Wendi Bootes

Wendi joined Berkeley’s Comparative Literature Department in 2015. She holds a B.A. from Macalester College (English and Russian) and an M.A. from Yale University (European and Russian Studies). Her research focuses on Russian and British realism and modernism, theories of the novel, and legacies of nineteenth-century German intellectual thought. Other interests include revolution, war, and violence, as well as philosophies of language and aesthetics. She is pursuing a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory.

Molly Bronstein

Molly is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature as well as the program in Medieval Studies. She graduated from Vassar College in 2013, where she double-majored in Comparative Literature and Italian. She has also studied at the University of Bologna (2011-12), and has interned at the manuscripts department of the Bibliothèque nationale de France (2013-14).  Molly’s languages are French, Italian, and Latin (and she occasionally dabbles in ancient Greek).  » read more »

Keru Cai

I joined UC Berkeley’s Comparative Literature PhD Program in 2014. My research focuses on modern Chinese reworkings of realism(s) from Russia, England, and France. Writers I work on include Lu Xun, Lao She, Li Jieren, Mao Dun, Ba Jin, Charles Dickens, Leonid Andreyev, Leo Tolstoy, Maxim Gorky, and Emile Zola. Previously, I received my Bachelors in English Literature from Harvard University, followed by a Master of Studies in English Literature (19th century) at the University of Oxford (on the Von Clemm Fellowship), as well as a Masters in the Harvard University Regional Studies: East Asia program.

Philip Gerard

Philip Gerard is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature with a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. His dissertation, “A Translation including History: Ezra Pound, Paul Celan, and the Rhythms of the Past,” examines how modernist practices of translation critically engage literary canons and textual archives to make silenced histories newly audible. To this end, the dissertation compares two of the twentieth-century’s most influential poet-translators, Ezra Pound and Paul Celan. No two poets could be more different, and yet Gerard argues that Pound and Celan essentially agree that the task of translation lies in animating for the present the historical content embedded in linguistic and poetic forms of the past. His dissertation uses this surprising convergence not only to reframe Pound and Celan’s more manifest aesthetic and political divergences, but also to reinterpret the contradictions immanent to literary modernism’s understanding of history and use of tradition. » read more »

Marlena Gittleman

Marlena Gittleman joined Berkeley’s Comparative Literature Department in the fall of 2015. She obtained her B.A. in Comparative Literature at Barnard College in 2012. Her areas of study include genre crossings in 20 th century fiction and transatlantic women’s writing. Marlena is particularly interested in questions of formal and linguistic experimentation, intersubjectivity, voice, the body, and matter, especially as they relate to gender. She works in Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, and English. Marlena is also a translator from Spanish and Catalan, » read more »

Sherilyn Hellberg

Sherilyn joined UC Berkeley’s Comparative Literature department in 2014. She has a B.A. in Comparative Literature and Society from Columbia University and an M.Phil. in European and Comparative Literatures and Cultures from the University of Cambridge. At Berkeley, she focuses on modern and contemporary Danish, French, and German literature, film, and critical theory. Her dissertation, tentatively entitled “Despair: Face, Voice, Body, Text,” examines the representation and politics of despair in a selection of works of literature and film from the 1960’s. Some of her other research interests include: women’s writing, affect theory, expressionism, visual art, ghosts, and tiny objects. Outside of her academic research, Sherilyn also translates contemporary Danish literature into English.

Donna Honarpisheh

Donna Honarpisheh joined the department of Comparative Literature in 2016. She holds an MA from Berkeley in Near Eastern studies and is a member of the designated emphasis program in Critical Theory. She earned her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College in 2013, where she wrote a thesis on women’s pilgrimage practices and sensory experiences in the shrines of Shiraz, Iran. Her research focuses on the aesthetics of Modernist Persian Film and Fiction, Francophone literature, and Postcolonial Theory. Currently, she’s working on developing a project around the Afro-Iranian wind rituals of southern Iranian maritime culture, the politics of mourning in histories of colonialism and state violence, as well as the particular temporal rhythms of the ocean archive.

» read more »

Taylor Johnston

Taylor Johnston is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature and an M.A. candidate in English at UC Berkeley, where she studies historical and contemporary realism of the American and European canons, Italian film and thought, Critical Theory and Pedagogy, and Creative Writing. Her work appears in Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction (2017) and The Raymond Carver Review (2016). Her dissertation project, Postmodern Realism and That Class Which Is Not One, critically examines how American fiction of the White lower middle class describes and reimagines that subject-position during the 1970s and 80s. » read more »

Bristin Jones

Bristin Jones joined the Comparative Literature department in 2013 after completing a “Laurea Magistrale” in Modern, Post-colonial, and Comparative Literatures at the Università di Bologna, Italy.  She received her B.A. from Stanford University in 2007 with a major in “Writing and Environmental Ethics” (Individually Designed Major).  Her research interests include 20th-century Italian and Latin American literatures, environmental literature, translation studies, and creative writing.

