Tag Archives: profile


Rutgers Comp Lit is delighted to welcome four students to this year’s incoming cohort. Meet Amanda, Milan, Yingnan, and Phil.

Amanda González Izquierdo was born in Havana, Cuba, and has lived in Miami, Florida for the past nine years. Surrounded by palm trees and cafecito, she has spent several years thinking about how to speak of diaspora and what languages are available to speak of the various ways in which feelings and traumas of diasporas of various kinds are experienced. Amanda completed her BA at Florida International University, where she majored in English, minored in Philosophy, and completed a certificate in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. The research she plans to partake in while at Rutgers situates itself in the dialogue between continental philosophy (focusing on deconstructive ethics) and postcolonial Caribbean theory and literature. She hopes that her work will raise questions about postcolonial and diasporic experiences, the role that language plays in the fashioning of postcolonial identities, and the challenges and the ethical imperatives of bearing witness in the Caribbean.


Milan Reynolds’s interests revolve around processes of memory, identity and language. His work is rooted in postcolonial theory, conceptualizing silence within narratives, and the psychology of displacement and nostalgia. His mother moved from Italy to the U.S. as a teenager, and his own relationship to Italian culture developed through frequent trips, language acquisition, and translation. He has worked as an actor, musician and composer, in guitar repair, and ceramics. Sound, in its many forms, is incredibly important to him. A California transplant to New York, he completed a BA at NYU Gallatin, working on interdisciplinary projects that explored the borders between history and literature. Living in New York City has reinforced his belief in the importance of diverse communities and platforms for alternative narratives. He is involved in immigrant advocacy within his neighborhood. Milan is excited to join the Comparative Literature Department at Rutgers and develop research on transnational literature and cultural production in Italy and the Mediterranean. He has predominantly interacted with European and Latin American texts, so is excited to deepen his knowledge of Middle Eastern and North African sources.


Yingnan Shang majored in English literature in her undergraduate years at Peking University. Her major field of interest was clustered around modern and contemporary fiction and critical theory. While receiving graduate training at King’s College London, her interest in modernity and the city took shape within writings that contribute to the understanding of cultural conditions in modern metropolis. She took particular delight in reading urban literature and architectural history in the mid-nineteenth century and the twentieth century. She investigated a range of literary and cultural issues not unrelated to social and political concerns: the “mass”, resistance, and changing concepts of heritage, memory and nostalgia, amongst others. For her MA research in comparative literature at Dartmouth, Yingnan worked with contemporary visual artists in the art history department to investigate cyber-surveillance and digital activism. She studied the representation of shapes and forms with color relations, as well as the figure-ground relationship in Cézanne’s paintings in studio art. In her own abstract paintings, she worked with creative mediums and techniques to achieve a sense of complexity in representing urban space. Her experience working with city documentaries extended to an interest in experimental documentary and the intersections of cinema and art. In future practices, she hopes to experiment with unconventional ways of expressing alternative subcultures and urban aesthetics through independent filmmaking.


Phil Yakushev is interested in exploring how literature under capitalism deals with issues of crisis, memory, and madness. Born in Russia and raised in California, he received a BA in Comparative Literature, Politics, and Philosophy from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. He is currently working on a novel that follows a Russian-American family over multiple generations. At Rutgers, he is studying Russian, German, and American literatures of the last 40 years.

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!



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.



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.



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.


Librarian Francesca Giannetti shares research and DH recommendations

By: Gabriel Bamgbose

If you enjoyed the article on Digital Humanities at Rutgers, you can learn about DH resources as well as other research suggestions from librarian Francesca Giannetti.

The digital humanities librarian and librarian for the departments of French, Italian, and Comparative Literature, Francesca Giannetti, has an eclectic educational background—a BA in French and Art History from Case Western Reserve University, a degree in Vocal Performance from the École Normale de Musique, Paris, and an MS degree in Information Science from the School of Information at the University of Texas, Austin. Among other roles, Giannetti offers trainings and workshops on digital humanities, digital tools and qualitative techniques in research, computational methods, and scholarly communication. Libraries are doing a lot of work in the area of instructional design: working with faculty to create new courses, design assignments, transform existing courses, and incorporate pedagogical theories for effective learning. These tasks put Giannetti in partnership with faculty, students, and researchers. Again, Giannetti works with subject specialists for the development and implementation of strategies for digitization of resources, preservation, and metadata.


Giannetti was motivated to become a librarian because research and academic libraries unite all her interests. Moreover, she is a lover of books which makes working as a librarian fulfilling for her. She was a graduate research assistant in the Fine Arts Library at the University of Texas, Austin, where she worked with the Historical Music Recording Collection. She was a teaching assistant at the School of Information and a technology services intern in Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center. She was also the acting Music Librarian in the Fine Arts Library before joining Rutgers.

Giannetti generously shares some library and research resources that are very useful. For library resources, she always tend to point to the libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) when people ask for suggestions of library resources for graduate-level scholarship, since these collections are what make the libraries unique. There are many unstudied works there and consequently many opportunities for publication. Learn about the manuscripts collections here: https://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/rul/libs/scua/manuscripts/manuscripts.shtml and the rare book collection here: http://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/rul/libs/scua/rare_books/rare_books.shtml. She informs that not everything in SCUA is cataloged. Thus, she recommends that people should not hesitate to ask if they have a specific interest.

