Graduate Students


Reniqua Allen (PhD student) examines the intersection of race, class, gender, generation, politics and popular culture in the 21st century, with a heavy emphasis on identity and the black middle class. Her dissertation will look at the representations of “Post-Cosby” black professionals in television and film. She is also a freelance journalist that has written, produced, and served as a commentator for outlets such as the The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, Politico, U.S. News and World Report, HBO, Fox News, MSNBC, NPR, and PBS, often focusing on topics surrounding race and social justice. Her last two projects Hot Coffee and We’re Not Broke were a part of the Sundance film festival. Previously, she worked for Bill Moyers on the newsmagazine, The Bill Moyers Journal and on several of his documentary series. She is currently a Bernard L. Schwartz fellow at the New America Foundation, where she is working on a narrative driven multimedia project on the social and economic mobility of the black middle class. She has a BA in Journalism and Political Science and an MA in Political Science from American University in Washington DC.


Mohamed A. Alsiadi (PhD student) Mohamed A. Alsiadi received his B.A. from the Damascus Music Conservatory, where he specialized in oud performance and conducting.  He studied with renowned oudist Nadim Al Darwish. A regular guest of international festivals both as a soloist and chamber musician, Alsiadi has recently performed at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, the national auditorium in Madrid, the historic Nidaros Cathedral in Norway, GUST University in Kuwait, and Merkin Hall in New York City. Other highlights include his debuts at Vienna Konserthaus in 2012 and Carnegie Hall in 2015 with The Malek Jandali Trio. Alsiadi is particularly excited to be working with composer and pianist Malek Jandali in recording his new album Soho. Alsiadi has also directed several concert series and festivals on Arabic music, and he has developed an extensive and exceptionally varied catalogue of Arabic music recordings.  At various international conferences, he has presented research on song forms central to Middle Eastern music, namely Arabic-sung poetry called qasida, and the Aleppian Wasla, a song-form that is one of the foundations of Syrian songs. Alsiadi moved from Aleppo, Syria to New York City in 1996, becoming the Coordinator ofThe Arabic Language, Literature and Culture at Rutgers University.  He is currently the lead professor and director for the Arabic studies program at Fordham University, and he is the chair of the US-MidEast program at the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights at Rutgers University.  He is finalizing his doctorate in American Studies at Rutgers University and his research interests include Arab-American relations; the impact of Mideast-West relations on contemporary Arabic music and literature; and the diaspora of the Aleppian Wasla in the West. Over the last two decades, he has provided academic leadership, engaged in discussions and offered advice and support to fellow Syrians on civic society, academia and human rights.  Alsiadi has been interviewed and been an analyst on TV and radio for a wide range of media sources including PBS, HuffPost LIVE, Al Jazeera and ABC.Each year, Alsiadi supports concerts for young audiences, and his performance groups offer master classes and other performance opportunities for our public schools and universities. Alsiadi is committed to educating our youth about Middle Eastern chamber music and introducing students to the joys of the Aleppian Wasla, a traditional genre of Arab music. Alsiadi currently serves on the faculty of Rutgers University and Fordham University in New York City and teaches master classes in the U.S. and abroad.


Roseanne Alvarez (PhD student) developed her interdisciplinary interests in American popular culture, literature, and Gender Studies as a tenured faculty member at Brookdale College, where she currently holds the dual titles of Assistant Professor of English and Women's Studies Option Director. An active participant in regional and national women and gender studies associations, she now serves as the communications coordinator for the NWSA's Women of Color Caucus. Her research interests include immigration, nationalism, and surveillance culture; cultural materialist feminisms with an emphasis on intersectional and global analysis; and articulations of transformative praxis/radical pedagogies in shaping public scholarship initiatives in higher education.



