Current VSGC Students

Emily Anderson
Art History

Emily Anderson is a doctoral student in Art History. She received her BA in Art History and Archaeology at Tufts University and her Master’s in Art History from Southern Methodist University. She has worked at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation where she compiled a bibliography of pre-1800 illustrated medical texts in special collections in the Houston area. Before starting at USC, Emily served as the graduate intern in the Drawings Department at the J. Paul Getty Museum. At the Getty, she worked on Renaissance Florentine drawings and also 19th-century French drawings and lithography. She has researched and worked in variety of fields, but she is currently interested in the visual history of science and medicine. Emily works on drawings, prints, and biological materials in the early modern period. She is also interested in trans-Atlantic print culture and collecting practices in relation to science and knowledge in the sixteenth century.
Honors and Awards
Provost Fellowship, University of Southern California, 2014-present 
Cullum Research Travel Grant, Southern Methodist University, 2012 
Meadows Scholar Fellowship, Southern Methodist University, 2011-2013 

Kendra Myers Atkin

Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture
Kendra Atkin is a Comparative Media PhD student in the Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture doctoral program at the University of Southern California. She is interested in the history of media theory and philosophy; her work focuses on popular media and its relationship to concepts of democracy and state power. She holds a Masters in Visual Culture from Lund University in Sweden.

Honors and Awards
USC Graduate School Provost Fellow, 2013-Present
Recipient of a VSGC research grant, Summer 2015


Nadya Bair
Art History
Department Profile
“The Decisive Network: Magnum Photos and the Art of Collaboration in Postwar Photojournalism”
My dissertation examines the early history of Magnum Photos, the photographic agency founded in 1947 in New York and Paris by such photographers as Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson. I demonstrate how Magnum’s editorial aesthetic and penchant for human interest stories – accounts of both extraordinary and ordinary events happening to everyday people – expanded the geographic scope of editorial news photography when World War II ended. I then track how news photography, as an aesthetic and as a mode of production, migrated into new markets and created a public face for the experience of tourism and the work of corporations. In the process, I demonstrate Magnum’s contribution to inaugurating a culture of unprecedented news image saturation that is more generally associated with 1960s America. Mine is the first project to bring together extensive archival research on Magnum and to situate the cooperative’s work within broader changes in the system of press photography, as well as the evolving fields of sociology, media studies, and even geography in the first fifteen years after World War II. Pivotal to my project is the idea that Magnum’s successes resulted not from the individual artistic genius of its photographers, but from the “Decisive Network” of agency staff, magazine editors, dark room developers, book publishers, and museum curators with whom Magnum photographers collaborated on a daily basis.

Honors and Awards
2010-2015 USC Provost Fellow
2011 VSGC (Visual Studies Graduate Certificate) Summer Research Grant
2012 VSGC Summer Research Grant
2012 STS (Science, Technology and Society Research Cluster) Summer Research Grant
2013 VSGC Anne Friedberg Prize for Doctoral Research
2014-2015 VSRI (Visual Studies Research Institute) Dissertation Writing Fellowship
2015-2016 ACLS-Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellowship

Brianna Beehler
Department Profile

Honors and Awards:
Louise Kerckhoff Prize in Gender Studies, 2014
Provost Fellowship, 2013-2015
Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Grant, 2011-2012 

Sanders I. Bernstein
Sanders I. Bernstein is a Provost’s PhD Fellow in English Literature at the University of Southern California. His research revolves around the novel, film, modernism, and the phenomenology and epistemology of media. He holds an AB from Harvard College in Social Studies and a BA from Oxford University in English Literature. 


Heather Blackmore
Critical Studies
Heather is a Ph.D. candidate in Critical Studies at the School of Cinematic Arts. Her research projects and interests include documentary, animation and animated documentaries; comics and graphic novels; early small gauge motion picture technologies; theories of touch and emotion; spatial exploration in video games and interactive technologies; representations of danger and the female body; machine culture; and transmedia storytelling. She is currently working on a dissertation about the evolution of miniaturized film and media technologies focused on the ways that the design process and cultures of use influence one another. Heather also experiments with stop motion animation and documentary filmmaking, and is very invested in the ideas surrounding media practice as a component of scholarship. She is an Annenberg Fellow and has been awarded a Mellon Fellowship through the Claremont College Consortium's Center for the Digital Humanities, as well as numerous awards and grants from the Annenberg Foundation, USC's Graduate Student Government, the USC Graduate School, and the VSGC. 


