Nicole Adair, Comparative Literature
Nicole joined UC Berkeley’s Comparative Literature department in 2014 after graduating with a BA in Comparative Literature from Brown University. Her primary focus is on Late Medieval and Renaissance Italy, with interests in the intersections of Medieval and Early Modern French, English, and Latin literatures. Her work and research explores questions of language and the relationship between Latin and the developing vernaculars; representations of the body, desire, and sexuality (both physical and psychological); conceptions of space, landscape, and travel in epic, romance, and narrative genres; and the influence of theology and biblical readings on literature.
Joseph Albanese, History of Art
Joseph Albanese joined the History of Art department in 2018 and studies fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Northern European art and its subsequent crosscurrents with Latin American iconography. Joseph has an interest in exploring performativity and the sensory experience in art of that period as well as print culture. Joseph graduated with his double BA in Art History, History, and Spanish Literature from the George Washington University in 2017 and MA in Early Northern European Art from The Courtauld Institute of Art in 2018. At the Courtauld, Joseph wrote his Master’s thesis about depicting gender and supernatural identities in woodcuts from early printed editions of Fernando de Rojas’ play, La Celestina.
Zachary Blinkinsop, Scandinavian
Zach’s primary interest is the development of Swedish national identity from the Scandinavian Reformation until King Gustaf III’s assassination in 1792. This research project particularly concerns the depiction of Norse antiquity by authors such as Olaus Magnus, Olaus Rudbeck, and Olof von Dalin. Other interests include the influence of English and French literature on Swedish satire, the rococo troubadour Carl Michael Bellman, and the partisan patronage of writers by Mösspartiet (the Cap Party) and Hattpartiet (the Hat Party). Zach came to UC Berkeley in 2014 by way of Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota where he earned his BA in Scandinavian Studies and Latin.
Kate Driscoll, Italian Studies
Kate’s interests are primarily in sixteenth-century Italian literature and their seventeenth- and eighteenth century counterparts in music, opera, and theatre. She particularly focuses on the reception and adaptations of the Italian Renaissance chivalric epics (Boiardo, Ariosto, and Tasso) and their performances on stages throughout Italy, France, Germany and England. Currently, she is studying how these “themes and variations” of Italian literary texts contributed to the birth and popularity of early Baroque opera. Kate joined the Italian Studies department at Berkeley in 2014 after having completed her M.A. in Italian at New York University in 2012, where she also received her B.M. in music performance in 2011.
Shterna Friedman, Political Science
Shterna Friedman is investigating the historical roots of Hegel’s understanding of the relationship between freedom and totality, asking how Hegel may have reworked Cartesian and Spinozist epistemology and metaphysics in order to counter contractualist and voluntarist conceptions of political freedom.
Christopher Geary, English
Chris’ research interests broadly concern ecological history, the history of science, the history of critical philosophy and materialist thought, and how these intellectual and material developments are formulated in and through “late” early modern British literature from the English Revolution to early Romanticism. He is particularly interested in how Enlightenment ideas of spontaneity are worked out over this long period through questions of organic, aesthetic, and political form. He joined the English program at Berkeley in 2018 after having completed his B.A. and M.A. in English at the University of Toronto.
Hannah Katznelson, Comparative Literature
Hannah focuses on the literary construction of temporality between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries in France, England, and Italy. She is interested in how medieval literary, intellectual, and theological frameworks are modified to accommodate new and more robust senses of a historical “now” in narrative genres such as Epic, romance, and the novella. She is also interested in the rhetorical processes of moral education, and their relation to narration and narrative forms in allegory and other didactic genres. She comes to the program with a B.A. in Literature from Yale University.
Rupinder Kaur, French
Rupinder focusses primarily on Renaissance and Early Modern French literature, with additional interests in Art History and Spanish and Latin American studies. Her work deals with theories of affect and emotion, depictions of the body, colonial texts, conduct manuals, art theory, rhetoric and self-writing. Prior to joining UC Berkeley in 2015, she gained her BA in French and Spanish at UCL and worked briefly in university administration.
Kristen Keach, Italian Studies
Kristen Keach is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Italian Studies. She holds a B.A. in Art History and Italian Studies from USC, magna cum laude, an M.A. in Art History from UC Davis where her thesis discussed the encoded homosexual dialogue between Robert Rauschenberg’s Inferno series and Jasper Johns’ Targets, and an M.A. in Italian Studies from UC Berkeley. Her research interests include ekphrasis, intertextuality, intervisuality, and intermediality. Kristen was a Mellon Institute in Italian Paleography Fellow at the Newberry Library (2019) and recently received the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation Venetian Research Program Fellowship, the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Ahmanson Research Fellowship, and the UC Berkeley REMS Dissertation Fellowship.