Anna Alves (PhD Student) is interested in the liminality of Filipino American identity as expressed/manifested in contemporary American literature written by Filipina writers.  She hopes to examine these narratives within American literature as transmitted in and of the U. S., recognizing that Filipino identity is always in flux and often imposed upon, and would like to explore encounters of inter-ethnic American contexts within this literature. A former PEN Center USA West Emerging Voices Fellow and PAWA Manuel G. Flores Prize recipient, she has attended writing residencies at Hedgebrook and Voices of Our Nation‘s Arts (VONA). Her writing has appeared in Amerasia Journal, Tilting the Continent: Southeast Asian American Writing, Kartika Review, Dismantle: a VONA Writers' Workshop Anthology, Empire of Funk: Hip Hop and Representation in Filipino America and Kuwento for Lost Things. She was a Program Associate in Media, Arts and Culture at The Ford Foundation in New York City, a Program Manager at the Asian Pacific Fund in San Francisco, CA, and a freelance consultant contributing to projects around hip-hop aesthetics, before serving as Staff and Programs Manager at the UCLA Academic Advancement Program assisting low-income, first generation undergraduates interested in pursuing doctoral and/or professional degrees. She has also taught English Composition to first-year students at Rutgers-Newark. Anna received her B.A. in English and History and M.A. in Asian American Studies from the University of California at Los Angeles, and M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Rutgers-Newark. She is a fervent UCLA Bruins, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Francisco 49ers fan, enjoys 3-D IMAX action-thrillers/apocalyptic/sci-fi films, watches live theater, and reads epic novels while she currently lives, studies and creates stories in Jersey City, New Jersey.


Asha Best (PhD student) is interested in mapping out sites where race and spatial im/mobility are mutually constitutive, particularly for Black and Brown immigrants in the U.S. Her current project explores race, ethnicity, and everyday practices of movement and circulation, by looking at how working class immigrant women navigate racially and spatially segregated cityscapes. She is particularly interested in how Latina domestic workers use public transit in their everyday lives to traverse the borders of the racially and spatially segregated city-suburbs of Los Angeles, a city where non-privatized mobilities are acutely racialized and surveilled. Asha received a Bachelor's in Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California and a Master's in Pan African Studies from Syracuse University.


Jennifer Caroccio (PhD Student) is interested in U.S. Latin@ culture & literature, folktales, and graphic novels. Employing Women of Color Feminist, Postcolonial, and Critical Race theories, she examines issues of racial identity and misogyny in Caribbean and Caribbean-American texts. She also has used comics and graphic narratives as pedagogical tools in the classroom to help students understand concepts of analysis for writing. Jennifer received her BA in English from Queens College, and her MA in English from Brooklyn College. She has worked as a composition instructor and as a Financial Aid systems analyst through the CUNY Assistantship Program at Brooklyn College.


Drew Ciccolo (PhD student), has lived and worked in Olympia, WA (where he also studied for a year at Evergreen State College), Eugene, OR, San Diego, CA, Taos, NM, Burlington, VT, Hyannis, Cape Cod, and Montclair, NJ.  A 2014 graduate of Rutgers University-Newark’s MFA Program, he won Talking Writing's 2013 prize for creative non-fiction; his story "The Behemoth" was selected by Lev Grossman for the 2014 anthology, The Masters Review. He also taught English Composition in the Writing Program at Rutgers-Newark from 2012-14.  A first-year PhD candidate in the Rutgers-Newark American Studies program this fall, he has envisioned studying representations of culture and socialization in fiction containing non-mimetic elements, but remains open to new ideas.


Janessa Daniels (PhD student) received her B.A. from Rutgers University - Newark.  She is interested queer bodies of color in relation to the law, race, and sexuality. Focusing on kink as psychosexual practice, she is fascinated by the process of kinkification, a process fostered by the criminalization, sexualization, and commodification of bodies of color.





Stuart Gold (PhD student) examines the intersection of legal history and slavery, particularly in the North.  During the day, he is a practicing lawyer, hence his interest in legal history.  Stuart is a partner at one of the larger firms in New Jersey where he specializes in commercial litigation and bankruptcy.   He received his J.D. from the Cornell Law School in 1981 and his M.A. in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2011.  He currently teaches American Legal History I at Rutgers-Newark and will be teaching Jurisprudence at Montclair State University in the spring.  He previously taught Remedies and Agency and Partnership at Seton Hall Law School before returning to graduate school.



Holly Halmo (PhD student) After completing master’s degrees in Gender Politics and Library and Information Science, Holly came to American Studies to study the intersections of performances of masculinities and American (para)military culture. Focusing on American Civil War reenactors, Holly utilizes oral history and participant observation to understand how men playing war impacts such performances have on national memory, commemoration and meanings of American manhood. Her website, (re)(en)acting, documents her project and features interviews and photos from her reenactments.  Holly also serves as an Associate Registrar at NYU.

