Jovana Babovic is a PhD student in the History Department at Illinois. She studies East European history, comparative urban history, and Russian history. Jovana is working on her dissertation titled "Suspicious Persons and Spies: State Surveillance and Russian Emigres in Belgrade, 1919-1939." She completed her undergraduate studies in French language and literature and neuroscience at Smith College, and has an MA from NYU’s Center for European and Mediterranean Studies and an MA in Central European history from CEU in Budapest.
Jacob Baum enrolled at the University of Illinois in 2006 and has since been working towards a PhD in the History Department. His research centers on cultural history, the history of daily life, and the history of the senses among and between Jews and Christians in central Europe from the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries. Triangulating between Jewish, Protestant and Catholic communities, his dissertation attempts to demonstrate how cultural factors such as language, foodways, religious belief and practice determine how people understand their senses, and indeed, how they are able to employ them to experience the world around them. His other research interests include traditions of witchcraft, demonology and exorcism in the early modern world, and the history of blood.
Nadja Berkovich is a PhD student in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. She was born in Ukraine and educated at St. Petersburg’s Herzen University, Humboldt University in Berlin, and Boston College. She specializes in the study of late-19th-century and pre-WWII Yiddish and Russian realist and modernist literatures. Her area of interest is “cultural pluralism,” analyzing and investigating the intersections of Yiddish with Russian, Ukrainian and German literatures and cultures. She is currently working on a dissertation project that investigates the relationship between cultural identity formation, national selfhood, and the process of assimilation. Among others, she hopes to answer the following questions: How much assimilation is appropriate while still remaining Jewish? What constituted Jewishness at the turn of the twentieth century in Russia? Nadja is also interested in the Moscow Yiddish Theater, Yiddish cinema, and art and ethnography; and her ultimate goal is to examine Yiddish culture as a Gesamtkunstwerk.
Melissa Bushnick is a law student who graduated with her B.A. summa cum laude and her M.A., both in Art History, from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her primary focus was post-World War II American and European art and the representation of memory, particularly as it pertains to Jewish culture and history. Her master’s thesis, Between Memory and History: Shimon Attie’s Art of Remembrance, is available through IDEALS, the Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship. Melissa served as the curator for the Program in Jewish Culture and Society and assisted with the installation of a site-specific artwork by the Chicago-based artist Mindy Rose Schwartz which is now on view at the Jewish Studies Office. Melissa is currently an active member in the Jewish Law Students Association at the UIUC College of Law and is working to involve the organization with the Program in Jewish Culture and Society.
Liliana Goldman Carrizo is a Ph.D. student in Ethnomusicology. Her current research focuses on the musical practices of Iraqi Jews, their implication in the politics of identity, and their role in the construction and negotiation of individual and collective memory. A graduate of Williams College, she co-founded the Itgel Foundation and completed her Master's on Mongolian music of the central Gobi desert at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is the recipient of the Illinois Distinguished Fellowship and multiple FLAS awards for Arabic language study.
Priscilla Charrat is currently a PhD student in the French Department. She holds an MA in English from the University Paris III - Sorbonne Nouvelle (France) with a focus on contemporary American literature , and an MA in Language, Literature and Translation from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a focus on French and Francophone Literature. Her research focuses primarily on post-memory and the rupture of family communication in French and Francophone literature related to the Second World War and the Algerian War of Independence. Her research also explores the question of silence in literature, and the relationship of the individual with the Nation regarding France's colonial past.
Jenelle Davis is a PhD student in Art History. She holds both a BA and MA in Art History from McGill University and the University of Toronto respectively. Her research investigates contemporary commemorative strategies of traumatic events, with an emphasis on comparing the traditional memorial model with alternative and personal or community-based memorialization practices. Thus far, her work has primarily focused on a broad range of visual representations and commemorations of Post-Katrina New Orleans, 9/11 and the Holocaust, however she has begun exploring the use of humor, irony and memory in contemporary Czech art particularly through examining the subversive work of David Černý.
