Student Profiles

There are currently over 30 doctoral candidates in English at Boston College. Along with students in our M.A. program, doctoral students are the sponsors of a year-long colloquium in literary and cultural studies, they place representatives at our Graduate Student Association, and they teach regularly in the English department.

Doctoral Candidates at BC have provided their own listings below.


Alyssa Bellows

Alyssa Bellows

Alyssa studies Victorian literature and culture, specializing in nineteenth-century novels. Her dissertation, “Victorian Gaming: Strategic Thinking in Games and British Novels, 1801-1901,” unpacks how nineteenth-century authors incorporated scenes of gaming into their novels to represent cognitive activity. She reads historical gaming literature and modern cognitive science alongside the period’s literature to explore how Victorians thought about rational thinking as social, physical, national and imperial. She has an article on games and Charles Dickens forthcoming in Victorian Literature and Culture and a previous article on John Henry Newman in Religion and Literature.

Alyssa’s courses include "First-year Writing: the Games We Play," "Literature Core: Detective Literature," "Studies in Narrative," and "Victorian Selfies." She graduated from Messiah College with a B.A. in English with Literature and Writing Concentrations (2010).

Richard Ford Burley

Richard studies medieval literature, focusing primarily on Old English texts and culture. He is interested in questions of rhetoric and speech, and what oral and residually-oral texts can tell us about the cultures that produced them. He is also infatuated with remix culture and the ways it can be used to make old texts culturally and pedagogically relevant in the internet age.

Richard is the co-founder of the Societas Daemonetica, which organizes yearly sessions at the International Congress on Medieval Studies on the topic of various "things demonic."

Prior to joining the Ph.D. program at Boston College, Richard earned a B.A. in English and history at the University of Toronto (Canada), and an M.A. in Medieval Studies at the University of York (UK).

Rowena Clarke

Rowena Clarke

Rowena studies literature and film from the mid-twentieth century to the present day, with a particular focus on popular genre, and urban history. Her research looks at post-war urban and suburban development and the ways that popular forms work to understand the changes taking place in the built environment during this period. She has presented her research at conferences including those of the Northeast MLA, The American Comparative Literature Association, The Popular Culture Association and The American Literature Association.

At Boston College, Rowena has taught classes on suburbia in literature, and the literature and culture of the Atomic Age, as well as Studies in Narrative and the Freshman Writing Seminar.

Before coming to BC, Rowena studied at the universities of Oxford and Essex, in the UK.

Megan Crotty
Amelie Daigle

Amelie Daigle

Amelie specializes in postcolonial literature and theory, working at the intersection of literature, ethics, and politics. She is currently working to complete a field exam on postcolonial economics in literature. She also serves as an assistant director of the Biennial English Graduate Conference.

Amelie holds a B.A. in English and philosophy from Loyola University New Orleans (2013).

Deanna Malvesti Danforth

Deanna Malvesti Danforth

Deanna earned her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and her M.A .from San Francisco State University. At Boston College, she has taught courses on Shakespeare, British Literature & Culture from Beowulf to Aphra Behn, poetry, history and literature, and composition. She is currently at work on a dissertation that explores theories of adaptation in early modern English drama.

Trista Doyle

Trista studies twentieth-century Irish literature with particular interest in modernism and representations of memory and trauma. She has completed a minor field exam on “Trauma and the Family in Contemporary Irish and American Fiction, 1965-2010,” and her major field exam, “Memory, History, and Identity: Twentieth-Century Narratives of Britain and Ireland,” will take place this winter. Trista has taught the First-Year Writing Seminar and Literature Core and is currently teaching Studies in Narrative. She will design an elective course on contemporary Irish literature and culture in the coming year. Trista also co-directs the Pedagogy Seminar and works as the Curriculum Integration Graduate Assistant at the Office of International Programs. She holds a B.A. with Honors in English from the University of Michigan, where she completed a senior honors thesis on preservation and mortality in Shakespeare’s Sonnets.

Rachel Ernst

Elle Everhart

Elle studies British literature of the long nineteenth century, with a particular emphasis on the novels of the Victorian period and the fin de siecle. Her research interests include: ecocriticism, animal studies, and posthumanism.

Elle received her M.A. in English from the University of Virginia and her B.A. in English from the University of Maryland.

Alison Fanous

Alison Fanous

Alison holds an M.A. in English from New York University and a B.A. with Honors in English from Brown University. At Boston College, she specializes in British Romanticism, and has completed a Minor Field exam, "Orientalism and the Place of Ireland," and a Major Field Exam, "Romantic National Literatures of the British Isles and India." She is currently at work on a dissertation that deals with articulations of Citizenship in a Global Romanticism. To date, Alison has been a TA for British Literature I and she has also taught First Year Writing, a Literary Forms section of the Literature Core, an elective entitled "Gothic Women Writers," and Studies in Poetry. Alison is also the director of the Pedagogy Seminar (2012-2013 academic year) and the Managing Editor at Boston College's interdisciplinary Journal of Religion and the Arts.

