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Carolina Alvarado, Department of English

Carolina Alvarado joined the English department in 2010. Her dissertation focuses on the role of editors and publishers in shaping popular conceptions of region and regional identity in the early 20th century. More broadly, she works on 19th and 20th century American literature, with particular interest in the novel, regional studies, editorial theory and textual criticism. Carolina received a dual B.A. in English and Religion from Brooklyn College (CUNY) in 2008. 

April C. Armstrong
, Department of Religion

April C. Armstrong entered the Ph.D. program in the Department of Religion in Religion in America in 2007. Currently she is working on a dissertation focusing on interfaith dialogue between the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Baptist Convention, entitled, "'That's What Makes Me a Jew and Him a Baptist': Jews, Southern Baptists, and the American Public Square from the Reagan Revolution to the Dawn of the New Millennium." She is interested in the challenges and costs of American pluralism, especially as related to church-state issues. Prior to enrolling at Princeton, she earned her B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Oklahoma and her M.A.Th. in Theological Studies from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Matthew Axtell, Department of History

Matthew A. Axtell is a PhD student in Princeton’s history department primarily interested in studying how legal concepts and actors have shaped (and been shaped by) markets, property relations, geography, and economic reasoning in American History.  His dissertation, titled "American Steamboat Gothic: Law, Commerce, and Collective Action in the Aquatic West, 1832-1868," analyzes the papers of steamboat captains, river laborers, attorneys, and court officers to tell how the bustling commercial nature of the 19th century steamboat economy eventually joined with its interstate nature, its undercapitalization, its egalitarian spirit, and its intense private litigiousness to upset balances of power on Ohio River waterfronts in the mid-1800s, blurring the line between debtors and creditors, buyers and sellers, and masters and slaves.  He is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley (B.A., History, Highest Honors) and the University of Virginia School of Law (J.D., Traynor Prize for Best Writing by Law Graduate). 

Keisha N. Blain
, Department of History

Keisha N. Blain is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History. Her research interests include 20th century U.S. History, African American History, Women’s History and the modern African Diaspora. She is currently working on her dissertation, “For the Freedom of the Race: Black Women and the Practices of Nationalism, 1929-1945,” which examines how Black nationalist women engaged in national and global politics during the Great Depression and World War II. Before coming to Princeton, Keisha earned a B.A. (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in History and Africana Studies from Binghamton University (SUNY).

Olivier Burtin, Department of History

Olivier Burtin is a graduate student in the History Department. He is writing a dissertation on the history of veteran politics after the Second World War in the U.S. More broadly, he is interested in U.S political, social, and cultural history in the twentieth century and the history of various social movements from feminism to conservatism. He is a graduate of Sciences Po Paris (France), where he received his Masters’ Degree in History in 2011.

Kameron Collins
, Department of English

Kameron entered the English department in 2009. His project, "The Afterlives of Incorporation: Readings in Law, Literature and Philosophy" examines the statuses of affect and bodily materiality in 19th and 20th-century conversations about legal personhood. More broadly, he works at the intersection of legal theory and philosophy, legal history, and literary theory/studies. He was the recipient of an AMS summer research prize in 2010 and is co-organizing the AMS graduate conference for Spring 2013.

Peter Conti-Brown
, Department of History

Peter Conti-Brown is a PhD candidate in the Department of History and is primarily interested in studying the intellectual, legal, and political evolution of central banking in the United States. More generally, he is interested in the history and law regarding the regulation of debt, public and private, within the contexts of banking, bankruptcy, public finance, and administrative law. He has published articles in the Stanford, UCLA, and Washington University Law Reviews, and co-edited the book When States Go Broke: The Origins, Context, and Solutions for the American States in Fiscal Crisis, published by Cambridge University Press. He is a graduate of Harvard College (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and Stanford Law School, where he remains a non-resident Academic Fellow with Stanford's Rock Center for Corporate Governance. Prior to coming to Princeton, he worked as a law clerk for the Hon. Stephen F. Williams in the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, and the Hon. Gerard E. Lynch in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. 