Max Kaisler

Max Kaisler comes to Berkeley with an MFA in Poetry from the University of Montana and a BA in English and Classics from Amherst College. She has won multiple prizes for her original poetry and translations from Latin and Ancient Greek and for her essays on Rilke’s Book of Hours and Book of Images. She was awarded a Folger Fellowship to research Seneca’s influence on madness and medicine in revenge tragedy at the Folger Shakespeare Library and received the Greta Wrolstad Travel Award to explore ancient and modern sites of the oracular in Italy. Her work investigates “contagious” images of madness and miscellanies, monsters and miniatures, interiority and semblance in poetry, prose, drama, painting, photography, and moving pictures.

Marianne Kaletzky

I am a PhD candidate in Berkeley’s department of comparative literature, where I study Victorian and modernist novels, film, and critical theory. My dissertation, Idle Attentions: Modern Fiction and the Dismissal of Distraction, challenges a long critical tradition that casts distraction as the default state of the modern subject. I focus on a series of English-language novels beginning in the mid-nineteenth century and stretching through the early twentieth, including Dickens’s Bleak House, Stoker’s Dracula, Conrad’s Nostromo, and Joyce’s Ulysses.  By bringing original analyses of the history of science and political theory to bear on these quintessentially “distracted” texts, I demonstrate that their unfocused form constitutes itself in opposition to an increasingly ubiquitous demand for productive attention.   » read more »

Emily Laskin

I came to Berkeley’s Comparative Literature department after working on political issues surrounding energy trade and pipelines in the former Soviet Union, and completing an M.A. in Russian Regional Studies at Columbia University. At Berkeley I work on Russian, Persian, and English literature from around 1850 through the early 20th century.  I’m particularly interested in the literary and cultural borderlands, where multiple languages and traditions come into contact with each other. » read more »

Dinah Lensing-Sharp

Dinah entered the Comparative Literature department in 2016 after earning their B.A. in Comparative Literature and German Studies from Smith College. Dinah has focused on depictions of women’s gender and sexuality in literature and film, focusing particularly on the Weimar Republic as well as twentieth-century German literature. They are interested in the intersections of gender, sexuality, and race in German and French literature, considered in terms of a decolonial theoretical framework and informed by nineteenth-century medical discourses about sexuality and race. A member of the Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Dinah is also a translator from German and French into English.

Mary Mussman

Mary Mussman joined the Comparative Literature Department in 2015 after graduating from Yale University, where she majored in Literature. She studies the reception of Ancient Greek poetry since the late 19th century in English and French texts, focusing in particular on literary representations of queer female sexuality involving Sappho. Other research interests include loss and grief, transgression and secrecy, and illness and madness. Her work is informed by affect theory, psychoanalysis, and queer theory. Mary is also working on a manuscript of poems.

Tara Phillips

Tara joined the department of Comparative Literature in 2015. She holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley. She currently studies literature and the body with a special focus on the intersection of aesthetics, politics, and the senses in U.S., Latin American, and Caribbean literatures of the twentieth century. Other interest includes transatlantic political and poetic exchanges in literary journals and magazines, especially in the contexts of the Harlem Renaissance, the Spanish Civil War, and the Cuban Revolution. She works in Spanish, English, French, and Portuguese. Tara teaches Reading and Composition and Spanish language courses in Comparative Literature and the Spanish And Portuguese Departments.

Irina Popescu

I am a Ph.D. candidate in the department working on North and Latin American literature. My research focuses on the intersection between human rights discourse and 19th -21st century novel. My dissertation, “The Empathy Archive: History, Empathy and the Human Rights Novel in the Americas,” examines how a set of post-1973 novels in North and South America rewrite 19th century novelistic templates to provide a critical take on narrative empathy through their depictions of human rights abuses. This project is part of a growing discourse connecting hemispheric American studies with the evolution of the novel and changing conception of human rights.

Jane Raisch

Jane came to Berkeley in 2009 from Washington, DC after teaching English and Latin at The Field School. A native New Yorker, she received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in English and Classics and she continues to work in those areas as a graduate student. She focuses on the reception of Greek in Early Modern English literature and the intersection between scholarship and poetics. She is particularly interested in issues of textual recovery, imitation and representations of community. Other guiding fields of interest are: history of the book, dialogue, genre, philosophy and literature, structures and practices of reading, Hellenistic and Second Sophistic Greek literature, and travel narratives. » read more »

Pedro Javier Rolón

Pedro J. Rolón (B.A. in Literature, Yale University, 2014) is a Ph.D. candidate in the Comparative Literature department and the program in Critical Theory at UC Berkeley.  He is interested in post-colonial theory, the history of the senses, poetics, and the relationship between aesthetic experiences and the epistemological fields opened up by poetic, visual and auditory experiments. Recently, he has been reading poetry and other aesthetic objects of the 19th through 21st centuries in Latin America and the Caribbean to think about the ways in which particular aesthetic relations to matter (to water, the archipelago, the island, geography, geology, climatology) grant a form––a sense––to the discursive organization and material assembly of political life.

