Graduate Students

Claire Arnold is a second-year doctoral student in the History Department focusing on nineteenth-century Britain and its empire. Her research considers changing sibling relationships, family life, and communication technology over that period. She was recently awarded the History Department’s George Romani Prize for Best First-Year Paper, for the essay “‘More than a Brother’: Siblings and the Making of the Bonham Carters.”

Ryan Burns is an eighth-year graduate student in the History department. He specializes in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Britain, tracing the emergence of contractual theories of government and assessing the challenge posed by dissident groups to the authority and integrity of the state. Ryan holds a BA in History and Political Science from Kenyon College and an MPhil in early modern history from the University of Cambridge.

Clay Cogswell is a fifth-year doctoral student in the English department. He focuses on the 19th-century British novel, with a particular emphasis on the history of the emotions. His dissertation examines the disposition that George Eliot names “emotional susceptibility” and argues for its centrality in the formulation of communitarian ethics.

Jennifer Comerford is a first-year doctoral student in English studying eighteenth-century British literature. She is interested in how epistolarity dramatizes consciousness and identity construction. Her research interests include cross-channel exchange, agency, and consent.

Ruby Daily, a doctoral student in History, studies gender and sexuality in modern Britain, with an emphasis on violence and sex in popular culture. Ruby holds a BA in History from Wittenberg University and a Master’s in History from the University of Vermont. She is a recipient of the Kinsey Institute John Money Fellowship and was a 2016 DPDF fellow of the Social Science Research Council.

Brian Druchniak studies modern British history, with a particular focus on empire and legal history. His dissertation, provisionally entitled “Giving the Devil His Due: Law, Nationalism, and Reputation,” is a study of the laws of sedition and libel in the era of Indian and Irish nationalism, c. 1880-1922. He holds a BA in History from the University of Michigan, a Master’s in History from UIC, and a Master’s in History from Brown University.

Gil Engelstein, a fourth-year doctoral student, is examining British history and its international aspects. His research interests include the history of migration, cultural exchange, and sexual cultures in the 20th century. Gil earned his BA in history and literature at Tel Aviv University, where he also wrote an MA thesis entitled “‘Once I Was One, Now I Am Many’: Life Histories of Transgender Women in Israel, 1948-1986.”

Ali Faraj is a second-year doctoral student in Performance Studies with an MA and BA in English Literature and a BE in Computer Engineering from the American University, Beirut. He is studying elements of performance, class, and sexuality in post-WWII working-class culture in Britain, particularly in Kitchen Sink Drama and the Angry Young Men movement, but also in works by female playwrights and novelists such as Shelagh Delaney, Nell Dunn and Gillian Freeman. He is also interested in performances of race and class in northern England’s underground music and dance scene in the 1960s and ’70s.

Laura Ferdinand Feldmeyer is a doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Theatre and Drama. Her research interests in the relationships among constructions of childhood, wartime propaganda, and imaginative play were sparked by her time as Resident Stage Manager at Town Hall Children’s Theatre. Her adaptation of J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan explores the creation and evolution of Barrie’s iconic myth from his journals, letters, and archive. She is president of Northwestern’s Graduate Improv Team, SPG, and received her BA and Master’s in Theatre from Miami University, where she served as adjunct instructor of Theatre.

Menglu Gao is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literary Studies and English. Her scholarly focus is nineteenth-century British literature and the history of medicine, with an interest also in sound studies. Her dissertation examines how opium addiction functioned as a crucial literary trope that lent ideological support to Britain’s informal empire in the nineteenth century. During the 2018-19 academic year, she is a fellow of Northwestern’s Paris Program in Critical Theory.

Johana Godfrey is a third-year doctoral student in the English department specializing in Victorian literature. She is interested in material culture and intellectual history; more narrowly, in how emerging literary forms and aspects of print culture responded to pervasive uncertainties about imperial and urban expansion. She is also currently co-chair of the Long Nineteenth-Century Colloquium at Northwestern.