Kristen’s dissertation, The Italian Poetic Triumvirate Realized: Visualizing the ‘Trionfi’ or the ‘tre corone,’ explores the relationship between Dante’s Commedia, Boccaccio’s L’Amorosa visione, and Petrarca’s Trionfi. By analyzing each text through a technical reading of the Book of Ezekiel, Roman imperial pageants, and medieval automata, her project exposes the shared triumphal dialogue among the poetics of the tre corone that informs the iconography for the later artistic visualizations of Petrrach’s ‘Trionfi.’ Rather than strictly adhering to Petrarch’s text for inspiration, the images unveil a ‘Trionfi’ of the ‘tre corone.’
Anahit Manoukian, Spanish and Portuguese
Anahit’s primary area of focus is eighteenth-century Spanish literature, culture, and history, with a particular interest in the Spanish Enlightenment, Spanish intellectual and imperial history, and geopolitics. Through comparative and interdisciplinary approaches to studying the Hispanic world, she intends to trace the Spanish empire’s path to Enlightenment by looking at simultaneous pre-Enlightenment philosophical and scientific conversations taking place in Europe during the early modern period and how these ideas were received, appropriated, and repurposed by Spanish enlightenment thinkers in the eighteenth century. Additionally, she is interested in tracing the exportation of Enlightenment ideologies to the Spanish colonies during the Bourbon Reforms. Anahit holds a BA in Political Science (minors in Spanish and Latin American Studies) from UCLA and an MA in Spanish from CSULB.
Kevin Ogunniyi, English
Kevin’s study has centered on Elizabethan-Jacobean drama, particularly on the nexus between aesthetics, ethics, representation, and performance, in the tragedies of the period. He works always to descry what literature teaches readers and spectators about how we live and how we ought to live. Subsidiary interests include: the histories of literary criticism and Classical reception; “pre-modern” humanist and other anthropologies; character criticism; critical theory; continental European Romances and romances; (what seems like) the theatre’s (and literature’s) capacities to outstrip life and to fall short of life.
Yessica Porras, History of Art
Yessica is interested in the juxtapositions imbedded in Colonial Latin American art, with an emphasis on the Northern Andes. Part of her current research deals with mural works found inside colonial churches and convents. For Yessica, colonial mural works have an unstable quality that warrants a closer look to explore the way mural programs related to the people that co-existed with these images. Her overall academic work intends to bring attention to understudied artistic expressions and put them in conversation with the larger spectrum of Art History. This includes the role of religious orders in the making of art in Latin America during the sixteenth to eighteenth century. Yessica received her BA in History of Art at UC Berkeley in 2014 and joined the History of Art graduate program in 2015.
Sarah Sands Rice, English
Sarah focuses on early modern English literature and its continental influences, with particular emphasis on law and literature, depictions of the body, gender and sexuality, and the development of English as a literary language. Her work places literary texts in dialogue with social history, drawing on external sources such as legal texts, midwifery manuals, and rhetoric guides. Sarah joined the English Department in 2015 following a BA at Colorado College and an MLitt at the University of St Andrews. Outside of academia, she has worked as a victim advocate for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, a housekeeper at the Iona Abbey, an AmeriCorps VISTA at a childhood literacy nonprofit, and a writing tutor at Central New Mexico Community College.
Saraswathi Shukla, Music
Saraswathi draws on her musical experience as a harpsichordist and her undergraduate training in history to research the instrumental music and musical culture of 17th- and 18th-centuries France and Germany. She incorporates her passion for material culture, literature, and manuscript studies into her work. Her research often examines the circulation of music across genres and social, geographic, and temporal boundaries. Her current project on the remodeling (ravalement) of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Flemish harpsichords in eighteenth-century Paris is leading her to explore the decorative arts, organology, and academic debates in Golden Age Antwerp and Ancien Régime France.
Evan Strouss, Comparative Literature
Evan’s research interests are centered predominantly in the German and Italian lyric traditions of the 16th century through the Enlightenment, particularly as they relate to emergent conceptions of identity – political and theological. More recently, he has grown interested in studying these traditions in conjunction with early modern developments in song and stage, interrogating how these changes resonate with ever-shifting theories of voice. Evan comes to Berkeley by way of Brown University, where he earned an A.B. in German Studies, and Dartmouth College, where he earned an M.A. in comparative literature.
Arya Sureshbabu, English
Arya’s primary interests cluster around questions of self-reflexivity, marginality, and temporality in early modern English drama and lyric. More tangentially, she is also fascinated by generic instability, different modes of unknowability, precursors to post-critique, and postcolonial appropriations of Renaissance texts. Prior to joining the graduate program, Arya completed her BA in English at UC Berkeley.
Dana Swensen, English
David is broadly interested in the Renaissance, its relation to European humanism and rhetoric and its place in intellectual history. He came to Berkeley in 2014 after completing his undergraduate and an MA in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literary Culture at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. Between, before and after degrees he worked in the food industry as a baker, a chocolate maker and a pastry chef.