About the Bilinski Educational Foundation
Russell and Dorothy Bilinski were true intellectuals, as well as being adventuresome, independent and driven. They believed in people being self-sufficient, ambitious and above all responsible. Russell was a researcher, academician and an entrepreneur. Dorothy was an accomplished artist and patron of the arts. They died leaving a significant gift in the formation of the Bilinski Educational Foundation. They believed that education was a means to obtain independence and this is the legacy they wished to pass on to others.
Each Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Fellowship is worth $35,000; a modest stipend of $2,000 will also be provided to each fellow for travel on behalf of their dissertation research. Students enrolled in any of the College’s Doctor of Philosophy programs in the humanities and social sciences may be nominated. Nominations for 2021-2022 fellows is now open. Learn more about how to apply.
Select a year below to view the fellowships awarded and learn about the individual fellows and their research.
Fritz Culp is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of the Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at the University of South Carolina. He holds a B.A. in Spanish languages and cultures from Utah Valley University in 2016 and a M.A. in Spanish languages, literatures and cultures from UofSC in 2018. His research focuses on contemporary Peru, with an emphasis on ecocriticism, development, indigenismo, revolutionary and other Andean movements.
Fritz’s doctoral dissertation explores the transformations of material spaces in the Andes. Specifically, he investigates oral testimonies regarding Las Bambas, an extractive mining in South-Central Peru; as well as the varying outcomes of the neighboring resettlement community, Nueva Fuerabamba; and overall, his project considers how even the most well-intentioned and well-funded mining development eradicates life in the Andes. Together, these areas of research incorporate and contribute to decolonialism, pluriverse studies, space, environmentalism, design, etc.
His other research in the Spanish and Portuguese Review, “Hibridez, letramiento y ecofeminismo: imágenes de resistencia en Hija de la laguna de Ernesto Cabellos,” examines ongoing ontological and cultural frictions in Bolivia and Peru. Most recently, his review of En nombre del gobierno by Ponciano del Pino appeared in Vernacular Reviews. Fritz is very grateful for the support of the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship, and greatly appreciates the guidance of his advisor, mentors, and many others at UofSC.
As global demands drive the proliferation of open-pit mining and development projects in Peruvian highlands, these transformations seek to erase Andean cultures and rural communities from the Andes. Despite excellent research on the outcomes of modernization, scholars largely fail to value local knowledge in contemporary mining conflicts. Resettlement communities funded by multinational corporations, however, illustrate the underlying cognitive dichotomies between the Western and non-Western societies. My work explores this gap by examining Andean epistemologies in Peruvian literature, film, and oral testimonies, which reveal material transformations in the Andes — land to resources, environment, landscape, tourist imagery, etc. — along with the subsequent control these constructs render over Andean subjects. In dialog with Boaventura de Sousa Santos work, The End of the Cognitive Empire, I demonstrate the ways in which the human/nature dichotomy subjugates and erases non-Western cultures from modern civilization. My ethnographic field work will analyze the conflicts in the mining resettlement community Nueva Fuerabamba, Peru, and local mobilizations for cultural, spatial and cognitive autonomy. Later, I will examine the documentary Hija de la laguna, which highlights patterns in modern development that reduce women and nature to resources for exploitation within patriarchal capitalism. Last, I will consider the paradox of an Andean modernity in my reading of the novel El zorro de arriba y el zorro de abajo by José María Arguedas. As a whole, these areas of study intersect with global discourses on alternatives to development, gender and environmental sustainability while remaking and self-projecting Andean subjectivity, culture and knowledge.
Nicholas M. Danne is a Ph.D. student in philosophy at the University of South Carolina. His research focus is the metaphysics of science, particularly the ontological implications of property ascription. His central thesis concerns a puzzle about the commonplace property known as “reflectance.” Do mirrors remain “reflective” objects when we leave them in dark rooms, or does light instead bestow upon mirrors their reflective ability? What sounds like an idle barstool question actually possesses considerable philosophical import, since some theorists reduce human-perceptible colors to surface reflectance, or posit a causal role for reflectance in human vision, or argue that the mathematical structure of refractivity (a cousin of reflectance) exists in the world independently of scientific theory. Danne’s thesis engages these problems and more, by problematizing the received definition of reflectance as an intrinsic, medium-independent property of surfaces. Specifically, Danne argues that to avoid conceptual regress, intrinsic reflectance requires definition in terms of infinite-duration mathematical entities; he further argues that several contemporary attempts to nominalize mathematics do not work for the reflectance problem. Hence Danne’s thesis implicates debates in mathematical realism, mathematical explanation, scientific realism and, as the Bilinski Fellowship makes possible to investigate, even aesthetics.
Exemplifying Danne’s work are his publication, “How to Make Reflectance a Surface Property,” in Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics (2020), his 10 philosophical book reviews (https://ndanne.wordpress.com/) and his co-authored technical paper for the Society of Automotive Engineers (https://doi.org/10.4271/2008-32-0028). Danne worked for 13 years as an engineer in the Detroit automotive industry. Since enrolling at UofSC he has enjoyed teaching Engineering Ethics and volunteering for Discover USC. Danne earned his Master of Arts in philosophy at Holy Apostles College and Seminary, and his Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from the University of Minnesota.
Do mirrors remain “reflective” objects in the dark, or does light shining onto a mirror instead give the mirror its reflective ability in the moment? More than an idle barstool question, the intrinsicality or light-independence of reflectance carries considerable philosophical import, since some philosophers reduce the human-visible colors to intrinsic surface reflectance. My dissertation, while remaining neutral on the best definition of color, argues that the leading philosophical account of intrinsic reflectance—the “surface spectral reflectance” (SSR) of David R. Hilbert (1987; and Byrne and Hilbert 2003) — is ill-defined and thus non-ascribable to surfaces. Rendering reflectance intrinsic to surfaces, I argue, requires a mathematized redefinition of SSR, a redefinition whose literal interpretation suggests a limited mathematical realism, a philosophical bugbear debated for millennia. Without advocating mathematical realism per se, my thesis implicates a variety of current debates in scientific structural realism, metaphysical dispositional realism, mathematical nominalism, mathematical explanation, and — because of the precedent of reducing color to SSR — aesthetics.
Here is the argument whose implications I explore throughout my dissertation chapters. Hilbert defines SSR as the per-wavelength efficiency of a surface to reflect “pulses” of light, pulses being finite-duration propagations. I object that all electromagnetic pulses exhibit an inverse relationship between their duration and bandwidth, and I exploit this relationship to generate a vicious infinite regress of any purported SSR value. I block the regress by redefining “pulses” as superpositions of Fourier harmonics, infinite-duration monochromes. If harmonics reflect from surfaces, however, then they must be real.
Roberto Flores de Aodaca
Roberto O. Flores de Apodaca is a Ph.D. candidate in American history at the University of South Carolina. He received his B.A. in history and political thought from Concordia University Irvine and his M.A. in American history from the University of South Carolina. His dissertation examines the religious lives of Revolutionary War soldiers. This interdisciplinary research reflects his broader interest in the political, religious, and military elements of American history.
Roberto’s article “’Alas my Backsliding Hart!’: The Religious Worldview and Culture of Continental Soldiers in New England 1775-1783,” was published in the Journal of Presbyterian History 97, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2019), 4-15. His dissertation research has been funded by numerous research grants, including: the Jacob M. Price Fellowship from the William Clements Library, the Tyree-lamb Fellowship from The Society of the Cincinnati, and a short-term fellowship from the Massachusetts Historical Society. Additionally, Roberto continues to research and write on topics related to his dissertation, like the experience of African American soldiers during times of war and the experience of veterans adapting to postwar life. Roberto is most grateful for the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship and how it provides support and encouragement to finish his dissertation.
