Graduate Student Directory | Department of English | University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Belinda Acosta, a native of Lincoln, came to UNL in 2012 to pursue her Ph.D. in Creative Writing. Prior to her return, she lived in Austin, Texas, where she received her M.F.A. in Writing from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas in 1997. Her nonfiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in Poets & Writers Magazine, The Texas Observer, the Austin Chronicle, Sojourners, and other publications. She is the author of two, companion novels: Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz (2009) and Sisters, Strangers, and Starting Over (2010) both published by Grand Central Publishing. She is currently at work on her third novel, set in Lincoln in the 1970s.
Ryan Aiello is a fourth year doctoral student in American Literature and Film Studies, with a graduate specialization in Ethnic Studies. Before arriving at UNL, he received his B.A. and M.A. from California State University, Chico, where he also taught courses in American Literature, World Literature, and Composition. Ryan’s research and teaching interests are multifaceted and interdisciplinary, and include American Ethnic literatures—particularly African American, Latino/a, Native-American, and Filipino-American—and Film and Television, from which, he is an ardent admirer of the works of David Simon, Aaron Sorkin, and Thomas McCarthy. He is also interested in the potential of political art and literature, namely a text’s ability to impact political behavior and opinion, and the literature of social justice, particularly texts that report on and reveal the inequalities and inconsistencies inherent in America’s ongoing drug war, and the ensuing culture of mass incarceration it has created.
Aimee M. Allard is a Ph.D. student at UNL who has an M.A. in English from Florida Gulf Coast University. She has published essays such as "A Legacy of Word−Music: The Synthesis of Blues and Voice in Rita Dove´s Thomas and Beulah" and poetry including "Pendulum" and "Anatomy of the Gaze." Her scholarly presentations include the Popular Culture Association in the South and the FGCU Interdisciplinary conferences. Ms. Allard´s fields of interest lie in late 19th century through 20th century American Literature and in women´s studies.
Zach Beare is a Ph.D. student in Composition and Rhetoric with interests in critical pedagogies, queer theory, and the interplay of personal and institutional identities. Zach's work focuses on the politics and ethics of teaching writing, the ways in which students and teachers negotiate their own embodiments and identities in the classroom, and the ways in which they navigate the matricies of power associated with the institution. Currently, he is engaged in a phenomenographic study of the classroom experiences of teachers of writing influenced by critical pedagogies. Zach is also collaborating with Marcus Meade on a study examining the presence, function, and consequences of hyperbole in first-year writing.
Tom Bennitt is a Ph.D. student in Creative Writing (Fiction). He received his M.F.A. from the University of Mississippi, where he held a Grisham Fellowship and was Co-Editor of The Yalobusha Review. He also holds a J.D. from Pennsylvania State University and a B.A. from Bowdoin College. His short fiction (and nonfiction) has appeared in Texas Review, Binnacle, Burnt Bridge, Monongahela Review, River Walk Journal and Fiction Writers Review, among others. His honors and awards include a Pushcart Prize nomination, Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Contest, winner of the Culver Short Fiction Prize, and a residency fellowship at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.
Caterina Bernardini is a doctoral candidate in Nineteenth-Century American Literature. She is participating in a joint program between UNL and the University of Macerata (Italy). Her interests include nineteenth-century and early modernist American poetry, reception studies, comparative literature, and translation studies. Her dissertation treats the reception of Walt Whitman's poetry in Italy, as inserted within a larger transnational frame. She published articles in the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, Willa Cather Newsletter and Review, and in a few international conference proceeding volumes. She has been working as an editorial assistant for the Walt Whitman Archive and the Willa Cather Archive since 2012.
Erin M. Bertram is a Ph.D. student and Chancellor’s Fellow in Creative Writing: Poetry, with a specialization in Women’s & Gender Studies. She holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and a certificate in Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies from Washington University in St. Louis, where she was a Teaching Fellow and Jr. Writer-in-Residence. She has also done continuing education work through Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies. The author of eleven chapbooks, including Memento Mori, her poems and lyric hybrid texts have appeared in Leveler, So to Speak, Uprooted: An Anthology on Gender and Illness, as a published finalist in the 2013 Diagram Essay Contest, and elsewhere. She has received a Frank O’Hara Chapbook Award, an Academy of American Poets Prize, a Writing Fellowship and a Summer Faculty Research Grant from Augustana College, a John Woods Scholarship from Prague Summer Program, and a 2015 Pushcart Prize nomination. The former drummer for Busted Chandeliers, she lives with her partner, is on the board of the Lincoln Zen Center, and is an OutSpeaking volunteer with UNL's LGBTQA+ Resource Center.