Henry M. Cowles, Department of History

Henry is a graduate student in the History Department's Program in the History of Science. He is writing a dissertation on the cultural value of science in the United States in the decades around 1900. The project centers on debates about the scientific method between scientists, philosophers, and others, with a particular focus on the American Pragmatists. More broadly, he is interested in the relationship between science and the public, in the history of the life and human sciences, and in American intellectual history as it relates to the history of science. 

Brittney Edmonds
, Department of English

Brittney joined the English department in 2010. Her current interests include 20th Century American Literature, African-American Literature, and Science Fiction. Of particular interest is the work of author Octavia Butler.

Justin Fowler, School of Architecture

Justin Fowler is a PhD candidate at the Princeton School of Architecture and a founding editor of Manifest, a journal of American architecture and urbanism. He received his Master of Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and previously studied Government and the History of Art and Architecture at the College of William and Mary. He is the editor of Evolutionary Infrastructures by Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi (Harvard GSD, 2013), an assistant editor of Invention/Transformation: Strategies for the Qattara/Jimi Oases in Al Ain (Harvard GSD, 2010) and his writing has appeared in Volume, Pidgin, Speciale Z Journal, Thresholds, PIN-UP, Domus, Conditions, and Topos, along with book chapters in Material Design: Informing Architecture by Materiality (Birkhauser, 2010), and Aircraft Carrier: American Ideas and Israeli Architectures after 1973 (Hatje Cantz, 2012). He has worked as a designer for Dick van Gameren Architecten in the Netherlands, Somatic Collaborative in Cambridge, and managed research and editorial projects at the Columbia University Lab for Architectural Broadcasting (C-Lab) in New York. He also served as managing editor for C-Lab issues of Volume magazine and co-directed think tank research for the GSAPP/Audi Experiments in Motion initiative.

Alfredo Garcia
, Department of Sociology

Alfredo entered the department of sociology in 2011.  Prior to arriving, he obtained a B.S. from Duke University and a MTS (Masters in Theological Studies) degree from Harvard Divinity School.  His recent research has focused on the segment of the U.S. population that identifies itself as having "no religion" on surveys, a diverse group that includes the irreligious, unreligious, anti-religious, and anti-clerical.  Of particular interest to Alfredo are those who disaffiliate from their religion of birth and also those who join non-theist organizations such as the American Atheists, Ethical Societies, etc.  Alfredo has also dabbled in journalism as a former writer for the Religion News Service.

Josh Garrett Davis
, Department of History

Josh Garrett-Davis is a graduate student in the history department. He is interested in U.S. cultural history in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, as well as the history of the American West and American Indian history. He earned his undergraduate degree in American studies at Amherst College and later completed an MFA in nonfiction writing at Columbia University. His first book, Ghost Dances: Proving Up on the Great Plains (a combination of memoir, journalism, history, and essay) was published in August 2012.

Brian Gingrich, Department of English

Brian Gingrich (B.A. Southwestern University; M.A. German Studies, Stanford University) is a doctoral candidate in the department of English. He studies narrative developments in America and Europe from the mid-nineteenth century onward, in novels and stories as well as in movies. His particular interests include Freud, Barthes, painting, notions of realism, theories of desire, and figures of scope in fiction

Rachel Gross, Department of Religion

Rachel Gross is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Religion's Religion in the Americas program. Her dissertation, "Objects of Affection: The Material Religion of American Jewish Nostalgia," is a material culture and ethnographic study of American Jews' nostalgia for the for their communal homelands of Eastern Europe and American immigrant neighborhoods, focusing on four case studies: the material culture of Jewish genealogy, historic synagogues used as heritage sites, children's books and dolls, and American Jewish foodways, focusing on "kosher style" restaurants and delis. The dissertation examines how American Jews use each of these kinds of material to create an affective, sentimental connection to the past that produces communal, religious meaning in the present and conveys social desires for the future. Rachel's broader interests include the ethnographic study of contemporary Judaism, the visual and material cultures of American religions, and the role of space and place in the formation of religious communities. Rachel received a B.A. in Jewish Studies and an M.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia.