While enduring the hardships of battle, many Revolutionary War soldiers recorded more about their personal religious lives than perhaps any other single topic. They especially enjoyed cataloging events they ascribed to divine intervention, listing their daily religious routines and commenting on first-time encounters with religious others. New and extreme circumstances tested the religious preconceptions of those who enlisted in ways that they had rarely encountered in civilian life. Their religion took on new importance for them as soldiers relied on it both as an interpretive lens and as a source of stability amid a chaotic war. My dissertation examines how the exigencies of the Revolutionary War affected the religious lives of whig soldiers across denominations and colonies. It will argue that ordinary soldiers’ religious worldview caused them to interpret the war in ways distinct from that of their ministers and commanding officers, who have often overshadowed them in analyses of the Revolutionary movement. Moreover, it demonstrates how race influenced a soldier’s religious thought and even identifies a distinct strand of abolitionist sentiment among religious troops. This dissertation also reveals how soldiers were forced to travel beyond their hometowns where they encountered other religious beliefs and practices for the first time in a positive way. Such interactions laid the experiential groundwork for the religious pluralism that was to come in the new nation. Neither wholly political nor militaristic, the war, for many soldiers, was a formative religious experience.
Kristin Harrell is a Ph.D. candidate in the English department specializing in medieval literature and manuscripts. Harrell’s current dissertation research examines medieval textual accounts and visual depictions of female saints in order to analyze how hagiographic exemplarity functioned as a model of redemption and/or resistance in the lives of medieval women.
In 2014, Harrell received the University of New Mexico Elodie Brenas Book Award for her thesis on cultural depictions of feminine monstrosity, and was also the graduate keynote speaker for the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures commencement ceremony. In 2015, she received the Social Advocacy and Ethical Life Teaching Fellowship at the University of South Carolina. She has taught classes in advocacy and ethics, British literature, and two Capstone classes entitled “Sex and Power from Pre-Modern to the Present.” She received the 2020 Richey Teaching award from the UofSC English Department and was also elected to the UofSC Graduate Leadership Team of the Incubator for Teaching Innovation. In addition, she has presented on topics including medieval illuminated manuscripts, the works of Geoffrey Chaucer, pre-modern medicine, and digital humanities in the classroom. Harrell worked as a copy editor for the journal Modernism/modernity from 2016-2019.
Harrell received her B.F.A in studio art from the University of South Carolina, a graduate certificate in women’s studies and her M.A. in cultural studies from the University of New Mexico. She is now extremely honored and thankful to receive the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship and for the support of her department at the University of South Carolina.
Re-Interpreting Resistance: Implications of Emulating Female Saints in the Book of
My dissertation investigates the debates regarding authority, cultural exemplars, and subversion present within the Book of Margery Kempe in order to study the repercussions for other laywomen during the Middle Ages. Specifically, I examine the vitae and iconography of the main female virgin martyrs, reformed sinners and holy matrons that appear within medieval culture and specifically in Kempe's work. I underscore the level of changeability and contradiction saints' lives presented when utilized (or interpreted) as models of verbal and physical resistance for medieval women. Saintly exemplars, I argue, created a subversive paradox for women during this time; to truly emulate saints meant that these women were rejecting contemporary religious expectations of them as wives, mothers, and followers; meanwhile, attempting to become a saint could alienate holy women from the very position to which they aspired as they were accused of pride and heresy. By examining contemporary sermons, conduct manuals, vitae, iconography, relics and holy spaces which Kempe encountered during her travels, I will analyze how hagiographic exemplarity functioned both within Kempe's written work and the lives of medieval women as models of redemption and resistance.
Jillian M. Hinderliter is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the University of South Carolina. Her dissertation, “Patients’ Rights, Patients’ Politics: Jewish Activists of the U.S. Women’s Health Movement, 1968-1988,” analyzes Jewish women’s contributions to women’s health care reform in the twentieth century and shows how intersecting social justice traditions influenced many activists’ conceptions of patients’ rights, societal change, and body politics. A case study from Jillian’s research focusing on Jewish journalist-activists in the women’s health movement and their writing on birth control safety and breast cancer advocacy was recently accepted for publication in the journal American Jewish History.
Jillian is a past recipient of the Wilfrid and Rebecca Callcott Fellowship from the Department of History, the Harriott Hampton Faucette Award for Graduate Student Research and Development from the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, and a SPARC Research Grant. In 2017, she was awarded the Emily Thompson Award from the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, which recognizes the best graduate student research paper in women’s health. In 2019-2020, Jillian was a Charleston Research Fellow of the Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture at the College of Charleston. Jillian is a past president of the Graduate History Association. She has guest lectured on the history of medicine, Jewish Studies, and oral history in undergraduate courses.
Before coming to South Carolina, Jillian attended Northeastern University, where she earned a B.A. in history with a minor in Jewish studies in 2012 and an M.A. in history with a concentration in public history the following year. In 2019, Jillian completed a graduate certificate in women’s and genderstudies at the University of South Carolina. As a first-generation college student, Jillian is thankful for the support of the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Fellowship at this crucial time in her research.
Patients’ Rights, Patients’ Politics: Jewish Activists of the U.S. Women’s Health
In the late 1960s, feminist women's health activists began to fundamentally redefine the relationship between patient and practitioner. The women's health movement applied feminist politics to health care, medical education, and policy. Jewish women helped found and sustain the movement, yet their activist identities are often separated from Jewishness in histories of health reform. "Patients' Rights, Patients' Politics: Jewish Activists of the U.S. Women's Health Movement, 1968-1988" reconsiders the impact of Jewish identity on Jewish activists' conceptions of social justice while also tracing their significant contributions to women's health care. Using organizational records, oral histories, personal papers and health publications, this dissertation shows how Jewish women's identities as Jews were closely tied to their health activism and feminism(s). Whether Jewish activists identified as secularly Jewish or religiously observant, liberal feminist or radical, many connected their Jewishness directly to their patient politics. As journalists, scholars, health educators, and care providers, Jewish women pioneered health feminist rhetoric and reform strategies. This study shows Jewish women's significant impact on American medicine through their work on issues such as birth control safety, breast cancer treatments, patients' rights, and toxic shock syndrome. Jewish women occupied a complex position within the movement, as they were largely members of the white majority and yet their activism was informed by the experiences of their religious and ethnic minority group. Attention to Jewish identity not only helps historians understand Jewish women's roles within the women's health movement, it complicates the history of second wave feminism's cultural intersections and divides.
Ruthanne Hughes is a Ph.D. candidate in linguistics with a primary focus in second language acquisition and secondary focus in sociolinguistics. She received her B.A. in English and M.A. in linguistics at the University of South Carolina. Her research interests include raciolinguistics, second and foreign language acquisition with a focus on EFL, teacher characteristics, and the intersection of theory and pedagogy. Her dissertation examines the impact of nonlinguistic factors on the assessment practices of English as a second/foreign language teachers.
Ruthanne is a recipient of the Support to Promote Advancement of Research and Creativity (SPARC) grant, the Walker Institute International Experience Award, and a past recipient of the Carol Myers-Scotton Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Linguistics Program. She has served in various roles of the Graduate Students in Linguistics, including both as vice president and president. She regularly presents her research at regional and national conferences and was recently published in the proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America. Over the past four years at UofSC, she has taught first-year English courses and has served as a teaching assistant in the International Accelerator Program, where she taught English as a second language. Ruthanne is deeply grateful for the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Fellowship, especially in the midst of the pandemic, as it will allow her the flexibility to adapt and complete her dissertation during these strange circumstances. Ruthanne extends her profound thanks to the awards committee and to her stellar advisors at UofSC.