Amber Bowyer
Critical Studies
Department Profile
Honors and Awards
Annenberg Fellow
Graduate Scholar Award 2013 International Society for the Image

Jessica Brier
Art History 
Jessica is a doctoral student in the Department of Art History. Her research focuses on twentieth-century European and Latin American modernism with a particular interest in mechanical reproduction and works on paper, including magazines, photographs, artist books and other printed ephemera. She is interested in issues including the conditions of making in the artist’s studio; the dissemination and circulation of works on paper; the intersection of art and graphic design; and the utility of art. Formerly a curatorial assistant in photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), her writing has appeared on SFMOMA's blog, Open Space, and in art on paper, Curating Now, Art Practical, Daily Serving, and Daylight Digital. She holds a BA from New York University and an MA in Curatorial Practice from the California College of the Arts.


Umayyah Cable
American Studies and Ethnicity
Department Profile
Cinematic Activism: Palestinian Cultural Politics in the United States
This project examines how and why Palestinian cinema has emerged as a site around which Palestinians in the US organize their social justice activism and assert their diasporic identities. I argue that the Palestinian-American community organizes itself around Palestine-themed film festivals as both a process of national identification and a strategy towards a socially just representational praxis, or what I theorize as “cinematic activism.” Through a combination of ethnographic research and media analysis, this project takes the controversy around Palestinian cinema screenings in the Boston area as a case study through which to understand the identitarian, pedagogical, and political work of Palestinian cinema in the United States.

Honors and Awards
2013 Ninfa Sanchez Memorial Award
2013 ASE Summer Research Grant
2011 USC Middle East Studies Program Language Study Grant
2011 ASE Summer Research Grant  
2010-2015 USC Dornsife College Graduate Merit Fellowship
2010 Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE) Summer Fellowship
2009 Special Recognition, The Palestinian Women Research & Documentation Center at the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)


Samantha Carrick
Department Profile
“‘Each Body Has Its Art’: The Unruly Bodies of American Modernism”
My project aims to return the body to the work of modernist poetry, as well as to consider the effects that such embodied poetics have on understandings of temporality, the visual and dis-orientation. Poetry of the body is necessarily concerned with time and the decay, resilience or the instability of the body in time. Though occasionally critics have intervened into conversations of modernism with more fleshly concerns, these studies have largely focused on fiction and the novel. Modernism’s complex archive allows me to consider the role of bodies trans-generically with particular emphasis on the work of what I term embodied poetry and the unruly bodies and poetics in the modernist period.
Honors and Awards
2009-2015 Provost Fellow
2013 Visual Studies Graduate Certificate Research Grant


Nadine Chan
Critical Studies Profile
Title: Instructing Unruly Empires: Colonial Educational Film in British Malaya
My dissertation is a cultural history of films as instruments of empire. Through in-depth archival research alongside oral histories and film screenings, I examine how colonial governments utilized films as tools to teach audiences the fundamentals of good colonial citizenship. As the site of one of the first large-scale experiments with films for “native” education, film programs in Malaya initiated new pedagogical schemes throughout the British empire that taught colonial subjects things such as venereal disease prevention, financial responsibility, and loyalty to the Commonwealth. These motion-pictures, which I call “colonial educational films,” sought to bring various aspects of private life under colonial rule through visual education. In spite of their prescribed roles as tools of goverenance however, films were also unruly objects that chartered errant paths across international borders and were received in ways that troubled their disciplinary intentions. I argue that films were cultural things-in-motion with multiple social lives that interrupted their “official” trajectories as tools of governance. These contested cinematic spaces enabled Malayan audiences to negotiate their own understandings of colonial/postcolonial identity.

Honours and Awards:
Oxford Bibliographies Graduate Student Writing Award, 2015.
Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF), Social Science Research Council (SSRC), 2013-2014
Student Writing Award (Second), Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS), 2014
Provost Fellowship, University of Southern California, 2009, 2014             
Visual Studies Graduate Certificate Research Grant, University of Southern California, 2013
5th Annual Graduate Research Symposium Award, University of Southern California, 2013
Centre for Transpacific Studies Research Fellowship, University of Southern California, 2012
Visual Studies Graduate Certificate Research Grant, University of Southern California, 2012
Graduate School Provost Travel Award, University of Southern California, 2012
Science Technology and Society Research Fellowship, University of Southern California, 2011
Visual Studies Graduate Certificate Research Grant, University of Southern California, 2011
NUS Research Scholarship, National University of Singapore, 2007-2009
President’s Research Fellowship, National University of Singapore, 2007
Vice-Chancellor’s Award, National University of Singapore, 2006
Anugerah Cemerlang Mendaki Award, Yayasan Mendaki, Singapore,  2006

