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.