Race, Gender, and Class Ideologies in English as a Foreign Language Pronunciation
Nonnative English speakers are often judged on accent, both in English classrooms and daily interactions with native speakers. However, accent is perceived as well as produced. Raciolinguistic ideologies are one factor that affect perception, “conflat[ing] certain racialized bodies with linguistic deficiency unrelated to any objective linguistic practices” (Flores & Rosa, 2015). Not only race, but gender and class also interact to create complex and nuanced figures of personhood impacting teachers' perceptions of students. This linguistic discrimination is serious, affecting how speakers are assessed and instructed (Flores & Rosa, 2015; Alim, 2007). Additionally, pronunciation ratings are affected by teacher individual differences, including language proficiency, exposure to language, and previous training (e.g., Kang 2008, 2012; Kang & Rubin, 2009). This dissertation investigates English teachers in Ethiopia*, addressing how teacher backgrounds interact with institutionally circulating ideologies of race, gender, and class and the impact these factors have on ratings of student speech. Methodology includes ethnographic observation to investigate school culture, language-rating norms and circulating ideologies. Observation will inform the design of a matched-guise pronunciation rating task, wherein teachers rate the accentedness of speech samples matched with fabricated dossiers of "students." Sample voices will comprise native English speakers, matched with combinations of race, gender, and class in "students" in order to isolate the effects of perceived identity on ratings. By shifting the focus of accent in the classroom from the student to the listening subject, this research holds implications for moving towards systemic change of accent discrimination, rather than a focus on individual remediation.
*Location and population are dependent upon the state of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kelsey Flint Martin
Kelsey Flint-Martin is a Ph.D. candidate in the English Department at the University of South Carolina with a focus in 20th- and 21st-century African American literature. She received her B.A. in English from the University of New Mexico and her M.A. in English from Syracuse University. Her research, titled “Spatial Orphans: Cultural Mobility and the Extranatural in Black American Literature,” explores the connection between spatial movement and engagement with the extranatural, including conjure, haunting, and premonition, in 21st-century African American and Afro-Caribbean literature. More specifically, she analyzes how orphan characters interact and engage with the extranatural as they move throughout the U.S and transnationally. She shows how African American and Afro-Caribbean authors are using literature to discover spaces of belonging amidst and in response to the current fight for racial equality.
Kelsey served as assistant director of first-year English at UofSC. She is the main editor and author of The Carolina Reader, Fall 2019 and assisting editor of The Carolina Reader, Fall 2020. Kelsey has taught numerous composition and rhetoric courses at SU and UofSC, including themed courses on hauntings and the rhetoric of representation and self-styling. She has presented her research at numerous regional and national conferences with upcoming presentations at Modern Language Association, National Council of Teachers of English, and American Literature Association. Kelsey is extremely appreciative of the assistance provided by the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship, which will allow her to focus her full attention on completing her dissertation.
Spatial Orphans: Cultural Mobility and the Extranatural in Black American Literature
In his 2005 book Conjure in African American Society, Jeffrey Anderson notes that America’s historical and academic interest in conjure has come in waves, with each wave correlating to a different significant period in the fight for Black equality: Reconstruction, the Great Migration, and the Civil Rights Movement. In each of these movements, black people have fought to find a way to belong in the United States as an equal, often undergoing travel and moving to different towns where they could have better economic, physical, or other freedoms. Since the start of the 21st century, there has been another revival of literature involving the extranatural (spiritual and magical elements including conjurings, hauntings and premonitions). In my project, I explore this new wave of interest in the extranatural, particularly analyzing the way characters’ relationships to the extranatural shifts as they move through different spaces as a means of finding spaces of belonging. My chapters will focus on figuratively orphaned characters that move through a variety of spaces as they work to discover, challenge, and accept their ancestry through the extranatural. To facilitate this analysis, my project draws attention to a trope I term the “spatial orphan.”
Within this project, I analyze various spatial orphans in 21st century texts to show how African American and Afro-Caribbean authors are using literature to discover a space of belonging amidst and in response to the current fight for equality in the political era and during the Black Lives Matter movement. Reading texts by Colson Whitehead, Nnedi Okorafor, John Keene, and Jesmyn Ward showcases a variety of movements – both accepted and disparaged — to discover where black bodies are allowed to not only exist but belong. Understanding the connection between the movements and the extranatural can show where safe spaces are being imagined and where they still need to be created.
Paul McElhinny is a Ph.D. candidate in comparative literature at the University of South Carolina, where he also completed his master’s degree in 2017. His research interests include Francophone literatures, modern and contemporary Chinese literature, postcolonial theory and queer theory. His dissertation, “Tracing Modern and Contemporary Sino-French Literary and Intellectual Relations: China, France, and Their Shifting Peripheries,” interrogates the ways in which the two countries’ histories have been intertwined through their former imperial possessions, or “shifting peripheries,” as depicted in literary texts. In addition, he has a forthcoming publication in the journal Intertexts titled, “Intersections between Queer, Irish, and Caribbean Migrants to London in Neil Jordan’s ‘Last Rites,’” which applies the theories of Édouard Glissant to Neil Jordan’s short fiction in an effort to synthesize the fields of postcolonial studies, Irish studies and queer studies.
He has also taught various courses for the French and Comparative Literature programs as a senior teaching assistant for the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. Before coming to UofSC, he was awarded a B.A. in history and French from the Pennsylvania State University in 2013 and taught English as a foreign language asssitant in Toulouse, France. He is very grateful for the support of the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship and feels honored to receive it.
Tracing Modern and Contemporary Sino-French Literary and Intellectual Relations: China,
France, and Their Shifting Peripheries
This dissertation focuses on modern and contemporary Sino-French literary and intellectual relations. I explore them through the center/periphery binary developed by Samir Amin in Eurocentrism and expounded upon by Édouard Glissant in Poetics of Relation. Due to French imperialism in East Asia, these theorists view France as a “center” of global power with China being “peripheral” to it for most of the twentieth century. This speaks to a larger trend in postcolonial studies, which has focused on unequal power relations between countries and the impact they have had on cultural production. Nevertheless, I find that the history of exchange between China and France is more complicated. Even though China was diplomatically, militarily and economically outmaneuvered by the West during the late Qing and Republican periods, the country was never fully colonized and remained a vast empire. Therefore, I argue that we must also take into account how the two countries’ histories have been intertwined through their former imperial possessions, or “shifting peripheries.” To accomplish this, I examine writings by twentieth and twenty-first century French authors who have traveled to China, Marguerite Duras’s Indochina novels, and contemporary works by Ying Chen and Nobel Laureate Gao Xingjian — two Chinese expatriate authors who write in and translate their work into French. This is original research that will contribute to the fields of Francophone studies, Sinophone studies, postcolonial studies and comparative literature.
Madeline Steiner is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History, where she focuses on the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Her areas of research include cultural history, the history of capitalism, media studies and the U.S. during the Gilded Age.
Madeline’s dissertation is titled “The Robber Barons of Show Business: Traveling Amusements and the Development of the American Entertainment Industry, 1870-1920.” This project analyzes the ways in which owners and managers of traveling amusements such as circuses and minstrel shows developed business practices that initiated the rise of the commercial entertainment industry in the U.S.
Madeline published an article based on this research in the Journal of American Culture titled “’The Amusement Economist:’ J.H. Haverly and the Modernization of the American Minstrel Show,” which won Best Graduate Student Paper from the American Culture Association in 2018. She has received research fellowships from Princeton University and the New York Public Library as well as a SPARC Grant from the Graduate School at UofSC. Madeline was one of UofSC’s Presidential Fellows from 2015-2019. Before arriving at UofSC, Madeline earned a B.A. in history and musical theatre from American University. Madeline is grateful for the support of the Bilinski Fellowship which makes possible the completion of her dissertation.
The Robber Barons of Show Business: Traveling Amusements and the Development of the
American Entertainment Industry, 1870-1920
During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, traveling amusements such as circuses, minstrel shows and Wild West shows were the most popular forms of entertainment in the United States. This study argues that advancements in transportation and technology inspired managers of traveling amusement companies to create new business models that transformed popular entertainment from informal, local productions into modern, commercial spectacles. These amusement companies were capitalist enterprises, significant not just in the cultural arena but also in the growth of American business. These amusement companies traveled nationwide on the newly expanded railroad system, sporting elaborate sets and props and larger numbers of employees than ever before. Traveling amusements linked together audiences in disparate areas of the country, creating the first semblance of a shared, national popular culture based not on written text but on performance. By the turn of the century, a small number of troupes dominated the industry as the smaller, regional troupes could no longer compete. Show business impresarios established business patterns that influenced later developments in the entertainment industry, including trends toward standardization, reliance on middle managers, merger and consolidation, and use of modern labor and advertising techniques. There is no denying today that entertainment corporations and media conglomerates make up a crucial segment of the American business landscape. I argue that traveling amusement corporations occupied a similarly significant position at the turn of the twentieth century and established business practices that initiated the rise of the American commercial entertainment industry.
