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Graduate Theme Fellows

The Place of Memory

The Robert Penn Warren Center’s theme for 2023-24 is The Place of Memory. With equal emphasis on “place” and “memory,” we invited graduate studies from across the humanities you to create, research, and (re)think what it means to navigate remembering and forgetting in our post-COVID, algorithmic world.

  • Where does memory live in the body and how is it communicated through our actions in the world?
  • How do places—geographical, corporeal, conceptual—inform memory?
  • How do memory and place(s)—individual, collective, or historical—influence and shape each other?
  • How do we memorialize so as to preserve, do justice, heal, and move forward? And when is it necessary to forget?

The Program

Fellows convene weekly to discuss scholarly works-in-progress and shared readings based on the year’s theme. Fellows complete an academic research project (such as an article or dissertation chapter or law-review note), a creative/artistic project, or a scholarly public engagement project. They deliver a public presentation on their project toward the end of the academic year.

The Fellows

Tandria Fireall

Department of English

Tan Fireall is an MFA candidate in Poetry. Her research interests span various topics such as film theory, the Renaissance and early modern era, metaphysical poetry, poetics, and science in literature. She is currently researching the theme of violence and victimization within communities. Her research is framed as a critical essay focusing on tragedy as a genre and invites readers to consider the complexities of violence, acts of desecration, and the prevention of burial. 


Kanak Kapur

Department of English

Kanak Kapur is a writer from Dubai and Los Angeles. Her fiction has previously appeared at The Rumpus, the cyber zine CodeLit, and Black Warrior Review. She has received support through a scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, where she was a Tennessee Williams Scholar. She is currently an MFA candidate in fiction at Vanderbilt University. 


Seulbin Lee

Department of Religion

Seulbin Lee is a PhD student in Ethics and Society in the Graduate Department of Religion. She specializes in Christian Social Ethics and Political Theology, and her research interests include transnationalism, democracy, liberative historiography, and feminist decolonial praxis. Her current research explores the moral agency of transnational activists who carry the memory of the May 18th People’s Uprising in South Korea into the U.S. through the lens of religion. As a certified candidate in the United Methodist Church, her passion lies in connecting the traditions of UMC to her teaching of ethics as cultivating good troublemakers in the world. She is excited to be co-teaching a “Religion and Social Movement” course this fall, as a teaching associate, with Dr. Melissa Snarr. 


Melissa Luong

Human and Organizational Development, Peabody

Melissa Luong is a second-year PhD student in Community Research and Action. Her work aims to reorient public health study and practice around an examination of power and the social systems that produce and reproduce health inequities in communities as a result of structural violence. Through exploring community organizing and social movement-building efforts to advance health equity, she focuses on how communities resist, contest, and transform social structures that create and reinforce harm. Her work draws from community psychology, public health, critical ethnic studies, and anthropology. 


Megan McCormick

Human and Organizational Development, Peabody

Megan McCormick is a second-year doctoral student in Community Research and Action. She is an interdisciplinary critical youth scholar who uses participatory, qualitative, and critical methodologies to think about youth power-building in neighborhoods and schools. She is interested in youth-led transformation processes (in schools and cities), youth-adult partnerships, youth organizing, and conceptions of schools as place and as sites of resistance. She proposes a novel synthesis in the form of a scholarly article that outlines practices for re-building and/or transforming schools as sites of memory and healing. She is interested in expanding on “place fracture,” a framework for understanding how people respond when a physical place, like a school, is disappeared from the community.


Kelsey Rall

Department of English

Kelsey Rall is a fifth-year PhD candidate in the English Department. She specializes in nineteenth-century literature, and her research interests include queer theory, gender and sexuality studies, spinsterhood, and genre studies. Her dissertation, titled “Seeing Through the Spinster: The Nineteenth-Century Single Woman in Literature and Theory,” analyzes how single women redefine notions of gender, kinship, and temporality in nineteenth-century texts. In particular, she proposes that various “genres” of nineteenth-century single womanhood simultaneously structure and destabilize the major literary genres in which they appear. 

Past Fellows

Click to view a list of past graduate fellows.