Ifigenia (Effie) Gonis is a Bay Area native who recently completed her master's degree in Paris. Her primary interest is in theatre—contemporary/experimental theatre in particular. She has been involved in theatrical productions since she was very young—mostly as an actor—although recently she has put performing aside to focus on critical theory and dramaturgy. She first read Ionesco's Rhinoceros in high school. On her bookshelf you'll find not just his plays but also those of Jean Genet (one of her favorite writers), Albert Camus, Alfred Jarry, and a very worn copy of Artaud's Le théâtre et son double.
She has had a passion for books and literature for as long as she can remember. This has allowed her to enjoy little acts of "rebellion" when she was younger: she would often read by nightlight when she should have been sleeping. Effie still prefers an interactive relationship with her books—writing in them and marking any passages she finds interesting—so she tends to buy a lot of them. She admits, “This always comes back to bite me” whenever she has a to move.
Effie loves all things “food”— cooking it, reading about it, and eating it. So Paris has been the right place to live!
Hyun Kyun (HK) Yuh grew up in Scarsdale, New York, and completed her undergraduate studies at Princeton. Her college career began at the School of Architecture, but she discovered a love of literature while taking a course devoted to the collected works of Albert Camus. Shortly thereafter she joined the Department of French, receiving her A.B. in 2014. She is primarily interested in 20th century French and Francophone literature and critical theory, but she is intrigued, too, by the 18th century.
HK is also drawn to 19th century German philosophy, mathematical logic (set theory in particular), post-Soviet politics, and (mostly pop) political economy. When away from books, she enjoys watching or playing sports. Through high school and college she was a competitive fencer and traveled, as a part of the national team, to Europe and Asia for training camps and tournaments. She also likes to play tennis and soccer and is always up for a hiking trip or some ceilidh dancing.
Hannah Weaver says “A friend once told me that who you are at seven years old is who you are for good, and maybe in my case this is true!” Hannah grew up in the Midwest, and at age seven she was all about three things: creating things, reading, and horses. Lo and behold, twenty years later, she is still all about reading, with a healthy smattering of hands-on projects, and horses.
As an undergraduate at Boston University, she stumbled happily into the wild world of medieval French literature, where her interests still lie. Fortuitously, she was given the opportunity to study abroad at the Université de Paris, III and IV, where she took many classes with a medieval focus. After graduating in 2009, she taught French at public and private schools in the suburbs of Boston before deciding to pursue graduate work at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Medieval Studies. When Hannah isn’t at her desk, you can find her riding horses in the beautiful Massachusetts woods, cooking tasty dinners, and keeping an eye out for the ultimate patio for people-watching and a great cuppa.
Kacey Carter’s love of literature came by accident from a series of intellectual wanderings. She has always been a consumer: a consumer of anything she could read. Kitschy articles. Great novels. Current events. Ambiguous poetry. And everything in between. This hunger for the written word paired well with her interest in foreign languages and cultures. As she studied languages, she quickly realized that literature acts as a window into a culture’s history and social temperature. Her appreciation of the vertex between literature and society didn’t crystallize until she presented an analysis on the poetry of Pablo Neruda against the political backdrop of a transitional Chile. She fell in love, and quickly moved from Neruda to Carlos Fuentes to Rigoberta Menchú, among others. She wanted to study all of them. Kacey has always loved learning about these foreign cultures through the eyes of their writers. Midway through her years as an undergraduate, she took an introductory course in Brazilian Portuguese. At first, she was not enamored. But her Portuguese language skills sharpened, and so did her appreciation for the country’s music and spirit. Her love of Brazilian music proved to be a natural segue into the world of Brazilian literature and poetry. She fell in love all over again.
Kacey is from Northern California where, like Brazilians, she was raised to appreciate the sunshine and a relaxed pace of life. When she isn’t devouring literature, she is a connoisseur of great food, better coffee, and live music. Away from her studies, she spends most of her time outdoors, whether it’s on a bicycle, in the water, or in a period She grew up in wine country and received her Bachelor of Arts at UC Berkeley in 2012. She then spent almost a year studying at the Pontifical Catholic University in Rio, where her love of the Brazilian culture deepened. After she graduated from Berkeley, she moved to New York for a job and a new adventure, while figuring out the best way to get back to studying literature and Portuguese. She is now on the path she hoped to find.
