Graduate Student Summer Research Fellows


Meet our 2022-2023 Graduate Student Fellows!

Dominique Branson Linguistics

Dominique Branson is a PhD candidate in the Department of Linguistics. Her research focuses on the intersections between race, language, and justice—specifically, she is interested in understanding how anti-Black linguistic racism criminalizes varieties of Black American English, Black-sounding voices, and Black students and adults within and outside of the justice system. Her dissertation, Sounding Guilty: The Criminalization of Black Racialized Speech, combines critical race theory with psycho-, socio-, and raciolinguistics to investigate whether and to what extent White listening subjects criminalize Black-sounding voices and speech. For her summer project, Beyond African American Vernacular English: Expanding “Sounding Black”, Dominique will synthesize literature on African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and research on “sounding Black”. Motivating her research is an emerging body of work demonstrating how Black speakers’ use of AAVE may be related to racial disparities in the justice system. Dominique hopes to contribute to this work by considering how race and criminalization emerge through speech production and perception. While earlier works have focused on Black speakers’ production of speech, Dominique aims to investigate how White listening subjects perceive and evaluate speech that sounds ‘Black’, beyond AAVE.

Evangelian Collings Philosophy

Evangelian Collings is heading into her fifth year of doctorate studies in Philosophy. Originally from Calgary, Alberta, she holds a BScE in Mathematics & Engineering from Queen's University and a MA in philosophy from the University of Calgary for which she wrote a thesis on whether or not machines can be agents. Her current interests are in the philosophy of birth, within which she investigates historical (especially early modern) biological and metaphysical treatments of pregnancy and the processes by which minds and bodies come together in forming new human beings. This summer, Evangelian will refine a paper that argues that pregnancy poses a serious problem for animalism and develop a related bioethics paper. Animalism is the theory of personal identity that posits that we are identical to human animals. Animalists have so far paid insufficient attention to the biological facts of pregnancy, assuming that fetuses are already separate animals that are contained in, rather than part of, the pregnant organism. The bioethics paper will show that arguments against the permissibility of abortion have incorrectly taken animalism to straightforwardly shore up claims that fetuses count as persons in their own right.

S. Brook Corfman English

S. Brook Corfman is the author of two acclaimed poetry collections, most recently My Daily Actions, or The Meteorites, which was one of The New York Times' Best Poetry Books of 2020, a finalist for the Publishing Triangle Award for Trans and Gender-Variant Literature, and the winner of the Fordham University Press poetry award (chosen by Cathy Park Hong). Their scholarship has appeared or is forthcoming in College Composition and Communication, QED: A Journal in Queer Worldmaking, and TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly. Born and raised in Chicago, they are currently a PhD Candidate in Rhetoric & Composition at the University of Pittsburgh. This summer they turning their attention to the work of trans visual artist and dollmaker Greer Lankton (1958-1996) under their dissertation's argument that writing and art can actually make possible gender and gender change, rather than simply report it. Lankton’s life and art have an uneasy correspondence. While they share certain themes—the ongoingness of pain; how the malleability of the body which allows for gender change also allows violence; a desire for intimacy in the face of its unpredictability—they rarely map such experiences in strictly autobiographical terms. Instead, they show the artifice of the purportedly autobiographical or intimate gesture.

Hannah StandiforMusic

Hannah Standiford is a PhD Candidate of ethnomusicology at Pitt. Her work focuses on a repertoire of Javanese popular music called langgam Jawa which emerged in the late 1940s, right after Indonesian Independence in 1945. Her dissertation, “Langgam Jawa: Gender, Voice, and Nostalgia in Javanese Popular Music,” examines contemporary performances practices of this repertoire in Surakarta, Java, and is funded by a Fulbright-Hays DDRA fellowship. She has presented her work at national meetings of SEM, as well as international meetings of ICTM. Hannah’s work builds from two prior years of study in Indonesia, the first year supported by a Darmasiswa scholarship in 2014 and the second supported by a Fulbright/IIE Fellowship in 2017. Langgam Jawa repertoire emerged in Central Java during the breakdown of colonization and the formation of Indonesia as a nation-state in 1945. This music sustained through the mass killings of 1965, a narrative that the country has still not come to terms with. The events of 1965 were pivotal in eliminating the political force of the Communist Party of Indonesia and paved the way for the autocratic regime called the New Order, led by President Suharto. During Suharto’s thirty years of power, women singers of langgam Jawa were frequently featured in associated political rallies and performed as entertainment for the military. Grounded in both contemporary ethnography and historical data, this project contributes to more capacious understandings of the way that both violent upheavals and the breakdown of anticipated futures are smoothed over by nostalgic processes. 

CE Mackenzie is a PhD candidate at the University of Pittsburgh, where they study at the intersections of health rhetoric, trans and affect studies, and theories of epistemology. Shaped by their ongoing community work in harm reduction, CE seeks to integrate affect theory into addiction studies to deepen our understanding of the opioid crisis and to resist capitalistic constructions of the body. Their work can be found in a range of places, including Prose Studies, Rhetoric of Health and Medicine, and QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking, among others. Before coming to Pitt, CE earned an MFA from Bennington College and spent ten years as an editor in academic publishing. My work as a Humanities Center Fellow includes auto-ethnographic research at Prevention Point Pittsburgh, where I assist with the needle exchange program and harm reduction training. While much advocacy and scholarship on the U.S. opioid epidemic is being done in the public health and social work sectors, my aim is to rethink precarity within the vibrant space of needle exchange by analyzing wonder as an overlooked affect. I turn to the political potentiality of wonder as the feeling of world-making, being in community, being seen, and having agency. At Prevention Point, I will examine how client-centered models of care amplify this agency, looking specifically at concrete methods used to nurture one's sense of world-making, such as peer-led services, hiring active drug users, safe-use facilities, policy collaborations, and family-led Naloxone training. 

See past fellows: