Past Graduate Dissertation Fellows
Graduate Dissertation Fellows 2011-2012
Steffi Dippold, Department of English
Steffi Dippold is a doctoral candidate in the English Department with a specialization in Early American literature and culture before 1900 and an interest in transatlantic studies, the history of race, language theory, and visual and material culture. Her dissertation "Plain as in Primitive: The Figure of the Native in Early American Literature" uncovers the centrality of Native American cultures to the formation of the early colonial mindset.
Cynthia Levine, Department of Psychology
Cynthia Levine is a doctoral candidate in the Psychology Department at Stanford University. Broadly, she is interested in how race and gender affect people’s perceptions of others, and her dissertation focuses on an individual’s race influences others’ perceptions of that individual’s potential to grow, learn, and develop over time. Cynthia’s dissertation, “Who can improve? How a target’s race dictates perceptions of potential for growth,” examines how African Americans in the U.S. are seen as lacking the potential to grow or improve over time. For example, do people see African Americans who have committed a crime as having less potential for rehabilitation in the future than equivalent white individuals? Similarly, do they see African American students as lacking the potential to improve academically compared to high performing white students? In addition, the dissertation explores the implications of this view of African Americans, including its consequences for the policies that people are willing to endorse (e.g., policies that would restrict the rights of people who had committed crimes or policies that would support their rehabilitation after release from prison).
Elda María Román, Department of English
Elda María Román is a doctoral candidate in the English Department. Her dissertation intertwines literary analysis with sociological theory to examine texts depicting upward mobility and middle-class status in Chicana/o and African American texts from the 1940s to the present. Analyzing a wide-range of media, her work illuminates the narrative strategies cultural producers employ to capture immigrant relocation, home ownership, class ascension, and fears over cultural betrayal. Her research also shows how authors have created characters and plot lines to reflect the increasing heterogeneity of racial populations, while employing narrative devices to create a sense of ethnic and racial solidarity despite class differences. The daughter of Mexican immigrants and raised in Providence, RI, Elda María earned her B.A. in English and Latin American Studies from Brown University.
Graduate Dissertation Fellows 2010-2011
Jennifer Harford Vargas, Department of English
Jennifer Harford Vargas completed her undergraduate work in English and Latin American Studies at Miami University, graduating summa cum laude. She received an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship for Humanistic Studies to begin her PhD work in the Department of English at Stanford University and was later awarded Stanford’s newly created Diversifying Academia Recruiting Excellence (DARE) Fellowship. She currently co-coordinates the TransAmerican Studies Working Group at the Humanities Center and is a Graduate Scholar-in-Residence at El Centro Chicano. Her dissertation, entitled“Dictating Form: Authoritarian Power in the Latina/o American Novel,” identifies and examines a corpus of contemporary U.S. Caribbean and Latina/o novels that expands the formal and geo-political contours of the Latin American dictator novel. Her work demonstrates how these writers are using the resources of the novel to articulate intersecting connections between authoritarianism, imperialism, and racism in the Americas. “Dictating Forms” ultimately contends that these novelists are generating a transAmerican counter-dictatorial imaginary, thereby developing a new idiom for depicting and theorizing power in Latina/o literature.
Laura López-Sanders, Department of Sociology
Laura López-Sanders earned a BA in Communication Sciences from I.T.E.S.O., Mexico, an MA in International Education Policy at Harvard University and an MA in Social Sciences and Education at Stanford. She has been the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including the D.A.R.E. (Diversifying Academia Recruiting Excellence) Doctoral Fellowship, the Gerald J. Lieberman Fellowship in the Social Sciences (declined), the National Science Foundation Dissertation Research Grant, the Ernesto Galarza Prize for Excellence in Graduate Student Research and two American Sociological Association awards for Outstanding Graduate Student Papers from the Race, Gender, and Class section and the Latino section. Her dissertation, “Is Brown the New Black?: Latino Immigrant Incorporation in the Contemporary South,” examines immigrant integration and its impact on race and ethnic relations in destinations that had not experienced much immigration since the 19th century but that are now being transformed as a result of immigration. Her research is based on fifteen months of participant observation research in which she studied inter- and intra-group relations by working and living alongside Latino immigrants, African Americans and Whites in the South.
Rania Kassab Sweis, Department of Anthropology
Rania Kassab Sweis is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University. She holds an M.A in Anthropology from Stanford and a B.A. in Social Anthropology from the University of California, Irvine. As a medical anthropologist of the Middle East, her research focuses on biopolitics, feminist theory and the comparative study of child and youth cultures. "Coming of Age in a Global Egypt: the Cultural Politics of Transnational Humanitarianism, Childhood and Youth" is an ethnography of humanitarian discourse and practice in the context of contemporary Egypt, specifically the ways in which the daily work of NGO actors produce and re-articulate social distinction such as race, class, gender and generation. With a focus on the tangible effects of medical aid and charitable action by prominent philanthropic institutions, the research critiques the mechanisms of power and expertise through which young Egyptians are constructed as vulnerable and suffering. Based on over two years of fieldwork with street children, village girls, humanitarian doctors and NGO workers in Cairo and Paris, Coming of Age in a Global Egypt demonstrates how new ethical relations between the state and transnational NGOs emerge over fundamental questions related to the governance of human life and the management of vulnerable populations.