Alexander Chase
Critical Studies


Jonathan Dentler 

Jonathan Dentler is a doctoral student whose research focuses on the history of design, fashion, photography, and print media in postwar Europe and America. This work follows a number of European and American designers as well as Diana Vreeland of Harper’s Baazar and Vogue magazines in order to uncover the cultural politics of the mid-century Atlantic world and is focused on issues of embodiment, space, and modernism. He studied at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin as a DAAD fellow and has a BA from Columbia University.

Honors and Awards
2013-2015 USC Provost Fellow
2015 VSGC Summer Research Grant
2011 Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) graduate studies fellowship for research at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin

Lauren Dodds
Art History

Eike Exner
Comparative Literature

Jennifer Frazier
Department Profile

Rika Hiro
Art History
Rika Hiro's primary interest is in post-WWII period art and visual culture in Japan, especially the Anti-Art movement in the 1960s and 1970s and its global exchanges. Before coming to USC, she worked as a research assistant at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Getty Research Institute and co-founded non-profit art space Art2102 of Los Angeles. She is a regular contributor to Japanese contemporary magazine Bijutsu Techô, and co-curated Art, Anti-Art, Non-Art: Experimentations in the Public Sphere in Postwar Japan 1950-1970 and Radical Communication: Japanese Video Art, 1968-1988 both at the GRI. She holds M.A. in Art History and Museum Studies from USC.


Timothy Holland
Critical Studies Profile
My dissertation is tentatively titled "Jacques Derrida and the Event of Cinema."  It explores deconstruction's relation to film theory while arguing for the relevance of Derrida's work in contemporary film studies and the humanities.
Honors and Awards
Provost's Fellowship
USC's EDGE Summer Institute;  
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (Summer Seminar with Prof. Peggy Kamuf, "The Essential Humanities")
USC's Visual Studies Graduate Certificate Program Summer Research Grant.

Karen Huang
Art History
Department Profile
Karen Huang advanced to doctoral candidacy in July 2013. A Provost PhD Fellow, Karen's general research interests include modern and contemporary American art; art as political intervention; the relationship between performance and documentation; and the history of print. Her dissertation explores how contemporary American artists employ reenactment as a method for engaging with politics of the Vietnam War era, and how those reenactments can produce, alter, and interrogate collective memory in America. Karen co-organized the 2012 USC symposium, "Art and the Mind: Neuroaesthetics, Phenomenology, and the Experience of Vision," and she has worked as a research assistant at the Getty Research Institute and the Santa Monica Museum of Art. Before coming to USC, Karen worked in the departments of Prints and Drawings and Medieval through Modern European Painting and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago. She was an exhibition researcher and catalogue contributor to Watercolors by Winslow Homer: The Color of Light(AIC, 2008), and she contributed research to Jose Guadalupe Posada and the Mexican Broadside (AIC, 2007). Karen earned her MA in Modern Art History, Theory, and Criticism from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her BA in Art History and Spanish from Vanderbilt University.


Grant Johnson
Art History
Grant Johnson is a Ph.D. student in art history and a graduate of Kenyon College. His research interests include contemporary painting and sculpture, fashion and transnational style. As a poet and critic, his writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Brooklyn RailFashion Theory, Frieze, Red BranchZone 3, Performa and the online edition of Artforum. He has presented at the University of Manchester as part of "Barthes, Benjamin and Fashion" and "The Olympiad" at Yale University, and has contributed to exhibitions and publications at The Frick Collection, The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, the Gund Gallery and Paul Kasmin Gallery. 