Alícia Hernàndez Grande is a fifth-year student in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Theatre and Drama. Her research interests include the development and representation of national and regional identity through theatre and sport culture, with a special emphasis on post-WWII Europe. She earned her BA in English Literature and Theatre from Rice University and her Master’s in Theatre Studies and Dramaturgy from the University of Houston.

Megan Housley is a third-year student in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Theatre and Drama. A British national, she received a BA in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic from the University of Cambridge and an MA in English Literature from the University of Warwick. Additionally, she holds a DipGrad in Theatre Studies from the University of Otago, New Zealand. Megan’s research centers around different popular performances of national identities in Britain from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, particularly in periods of (inter)national political crisis. She is also interested in performances of Renaissance and Enlightenment political thought, both onstage and off.

Lisa Kelly is a doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in Theatre and Drama. Her research focuses on the rise of celebrity culture in nineteenth-century Britain and how actresses used participation in philanthropy and social organizations to change their social status and advocate for social causes.

Brian Leahy is a doctoral student in the department of Art History studying contemporary art. He focuses on the relationships among contemporary art, economics, and the state, particularly during the 1980s. A central interest is the history of Irish art, including issues of intra-European colonialism, transatlantic migration, racialization(s) of the Irish in the United States, and contemporary Irish economic policy.

Madelyn Lugli is a first-year doctoral student in the History Department. She specializes in twentieth-century Britain and empire, with particular focus on the intersections of British nationalism and internationalism during the interwar years.

Sarah Mason is a Ph.D. candidate in the English department. She specializes in 19th-century British literature, with an emphasis on sound and technology studies. Her dissertation examines the impact of the soundscape on Victorian conceptions of silence, space, and sociality. Sarah earned her BA in English and History at the University of Texas at Austin, where she was recognized as a Dean’s Distinguished Graduate.

Laura McCoy is a sixth-year doctoral student in History specializing in women’s and family history in the Anglo-American world through 1865. Her dissertation examines how American families managed the emotional traumas of an unpredictable international marketplace in the early nineteenth century, with particular attention to merchants in Britain and China. Her research has been supported by the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies, the Virginia Historical Society, and the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium.

Christopher Montague is a first-year doctoral student in the African American Studies department. He specializes in twentieth-century political radicalism, identity and un/belonging among the African diaspora in Britain, especially regarding their migratory experience from Britain’s former colonies in West Africa and the Caribbean to the metropole. Chris earned his BA in History from the University of Exeter, UK.

Nina Moon is a fourth-year doctoral student in the English department with a focus on 18th-century British literature. She is particularly interested in women’s writing, the intersections between proto-feminism and Britain’s colonial project, and conceptions of political and sexual consent.

Todd Nordgren is a doctoral student in the English department studying British modernist literature. His research interests focus on avant-garde European novels that demonstrate innovative narrative forms and concepts of text-as-body, to elaborate feminist and queer approaches in the early 20th century.

Tyler Talbott is a second-year doctoral student in English studying Victorian literature. He is interested in pairing colonial and canonical texts to assess how increased spatial and cultural mobility de-centers and destabilizes periodization and national canon formation. His research interests include 19th-century patterns of emigration, the global circulation of novels, and colonial women novelists.

Olivia Xu is a first-year doctoral student in the English department. She focuses on the nineteenth-century English novel, with a particular interest in visual culture and aesthetic theories. Her MPhil thesis examines the ubiquitous presence of fictional portraits in the nineteenth-century English novel and argues against the common “narrative reading” of visual arts in the novel.



Shannon Blaha, Ph.D in History (2014). Mutual Interest: A Study of Cultural Cross-Border
Cooperation in Ireland, 1938-1968 (Chair:  B. Heyck).

Will Cavert, Ph.D. in History (2011): Producing Pollution: Coal, Smoke and Society in London, 1550-1750 (Chair:  E. Shagan). Current position: Assistant Professor of History at St Thomas University in St Paul, Minnesota.

Teri Chettiar, Ph.D. in History (2013): The Psychiatric Family: Citizenship, Private Life, and Emotional Health in Welfare-State Britain, 1945-1979 (Chair: A. Owen). Current position: Collegiate Assistant Professor and Junior Fellow at the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts, the University of Chicago.

