Department of English

University of Toronto

Current Graduate Student Biographies

Sara Ameri Mahabadi

PhD Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): Medievalism/Theory
Supervisor: Alexandra Gillespie

My graduate research interest has been late medieval English literature. For my PhD project, I am both narrowing down and expanding my field to focus on the mystical writings of women in medieval Christian territories. I am also interested in postmodern theoretical frameworks, particularly those pertaining to madness and sexuality.

Dustin Batty

PhD Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): Canadian literature, ecocriticism, critical animal studies
Supervisor: Nick Mount

My dissertation explores attitudes toward the urban nonhuman, as depicted in the 21st-century Canadian novels. My theoretical framework combines and challenges conventions of ecocriticism and critical animal studies.

Grant Bellamy

PhD Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): The realist novel; the long 19th century; aesthetics; the literary tradition
Supervisor: Angela Esterhammer

My research considers literary realism and modern philosophical aesthetics as dialectically related movements of the long nineteenth century. I examine how mutual investment in the concept of representation as an end in itself enabled these discrete cultural programs, despite tensions between them, to usher in conjointly not only sweeping changes in descriptive and narrative technique but also a fundamental re-conception of the purpose of art. I study the revolutionary character of these literatures and try to situate them within a broader "story of art" as it unfolds from the Homeric epic to postmodernism.

Una Creedon-Carey

PhD Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): Medieval
Supervisor: Alex Gillespie

My dissertation researches the intersections between queer theory, posthumanism, and Old English literature. My other academic interests include medieval medicine and medieval reception in the digital age. I am also a RA for the Henry Daniel Project, where I assist in editing a transcription of Daniel's 14th century Herbal. I also founded an English palaeography reading group that is an offshoot of Alex Gillespie's Old Books New Science lab.

Apala Das

PhD Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): Global Modernisms, Modern Asceticism, Postcolonial Theory
Supervisor: Ming Xie

I am a 3rd year PhD candidate. The topic of my dissertation is "The Politics and Poetics of Asceticism in Cross-Cultural Modernisms." I am interested in the ways in which ascetic impulses/imperatives appear in interconnected modernisms as strategies of aesthetic and epistemic detachment, disinterestedness, and denial. In non-western modernisms, such as in late-colonial South Asian modernisms, asceticism also forms the basis for diverse political praxes, from nationalist and anti-colonial mobilization to subaltern militancy. In my dissertation, I focus on the works of Samuel Beckett, Rabindranath Tagore, Sri Aurobindo, Sister Nivedita, Mina Loy, and Wallace Stevens. I am also interested in postcolonial approaches to medieval studies and medievalisms, and in modernist receptions of the middle ages. I am currently working on an article to be presented at the MLA 2020 Annual Convention in Seattle, USA, in which I use the lens of comparative poetics to study askesis in select writings of Sri Aurobindo and Wallace Stevens.

I am also a Resident Junior Fellow at Massey College, in the University of Toronto.

List of Publications:

Articles in peer-reviewed journals:

Book review:

Angela Du

PhD Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): the Victorian novel; realism; form and genre; narrative; character; gender and sexuality; eighteenth-century literature and Romanticism
Supervisor: Audrey Jaffe

My dissertation is on Victorian novelists' attempts to write new kinds of narratives. Although they often raise the possibilities of new plots and characters in the middle of their narratives, they tend to return to more conventional plots by the ending. Thus, new possibilities are glimpsed but not realized; nevertheless, I contend that these stories not-yet written disrupt the literary conventions to which they defer. This project is particularly focused on late-century novelists, including Thomas Hardy and Sarah Grand, and narratives of female development.

List of Publications:

Mitchell Gunn

PhD Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): Digital Literature and Games, Contemporary Literature

My research examines and theorizes the forms of interactivity involved in the encounters between a reader and a literary work, especially in the developing field of digital literature. I incorporate elements of New Formalism, poststructuralism, and reader-response theories alongside the work of digital media scholars to address experimental print works, digital texts, and even video games.

Ira Halpern

PhD Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): American literature
Supervisor: Michael Cobb

Zak Jones

PhD Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): American Literature

Zak Jones completed his Honours BA in English, MA in English [In the Field of Creative Writing] at University of Toronto, where he is currently a Ph.D. student studying narratives of defeat in American "epics."

Academic Conferences and Publications:

Creative Publications:

Scholarships and Awards:

Other Information:

Christopher Kelleher

PhD Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): British Romanticism; New Imperial Histories
Supervisor: Daniel E. White

Dissertation: "Global Romanticism, Imperial Circulation: Culture, Credit, and Colonialism in British and Anglo-Indian Literature, 1790-1830"

Chancellor Jackman Junior Fellow.