Graduate Dissertation Fellows 2009-2010
Lori Flores, Department of History, completed her undergraduate work at Yale University with a degree in History and was awarded the Howard P. Lamar Prize in American History and the New York Labor History Association Barbara Wertheimer Prize for her senior thesis, "An Unladylike Strike Fashionably Clothed: Mexicana and Anglo Women Garment Workers Against Tex-Son, 1959-1963," which recently received the W. Turrentine Jackson Prize and will appear in publication in the Pacific Historical Review. As a doctoral candidate in History at Stanford, she has been awarded a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Diversity Fellowship, the Jerry I. Porras Award for Visionary Leadership, the History Department's Prize for Excellence in First-Time Teaching, a VPGE Dissertation Research Grant, and a Haynes Foundation Huntington Library Fellowship. Her dissertation, tentatively titled “Other Californias: Tracing Mexican American Lives, Civil Rights Activism, and the Coming of the Chicano Movement to the Salinas Valley, 1945-1970,” chronicles the postwar history of Mexican American community organizing in the agricultural center of Salinas, California and examines the migrations of labor, cultural phenomena, and civil rights activists and movements between Salinas and the "Mexican metropolis" of Los Angeles that help to explain how the Chicano movement took root and evolved differently in California's rural and urban communities.
Ramah McKay, Department of Anthropology, holds a BA in Anthropology from Barnard College and an MA in Cultural and Social Anthropology from Stanford University. Her dissertation is based on two years of multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork in Maputo City and Zambezia Province, Mozambique. Her research examined how transnational humanitarian and philanthropic medical interventions are producing and transforming possibilities for social welfare for women, children, and families in Mozambique. Her dissertation, “Affective Interventions: Making Medical Welfare in Mozambique,” asks how these emergent modes of intervention and support are constituted in and through discourses of raced and gendered social difference.
Emily Ryo, Department of Sociology, earned a BA in History from the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign (summa cum laude) and JD from Harvard Law School (magna cum laude). As a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at Stanford, she has received numerous awards and grants, including the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Fellowship. Her research interests include inequality, stratification, international migration, and the sociology of law. Her dissertation, “Becoming Illegal,” seeks to develop a decision-making model of undocumented migration that incorporates not only economic factors, but also normative factors, such as people’s sense of morality, views about the legitimacy of legal authority, and social norms. She has published articles in Cornell International Law Journal, Social Forces, Law & Social Inquiry, and Du Bois Review.
Graduate Dissertation Fellows 2008-2009
Jocelyn Lim Chua, Department of Anthropology, received her BA in History of Art and Architecture graduating magna cum laude from Harvard University and holds an MA in Cultural and Social Anthropology from Stanford. Her dissertation, The Politics of Death: Suicide at the Margins of Sovereignty in Kerala, South India, is based on over two years of ethnographic fieldwork in Kerala’s capital city of Trivandrum. Her work engages the social and historical processes through which suicide reorganizes everyday relations, inaugurates new forms of neoliberal self-governance, and is used to mobilize alternative forms of political life in India’s so-called “Suicide Capital.”
Jolene Hubbs, Department of English, completed her undergraduate work at Scripps College, graduating summa cum laude with degrees in English and Italian. In 1999-2000 she studied in Western Europe as a Thomas J. Watson Fellow. As a doctoral candidate in English at Stanford, she has been awarded the Mellon Dissertation Fellowship, the Centennial Teaching Award, and the VPGE Dissertation Grant. Her dissertation, Revolting Whiteness: Race, Class, and the American Grotesque, examines the poor white, a figure who, existing at an epistemic blind spot between hegemonic whiteness and racialized poverty, has been little addressed in studies of U.S. literature. Using the methods and findings of anthropologists, historians, literary critics, and sociologists, her approach identifies intraracial anxiety—white middle class fears of poor whites—as a central aesthetic and ethical issue in American literature and culture.
Valerie Jones, Department of Psychology, graduated with highest honors from the University of Texas at Austin, where she double majored in Psychology and African & African American Studies. Since attending Stanford, she has received numerous awards and grants for her research, including fellowships from the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University and from the American Association of University Women. Broadly, Valerie’s research examines the psychological experiences and reactions of members of stigmatized groups (e.g., women in math and science fields and minority students) in threatening academic and social environments. Her dissertation, The Gender Tax: The Effects of Underrepresentation on Effort and Preparation, investigates how the underrepresentation of women in certain educational and professional settings may cause women to feel a heightened pressure to work harder than their male counterparts. Her work suggests that this pressure may cause increased motivation, while negatively affecting performance and causing negative physiological health outcomes. However, she finds evidence that this pressure is greatly alleviated as the numerical representation of women increase in a setting. Valerie greatly enjoys teaching and mentoring and is looking forward to a career in academia.