Mary DeGuire received her Ph.D. in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures in 2011, where she currently serves as a lecturer of German. She developed her interest in Jewish culture and literature as well as the Yiddish language during her studies at the University of Illinois and has participated in related workshops, language classes, and seminars both in the US and abroad. In her research, she working on literary depictions of East European Jewish immigrants’ experiences in German speaking lands in the 1920s. Her project focuses on the reoccurring motif of the double in Yiddish and German language fictional texts from this period. The working title for her project is “Identity in Crisis: Depictions of Jewish European Immigrants in German and Yiddish Literature.”
Andrew Demshuk received his doctorate from the University of Illinois Department of History in August 2010 and is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. In the Summer of 2006, he was aresearch fellow at the Simon-Dubnow-Institute for Jewish History and Culture at the University of Leipzig. From August 2007 through August 2008, he pursued dissertation research in Germany through a fellowship from the Herder Institut in Marburg and the German Academic Exchange Program (DAAD). Andrew’s dissertation examines how, amid the charged political context of the early Cold War, Germans expelled from the province of Silesia after World War II dealt with the loss of their homeland. It explores how they privately remembered the loss, how they commemorated the loss in gatherings, and how they traveled back to these spaces. It argues that recognizing the destruction and foreignness present in former homeland spaces and cherishing idealized memories that did not concur within these spaces encouraged many expellees to recognize that physical return was not possible. In addition to teaching obligations, conference presentations, and an ongoing publication agenda with scholarly journals, he is currently reworking his dissertation manuscript for publication in an academic press.
Brian Dolber received his Ph.D. in the Department of Communication in 2011 and is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Arts at SUNY-Oneonta. He studies media history and political economy. Brian's dissertation focuses on the U.S. Jewish labor movement as a "counterpublic." He is interested in how its "organic intellectuals'" commitment to newspapers, broadcasting and cultural production during the 1920s and 1930s helped maintain the socialist movement during the interwar period under tumultuous political, economic and cultural circumstances, and built the broader Popular Front. Specifically, Brian is focusing his research on the Jewish Daily Forward, radio station WEVD, and cultural efforts of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America and the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union. He has taken classes in German and Yiddish. Brian has also presented and published research on contemporary communications policy issues, as well as on the rhetoric of anti-Semitism and Jewish representation in U.S. popular culture. He holds a BA in journalism from George Washington University.
Okla Elliott is currently a PhD candidate in Comparative and World Literature. He also holds an MFA in creative writing from Ohio State University. His dissertation project employs the existentialist philosophies of Alain Badiou, Martin Heidegger, Emmanuel Levinas, and Jean-Paul Sartre to explicate trauma and violence. His drama, non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and translations have appeared in Another Chicago Magazine, Indiana Review, The Literary Review, The Los Angeles Review, New Letters, A Public Space, and The Southeast Review, among many others. He is the author of a full-length collection of short fiction, From the Crooked Timber, and three poetry chapbooks—The Mutable Wheel; Lucid Bodies and Other Poems; and A Vulgar Geography. He also co-edited (with Kyle Minor) The Other Chekhov. His published or forthcoming scholarly work to date has been on universalist ethics in William T. Vollmann’s Rising Up and Rising Down and on the use of the lyric mode in Antje Krog’s Country of My Skull. His time at the University of Illinois has been supported by a three-year Illinois DistinguishedFellowship.
Margaret Ewing, a Ph.D. Candidate in Art History, is completing a dissertation on the art of HansHaacke. Arguing for Haacke’s work in Germany as a forty year critique of both the continuities between Nazi Germany and the postwar period as well as inadequacies of the country’s process of coming to terms with the past, she analyzes his interrogations of corporate power, the media, and the government. Her research has been supported by the German Fulbright Commission, the Trans-Atlantic Summer Institute (U Minn/Krakow), and the Gendell Family and Shiner Family Fellowship (UIUC/Program for Jewish Studies and Culture). A recent article, “The Unexpected Encounter: Confronting Holocaust Memory in the Streets of Post-Wall Berlin,” is forthcoming in an edited volume from Routledge. She is also a Berlin-based contributor to Artforum Magazine.
