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Alumni Spotlight

Interview series with CompLit alumni

Alex Aguayo, summer 2018 Student Ally for Diversity for Comparative Literature, interviewed three CompLit alumni about their experiences as graduate students in the department.

Want to be in the SPOTLIGHT?

If you are an alumni and would like to be included on our spotlight page, please email us at

We'll need the following information:

  •  Name
  •  A little about your past, achievements, publications, etc.
  •  A photo (not required)

We will be showcasing multiple alumni with their stories, career development, interests or family milestones. Alumni Spotlight will be displayed starting in November and we hope you can help by sending us something about you!

The Real News Video featuring Maximillian Alvarez

Maximillian Alvarez successfully defended his dissertation in 2020, Technologies of Resistance: Media, Anarchy, and Radical Politics in Early 20th-Century Mexico and is now Editor-in Chief at The Real News Network.

The Real News Network is a nonprofit, viewer-supported center for digital journalism dedicated to telling the stories that matter to movements fighting against systems of oppression.

Watch the full video here.

Check out more news at

Spencer Hawkins Featured in The Slate Book Review

CompLit Graduate Program alum Spencer Hawkins featured in The Slate Book Review.Review: David Auerbach recommends The Laughter of the Thracian Woman, by Hans Blumenberg: Hans Blumenberg’s The Laughter of the Thracian Woman traces the history of an origin myth of science. Greek astronomer Thales of Miletus was the original absent-minded professor. He was walking and studying the night sky, it is said, when he tripped and fell into a well, leading him to theorize that water—and not a god or gods—was the prime mover of reality.German-Jewish “philosophical anthropologist” Blumenberg follows the myth of Thales through the ages to show that the scientific endeavor is necessary but also fundamentally ridiculous. It culminates with an attack on “incomprehensible arrogance” as the most destructive human tendency, reaffirming modesty and skepticism. Today everything is made of data instead of water; Blumenberg, translated with great care by Spencer Hawkins, reminds me that we are still as ridiculous as Thales.

Published Book by Deborah Starr

In this book, Deborah A. Starr recuperates the work of Togo Mizrahi, a pioneer of Egyptian cinema. Mizrahi, an Egyptian Jew with Italian nationality, established himself as a prolific director of popular comedies and musicals in the 1930s and 1940s. As a studio owner and producer, Mizrahi promoted the idea that developing a local cinema industry was a project of national importance. Togo Mizrahi and the Making of Egyptian Cinema integrates film analysis with film history to tease out the cultural and political implications of Mizrahi’s work. His movies, Starr argues, subvert dominant notions of race, gender, and nationality through their playful—and queer—use of masquerade and mistaken identity. Taken together, Mizrahi’s films offer a hopeful vision of a pluralist Egypt. By reevaluating Mizrahi’s contributions to Egyptian culture, Starr challenges readers to reconsider the debates over who is Egyptian and what constitutes national cinema.

Ronit Ricci Receives Award

Ronit Ricci received Honorable Mention for the third Emerging Scholars Prize in the Humanities, awarded by the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan. She was chosen for her book Islam Translated: Literature, Conversion, and the Arabic Cosmopolis of South and Southeast Asia (forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press in 2011). Ronit completed her PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan in 2006, having pursued her interests in the literary traditions of Javanese, Tamil, and Malay speaking Muslims in a route that took her from Ann Arbor to Yogyakarta, Madras, Columbia, and Singapore. Ronit returned for a brief visit to Ann Arbor in April 2010, to present a talk entitled “The Book of One Thousand Questions and its Asian Translations,” as part of the Department of Comparative Literature’s 2009-2010 “Year of Translation.” She is currently Lecturer in the College of Asia and the Pacific, at the Australian National University in Canberra.


Shai Ginsburg Publishes Hebrew Translation of Paul de Man

Shai Ginsburg (2001 Phd in Comparative Literature) has published the Hebrew translation of Paul de Man, The Resistance to Theory (Resling 2010). He has also published articles on a wide range of topics in film studies, literary theory, and Hebrew literature, including an essay on "Anton Shammas's 'Arabesques' and the Rhetoric of Hebrew Literature" (Comparative Literature 58.3). In March of 2010 Ginsburg returned to the UM campus as a guest speaker for the symposium, "Between Languages: The Translational Lives and Afterlives of Arabesquot." He is currently Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Professor in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Duke University.

Nahoko Fukushima Receives Award for Ph.D.

Nahoko Fukushima's Ph.D. ‘Sharebon’ and Courtesans: A Phase of Edo Aesthetics as the Dispersal of Ideology (2011) won Humanities Best Ph.D. Accolades at IBP (ICAS Book Prize) 2013 by ICAS (International Convention of Asian Scholars).