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Current Student Profiles

Catherine Nicole Allen

Specializations: Late 19th- and 20th century Latin American literature; Translation Studies; Postcolonial Studies; Border Theory.

Areas of Research Interest: I am currently exploring theories of translation and cross-cultural encounter in the context of the Americas in order to ask questions about language in relation to cultural hegemony and the possibility of justice.

Academic Background: BA in English Literature from New Jersey City University.

Extra-curricular Involvement: I am a part of the planning committee for the yearly Interdisciplinary Symposium at UB for the Humanities and Social Sciences.


Gudrun Elsa Bragadottir

Specializations: melodrama, psychoanalysis, queer theory, biopolitics, 20th century literature & film

Areas of research interest: After writing about the subgenre of the maternal melodrama in my BA thesis, I shifted my focus onto German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder and his subversive deployment of the melodramatic mode in my MA thesis. Since I commenced my studies at the University at Buffalo in the fall of 2013, I have primarily done work on climate change and biopolitics, psychoanalytic conceptions of anxiety and love, queer negativity and anti-social theory, and Freddie Mercury.

Academic background: BA and MA in Comparative Literature from the University of Iceland

Extra-curricular involvement: Co-organizer of the department’s fourth graduate conference, “Everything Is Not Going to Be Okay: Optimism in the Age of Catastrophe”.


Cheryl A Emerson

Specializations: phenomenology and aesthetics; narrative theory; natality; 20 and 21st century fiction; biopoetics.

Areas of Research Interest: I examine modern and post-modern literature through the lenses of Merleau-Ponty’s theories of embodiment of language and being. I am also working on a comparative study of Hannah Arendt and Merleau-Ponty regarding the ambiguity of appearance and problems of fiction and the real.

Academic Background: BA in English from Concordia University, Irvine; MA in Modern
American Literature from University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Extra-Curricular Involvement: Member of the International Merleau-Ponty Circle; GSA Senate; UB philosophical reading group; UB World Music Ensemble; performer of Native American flutes.


Matthew Herzog

Specializations: twentieth century British and Irish writing; modernism; cultural materialism; ; composition and Writing Studies; Digital Humanities.

Areas of Research Interest: He is currently working on a dissertation project that looks at the relation between modernism and education through the writing of Dorothy Richardson, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, and Raymond Williams. Other interests include rhetoric, composition, and writing studies, as well as pedagogical practices with blogging and e-Portfolios.

Academic Background: BA in Philosophy, SUNY Buffalo; M.A. Comparative Literature, SUNY Buffalo.

Extra-Curricular Involvement: Working for e-Portfolio Support Services in the Office of Undergraduate Education; participating in the Mark Diamond Research Fund Review Council; co-organizing the Social Sciences and Humanities Interdisciplinary Symposium 2015, Comparative Literature’s first undergraduate symposium, and the 2013 Comparative Literature Graduate Student Symposium. Positions held in the Comparative Literature Graduate Student Association include president, vice-president, and treasurer.


Emina Melonic

Specializations: continental philosophy, phenomenology, feminist theory, 20th century French literature

Areas of interest: Levinas, Merleau-Ponty, Jewish Thought, Bataille, Eroticism, intersection of Jewish/Christian/Islamic mysticism, selfhood and erotic identity

Academic Background: BA in English, German, Art History (Canisius College); MA in the Humanities (University of Chicago); MA in Theology (Christ the King Seminary); MA in Philosophy (University at Buffalo)

Extracurricular activities: blogging about films and film theory, photography, and fencing


Natalia Pamula

Specializations: Polish and American 20th century literature, disability studies, queer theory, biopolitics, Jewish and Israeli studies

Areas of Research Interest: Currently, I’m analyzing the representations of disability in Polish and American post-war literature to examine the ways in which biopower works in Eastern Europe and how it differs from theories of biopower articulated by Hannah Arendt, Michel Foucault, and Giorgio Agamben.

Academic background: BA and MA in Cultural studies from Warsaw University.

Extra-curricular involvement: Co-organizer of the fourth graduate conference of the department “Everything Is Not Going to Be Okay: Optimism in the Age of Catastrophe,” presented at the American Studies Association conference in November 2014.


John Rendeiro

Specializations: 19th century American literature (particularly Hawthorne and Melville), political theory (particularly Hannah Arendt)

Areas of Research Interest: I am working to develop an understanding of questions of political participation, equality, and action in the novels and short fiction of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville.

Academic Background: M.A. in Comparative Literature from Indiana University (Bloomington), B.A. in Philosophy from Trinity College (CT)

Extra-curricular Involvement: Departmental Graduate Assistant (Comparative Literature), Editorial Board, theory@buffalo (2012-present), Vice President of Comparative Literature Graduate Student Association (2013-2014), Treasurer of Comparative Literature Graduate Student Association (2012-2013).


Jana V. Schmidt

Specializations: German, Austrian, and American inter-war and post-war literature; Holocaust studies; literary theory; art and image theory; history of science; psychoanalysis and trauma studies.

Areas of Research Interest:My current work attempts to articulate a theory of the image. I am also working on the relationship between violence and pleasure (or a pleasure in violence) in the field of psychoanalytic studies.

Academic Background: Undergraduate in American Studies and Gender Studies at the Humboldt and Free University Berlin; MA in English at the University of Pennsylvania (2007); research assistant at the Max-Planck-Institute for the History of Science in Berlin (2009).

Extra-curricular involvement: I am a member of the Queer Studies Group at UB; treasurer and senator for the Comparative Literature Graduate Student Association; editorial work for Umbr(a) and theory@buffalo; organization of the 2012 Comparative Literature Graduate Conference; German-English translations.


Tyler M. Williams

Specializations: Twentieth-century American and Other American novel; Southern Gothic; contemporary continental philosophy, deconstruction, literary and critical theory.

Areas of Research Interest:I am currently working on a dissertation that explores how the ever-diffusive image of dust pertains to the spatio-temporality of history, identity, and narrative (principally in Faulkner, O’Connor, Baldwin, and Glissant). This research also involves configuring the concept of “literature” in deconstruction. Secondarily, I am interested in American Ex-patriate literature, and the history of the American novel in France.

Academic Background: BA in Philosophy and English from DePaul University (Chicago, IL).

Extra-curricular involvement: Co-editor of theory@buffalo 16, Plastique: Dynamics of Catherine Malabou, and of volume 15, animal.machine.sovereign.; former president and vice president of the Comparative Literature Graduate Student Association; co-organization of the 2011 Comparative Literature Graduate Conference; member of the Philosophical Reading Group.


Yitian Zhai

Specializations: Political theory, Feminist Philosophy, and Comparative studies of ancient Greek and Chinese thought.

Areas of Research Interest: Currently, I’m exploring feminist and comparative cultural perspectives to examine Hannah Arendt’s notion of the public and private so as to reflect upon the relationship among love, politics and truth.

Academic Background: I received my BA and MA from Fudan University in Shanghai, China, and MA from DePaul University in Chicago in philosophy.

Extra-curricular involvement: I helped to organize the 2nd graduate conference of the department, entitled “The Violence of Image”, in 2012, and organized the 3rd graduate conference entitled “Love of Wisdom vs. Wisdom of Love” in 2013. I was also in the editing board of Theory at Buffalo in fall 2010 and served in the GSA of the department as vice president in academic year 2011-2012, secretary in 2012-2013, and president (now).