Ofira Fuchs is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology. Her research interests include relations between nationalism and religion, social change in religious societies, and Jewish identities in Israel and in the US. She developed her interest in new meanings of Jewish religiosity during her studies in the Master’s program in the Sociology & Anthropology department at Tel Aviv University. Her M.A. thesis examined religiosity of lesbian women in Israel who identify as religious Jews. She graduated summa cum laude from Hunter College of the City University of New York where she completed her B.A. in Anthropology.
Anca Glont is a PhD student in the Department of History, focusing on Southeastern Europe. Her dissertation, Nihil Sine Carbo, explores the way that modernity was negotiated and constructed in the Jiu Valley of the Carpathian Mountains with respect to labor, ethnicity and state policies of industrialization. She holds an M.A. from the Central European University; her thesis looked at how the interwar Romanian Orthodox Church and the Iron Guard drew from a common discourse on nationality, Orthodoxy and minorities. She recently published (with co-author James Frusetta) the article “Interwar Fascism and the Post-1989 Radical Right: Ideology, Opportunism and Historical Legacy in Bulgaria and Romania” in Studies in Post-Communism. In 2007, she was a Dorot Fellow at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Research in Washington D.C.
Jin Gong is a doctoral student in the East Asian Languages and Cultures Department of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where her field is modern Chinese history. Her academic interests include modern history of Shanghai (both as an urban center and a borderland), Chinese ethnicity in borderlands, and legal history of modern China. As an undergraduate at Nanjing University, China, Jin Gong became interested in Judaic studies through her work with Prof. Xu Xin, China’s leading Judaic scholar, which led her to pursue a master’s degree in Judaic studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (Cincinnati, Ohio). There, she developed her interest in the Jewish experiences in modern China, particularly Shanghai. Currently, she is developing her doctoral dissertation on the subject of Jewish migration and life experiences in modern Shanghai. In her dissertation, Jin Gong will explore issues of Jewish migration, Jewish identity, memories of the Jews of Shanghai and the interactions between Jews and the Chinese within the larger context of Chinese modernity from the second half of the 19th century until the present time. She will also examine how Jewish experiences in Shanghai contribute to the modern Shanghai urban identity.
Lauren Hansen is a third-year graduate student in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. She completed her M.A. in 2012 with her thesis titled “The Difficulty in Forging a Bond: The Inner Workings of Postmemory within Family Relationships in Monika Maron’s Pawels Briefe and Uwe Timm’s Am Beispiel meines Bruders.” Here Lauren explores her particular interest in the intersection between family and history (namely WWII and the Holocaust) and the difficult negotiations it entails with regards to positionality (victim-perpetrator-bystander) and the bonding and/or rupturing effect of memory artifacts. Lauren’s interest in Memory Studies extends into Eastern Europe as well, especially in relation to subversive artistic expression in East Germany, Poland, and Russia during the Cold War and the subsequent “memory boom” in literature and politics of these countries in the post-1989 period.
Jack J. Hutchens is a graduate student in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Illinois. His research interests include contemporary Polish and Czech literature, queer theory, and popular culture. A particular interest is the work of Polish-Jewish author Julian Stryjkowski. Jack has recently published an article in the Journal of Popular Culture, "Translating the Queer Voice: Problems with Polish Translations of Ginsberg's 'America' and 'Message.'" He also operates a small press, Modern Barbarian Press, through which he has self published a textbook, A (very) Short Introduction to Beginning Polish Grammar. He tries his best to split his time between central Europe and the U.S.
