Tag Archives: Graduate Students Profiles

New Grad Student Profiles, Fall 2017

This academic year we welcome four students from a variety of educational backgrounds and interests to our comparative literature community at Rutgers! Meet Monica,Paulina, Thato and Yuanqiu.

Mònica Tomàs White is interested in the humanities that lie beyond the human, whether it be animals and the environment, posthumanism, the supernatural, or the insane. She developed her ideas about theory as a tool for improving life on Earth while completing her BA in Comparative Literature and French at UC Berkeley, and MA in Gender Studies at the University of Barcelona, the latter been her hometown. Having mostly studied within the Spanish and French national traditions, she now hopes to explore other geographies at Rutgers, particularly Latin America and East Asia.

Paulina Barrios joins us from Mexico, having grown up in both the U.S. and Mexico she has always been interested in the intersections between cultures and languages. She became interested in literature at an early age, and this finally led her to completing a B.A. in Comparative Literature with an emphasis on International Relations at Colorado College. Her interest in literature also intermingled with a restlessness regarding the inequality and misogyny she saw throughout society, thus guiding her focus on women writers in Latin America and West Africa who point to and protest the unequal, and oftentimes violent, contexts they live in. After finishing her Masters in African Studies at El Colegio de México, she decided to pursue a life-long dream of working in the non-profit sector in Mexico, and developed her translating skills, at times tying in both aspects in her professional life. At Rutgers, she plans to deepen her knowledge of feminist theories and methodologies, as well as analyze the use of literature across social projects in Latin America and Africa. Her goal is to eventually broaden the connections between academia and activism, as well as show how crucial literature can be for people’s lives.

A self-diagnosed functional scoptophobian, Thato Magano recently obtained his MA in African Literature from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in South Africa. While completing his MA, a research essay exploring the utility of women’s writing in democratic South Africa, “Voicing Matty and escaping the spectacle of social absurdity: On Makhosazana Xaba, The Suit and The Stories It Inspired” was selected for presentation at the inaugural Narrative Enquiry for Social Transformation (NEST) colloquium and subsequently chosen for publication in a forthcoming special issue of the interdisciplinary leading Africanist journal, Social Dynamics. In August 2017, Thato and two co-curators published a student activism resource, Publica[c]tion, informed by their active involvement in the #FeesMustFall movement. A mix of narrative styles – long form, poetry, music, criticism – Publica[c]tion is a unique archive of recent student activism in South Africa as it features contributions from all 24 institutions of higher learning and is independently funded, self-edited and freely available (in broadsheet). At the centre of Publica[c]tion are questions about form, content, language, publishing and pedagogy. His short stories, “A What?” appears in Queer Africa 2: New Fiction Anthology (May 2017) and “Parallels of Yesterday” was shortlisted for the Best Short Story Prize in Long Live the Short Story, The Short Story is Dead Vol.2 Anthology (Feb 2017). His poem “How Dare You?” features in Gentle Dust, a collaborative video installation project by several art practitioners between South Africa, UK and the Netherlands. Currently on show in Rotterdam until the end of October, a new single-channel video will be shown at the 10th Berlin Biennale in 2018. He is founding partner of Vanguard Magazine, a multimedia pan Africanist, queer, and womanist platform centering the experiences of young Black people in South Africa and the diaspora. In a life far removed from his current, he obtained his undergraduate degree in Communications and taught at the University of Pretoria for a brief period before pursuing a career in brand management at Cadbury South Africa. Thato comes to Rutgers with these experiences, and hopes to expand his interdisciplinary practise as academic-activist-creative while exploring conceptions of race, gender, sexuality, nationalisms and affect in dystopian narratives/literatures.

Yuanqiu Jiang majored in Astronomy during his first two years at Nanjing University, China, after which he changed his major to Physical Geography & Resource-Environment, while simultaneously training in Chinese Language & Literature as his minor. Although he majored in astronomy and geography, he would not claim to be an expert on either of these two disciplines, but he does remain superficially interested in the natural sciences, and by superficially he means textually and rhetorically.