Simon Judkins
Simon Judkins is a doctoral student within the History Department at USC. His work focuses on the history of surveillance in the United States, and in California especially. Of particular interest are the different ways that surveillant practices have been deployed by non-state actors, such as business associations, fraternal organizations, reform groups, and others.
Simon came to USC in the Fall of 2014 after receiving his M.A. from Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand.
Honors and Awards
2015 USC History Department Seminar Research Award
2012-2013 Victoria University Postgraduate Scholarship
2011-2012 Victoria University Summer Research Scholarship
2011 Victoria University John F. Kennedy Essay Prize
2010 Victoria University John F. Kennedy Essay Prize

Amanda Kennell
East Asian Languages and Cultures
Amanda Kennell is a Mellon Digital Humanities Fellow and Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at USC, as well as a member of the Visual Studies Graduate Certificate programme. Her dissertation, Alice in Evasion, examines the vast variety of Japanese adaptations of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland novels. She also studies how new technologies such as 3D scanners can be used in the humanities to improve research and spread scholars’ work to wider audiences. Ms. Kennell was awarded the 2015 William E. Brigman Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Paper for “Origin and Ownership from Ballet to Anime”, which is forthcoming from The Journal of Popular Culture. She has been awarded ACE-Nikaido, Barbara F. Inamoto and Nippon Foundation fellowships. She earned an M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania with a thesis entitled, “Fights Like a Girl: Kite as a new direction for female action heroes”.
Honors and Awards
2014-2016, Andrew W. Mellon Digital Humanities Ph.D. Fellowship
2015, William E. Brigman Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Paper, The Journal of Popular Culture, (for "Origin and Ownership from Ballet to Anime")
Summers 2014, 2015, Visual Studies Summer Fellowship
Summers 2013-2015, ACE-Nikaido Fellowship
2014, Materials Acquisition Grant, G. Edward Cassady, M.D. and Margaret Elizabeth Cassady, R.N. Lewis Carroll Collection, University of Southern California Libraries
2013-2014, Barbara F. Inamoto Fellowship
2013, Fellowship
2012-2013, Nippon Foundation Fellowship
2011-12, Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship
Summer 2011, Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship
Summer 2011,  Barbara F. Inamoto Fellowship
2010-11, Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship
Summer 2005, Freeman Fellowship
Summer 2005, Praxis Grant

Alison Kozberg
Critical Studies

Peter Labuza Profile
Peter Labuza is a PhD student in Critical Studies at the School of Cinematic Arts, as well as a member of the Visual Studies Graduate Certificate. His dissertation will examine the transition of live television directors to Hollywood in the early 1960s, highlighting the aesthetic and production process in order to reconsider the development of the Hollywood New Wave. His other research interests include contemporary slow cinema the comedy of Elaine May, the cultural legacy of film noir, and the relationship between digital editing and Hollywood narrative. He received his M.A. and his B.A. in Film Studies from Columbia University, and is the author of Approaching The End: Imagining Apocalypse in American Cinema. Labuza also works as a film critic for Variety, Sight & Sound, and RogerEbert.Com, and is the host of the popular podcast The Cinephiliacs.

Honors And Awards
Visual Studies Graduate Certificate Summer Research Grant, 2015

Robin Coste Lewis
Creative Writing

Robin Coste Lewis is the author of Voyage of the Sable Venus (Knopf, 2015), a poetry collection that traces the representational history of the black female figure in Western art.  Broadly speaking her current research focuses on the intersection of text and image, particularly within the context of early African American print culture.  From lithographs and travel narratives to the Polaroid, her work examines the interconnected print histories of photography and poetry, focusing on how both were used to engage themes of migration, representations of attention, and black subjectivity.  Before attending USC, Lewis received a MFA from New York University in Poetry, a MTS from Harvard University in Sanskrit and comparative religious literature, and BA from Hampshire College in comparative literature and creative writing. She has taught at NYU’s MFA program in Paris, Hunter, Wheaton, and Hampshire Colleges.  Her writing has been featured or is forthcoming in the several journals and anthologies, including the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Academy of American Poets’ “Poem-a-Day,” Transition, the Massachusetts Review, the Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review, Callaloo and Lambda Literary Review.