Elana Jakel is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History, focusing on the history of the Soviet Union. She recently completed over ten months of dissertation research in Russia and Ukraine with the support of fellowships from IREX and Fulbright. Her dissertation will examine the experiences of Jews in Soviet Ukraine immediately after the Holocaust and, in particular, how interactions between Jews and non-Jews shaped these experiences. Issues of nationalism and belonging, anti-Semitism, and Holocaust memory will be prominent in her dissertation.
Regine Kroh, originally from Germany, came to the University of Illinois in 2006 after receiving her M.A. from the University of Kansas. Her M.A. thesis was concerned with the depiction of outsiders in the short stories of Klaus Mann. Her research focuses on the concepts of identity and belonging and their connection to memory. She will explore these ideas also in her dissertation project which will deal with post-'89 literature by former East-German authors. In addition, Regine is interested in Jewish life and culture, exile literature, Holocaust representation, literary depiction of space as well as the usage of photography in literature.
Eric McKinley is a PhD student in the History Department at the University of Illinois. His fields are Modern European History, Comparative Jewish History, and Global History in the Early Modern Period. His research interests include the history of Jews in Germany, the history of everyday life, neighborly relations among majority and minority populations, the application of scientific and social scientific thought a way of understanding the world, and the construction of the "minority" as a social category in European history. Eric is currently working on his dissertation, which is titled "Intimate Strangers: Intermarriage among Jews, Catholics, and Protestants in Germany, 1870-1933." Prior to entering the History Department at the University of Illinois in 2008, Eric completed a Bachelor's and a Master's, both in history, at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.
Zia Miric is a PhD student in the English Department. Her field of specialization encompasses British literature in the long nineteenth century, while her research interests focus on Anglo-Jewish literature and culture, proto-Zionism and Zionism, nationalism, religion and secularization, and inflections of gender with ethnicity and race. Currently in the early stages of her dissertation work, she examines the tensions between theoretical concepts and practical realities of nationality and citizenship for nineteenth-century Anglo-Jews, and their negotiation in cultural and literary discourse in terms of race, ethnicity, nation and religion. Zia completed her undergraduate degree in English at the University of Belgrade in Serbia. She obtained an MPhil in English and Applied Linguistics at the University of Cambridge, where she worked on the cognitive stylistics and narratology of modernist and existentialist fictional texts.
Matthew Nelson is a PhD student in Comparative Literature. His work draws on memory and translation studies in an effort to rethink theories of place in the postcolonial context. In particular, he looks to Modern Sanskrit and Indian English poetry for their unique engagement with the role language and literature play in our experience of place. Because Sanskrit and English are often discussed in the Indian context as "cosmopolitan" or trans-regional languages, literatures in both find themselves uneasily embedded amid ideological battles that emerge out of and give rise to sectarian violence and spatial segregation.
Alaina Pincus is working on a PhD in early modern Jewish and Literary studies in the English Department. Her dissertation explores literary constructions of the interconnectedness of non-Jewish representations of Jews and Jewish self-representation in early modern British and colonial culture. Her work puts Jewish self-representation, the process of building a distinctly Jewish-British identity, into dialogue with other forms of cultural representation in order to identify the ways in which contrasting forms of Jewishness become legible through cultural and textual signifiers.
Giuseppe Prigiotti completed a master's in the Italian Literature/Cultural Studies Program in the Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese and a teaching assistant for Italian language. His research focuses on the intersection of culture, media, and religion. He is currently working on the web representation of Jewish Italian Communities, and the place of the Bible in the Web. He founded and led in Catania, Sicily, his home town, the local group of SAE (Secretary for Ecumenical Activities), an Italian organization actively involved in ecumenical and interfaith dialogue. For eight years he was a Catholic Religion teacher in public high schools. In Italy he earned a B.A in Theology (Studio Teologico Fiorentino, Firenze) and a B.A in Philosophy (Università degli Studi di Catania). He also pursued an M.A. in the area of Human Resource Education (Università degli Studi Roma Tre) another in Religious Pedagogy (Università Pontificia Salesiana, Roma), a certificate in Online Learning Education (Università degli Studi Ca' Foscari, Venezia), and a Diploma in (Reformed) Theology (Facoltà Valdese di Teologia, Roma).
