Past Graduate Students
Jovana Babovic holds a PhD from the History Department at Illinois. She studied East European history, comparative urban history, and Russian history. Jovana completed 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 graduated from the University of Illinois with a PhD in the History. 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.
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.
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 an Assistant Professor of English. He holds a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Illinois with a certificate in Holocaust, Genocide, Memory Studies. He also holds an MFA in creative writing from Ohio State University, and a certificate in legal studies from Purdue University. His work has appeared in Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Indiana Review, The Literary Review, New York Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, A Public Space, Subtropics, and elsewhere, as well as being listed as a notable essay in Best American Essays 2015. He is the author of From the Crooked Timber (short fiction), The Cartographer’s Ink (poetry), The Doors You Mark Are Your Own (a novel), New Poetry from the Midwest (a biannual anthology), Blackbirds in September: Selected Shorter Poems of Jürgen Becker (translation), Bernie Sanders: The Essential Guide (nonfiction), and Pope Francis: The Essential Guide (forthcoming nonfiction).
Margaret Ewing, a Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture, Museum of Modern Art, New York. She completed her 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.
Allison Fromm, a DMA candidate in the School of Music, entered the University of Illinois as a University Fellow, after receiving degrees from Yale and Boston Universities. Her doctoral thesis, “Aaron Copland’s In the Beginning: Context and Creative Process,” will examine Copland’s one extended choral work. Commissioned in 1946 for the Harvard Symposium in Music Criticism, Copland’s reluctant setting of the first 38 verses of Genesis was the composer’s musical response to Harvard’s specification that he create a 15-20 minute a cappella work “on a text drawn from Hebrew literature, either sacred or secular.” Allison’s analysis of Copland’s sketches and drafts for In the Beginning focuses, in part, on musical revisions that may reflect the composer’s Jewish heritage and humanist philosophy. A choral conductor, Allison directs Sinai Temple’s Shabbat Singers and led the Whirlwind Project’s Interfaith Choir. She is also the founding director of Joyful Noise, a New Jersey and Delaware chorus of adults with developmental disabilities and acquired brain injuries, which has become a national model for similar ensembles.
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.
Anya Hamrick-Nevinglovskaya is an Assistant Professor, Department of English, College of Arts and Sciences, New York Institute of Technology, Nanjing Campus. Her research focused on trauma theory, psychoanalysis, and the history of mental sciences. She is the recipient of the University of Illinois's School of Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistics Graduate Fellowship and the Graduate College's Dissertation Completion fellowship. Currently, she is working on her dissertation, provisionally titled "Resisting Shock: A Genealogy of Trauma Discourse in Russian and Early Soviet Fiction, 1860-1939." The project investigates representations of psychic wounding in the works of Dostoevsky, Chekhov, and Bulgakov, and, in doing so, explores the pre-Freudian genealogy of trauma discourse specifically within the Russian and early Soviet context. The project pays particular attention to the theories surrounding nervous shock and to their influence on later theorizations of psychic trauma.
Alana Holland is a graduate fellow at the University of Kansas. She received her MA in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. Broadly, she is interested in the history of the Holocaust, Stalinist terror and Soviet oppression, and the "memory wars" in Central/Eastern Europe and Russia. She is currently beginning work on her MA thesis which will focus on the Polish-Soviet Extraordinary Commission at the Majdanek concentration and extermination camp in Lublin, Poland, comparing the recorded findings of the Commission's questionings of prisoners and German/SS camp workers to what was reported in the Soviet and Polish presses in August/September 1944. Ultimately, she seeks to pursue a PhD in history, focusing on the Holocaust on Soviet and Soviet-occupied territory and its memory in the post-Soviet/post-socialist space.
Jack J. Hutchens is a visiting lecturer of Polish Language and Culture at the University of Florida. He is also a current doctoral candidate 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 Program Manager of the Initiative for the Study of Ukrainian Jewry United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. 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.
Yael Massen is an MFA Candidate in Poetry at Indiana University. She is interested in researching her Ashkenazi and Mizrahi family histories, specifically her grandmother’s childhood in Mashhad, Iran. She is in the early stages of developing a collection of poems related to her Jewish identity and family's saga. Yael completed her undergraduate studies in Psychology and English at SUNY Geneseo and studied abroad at the University of Haifa, Israel, prior to her candidacy at Illinois.
Mary DeGuire-Bricker is an assistant professor in German at Southern Illinois University. She received her Ph.D. in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures in 2011. 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.”
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.
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 is a PhD candidate at Duke University. He 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 focused 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.
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 wasborn 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 Waneis an Assistant Professor at Armstrong State University in the Department of Languages, Literature, and Philosophy. 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.