Lubabah Chowdhury is a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English. Her dissertation,“Caribbean Women’s Literature and Afro-Asian Intimacies, 1948-2001,” investigates Caribbean women’s literary, journalistic and activist contributions to anti-colonial, anti-racist, and feminist movements both in the Anglophone Caribbean and the diaspora in Britain during the latter half of the 20th century. The project examines literary and archival representations of Afro- and Indo-Caribbean “intimacies,” a term that denotes both the relationships between the two communities in the public sphere and the private interpersonal relationships often depicted by Caribbean women writers. By grounding close readings and investigations of literary form and genre in four different geographic sites—the colonial classroom, the sites of exploited labor represented by the plantation and the oil field, the activist organization and the prayer space—this project conceives of each geography as a contact zone where Indo-Caribbean and Afro-Caribbean women both struggled together and struggled with one another. The project makes an important and timely intervention in conversations about Caribbean literature and Caribbean radicalism, which all too often center male writers, thinkers, and activists and do not adequately account for the intimate ties between the anti-racist, anti-colonial, and feminist struggles during the Cold War era.
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Christina Gilligan is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English. Her dissertation explores readerly identification as a key site of anxiety and experimentation for novelists of 19th-century Britain. While critics have long associated the Victorian novel with an uncritical encouragement of identification, this project contends that the identificatory engagements of Britain’s realist authors were marked by ambivalence and instability. Indeed, her dissertation argues that the questions it poses about the pleasures, limits, and power of identification, as well as the suitability of identification for various aesthetic, ethical, and political projects, were also open questions for these authors—questions with which they attempted to grapple through formal experimentation and adjustments in their novelistic projects. This project seeks to track strategies of identification, attending both to the ways in which structures of narration and character figure or resist identificatory pull and to the ways in which these novelistic forms collide with social forms, including race, gender, and class. In so attending, it seeks to determine the extent to which the projects of 19th-century British novels were bodied forth through identification, as well as the risks and opportunities of a reliance on identificatory strategies, which tend to emphasize similarity over difference.
Graduate Fellow, Ph.D. Candidate in Modern Culture and MediaPembroke Hall 005
Currently a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Modern Culture and Media, Irina Kalinka holds a B.A. in Politics & Human Rights from Bard College and an M.A. in English and American Literatures from Humboldt University, Berlin. Her previous work experience includes serving as an elected county-council representative for the Green Party in Teltow Fläming, Germany. She is currently writing her dissertation on the political imaginary of “User Democracy.” Here, she is asking what it means to imagine politics as a technological problem to be managed and solved in the name of smooth operability, better design choices, user-friendliness, and optimization—and how to resist such reductionist conceptions of collective world-making. Her research is situated at the intersection of critical and political theory with a focus on digital media.
Graduate Fellow, Ph.D. Candidate in Comparative Literature
Baoli Yang is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature, where she primarily focuses on medieval Sinoscript literature and its modern repercussions, manuscript culture, Chinese poetics, empire studies, and Silk Road studies. She incorporates state-of-art developments in digital humanities into her research, hoping to illuminate the effects of distant reading and discover larger patterns of medieval literary phenomena. A multilingual and interdisciplinary scholar, she has received fellowships from the Watson Institute’s China Initiative and the Harvard-Yenching Institute to support her research. She is currently working on her dissertation “Literary Strata of Imperial Borders: Sinoscript Culture and Its Encounters Around the 8th Century.” Incorporating various genres from poetry, historiographies, and prosimetric texts to travelogues found in manuscripts, steles, and transmitted texts, her project discusses the interdiscursivity of imaginary “borders” and “frontiers” in literary works mainly written in the middle Chinese in the context of Afro-Eurasian transcontinental connectivity. Her approach to this research challenges modernist assumptions in Sinophone studies and reveals cultural imperialism as well as its consequences in medieval Asia. She contends that cultural exchanges in medieval Eurasia enabled a Chinese cultural rejuvenation by redrawing geographical, gender, ethnic, and other boundaries of the cultural self and other.