Jennifer Blevins, English
Jennifer Renee Blevins is a PhD candidate in American Literature at the University of South Carolina. She holds a BA in English and Theatre and an MA in English from Wake Forest University, as well as an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of South Carolina. Her first book, Limited By Body Habitus: An American Fat Story (which began as her MFA thesis), received the 2018 Autumn House Press Nonfiction Award and will be published by the press in September 2019.
Jennifer’s work was recognized by a 2016 Breakthrough Graduate Scholar Award from
the USC Office of Research, and she is a past recipient of the Bruccoli-Myerson Fellowship
in American Literature, Dickey Fellowship in Creative Writing, and Rhude M. Patterson
Fellowship. During her time at USC, she has served as Assistant Director of the Writing
Center, Managing Editor (reviews) of the academic journal Modernism/modernity, and Editor of Yemassee, the official literary journal of the University of South Carolina. Additionally,
she developed and taught two courses (“Researching and Writing About Fat” and “Mothers
and Daughters in Literature and Culture”) for the USC Capstone Scholars Program. Her
dissertation, “That confusion of who is who, flesh and flesh”: Mothers, Daughters, and the Body
in Postwar and Contemporary American Literature, investigates how the body limits, disrupts, ruptures, or recuperates the mother/daughter
relationship in postwar and contemporary texts by twentieth-century U.S. women writers.
She reframed portions of the first chapter of her dissertation into an article titled
“‘I Ain’t You’: Fat and the Female Body in Flannery O’Connor,” which has been accepted
for publication by Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature. Jennifer is very grateful for the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation
Fellowship, which will give her the freedom and support she needs to complete her
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Victoria Chandler, English
Victoria Chandler is a Ph.D. candidate in Twentieth-Century American Literature in
the English Department. She received her B.A. from Gordon College and her M.A. from
the University of South Carolina. Her dissertation examines the ways in which marginalized groups seek the means to resist dominant power structures. Victoria is the past recipient of the Edward Nolan Endowment Fund Award, the American Literature Fellowship, and the Graduate
Teaching Assistant Award, which have helped fund her scholarship. She has presented
her research at both regional and national conferences, and she has served as the
President of the Graduate English Association. She has taught several composition
and literature courses including themed courses with an emphasis on trauma and mourning,
on women writers, and on utopian and dystopian fiction. Victoria is thankful for the
support of the Bilinski Fellowship.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Sunshine Dempsey, English
Sunshine Dempsey is a Ph.D. candidate in 21st Century American Literature, whose research
focuses on the politics of language and aesthetics in the contemporary poetry of the
U.S. South. She received an M.F.A. in poetry from Colorado State University in 2010,
and an M.A. in English from Lynchburg College in 2014. Her creative work has been
published in a variety of literary journals, and in 2010 she was the recipient of
the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice’s Emerging Writers Grant. While at USC,
she has taught a number of first-year English courses and was awarded the Cile Moise
First-Year English Teaching Award for 2016-2017. For the past two years she has served
as the Managing Editor of Modernism/modernity, the flagship journal of the Modernist Studies Association. Sunshine is grateful
for the generous support of the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Elena Galkina, Linguistics
Elena Galkina is a Ph.D. candidate in the Linguistics Program, focusing on second language acquisition and phonetics. Her research focuses on acoustic analysis of non-native speech, most-notably, whether the presence or absence of certain sounds found between a native language and a second language affect the language learner's ability to learn and produce the sounds of the second language.Elena’s dissertation will contribute toward a better understanding of the discrepancies between native and non-native speech, explaining whether complete phonetic mastery of another language is attainable.
Originally from Russia, Elena earned her B. A. in Linguistics and Intercultural Communication from Southwest State University in Kursk, Russia in 2012. She was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to come to the University of South Carolina, where she received M. A. in Linguistics in 2015. Over the last four years at USC she taught Introduction to Linguistics, Introduction to Language Sciences, and English Composition courses.
Elena is overwhelmingly appreciative for the support of the Russell J. and Dorothy
S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship, and she wishes to extend her most profound thanks
to the award committee, and her advisors and mentors at the University of South Carolina.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Andrew Gutkowski, History
Andrew Gutkowski is a History Ph.D. Candidate at the University of South Carolina,
where his research addresses how the combined effects of Jim Crow-era segregation,
neoliberal policymaking, and industrial boosterism have historically contributed to
the uneven distribution of hazardous and toxic waste facilities throughout much of
the U.S. South. His dissertation, “Reclaiming Nature and Community,” follows the histories
of three African-American neighborhoods plagued by the presence of local hazards –
such as hazardous waste landfills, abandoned factories, and chemical manufacturers
– across the twentieth-century, demonstrating how interlocking struggles over civil
rights, municipal reform, and labor made them into convenient repositories for undesirable
land-uses. In addition, his research also traces the rise of the environmental justice
movement by studying how these communities have also fought to challenge their political
marginality, to revitalize their neighborhoods, and to democratize the environmental
decision-making process. Andrew earned his B.A. in History at Macon State College
in Macon, Georgia in 2012 and his M.A. at Georgie College and State University in
Milledgeville in 2014. His first case study on the Re-Genesis project in Spartanburg,
South Carolina won the History Department’s Clyde Ferrell Award in 2016 and was recently
accepted for publication in the Journal of American History. Andrew is extremely grateful
for the generous support of the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship
Program and is looking forward to completing his project this year.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Nicholas Heiserman, Sociology
Nicholas Heiserman is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University
of South Carolina. He holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Sociology and Psychology
from the University of Iowa. His research agenda centers on the social psychological
origins, dynamics, and consequences of social inequality. His dissertation uses a
novel survey experimental design and innovative statistical methods to investigate
how stereotypes of gender, sexuality, age, race, and class intersect across hundreds
of unique combinations of those social categories. Nicholas has published research
in the American Sociological Review and Social Psychology Quarterly and frequently
presents at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association as well as
the annual Group Processes Conference. He taught Social Advocacy and Ethical Life
as a SAEL Fellow and has taught Introductory Statistics for Sociologists. His service
activities include peer reviewing research, contributing to the management of the
Laboratory for Sociological Research in the Department of Sociology, and co-editing
the newsletter of the ASA Section on Social Psychology.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Tiffany Jones, Anthropology
Tiffany Marquise Jones is a PhD Candidate of Anthropology at the University of South
Carolina (UofSC). She received her first Masters in Rhetoric and Composition from
Georgia State University, where her thesis explored the in-group rejection of African
American Vernacular English. This research motivated her to pursue a second Masters
in Linguistics at UofSC and ultimately a doctorate in Linguistic Anthropology. While
at UofSC, she has had the pleasure to work as a Presidential Teaching Fellow for the
Social Advocacy and Ethical Life (SAEL) program (2014-2017), where she used her interest
in language, identity, and culture to prompt students’ investigations of ethical quandaries
deemed relevant to society. Currently, Tiffany is concluding her dissertation research,
which delves more into the cultural practices within African American Language (AAL)
and AAL Verbal Art Traditions (VATs). Particularly she has immersed herself in a tight-knit
community of D.C. poets, observing the interactive model of Spoken Word poetry and
how performances embody, reflect, and preserve “home” – i.e., local language, culture,
and folklore – and reaffirm a sense of belonging that is threatened by gentrification
(aka cultural genocide). Her work on AAL has been showcased at various regional and
national conferences, including the Southeastern Conference on Linguistics (SECOL)
and the Symposium About Language and Society - Austin (SALSA). The latter resulted
in a conference proceeding on Spoken Word’s transformative and performative abilities.