Kristi Carter is a Ph.D. in Creative Writing--Poetry with a specialization in Women's and Gender Studies. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Foothill: a Journal of Poetry, Artichoke Haircut, 42 Magazine, CALYX: A Journal of Art and Literature by Women, and Hawai'i Review. She holds an M.F.A. from Oklahoma State University.
Janel Cayer is a doctoral student specializing in nineteenth-century American literature and culture, with an emphasis on the antebellum period. Janel's doctoral research approaches literatures of the U.S. War with Mexico from an interdisciplinary perspective, examining the ways in which this war shaped the nineteenth-century American cultural and literary imagination. In addition to teaching composition and literature courses, Janel serves as an editorial assistant at the Whitman Archive and Civil War Washington.
Jonathan Cheng is a direct-admit doctoral student specializing in digital humanities and new media studies. He came to UNL after majoring in English with a minor in Computer Science at the University of Illinois: Urbana-Champaign. Jonathan has worked on several text-analysis projects including “Mapping Mutable Genre in Structurally Complex Volumes”. Currently, he works at the Walt Whitman Archive and writes about computer/videogames in terms of literary theory.
Daniel Clausen is a Ph.D. student specializing in nineteenth-century American literature, with particular interest in agrarian narratives as a way to understand work, nature, and place in literature and culture. He is a Center for Great Plains Studies graduate fellow, a member of the department's Place interest group and 19th century studies interdisciplinary program, and blogs with the Watershed blog collective. He has taught courses on Science Fiction, Wikipedia as a writing community, Introduction to Literature, and writing argument.
Before coming to Nebraska, he received his M.A. in Literature at Boise State University, in his home town of Boise, Idaho. He has presented work at conferences of the International Walt Whitman Week, Western Literature Association, and the Association of the Study of Literature and the Environment, and published reviews in ISLE, WAL, and ESQ. He also enjoys translation and received the Gutekunst Translation Prize from the Goethe Institute of New York in 2012.
Photo (left): Observing the Nebraska Sand Hills
Trudy Eblen is a second-year Ph.D. student concentrating in British Romanticism She received her B.A. in English Literature from Simpson College and an M.A. in British Literature from Creighton University. After completing a Teaching Fellowship at Creighton, she taught at Iowa Western Community College and finished her teaching career at Atlantic High School. She has presented conference papers at the Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities, University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, University of Nebraska-Omana, and University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her work now focuses on William Blake's dual narratives in Jerusalem, with an emphasis on the eponymous heroine's Jungian individuation.
Jordan Farmer is a Ph.D. student in Creative Writing: Fiction. Originally from Southern West Virginia, Jordan writes Appalachian fiction that often deals with disenfranchised characters who live on the social fringe. He recieved his M.A. in English from Marshall University in Huntington, WV.
Ángel García is currently a Ph.D. student in Creative Writing-Poetry. He earned a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Redlands and an M.F.A. from the University of California, Riverside. Ángel’s work has been published in the American Poetry Review, Miramar, McSweeney’s, Huizache, and The Good Men Project among others. He has received fellowships from CantoMundo, Community of Writers-Squaw Valley and Vermont Studio Center. In addition to his creative work, Ángel is also the founder of a non-profit organization, Gente Organizada, that works to educate, empower, and engage communities through grassroots organizing.
Linda Garcia Merchant is a second year Ph.D. scholar concentrating in U.S. Latina and Chicana Literatures, and Digital Humanities. Linda focuses on the restoration and reconstruction of the counter narrative as an aid in rehabilitating the discourse of resistance and social movement.
As the Technical Director of the Chicana Por Mi Raza Digital Memory Collective, Linda and Dr. Maria Cotera of the University of Michigan have produced over 125 filmed oral history interviews and collected more than 7,000 documents and ephemera from iconic figures of the Chicana and Feminist movements. In April 2012 Linda, coordinating an effort with Dr. Andrea ‘Tess’ Arenas of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin State Historical Society began the Somos Latinas Oral History project to collect and archive the historical narrative of Wisconsin Latina activism. In January 2014, Linda partnered with Dr. Elena Gutierrez of the University of Illinois Chicago to launch the Chicana Chicago/MABPW Collection project, collecting the histories of Latina leadership in Chicago.
An award winning Chicana filmmaker, whose films, Las Mujeres de La Caucus Chicana (The Women of the Chicana Caucus), Palabras Dulces, Palabras Amargas (Sweet Words, Bitter Words), Yo Soy Eva, and Thresholds, are shown in courses on women of color feminism, global feminisms, queer and social movement both nationally and internationally. In 2014, Palabras was featured in Dr. Bill Johnson González’s article, "The Limits of Desire: On the Downlow and Queer Chicago Film" for GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. Linda is currently working on An Evening with La Tess, an experimental documentary on the life of award winning Chicana poet, activist and scholar Andrea "Tess" Arenas.