Honors and Awards
The Anne Friedberg Memorial Grant, Visual Studies Research Institute, USC, 2015
Fellow, The Los Angeles Institute of the Humanities, 2014-to date
Provost’s Fellow, University of Southern California, 2013-to date
“Discovery”/Boston Review Prize semi-finalist, 2013
NYU Creative Writing Program, Goldwater Fellow, 2011-2013
Cave Canem Foundation Fellow, 2010-to date
International War Poetry Prize Finalist, 2010
Summer Literary Seminars Fellow (Kenya), 2009
Headlands Center for the Arts Artist-in-Residence, 2005
Ragdale Foundation Artist-in-Residence, 2005
Caldera Artists Residency, Artist-in-Residence, 2005
National Rita Dove Poetry Prize Finalist, 2004
Center for the Integrated Study of the Americas Fellow, 1999-2001


Joshua MacGregor
Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture
Joshua MacGregor is a Provost's PhD Fellow on the Comparative Media and Culture track of the Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture Program at USC. Possessing a B.A. in English and Gender, Sexuality, and  Women's Studies from the University of Vermont, Joshua's work weaves together insights drawn from a wide range of disciplines and discourses -- including English, critical theory, film and visual studies, critical studies of race, gender, and sexuality, and theories of space and state violence -- in addition to their own experiences as an activist to produce an interdisciplinary framework that they bring to bear on critical questions pertaining to the politics of film and other media. At present, they are interested in exploring the intersections between visual culture, police and prisons, and trans/queer liberation struggles."
Honors and Awards
USC Provost's Fellowship, 2014 - 2019
USC VSRI Top-Up Grant, 2014
Daniel-McCarter Award, UVM, 2014
Willard B. Pope Award, UVM, 2014

Melissa Marshall


Luci Marzola
Critical Studies Profile
Engineering Hollywood: Technology, Technicians, and the Science of Building the Studio System, 1915-1933
My dissertation examines the industrial control of technology during the formation of the Hollywood studio system. It asks what it means for a creative business to industrialize in a period well before the invention of the seemingly contradictory notion of “creative industries.” By studying the often-ignored technical aspects of motion picture production, from cameras to developer solutions, along with their inventors, manufacturers, and practitioners, this project will create a new understanding of the industrial system that emerged in Hollywood.
Honors and Awards
2014, Baird Society Resident Scholars Fellowship, Smithsonian Institution Libraries
2014, Annenberg Fellowship Travel Award, USC Graduate School
2013, Visual Studies Graduate Works in Progress Research Grant, USC Visual Studies Research Institute
2013, USC Visual Studies Graduate Certificate, Summer Research Travel Award
2011-2012, Sinatra Scholarship, USC School of Cinematic Arts


Brendan McMahon 
Art History
Department Profile
"Engaño Colorido: The Arts of Iridescence in Viceregal Mexico" explores the value of iridescence in Viceregal Mexico (ca.1521—1800) and the early modern Spanish world through an analysis of period responses to this optical phenomenon which survive today in objects, images, and texts.  Inquiry revolves around the production and reception of enconchados (shell inlay) and featherwork created in central Mexico throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  Rather than to dismiss these objects as decorative, my dissertation seeks to explore the epistemological anxieties that the iridescent materials from which they were constructed prompted in Mexico and the early modern Spanish world.  I demonstrate that period interest in the limitations of vision, the boundaries of artistic creation, and the mechanics of sight itself created an important intellectual framework in which the visual qualities of objects that incorporated iridescent materials were highly valued. 
Honors and Awards:
Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship from the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts
Fulbright Garcia-Robles Fellowship
Visual Studies Summer Research Grant: Summer 2012
Del Amo Foundation Fellowship: Summer 2011 


Christopher McGeorge
Art History 
Christopher McGeorge's research links materiality, reception, expectation, and the formation of meaning to moments when the material qualities of art and visual culture become newsworthy. He examines the fresco mania surrounding the redecoration of the houses of parliament, reproductive prints published in the Art Journal after the works in the Robert Vernon Collection, the dissemination of Burne-Jones's stained glass windows throughout the world, and the materialization of vision through the stereoscope. 
Honors and Awards:
Andrew W. Mellon Digital Humanities Ph.D Fellow, 2015-2017
USC Dornsife Doctoral Fellow, 2012-2017
Visual Studies Summer Research Grant, Summer 2014
Art History Summer Travel Award, 2014
Selected Participant, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art Graduate Seminar, "British Print Culture in a Transnational Context, 1700-2014", Summer 2014

Randall Meissen

Sonia Misra
Critical Studies

Joshua A. Mitchell
American Studies and Ethnicity
“The Prisoners’ Cinema: Perception in Carceral and Cinematic Time,” examines how the duration of a prison sentence can leave a physical trace in the human senses. Using archival administrative documents, prisoners’ publications, and philosophies of punishment and aesthetics, this dissertation connects histories of the prison to those of cinema as they innovate, evolve, and perhaps one day vanish. Departing from assessments of the prison’s representation in film and television, “The Prisoners’ Cinema” instead examines industries of cinematic production and spectatorship inside U.S. prisons.
Honors and Awards
VSGC Summer Research Grant, 2015
ASE Student Travel Award, 2015
Ninfa Sánchez Memorial Award, 2014
Doctoral Student Summer Institute Award, 2014
ASE Student Travel Award, 2014
ASE Student Travel Award, 2013
Wallis Annenberg Endowed Fellowship, 2012-2017