List of Publications:

Marina Klimenko

MA CRW Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): Creative Writing, Canadian Lit, Ecofeminism, Postcolonialism

Marina Klimenko is a writer of short fiction and a student of Canadian literature focusing on Postcolonial and Ecofeminist theory. Her short fiction has been published online and in print both in Canada and internationally. She is currently working on a novel.

Marina's short fiction has appeared in literary journals such as Toronto Prose Mill, Patchwork Mosaic, Victoria College's Goose, Half a Grapefruit, and The Wild Word.

Anna Kozak

PhD Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): American Literature
Supervisor: Naomi Morgenstern

I am a PhD student in English with a collaborative graduate specialization in Sexual Diversity Studies. My research interests include contemporary American literature, autobiography, queer theory, and affect theory.

I have also presented my work at various conferences and have several creative non-academic publications.

List of Publications:


Timothy Lem-Smith

PhD Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): 20th/21st-century American Literature; Critical Theory; Genre; Critical Race Theory; Postmodernism
Supervisor: Paul Downes

Tim is working on a dissertation project on paranoid reading and contemporary American fiction.

Iona Lister

PhD Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): Medieval Literature
Supervisor: William Robins

Also a student of the Book History and Print Culture program (BHPC), much of my work involves tracing how literary trends shift over time. My dissertation centres around the voice and talking body parts in Anglo-French, Old English, and Middle English secular literature, particularly in the Old English riddles of the Exeter Book, Anglo-French fabliaux and the Lais of Marie de France, and the Middle English romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. My research interests extend to Medieval Revival, and I am currently working on a conference paper concerning how medieval conquest narratives such as the Vinland Saga are being used to feed white supremacist movements in North America. For my interdisciplinary work at the BHPC, I am planning a digital project that aims to recover some of the lost medieval vocal music in the Fisher Antiphonary manuscript.

Austin Long

PhD Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): Anglo-Modernism and Book History

I am interested in the intersection between experimental realist novels and book history during the interwar period. In particular, I research the works of Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, and the members of their respective literary circles, and their influence on press employees, markets, etc., and vice versa.

Colleen McDonell

PhD Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): Victorian literature, with a focus on supernatural fiction; class and representations of domestic workers; periodicals and print culture; short stories; digital humanities
Supervisor: Cannon Schmitt

My research is on the representation of female servants in British ghost stories published from 1845 to 1905. As part of the collaborative Book History and Print Culture program, I study Victorian print culture and periodical publishing. More broadly, I am also interested in fairy tales and fantasy literature, women's writings, and digital remediations of texts.

I am the Canadian Graduate Student Representative for the North American Victorian Studies Association (NAVSA) and the co-chair for UofT's 2020 Graduate English Conference.

Riley McGuire

MA Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): Medieval

Medieval language, literature, and philosophy.

Jenna McKellips

PhD Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): Medieval English Drama

My current research concentrates on embodied performances of femininity in late medieval East Anglian drama. I'm interested in exploring gender as a type of performance, and in comparing lived and theatrical medieval performances of gender.

I've previously presented conference/colloquium papers on Old English poetry (York University Interdisciplinary Conference), early modern stage technologies (Ridgeview Colloquium Series), and using drama to teach medieval studies to secondary schoolers (Kalamazoo International Congress on Medieval Studies).

Sean McPhail

PhD Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): The Great War, Twentieth Century British, Memoir and Autobiography
Supervisor: Garry Leonard

Sean's dissertation focusses on the relationship between kinship and commemoration in the war-poetry, memoirs, and autobiographies of Siegfried Sassoon. Other scholarly interests include twentieth-century German fiction and the short story.

List of Publications:

Dustin Meyer

PhD Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): Early modern drama; Shakespeare and his contemporaries; classical reception; Humanism; book history
Supervisor: Jeremy Lopez

Dustin Meyer's research examines questions of classical reception in early modern English drama. He is primarily focused on the ways in which Shakespeare's use of Roman authors was shaped, in part, by the wider diffusion of classical texts in England. His research touches on Humanist pedagogy, intertextuality, and the English book trade. He is also interested in Shakespeare's comparatively understudied contemporaries such as George Chapman and Thomas Heywood. Dustin is also the Rare Books Fellow at the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies.

Sim Wee Ong

PhD Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): Early Modern

Sim is a PhDU 1 student who intends to specialize in Early Modern English literature. She is keen on exploring curiosity, doubt and skepticism in the 16th and 17th Centuries, especially when expressed through interrogatives. She is also interested in epics (particularly that of Dante and Milton) and tragedy (Renaissance and beyond). She is from Singapore by way of New York, obtaining her BA in English and American Literature from New York University.