Justene Hill
, Department of History

Justene Hill is a graduate student in the Department of History.   Her academic interests include African-American History, History of Slavery in the British Atlantic World, and Women’s History.   Specifically, Justene is interested in studying the formation of informal and clandestine economies within enslaved communities in the United States and the British West Indies and specifically the ways in which gender shaped participation in informal economic activities.   Justene has a B.A. in Spanish from Swarthmore College and an M.A. from Florida International University in African New World Studies.   She is originally from Oakland, California.

Jennifer Huynh, Department of Sociology

Jennifer Huynh is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology. Her areas of interest include race/ethnicity, Asian American Studies, immigration, and transnationalism.  She received her B.A. degree from UC Berkeley and M.A. degree from the University of Bristol.  In her dissertation, “The City Within: Negotiating race, religion, and diaspora,” she examines the boundaries of the ethnic enclave for the children of Vietnamese refugees. Huynh recently completed a study of Vietnamese-American community organizations under the auspices of the Center for Migration and Development. Prior to attending Princeton, she worked as a sociology instructor in China.

Kurt Karandy
, Department of Religion

Kurt Karandy entered the Religion Department in 2013. He studies twentieth-century U.S. cultural history, with a particular interest in religion in America. He research focuses on questions about religion, race, multiculturalism, and popular culture in the U.S. since 1965. Kurt received a B.A. in History from American University (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and a M.A. in Religion from Yale University and Yale Divinity School. His master's thesis, “Channeling the Spirit,” draws from African American Studies, American Studies, religious studies, performance studies, and cultural history to narrate a religious history of sitcoms in the post-civil rights era.

George Laufenberg
, Department of Anthropology

George Laufenberg is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology. He is interested in spirituality, healing, and community in contemporary North American life. He is currently working on a dissertation which explores modes of knowledge production and representations of experience in the teaching and learning of metaphysically-oriented practices of ‘Complementary and Alternative Medicine’, as well as the connections practitioners make to healing traditions in native North America and European esoteric traditions. George is a Quin Morton Teaching Fellow in the Princeton Writing Program, and a Graduate Fellow at the Center for the Study of Religion. He teaches a Freshman Writing Seminar called 'American Mysticism'. He holds an M.A. from Georgetown and a B.A. from Johns Hopkins.

Jessica Lowe, Department of History 

Jessica Lowe is completing her PhD in the history department from Charlottesville, Virginia, where she is a new Associate Professor of Law at the University of Virginia. Jessica specializes in 18th and 19th century American legal and cultural history. Her dissertation, "Murder in the Shenandoah," is about the 1791 case of Commonwealth v. John Crane. On July 4, 1791, twenty-four year old John Crane was bringing in the first harvest on his new farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley when he came into conflict with his neighbor’s hired field workers. In the ensuing fight, Crane stabbed a young wagon-driver named Abraham Vanhorn; when Vanhorn died several days later, county authorities charged Crane with murder. "Murder in the Shenandoah" follows the case through the court system, and uses it to explore law and life in Virginia in the 1790s. In contrast to recent studies of early national legal culture, particularly of the South, which have emphasized the existence of multiple legalities, Jessica's work demonstrates the salience of the rule of law in early national Virginia. She is also beginning work on a second project, tracing the history of American biblical and legal textualism from the colonial period through the twentieth century.   Her research has been supported by, among other sources, a Mellon Fellowship and a Princeton University Center for Human Values Graduate Prize Fellowship. 

Larry D. Lyons II, Department of English

Larry D. Lyons II is a doctoral candidate in Princeton University's department of English where his dissertation research examines representations of the Black working class in Depression-era literature and photography. More broadly, he is interested in articulations of white normativity in 20th century American literature and visual culture. His work is deeply indebted to the fields of masculinity studies, queer theory and black feminist thought. He received his BA in English literature from Rutgers University.