Overall, Tiffany’s long-term interests for advocacy research is to promote diversity
inside academe, foster inclusive pedagogies and public scholarship, as well as create
visual artifacts that showcase the richness of AAL VATs for diverse audiences. Tiffany
is extremely grateful for the Bilinski Foundation’s assistance, as the support will
only propel her towards these career endeavors.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Anais Parada, Anthropology
Anais Parada is a Ph.D. candidate in the Anthropology Department at the University
of South Carolina.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Maurice Robinson, History
Maurice Robinson is a Ph.D. candidate in the History Department at the University
of South Carolina, working on his dissertation titled “Asphalt Politics in the Deep
South, 1953 – 1980.” His research on infrastructure and transportation history focus
on how race influenced interstate route selections, as well as urban renewal targets.
His 20th century historical study of the Interstate Highway System examines how racialized
social engineering and urban planning shaped, and continues to affect, urban communities
across the U.S. South. Maurice earned a B.A. and M.A. in History from Auburn University.
Before attending the University of South Carolina, he worked in Washington D.C. for
the Historian of the U.S. House of Representatives. Maurice has presented his work
and research at the annual meetings of the Association for the Study of African American
Life and History and National Council for Black Studies. Over the last four years,
he has taught history, social advocacy, rhetoric, and ethics courses as a past fellow
of the USC SAEL Fellowship Program. Maurice is grateful and very appreciative to the
Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Fellowship Program for the opportunity to focus
exclusively on writing and finishing his dissertation.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Kristina Zarenko, Anthropology
Kristina Zarenko is a Ph.D. candidate with an emphasis on biological anthropology
in the Department of Anthropology. Her doctoral research focuses on skeletal evidence
of disease to investigate the impacts of racialization on migrants to historic St.
Louis, Missouri. Kristina’s dissertation research has previously been funded by a
SPARC Graduate Research Grant. She has presented research at multiple national and
international conferences, including the annual meetings of the American Anthropological
Association, the Paleopathological Association, and the American Association of Physical
Anthropologists (AAPA). Kristina earned a B.A. in Anthropology and International Relations
from The George Washington University and an M.A. in Anthropology from California
State University, Chico. During her time at Chico State, she worked as a member of
the CSUC Human Identification Lab forensic anthropology team to assist local law enforcement
in the recovery and identification of human remains. While at the University of South
Carolina, Kristina has worked as a senior teaching assistant for courses in the Department
of Anthropology and the Department of Cell Biology & Anatomy, has guest lectured for
several biological anthropology, gross anatomy, genetic counseling, and high school
science courses, and served as an inaugural AAPA Ethics Fellow. As an Ethics Fellow,
she sat on the AAPA Ethics Committee, developed and lead workshops on professional
ethics and mental health at the AAPA national meetings, and developed a case study
as an educational resource that is publicly available on the AAPA website. Kristina
is immensely grateful for the support of and honored to receive the Russell J. and
Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Kristen Brown, English
Kristen Brown is a doctoral candidate in the English Department at the University of South Carolina, where her primary field of study is late nineteenth-century American Literature. Her dissertation, “A Return to Turtle Island: Eco-cosmopolitics in American Indian Literature, 1880-1920” explores how American Indian authors at the turn of the twentieth century created their own forms of expression through a blend of literacies, based on both languages and landscapes. She hopes her research can contribute to an interrogation of the colonial discourse that continues to direct many federal policies in Indian Country, where questions of sovereignty and jurisdiction continue to complicate issues of environmental justice. She has presented her work at a variety of conferences, including the last two biennial meetings hosted by the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment. Most recently, she shared her work at The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists conference. A recent recipient of the Richey Teaching Award, she has designed and taught Capstone courses and a section of American Literature at the University of South Carolina. Before attending USC, Kristen earned her M.A. in English from Gannon University, where she taught courses in composition and literature as an adjunct instructor. She is immensely grateful for the opportunity to turn full attention to her dissertation.
Stephanie Gray, History
Stephanie Gray is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History, where she focuses on twentieth-century U.S. cultural history and the development of the national historic preservation movement. Her dissertation, "Restoring America: Historic Preservation and the New Deal," examines the federally-funded restoration of historic landmarks during the Depression years, an overlooked facet of the New Deal's cultural agenda. Before arriving at USC, Stephanie earned a B.A. in History from Mount Holyoke College and an M.A. in Public History from the University of South Carolina. While at USC, Stephanie has taught U.S. History since 1865 and the Practice of Public History. She has received the History Department's Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Darrick Hart Award for her contributions to the field of Public History. Prior to receiving the Bilinski Fellowship, Stephanie was a Presidential Fellow and received a SPARC Grant from the Office of the Vice President for Research to conduct research for her dissertation. Outside of USC, Stephanie is involved in preservation consulting projects in the capital city and is a reading tutor for the Midlands Reading Consortium. She is extremely grateful for the support of the Bilinski Fellowship, which makes possible the completion of her dissertation.
Amber Lee, English
Amber Lee is a PhD candidate in Rhetoric and Composition. She received her BA in English from Clemson University and her MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) from Emerson College in Boston. Her dissertation problematizes traditional conceptions of rhetorical memory and reframes memory as a nonlinear, generative force. While at USC, Amber has taught English 101, 102, and themed courses. Additionally, this past year she served as Assistant Director of the First-Year English program, in which she edited the custom English 102 textbook, The Carolina Rhetoric. She is an active member of RSA@USC, and was previously secretary, vice president, and president of the organization. Her wider interests include the ethics of temporality, narrative dissonance, and public engagement with history. Amber is very grateful for the generous support of the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship program.
Joshua Lundy, English
Joshua Lundy is a Ph.D. candidate in English at the University of South Carolina focusing on 19th and early 20th century U.S. Literature and Culture. Broadly, his research interests cluster around the different ways in which various strains of post-humanist thought help us to reframe and rethink representations of labor, industry, and capitalist social relations in an array of cultural forms. Prior to attending South Carolina, Josh received a B.A. in English from the University of Maryland and an M.A. – also in English – from the University of Mississippi. He has presented papers on a variety of topics at several literary conferences, including ALA, SCMLA, and the Marxist Reading Group Conference, and was a past recipient of the Joel Meyerson Fellowship in American Literature. Over the course of his academic career, he has had the opportunity to teach courses in Composition, Rhetoric, U.S. Popular Fiction, and British Literature. Josh is indebted to the Bilinski Foundation for providing resources that will be extremely helpful in ensuring the successful completion of his dissertation.
Samuel Nielson, Geography
Samuel P. Nielson is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Geography, focusing on immigrant integration in Europe. His interest in the subject derived in part from previous volunteer work with an international non-governmental organization in Belgium and France. At the University of South Carolina, Sam has served on the Graduate School’s Committee for Professional Development and the Presidential Fellows Advisory Council. He was awarded a Presidential Fellowship in a successful effort to recruit him into the doctoral program in Geography and this past June received a short-term Donald J. Puchula Graduate Fellowship in International Affairs from the Walker Institute. Sam has taught introductory world regional geography courses (both in person and online), an introductory human geography course, and also a course on the “Geography of Europe.” His efforts resulted in his receiving the Geography Department’s Graduate Instructor Award. Prior to beginning his Ph.D., Sam practiced law full-time for six years and received multiple honors, including recognition as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers Magazine and as one of California’s “Top 40 Attorneys Under 40” by The National Advocates. He earned a J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law and a B.S. in geography from Brigham Young University. Sam is extremely grateful for the generous support provided by the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship.
Patrick O’Brien, History
Patrick O’Brien is a Ph.D. candidate in the History Department, where his work examines loyalist women during the Revolutionary Era. He earned a B.A. in history and sociology from Providence College in 2011 and received an M.A. in history from McGill University in 2012. Before coming to Columbia in the fall of 2014, he taught social studies and coached the basketball team at Cristo Rey Brooklyn High School in New York City. Since beginning his doctoral studies, he has been the recipient of the Newport Historical Society’s Buchanan-Burnham Fellowship, the Massachusetts Historical Society’s W.B.H. Dowse Research Fellowship, and USC’s SPARC Grant. Long interested in American Revolution in Atlantic Canada, O’Brien intends his dissertation, “Unknown and Unlamented: Loyalist Women in Exile and Repatriation, 1775-1800,” to contribute to the growing literature on the loyalist diaspora by examining how women experienced and understood their own place as refugees in British Nova Scotia. He is both humbled and grateful for the generous support of Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship.
Anna Rogers, Sociology
Anna Sheree Rogers is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology. She was the first ever student in the Sociology program to graduate with Distinction when she received her B.A. in 2012. Already as an undergraduate Anna began to develop her research interests in gender and popular culture, writing her Distinction paper on sexism in the lyrics of various kinds of popular music. In 2015, Anna received her M.A. in sociology on the basis of a thesis on gender dynamics in the heavy metal subculture, focusing in particular on the changing role of, and perceptions about, women as fans and practitioners of heavy metal. Anna’s current research centers on gendered, and sometimes deviant, identity formations in various forms of popular culture, such as in music, television, and film. Her dissertation involves an examination of the dynamics of women’s self-empowerment through the development and adaptation of cultural symbols among women who are self-described 'witches'. She investigates how this role is adopted to navigate the stigma associated with a traditionally deviant status. Anna was a recipient of the Sociology Department's Graduate Teaching Award in 2017 as well as the Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award from the USC Graduate School in 2018. She has taught Introductory Sociology and Society Through the Lens in the Sociology Department. She has presented her research at various international conferences, including meetings of the American Sociological Association, the Society for the Scientific Study of Social Problems, and the Southern Sociological Society. She has also published some of her work, including a book chapter on the use of surveillance in popular culture, and is presently working on publishing results from her M.A. thesis. Anna is very grateful to have received this fellowship from the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship program and is looking forward to finalizing her research and hitting the academic job market!
Matthew Wagner, Political Science
Matthew Wagner is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of South Carolina. He received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota-Morris and an M.A. in Political Science from San Diego State University. His dissertation “The Dynamics of Vote Buying: Party System Change in Developing Democracies” examines patron-client relationships and party competition in Southeast Asia. As the former recipient of a Fulbright fellowship, from 2016 to 2017 he was a visiting researcher in the Department of Southeast Asian Studies, at the University of Malaya. From 2007 to 2009 he was a Peace Corps volunteer in Southern Thailand. He has completed extensive fieldwork in Malaysia, Thailand, Mexico, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines. Matthew is grateful for the generous support of the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship Program.
Caleb Wittum, History
Caleb Wittum is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History at the University of South Carolina, currently completing a dissertation entitled “The Chasquis of Liberty: An Indigenous Vision of Independence, 1778-1825.” Prior to his doctoral studies, he earned his B.A. in Global Studies and History at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. His research explores a group of itinerant revolutionaries from South America and the intellectual impact they had on the ongoing debates about race, nation, and human rights in the early nineteenth-century Americas. As a graduate student at USC, Caleb has taught courses on Latin American and United States History. In addition, Caleb has presented his research at numerous academic conferences including: The Southeastern Conference of Latin American Studies, the Florida Conference of Historians, the Transatlantic Studies Association Annual Conference, and the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era. His research has previously been supported by grants and fellowships from the University of South Carolina, the Walker Institute of International and Area Studies, and the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University. Caleb is grateful for the support of the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship Program.
Samantha Yaussy, Anthropology
Samantha Yaussy is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology with an emphasis in biological anthropology. Born and raised in North Carolina, she earned a B.A. in Anthropology from Wake Forest University in 2013, an M.A. in Anthropology from the University of South Carolina (USC) in 2015, and a Certificate of Graduate Study in Applied Statistics from USC in 2016. Her dissertation research compares multiple skeletal collections dating to England’s period of industrialization, to examine the effects of socioeconomic status, demographic characteristics, and exposure to physiological stressors on health and mortality in the context of this economic transition. Samantha’s doctoral research has previously been funded by a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant and a SPARC Graduate Research Grant. Samantha has also previously received a Rhude M. Patterson Graduate Fellowship, an Eve Cockburn Student Presentation Award, and a Discover USC Graduate Student Poster Award in recognition of her excellence in research and dedication to scholarship. She has presented portions of her research at multiple national and international conferences, including the annual meetings of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists and the Paleopathology Association. Her previous research has been published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Bioarchaeology International, and the International Journal of Paleopathology. While at USC, she has been the lead teaching assistant in the Department of Anthropology’s introductory biological anthropology course, has guest-lectured for several biological anthropology courses, and has served as the lead human osteologist for an archaeological field school in Ashland, Wisconsin. Samantha is immensely grateful for the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship, which will allow her to focus on writing her dissertation and earn her doctoral degree ahead of schedule.
Jada Ach, English
Jada Ach is a Ph.D. candidate in Nineteenth-Century American Literature at the University of South Carolina, currently working on a dissertation titled Sand, Water, Salt: Managing the Elements in Literature of the American West, 1880-1925. Her research focuses on the often messy relations between humans and environments in literature set in the so-called wasteland spaces of the Western United States at the turn of the twentieth century. Her ecocritical examination of desert spaces in the novel McTeague appears in a 2016 issue of Western American Literature. Jada is the past recipient of the Richey Teaching Award, the Rhude Patterson Trustee Fellowship, the Western Literature Association's J. Golden Taylor Award, and a North Carolina Arts Council grant. She has presented her research at various academic conferences, including the Modern Language Association Convention and C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists Conference. In addition to teaching courses in composition and American literature at USC, Jada also leads wilderness writing workshops at South Carolina's Congaree National Park. She greatly appreciates the Bilinski Fellowship's support in helping her complete her dissertation.
Tiffany Beaver, Philosophy
Tiffany Beaver is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Philosophy. She completed
a B.A. in Philosophy and Psychology from Erskine College, and a Master's Degree in
Social Work from the University of South Carolina. She worked as a licensed social
worker for nearly five years before returning to USC to pursue her Ph.D. in philosophy.
Because of her background in Social Work, Tiffany desires for her philosophical work
to have a practical, actionable component. Her dissertation research in applied ethics
focuses on issues of responsibility and obligation surrounding modern slavery. Put
simply, it asks who is responsible for the current enslavement of millions of people
around the world, and what are everyday global citizens obligated to do given the
reality of modern slavery? Her dissertation especially presses readers to question
their own involvement in the enslavement of global people. Tiffany hopes that her
dissertation research will prove valuable to a wide audience including philosophers,
practitioners and advocates in the modern anti-slavery movement, and average global
citizens. At USC, Tiffany developed a special topics in ethics course (PHIL 103),
teaching students about the reality of modern slavery, and empowering them to join
the modern abolitionist movement. Tiffany also served as a teaching assistant for
several contemporary ethics courses, as well as deductive logic. Tiffany has presented
papers at the 2nd Global Conference: Slavery Past, Present, and Future in Prague,
Czech Republic, and at the Evangelical Philosophical Society Southwest Regional Meeting.
She has also done several presentations on modern slavery issues for campus and community
groups and organizations. Her article "Synthesizing ideal and non-ideal theories into
a cohesive theory of justice: The case of human trafficking as modern day slavery"
can be found in the Journal of Trafficking, Organized Crime and Security (2015).
Tiffany is truly grateful for the support offered by the Bilinski Fellowship.
Brandon Boesch, Philosophy
Brandon Boesch is a Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy. His work centers on the nature and use of representations in science (including models, equations, figures, diagrams, scale models, simulations, etc.), specifically describing how an account of human actions can be of use in understanding the nature of representational actions in scientific settings. He has been published in Philosophy of Science, The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, The American Journal of Bioethics, and a volume forthcoming with Oxford University Press. He has presented at national and international conferences in the US, Finland, the UK, Denmark, Serbia, and Germany. While at USC, Brandon has taught a number of courses in the Philosophy Department, including Philosophy of Emotions, Introduction to Philosophy, Contemporary Moral Issues, and Introduction to Logic. He has also served on a few university committees, including three years on the Committee for Curricula and Courses. Prior to receiving the Bilinski Fellowship, Brandon was a Presidential Fellow and had received a SPARC Grant from the Office of the Vice President for Research (and matched by the Philosophy Department), which he used to study for a semester in Europe at the University of Helsinki and the Complutense University of Madrid. Prior to his studies at USC, he received his Bachelor of Arts from Benedictine College in Philosophy, Biology, and Spanish, with minors in Chemistry and Theology.