Avigail Moss Profile 
Avigail Moss is a PhD candidate in art history working on nineteenth- and twentieth-century art and visual culture. From 2009 to 2010 she was a researcher-in-residence at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, The Netherlands, where she co-organized symposia on art, philosophy, and feminist theory. In 2012 she co-edited a book on painting after Conceptual Art (Painting - The Implicit Horizon, Jan van Eyck Academie, 2012), and has produced essays and presentations for art institutes in Europe and North America. She has also published exhibition reviews in Texte zur Kunst and She holds a BA from UCLA, an MFA in painting from Yale University, and an MA in art history from University College London.
Honors and Awards
2015 Visual Studies Summer Research Fellowship 

Elizabeth Murphy    
Art History
Department Profile

Nike Nivar
Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture

Nike Nivar received his B.A. from Vassar College where he double-majored in Hispanic Studies and English Literature. Currently he is a third year PhD student at the University of Southern California. He is part of the Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture Program, in the Comparative Media and Culture Track. He is also enrolled in the Visual Studies Graduate Certificate Program. His research considers the intersection of collective trauma, online social movements, and New Media. Other research interests include 21st and 20th Century Dominican art and literature, Dominican and Haitian Diaspora production, and graphic novels.
Fellowships and Awards
Summer 2015, Del Amo Foundation Research Award
2015, Graduate Scholar Award, International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities
2013-Present, USC Dornsife Doctoral Fellowship         


Kathryn Page-Lippsmeyer
East Asian Languages and Cultures
Department Profile
The Gendered Posthuman in Japanese Science Fiction
Description: The Gendered Posthuman in Japanese Science Fiction is an interdisciplinary literary, visual studies, and new media studies investigation of the contradictions within the aesthetic space created by the longest running Japanese science fiction magazine’s cover illustrators and how those inconsistencies affected the function and articulation of the “posthuman” in feminist science fiction. By tracing these spectacles the study redefines the cyborg’s subversive potential and challenges utopic thinking about the dissolution of gender in the posthuman to propose a new model of distributed authorship for the digital age rooted in the relationship between fan and genre.
Honors and Awards
Nippon Foundation Fellows Scholarship2012-13
Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Summer Fellowship, Summer 2012
Barbara F. Inamoto Fellowship in Japanese Studies, 2011
Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Summer Fellowship, USC Summer 2011
Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship, USC2009-10
Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Summer Fellowship, USCSummer 2010
Mitsubishi Scholarship for Summer Study AbroadSummer 2008
Asian Studies Scholarship for Summer Study Abroad Summer 2007


Yunji Park
East Asain Languages and Cultures
Department Profile
My project examines women’s images and their agencies represented in the South Korean popular culture during the 1950s. This study aims to rediscover postwar Korean popular literature and culture, which was not much discussed before because of nationalistic discourse, permeated with anti-communism, in modern Korean cultural history. In order to explore female agency and neglected creative subjectivity of the Korean masses, this research will present the aspect of abundant freedom embedded in the (re)construction of gender identities and the emergence of youth culture along with global cold war politics through analyzing the impact of popular media such as American and Korean films and women’s magazines on Korean people.
Honors and Awards
Sejong Society Graduate Fellow, 2012-
East Asian Languages and Cultures Summer Research Grant, Summer 2012
USC College Merit Fellowship, 2009-
Student Travel Grants, The Western Conference of the Association of Asian Studies, 2008


Arunima Paul

Department Profile 

"Unraveling Countrysides: Figurations of the provincial in post-Liberalization Indian cinema"
The dissertation is a cross-genre study of representations of provincial India in contemporary Indian cinema. It examines the specific cultural trope of provincial dystopia in relation to emergent notions of modernity, statehood, citizenship and gender identities in India following economic, political and cultural Liberalization
Honors and Awards
Manning Endowed Fellowship, Graduate School, USC, 2013-2014Advanced Fellowship, Department of English, USC, 2011-2012    
College Graduate Merit Award, Department of English, USC, 2007-2008    
Visual Studies Award, 2007-2008