Maria Gatti was born and raised in Florianopolis, an island in southern Brazil. Her parents moved to New York City when she was very young. Through her family’s comings and goings, she started loving to talk about the cultural differences between countries and how one sees the other. Today she is glad she could turn this into her life’s calling. Her observations of people and places have fostered her creative writing, and this has followed her – she still writes for suiteparagraviola.com. He has also worked in film production. Nowadays she feel committed to teaching, in spite of how much she struggled while working in a Brazilian elementary school. Her love of literature comes from her love of history as the act of making people's words, thoughts, and actions permanent. To her, this unlocks a vital exploration and analysis of human creativity. After eight years studying History and one year teaching it, Maria believes studying literature is her perfect path towards understanding the world.
Corrado Confalonieri was born in Piacenza, Italy. Guitarist and songwriter manqué, he received both his B.A. and M.A. at the University of Parma, first focusing on the “bleeding branch” topos from Virgil to Tasso, and then analysing the relation between Montale’s Satura and Roman satire. Corrado’s research has always been firmly rooted in Italian literature. But he has become open to an intertextual approach because of his strong interests in both the Classics and Comparative literature. These different paths, along with a fascination with philosophical issues in literature, led him to his doctoral research on epic history and theory. In his studies, he placed a particular emphasis on Tasso’s work on one hand, and on the connection between ideology and form on the other. He recently completed his thesis at the University of Padua. He then spent a period of time at Columbia University, during which he grew familiar with many works by American scholars. This helped him to gain a more original point of view on Classical and Renaissance epic. At Harvard, Corrado plans to an enrich his range of interests, allowing them to contextualize and fully mature in light of new methods and theoretical perspectives.
Rachel Combs-Gonzalez is incredibly excited and honored to begin her doctoral studies in the Department! She plans to focus on Caribbean and US Latino literature and cultural productions. Rachel completed her BA in International and Global Studies at Sewanee: The University of the South in 2010, and recently finished her MA in Romance Languages-Spanish at the University of Georgia. One of the things that draws her to the study of literature and culture, particularly Latin American and US Latino literature and culture, is a strong desire to find intersections and connections among fields of knowledge. For her undergraduate degree, she studied medieval art and architecture in Spain, and took courses in Anthropology, History, Political Science, Spanish, and Women’s Studies. In fact, she minored in Women’s Studies and incorporated this interest into her work at UGA. Now, as she begins the next phase in her academic studies, she plans to further pursue more significant research queer Caribbean and Latino literature and performance. As a graduate student, and future scholar in the field of Spanish and Latin American Literature, she has had the unique opportunity to not only study great literature: she has been given access to various fields of knowledge that have allowed her to think critically and experience the world in different ways.
As a first generation college graduate from a rural town in Kentucky, Rachel is especially aware of how this access to knowledge is something to be cherished and thankful for. Both of her parents were in the military, so she was born on an army base in Augsburg, Germany. After a couple of moves, they ended up in Kentucky to be closer to her father’s family. Her parents always pushed her to succeed and go to college, but few could have predicted that she would make it so far. Thanks to hard work and her family’s support, she has access to two different worlds. She can study issues of identity, race, sexuality and immigration in Latino literature. And, with her rural, working class roots, she can track a deer, fish trout, and grow a vegetable garden. With her approaching wedding to Darío González, she has recently grown acclimated Chilean culture; his family in Santiago has welcomed her with open arms. In the end, which was a hodgepodge, and she cannot wait to add her studies at Harvard to the mix!
Harriet Cook comes from a region of the English countryside close to London. When she was very young, she spent her summer holidays with her family in Mallorca. During these visits, she discovered her deep interest in Spanish. She graduated from Cambridge in 2013 with a degree in Modern and Medieval Languages, specifically French and Spanish. Her dissertation investigated representations of the bedchamber in fairy-tale films. She was also given the opportunity to learn Catalan at Cambridge. This opened many doors to the different languages spoken in Spain, as well as their cultures. She spent her undergraduate year abroad in Santiago de Compostela, where she started becoming comfortable in Galician (and with an amount of rain that she didn’t know was possible for Spain!) After graduating from Cambridge, she returned to the Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, where she completed her MA in European medieval studies. There, she completely indulged her love for Galicia, its culture and language. At Harvard, she hopes to continue her focus Galicia. She is particularly looking forward to studying the Galician-Portuguese medieval love lyric in more depth.