Linda continues to write, guest lecture, and present on Chicana Feminism, Chicana Filmmaking, community archiving, visual historiography, and short form filmmaking. She has written articles and blogposts in Dialogo, Mujeres Talk, The Chicago Reporter, Viva La Feminista and La Bloga.
Matthew Guzman is a Ph.D. student focusing on nineteenth-century American literature with an emphasis on critical animal studies. His work takes an interdisciplinary approach - often incorporating history, philosophy, science, cultural anthropology, and literary studies - in order to further understand not only the literature, but the actual nonhuman animals of the nineteenth century as well. Matthew holds a B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Eman Hassan is a Ph.D. Student in Creative Writing Poetry. Eman earned her B.A. in Journalism and Literature from the American University in DC and has an M.F.A. in poetry from Arizona State University. She is also one of the founding members of The American University of Kuwait. Her work has recently appeared in Pilgrimage, Stone Highway Review, The Boiler Room, and Aldus Journal of Translation, among others.
Gabi Kirilloff is a doctoral student interested in digital humanities, new media studies, and early 20th century American literature. She has worked for several digital projects including the William Blake Archive, the Willa Cather Archive, and the Walt Whitman Archive. In addition to her work on archival projects, Gabi has also worked on several large scale text analysis projects. Gabi currently works as the coordinator for the Nebraska Literary Lab, an organization that facilitates student research in the digital humanities.
Andrea Comiskey Lawse is a Ph.D studying 19th and early 20th century Transatlantic literature, and specializing in science, ecofeminism, place studies, and sustainability. She is currently revising her essay, "The Embodied Mind, Quantum Theory and 'Kubla Khan': Coleridge's Reconciliation of Mind, Body, and Spirit?" for publication. Other publications include "Willing to Lead": Education for a Green, Sustainable Future," forthcoming in Creighton Magazine, and a published book review in New Hibernia Review. She will be presenting papers ("Eating Nature: Ecological Reflections on Science, Consumption, and Spirituality" and "Situating Anarchy: Networks of Science and Culture in Le Guin's The Dispossessed") at MMLA and Marquette University this fall. She is a Teaching Assistant at UNL.
Courtney Lawton is a Ph.D. student in American Literature who specializes in Willa Cather, modernism, and digital humanities. She has collaborated to produce both a digital map of Nebraska's literary heritage, and a digital edition of Cather's April Twilights. She received her B.A. in French and English from the University of New Mexico, and her M.A. from St. John's College-Santa Fe.
Judy Lorenzen is a Ph.D. student studying Composition and Rhetoric. She holds a B.A., English; M.S.Ed., Community Counseling, and M.A., Creative Writing from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. She teaches high-school English and is a Fine Lines online editor. Her work appears in The Nebraska English Journal, Nebraska Poet’s Calendar, Fine Lines, Times of Singing, Plains Song Review, Relief Literary Journal, Plainsong, Nebraska Life magazine, Celebrate: A Collection of Writings by and About Women (Volume XVI) and The Untidy Season: An Anthology of Nebraska Women Poets.
Rebecca Macijeski is a Doctoral Candidate in Creative Writing, Poetry. She is an Assistant Editor in Poetry for Prairie Schooner and has served as a Contributing Editor for Ted Kooser's column, American Life in Poetry. She earned her M.F.A. in Poetry from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and continues to serve as the Assistant Poetry Editor for Hunger Mountain. She is the recipient of a 2012 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, and has been awarded artist residencies with The Ragdale Foundation and Art Farm Nebraska, as well as a Gaffney/Academy of American Poets Prize in 2015. She was a featured poet in the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project in October of 2014. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Nimrod, Sycamore Review, Gargoyle, Poet Lore, Border Crossing, Potomac Review, Rappahannock Review, Storyscape, Fairy Tale Review, Fourteen Hills, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Painted Bride Quarterly, Clackamas Literary Review, and many others. Learn more at http://www.rebeccamacijeski.com.
Kevin McMullen is a Ph.D. student specializing in 19th century American literature, with a particular focus on Walt Whitman and literary responses to the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. He is also pursuing a specialization in Digital Humanities. Kevin hails from the far-away land of Bettendorf, Iowa, and received a B.A. in both English and Journalism from the University of Iowa, and his M.A. from UNL. Kevin is a Senior Assistant Editor at the Walt Whitman Archive, and the editor of Fanny Fern in The New York Ledger, an online project working to digitize the newspaper writings of 19th-century columnist Fanny Fern.