Catherine Peiper
Critical Studies

Emily Perez
Critical Studies


Aaron Rich
Critical Studies

Honors and Awards
2015 Visual Studies Graduate Certificate Research Grant


Casey Riffel

Critical Studies
Casey Riffel is a PhD candidate in Critical Studies at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. His dissertation, titled "A Line of Escape: Animation, Animals, Modernity," explores the representation of animals in early animation in order to re-theorize the medium's relationship to concepts of life and movement. His research and teaching interests include animal studies, early cinema and proto-cinematic devices, the history and theory of animation, history of science, and queer affect.

Honors and Awards
Harold Lloyd Memorial Scholarship, USC School of Cinematic Arts
George Cukor Scholarship, USC School of Cinematic Arts
Society for Cinema and Media Studies Student Writing Award, 2nd place
USC Graduate School Professionalization Grant
Summer Research Grant, USC VRSI
Social Science Research Council Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship
Foreign Language and Area Studies Summer Fellowship
Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, United State Department of Education


Anthony Rodriguez
American Studies and Ethnicity 
Department Profile

Amanda K. Ruud
Research Interests:  Early Modern Drama, Performance, Embodiment, Adaptation, and Visual Culture.
Amanda's dissertation will tentatively focus on Shakespeare the illusionist, tracing Shakespearean moments of sensory surprise across text, stage, and screen in order to question the primacy of visual evidence in drama. This project will situate performed illusionistic moments in changing accounts of embodiment and epistemology, beginning with the early modern performance of “unrepresentable” events (such as magic, invisibility or extreme violence) and ending with the emergence of silent film with it’s self-aware inclusion of trick-shots and magic tricks.
Honors and Awards
2013-2018 USC Provost’s Fellow
2013 English Department Travel Grant
2014 English Department Travel Grant
2015 VSGC Summer Research Grant


Lacey Schauwecker
Comparative Literature
Department Profile

Laura Scheurer

Jacqueline Sheean
Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture

Stephanie Sparling
American Studies and Ethnicity
Department Profile

Sophia Wagner Serrano
Critical Studies
Sophia is a doctoral student in Critical Studies at the School of Cinematic Arts. Her dissertation focuses on the visual culture of the drug war in Mexico,  Her other research interests include Latin American cinema, digital media, and experimental film and video. She received her BA in Cinema and Media Studies at University of Chicago and her MA at USC. 

Maria Zalewska
Critical Studies

Maria Zalewska is a PhD fellow at USC School of Cinematic Arts, as well as a member of the Visual Studies Graduate Certificate program. Her research background is in area studies (M.Phil. in Russian and East European Studies, University of Oxford), as well as in film and humanities (B.A. and M.A. in Humanities, San Francisco State University). Her research interests include cinematic representations of the Holocaust in post-1989 Europe; national and transnational modes and media of memorialization; politics of technologized memory; place and space in cinema; history as film/film as history; political economy of film. 

Honors and Awards:
Summer 2015, Visual Studies Graduate Certificate Summer Fellowship
Spring 2015, member of the Peabody Awards screening committee (Documentary and Web/Interactive category).
2013 - present, Annenberg Ph.D. Fellowship at USC School of Cinematic Arts
2011, Graduate Student Award for Distinguished Achievement for M.A. thesis, “History, Film, and Politics of Cultural Memory in Post-1989 East-Central Europe” (SFSU)
2010-2011, Edward B. Kaufman Fellowship for Humanities (SFSU)
Summer 2008, St. Edmund Hall research grant (University of Oxford)

Lin Zhang
Department Profile

Shan Zhao
American Studies

Upcoming Events

Summer MDA 599: Atlas Fever: From the Wunderkammer to the Database


Registration is now open for the USC VSRI-affiliated summer seminar taught by W. J. T. Mitchell (University of Chicago) and Justin Underhill (University of Southern California). The seminar, titled "Atlas Fever: From the Wunderkammer to the Database," will be held at the Getty Research Institute. What is involved in trying to comprehend a totality with a visual array? This seminar will investigate practices of visual display that construct totalizing assemblages of multiple images, texts, and objects in order to provide a comprehensive understanding of a situation, period, or body of knowledge. For a full course description, see here.






  • Visual Studies Graduate Certificate Program
  • Fax: 213-740-8971