Jane Manners, Department of History

Jane Manners is a graduate student in the history department. She is interested in 19th century U.S. legal history, and is writing her dissertation on the legal and political aftermath of the Great New York Fire of 1835. She has an undergraduate degree and a J.D. from Harvard, and has tried her hand at teaching, journalism, philanthropy, and politics.
Caleb Maskell, Department of Religion
Caleb Maskell is a PhD candidate in the Department of Religion. His dissertation, "The Kingdom of God and the Transformation of American Religious Imagination, 1830-1877" tells the story of the way that the discourse of the Kingdom of God moved from the margins to the mainstream of American religious life, becoming a lingua franca for describing widely diverse visions of the American religious future. He earned a bachelors degree in Fundamentals from the University of Chicago in 2000 and a masters degree from Yale Divinity School in 2004. Before coming to Princeton, he was the Associate Director of the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale.  

Kijan Bloomfield Maxam, Department of Religion

Kijan Bloomfield Maxam is a graduate student in the Department of Religion. She is in the Religion, Ethics, and Politics subfield. Kijan graduated from Bowdoin College with a AB in Religion and Africana Studies and earned her MA in International & Transcultural Studies, with an emphasis on educational development from Columbia University.  Her research interests include Caribbean Philosophy, African Diaspora Studies,and Gender and Religion. Her current project focuses on religion and social change in the Caribbean from the late 19th century to the present. 

Sarah Milov
, Department of History

Sarah Milov is a historian of American politics. She is particularly interested in twentieth century agriculture policy and the imagery of farming that sustained it. Motivating questions of her research include, “why are you eating that,” “who grew this,” and “what is the American Meat Institute?”  Her dissertation, entitled “Little Tobacco: how tobacco farmers became lobbyists, 1920-1980,” examines the shifting relationship between government, tobacco growers and the tobacco industry.  Sarah received a BA in Social Studies from Harvard in 2007.   

Maribel Morey, Department of History 

A PhD candidate in the History Department, Maribel Morey is writing a dissertation on Gunnar Myrdal's An American Dilemma (1944);  a two-volume study celebrated as one of the most monumental texts of the U.S. civil rights movement. The dissertation deconstructs the Carnegie Corporation's reasons for commissioning, funding, and publishing Myrdal's study; and in the process, helps explain how this organization became a civil rights actor in the postwar United States. She received a J.D. from NYU School of Law, and a B.A. in Politics and Romance Languages & Literatures from the U. of Notre Dame. This year, she is a Samuel I. Golieb Fellow in Legal History at NYU Law.

Ronny Regev, Department of History

Ronny is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History. She studies twentieth century American history with a particular interest in popular culture, the development of mass-media industries and labor history. Her dissertation, “It’s a Creative Business”: The Ideas, Practices, and Interaction that Made the Hollywood Studio System, seeks to reveal the day-to-day reality inside this industry during it’s golden age, c. 1930-1950, by examining the effect work relations and politics had on cinematic production and content. It is a social history of Hollywood that recovers the organization of both labor and the creative process through which movies were produced, and an attempt to understand how everyday routines and interactions shape entertainment. Ronny is an affiliate of the Princeton Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies. She graduated from Rutgers University in 2006 with a BA in history and philosophy. 

John Reuland
, Department of English

John Reuland studies 19th- and 20th-century American literature.  His dissertation, The Self Unenclosed, tracks how Progressive Era writers and intellectuals reinvented selfhood as a tool for carrying out projects of cooperative social reform.  An essay based on this project is forthcoming in Modernism/modernity. John entered Princeton’s Ph.D. program in 2006, after receiving an A.B. in History and Literature from Harvard and an M.A. in English from the University of Illinois.

Leslie Ribovich
, Department of Religion

Leslie Ribovich entered the Religion Department in the Religion in the Americas subfield in 2011. Her interests include the relationship of church and state in the United States, contemporary character education programs, the history of teaching morality in schools, gender, virtue theory, and religion in the public sphere. She received a BA, cum laude, in Religion and English from Barnard College, earning distinction on both senior theses. Her Religion senior thesis was on the universalizing of moral values in the public sphere among thinkers in the character education and New Atheist movements. Leslie is also a recipient of the Beinecke Scholarship.