Scholarly communication is an important part of academic life and career. Giannetti recommends a useful tool for this purpose: SOAR – http://soar.libraries.rutgers.edu/

“SOAR gathers, and makes available globally via the internet, scholarly articles deposited by Rutgers faculty, doctoral students, and postdoctoral scholars.” The interface was developed as a response to the university’s Open Access Policy, in effect as of September 1, 2015. Participation is without cost, and there are a number of advantages to the author, including user statistics, shareable links to your work, and a single repository where all of your scholarly articles are accessible.

Furthermore, there are other RU library services for researchers. These include consultation and training on digitization, digital preservation, copyright and licensing, citation management, among others – http://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/services_researchers

Again, Giannetti shares these resources for starting points in digital humanities: DH research guide –

Comparative Literature research guide also gives a brief overview under “Topics” – http://libguides.rutgers.edu/c.php?g=337394&p=2505189

Lisa Spiro’s “Getting Started in Digital Humanities” –http://journalofdigitalhumanities.org/1-1/getting-started-in-digital-humanities-by-lisa-spiro/

For mapping projects and spatial humanities, Giannetti recommends Neatline (http://neatline.org/), a mapping plugin to Omeka, a digital publishing platform. Both of these are free and open source. Neatline, Bethany Nowviskie says, is “a geotemporal exhibit-builder that allows you to create beautiful, complex maps, image annotations, and narrative sequences from collections of documents and artifacts, and to connect your maps and narratives with timelines that are more-than-usually sensitive to ambiguity and nuance.” Neatline is the one of the best applications for modeling ambiguous spatial data, so common to the humanities, but there are many other mapping applications that are free or have free tiers.

As text analysis is a very vital aspect of studies in literary studies, these two introductory tools are suggested for text analysis: Voyant (http://voyant-tools.org/ or try new http://beta.voyant-tools.org/) and HathiTrust Research Center SHARC tools (https://sharc.hathitrust.org/). Both are free to use and offer a number of views into your texts. Voyant allows you to upload your own texts, whereas the HTRC only supports computational analysis across the volumes in the HathiTrust Digital Library which holds about 4 million public domain volumes. A workshop will be offered on the HTRC tools in the spring.

Moreover, Giannetti shares some of her favorite digital libraries, which are non-RU open access libraries. Europeana, a portal to Europe’s greatest cultural heritage collections and research libraries, can be assessed here: http://www.europeana.eu/portal/

Digital Public Library of America, ibid for the United States, is available here: http://dp.la/

PennSound, affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania, is a digital collection of poetry readings, lectures, happenings, and more: http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/ This contains mostly English language poets, but see the new page on Italian poetry: http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/Italiana.php

Francesca is always there for anyone who needs help with library and research resources in one way or the other. She leaves the final note: “The idea I mostly want to convey is that the libraries do a lot of great work to enhance the impact of Rutgers scholars, including faculty and students. Our librarians in general, and I in particular, are here to support your research needs. So don’t hesitate to send an email [Francesca.giannetti@rutgers.edu], drop by or give me a tweet @jo_frankie.”

New Grad Student Profiles

 This year,  three new graduate students join the Comp Lit community. I recently had the privilege of speaking with them and getting to know more about their backgrounds and interests. Welcome Gabriel, Maria Elizabeth, and Coco!
Gabriel profile
Gabriel Bamgbose is a published poet and Fulbright scholar. While studying English at Tai Solarin University of Education in Nigeria, Gabriel took creative writing courses as well as literature courses, which helped him develop his poetic voice. He began publishing his poetry in literary journals and in 2014 he published his book Something Happened After the Rain. He is also the founding editor of the Ijagun Poetry Journal, an online international poetry journal. Gabriel also holds an M.A. in English [Literature] from the University of Ibadan. Before beginning the Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, Gabriel spent a year as a Fulbright scholar at NYU. He taught Yoruba language and culture and enrolled in graduate courses in Africana Studies. Gabriel’s research interests include African women’s writing, poetry, postcolonial theory, and feminist theory. He sees his creative writing as another way of doing theory and often uses his poetry as a different way of engaging in critical work.
Maria Elizabeth profile
When Maria Elizabeth Rodríguez Beltrán began studying at CUNY after moving to New York from the Dominican Republic, she took courses in a wide variety of disciplines. She realized that all of the courses that interested her, despite the diverse subject material, had one thing in common: excellent professors. This discovery led her to pursue a career in teaching. As an English major, Maria Elizabeth began to study the work of Frederick Douglass and other slave narratives. The study of the Civil War was completely new to her, and she says, “I fell in love with it.” In addition to written slave narratives, she also became interested in visual culture including pictures and paintings depicting slavery. Then, a professor recommended that she take a course on the Greek and Latin roots of English to improve her language skills. That course sparked an interest in the origin of words, and Maria Elizabeth began to study Latin, eventually pursuing a double major in English and Classics. At Rutgers, Maria Elizabeth plans to continue to develop her interests in slavery and visual culture. She also hopes to expand her research to earlier time periods and geographical areas in order to study visual representations of slavery in the Caribbean and South America.
Coco profile
Coco Ke Xu has been surrounded by international literature from a young age. She recalls reading classics like Les Miserables and Oliver Twist at a very young age under the influence of her parents. Coco studied English Literature at Sun Yat-Sen University in China, where she also had the opportunity to study other languages including French and Latin. In her third year, Coco participated in an exchange program and spent a year studying German intensively in Cologne. While in Cologne, she also took courses in the English department, in particular a class on Heidegger and the poetry of being. Through this course, Coco became interested in seriously studying literary theory. Upon returning to Sun Yat-Sen University, Coco continued to develop this interest by auditing courses in the philosophy department. At Rutgers, Coco plans to pursue research in translation theory. She is interested in studying the challenges of transcultural and translingual communication and in particular how to respond to these limitations.