Graduate Dissertation Fellows 2007-2008
Mireille Le Breton, Department of French and Italian, earned an M.A. from the University of Maryland, at College Park, in French and Francophone Literatures and a DEA from Caen University, France, in English and American philology. She studied at the lycée Fénelon in Paris and at the University of East-Anglia, Norwich, UK, before spending a year as an exchange student at the University of Delaware, where she delved into 20th century literature and film studies. She spent the first six years of her life in Algeria, which might provide an explanation for her sound attraction to African literatures and cultures. She is particularly interested in nomadism, diaspora, and deracination in contemporary migrant literatures. The title of her dissertation is North African Youth, Contest Identities and Cultures in Contemporary France. She has published poetry in both the United States and the United Kingdom and critical articles on 20th century French literature and film studies.
J. Roselyn Lee, Department of Communication, earned a B.A. (summa cum laude) and an M.A. in Communication from Seoul National University. Her M.A. thesis, which investigates the effects of disability framing (limitation vs. variation) on perspective-taking of and prejudice against the disabled, received the Outstanding Thesis Award from the university; and her paper based on the thesis won the Student Paper Award from the Media and Disability Interest Group at the Annual Convention of Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in 2002. At Stanford, she has conducted research on computer-mediated communication and human-computer interaction to understand the important role played by new media technologies in social and cultural processes. Her research on how computer interfaces manifesting social support can enhance learning has recently appeared in the Journal of Communication. In her dissertation, Revealing and Challenging Social Identity Threat in Computer-Mediated Communication Environments, she investigates how women and minorities experience identity threat in computer-mediated social environments and how such threat could be challenged.
David Nussbaum, Department of Psychology, graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Psychology and in Ethics, Politics, & Economics from Yale University. He has published articles in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology and the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. He is fluent in English, French and spoken Polish and is considered proficient in Hebrew. The title of his dissertation is Defensiveness in the Classroom.
Michelle Young-Mee Rhee, Department of English, received her B.A. in Literature, graduating magna cum laude from Harvard University in 2000. She has been awarded a Harvard Pechet Traveling Fellowship, a Fulbright Scholarship, and a Mellon Dissertation Fellowship. As a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate in the English department at Stanford, Michelle is currently working on her dissertation entitled Slant in Asian American Poetry and Fiction which introduces the concept of slant: an evolution of Henry Louis Gates’s Signfyin(g) and Daniel Kim’s notion of a yellow vernacular. She coins the term to name a specific kind of resistance identifiable in some of the most mainstream Asian American writers. Legible in the popular and accessible texts of Li-Young Lee, Fae Myenne Ng, Ruth Ozeki, and Chang-rae Lee are racial allegories concerning the plight of Asian American writing. Her project points to the need for more nuanced readings of these seemingly non-experimental writers. Slant, Michelle argues, is in fact a phenomenon specific to yellow writing precisely because of the history of racializing Asian Americans through the model minority myth and the myth of multiculturalism in America.
Frank L. Samson, Doctoral Candidate in Sociology, Stanford University
Amy Cynthia Tang, Department of English, earned a B.A. in English from Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude. As a Ph.D candidate in English at Stanford, she has received a Geballe Dissertation Fellowship from the Stanford Humanities Center, has served as a writing mentor to students majoring in CSRE, and coordinated the 2002-2003 Asian Americas Graduate Research Workshop, funded by the Mellon Foundation. Her dissertation, Postmodern Repetitions: Race and the Politics of Form in Contemporary U.S. Literature, explores practices of formal repetition across a variety of contemporary minority-authored texts. Arguing that the dominant frameworks used to comprehend such repetitions – parody and trauma – have tended to reduce their complexity to a simple choice between resistance and subjection, or empowerment and victimization, the dissertation explores a number of texts that refuse both the catharsis of parody and the paralysis of trauma, in order to consider anew the complex intersections between race, form, and agency that inhere in such strategies. Her research and teaching interests include African American and Asian American literature, theories of postmodernism, and literary theory.
Graduate Dissertation Fellows 2006-2007
Lalaie Ameeriar, Department of Anthropology, earned an Honors Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Toronto, graduating with distinction. Her research interests include examining ideas of fundamentalism and piety in light of the recent public debate about terrorism and Muslim communities in the west. In her dissertation, Making Globalization Work: Pakistani Muslim Women and Migration, she seeks to expand the current academic literature by bringing together studies of race and ethnicity and theories of globalization through an exploration of Pakistani women’s experiences of transnationalism and migration. Based on sixteen months of interviews and participant observation with Pakistani-Muslim Canadian women, the study focuses on the juncture between gender, race and ethnicity, citizenship, Islam, and labor in Canada.
