century Studies Colloquium, and has served as a Guest Critic in the Yale School of Art. He’s currently at work on a book project with artists Kyle Goldbach and Martin Bek.

Carlos PortraitCarlos Alonso Nugent is a PhD candidate at Yale University. He works at the intersections of English, Latinx Studies, and the Environmental Humanities. He is writing a literary and cultural history of three “imagined environments” that transformed the U.S.-Mexico borderlands in the twentieth century. By analyzing Anglo American and Mexican American authors, artists, and culture-makers, he tells the story of environmentalism as a series of struggles over what environments are, whom they can contain, and how they should be used. At Yale, he sits on the Environmental Humanities Steering Committee, co-convenes the 20th- and 21st-Century Studies Colloquium, and co-organizes this conference.


Ben Pokross is a second-year graduate student in the English PhD program at Yale University. He is interested in nineteenth century American literature, popular literature, and media studies. He also serves as a co-convener of the English Department’s Americanist Colloquium.


Helen Yang is a second year PhD student in English at Yale University. She received her B.A. in English with a certificate in American Studies at Princeton University. She is interested in the intersection of literature and the environment, and the emergence of a sense of place and self in spaces that resist fixed national and geographical boundaries. She is particularly interested in the literature of traveling and existing within the spaces of the oceanic, the transpacific, and the futuristic. She also co-convenes Yale’s Literature, the Arts, and the Environment Colloquium.

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