(Stephanie) Jaehyun Jeong (PhD student) earned her MA in Comparative Literature from Seoul National University (South Korea). Her research interests include identity issues in Asian American literature including identity as both individual and collective, narrative and subject formation, and the relationship between literature and politics.






Bernie Lombardi (PhD student) works at the intersections of American and African Studies. His research interests include contemporary African migration to the United States, African diaspora theory and literature, and African LGBT politics. Bernie comes to Rutgers-Newark with a BA in African and African American Studies and English from Fordham University and a MA in Liberal and Africana Studies from The Graduate Center, City University of New York. He wrote a Master’s thesis on how contemporary black African immigrants negotiate American tropes of blackness and the role this plays in their identity formations; he hopes to expand on this in his dissertation. Also, within the past few years, he has lived and taught ESL in both Shanghai, China and Omungwelume, Namibia. In his free time he enjoys experimenting with new textures and flavors in the kitchen and developing his not-so sophisticated (yet) palette. 


Amy Lucker (PhD student) examines the impact of the Vietnam War on American art and culture. Amy is returning to school after a long hiatus, during which she built a career as an art librarian. She currently serves as Head of the Library at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. She has a B.A. and an M.A. in Classics (language and literature) and an M.S. in Library and Information Science.





 Kevin Manuel-Bentley (MA student) received his B.A. from Swarthmore College, where he studied Political Science and Spanish. His current research project focuses on passing narratives in Afro-Latino literature, particularly when the Afro-Latino experience is coded as African-American. When not feverishly studying all types of "blackness", he can be found either playing tennis, cooking, or binge-watching Korean dramas.








Stephen McNulty (PhD student) is a perpetual Rutgers student, attaining his B.A. in History and Political Science from Rutgers-New Brunswick and a Master's in History from Rutgers-Newark. His academic interests concern attempting to wrangle the seemingly disparate fields of ethics, psychoanalysis, cultural studies, and animal studies together, and to demonstrate their numerous entanglements in a way that proves to be a fruitful addition to an expansive ideal of American Studies scholarship. Specifically his work addresses whether one can theorize an alternative speculative ethics beyond the human by interrogating: the trauma of the non-human other, the mediated cultural productions that continually re/produce the non-human as other, and the conceptual frame of ecology which has primarily operated as a means of hierarchical ontological organization. Together, trauma/melancholia, media, and ecology form the crux of his current work, their interrelations providing the basis for a post-human (or post-ecological) ethics. Outside of the rigors of academia, he enjoys all manner of outdoor activities, is an ardent vegan and occasionally gestures towards the creative exploits of music and fiction.


Addie Mahmassani is a first year PhD student in American Studies and a fellow on the Newest Americans project. She focuses on documentary film theory and production, as well as other forms of creative nonfiction. She also studies the history, literature, and mythology of the American West, with a particular fascination for the Southwest. Prior to starting at Rutgers, she lived at the Grand Canyon in Arizona, worked in Artistic Development at Arena Stage in Washington, DC, and received her BA in American Studies from Georgetown University. She loves to write travel narratives, folk songs, and notes to herself for her WRNU radio show Like a Rolling Stone: Songs and Their Travels.   


Thomas E. Moomjy (PhD student) is currently working towards a dissertation that will explore intersectionality within Blues music and literature during the first half of the Twentieth Century. A classically trained guitar player, you are more likely to find him these days with a bottleneck slide when playing. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers-New Brunswick in English and is also a graduate of Rutgers-Newark’s MA program in English Literature. His poetical musings can be found at


Sheila Moreira (PhD student) is currently pursuing dual degrees in both the American Studies PhD program and the Political Science Masters program. Her research interests include Constitutional law and the democratic process, immigration and naturalization policy, gender studies – particularly domestic violence and feminist legal theory, education as a human right, and comparative social movements. Before coming to Rutgers, Sheila earned a BA in English, with a minor in Women's Studies, from the College of New Jersey; she then attended and graduated Magna Cum Laude from American University, Washington College of Law in 2003. Since earning her J.D., she has been practicing civil law in both New York and New Jersey, concentrating mainly on family law, immigration law, and trial litigation. She has also volunteered with various non-profit groups monitoring election law compliance and securing individuals' voting rights on election days. 