Matthew Gannon

Matthew Gannon

Matthew studies modernist fiction, poetry, and film as well as critical theory and continental philosophy. His research investigates the politics of aesthetics and the relationship of art to history. Matthew has recently completed a minor field exam on Marxism and psychoanalysis and is working toward a major field exam on modernism. He has published book reviews in the peer-reviewed journals Mediations and Twentieth-Century Literature and written for cultural journals such as Jacobin and the Los Angeles Review of Books. Matthew received his BA from Bowdoin College and MA from the University of Chicago.

Emma Hammack

Emma Hammack

Emma focuses on Transatlantic Romanticism, with specific interests in the intersections between philosophy, science, and the Romantic Imagination. Her previous work centered on the poetry of Wordsworth, Coleridge, and connections between walking, nature, and imagining in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Emma looks to enlarge this research to include American writers, including the Transcendentalists Emerson and Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, and Walt Whitman, as well as current neurological theories on imaginative creativity and ecological encounters.

Most recently, Emma presented the essay "Liminality and Poetics in Wordsworth's Miscellaneous Sonnets," at the Wordsworth Summer Conference in Grasmere. Her article, " 'Imperfect Notices:' Mary Wordsworth's 1820 Continental Journal" is forthcoming from Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature.

Emma received her B.A. from the University of California Santa Barbara, and her M.A. from the University of Oxford, Lincoln College.

Kristin Imre

Kristin Imre is a student of American and British Modernism with a particular interest in theories of the everyday, bodies, and narrative. She is currently working on a dissertation project that explores manifestations of the everyday in the Modern and contemporary American novel. Kristin has experience teaching English as a foreign language, introductory literature and writings courses, and upper-level literature electives. She also mentors first time teachers in the First Year Writing Program.

Andrew Kuhn

Andrew Kuhn

Andrew A. Kuhn is a Ph.D. student in the English Department at Boston College, studying twentieth-century Irish literature and print culture. His current research is on the private press tradition in Ireland and the role of the material book in literary interpretation. Andrew received a M.A. in English Literature from the University of Kansas and a B.A. from Creighton University.

Megan Lease

Megan Lease

Megan studies nineteenth-century British literature, with a particular focus on the intersection of Victorian religion and literature. She is especially interested in discussions of secularization, Victorian "faith in faith," and the way in which literature shaped nineteenth-century religious discourse and the religious identities and hermeneutics of its readers.

During her undergraduate career at Southeastern University, Megan focused her interdisciplinary studies degree in the areas of English and theology. She received her M.A. in English from Boston College.

Megan has taught first-year writing at BC and now serves as one of the assistant directors of the Pedagogy Seminar.

Linda Martin

Linda Martin

Linda studies Modernism and early 20th century British literature, and her research interests include cognitive literary theory, the history of psychology, and first-wave feminism. She is currently working on her dissertation, examining intersections between psychological and feminist discourses in the works of Modern women writers. Before coming to Boston College, Linda received her B.A. from Illinois Wesleyan University. At Boston College, she has taught the Freshman Writing Seminar, Literature Core, Studies in Narrative, and British Modernism.

Matthew Mersky

Matthew Mersky

Matthew’s graduate study involves a mixture of theory and aesthetics, and is grounded largely within the field Modernism, although it stretches anywhere from German Idealism to post-modern and contemporary critical theory. His research explores how Modernism represents an attempt to bring the relation of theory and art (aesthetics) into the foreground, and to situate the tension between these two domains in literary terms. He is also interested in using theoretical and aesthetic frameworks to examine culture broadly, in order to uncover the specific ideological or psychic structures underlying phenomena as supposedly distinct as literature and institutions of mass culture. Some of his current work aims, for example, to illuminate the ideological assumptions of global culture regarding the environment and ecology.

Alex Moskowitz

Alex Moskowitz

Alex studies nineteenth-century American literature, and has a particular interest in Marxist philosophy. His research tends to focus on using Marxist thought to examine the construction of nationality and community in the context of nineteenth-century America.

Alex received his M.A. in English from Boston College and his B.A. in Literature from the State University of New York at Purchase College.

Kelsey Norwood

Kelsey Norwood

Kelsey specializes in film studies with a background in drama, focusing primarily on textual adaptation. She is working on a dissertation that proposes a theory of "queer adaptation" and maps out its role in various adaptation networks with texts including Shakespeare's Macbeth, Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, and Tennessee Williams' Summer and Smoke. This project brings together concepts from adaptation studies, queer theory, and fan/media studies in an effort to trace out the value of textual adaptation as a site of agency for socially subordinated individuals and communities. Kelsey also has a research background in early modern literature (especially 17th century drama), and complements her academic focus in film/adaptation studies with practical experience and training in filmmaking and theatrical performance. She has taken courses in film and theatre at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, the Neighborhood Playhouse, and Maine Media Workshops.