Mary Murphy, Department of Psychology, graduated with highest honors as a Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Texas at Austin where she triple majored in Psychology, Government, and Liberal Arts Honors. Since arriving at Stanford, she has received several research awards including a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and a Graduate Fellowship at the Stanford Center for International Conflict and Negotiation. Her research focuses on the interaction of social identity and the contexts and settings that people encounter. Her dissertation, The Importance of Context: Conceptualizing a Theory of Social Identity Threat in the Classroom, demonstrates that subtle situational cues affect people's sense of belonging, level of academic motivation, individual physiology and performance in an academic setting. She argues that by understanding how cues lead people to perceive identity threat we can learn how to create identity-safe environments where threat and its consequences are minimized.
Flavio Paniagua, Program in Modern Thought and Literature, was born in rural Zacatecas Mexico where he lived until migrating to Los Angeles at the age of sixteen. He graduated with honors from San Francisco State University, earning a B.A. in Comparative and World Literature with an emphasis on Latin American literature and Ethnic studies. He has served as a consultant for a joint project between the San Francisco Department of Public Health and La Raza Centro Legal, focusing on developing programs to aid and inform the city's Latina/o Domestic Workers and Day Laborers community. His research at Stanford continues to focus on issues concerning the Latina/o migrant community and their heteroglossic cultures. His dissertation, Mojados Malcriados: Unsettling Vernacular Representations and Migrant Routes, looks at the way Mexican peasants and undocumented workers have been historically portrayed and textually represented by Mexican and Chicana/o literati on both sides of the border. He contrasts and compares the texts to understand how undocumented workers or mojados see, imagine and represent themselves through iconography, music and slogans in contemporary Los Angeles.
Justine Tinkler, Department of Sociology, earned a B.A. from the University of California, San Diego, graduating magna cum laude with highest honors in Sociology. Her research and teaching interests include social psychology, law, race and ethnicity, and gender. She has received a graduate dissertation fellowship from the Institute for Research on Women and Gender and a dissertation grant from the National Science Foundation. Her dissertation, A Social Psychological Analysis of Resistance to Equal Opportunity Law: The Case of Sexual Harassment Policy and Affirmative Action, uses experimental, qualitative, and survey data analysis methods to examine the mechanisms that drive individuals to oppose laws aimed at reducing race and gender inequality. She focuses on sexual harassment policy and affirmative action to argue that like other equal opportunity laws, these laws threaten the existing status order and the beliefs that justify it, the privileges to status-advantaged individuals, and the established norms of interaction.
Graduate Dissertation Fellows 2005-2006
Isabel Awad, Department of Communication, was born in Santiago, Chile. She received a degree in Journalism and Aesthetics from Universidad Católica de Chile, where she worked as a lecturer and researcher in the School of Journalism. As a reporter, she spent two years working in the political bureau of the Chilean newspaper La Segunda and four months in Washington, D.C. as a journalist-in-residence at National Public Radio. As a doctoral student at Stanford, her commitment to journalism has led her to focus on news production and consumption as practices of cultural citizenship. More specifically, her dissertation, Latinos’ Civic Engagement and the Press: A Reader’s Approach to Latino-Targeted Newspapers, challenges common notions of diversity in journalism by examining the role of newspapers in empowering and disempowering Latinos as citizens of the United States.
Vida Mia García, Program in Modern Thought and Literature. While at Brown University, Vida Mia García was awarded a Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellowship to support future Ph.D. study, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and graduated magna cum laude with B.A.s in Women’s Studies (with Honors) and English and American Literature. As a graduate student at Stanford, she has been a committed and enthusiastic leader in various campus communities, co-coordinating the American Cultures research workshop and the WCC’s Graduate Women of Color program series, serving on El Centro Chicano’s Guiding Concilio, and helping to organize the LGBT.CRC’s Grad Queer Women’s group. Her dissertation, The (Other) Tourist and the River City: Heritage Tourism, Narratives of Citizenship, and Chicana/o Cultural (Re)production in San Antonio, Texas, uses approaches from history, literary criticism, and anthropology to examine the ways in which tourism in the Southwest has, throughout the 20 th century, provided an arena for Mexican-Americans to make sense of national/imperial conflicts, borderlands violence, and social dislocation. Additionally, her project illustrates how some Mexican-Americans are able to participate, via their tourist practices, in realignments of social, political, and economic relations within modern consumer culture.
Irena Stepanikova, Department of Sociology, earned a B.A. from Campbellsville University and an M.A. from Masaryk University, graduating summa cum laude in Psychology and English at both institutions. Her areas of specialization are social stratification, social psychology, medical sociology and quantitative methods. She has published in Axess Magazine, Medical Care, Trust and Distrust across Organizational Contexts, Qualitative and Quantitative Research in Psychology, and Czechoslovak Psychology. She worked as an intern at the International Labour Organization in Geneva and is currently writing a report and preparing a paper for the International Labour Review based on her research. Her dissertation is entitled Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Medical Care: The Role of Physician Bias and Organizational Factors.