Molly Rosner is a PhD Candidate in American Studies at Rutgers University, Newark. She holds master’s degree in Oral History from Columbia University. She has worked as an educator, researcher and photographer at cultural institutions around New York City including the Apollo Theater, the Brooklyn Museum and BLDG92 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. She is the creator of the blog “Brooklyn in Love and War” (, which chronicles the history of WWII through love letters written by her grandmother – a young mother in Brooklyn – and her grandfather, a Hungarian immigrant, away in the Navy. Molly's dissertation focuses on 20th century American childhood, consumerism, and the ways we teach myth/history outside of school. Molly’s work has appeared in the LA Review of Books, Huffington Post, Salon and In Media Res.


Katie Singer (PhD Candidate)  Katie Singer has an MFA in Creative Writing and is working towards her doctorate in American Studies at Rutgers University-Newark. Her major field is African-American History and Culture. Her dissertation focuses on the Krueger-Scott African-American Cultural Center. Katie was a full time instructor at Fairleigh Dickinson University for ten years teaching writing workshops in composition and creative writing, as well as African-American literature and studies. She has sat on panels and given readings at numerous conferences, including the International Conference on the Short Story, most recently held in Vienna. Her writing consists of short stories, poems, articles and essays; she has published most recently an essay about attending the Short Story conferences since the year 2000 entitled, “A Seat at the Table” on webdelsol’s online journal, Literary Explorer


Erin Sweeney (MA Student) received her first master's in Public Policy/Urban Planning from the Harvard Kennedy School where she focused on advocacy, community organizing, and public narrative.  She received her B.A. in Public Policy from the University of Chicago where she focused on urban policy and African/African-American studies.  After serving in several continents as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. Department of State, Erin returned to her home state, settling into Newark, NJ several years ago.  She currently works in strategic planning at St. Benedict's Prep, manages the Newark Girl Scouts, is a Leadership Newark Fellow, and serves on a young professional board for the Student/Partner Alliance.  Erin is interested in examining race, ethnicity, gender, urban planning, and narrative within the urban New Jersey landscape.


Erica Tom (PhD student) situates her work at the intersections of Animal Studies, Race Studies, and Women and Gender Studies. Her dissertation focuses on the significance of horse-human relationships in the Newark Mounted Police Unit and the Second Chances Horse Program at the Wallkill Correctional Facility in New York. As a multi-species ethnographer, Erica experiments in somatic practices with non-human animals, namely horses. Erica is also on the Board of Directors of 501(3)C non-profit, Belos Cavalos, an Equine Experiential Organization, located in Kenwood, California. At Belos Cavalos, Erica is the Director of Performance Arts and Movement Research, facilitating an Artist in Residence Program and Public Scholarship-Arts Events. Erica earned her BA in English Literature with a minor in Classical Studies, from the University of Washington in 2007, and her MA in English Literature from Sonoma State University in 2012.


Laura Troiano (PhD student) researches baseball in Newark, NJ.  She is the assistant program coordinator at the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience at Rutgers-Newark. She received her Bachelor’s degree in History and Anthropology from Hunter College, CUNY and her Master’s degree in History from Rutgers University.  Laura’s research interests include narrative and public history and the intersections of religion and sports. 



Jose Velasco (MA student) received his B.A. from Rutgers-New Brunswick, where he studied History and American Studies. He is interested in the urban and suburban history of twentieth century United States, focusing on the transnational formations of racial and ethnic groups of his hometown of Jersey City. He is also interested in the development of tattoo culture in the maritime cities of North America.






Robin Foster (PhD student) researches the increasing use of culture, heritage and collective identity in localized urban revitalization strategies in the New York/Newark metropolitan region in the 1960s and 70s. She earned an M.A. in Museum Professions from Seton Hall University. Her master’s thesis explored the role of museums in urban revitalization, examining current theory in museum methodology and practice as well as the physical, economic, and social impact regional museum have upon their local communities. Robin is Adjunct Professor at Seton Hall University, where she teaches Cultural and Urban Anthropology; she has written a forthcoming article for the Journal of Urban History on memory, preservation and planning in the founding of the South Street Seaport Museum in lower Manhattan.