Jason Ritchie received his Ph.D. in the Department of Anthropology in 2010 and is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies at Florida International University. Jason’s research focuses on the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Palestinians who live in or travel to Israel. The project is part of a broader interest in the relationship between sexuality and race in ostensibly democratic nation-states at the historical convergence of neoliberal capitalism and “clash of civilizations” discourses. These two phenomena have simultaneously facilitated the normalization of certain models of homosexuality and the increasing marginalization of racialized—especially Arab—others. In this sense, Israel-Palestine, with all its cultural and historical particularities, is a microcosm of wider processes that characterize much of the world today. With support from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the Social Science Research Council, and the Lady Davis Fellowship Trust, Jason completed 18 months of dissertation research in Israel-Palestine.
Nicolle Rivera is a student in the Doctoral Program in History at Illinois. She is currently interested in performativity in everyday life in 13th and 14th century France. She is especially interested in researching how the habits of everyday life informed the construction of identity in medieval society. Her scholarly interests also include other medieval perceptions of identity, the experience of marginalized groups, and the complicated relationship between Christians and Jews as revealed through folklore and popular culture. Nicolle holds a a B.A. from Northwestern University.
Jenny Schwartzberg is a graduate student in the Department of History. She received an MA in Jewish and Islamic Studies and an MA in Modern European History, both from the University of Georgia. Her research interests include nationalism, race, colonialism, and gender in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Germany. She hopes to explore the construction of scientifically-based racial theories and their place within German society and culture.
Cristina Stanciu recived her Ph.D. in English in 2011 and is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her dissertation, “The Makings and Unmakings of Americans: Indians and Immigrants in American Literature and Culture, 1880-1924,” foregrounds a combined genealogy of Indian and New Immigrant cultural and political resistance to various regimes of “making Americans” in several literary genres and silent film. Cristina has published several articles and book reviews and she is the recipient of local and national fellowships, including a Pre-Doctoral fellowship in American Indian Studies at Michigan State University and a recent NationalEndowment for the Humanities Institute fellowship at the Newberry Library in Chicago. Cristina was born in Romania and hopes to read and speak Yiddish fluently one day.
Dmitry Tartakovsky completed his dissertation in the Department of History at the University of Illinois and now holds a position at the university's library. The thesis is titled “Parallel Ruptures: Dniester Jews between Romanian Nationalism and Soviet Communism, 1918-1940.” He is interested in modern Jewish, Russian, and Balkan history, particularly the confrontation of Jewish identity with modern states in Eastern Europe between the wars. He is also working on questions of Holocaust memory in former communist countries and recently published an article on this subject in East European Jewish Affairs. He has taught several history courses at Illinois, including classes on modern Europe, Russia, modern Jewish history, and World History from 1900-1950. Dmitry was born in Soviet Ukraine. He worked as a political analyst for the State Department from 2000-2002. His wife Elena is a folk singer, and his son Alex continues to grow.
Hapsatou Wane is a PhD student in the Comparative World Literature program at Illinois. Her research centers on Francophone and Anglophone African and Afro-Brazilian literature, gender and women studies, postcolonialism, indigenous critical theory autobiographies and memory. Hapsatou is working on her dissertation titled "Decolonizing Autobiography: Experience in Autobiographies by Women Writers of African Diaspora." Her dissertation will explore the ways in which women writers of African Diaspora de-racialize, de-colonize and de-gender the autobiographical discourse and genre as they trouble and blur the boundaries/limits of autobiographies by establishing Black Diaspora Bildungsroman as a genre of life-writing allowing them to produce alternative autobiographical narratives. Hapsatou graduated with an MA in English Studies/African Civilization and Literature at the University Gaston Berger in Senegal. She also holds an MA in African Studies and an MA in Comparative World Literature from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.