Cecilia Tsu, Department of History, earned a B.A. in History from Swarthmore College and an M.A. in American Civilization from Brown University. She also holds a credential in adult education and has taught English as a Second Language to senior citizens in San Jose. Her research and teaching interests include U.S. social and cultural history, Asian American history, and California and the American West. As a Ph.D. candidate in History at Stanford, she has received a Whiting Fellowship in the Humanities and a Graduate Dissertation Fellowship from the Institute for Research on Women and Gender. Her dissertation, Grown in the ‘Garden of the World’: Race, Gender, and Agriculture in California’s Santa Clara Valley, 1880-1940, examines the rich agricultural history of the Santa Clara Valley in California (now commonly known as “Silicon Valley”) in terms of race and gender. She argues that the presence of Chinese and Japanese immigrant farmers changed the ways in which white residents conceptualized the family farm ideal and led to the rise of a complex set of intersecting hierarchies of race, ethnicity, gender, and class in the midst of prune yards, apricot orchards, and strawberry fields.
Graduate Dissertation Fellows 2004-2005
Magdalena L. Barrera, Program in Modern Thought and Literature, was born and raised amidst the cornfields of suburban Chicago, Illinois. She received B.A.s in English and Latin American Studies from the University of Chicago, where she did everything from founding the first feminist Latina organization to teaching salsa lessons. With dreams of writing the Great Chicana/o Novel, Magdalena lived in Mexico City for several months before enrolling in the Ph.D. Program in Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford University in 1998. Always an active participant in campus life, Magdalena has mentored Latina/o freshmen through the Partners for Academic Excellence; organized social and academic events for graduate students at El Centro Chicano; and advised Feminist Studies students as the Mentor in the Major. She was a Geballe Dissertation Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center in 2002-03, and received a dissertation fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation in 2003-04. In addition to her current affiliation with RICSRE, she is also a dissertation fellow at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender. She is completing her dissertation, entitled, Domestic Drama: Visions of Mexican Families and American Identity, 1910-1941. Her work examines early twentieth-century literature, music and photography in order to understand how people of varying class and ethnic backgrounds use the concept and discourse of "family" to manipulate the borders of American identity.
Ebru Erdem, Department of Political Science, a native of Turkey, Ebru received her B.A. in International Relations from Koc University in Istanbul. After graduating Summa Cum Laude she went on to earn an M.A. in Political Science from The University of Iowa. Along with her native language Turkish, she speaks both English and Uzbek fluently and has some command of Spanish. She has been part of David Laitin and James Fearson’s research team working on Project on Ethnicity, Insurgency and Civil War. Ebru has a co-authored paper, “The Patriarch and the President: Religion and Political Choice in Russia,” published in the journal Demokratizatsiya. Her dissertation, entitled Political Salience of Ethnic Identities: A Comparative Study of Tajiks in Uzbekistan and Kurds in Turkey, hypothesizes that ethnic identities are more salient in countries where the sociopolitical structure has been upset by political or economic transformation than in countries where these structures stay intact.
Shelley Lee, Department of History, completed her undergraduate work at the University of California, Berkeley where she earned degrees in History and Economics. As a graduate student, she has earned distinction for her teaching and served as a writing mentor to students majoring in CSRE, History, and Engineering. She has also been a leading coordinator for campus events and seminars such as the Asian Americas Graduate Workshop in 2000-2001, the twentieth anniversary reunion and symposium for Feminist Studies in 2001, and a working conference for the AsianAmericanArt project in 2002. Her dissertation is entitled Cosmopolitan Identities: Japanese Americans in Seattle and the Pacific Rim, 1900-1953. It examines the centrality of Japanese Americans in Seattle’s emergence as a major West Coast city and aims to enrich Asian American history while highlighting intersections of urbanization, race relations in the American West, and Pacific Rim concerns. For the past three years, Shelley has devoted some of her extra time to helping Bay Area middle and high school students with English and the SAT.
Rachel C. St. John, Department of History, a California native, Rachel St. John spent her freshman year at Brown University before returning to the west to complete her undergraduate career at Stanford. After just two years there, she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and received a B.A. in History, graduating with Highest Honors with Distinction. Her senior honors thesis, entitled The Enterprise Reservoir: A Mormon Response to an Arid Environment, also received the Golden Medal for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities. Following graduation, Rachel spent a year in Utah where she worked with the editorial staff of the Western Historical Quarterly. During her graduate career, Rachel has been a research fellow at The Huntington Library in San Marino and a dissertation fellow in the Mellon-Sawyer Seminar on Settlement, Racial Formation, and Partial Sovereignty in North America, South Africa, and Israel-Palestine. Her dissertation, Line in the Sand: The Desert Border between the United States and Mexico, 1848-1934, examines the construction of national spaces, identities, cultures, and power during this period of state and capitalist expansion. Focusing on the border, a notoriously uncontrollable and implicitly transnational space, Rachel's work explores how national agendas, macroeconomic developments, and international relations intersected with community formation and the emergence of national, ethnic, and racial identities.