As a scholar-practitioner, she explores the potential of creative work to serve as an alternate mode of scholarship, creating otherwise unforeseen connections between texts and reaching new public audiences. In her teaching at BC, she includes a high-stakes creative assignment in every course and encourages her students to adapt course texts into different mediums with an eye toward social commentary. Past student projects have included a PSA about campus sexual assault based on a scene from A Streetcar Named Desire, a gender-swapped Macbeth rap video, and a comedy sketch about silenced female voices in the classroom. As a filmmaker, Kelsey adapts 16th- and 17th- century texts and history into short-form comedy with a queer and feminist lens. Her current film project, a quasi-modernized comedy web series about the life and imprisonment of Lady Arbella Stuart, aims to increase public knowledge about a little-known female public figure while also circulating ideas about 17th-century queer female desire and the politics of succession.

At BC, Kelsey has taught First-Year Writing, Literature Core (Literature and Adaptation), and Shakespeare (Text, Performance, Adaptation). She has also served as a co-director of both the PhD program's pedagogy seminar and an interdepartmental theory reading group. Before coming to BC, she graduated from the University of Massachusetts Boston with a B.A. in English.

You can visit her website here: http://kelseyenorwood.com

Alicia Oh

Alicia Oh

Alicia is interested in twentieth-century and contemporary Anglo-Irish literature with a focus on the poetic genre of (national) elegy, possibly at the backdrop of modernism. Some keywords that describe her area of current interest are elegy, melancholia, modernism, nationhood, religion, and postcolonialism. In the long run, she would like to conduct a comparative study on Irish and Korean poetry during and after their periods of colonization.

Before joining the Ph.D. program at Boston College, she double majored in Comparative Literature and English Literature at Yonsei University, Korea, then moved on to the English M.A. program at the Seoul National University to study modern poetry. Her thesis is on Thomas Hardy’s elegies, more specifically Poems of 1912-13, and with this background in mind she hopes to move down to the twentieth-century.

Eric Pencek

Eric Pencek

Eric specializes in British Romanticism, with a primary research focus in working class culture, radical politics, and the construction of regional identities in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He takes a particular interest in writing on some of the more obscure or semi-forgotten figures of the period (with Robert Wedderburn and Gustavus Katterfelto being personal favorites). Eric currently serves as Ph.D. assistant director for the Graduate Student Colloquium, and is working on a minor field exam on the construction of bourgeois cultural values in eighteenth century Britain.

Eric holds a B.A. (summa cum laude) in English and philosophy from the University of Scranton and an M.A. in English from Boston College.

Scott Reznick

Scott Reznick

Scott studies American literature of the long nineteenth century with a particular focus on the intersections between literature and political thought. His interests include American Romanticism, transcendentalism, the literature of slavery and the Civil War, literary realism, political oratory, intellectual history, and political and moral philosophy.

Scott’s dissertation, “‘Principles that Astonish’: Morality, Skepticism, and Liberal Democracy in Antebellum American Literature,” analyzes the way in which antebellum US writers participated in and helped shaped the tradition of political liberalism. This project brings together political treatises and orations with slave narratives, essays, and gothic and sentimental novels to demonstrate the way in which US writers navigated the intellectual space between the particular
and the general, the embodied and the abstract, and the affective and rational dimensions of individual experience as part of an ongoing effort to critically examine—and seek a modicum of principled agreement on—the moral content of democratic ideas.

A version of his dissertation’s first chapter on Montesquieu, The Federalist, and Charles Brockden Brown is forthcoming in Early American Literature. Scott has also published an essay on the democratic theory of Daniel Webster’s political oratory in American Political Thought and reviewed work for Religion and the Arts. He has presented conference papers on Robert Montgomery Bird, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and William Dean Howells, and given public lectures on Frederick Douglass.

Scott is also a graduate fellow at the Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy. He previously served as the co-director of the English Graduate Conference at Boston College.

Scott received his M.A. in English from Trinity College in Hartford, CT. He took a particularly circuitous route to literary studies, earning his undergraduate degree in mathematics and working as a health actuary before leaving the business world to pursue the study of literature.

Laura Sterrett

Laura Sterrett

Laura studies early modern literature, focusing on poetry and non-dramatic texts. She is interested in the relationship between Christianity and literature in the early modern period, looking at the cultural forces at work and their impact on authors' representations of spiritual experience. Laura also focuses on intertextuality and reader-response among early modern authors and readers, as well as post-modern reader response to early modern texts.

