Literature Student Profiles | Department of English

Literature Student Profiles

Ashley Balcazar

Ashley Balcazar is a First-year Ph.D. student and Teaching Fellow. She earned her M.A. in Linguistics and her B.A. in Integrative Studies with foci in English, Linguistics, and Sociology and a minor in French at the University of North Texas. Ashley's research in the Master's program focused on the language of sexual violence, dialectical features of African-American English, and computational solutions for textual research. She has taught in the Linguistics department at UNT as an adjunct professor.

Ashley has created and authored an online column, Dallas Salsa Examiner, about salsa dancing in North Texas and has written for the Dallas Morning News as a Community Voices columnist. She has also been a contributor for the CBS Digital Arts and Entertainment section. Her academic work has been published in American Speech.

She looks forward to shifting from a concentration on the scientific study of language to the creativity of the written word.

Nicholas Brush

Nicholas A. Brush is a disabled queer veteran whose scholarly interests meet at the intersections of gender, sexuality, and food in early modern drama. His/Their dissertation is tentatively titled, "Dietary Deviants: Eating Queer in Early Modern English Drama." Nicholas received his/their B.A. in English (Creative Writing) from Cameron University and his/their M.A. in English from the University of Central Oklahoma. Nicholas' poetry has been published in The Gold Mine, Cuento Magazine, Dragon Poet Review, and petrichor, among others, and has been anthologized in The 580 Mixtapes, Volume 1: An Anthology of Lawton Poetry. Nicholas' scholarly publications include articles in The Journal of the Wooden O, The Central Dissent, and Philological Review. His/Their extracurricular pursuits include reading and collecting comic books, building and collecting LEGO®, online gaming, and watching and writing about horror films.

Triana Burroughs

Triana Burroughs is an M.A. student at the University of North Texas. She graduated from Dallas Baptist University in 1999 with a B.A. in English. She has been teaching high school English for the last five years and is now focusing on her M.A. in English Literature. Her interests are in 19th and 20th Century British Literature, with a focus on Christian authors and literature. Her first novel, Life of Grace, was published in 2014. When not reading and writing, she enjoys cooking, crocheting, and spending time serving her community through her church, Valley Creek. She and her husband have been married for 23 years and have six children.

Max Cannon

Max Cannon is a Ph.D. student at the University of North Texas where he previously earned a BA in Philosophy with a minor in English Literature. He aims to continue to keep the two disciplines in tandem during his education. His primary interest lies in modernist anglophone literature, and more particularly in the stream of consciousness writing that emerged from the movement by the likes of Faulkner, Joyce, and Woolf. He currently resides in Denton with his wife and daughter, while working at Edison Coffee Co. in Flower Mound.

Shannon Couey

Shannon Couey is a Ph.D. candidate specializing in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century British literature. She is working on her dissertation--tentatively titled, "Sonic Bodies, Sonic Sex," which explores the relationship between gender, sexuality, sound, and embodiment in non-realist texts at the turn of the twentieth century. When she is not teaching or working on her dissertation, you can find her at home snuggled up with her pug, Shakespeare, and her husband.

Staci Gentry

Staci Gentry is an M.A. student and Teaching Assistant at the University of North Texas. She graduated from UNT in 2022 with a B.A. in English Literature and a certification in Technical Communications. Her scholarly interests include rhetoric and composition, contemporary American literature, and queer theory. In addition to these scholarly fields, Staci is fascinated by emerging genres such as podcasts, graphic novels, and video games and their viability within academic studies. In her spare time, Staci enjoys reading gothic and fantasy novels, spending time with her two dogs, drinking coffee, and playing video games.

Jamini Hariharan

Jamini Hariharan is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in English literature. She graduated with an M.A. in Advertising from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and has worked as a copywriter at various media companies, such as Young and Hungry, Globein, and Carol H. Williams Advertising. Her work focused on creating multicultural brand strategies and solutions to help companies better connect with their diverse audiences. Jamini aims to bring this experience to her research on the roles of the minority in media.

Frazier Johnson

Frazier Johnson received his B.A. in English with a certificate in Medieval and Renaissance Studies from UNT in 2017. He is currently pursuing his M.A. in medieval literature. His novel, The Lost King, was published in 2020 through a Texas company, FyreSyde publishing, and he hopes soon to publish academic works. In addition to pursuing his graduate degree, Frazier works at UNT in the admissions office as a Graduate Recruiter.

Ayesha Murtza

Ayesha Murtza

Ayesha is a 3rd year Ph.D. scholar in English Literature. Her research focuses on post-colonial literature, intersectionality, feminist disability studies, and environmental justice. She is currently preparing for her comprehensive exams under the supervision of Dr. Anna Hinton, Dr. Aja Martinez, and Dr. Joanna Davis-McElligatt.