Katie McWain is a Ph.D. student in Composition and Rhetoric. Her scholarly interests include feminist rhetoric, composition theory and pedagogy, teacher development, literacy studies, and community literacy. Katie received her B.A. in English and Writing from Drury University in Springfield, Missouri and her M.A. in English Language and Literature from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Her research has been featured at Feminisms and Rhetorics and the Conference on College Composition and Communication. Katie is always fascinated by the intersections of gender, writing, teaching, stories, and politics.
Anne Nagel is a Ph.D. student whose interests include nineteenth-century British literature and literary theory. She holds a master of arts degree in English and a certificate in nineteenth century studies from UNL. Her master’s thesis invoked Deleuzian affect theory and historical conceptions of dreaming to explore the intensity of the Gothic dream in nineteenth-century British novels. Her dissertation will expand this project beyond the Gothic. As an undergraduate at UNK, she double-majored in English and philosophy, minored in French, and earned a second bachelor's degree in secondary education.
Xavier U. Navarro Aquino was born and raised in Puerto Rico. He holds a B.A. from Iowa State University and earned his M.A. from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. During his time at the University of Puerto Rico, he was Assistant Editor to Tonguas Literary Journal and edited the Tonguas Selected Anthology. He also received a travel scholarship to Ghana from the Department of Graduate Studies and won the English Department’s Thomas Sullivan Award. His works have appeared in Newport Review, and Small Axe: Salon. He attended the 2014 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference on a work-study scholarship and was longlisted for the 2015 Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize, offered by the Hollick Family Charitable Trust, the Arvon Creative Writing Charitable Trust, and the NCG Bocas Lit Fest (Trinidad and Tobago).
Maria Nazos is a Ph.D. student in Creative Writing-Poetry. She earned her B.A. in English from the University of Iowa, and has an M.F.A in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Her poetry engages the natural landscape, the people who inhabit it, and the question of what it means to be human. She has received fellowships from Vermont Studio Center, Santa Fe Art Institute, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Marge Piercy selected her chapbook “Trailer Park heart” as runner up for the Providence Philbrick Poetry Project Award. Wising Up Press published A Hymn That Meanders, her first full-length collection of poems, in 2011. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Southern Humanities Review, The Florida Review, The New Ohio Review, Poet Lore, and elsewhere. In addition to poetry writing, her interests include gender studies.
Cindy Nelson, a Ph.D. student, is a graduate of Chadron State College and UNL. Her areas of specialty are 19th century British literature and interdisciplinary 19th century studies. Cindy loves the Brontes and wrote her master´s thesis on the philosophy of death in Emily Bronte´s poetry. She taught high school English (all courses and grades) for two years and is currently teaching at Southeast Community College.
Bernice Olivas is a doctoral candidate in the Composition and Rhetoric program at the University of Nebraska. She received her B.A from Boise State University in 2010 and her M.A. from the University of Nebraska in 2012. Her dissertation project, “Towards a Pedagogy of Identity: Exploring the Implications of Identity Consciousness in the First-Year Writing Classroom” explores the way inquiry and Identity Control Theory—which suggests that instructors can help students develop socially conscious role identities as writers and students—can be combined in the classroom to encourage students to both use rhetorical action to build alliances and to act as allies when taking rhetorical action for social justice. This project reflects her deep committed to recruiting, retaining, and mentoring students who may view their difference as a stumbling block to a higher education, while simultaneously encouraging students from more mainstream backgrounds to act as allies in the same struggles.
As first generation scholar, Bernice carries identity markers that shape both her worldviews and her academic trajectory. She is the mother of two autistic children. She is Indigenous Mexican American. She grew up as a member of the working poor. These markers mean that she is am deeply committed to inclusivity, social justice, and education as an act of resistance and social mobility. She has recently published an article that looks at the ways creative nonfiction essays that are written as protests or resistance to injustice can be used to teach rhetorical action. She has also published a book chapter that suggests ways to use a place-based approach to encourage identity-consciousness in the classroom. Currently she is working on an article that investigates the benefits of using an identity-conscious in the ethnic literature classes. In the future she hope to explore the ways an identity-conscious approach can be used to better support first generation students in their first semester of college.