In her spare time, Harriet hopes to volunteer at the Philips Brooks House Association. If she’s not reading or volunteering, then she’s probably scrapbooking!
Maria Gomez Lara was born in Bogotá, Colombia. She studied Literature at Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá and she received a Master in Creative Writing from NYU. Her primary focus is poetics. She is deeply concerned with how one can trace, in a poet’s work and also through theoretical reflection, the craft and problems of poetic language. She wrote her undergraduate thesis on Venezuelan poet Eugenio Montejo. She studied how, in Montejo’s poetry, writing comes into being, sometimes peculiarly: in his work, the letters have colors (like Rimbaud’s “Voyelles”) and different kinds of materiality; they become stones, sometimes, or the poet’s bones or blood. And the world itself is full of “writing”: clouds move with slow vowels, snow is a white page that holds our silence. During her graduate work she has started to refine the questions that interest her: What is the relationship between poetics and the materiality of writing? Can poetic language have terrestriality, or terredad? (to invoke Montejo’s invented word). Terredad does not quite translate as “terrestriality,” for it is a concept on the border between materiality and void: it refers to our condition of being terrestrial and ephemeral, material and temporal, yet somehow permanent, perhaps exactly because of our volatility. How to approach this bordering condition? Could the void be the other face of materiality? Perhaps, when studying poetics as materiality, one cannot avoid encountering the concept of emptiness. Thus, reading the work of the Argentinian poet Roberto Juarroz, she has been particularly interested in the materiality of emptiness, the way in which the void gets materialized as his poetic voice proposes, for example, “To cut pieces of emptiness / and put them aside / so that no one fills them.” These pieces, however, become an image of a poetic language that, fragmentary and made of void, is precisely what the poet has on hand to assemble figures and give form and shape. Starting with the question of writing and materiality in Juarroz and Montejo, and expanding it to include the work of Olga Orozco, José Manuel Arango, Blanca Varela and other 20th century Latin American poets, Maria would like to spend her time at Harvard widening her perspective on poetics.
Wilnomy Zuleyka Pérez Pérez -As an undergraduate at the Hispanic Studies Department of the University of Puerto Rico, Wilnomy Zuleyka Pérez Pérez not only grew acquainted with fundamental Early Modern Spanish texts, but also understood for the first time the real complexity of the historical period in which they were written. For the first time she realized that this literature, often considered "canonical" by today’s standards, was produced under strict censorship due to inquisitorial repression. She was drawn early on to the most secretive and enigmatic dimension of Peninsular literature: the Moorish-Aljamiado literature (literatura aljamiado-morisca). She admits that the secret literature of the last Muslims of Spain, written in Spanish but transcribed in Arabic characters, moved her in a special way because its identity struggles were quite familiar to her as a Puerto Rican— the culture, racial hybridity and political repression. She was intrigued by the clash of cultures this clandestine literature implied and with the problem of writing under censorship. In May 2013, Wilnomy defended her Master’s dissertation, titled “Misterios de un texto secreto: aproximación a los aspectos esotéricos y oníricos de un manuscrito aljamiado del siglo XVI”. In this study she considered the question posed by scholars Miguel Asín Palacios, Luce López-Baralt, Pablo Beneito, Xavier Cassasas and María Teresa Narváez: do the Spanish moriscos still possess a significant knowledge of Sufi mysticism? Recently she has been working on several articles that she hopes will see the light soon. One of them is about the Song of Songs and how Fray Luis de Leon’s translation and commentaries show an undeniable level of self-censorship, in the erotic segments of the poem. Also related to Fray Luis de Leon’s translation of the Song of Songs, she is writing an article on how Los olvidados y El niño de cristal, a book of poetry written by Marina Arzola, might present an echo of its symbols. Finally, Wilnomy has a growing passion for the Spanish theatre of the 20th Century, especially in Francisco Nieva’s plays and how the author subverts the traditional themes of the Classical bucolic literature of Teocritus, Virgil, and Sannazaro—the beatus ille, the locus amoenus, the donna angelicata—with the intention of denouncing Franco’s “España negra” (“Black Spain”) in which repression and censorship are again present.