Graduate Dissertation Fellows 2003-2004
Andrea Kortenhoven, Department of Linguistics at, completed her undergraduate work at Ohio State University, where she studied linguistics with a specialization in Spanish. At Ohio State, she was the recipient of the Minority Scholars award and participated in various research projects. During her time at Stanford, Andrea was awarded the Liberman Fellowship as well as a fellowship from the Spencer Foundation for education-related research. As a graduate teaching assistant, she has been honored as a writing mentor and has organized and supported students in community service efforts. Her research on minority children’s language and reading and her work with children with reading difficulties led to the formation of Reading Gardens, a summer neighborhood reading program in East Palo Alto. Her interests include the study of language and ethnicity (with special attention to educational and social issues), intonation, style, language and gender, especially African American women’s language. Her dissertation, “Word of their testimony: Black women’s church testimonies and narratives of faith,” focuses on story structure and ideology among black women in a Pentecostal community and examines the construction and maintenance of a unique black Christian faith through narrative.
Christopher D. Scott, Department of Asian Languages, raised in both the United States and Japan, Christopher D. Scott is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Japanese literature. After receiving a B.A. in East Asian Studies from Princeton University in 1993, he worked in the Yamagata Prefectural Government (Yamagata City, Japan) as a Coordinator for International Relations with the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. Since coming to Stanford in 1996, he has taught both first- and second-year Japanese, intermediate Japanese conversation, and modern Japanese literature. From 2001 to 2002, he was an IIE Fulbright Graduate Research Fellow at Nihon University in Tokyo, Japan. His dissertation is entitled “Spies, Rapists, Ghosts, and Gangsters: The Demanization of Resident Korean Men in Postwar Japanese Culture.” In it, he traces the criminalization, emasculation, and abjection (the “demanization,” so to speak) of Japan’s Korean minority within Japanese literature, film, and popular culture from 1945 to the present. Next year, he plans to teach a class at Stanford on the intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, and nationalism in modern Japan. His other research and teaching interests include: modern and contemporary Japanese literature, colonial modernity and postcolonial discourse in East Asia, Asian American studies, and queer theory.
Robert Terrell Smith, Department of Religious Studies, earned a B.S. in Asian Studies and Latin American Studies at Georgetown University where he held a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship for Foreign Affairs. In 1998, he was a Fulbright Fellow in Argentina where he did research on the theme of exile as expressed in Jewish curricula in that country. Robert’s research interests include: religious ideology; Zionism and western nationalism; race theory; political liberalism. His dissertation, “Jews and Space: Abraham Isaac Kook, Mordecai Kaplan and the Anthropological Project of Jewish Nationalism” will examine the religious liberalism of two icons of Jewish nationalism and the ways in which they use traditionally Jewish categories like exile, sin and redemption to reconceive Western conceptions of culture, nation and race.
Kyla Wazana Tompkins, Program in Modern Thought and Literature, received her B.A. from York University in 1996 where her honour's thesis was on Lesbian Poetics and the politics of the anthology. While working as a food writer and a book and restaurant critic, she received her M.A. from the University of Toronto in 1998 where her master's thesis was about food in immigrant and diasporic novels. Her present interests lie in the politics of food and eating in the nineteenth-century United States as important sites for the negotiation and creation of race and nation. Her dissertation, entitled "Kitchen Culture: Food, Literature and the Body Politic" will be completed in the summer of 2004. Among other topics her work looks at food and national discourse in the antebellum United States, and traces the history of representing African American bodies as edible objects in nineteenth-century literature, advertising and material culture. She has written for The Toronto Globe and Mail, Xtra magazine, and the San Francisco Chronicle. She has also received an Ontario Graduate Scholarship, and a George Washington fellowship from the Independent Press Association and has been a Whiting fellow and a fellow at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender.
Graduate Dissertation Fellows 2002-2003
Maya Beasley, Department of Sociology, is a 5th year doctoral student in the department of sociology. After completing her undergraduate degree from Harvard University, she worked as a government management consultant in Washington, DC. Over the course of her time at Stanford, Ms. Beasley has received a fellowship from the Stanford Center on Conflict and Negotiation and served on the Stanford-UCLA Working Group on Ethnicity and Nationalism. She has worked as a researcher for four years on the United States Data Collection Project on Collective Action, an effort to collect and analyze all collective action events in postwar America, and recently taught a course entitled, "The Black Middle Class." Her research interests include: racial stratification, racial and ethnic conflict, and social movements/collective action. Ms. Beasley's dissertation focuses on the gap in occupational achievement through aspirations of African-American and white college students.