Prior to coming to UNT from Punjab, Pakistan, she completed her M.A. and M.Phil. in English Literature and Linguistics and won Excellence Achievement Award during her MA. She has presented her research works at NWSA, NeMLA, ASLE+AESS, ICLAP, and other conferences.

Ayesha is fluent in Urdu, Punjabi, and English. She has received many awards, including Graduate Academic Achievement Scholarship (2022), International Affairs Pakistani Student Scholarship (2023), The Veta Watson Percy Scholarship (2023). Her published works include her "Counterstory," published in Writers: Craft and Context, a book chapter about #MosqueMeToo in the edited volume, The Other #MeToos (Oxford University Press 2023). She is currently engaged in a translation project.

Erica Peterson

Erica Peterson is a Ph.D. candidate in literature. She studies twentieth-century American women's literature using disability studies and mad studies frameworks. She also tutors graduate students in the UNT Writing Center.

Md. Saifur Rahman

Md. Saifur Rahman is a Ph.D. student and Teaching Fellow at UNT. He completed both B.A. and M.A. from the Department of English at the University of Chittagong, Bangladesh. He taught as a faculty in the Department of English at Premier University, Chittagong, and at the Department of English at Chittagong Independent University. He was a Fulbright FLTA at Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia. His research interests include postcolonial literature, climate justice, film studies, etc. He intends to use an eco-centric lens in postcolonial studies, focusing particularly on South Asian culture and literature.

Paria Rahmani

Paria Rahmani is a PhD student in English Literature. Her focus is on 20th century American modern and postmodern novels and novellas depicting human embodiment/experience and temporality, with specific interests in affect theory in order to identify and analyze complex emotions in literature such as grief, envy, and rage. Born in the U.S. to Iranian parents, her other interests include Iranian-American literature, poetry, and media. When she is not on campus, you can probably find her at a coffee shop writing articles for her music criticism portfolio she has been updating for nearly a decade.

Christa Reaves

Christa Reaves is a Ph.D. candidate in English literature and a teacher of early British literature. Her specialization is in Renaissance drama with a secondary emphasis in modern American drama. In her own words, she works with "all plays, all the time." Her dissertation examines the influence of Ovidian mythology on Shakespeare's works and how that translates on the modern stage. She was the proud recipient of the UNT Outstanding Teaching Fellow Award in 2021.

Arpita Sen

Arpita Sen is a Ph.D. candidate and a Teaching Fellow. She has completed her B.A. in India from the University of North Bengal and then moved to the U.S. for pursuing her dream of higher studies abroad. She has earned an M.A. in English from the University at Buffalo, SUNY. Her Master's thesis focused upon exploring questions on morality often associated with the motif of motherhood, in literature. It explored the abortion issue and its space within the social psyche of both the western and the oriental cultures, bridging the patriarchal intent to control, on common grounds.

Arpita hopes to continue her research within similar fields of study, merging her interests in feminism, gender dynamics and postcolonial literature to explore representations and ideologies of femininity within the written word and its effect on societal structures, with a specific focus upon South Asian literature and culture.

In her spare time, she enjoys being snuggled up in a blanket listening to music, or penning down short writings or poems as a hobby.

Francesca Silva

Francesca Silva received their B.A. in English from Sam Houston State University. They are pursuing their M.A. in Literature. Francesca was a McNair scholar as an undergrad, and their scholarly interests include Latin/o/a/x Literature, African-American Literature, Feminist/Women's Literature, and Literary Theory. Francesca aims to explore and learn more about their roots and ancestry through studying Mexican American Literature and Theory at UNT. When they're not researching, you can find them with a cup of strong coffee on their couch with a good book and their dogs, Bear and Sky.

Rachel Sullivan

Rachel Sullivan is a first-year Ph.D. student and teaching fellow. She earned her B.A. in Literature from SUNY Empire State College in Syracuse, NY in 2016, and her M.S. in Library and Information Science from Texas Woman's University in 2020. Outside of her studies, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two young children, as well as trying to find time to read for fun.

Laura Yeck

Laura Yeck is a Ph.D. student and Teaching Fellow for the University of North Texas. She enjoys exploring symbolic connections between literature, art, and pop culture. She is delighted to continue her journey of teaching and learning at UNT.

Marissa A. Zerangue

Marissa A. Zerangue is a Ph.D. student at the University of North Texas. Her scholarly interests meet at the intersections of gender, race, and crime in American literature. Marissa received her M.A. from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2019, and her thesis explored domestic noir in contemporary fiction, focusing specifically on the work of Gillian Flynn. Her dissertation will examine true crime and crime noir across various media, including fiction, film, graphic narrative, podcasts, and other emerging genres. In her spare time, Marissa enjoys reading, taking care of her house plants, and watching tv with her spouse.