PhD Student Profiles

UC = University College
Raj Banerjee
Rajarshi Banerjee 
M.Phil (University of Hyderabad), M.A. (University of Hyderabad)

My research is invested in the relationship between Romanticism and Posthumanism. The study revolves around literary, philosophical, and scientific texts from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in order to explore what it means to be or become 'human', and what constitutes 'humanity' (also, by extension, the 'humanities').

Kastoori Barua
Kastoori Barua 
B.A. Hons. in English (Delhi University); M.A. English (Delhi University)

My research studies the nexus between migration, belonging, and identity through various philosophical lenses of hospitality provided by Derrida, Kant, and Levinas. I am more broadly interested in investigating Foucault's concept of biopolitics and its repercussions in international borders and laws. Formerly an art-curator and critic, I'm generally interested in contemporary conceptual arts and the artistic representation of migrant crises.

C Diezyn
Caroline Diezyn
MA, BA (Western)

My research interests include American literature (1900-present), ecocriticism, time and temporality, sci-fi and speculative fiction, and gender and sexuality studies.

Anmol Dutta photo
Anmol Dutta
BA, MA Honors (University of Mumbai, India)
Shastri Fellow 2019

I work in the areas of Cultural and Media Studies, Postcolonial Theory, and Video OTT Cultures in South Asia. The focus of my doctoral research lies in examining Netflix India as a national space of cultural exchange: a contemporary tangible link to the homeland for the Indian diaspora in Canada. My project explores ramifications of the dialogue between culture, politics, and re-presentation with ‘protecting sensibilities’ in 2020s' India.

 As of 2021, I chair the Anti-Racism Committee and Equity Committee at Society of Graduate Students And I work as Senior Editor for Re:Locations, a graduate student journal at the University of Toronto (

Jeremy Fairall 
MA (Windsor)

My research examines the connections between space and queer identity in Young Adult Fiction, with a focus on the school story. More broadly, I am interested in Canadian Literature, Children’s and Young Adult Literatures, Queer Theory and Film Studies.

M Fishbane
Melanie J. Fishbane
B.A. York, M.A. Concordia University, M.F.A. Vermont College of Fine Arts

Research Interests: Most scholarship on Jewish children’s literature and girlhood is primarily focused on the Holocaust, with some attention to late twentieth-century authors, like Judy Blume. As contemporary Jewish writers of children’s and young adult books advocate for stories showing the rich cultural diversity of the Jewish experience, my scholarship responds to this call to action by examining the persistence of the Jewish girl character. My research on Jewish literature is filling a need by exploring the coming-of-age novel and the construction of the Jewish girl in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century literature written by women. It also examines how the Jewish girl protagonist survives the double alienation of subverting the traditional models of Jewish femininity and being ostracized as a woman and a Jew within the dominant male Christian culture.

General Areas of Interest: Women and Gender Studies, Children’s and Young Adult Literature, Creative Writing, History, Girlhood Studies, Jewish Studies, and Religious Studies.

Tanja Grubnic 
B.A. Hons English (Brock);
M.A. Cultural Studies (McMaster)

With an emphasis on women writers, my research examines social media, poetry, and the face of publishing in the age of globalization.

Ken Hunt
Honours BA in English (University of Calgary), BA in History (University of Calgary), MA in English (Concordia University)

My thesis investigates how poetry has responded to scientific ideas, discoveries, and events between the end of WWII and the present. I'm looking at how different movements in poetry have appropriated scientific terms, imagery, and concepts in distinctive ways in order to both critique and revere notable impacts that science has had on human society and culture since the mid-20th century.

M Jaishankar
Maya Jaishankar
M.A. in English Literary Studies, University of Exeter, UK
B.A. in Theatre, Communication & Media, English, Christ University, India

My research interests lie in the areas of Postcolonial Literature and Theory, Cultural Studies, Linguistics and urban/spatial studies. My MA dissertation was focused on assessing the status of the English language in modern Indian society, looking at how it functions as a medium of creative expression and shapes subjective realities. The focus of my doctoral research is the Postcolonial short story read in translation, specifically, the literary works of Bengali filmmaker, Satyajit Ray. It looks to expand scholarship on a traditionally under-researched area of Postcolonial and South Asian discourse, analysing the politics of language (and translation), literary narrative styles, the identity of the individual and the ways in which physical, emotional, and linguistic spaces are constructed.

Luke Jennings
Luke Jennings
M.A., English (Western); B.A., English and Philosophy (Western)

Early Modern Drama and Poetry, principally that of Shakespeare; The Geneva and King James Bible; Early Modern Theology and Theosophy. Personal Interests: Creative Writing (Epyllia and Verse Drama).