Raúl Coronado Jr., Program in Modern Thought and Literature, is a 6th year Ph.D. student in Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford University. He received a B.A. Honors Humanities with Special Honors from the University of Texas, Austin in 1994. The following year he was honored with the Fredrick Cervantes Award for Best Undergraduate Paper from the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies. Coronado has published articles in Millenial Chicana/o Studies, Aztlán: The Journal of Chicano/a Studies, and Virgins, Guerias, and Locas: An Anthology of Queer Latino Writings on Love. His research interests include: nineteenth and early twentieth-century Mexican American and U.S. literature; postcolonial theory and U.S. imperialism; feminist and queer theory; history of anthropology and anthropological cultural theory. The title of his dissertation is "Competing American Liberalisms: nineteenth-Century Mexican American Literature and the Dialectics of Mexican and Anglo American Liberalisms."
Valerie J. Purdie, Department of Psychology, after completing her B.A. in Psychology from Columbia University, Valerie Purdie directed the "I Have A Dream" Foundation of the Southfield Village Public Housing Project in Stamford, Connecticut. She has worked as a research consultant to the Chief Administrative Officer of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford and is currently on the Search Committee for the Associate Dean of Graduate Multi-Cultural Education. Some of the many grants she has received include fellowships from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Mental Health. She has been invited to present her research on numerous occasions; her most recent talk was at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference in Savannah, Georgia. Ms. Purdie has an article published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and has a number of manuscripts under review. Her dissertation, “Social Identity Threat: Towards a New Conceptual Framework," examines how institutional structures within organizations such as businesses and schools can undermine the institutional trust and intellectual performance of minorities.
M. Cherise Smith, Department of Art and Art History , completed both her Bachelors and Masters in Art History at the University of Arizona, where she specialized in the History of Photography and African Art. She worked as the director of the departmental gallery and received the Centennial Achievement Award for Outstanding Minority Students during her time there. Before starting her doctoral studies at Stanford, Ms. Smith was a MacArthur Fellow in the Department of African and Amerindian Art at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1996-1998. In addition to working in the curatorial departments of several museums she has taught the workshop course "The History Films of Spike Lee" at San Francisco State University and published an article in the journal Museum Studies and a chapter in the book Let My People Go: Cairo, Illinois 1967-1973 (Southern Illinois University Press, 1996). Her dissertation tracks the trajectory of the performance of ethnic, gender, and racial personae in the contemporary visual art of Adrian Piper, Eleanor Antin, and Anna Deveare Smith.
Graduate Dissertation Fellows 2001-2002
Mishuana R. Goeman, Program in Modern Thought and Literature, has been studying at Stanford University since 1996. Her research focuses on the intersections of literature, American Indian Studies, gender, race, and ethnicity. Ms. Goeman’s dissertation, "Unconquered Nations, Unconquered Women: American Indian Women Writers (Re)Conceptualizing Race, Gender, and Nation," explores the convergence of gender, race, and nation through the literary and political activism of American Indian women in the twentieth century.
Venus Opal Reese, Department of Drama, has been working in her chosen discipline at Stanford University for four years. Her research looks to three facets of the past — how the participation of Africans as agents in the Atlantic Slave Trade functions as a rupture; the performance of the role of maid, mistress, slave, and master within the ante-bellum household, which mediated a need for survival strategies; and how the survival strategies formed through these roles are present in Hip-Hop culture Ð examining historical events as performances. Ms. Reese will incorporate discursive writing, "samples" of original performance work, Hip-Hop materials, and digital technology into her dissertation, "Initiating Acts: The Role of Ruptures in the Formation of American Cultural Identities."
Helle L. Rytkønen, Program in Modern Thought and Literature, has been studying at Stanford University since 1995. Her research seeks to challenge and expand the scope of our understanding of contemporary European identity construction. Ms. Rytkønen’s dissertation, "Europe and its ‘Almost-European’ Other: A Textual Analysis of Legal and Cultural Practices of Othering in Contemporary Europe," argues that despite an explicit rhetoric of tolerance and diversity, Europe is constructed as white, exclusionary, and non-Muslim. Complex issues of identity formation are explored.
Miriam Ticktin, Department of Anthropology, began her doctoral work at Stanford University in 1996. Her research interests include ethnographic work on immigrant social movements and women activist organizations. Ms. Ticktin’s dissertation, "Citizenship and Illegality: The Role of Human Rights and Compassion in the Fight for Equality in France," argues that a shift has taken place in inequality discourse such that the focus has become compassion and humanitarianism rather than anti-racism and human rights. Her goal is to illuminate how certain transnational ethical discourses are mobilized to fight for citizenship rights and social justice. Although awarded this fellowship, Ms. Ticktin has accepted financial support from a different source. She will participate in our program, then, as a Graduate Dissertation Fellow without Irvine funding.