Mark Robinson, Department of Anthropology

Mark Robinson is a doctoral student in the anthropology department. His general interests include the social study of science (STS) and of pychopharmaceuticalization, medical anthropology and neuroethics. His specific research questions focus on emerging innovations in neuroscience and biomedicine (especially relating to pharmaceuticals and technologies)  in the U.S and the attendant, emerging ethical issues. His additional research interests pertain to theories of human morality generally, the role of the social sciences in ethics, and the problem of language in the biosciences. Under a fellowship from Princeton''s Center for the Study of Religion and Princeton's Institute for International and Regional Studies, Mark conducted research in collaboration with L’Institut Jean Nicod / Département d’Etudes Cognitives in Paris and recently completed a summer program at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Neuroscience and Society. A former Galbraith scholar, Mark is a member of the Technology and Ethics Working Group at Yale University's Interdisciplinary Center on Ethics.

Rebecca Rosen, Department of English

Rebecca Rosen joined the English Department in 2010. She studies early American literature, with particular interests in women's manuscript writing, autobiography, captivity narratives and slave narratives, Native American literature and history, and elegiac forms.

Saul Schwartz, Department of Anthropology

Saul has been a graduate student in the anthropology department since 2008. He does ethnographic and historical research on American Indian language documentation and revitalization with a focus on Siouan languages. He is interested in language ideologies, translation, disciplinary cultures, collaborative methods, and research audiences.

Roy Scranton, Department of English

Roy Scranton joined the English Department in 2010. His interests include contemporary war and war literature, 20th-century American literature, the rhetorics and practices of experimental fiction and poetry, the problem of the self, and dialectical formalism. His dissertation will look at the social construction and literary experience of war in twentieth-century American literature, particularly around World War II.

His scholarship and essays have been published or are forthcoming in Contemporary Literature, Theory & Event, the New York Times, Boston Review, and elsewhere. He has also published poetry and fiction in New Letters, The Massachusetts Review, Denver Quarterly, and LIT. He is one of the student coordinators for the Graduate Colloquium on Contemporary Poetry.

He is the editor (with Matt Gallagher) of Fire and Forget (Da Capo, 2013),  an anthology of literary fiction by veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

His work can be read at

Sarah Seo, Department of History

Sarah Seo is a graduate student in the history department and studies twentieth-century U.S. legal history.  Her dissertation, “The Fourth Amendment and Cars in Twentieth-Century America,” examines the history of car searches to explore changing understandings of American freedom, autonomy, and privacy.

Sarah completed general exam fields in the United States, 1890-1990; transnational history, and U.S. legal history.  She received an A.B. in History in 2002, also from Princeton, and a J.D. from Columbia Law School in 2007.  Prior to graduate school, Sarah served as a law clerk for Judge Denny Chin in the Southern District of New York and Judge Reena Raggi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

James Steichen, Department of Music

James Steichen is a PhD candidate in the Department of Music, where his research focuses on opera, dance, and the intersection of music and theater. His dissertation offers a critical reexamination of George Balanchine’s first two decades in the United States and the institutional antecedents of the New York City Ballet, encompassing the choreographer’s work in ballet, opera, musical comedy, and film.He studied comparative literature at the University of Virginia and holds a master’s degree in humanities from the University of Chicago. He has authored reference articles on impresarios Lincoln Kirstein and Rolf de Maré for the Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, and his reviews and translations have appeared in The Yale Review, The Opera Quarterly, and TLS. His scholarship on the Metropolitan Opera’s “Live in HD” cinema broadcast initiative has been published in The Opera Quarterly and Music and the Moving Image. In February 2012 he served as co-organizer, along with Caryl Emerson and Simon Morrison, of the international conference “After the End of Music History” in honor of musicologist Richard Taruskin, and in May 2013 is co-organizing an interdisciplinary conference on “The Agon of Opera and Dance.” His research has been supported by an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Research Affiliate in Cultural Policy Award from the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies at Princeton as well as a Howard D. Rothschild Fellowship in Dance from Harvard University’s Houghton Library.

Irene Elizabeth Stroud, Department of Religion

Beth Stroud entered the PhD program in the Department of Religion, specializing in Religion in the Americas, in 2010. She holds an S.T.M. from The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, an M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, and an A.B. from Bryn Mawr College. She is interested in the history of liberal American Protestantism, especially the fissures and contradictions between academic theology, religious social action, and everyday lay religious practice. She also has a strong interest in African-American religion and cities. While completing her S.T.M., she worked as a research assistant on Faith on the Avenue, Dr. Katie Day's ongoing study of nearly 100 congregations on a single city street in Philadelphia.

