Cogut Institute for the Humanities

Graduate Fellows

  • photo of Sam Coren

    Sam Coren

    Graduate Fellow, Ph.D. Candidate in American Studies

    Sam Coren (they, them) is a writer, public scholar, and creative practitioner whose research focuses on socio-ecological assemblages in the urban United States. They have written for academic and popular outlets including Contingent MagazineDoors Open RIThe Journal of Planning History, and Flux (2023). They have also exhibited as a research-based artist exploring the afterlives of industrial landscapes. As a PhD candidate in American Studies, Sam is currently working on a dissertation titled Watershed Metropolis: The Providence River and its Lifeworlds.

  • photo of Ayantu Israel-Megerssa

    Ayantu Israel-Megerssa

    Graduate Fellow, Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science

    Ayantu Israel-Megerssa is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science, with a focus in political theory. She is interested in the role of doubt in black political thought, particularly as it grapples with the promises and failures of democratic politics. Her dissertation project, tentatively titled “The Arrival of Doubt: Disorientation, Democracy, and the Racial Politics of Skepticism,” will read afropessimism as partaking in a tradition of skepticism reaching back to Descartes. The project seeks to develop an account of doubt that staves off the un-worlding disorientation of nihilistic skepticism. In order to do this, she will read various black political thinkers as endeavoring to “re-world” in the wake of doubt, precisely by performing and miming the very doubt that disorients and ungrounds them.


  • photo of Marah Nagelhout

    Marah Nagelhout

    Graduate Fellow, Ph.D. Candidate in English

    Marah Nagelhout is a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English. Her dissertation traces the historical allegiance between extractive industries and the repressive mechanisms of the state. It travels from industrial slavery and postantebellum convict leasing to inmate oil spill cleanup and the idle occupants of “toxic prisons,” to show how extractive zones have long been sites where exposure to toxicity is racialized through labor, and where antiblackness is renaturalized — through colonial archaeologies of race and geologic grammars of time — as the dominant mechanism for securing the accumulative reserves necessary for capital’s survival. Moving beyond the geophysical processes of mining, she identifies an extractive schema within the very value structure of capital to enable an alternative account of the state as that which produces and enforces what Marx calls “disposable time.” This is the time of the prison sentence, and the temporality of weaponized contingency whereby past extractive violence — be it policing or pollution — suspends subjects in anticipation of future violence. In so accounting, this work names the state’s foundational inability to contend with the destabilizing, displacing effects of climate collapse outside of its existing infrastructures of disposal and containment, highlighting the exigency for collective investment in abolitionist alternatives.

  • photo of Kiran Saili

    Kiran Lam-Saili

    Graduate Fellow, Ph.D. Candidate in English

    Kiran Lam-Saili is a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English. She holds a B.A. in philosophy from York University and a M.A. in women and gender studies from the University of Toronto. Her dissertation aims at a study of diaspora that is attentive to the disparate afterlives of U.S. empire at the same time that it focuses on the more ephemeral, non-cathartic feelings and affectual registers that shape such subjects’ shared apprehension of “diasporic life” in the first instance. Studying predominately late 20th– 21st-century feminist/queer Asian American and black/queer feminist theory and expressive cultures, her project examines the affective range of contemporary diasporic life that goes unaccounted for under conventional large-scale models such as resistance vs. assimilation and redemption vs. loss. Given how hastily outwardly “non-political” feelings and their oft-female/queer owners find themselves marshaled under such latter terms, this dissertation studies the relationship between affect, aesthetics, and politics through the idiom of “minor” feelings (namely ambivalence, anxiety, “missing,” and forgiveness) to argue for a more careful study of the “weak” forms of feeling considered too passive to do political work.