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In 2022, nine students passed their preliminary examinations and moved on to candidacy, and four students defended their dissertations. 

Enrique García Santo-Tomás, Graduate Chair

We have enjoyed another busy and productive year in the graduate program. As always, we are most proud of the successes of our graduate students. 

In 2022, nine students passed their preliminary examinations and moved on to candidacy, and four students defended their dissertations. Our continuing students had their work recognized through a variety of fellowships and awards. In addition to three One-Term and six Humanities Research Fellowships awarded by RLL, our graduate students received a Stenn Fellowship, an Institute for the Humanities Fellowship, and a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship. Four students were awarded a Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant, and three more students won an Anti-Racism Research Grant, a Rackham Doctoral Intern Fellowship, and a Professional Development Grant. It is inspiring to see our students achieve this level of success!

Finally, we welcomed three new doctoral students to the department. Their research interests span a wide range of topics and scholarly disciplines.

Graduate Students at Wiard's Orchard. From left to right: Óscar Cardoner Sebio, Diego Peña Ranz, Zachary Severs, Juan Diego Ponce de Leon Zapata, Jessica Flores, Anthony Revelle, Andres Rodriguez Camacho, Gala Patenkovic

Jason Grant’s (Ph.D. French ‘22) dissertation titled “Sharing Space: Urban Encounters, Vulnerability, and the Right to the City in Modern French Literature” looks at what he terms "collisions," fleeting chance meetings that urban life uniquely makes possible, revealing the sort of shared vulnerability that simultaneously exposes city dwellers to danger and to untapped possibilities, political as well as ontological.

Travis Williams’ (Spanish Ph.D. ‘22) dissertation, Corpus and Archive: The Figuration and Disfiguration of Public Spaces in Post-Revolutionary Mexico, examines the political-theological legacy of sovereign power in twentieth-century Mexico. Tracing this legacy through representations of the figure of the People in the decades following the 1910 Mexican Revolution, he demonstrates how secular national-popular iconography of this period drew on a humanist-Christian consciousness of lost immanence to project an image of national unity, predicating notions of history and national identity on a retrospective consciousness of loss. Travis proposes the need to deconstruct this paradigm and disentangle the thinking of history, community, and being-in-common from the national-popular imaginary and the notions of lost immanence that animate it.

Amanda Ndaw’s (Ph.D. Spanish ‘21) dissertation, A Moving Target: The Border and Senegalese Gendered Migration to Spain, is one of great importance and originality in the field of Gender and Spanish-African Studies. In it she explores how the departure and arrival of Senegalese migrants deeply affect both Spain’s civil society and the migrant’s subjective experience and reality. Amanda’s work addresses questions of borders, gender violence, and ethnicity in literature and films produced during the last decades in Spain and Senegal, and it is deeply rooted in the disciplines of history, sociology, and political science. 

Martín Ruiz Mendoza’s (Ph.D. Spanish ‘22) dissertation, Violence, Conflict, and Historical Reconciliation in Cultural Production: Colombia in Transition, offers an approach to Colombia’s violent history from a new conceptualization based on non-hegemony and non-homogenous narratives of conflict, memory, national unity and reconciliation as seen in different modalities of cultural production (fiction, theater, film, and art). Situated within current debates in Latin America about violence, “postconflict,” and human rights, Martín’s project is an intervention into the historical crossroads following the peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrilla, which occurred between 2012 and 2016. Martín’s  dissertation denies the all-compassing approaches to violence that typically frame it through dominant voices, the cultural elite, or through dichotomous and reductive patterns such as victim/victimizer or good/evil. While primarily focused on Colombia, the dissertation goes well beyond national confines as it delves into human rights, political violence, and memory, which resonate well beyond its geographical specificity.

Marisol Fila received an Anti-Racism Graduate Research Grant to develop the multimedia and multilingual components of her dissertation on twenty-first-century Black Press in Brazil and Argentina.

Adam Grant received a Rackham Research Grant to support his research, which examines 12th- and 13th-century romances and lyrical compositions in a variety of medieval romance vernaculars.

Audrey Hansen received a Rackham Doctoral Intern Fellowship and is researching movement building strategies for the Michigan Environmental Council.

Ernesto Martínez received a U.S. Department of Education Foreigh Language and Area Studies Fellowship for academic year 2022-23 to study Nahuatl and integrate Nahuatl written sources into his research on contemporary Mexican political economy in relation to ecology and infrastructure.

Gala Patenkovic received a Rackham Research Grant to support her research on French comic books on immigration. Gala also received a Rackham Professional Development Grant to support her research on museums, and attendance at the Michigan Museum Association Conference.

Anthony Revelle received an Institute of the Humanities Fellowship to support his research on gender issues through Old French literature, especially in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. His work centers around the interplay between social disparities, gender roles and cultural distinctions, as well as the place of the body in gendered staging. You can read more about Anthony’s fellowship here.

Félix Zamora Gómez was selected as UMMA’s Irving Stenn Jr. Fellow in Public and Digital Humanities and Museum PedagogyFellowship for the 2022-2023 academic year. During his fellowship, Felix will work with UMMA and university faculty to create and deliver experiences that link course projects to UMMA’s collections and exhibitions. You can read more about Felix’s fellowship here.

From left to right: Alejandro Mendoza Díaz de Léon, Anna Brotman-Krass, Diego Peña Ranz

Finally, we are excited to welcome a splendid new cohort of graduate students to RLL: Anna Brotman-Krass works on Spanish cultural studies. She is interested in ethnography and filmmaking, Feminisms, and performance in working-class social movements by Latin American migrant domestic workers in Spain. Alejandro Mendoza Díaz de León is interested in contemporary Latin American literature and culture, with a focus on horror and speculative fiction. Diego Peña Ranz will be working on early Modern Spanish literature and culture, with a particular interest in history of science and technology. 

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