Grant Wythoff
, Department of English

Grant Wythoff works on media theory and science fiction with a particular emphasis on 19th and 20th century America.  His dissertation, Gadgetry: New Media and the Fictional Imagination, is a cultural history of that alternately physical and fictional device, the gadget.  Though the word serves as a sort of empty container for any object whatsoever, the shape of that container changes drastically from its origins in late nineteenth century nautical jargon to its present day association with portable electronics.  The basic idea is that the concept of the gadget, as a perpetually evolving genre of tools, is redefined for the material needs and fictional desires of each new era. Grant is also project manager on the Princeton Prosody Archive, a full text searchable database of writing on prosody spanning 1750-1950.  This includes thousands of manuscripts, manuals, articles, grammar books, and other materials on the rhythm, intonation, and utterance of language.

James R. Young, Department of Religion

James Young is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Religion, where he studies American religions and is specializing in African American religious history. His dissertation is a study of black religions in Atlanta during the early twentieth century. James holds degrees from Dartmouth College (A.B., 2005) and Harvard Divinity School (M.Div., 2008).

Alumni Affiliates

Sofya Aptekar, Department of Sociology and Office of Population Research

Sofya Aptekar was a graduate student in the Sociology Department and Office of Population Research.  She is interested in sociology of culture, race and ethnicity, stratification and inequality, contemporary immigration and immigrant incorporation in urban settings, and immigration law post-WWII.  Her dissertation was a mixed-methods examination of nationalism and national identity through the lens of immigrant naturalization in Canada and the United States.  She also writes about immigrants in local New Jersey politics and is working on a study of hipsters in Williamsburg.  Sofya earned a BA in Sociology from Yale University and taught elementary school before coming to Princeton.

Dan Bouk, Department of History

Dan Bouk was a graduate student in the history department. His dissertation, "Science and the Culture of Capitalism: Life Insurance in the United States, 1850-1950," explained the development of a distinct economic culture shaped and directed by succeeding generations of scientific and medical experts employed within some of America's most important capitalist institutions—its life insurance companies. He also writes about killing mosquitoes in early-twentieth century suburbs and researching wildlife, while maintaining broader interests in American intellectual and cultural history, environmental history, the history of technology, and the history of capitalism. In the fall 2007 he had the pleasure of teaching for AMS 201.  Dan is now an Assistant Professor of History at Colgate University.

Adrienne Brown, Department of English

Adrienne Brown was a PhD student in the English Department. Her dissertation, Reading Between the Skylines--The Scyscraper and the Frailty of Space in American Modernism, takes the absence of the skyscraper in modernist prose as its starting point, tracing this peculiar absence to broader anxieties about the instability of space emerging in the early 20th century.  Her other research interests include the American underclass, critical race studies, popular culture (particular music), narrative theory, and Modernisms.  She received her B.A. in English from the University of Maryland in 2005.  

Michelle Coghlan, Department of English

J. Michelle Coghlan was a graduate student in the English department. In the fall of 2007, she had the pleasure of teaching for AMS 201. Her dissertation, “Revolution’s Afterlife: the Paris Commune in American Cultural Memory, 1871-1933,” explored the spectacularly resilient afterlife of the Paris Commune in U.S. literary, visual and performance culture. Most recently, she’s published essays excavating the “aftertaste” of ruin in the writings of Henry James, queer sites of desire in Tarzan of the Apes, and unlikely frontiers of empire and radical memory in late-nineteenth-century boys’ adventure fiction. Thanks to a Mellon Foundation Fellowship at the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, she’s also begun work on a second book-length project that chronicles the rise of food writing and the making of American taste in the long nineteenth century. In the fall of 2013, she began a full-time appointment in English and American Studies at the University of Manchester (UK).

