Faculty Fellows

Jack Bouchard

Jack Bouchard is an Assistant Professor in the History Department at Rutgers University – New Brunswick. He teaches environmental history, with an emphasis on global and premodern perspectives. He received his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in 2018, and served for two years as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Before ‘Farm to Table’: Early Modern Foodways and Culture project at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Dr. Bouchard is interested in the histories of premodern maritime environments and foodways, and researches commercial fishing, island/coastal ecologies and changing global foodways in the 15th-16th centuries. He is currently working on his first book, Terra Nova: Food, Water and Work in an early Atlantic World, a history of the northwest Atlantic in the sixteenth century.

Kristin Grogan

Kristin Grogan is an Assistant Professor in English at Rutgers University. Her research and teaching focus on modern and contemporary poetry and poetics, labor history and theory, and gender and sexuality. She is finishing her first book, an account of the dynamic relationship between poetry and labor of various kinds—artisanal, mechanical, clerical, and reproductive work—with chapters on Langston Hughes, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and Lorine Niedecker. She is beginning a new project on feminist and queer poetics and anarchism in the USA, from Emma Goldman to now. Her writing has appeared in American Literature, Critical Quarterly, Social Text Online, and Post45; most recently, she edited, with David B. Hobbs, a special issue of Post45 Contemporaries on Bernadette Mayer. 

David Kurnick

David Kurnick is an Associate Professor of English and the Director of Graduate Studies at Rutgers University. His research and teaching focus on the history of the novel, narrative theory, sociology and literature, and sexuality and gender. He is the author of Empty Houses: Theatrical Failure and the Novel (2012). The book examines the theatrical ambitions of major novelists (William Makepeace Thackeray, George Eliot, Henry James, James Joyce, and James Baldwin) better known for their narrative explorations of domestic and psychological interiors, tracing the novelistic aftermath of these failed theatrical projects to claim that these writers’ pioneering narrative techniques for representing interiority grew out of a frustrated appetite for collectivity. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in ELH, PMLA, Raritan, Victorian Studies, NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction, Victorian Literature and Culture, The Henry James Review, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, The Oxford History of...

Imani Owens

Imani D. Owens is an assistant professor of English at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. Her interests include African American and Caribbean literature, music, and performance. Her research has been supported by a Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship and an NEH funded residency at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Her work has appeared in the Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Inquiry, Caribbean Literature in Transition, the Journal of Haitian Studies, MELUS, and small axe salon. She is completing a book manuscript entitled Turn the World Upside Down: Folk Culture, Imperialism, and U.S.-Caribbean Literature, which charts the connection between literary form and anti-imperialist politics in Caribbean and African American writing.

Victoria Ramenzoni

Dr. Ramenzoniis an environmental anthropologist specialized in human behavioral ecology, coastal communities, and marine and coastal policies. She is an Assistant Professor in Marine Policy at the Department of Human Ecology, Rutgers University. Through a mixed methods approach, she studies how socio-ecological factors shape human adaptation, the historical ecology of fishing societies, the impact of environmental uncertainty on decisions about resource use, and household nutrition in coastal environments. Her fieldwork includes communities from Eastern Indonesia, Kalimantan, Cuba, and the U.S. Dr. Ramenzoni has a strong commitment to applied science, co-participatory methods, and policy development. 

Graduate Fellows

Ian Gavigan

Ian Gavigan is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Rutgers-New Brunswick. He is a historian of labor, politics, and social movements in the modern U.S. He is writing a history of the Socialist Party from the late-nineteenth through the mid-twentieth century.

James Goodrich

Jimmy Goodrich is a PhD candidate in philosophy at Rutgers. His research focuses on the ethics of cost-imposition. In particular, he's interested in why it's sometimes fair to impose costs on others in order to promote the common good. His dissertation - Preventive Justice: A Consequentialist Approach - takes up questions about fair cost-imposition within the ethics of self-defense in particular. Jimmy also works on the philosophy, politics, and economics of big data. More specifically, he's interested in what moral justifications can be given for recognizing property rights (individual or communal) over personal digital data and what implications our answer to this question might have for devising morally optimal antitrust policy.

Isabel Guzzardo Tamargo

Isabel Guzzardo Tamargo is a doctoral candidate in the Graduate Program of Literatures in English at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. Her dissertation explores how contemporary queer Caribbean literature deploys marronage as a tactic that challenges the archipelago’s state of indebtedness and non-sovereignty. The writers she studies consider maroon communities sites of creative inspiration and political interrogation. Here, maroon tactics inform bodily and erotic tactics, which Isabel calls erotic marronage. Practiced by women and femmes, erotic marronage consists of political actions where pleasure is central. This term adopts Yarimar Bonilla's understanding of marronage as strategic entanglement with systems of power or as "crafting and enacting autonomy within a system from which one is unable to fully disentangle." Isabel extends Bonilla's understanding of marronage to include an erotic and queer practice where women and femmes of color thrive, even as they strategically entangle...

Michael Opal

Mike Opal is a Ph.D. candidate in English at Rutgers, working on the transformation of rhetorical figuration during the English transition from feudalism to capitalism.