Gerad Gentry, Philosophy
Gerad Gentry is a Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy. He was a 2016-17 Fulbright Research Fellow at Humboldt University of Berlin and the University of Potsdam. He was also a DAAD, SPARC, and Walker recipient, Lilly Fellow, and USC Presidential Fellow. He received his M.A. from the University of Chicago and B.A. from Houghton College. He is the primary co-editor for a forthcoming book with Cambridge University Press on the Imagination in German Idealism and Romanticism. Other publications include several peer-reviewed journal and chapter contributions on Kant and Hegel. He has presented six distinct APA (American Philosophical Association) papers at the Central, Eastern, and Pacific APA, ranging in subject from the transcendental structure of the imagination in Kant, Fichte, and Hegel, to the function of art in understanding, and pedagogical methodologies in current philosophy. Other work includes presentations at the North American Kant Society, North American Fichte Society, American Society for Aesthetics, as well as several book reviews including for the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. He is particularly grateful for the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship, which makes possible the completion of his dissertation.
Kelly Goldberg, Anthropology
Kelly Goldberg is a Ph.D. candidate in the Anthropology Department at USC, focusing on historical archaeology of the Atlantic Slave Trade. Raised in New Hampshire, she received her B.A. in Anthropology at Hofstra University in 2009, her M.A. at USC in 2014, and is also currently pursuing a certificate in Museum Management. Her dissertation research investigates historic sites associated with the "illicit" slave trade period in coastal Guinea and seeks to understand how continuation of the trade affected the social, economic, and political environments of local Guinean communities. Kelly recently completed a Fulbright Student Research Fellowship, and was also the recipient of the Institute for African American Research Graduate Fellowship, the Ceny-Walker Graduate Fellowship, and the SPARC Graduate Research Grant. She has presented findings related to her research at national and international academic conferences, including meetings of the Society of Historical Archaeology, the Society of American Archaeology, the Society of Africanist Archaeologists, and the Southeastern Conference on Historic Sites. Her work has been published in the Nyame Akuma archaeological journal, and she recently designed and opened a temporary exhibit at the National Museum of Guinea. While at the University of South Carolina, she has taught courses on the Introduction of Biological Anthropology and instructed an Archaeological Field School. Kelly is extremely grateful to the Bilinski Education Foundation for the resources and time this Fellowship will enable her to apply to the completion of her dissertation.
Antony Keane-Dawes, History
Antony Keane-Dawes is a Ph.D. Candidate in the History Department at the University of South Carolina. He earned a M.A. in History from Florida International University and a B.A. in History from St. Johns University. Antony works on themes of nationalism, race, and empire in mid-nineteenth-century Santo Domingo and its place in the larger Caribbean and Atlantic worlds. His research in the Dominican Republic, Spain, and the United Kingdom have previously been funded internally from the Walker Institute for International Studies and the Vice President for Research at the University of South Carolina, as well as externally from the Conference on Latin American History. Antony has published an article with Traversea: The Journal of Transatlantic History and presented at conferences such as The American Historical Association, Southern Historical Association, and the Southeastern Conference on Latin American Studies. Lastly, he has taught Latin American history courses for the History Department as a part of the "On Your Time Initiative" here at the University.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Samuel King, History
Samuel C. King is a Ph.D. candidate in the History Department at the University of South Carolina, where his research explores the historical relationship between Chinese restaurants and Chinese American immigration and integration. His dissertation, "Exclusive Dining: Immigration and Restaurants during the Era of Chinese Exclusion, 1882-1943," interrogates how luxury Chinese restaurants positively commodified Chinese culture in order to improve the sociopolitical status of Chinese American immigrants. Before entering the graduate program at USC, Samuel earned a B.A. in History from New York University, with a minor in East Asian Studies. His research has previously been supported by grants and fellowships from the University of South Carolina, the USC History Department, and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, as well as a Presidential Fellowship from USC. Samuel is very grateful for the support of the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship.
Adam Lerner, English
Adam S. Lerner is a Ph.D. candidate in Rhetoric and Composition. He received both his B.A. and M.A. from Purdue University’s Brian Lamb School of Communication. His dissertation research focuses on how uncertainty is strategically deployed in health and medical settings. While at USC, he has taught both writing and speech courses, often with explicit or implicit medical, scientific, or technological themes. Additionally, he has spent the last two years as an assistant director of the first-year English program at USC. His wider interests include public engagement with science, user experience design, and technical writing. Adam is grateful for the generous support of the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship program.
Daniela Negraia, Sociology
Daniela V. Negraia is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of South Carolina. Currently, she is working on her dissertation, which sets to further our understanding on how parenting (i.e., raising children) vs. not parenting, affects adults’ subjective well-being (i.e., positive and negative emotions like happiness and stress). More broadly, her research interests include: family, population health, the life course and human development, social demography and social psychology. Daniela has presented her work during the annual meetings of the American Sociological Association and the Population Association of America. At USC, she has taught “Introduction to Sociology” and “Sociology of the Family” and has provided teaching assistance for “Introduction to Statistics for Sociologists”. At the University of Groningen, Daniela has taught “Research Practicum for Social Sciences”. Before attending USC, Daniela earned a M.Sc. in Sociology from University of Groningen, the Netherlands; a B.A. in Sociology and a B.A. in Psychology, from the University of Bucharest, Romania.
Stephen Ruxton, Political Science
Stephen Ruxton is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of South Carolina. His research interests focus on American politics, public opinion, and political theory, with specific attention being paid to the conceptual construction of representation in American institutions and the public. Previously, Stephen had been awarded a University SPARC Grant to conduct an original survey towards his dissertation research, allowing him to combine the empirical realities of what the public considers representation to be, with the normative implications of representation on democratic principles. He has presented his research at numerous conferences from New Orleans to San Diego. Over the last two years, Stephen has successfully taught courses ranging from Introduction to American Politics to Contemporary Political Theory, being given the Best Graduate Student Teacher Award from the Department of Political Science in 2016-2017. Before attending USC, Stephen earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Religious Studies at Randolph-Macon College. Stephen is deeply appreciative for the support of the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship Program and its contribution towards the successful completion of his dissertation.
Holly Smith, Geography
Holly L. Smith is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Geography. Prior to studying Geography at the University of South Carolina, Holly earned her B.A. in Intercultural Communications from Eastern University and her M.A. in Political Science from the University of South Carolina. Her dissertation, “Ammani Youth: Urban Experiences, Regional Changes, and Uncertain Futures” explores how youth living in the “eye of the storm” in Amman, Jordan are experiencing geopolitics in an urban setting dramatically impacted by the consequences of the Arab Spring. Her research is inspired by living in Tunisia immediately after the Jasmine Revolution and witnessing nascent youth movements challenging entrenched state power in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. By using ethnographic methods she first illuminates daily experiences and dreams from the often over-looked perspectives of Urban Youth in the Middle East, which she then juxtaposes with narratives about youth in the region using critical discourse analysis. More broadly Holly’s research interests include the Urban Geographies, Social Geographies, and Youth Geopolitics. While at USC Holly discovered her passion for teaching and was awarded an “Outstanding New Teacher” award by her department. Holly is most grateful to the Bilinski Foundation for the privilege of being able to focus exclusively on completing her dissertation.
Jillian Weber, English
Jillian Weber is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English. She completed her B.A. at the University of Illinois in 2009 and received her M.A. from the University of South Carolina in 2013. Since returning to USC for her doctorate, Jillian has been the recipient of a Presidential Fellowship, an Institute for African American Research fellowship, and a SPARC Grant to fund her research. Over the last six years she has taught literature, rhetoric, and composition classes at the University, as well as contributed to several digital humanities projects about South Carolina literature and culture. Her current focus is on 19th Century American Literature, with an emphasis on African American Literature. Her dissertation deals with athletic female characters during the 19th century and the ways in which they are represented in literature and periodicals. Jillian is incredibly grateful for the support of the Bilinski Fellowship.