Sidra Khan
Sidra Khan
M Phil in English (Lahore College for Women University), MA (Minhaj University)

My primary research focus is what role nationality and cultural factors play in the sexual orientation of a person with South Asian constrains. I am particularly interested in the intersection between Queer theory and postcolonial theory.


A Lukawski
Alexandra M. Lukawski
BA in English Literature and Psychology (UBC)
MA in English Literature (Western)

I am a current PhD student in the department. My dissertation is interdisciplinary and involves giving surveys to audiences at contemporary performances of Shakespeare. I am interested in how audiences perceive and understand race on the contemporary Shakespearean stage. 

I serve as Co-Chair of the Graduate English Society at Western.

I do all my best work with the help of my “research assistant”, my rescue dog Bluma.

D Mitterauer
David Mitterauer

Master of Arts in English (Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada)
Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Linguistics (Paris-Lodron University of Salzburg, Austria)

My primary research interests are in early American literature, the transatlantic crossings of romance, and Black diasporic thought. My forthcoming dissertation “To Strengthen Hope: Romance and Black Pleasure in the Early Slave Narrative and Early Black Fiction” turns to romance as a literary mode of digression, the incredible, and the fictional to probe the interiority of early Black writers. I am interested in how Black writers reveal but never fully admit the reader into the privacy of inner life, where the fact of Black humanity and capability needs neither argumentation nor proof. The point of departure for the dissertation is that Black joy and pleasure in this quasi-private sense are key to understanding the complexity of early Black writers’ lives and the function of slave narratives and early Black fiction as deeply interconnected forms of truth-telling and imagination.

Amala Poli

Amala Poli
MA (Manipal University, India)

My research is situated in the health humanities, an interdisciplinary area that aims to de-hierarchize relationships among different disciplinary approaches to contemporary health and wellness discourses by recognizing contributions from various stakeholders and experience-centred accounts. My dissertation studies sleep paralysis, an uncanny sleep event set apart by vivid hallucinations, a twilight consciousness trapped between waking and sleeping, and a state of terror caused by the inability to move. What is peculiar about sleep paralysis as a recognized sleep disorder is its affinity with the supernatural. I hope to demonstrate how the relationship between science and literature emerges as mutually transformative in the study of sleep paralysis through paradigm literary instances of this event.
I write on various topics in the health humanities for Synapsis, a health humanities journal founded in 2017 with a core team of editors from Columbia University. My book on the subject of life narratives as a form of experiential knowledge titled Writing the Self in Illness was published by Manipal Universal Press in 2019.

Matthew Rooney
Matthew Rooney (he/him)
M.A. English (Dalhousie)
B.A. (hons) English and Visual Arts (Dalhousie)

I focus on cross-media depictions of natural space in early modern Britain. My research uses ecocritical and phenomenological tools to navigate the intersection of visual and verbal modes of representation in chorographies, descriptions, and surveys. I am also drawn to representations of the dynamic body in early modern and Romantic literature, particularly when contrasted with developing scientific discourses. Outside of academia, I am an award-winning author of poetry and short fiction.


Alexander Sallas
M.A. English (McMaster);
B.A. (hons) English & Cultural Studies (McMaster) (summa cum laude)

My dissertation argues that the deus ex machina is worthy of scholarly reclamation by studying the device through the philosophies of Hegel, Kant, Kierkegaard, and Lacan. Ultimately, I suggest that humanity's revelation of the "universal"—or what Foucault calls the reconciliation of humanity with its essence—must come from an extraterrestrial force that will appear to us at present as a deus ex machina.

I'm also the Senior Editor of the Literary Review of Canada, our country's national book review magazine.

Diana Samu-Visser
MA (Western), BA (Calgary)

My research concerns the cultural, socio-political, and ethical dimensions of technologies through which embodiment and archivization intersect, that is, the ways in which we literally and figuratively preserve the dead. Such technologies include cadaver plastination, postmortem photography, practices of deathcare, and material proxies for absent bodies. Other foundations and considerations include necropolitics, abjection, eroticism, death sentences, the ethics of necrography, the corpse in systems of circulation, and implicit/explicit depictions of necrophilia.

Mohammad Sharifi
Mohammad Sharifi
MA, BA (University of Tehran)

My research engages with the modern grotesque in fiction as a genre that emerges as the expression of schizophrenia and paranoia in American literature, although its scope is wider than that.  I am interested in psychoanalysis and schizoanalysis, 20th century American fiction, comparative literature, and also Persian Literature.

Panteleimon Tsiokos

M.A. English and American Studies (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece)
BA. (Hons, cum laude) English Language and Literature (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece)

My research engages with issues of identity, immigration, assimilation, acculturation, violence and trauma as those are represented in ethnic, minority, folk, African American, and Indigenous literatures/oratures of North America.