Graduate Dissertation Fellows 2000-2001
Mark Brilliant, Department of History, a recipient of the Mabelle McLeod Lewis Memorial Fellowship, a northern California award for scholars in the humanities, is a doctoral student in Stanford University’s History Ph.D. program. Mr. Brilliant spent three years at the School of Education and transferred to the History Department in 1997. In 1989, he earned a B.A. in Political Science from Brown University. The following year, he became a teacher at Lafayette High School in Brooklyn, NY, where he was named Teacher of the Year from 1993 to 1994. By 1998, Mr. Brilliant had designed and taught his own course to master’s students at Stanford. With coursework and research in legal ethics, United States history, education, public policy, and curriculum construction, it is no surprise that his written works employ interdisciplinary analytical methods. His thesis, "Beyond Black and White: The Struggle for Civil Rights on America’s ‘Racial Frontier,’ 1945-1975," (2000) follows on the heels of such papers as "Constructing Solidarity: The Liberal Cosmopolitan Response to the ‘Culture Wars’" (NYU, 1999) and "(Dis)Integration in Detroit: The Ill-Fated Effort to Desegregate Detroit’s Public High Schools, 1955-1970" (Stanford University, 1996). Mr. Brilliant is a Stanford Graduate Student Representative and sits on the History Department Policy Committee.
Stephanie A. Fryberg, Department of Psychology. Her dissertation entitled, "Representations of American Indians in the media: Do they influence how American Indian students negotiate their identities in mainstream contexts?" continues a distinguished academic career. Ms. Fryberg was graduated cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree from Kenyon College (1994) in Psychology and her honors thesis work concerning American Indian identity and higher education was deemed summa cum laude. Ms. Fryberg is a member of the Sigma Xi National Honor Society for Scientists and Engineers; she has earned awards for distinguished service and outstanding academic achievement from colleges and universities around the country; and she has been invited to share her expertise at conferences and workshops in Arizona, Washington, Illinois, South Dakota, and California. Among Ms. Fryberg’s most recent publications, of which there are many, are the impending manuscripts "Ethnic minority selves: Constructing identities in mainstream contexts" and "The cultural construction of education: A comparison of American Indians, Asian-Americans, and European-Americans." In addition to performing as a teacher and mentor, Stephanie A. Fryberg has engaged in research for the Ford and Russell Sage Foundations, and has even found time to act as the Head Coach for the Stanford Covington Racing Aquatics Swim Team and as a Co-coordinator for the Stanford Native American Graduate Student Organization.
Sara Johnson-La O, Department of Comparative Literature doctoral program with a major focus in Caribbean Studies. Her dissertation, "Migrant Recitals: Pan-Caribbean Interchanges in the Aftermath of the Haitian Revolution," promises to benefit from her rigorous inter-disciplinary approach. A double major at Yale College, Ms. Johnson-La O earned distinction in both the Comparative Literature and African-American Studies majors and was graduated Magna cum Laude in 1994. By 1997, she had obtained a Masters degree in Comparative Literature at Stanford University. Since 1993, Ms. Johnson-La O has performed academic fieldwork in Sénégal, Haiti, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Martinique. She is fluent in Spanish and French, proficient in Haitian Creole, and possesses a reading knowledge of Portuguese. No less impressive are her numerous teaching appointments, her research work through grants and fellowships, and her presentations of conference papers between 1997 and the present. Ms. Johnson-La O has been active in supporting, organizing, and contributing to the Stanford graduate school community. Among other things, she has been the coordinator of the graduate student outreach seminar for RICSRE since 1999, she has been a steering committee officer for the Black Graduate Students Association (1996-1997), and she has worked as a co-organizer of the St. Clair Drake Graduate Student Presentation Forum (1999-present).
Gina Marie Pitti, Department of History and a supporting field in Race and Gender theory. She builds upon her undergraduate majors of History and Religious Studies in presenting the dissertation, "To Hear About God in Spanish: Gender, Church, & Community in Bay Area Mexican American Colonias, 1942-1970." Ms. Pitti has enjoyed great academic prestige, including having been graduated cum laude with honors from Yale University in 1994 and having passed her oral examinations at Stanford with distinction in 1997. She is fluent in Spanish as well. An energetic member of the Stanford graduate student community, Gina Marie Pitti has acted as a peer representative in both social and academic aspects of university life. Her review of Richard del Castillo and Arnoldo de León’s book North to Aztlán: A History of Mexican Americans in the United States (1996) was published in the International Migration Review in 1998. Ms. Pitti has been an educator, advisor, and lector, and has been involved in many research endeavors.
Graduate Dissertation Fellows 1999-2000
John H. Davis, Jr., Department of Anthropology
John Davis’ thesis entitled "‘Racial Flexibility’ and the Politics of Human Rights in Japanese Society," analyzes the intersection of human rights, race and nation in Japan by examining the liberation movement of Japan’s Burakumin.
Heejung Kim, Department of Psychology
Heejung Kim’s dissertation entitled "We Talk, Therefore We Think? A Cultural Analysis on the Effect of Talking on Thinking," explores a number of questions about the social and educational significance of "talking" as it relates to modes of thought.
Martín Valadez, Department of History
Martin Valadez’s dissertation, "Constructing a Modern Nation: Native and Foreign Railway Workers in Porfirian Mexico," examines the development of the railway system in Mexico in the late 19th century.