Julie Prior

PhD Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): Early modern drama, Shakespeare, eighteenth-century drama and literature
Supervisor: Jeremy Lopez

Julie Prior is a senior PhD candidate in the Department of English at the University of Toronto. Her SSHRC-funded doctoral research examines the intersection of culture, gender, and social (dis)enfranchisement in Shakespeare's plays, emphasizing how, through adaptation, theatre paves pathways for social change. Using the emergence of the actress on the English stage in 1660 as a starting point in connecting theatre to women's contributions to social justice, Julie's research positions The Taming of the Shrew as a guiding text for tracing the actress' representation of female agency in Renaissance, Restoration, and eighteenth-century plays.

Shane Radke

MA Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): Restoration & 18th-Century Literature, Aspects of Theory, Environmental Humanities

My research centers on dramatic representations of material goods in 18th-Century British literature and its eco-theoretical intersections. I am currently working towards entrance into a PhD program wherein I aim to complete a dissertation on this topic.

My blog is available at

List of publications:

Stephanie Redekop

PhD Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): 20th Century American Literature; Literary Nonfiction
Supervisor: Randy Boyagoda (supervisor), Andrea Most (co-supervisor)

Stephanie Redekop is a PhD Candidate in the Department of English and the Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on the relationship between the literary essay and public discourse in twentieth-century America, with an additional interest in religion and literature. She is a Junior Fellow at Massey College and the Co-Director of the American Literature Research Collaborative at the University of Toronto. She holds a Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship.

List of Publications:

Joel Rodgers

PhD Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): Early modern poetry, politics, law
Supervisor: Paul Stevens

My dissertation examines the complex effects of early modern corporate culture on English literature at the turn of the seventeenth century, when modern conceptions of the corporation were first taking shape. I focus in the particular on the works of Spenser, Shakespeare, Donne, and Jonson. My broader research interests include poetic, legal, and political conceptions of citizenship and the city; law and literature; early modern republicanism and nationalism; as well as early modern literature's reception in contemporary popular culture.

List of publications
  • “Talbot, Incorporated.” Renaissance Shakespeare / Shakespeare Renaissances: Proceedings of the Ninth World Shakespeare Congress. Ed. Martin Procházka, Andreas Hoefele, Hanna Scolnicov and Michael Dobson. University of Delaware Press, 2013. 21-28.

Amritpal Singh

MA Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): Medieval Literature; Literary Theory and History

Ryan Stafford

PhD Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): Modernism
Supervisor: Dana Seitler

Interests: modernism, misanthropy, sound recording, un/popular music, Platonism, fascism, illiteracy, decadence, European languages.

Kara Toews

MA CRW Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): Fiction, Novel

Toews is currently working on a literary fantasy novel that takes place in Victoria, BC during the 1950s. The Defiance of Dawn centres on Hadley Harker who, at birth, experiences both physical and psychological trauma. After her home is destroyed by a fire and she loses her mother to suicide, Hadley is placed in the B.C. Protestant Orphans' Home in Victoria. She navigates adolescence isolated by the burn on her face, the inability to confront her mother's death, and the blossoming depression that she formulates into the imaginary figure of Moth. The longer Hadley remains in Kairos, the more she forgets her real life, leaving her with the ultimate decision whether or not to unbury and embrace the depression that makes her who she is or continue living in a world where she can never envelope a true sense of self.

Toews plans to pursue her PhD after completion of the MACRW and return to Vancouver Island where she hopes to teach Creative Writing at the University of Victoria. 

List of Publications:
  • The Light Keeper - Danforth Review - Fiction
  • Carrier - Glass Buffalo - Fiction
  • Ascent - Glass Buffalo - Fiction
  • Partings and Place - Settling the Mind in Wilderness - Non-Fiction
  • Invorto - Untethered - Non-Fiction

Aley Waterman

MA CRW Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): Fiction
Supervisor: Sheila Heti

Aley holds an MA from MUN in Contemporary Criticism and Theory, and her area of interest in theory lies in poststructuralist poetics. She is currently working on a novel and a book of flash fiction under the supervision of writer Sheila Heti.

Publications: Aley's stories have been published in places including Bad Nudes, the Metatron short poetry blog, and the Vault.

Jordan Weir

MA CRW Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): Creative Writing

Mainly a poet, but currently working on more short fiction. Secondary interests in Literature & Medicine and Can Lit.

Kelly Whitehead

PhD Candidate
Area of Specialization/Research Interest(s): Canadian literature, topics in psychoanalysis and memory studies
Supervisor: Smaro Kamboureli

Kelly Whitehead is interested in contemporary Canadian literature and topics in critical theory. Her dissertation considers the role of intergenerational memory in articulating collective trauma through Canadian women's writing. Focusing primarily on works by diasporic Canadian and Indigenous women, her work decenters the notion of a singular traumatic event to argue for an intergenerational understanding of trauma.

List of Publications:

Site Information:

Site Tools:

Click below for directions to the University of Toronto!

University of Toronto, St. George Campus
Map of St. George Campus
Map of Mississauga Campus
Map of Scarborough Campus