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2021-2022 Graduate Fellows

Courtney Brown

Mona C. Frederick Fellow
English Department
BLACKIMMORTAL: Immortality as Aesthetic Practice in Contemporary Black American Literature and Visual Culture

Born in California, raised (mostly) in Texas, and now living in Tennessee, Courtney Brown is a poet and scholar, currently working on her PhD in English at Vanderbilt University, where she recently received her MFA in Poetry. Her scholarship focuses broadly on notions of race, racial authenticity and ambiguity, black interiority, shared and/or inherited experiences of blackness, and the way that these experiences are portrayed in literature and visual media, particularly through such genres as horror and fantasy. She is most interested in the way contemporary black artists utilize surrealist techniques in order to convey very real joys and traumas.


Miguel Chavez

William J. Vaughn Fellow 
History Department 
Professionalizing Science: British Geography and the Exploration of Africa

Miguel Ángel Chávez is a PhD candidate in History at Vanderbilt University. He is both a William J. Vaughn Graduate Fellow at the Robert Penn Warren Center, as well as the J. Léon Helguera Graduate Fellow at the History Department. He received both his MA and BA in History from the University of North Texas in 2015 and 2011, respectively.

His dissertation, Professionalizing Science, traces the evolution of British geography from 1830 to 1935. His study examine the ways in which geographers presented themselves as men of science; how they leveraged institutional support from the Royal Geographical Society; and how the work of field scientists in 20th-century Sudan echoed the moralizing mission of the heyday of Nile exploration.


Zachary B. Feldman

William J. Vaughn Fellow
Department of German, Russian & East European Studies
Art, Artifice, and Artifacts: Seeking Reality in the Documentary Form

Zachary B. Feldman is a scholar and curator of media art and film. He is a final year joint-PhD candidate in Comparative Media Analysis and Practice and German, Russian and East European Studies at Vanderbilt University. In addition to his graduate studies, Zach has worked at institutions such as the Zentrum für Kunst und Medien (Center for Art und Media, ZKM) in Karlsruhe, Germany and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. His research interests include production under late-stage capitalism, archaeologies of past and future, and documentary representations.


Hannah Hicks

American Studies Fellow
History Department
Troubling Justice: Women on Trial in the American South,1865-1900

Hannah Katherine Hicks is a sixth-year PhD candidate in US History and the 2021-2022 American Studies Fellow at the Robert Penn Warren Center. Her research focuses on legal history, gender, and race in the nineteenth-century American South. Her dissertation, “Troubling Justice: Women on Trial in the American South,” examines Black and White women’s appearances in local criminal courts after the Civil War. Before coming to Vanderbilt, she studied History and English at the University of North Carolina—Charlotte.


Willnide Lindor

Elizabeth E. Fleming Fellow
English Department
Constructing Alternate Identities: Rhetoric and Fantasies of Blackness in Early Modernity

Willnide Lindor is a 5th-year Ph.D. candidate in English at Vanderbilt University. Her research interests include: Renaissance Lyric Poetry and Drama, Early Modern Race Studies, Gender and Sexuality, and Postcolonial Theory.


Eric MacPhail

George J. Graham Jr. Fellow
Philosophy Department
Racism and Ideology: Unlocking the Potential of Historical Materialism for Anti-Racism

Eric O. A. MacPhail is a Ph.D. candidate in the philosophy department specializing in social and political philosophy, the philosophy of race, and 19th and 20th century continental philosophy. His dissertation draws on 20th century Hungarian philosopher György Márkus’ critical reception of Karl Marx’s historical materialism to advance critical theory’s contemporary efforts to provide a structural, yet non-reductively materialist account of racist ideology. Eric is also interested in the philosophy of language, particularly the pragmatics of racist hate speech and the ordinary language philosophy tradition. Prior to Vanderbilt, Eric got his MA in philosophy and MA in economics from the New School for Social Research. He grew up between the U.S. and Japan, feeling equally at home and abroad in either country.


Taryn Marashi

Stella Vaughn Fellow
History Department
Terrains of Tension, Mapping Violence in Medieval Islamic Society

Taryn Marashi is a sixth year PhD candidate specializing in medieval Islamic history, with research interests in social power and group identity, violence and space, crime and punishment, and urbanization under Abbasid rule. Her dissertation, “Terrains of Tension, Mapping Violence in Medieval Islamic Society,” reveals how urban spaces shaped and were shaped by violence in the mid-ninth to mid-tenth century Middle East. She received her M.A. in Jewish, Islamic, and Near Eastern Languages and Culture from Washington University in St. Louis in 2015.


See past Graduate Student Fellows