Raul Palma is a Ph.D. student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he is also pursuing a specialization in ethnic studies. He serves as assistant editor of fiction for Prairie Schooner, and as a contributing editor for Watershed. Most recently, his work appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Alimentum, decomP, Gargoyle, Midwestern Gothic, NANO, Rhino, Sonora Review, and elsewhere. Palma has been the recipient of the Sandoz/Prairie Schooner story prize, the Soul-Keats Making Mary Mackey story prize, and a finalist in many contests. His fiction has been anthologized in 2013 Extract(s) II, 2014 Best of Vine Leaves Journal, and Eclectica 20 Year Fiction Anthology. Additionally, his work has been supported with fellowships and scholarships from the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, the Santa Fe Writer's Conference, Sewanee Writer's Conference, Sundress Academy for the Arts. His collection of stories In These Cities of Ultraviolet Light finished top-3 in Indiana Review's Blue Light's Book Prize, his novella Immaculate Mulch was shortlisted for the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Prize, and his collection of poetry and flash creative non-fiction and fiction was a finalist in the Vine Leaves Book Prize.
Katherine Pierson is a first-year M.A. student in 19th-century studies. She has worked as a writing center consultant, a developmental English instructor, and an LPS student mentor. She is a volunteer with Lincoln Literacy Council and is married with two young children.
Lydia Presley grew up in Omaha, NE, and she has lived all over the United States, from Florida to Hawaii. She received her B.A. in English Literature and Music Performance from Eureka College in Eureka, IL and her M.A. in English with specializations in Great Plains Studies and Ethnic Studies from University of Nebraska - Lincoln. She is currently a first year Ph.D. student and Othmer Fellow studying English Literature at UNL. Lydia's research and interests center on Native American literature. Specifically, she studies boarding school narratives and the survival and resistance found in them. Her current projects are working with the gossip columns in the Genoa Indian School's newspaper, The Pipe of Peace, and the creation of a digital humanities project that will allow for the preservation and accessibility of stories told by the students at the Genoa Indian School.
Charity Regennitter is a M.A. student in Composition and Rhetoric who received her B.A. in English at York College in York, Nebraska. Her primary interest is in exploring writing and writing communities in online settings, particularly genres like fanfiction and other, similar creative writing. Charity currently works as a TA as well as a consultant in the UNL Writing Center.
Erica Rogers a doctoral student studying the rhetorical traditions within the field of Composition with a focus on “personal” writing as cognitive and intellectual work. Her commitment to personal writing as discursive, autonomous, academic, communal, and professional practices that can interrupt and/or challenge privileged discourses influences her pedagogy and scholarship. Erica has presented her work at venues such as Split this Rock, the Rhetorical Society of America, College Composition and Communications Conference, as well as local readings and events in Lincoln. Erica currently teaches “Writing and Communities” as well as “Rhetoric as Inquiry.”
Shawn Rubenfeld is a first-year Ph.D. student in Creative Writing-Fiction. A native New Yorker, he earned an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Idaho, where he received a Writing in the Wild Fellowship and the university’s 2014 Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award. His fiction appears in such journals as Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, Portland Review, Thin Air Magazine, and Pine Hills Review. He has an essay forthcoming in the journal Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture. Outside of writing, his research interests include composition and creative writing pedagogy, Jewish-American literature, and graphic literature.
Jeannette Schollaert is a Master's student focusing on 19th and 20th century American women writers, particularly Willa Cather. She is also completing a specialization in Women’s and Gender Studies. Before UNL, Jeannette completed her B.A. in English and Women’s Studies at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her academic interests include ecofeminism, modernism, the digital humanities, and the rhetoric of social movements.
Dee Thompson is a second year Ph.D. student, formerly completing her Bachelor of Science in Speech/Theatre, Bachelor of Arts in English, and Master of Arts in English w/a Creative Writing Emphasis from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. She has written a collection of poetic works entitled “The Beggar’s Wheel,” consisting of scholarly essays about writing poetry, interviews, and free verse as well as formal poetry that explores structures of the sestina, villanelle, pantoum, and sonnet. Her work, “Burial Societies,” a response sestina to Washington Irving’s “English Sketches,” is published in “The Reynolds Review.” Her focus area is Interdisciplinary 19th C Studies and Literature of Reform from 1850 through early 1900’s.
Ivan Young is a doctoral student in creative writing (poetry) and a recipient of the Othmer Fellowship. He holds and M.F.A. in Poetry from the University of South Carolina, as well as a B.S. in Zoology from Clemson University. He is the author of Smell of Salt, Ghost of Rain (Brick House Books, 2015) and A Shape in the Waves (Stepping Stones Press, 2009), and won the 2008 SC Poetry Initiative's Chapbook Contest, received a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award (2011), and won the 2013 Norton Girault Literary Prize. His work has been published in Passages North, Southeast Review, North American Review, Cream City Review, The London Magazine, Fourteen Hills, Hayden's Ferry Review, Southern Humanities Review, and Zone 3, among others.