Nika Elder, Department of Art & Archaeology

Nika Elder is an art historian who specializes in American art and holds a particular interest in intersections between visual art and material culture. She received her Ph.D. from Princeton University in 2013 and is currently a post-doctoral fellow/lecturer in the Princeton Writing Program, where she has taught courses on Framing American Art and the Cultural History of Slavery. Her current book project, Show and Tell: Representation, Communication, and the Still Lifes of William Harnett explores how and why the late-nineteenth-century artist experimented with inanimate objects and pictorial strategies that make cognitive operations visible, material, and thus knowable. An article on the function of clothing in the early photo-text installations of contemporary artist Lorna Simpson is currently under review. Nika’s research has been supported by the Wyeth Foundation/Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, and Wellesley College, as well as the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, the Donald and Mary Hyde Fellowship Fund, and the Program in American Studies at Princeton, where she co-organized the first American Studies Graduate Student Conference in 2009.
Erin Forbes, Department of English 

BA (Reed College). Erin Forbes joined the Princeton graduate program in English in 2003. Her interests include colonial, 18th-, 19th- and early 20th-century U.S. literature and culture; Enlightenment aesthetic, moral and political philosophy; African-American and women's writing; critical race theory; religion and literature; law and literature; the popular press and reform writing.  Erin's dissertation, "Genius of Deep Crime: Literature, Enslavement and the American Criminal" explores the relationship of slavery and penal reform to the literary development of the figure of the "criminal genius" from early national print culture through reflections on Emancipation in the 1890s.

Her research was supported by awards from the Center for the Study of Religion, the Program in American Studies, and the American Antiquarian Society. Erin's dedication to undergraduate education has been recognized by a Cotsen Junior Teaching Fellowship, and in the Fall of 2008 she precepted for both "Introduction to American Studies: American Places" and "Introduction to Afro-American Studies."  Erin is now teaching in a tenure-track position at the University of Wyoming, where she teaches both American and African American literature.

Chin Jou, Department of History

Chin Jou graduated from the history department in 2009, writing a dissertation on nutrition and medical authorities' ideas about diet, health, and obesity at the turn of the twentieth century. She is currently a lecturer in the history of science department at Harvard.

Rachel Lindsey, Department of Religion

Rachel McBride Lindsey's dissertation focuses on vernacular photography and the visual archives of nineteenth-century American religion by employing deep material and visual culture studies approaches. The analytic paradigms of gender, sexuality, regionality, race, and the body help to locate some of the ways religious Americans incorporated various photographies into their devotional practices, domestic activities, and religious instruction. Rachel received her B.A. in Religious Studies at Missouri State University in 2006.

Dael Norwood,  Department of History

Dael Norwood is a historian of early America, specializing in the global dimensions of American politics and economics. He was a graduate student in the history department at Princeton, where his research was supported by an American Studies Program Summer Research Prize in 2011. His 2012 dissertation, “Trading in Liberty: The politics of the American China trade, c. 1784-1862," examined how the lucrative commerce between the U.S. and Asia became deeply intertwined with the political struggles over sovereignty, expansion, and slavery that defined the early American state. Now serving as the Bernard & Irene Schwartz Postdoctoral Fellow at the New-York Historical Society and the New School University, Norwood is revising his dissertation for publication, and working on a history of “the businessman” as a potent political and cultural identity in America.

Anthony Petro, Department of Religion

Anthony Petro was a graduate student in the Department of Religion, where he focused on religion in America. After finishing his degree, he first served for two years as Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow in the Religious Studies Program at New York University, before starting his current position in the Department of Religion at Boston University in 2012. His research and teaching interests include the study of modern Christianity, especially evangelicalism and Catholicism in the United States; the history of religion, medicine, and public health; and critical and feminist theories of religion. His current project, After the Wrath of God: AIDS, Sexuality, and American Religion, investigates the history of American religious participation in the AIDS epidemic and its role in the promotion of a national moral discourse on sex.

Sonya Posmentier, Department of English

Sonya Posmentier is a PhD Candidate in the Department of English. Before coming to Princeton, she received a BA from Yale University and an MFA in Creative Writing from University of Oregon, and spent many years teaching high school. Her research interests include: poetry and poetics, literary modernism, critical race studies, and postcolonial theory. Her dissertation, “’The Unvarying Season’: Cultivation and Catastrophe in Twentieth Century Poetry of the African Diaspora” inquires into the relationships among poetic form, organic form, and cultural identity during the modern period and beyond.