Fulya Pinar

Fulya Pinar is an Anthropology PhD candidate at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, studying how refugee women instantiate sharing economies in Istanbul, Turkey. The two dominant tropes that generally shape studies and approaches towards refugee women are that of victimization and over-emphasizing resilience, reducing refugee women’s experiences into certain moments from the past and present. Based on long-term and in-depth ethnographic research, Fulya examines how refugee women employ commoning practices to build better and more sustainable futures for Arabic-speaking refugee communities. Fulya defines commoning as the opposite of bordering, in that contrary to isolating, excluding, immobilizing, and illegalizing refugees, commoning eases mobility and access to information through collective processes. Moving beyond the victimization vs. resilience dichotomy and the paradigm of “futureless” refugees, she analyzes the alternative rationalities of refugees against multiple capitalist...

Kelly Roberts

Kelly Roberts is a PhD candidate in the English Department at Rutgers, where she works on contemporary fiction and queer studies. She lives in Brooklyn.

Postdoctoral Associates 2021-2022

Alize Arican

Alize Arican an anthropologist of urban life, politics of time, futurity, migration, racialization, and care. Her current book project, Figuring It Out: The Politics of Future and Care, asserts care as a set of temporal practices that can reconfigure urban politics through an engaged ethnography of Istanbul’s Tarlabaşı  neighborhood. Her second project, Transience and Blackness, critically investigates the notion of “transit migration” by focusing on the urban futures that West African communities create in Istanbul. Her work has appeared in Current Anthropology, City & Society, Radical Housing Journal, and entanglements. Her writing received awards from the Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association, Middle East Studies Association, and the American Ethnological Society. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a BA in Political Science and International Relations from Boğaziçi  University.  

Matthew Libassi

Matthew Libassi is a researcher and educator interested in the relationships between people, nature, and power. His work focuses on natural resource use, conflict, and governance, as well as more broadly on uneven human experiences of environmental change. Matt’s current project analyzes the politics of gold mining in Indonesia. He examines how contemporary modes of resource extraction have been historically produced and how they are experienced, engaged with, and contested by neighboring communities. In particular, he is interested in the growth of small-scale, unlicensed mining and the ways its participants are resisting or demanding incorporation into formal resource policies. Matt holds a PhD in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from UC Berkeley and a BA in International Studies from Vassar College.  

Affiliated Fellows

Alexander Bigman

Alexander Bigman is a historian of modern and contemporary art. His research focuses in particular upon the emergence, circa 1980, of postmodernism as an internationally circulating set of intertwined discourses, creative practices, and political positions. He is currently at work on a book project derived from his dissertation, “Picturing Fascism in Post-Conceptual Art, 1974 - 1984,” which examines how the history and aesthetics of interwar European fascism became newly salient objects of inquiry and representation for artists associated with the so-called “Pictures Generation,” a group defined by its use of imagery drawn from popular culture and its critical engagement with the dynamics of mass media. For artists who were born after World War II and established their careers at a moment marked by rightward political shift, such taboo imagery became a provocative, if often problematic, means of addressing such matters as the representability of history, the nature of cultural memory and...

L. Benjamin Rolsky

L. Benjamin Rolsky received his PhD from Drew University in American Religious Studies. His work has appeared in a variety of academic and popular venues including Method and Theory in the Study of Religion and the Journal of the American Academy of Religion as well as The Christian Century, The Los Angeles Review of Books, CNN Opinion, and the Religion and Culture Forum at the University of Chicago. His research and teaching interests include religion and politics, the study of popular culture, and critical theory. Rolsky’s first monograph, The Rise and Fall of the Religious Left: Politics, Television, and Popular Culture in the 1970s and Beyond, was published last year with Columbia University Press. Once complete, he plans to begin research on a second book project that examines the history of the New Christian Right across the 20th century.

Michelle Smiley

Michelle Smiley is a scholar of 19th-century photography and visual culture whose research investigates the intersection of aesthetics and scientific practice in the antebellum United States. Her current book project, Daguerreian Democracy: Art, Science, and Politics in Antebellum American Photography, examines how the daguerreotype became an object of technological, scientific, and commercial innovation for antebellum scientists, artisans, and political thinkers. By chronicling the contributions of these often-overlooked actors, she explores how the daguerreotype was an object of transatlantic scientific experimentation, a key component of government projects of nation-building, as well as an object of fascination for theorists of democracy. Before coming to Rutgers, Michelle held the Wyeth Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts in Washington, D.C. She holds an A. B., M.A. and Ph.D. in History of Art from Bryn Mawr College. 

Heather Steffen

Heather Steffen is a scholar of 20th- and 21st-century U.S. literature and culture whose research investigates how concepts of labor, learning, and public service are produced through the interplay between rhetorical practices and material conditions in American universities. Her book project, Useful Work: Imagining Academic Labor in the American University, examines how professors, teacher-scholars, and para-academics theorize academic labor in critical and narrative writing. The book identifies four models of academic labor operating in faculty discourse since the emergence of the modern American university—professional, unionist, vocational, and entrepreneurial—and explores how the tensions between these models influence key debates in higher education, such as those surrounding academic freedom, casualization, or graduate education. Before coming to Rutgers, Heather earned a Ph.D. in Literary and Cultural Studies at Carnegie Mellon University, taught as a lecturer in the Writing...