Zirwat Chowdhury, Ph.D. in Art History (Spring 2012): “Imperceptible Transitions”: The Anglo-Indianization of British Architecture, 1769-1822 (Chair: S. H. Clayson). Current position: Visiting Faculty Member in Visual Arts, Bennington College.

Anna Fenton-Hathaway, Ph.D. in English (Fall 2012): Novel Perspectives on Victorian Britain’s “Redundant” Women (Chair: C. Lane). Current positions: Lecturer in Chicago Field Studies, Northwestern University, and Managing Editor of the journal Literature and Medicine.

Emma Goldsmith, Ph.D. in History (Fall 2017): In Trade: Wealthy Business Families in Glasgow and Liverpool, 1870-1930 (Chair: D. Cohen). Current position: at Springer Nature in the UK.

Christie Harner, Ph.D. in English (Fall 2010): Character Science and Its Discontents: Victorian Literary Interventions into Debates about Phrenology and Physiognomy (Chair: C. Herbert). Current position: Development Officer in Quality in Learning and Teaching Development, Newcastle University, UK.

Darcy Heuring, Ph.D. in History (2011): Health and the Politics of “Improvement” in British
Colonial Jamaica, 1914-1945 (Chair: A. Owen). Current position: Assistant Director and Earl S. Johnson Instructor in the Masters of Arts Program in the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago.

Emily C. Hoyler, Ph.D. in Musicology (Spring 2016): Broadcasting Englishness: National Music in Interwar BBC Periodicals (Chair: L. Austern). Current Position: Lecturer in Liberal Arts, School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Maha Jafri, Ph.D. in English (Spring 2016): Between Us: Gossip, Sociability, and the Victorian Novel (Chair: C. Lane). Current position: Assistant Professor of English at Sewanee, the University of the South.

Hosanna Krienke, Ph.D. in English (Fall 2016): The Afterlife of Illness: Narratives and Practices of Convalescence in Victorian Britain (Chair: J. Law). Current position: Post-Doctoral Researcher in English and History of Medicine, Oxford University.

Alexandra Lindgren-Gibson, Ph.D. in History (Spring 2016): Working-Class Raj: Renegotiating Class, Sexuality and Race, 1858-1914 (Chair: A. Owen). Current position: Visiting Assistant Professor of History, Northwestern University.

Jason Lusthaus, Ph.D. in English (Spring 2016): Victorian Reincarnations: Jesus, Religion, and Doubt in Nineteenth-Century Literature (Chair: C. Lane).

Elizabeth Caitlin McCabe, Ph.D. in English (Spring 2013): How the Past Remains: George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and the Victorian Anthropological Doctrine of Survivals (Chair: C. Herbert). Current position: Lecturer in Chicago Field Studies, Northwestern University.

Laurence Robbins, Ph.D. in History (Spring 2013): The Foundations of Education: Charity and the Educational Revolution in Tudor and Stuart England, 1560-1640 (Chair: E. Shagan). Current position: Teacher of Social Studies, Ed W. Clark High School, Las Vegas, NV.

Aileen RobinsonPh.D. in Theatre and Drama (Summer 2016): Technological Wonder: The Theatrical Fashioning of Scientific Practice, 1780-1905 (Chair: T. Davis). Current position: Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University.

Sarah Roth, Ph.D. in English (Fall 2017): An Interesting Condition: Reproduction and the Un-Domestication of the Victorian Novel (Chair: J. Law). Current position: Visiting Assistant Professor of English, Northwestern University.

Chris Vickers, Ph.D. in History (Spring 2013): The Economics of Crime in Victorian England (Chair: J. Mokyr). Current position: Assistant Professor of Economics, Auburn University.

Winter Jade Werner, Ph.D. in English (Spring 2014): The Gospel and the Globe: Missionary Enterprises and the Cosmopolitan Imagination, 1795-1860 (Chair. C. Herbert). Current position: Assistant Professor of English, Wheaton College, Mass.