In 2015 he was admitted as an “undergraduate-in-residence” at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities & Social Sciences,  at Nanjing University, where he was mentored by French writer J.M.G. Le Clézio. During the same program he attended a short course held by French philosopher Bernard Stiegler. These two programs contributed largely to his interest in post-war French theories and in looking at Chinese literature outside of the Chinese tradition(s).

Yuanqiu’s native language is Wu Chinese, a dialect used in Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang (he comes from Jiangsu). His “bilingual” (Wu Chinese and Mandarin) experience makes him pay close attention to the phonetics found in Chinese. At an early age, he was trained by his grandfather to practice calligraphy, which initiated his interest in Classical Chinese writing. At Rutgers, Yuanqiu intends to develop his research on all the fields mentioned above, as well as discover new dimensions for doing literary research.

 

New Grad Student Profiles, Fall 2016

The multilingual community of Comp Lit has just welcomed three new graduate students. If you want to know about their backgrounds and current interests, these are their promising profiles. Welcome to Rudrani, FJS, and Penny!

 

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Rudrani Gangopadhyay joined the Department of English at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India, after moving to the city from Toronto, Canada, and received her BA (Honours), MA, and MPhil from the program. She grew up hearing about the experiences of migration from both sides of her family, who had been displaced by the Partition of the South Asian subcontinent in 1947. This, combined with her own experience of passing through borders and cultures, greatly shaped her intellectual ventures as she went on to feel more and more drawn to the study of both how migration operates in literature, as well as how the events during the migration are later recollected and archived. In migration, she found a theme that connected world literature – through tales of transatlantic slave trade, that of indenture, accounts of diaspora, settler colony narratives, and of course, memories of the Partition – and took courses and seminars to study each of these. This, combined with an interest in Archives and in the Digital Humanities, led her to apply for and receive a fellowship from the 1947 Partition Archive in Berkeley, California. She served as an Oral History Apprentice for the Archive, recording the accounts of live witnesses of the Partition. She went on to use this work in her MPhil thesis, “Crowdsourcing the Partition: Memory as Archive and Archive as Memory.” While completing her MPhil, she also received a fellowship from the University Grants Council to work as a Centre for Advanced Studies Fellow on the ‘Shakespeare in Bengal’ project, which examined how the texts of Shakespeare survived through cultural migrations. As a Masters student, Rudrani worked as a student researcher for the UK-India Education and Research Initiative-funded project on ‘Envisioning the Indian Society,’ which studied cross-cultural exchanges in Indian cities and how they changed through colonial and post-colonial times. At Rutgers, Rudrani hopes to expand on her study of how the memory of the Partition is survived in the South Asian literary and cinematic imagination. She also hopes to expand her research to other geographical areas, and see how memory and migration interact in Caribbean literature.

 

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F. Joseph Sepulveda attended the Honors College at Rutgers-Newark where he received a B.A. in English literature and took courses on US Latino/as, race, and gender and sexuality in W&G studies and English. Before returning to Rutgers he did his M.A. in English at the University at Buffalo where he was fortunate to work closely with Carrie Bramen on Latino/a literature. He credits the faculty at Rutgers and UB for shaping his current interests in diaspora/ migration studies, race, and comparative Ethnic American studies. At the moment, he is interested in following up on a published essay he wrote on Junot Diaz’s novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by exploring the use of ethnic humor and satire in his work in relation to that of another NJ- raised author, Philip Roth, and the Haitian- Canadian writer Dany Laferrière.

 

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Growing up in Hong Kong, Penny read from a hodgepodge of literature, primarily from the English and Chinese canons. Very early on, she developed a love for the rich, imaginative worlds one encounters in novels, which led her to pursue fiction writing at Northwestern University. Following graduation, Penny worked as an English teaching assistant in the Alsatian city of Colmar, France, indulging her travel bug along the way. She pursued translation and copyediting upon returning to Hong Kong. Prior to coming to Rutgers, Penny spent four months working for a non-profit, Very Hong Kong, an explorative community project that combines art and urban development by inviting local creatives to transform underused public spaces. She is now eager to continue her research interests in geocriticism and Romanticism, and hopes to further explore the relationship between literature and politics, as well as transnational dynamics of the novel in a Sino-French context. Penny also holds an M.A. in Comparative Literature from King’s College London.