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Alumni Biographies

Timothy M. Griffiths (Ph.D., English, 2017)
Dissertation: Bricolage Propriety: The Queer Practice of Black Uplift, 1890-1905

Timothy M. Griffiths recently earned his PhD in English from The Graduate Center, CUNY with a certificate in American Studies. His areas of research include queer theory, African American Culture, nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature, posthumanism, and popular music studies. His articles and reviews have appeared in African American Review, Callaloo, GLQ, Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, and The Journal of Popular Music Studies. His current project, Bricolage Propriety: The Queer Practice of Black Uplift, 1890-1905, situates post-Reconstruction black American culture in the genealogy of queer American studies. Focused on archival papers and novels by Charles W. Chesnutt, Pauline Hopkins, Sutton Griggs, Thomas Nelson Page, William Hannibal Thomas, and Thomas Dixon Jr., Bricolage Propriety illuminates inventions of and challenges to black sexual propriety in late-nineteenth century culture. It argues that this archive not only calls into question the purity and novelty of queer antinormativity in the present, but it further illustrates the constitutive relationship between performatives of blackness and American theories of sexual propriety in postbellum American history. Previously, he has taught at Brooklyn College and is also a former Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellow and NYPL Schomburg Center Scholar in Residence. In Fall 2017, he will join the University of Virginia as a postdoctoral fellow in English and African American Studies.

Stefanie A. Jones (Ph.D., Theatre, 2017)
Dissertation: Acts of Provocation: Popular Antiracisms on/through the Twenty-First Century New York Commercial Stage

SAJ is a McNair scholar, an organizer, and an educator, and received their doctorate from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Their dissertation was entitled “Acts of Provocation: Popular Antiracisms on/through the Twenty-First Century New York Commercial Stage.” SAJ’s research explores war, white supremacy, twenty-first century capitalist economies, and the connections between class formation and political practice. SAJ is a co-editor of Lateral[csalateral.org], the journal of the Cultural Studies Association, and has taught at New York University, Hunter College, Marymount Manhattan College, Lehman College, and the College of Staten Island. Next year, SAJ will continue adjuncting at NYU and Brooklyn College.

 

Kristin Moriah (Ph.D., English, 2017)

Dissertation: Dark Stars of the Evening: Performing African American Citizenship and Identity in Germany, 1890-1920

Kristin Moriah recently completed a doctoral degree in English Literature and African American Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center where she was awarded the Melvin Dixon Prize for the Best Dissertation in African American Studies. In the fall, she will begin a 2-year term as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the English department at Grinnell College.

Kristin’s research employs a multidisciplinary approach to explore the impact of black performance in transnational settings. This work reveals the mutually constitutive nature of black performance to the process of identity formation and nation building in the modern era. In the process, it demonstrates how African American artists evaded the confines of the American stage and shines new light on the global impact of their cultural contributions.

By focusing on the material products of transnational black performance, including sonic ephemera and black geographies, Kristin’s research contributes to the growing body of work on the African Diaspora within Europe. Kristin is especially interested in studying the representations of blackness that circulated between the United States and Germany in the late nineteenth century. More specifically, she examines how visual representations of blackness and black performance in Germany reinscribed colonial authority while playing a critical role in the development of African American identity in the United States. In this way, she charts the long reach of American popular culture from the 1890s to the beginning of World War I.

Her doctoral dissertation, Dark Stars of the Evening: Performing African American Citizenship and Identity in Germany, 1890- 1920 demonstrates that black performers in Germany developed wide networks in the performance world as they sought artistic opportunities beyond the racist circumscription of the American popular stage. Their performances became emblematic of modernity, globalization, and imperial might for German audiences at the turn of the century. African American-styled blackness contributed to economic development in Berlin while allowing African American performers to assert themselves on the global stage.

Kristin is the co-editor of Adrienne Rich: Teaching at CUNY, 1968-1974 (Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative, 2014). Her critical work can be found in the March 2017 issue of American Quarterly and Understanding Blackness Through Performance (eds. Anne Cremieux, Xavier Lemoine and Jean-Paul Rocchi, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). Additional critical work is forthcoming in “Surface Aesthetics: Art, Race, Performance, and Play,” a special edition of Women & Performance edited by Uri McMillan.

Yair Solan (Ph.D., English, 2017)
Dissertation: Writing the Projected Image: American Fiction and Early Screen Culture

Yair Solan received a Ph.D. in English and certificates in American Studies and Film Studies. He specializes in nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature, film and media studies, visual and popular culture, and the intersections of literature and technology. Yair’s dissertation, Writing the Projected Image: American Fiction and Early Screen Culture, examines U.S. writers’ sustained critical engagement with the screen from pre-cinematic forms to early motion pictures, revealing the reciprocal dialogue between textual and screen practices across this changing media landscape. His articles have appeared or are forthcoming in Modernism/modernity, Journal of the Short Story in English, and Studies in American Naturalism.

Whitney Thompson (Ph.D., Art History, 2017)
Dissertation: Foreign-Born Artists Making “American” Pictures: The Immigrant Experience and the Art of the United States, 1819-1893

After working in New York City museums for five years, Whitney entered the PhD program in Art History to study nineteenth-century U.S. art under Professor Katherine Manthorne. Her dissertation, Foreign-born Artists Making “American” Pictures: The Immigrant Experience and the Art of the United States, 1819-1893, examines the assimilation experiences of immigrants from the British Isles. Concentrating on artists who were part of the major antebellum- and Civil War-era migration streams, the dissertation discusses artists’ careers in relationship to the larger patterns of immigrant behavior and reconsiders certain nationalistic images in the context of their maker’s immigrant status.

To develop her dissertation, Whitney has conducted research in Germany under CASVA’s Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fellowship for Historians of American Art to Travel Abroad and at the U.S. Capitol Building as a Capitol Historical Society fellow. Whitney has also been awarded The Graduate Center’s Martin E. Segal Dissertation Fellowship, the Catherine Hoover Voorsanger Fellowship, a Graduate Teaching Fellowship, and the Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Internship in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s American Wing. She currently teaches the History of American Art as an adjunct professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, SUNY.

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