Laura graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in comparative literature. Subsequently she earned a Master of Christian Studies degree from Regent College in Vancouver, Canada and a M.A. in English literature from Boston College. At Boston College Laura has taught the First Year Writing Seminar and has tutored writing at the Connors Family Learning Center.

Margaret Summerfield

Margaret Summerfield

Margaret studies early modern literature with a particular focus on the work of John Milton. She is interested in seventeenth century print culture and the performance of gender identity both on the stage and in print. She is also beginning to dip her toe into sound studies with an interest in the soundscapes of seventeenth-century England and the ways in which these acoustic environments are represented in text.

Margaret received her B.A. in English from Bryn Mawr College and her M.A. in English from Fordham University.

Colleen Taylor

Colleen Taylor

Colleen studies 18th century Irish and British literature, with a particular focus on Irish women's writing, material culture, and nationalism. She completed a minor field exam in feminist theory and a major field exam in nationalist literature of the long eighteenth century. Her article, "Austen Answers the Irish Question" was published in Persuasions in Spring 2017, and she has an article forthcoming in Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature. Her dissertation project examines the relationship between cultural objects and the development of an "Irish national character" at the turn of the nineteenth century.

Colleen holds an M.Phil. in Irish Writing from Trinity College Dublin and a B.A. in English from Fordham University, where she was Valedictorian of the class of 2012. At Boston College, she has taught FWS, Literature Core: Satire and Society, and this year, "Queens, Cathleens, and Wild Irish Girls," a class looking at depictions of women in the Irish cultural imagination. She also writes a weekly column for the Irish Echo newspaper in New York.

Ben Walker

Ben is a Ph.D. candidate with interests in Anglo-American modernism and post-colonial literature and is currently completing an exam in the Literature of the Pacific. Previously he has taught literature-focused freshman writing sections of "Argument and Exposition," as well as serving as a writing tutor and one interesting time as an exam reader for the AP Literature exam. In the spring of 2010 he will be a teaching assistant for "Introduction to British Literature and Culture (II)." He has published a student essay in Charles Bressler's Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice and has presented on J.R.R. Tolkien at the PCA/ACA National Conference in Boston (April 2007). Ben holds a B.A. in English and Writing from Houghton College (2007) and an M.A. in English from the University of Tulsa (2009).

Nell Wasserstrom

Nell Wasserstrom

Nell Wasserstrom's research interests include European modernism, continental philosophy, and theories of temporality. She has published book reviews in Twentieth-Century Literature, Modern Language Studies, The Modern Language Review, and Modern Language Notes. Nell has completed a minor field exam on the problem of time in philosophy and critical theory, and recently a major field exam titled “Modernity in General, Literary Modernity in Particular.” She also served as the co-founder and co-director of the Boston College Theory Colloquium, a cross-disciplinary graduate student organization dedicated to bringing new theoretical movements and discourses to the BC graduate community.

Nell’s teaching experience includes First-Year Writing Seminar and a Literature Core course on the theme of “untimeliness.” This academic year, she is teaching an English elective course titled “Apocalyptic Modernism” in the Fall, and a Literature Core course on the “problem of pleasure” throughout the Western literary and philosophical tradition in the Spring.

Nell received her M.A. in English from Boston College and B.F.A. in Theatre Studies, with Departmental Honors, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Lauren Wilwerding

Lauren Wilwerding

Lauren specializes in long nineteenth-century British literature with a focus on the novel and women’s studies. She is defending her dissertation “Singular Plots: Female Vocations and Radical Form in the Nineteenth Century Novel” in December 2017.

“Singular Plots” argues that a specific vocational plot emerged for unmarried women in the mid-nineteenth century in novels like Gaskell’s Cranford, Bronte’s Villette and Oliphant’s Miss Marjoribanks. “Singular Plots” argues that reading for old maids, spinsters, and perpetual bachelorettes expands our cultural-historical understanding of the nineteenth-century and changes the way we think about the form of the novel itself. Lauren published an article from her dissertation, “Contingency and Vocation in Cranford,” n Victorians, Summer 2017. She has recently delivered papers at NAVSA, BWWC and NCSA.

Lauren has also published on gift theory in Sense and Sensibility and has an article forthcoming on urban philanthropy in Our Mutual Friend in Dickens Studies Annual, March 2018.

Lauren has taught composition, literature core, and an upper-level elective called “The Single Girl in the Nineteenth Century.” She is interested in digital pedagogy, and is developing a digital close reading project through the pilot Digital Scholarship Incubator at the Boston College Libraries.

Lauren is the assistant director of the Lowell Humanities Series and served as the director of the Graduate Student Pedagogy Seminar for two years. Lauren graduated from Bowdoin College.