Jocelyn Saidenberg

Jocelyn Saidenberg is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on ancient Greek, Latin, and contemporary Anglophone poetry and is informed by her interests in linguistics, social anthropology, and psychoanalysis. Her dissertation is an elaboration of Lucretius’s atomic poetics that explores the relationship between didactic poetry’s transformational capacity and sonic and linguistic patterning.  She also writes on contemporary poetry and art and has several published collections of poetry. » read more »

Yael Segalovitz

Yael came to Berkeley in 2012 after receiving a B.A. in Literature and Psychology and M.A. in Comparative Literature from Tel Aviv University. She is the translator of Clarice Lisepctor’s A Via Crucis do Corpo into Hebrew (Ha-kibutz Ha-me’uchad Press, 2016) and her poetry translations into English appeared in Mantis (2016), Two-Lines (2015) and T-joLT (2014).   » read more »

Ma’ayan Sela

My work focuses primarily on English and German modernisms, with a particular interest in novel theory and fictional worlds. My dissertation explores thematic, formal, and philosophical manifestations of dissociation and displaced subjectivity within modernist fiction. I also work as a professional translator and editor, and have taught a wide variety of literature and writing classes.

Publications include: » read more »

Simone Stirner

Simone Stirner joined the doctoral program in 2013 after receiving a B.A. and M.A. in Comparative Literature from LMU Munich. Her research focuses on German, Hebrew, and French poetry and prose, with a particular emphasis on minimalist and fragmentary forms of writing post-1945. Informed by her interest in aesthetic theory, affect theory, German-Jewish thought, intersectional memory studies, and theories of reading, she tries to understand the affective responses, forms of embodied attention, as well as the hermeneutic excesses produced by fragmented and abbreviated texts in response to historic crises.

She is associated with the Program in Critical Theory and the Center for Jewish Studies and serves as academic editor of the journal Qui Parle.

Kevin Stone

Kevin Stone entered the doctoral program in comparative literature at Berkeley in 2016. In 2013, he graduated from Harvard University with an AB in literature and a minor in astrophysics. In the interim, he performed research at Ludwig-Maximilians- Universität München on a Fulbright grant and worked as a management consultant, including projects in higher education and academic publishing. » read more »

Johnathan Vaknin

Johnathan Vaknin joined Berkeley’s department of Comparative Literature in 2010, after receiving his B.A. in Comparative Literature and Hispanic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His research is centered on Caribbean and Latin American literature from the late-19th through 20th centuries. Under the guidance of Professors Francine Masiello, Judith Butler, Barbara Spackman, and Natalia Brizuela, he is currently at work on a dissertation that examines the connections between representations of illness and questions concerning embellishment and narrative form.  » read more »

Gianna Ward-Vetrano

Gianna Ward-Vetrano earned her B.A. in Italian from Georgetown University and her M.A. in Liberal Studies from the Graduate Center, City University of New York, where she studied gender, sexuality, and women’s studies. Her master’s thesis was a feminist, multi-genre project that sought to examine the figure of the woman writer in a series of notebooks and was written under the advisement of Wayne Koestenbaum. Her scholarly interests include 20th century Italian, French, English, and Canadian literature by women writers, especially Clotilde Marghieri, Grazia Deledda, Mary Webb, and L.M. Montgomery, feminist theories, and translation, with a special emphasis on Italian voices underrepresented in English. Her work explores theoretical and literary experimental structures and spaces and her particular obsessions are feminist domesticity, the female voice, memory as a literary form, and developing a feminist politics of failure. She has also done research at the intersection of feminism and the study of fascist and anti-fascist politics, focusing on Benito Mussolini’s first wife, Ida Dalser, as well as Simone Weil and Antonio Gramsci.

As a lyric soprano, she studied opera with Victoria Cole, Viviane Thomas, and Patricia Misslin and performed in Pittsburgh, Boston, and Le Marche, Italy. She has written a blog, The Unbearable Bookishness of Blogging (www.unbearablebookishness.com), since 2013 and her fiction has appeared in Scoundrel Time and THAT Literary Review. She is the 2018 recipient of the Julia Keith Shrout Short Story Prize.