Student Profiles

MA Students

Ciarra Bona
I am a first year MA/PhD student and hold a BA in English with a speciality in Advanced Literary Studies from Saint Leo University (2016). My main interest is in 18th-century British Literature, particularly the rise of the novel.

Alexis Colucy
I am a first year MA student and hold a BA in English and Adolescent to Young Adulthood Education from Walsh University. My primary academic interests are in using specific critical lenses such as Feminine and Psychoanalytical to explore Renaissance/Early Modern British Literature. I have also become fascinated with exploring gender roles in 19th- and 20th-century American Literature.

Laura Evers
I graduated from the College of William and Mary with a BA in History and Sociology. After teaching in Romania as a Fulbright Scholar, I earned an MA in International Education from Columbia University, Teachers College. As a second year MA student, my research interests include early modern literature, drama and performance studies, and film studies. I’ve presented at PAMLA and regional conferences.

Rachael Frances
I am a second-year MA/PhD student with a BA in English Literature, Film, and Culture from Penn State Behrend (2016). My main interest is in deindustrialization literature, especially concerning the American steel industry and the authentic representation of evolving Rust Belt culture.

Amber Kidd
I am a first-year MA/PhD student with a BA in English and Human Rights from Agnes Scott College (2019). My primary research interests include transnational modernism and critical trauma studies.

Michelle Koski
I am a part-time MA student and hold a BA in Creative Writing from Ohio University. I am interested in modernist and postmodern literature, and the theory and practice of poetry, fiction, and prose.

Mark Mowls
I have BAs in English and in Film Studies from Ohio State University (2002) and interests in film studies, visual culture and rhetoric, and British and expatriate American modernism. I am an MA candidate with academic interest in poststructuralism, film, queer theory, and the effects of technology.

Caitlin O’Brien
I am a second year MA student, holding two BA’s with Honors and Research Distinction from The Ohio State University in English Language and Literature and Strategic Communications (2010).  My research interests include gothic literature, primarily through a feminist theoretical lens, issues of women’s power, and analyzing reason versus emotion.  Over the course of my first year of the program, I have also become interested in professional and technical communications, particularly in medicine and rhetoric.

Garret Waugh
I’m a second year MA student with an interest in the role of the working class and the rise of industry in 19th-century British literature; as well as literary and critical theory; theories of memory, consciousness, and reality; and creative writing. I currently hold my BA from Kent State University.

Allyson Wierenga
I am a first year MA student with a BA in English literature and writing from Calvin University. My interests include Gothic literature, Victorian literature, children’s literature and psychological theory. I am also interested in studying literary depictions of mental illness and psychological trauma. 

PhD Students

Leah Davydov
I am a second-year PhD student focusing on 19th century British literature and its relationship to medical history, particularly with regards to trends in psychiatry, medical hypnosis, and the understanding and treatment of trance-like states. I hold a BA in Classical Civilization from Oberlin College and an MA in English Literature from Cleveland State University.

Philip Derbesy
I am a fifth-year PhD candidate whose research interests include American literature, film, and theories of audience response. My dissertation is titled “Reading Cinematic Allusions in the Post-45 American Novel.” I hold a BA in English from Northwest Nazarene University (2013) and an MA in English from the University of Missouri (2015).

Lara Klaber
I am a PhD student in the Writing History and Theory (WHiT) program, with BAs in Communication, Film & Digital Media, and English, and an MA in English, from Cleveland State University. I take a cross-disciplinary approach to my work, combining elements of rhetoric and composition, literary theory, film theory, and communication theory in my analyses. My PhD project focuses on pedagogical practices in use in Writing Centers, and I hope to run a University Writing Center after I complete my PhD. Additional interests include multimedia narratology, technical communication, interactive composition, and the use of contemporary young adult fiction to promote higher literacy rates. I also harbor a great love of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mystery genre writing.

Daniel Luttrull
I am a fifth-year PhD candidate, whose research explores the relationship between form and justice in nineteenth-century American literature. In my dissertation, titled “Solidarity through Vacancy,” I show how writers including Harriet Jacobs, Rebecca Harding Davis, Herman Melville, and Nathaniel Hawthorne developed a new didactic form in the years leading up to the Civil War. Instead of promoting empathy through vivid description—as most didactic literature does—these authors sought to inspire solidarity through the use of abstraction and ambiguity, techniques that nineteenth-century critics would have called vacuity, or imaginative vacancy. I argue that these authors used their distinctive formal approach to reimagine the basis of American society in terms other than liberal individualism. Before coming to CWRU, I received my MA from Baylor University, my BA from Indiana Wesleyan University, and served for two years with the United States Peace Corps in Ethiopia.

Camila Ring
I am a first-year PhD student whose research interests include modernist and contemporary poetics, creative writing pedagogy, body studies, and the role of orality and the body in the creation and experience of a poem.

Brita Thielen
I am a 4th-year PhD candidate with an emphasis in Writing History and Theory. My research explores how ethos operates within food writing texts, particularly cookbooks, food blogs, and food memoirs. Other scholarly interests include intersections between composition and creative writing pedagogies, social privilege and diversity in the writing classroom, and the shifting roles played by writers, readers, and genres in the process of meaning-making. This year I am also serving as the EGSA Recruitment Chair (prospective MA and PhD students should feel free to contact me at Before coming to CWRU, I earned my MA in English Literature with a Certificate in the Teaching of Writing from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2016) and my BA in English from the College of Saint Benedict in MN (2011).

Hayley Verdi
I am a second-year PhD student interested in 19th-century British literature, the rhetoric of health and medicine, and travel writing. I earned my BA in English from Grove City College in 2010 and my MEd in Secondary Education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2012.