Lindsay Reckson, Department of English 

Lindsay Reckson received her Ph.D. from the Department of English in 2011. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow in English at the University of Texas at Austin; in fall 2013 she will join the faculty at Haverford College as an Assistant Professor of English. Her research focuses on 19th- and 20th-century American literature, African American literature, photography, performance, affect studies, religion, and gesture. Her first book project, Realist Ecstasy, examines American realism's complex effort to archive and re-animate subjects of religious enthusiasm, attending to the spectacular re-emergence of ecstatic bodies and to the perils and possibilities of ecstatic performance at the turn of the century. A second project, Experimental Gestures, explores the political and ethical resonances of gesture in early 20th century literature, dance, photography, and silent film. Her essays and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Arizona Quarterly, American Religious Liberalism (Indiana UP, 2012), Religion and Literature, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Jamie Sherman, Department of Anthropology

Jamie Sherman was a graduate student in Anthropology whose dissertation research involved a working class bodybuilding gym in Brooklyn, NY. Broadly, her work concerned the intersection of body politics and everyday life in the United States. Her work engaged with literatures of race and multiculturalism, gender and (in particular) masculinity, and post-industrial urban socialities. She is currently working as a research scientist with Intel Labs in Portland OR, where she does research on the dialectics between society and technology.

Anne Twitty,  Department of History

Anne Twitty completed her PhD in history in 2010 after accepting a position as an assistant professor of history at the University of Mississippi. Broadly defined, Anne's research focuses on questions of nineteenth century American social, cultural, legal, and political history, including the history of the American South and Midwest, slavery and emancipation, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and gender and women's history. Her manuscript, Promiscuous Legality: Slavery and Legal Culture in the American Confluence, from the Northwest Ordinance to Dred Scott examines a collection of slave freedom suits that reveals the dense, tangled web of slaves, masters, attorneys, judges, and politicians who made and unmade slavery at the margins of the antebellum West. Before coming to Princeton, Anne received her B.A. in Political Science at The George Washington University in 2003.

Sarah Wasserman, Department of English

Sarah Wasserman is a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of North American Studies at the University of Bonn (Germany), where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in American literature and culture and in literary theory.  She received her PhD from the English Department at Princeton University in December 2012.  Her current book project, Material Losses: Urban Ephemera in Contemporary American Literature and Culture, is an interdisciplinary study that examines the prevalence of the vanishing object in American literature and culture since the beginning of the 20th Century.  Situated at the intersection of literary analysis, psychoanalytic theory and material culture studies, this project considers how ephemera encode the grief and anxiety inspired by particular moments in the nation's history.  Her other research interests include critical race studies, urbanism, popular culture, and visual studies.  Her writing appears in Research in English and American Literature, Contemporary Literature and Modern Fiction Studies. Sarah received her M.A. in Humanities from The University of Chicago in 2005 and her B.A. in English and Biology from Kenyon College in 2003.

Leah M. Wright, Department of History

Leah M. Wright is an Assistant Professor of History & African American Studies at Wesleyan University. She received her B.A. in History from Dartmouth College in 2003 and her Ph.D. in History from Princeton University in 2009. Leah's research interests include 20th Century United States political and social history, modern African American history, and popular culture. Her writing has been published in the Journal of Federal History, Souls, Oxford African American Studies Center Online/African American National Biography, as well as in the anthology Making the South Red: When, Where, Why and How the South Became Republican. Her research has been supported by fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the National Archives and Presidential Libraries. She has delivered numerous public lectures and talks, and has made media appearances on Connecticut Public Radio, Virginia Public Radio, Huffington Post Live, NPR, and PBS.

Currently, Leah is finishing her book, The Loneliness of the Black Conservative: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power (under advanced contract with Princeton University Press). her project offers new insight into the relationship between African American politics, the American civil rights movement, and the Republican Party. Leah’s website is .