Craig E. Bacon, Philosophy
Craig E. Bacon is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Philosophy. His dissertation
addresses interpretative issues surrounding Kant’s idea of the highest good, uncovering
structural similarities in Kant’s discussions of the highest good from 1785-1793 and
arguing for the important, though limited, role that God and the immortality of the
soul play in relation to the highest good. Craig’s broader research interests include
the connection between morality and happiness in non-utilitarian, non-eudaimonistic
moral theories, the moral foundations of religious belief, Philosophical hermeneutics,
and Neoplatonism. He has presented his research at meetings of The International Kant
Congress, The North American Kant Society, and the regional South Carolina Society
for Philosophy. Prior to studying Philosophy at the University of South Carolina,
Craig earned his B.A. in Religion from Columbia International University and his A.A.
in Liberal Arts from Tidewater Community College. At USC, he has taught introductory
courses in Philosophy, in Logic, and in Ethics.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Derek Bedenbaugh, English and American Literature
Derek Bedenbaugh is a Ph.D. candidate in 19th Century British Literature at the University of South Carolina. He graduated from
Newberry College with a B.A. in English and Religion in 2011. During his time at USC,
he has taught courses in Critical Reading and Composition, Rhetoric, and British Literature.
He is the recipient of the Cile Moise Teaching Award, the Richey Teaching Award, and
the Edward Nolan Graduate Fellowship. His research explores the interplay between
disability and gender in the Victorian novel. His article on the American suffragist
and novelist Julia Ward Howe appears in the Spring 2015 edition of Victorian Studies. Derek is grateful for the Bilinski Fellowship’s assistance in helping his dissertation
reach its full potential.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Megan Bennett, History
Megan Bennett is a Ph.D. candidate in the History Department at the University of
South Carolina, where she also is completing a certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies.
She earned a B.A. in History and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Megan’s research examines the intersections between the culture of anti-communist
repression during the Cold War and post-war attitudes towards children and family,
with a specific interest in American Jewish history. Her dissertation focuses on the
children of convicted Soviet spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and the public and legal
battles which emerged over their care following their parents’ arrests. Megan is grateful
for the support of the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Christopher J. Farina, Linguistics
Christopher J. Farina is a Ph.D. candidate in the Linguistics Program. His research
focuses on the processing and acquisition grammatical tenses by instructed, adult
nonnative speakers of English, with particular focus on the present perfect (e.g.,
have written). A common theme found in his work is the application of formal linguistic theory
to nonnative speaker data, which he uses to investigate language development and the
psychological factors that constrain it. Following this theme allows him to investigate
and advance linguistic theory and to develop and assess research-based teaching tools.
He has presented his research at several conferences, including the Second Language
Research Forum and Southeastern Conference on Linguistics. Prior to becoming a Bilinski
Fellow, he received the Carol Myers-Scotton Award for his contributions to the Linguistics
Program, was a USC Presidential Fellow, and chaired the organizing committee of an
international conference in his field. Christopher received a M.A. in Linguistics
here at USC and an H.A.B. in Classical Philology from Xavier University in Cincinnati,
OH. While at USC, he has taught courses in Language Science, Language Conflicts and
Language Rights Issues, English as a Second Language, and English Composition; he
has also served as a language tutor for native and nonnative speakers of English and
an accreditation consultant.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Erin Holmes, History
Erin Holmes is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History at the University of
South Carolina, presently completing a dissertation entitled “Within the House of
Bondage: Constructing and Negotiating the Plantation Landscape in the British Atlantic
World, 1670-1820” under the direction of Dr. Woody Holton. She completed her B.A.
in History at the College of William and Mary, along with a certificate in Early American
History and Museum Studies, before beginning her doctoral work at USC. In addition
to working on her Ph.D., she has completed a certificate in Historical Archaeology
and Cultural Resource Management through the Department of Anthropology at the University
of South Carolina. Holmes’s work compares the built environment of the plantation
in Virginia, South Carolina, and Barbados during the long eighteenth century, exploring
how slavery shaped those landscapes and their inhabitants, paving the way for the
creation of a distinctly American identity and the American Revolution itself. She
utilizes the extant and archaeological landscapes of the plantation she studies to
challenge traditional narratives about their evolution and significance. Her research
has been supported by grants and fellowships from the University of South Carolina,
the Department of History at USC, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the National
Society of the Colonial Dames of America, the Walker Institute of International and
Area Studies, and the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington
at Mount Vernon.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Andrew Kettler, History
Andrew Kettler is a Ph.D. Candidate in the History Department at the University of
South Carolina. Prior to entering the Graduate School at South Carolina, Andrew received
his M.A. in History from the University of Nebraska-Omaha for his thesis, “The Deconstruction
of European Odorphobia on the Sensory Border of the American Frontier.” He continues
to research the use of olfactory language in the making of racial, class, and gendered
metaphors that were used to assert forms of state, religious, and patriarchal power
during the Enlightenment. Andrew has recently published some of these original findings
in Senses and Society and has a forthcoming essay in the Journal of American Studies. He has also published numerous book reviews relating to his historical interests
in the slave trade, colonial Latin America, and the five senses. In recent years,
Andrew has presented at numerous academic conferences including: the Popular Culture
Association, the British Association for American Studies, the History of Science
Society, the Southern Historical Association, and the American Comparative Literature
Association. His research has been funded through an Atkinson-Wyatt Fellowship, a
Ceny Walker Fellowship, and a Wilfred and Rebecca Calcott Award. His forthcoming dissertation,
“Odor and Discipline in the Americas,” focuses on the importance of an aromatic subaltern
class consciousness in the making of Atlantic era resistance to the racialized olfactory
discourses of state, religious, and slave masters.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Sam Lackey, English and American Literature
Sam Lackey is a Ph.D. candidate in Nineteenth Century American Literature at USC.
His research interests include depictions of crime on the early American frontier
and the development of specific frontier bandit character types in antebellum U.S.
fiction. He received B.A. degrees in English and Film Studies from USC in 2006 and
a M.A. in English from the College of Charleston in 2009. Since returning to USC to
pursue his doctorate, he has been the recipient of the Myerson Fellowship in American
Literature and the Richey Teaching Award. Over the last seven years, he has taught
courses in Critical Reading and Composition, Rhetoric and Composition, American Literature,
and Technical Writing as a graduate student at USC and an adjunct instructor at Coastal
Carolina University and Trident Technical College. He is greatly appreciative of the
opportunity granted by the Bilinski Educational Foundation to devote more time to
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Trevor C. Meyer, English
Trevor C. Meyer is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English, focusing on Rhetoric
and Composition. His research focuses on the rhetorical problem of violence, and his
dissertation examines the theory and pedagogy of martial arts to develop an affirmative,
global-material approach to conflict in argumentation, writing pedagogy, and writing
program administration. Other projects in this vein include the rhetoric of jihad and performative agency in professional wrestling. He has presented his work at the
Conference on College Composition and Communication, International Society for the
History of Rhetoric, and the Rhetoric Society of America. Before attending USC, Trevor
earned a B.A. in English, a minor in Film, a B.A. in Philosophy, and a M.A. in English
from the University of Northern Colorado, where he taught composition and worked as
a writing tutor. At USC, he has taught composition, business writing, and information
literacy, and he has served for two years as an Assistant Director of First-Year English.
He is deeply grateful for this fellowship.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Stephanie Boone Mosher, English
Stephanie Boone Mosher is a Ph.D. candidate in English, Composition and Rhetoric at USC. Her research focuses on how competing language ideologies influence writing instructors’ teaching and assessment practices, particularly when working with linguistically diverse students. In conjunction with her Ph.D. studies, she is also pursuing a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate through USC’s Linguistics program. She has presented her research at regional, national, and international conferences, including the Conference on College Composition and Communication, the Watson Conference, the Rhetoric Society of America, and Writing Research Across Borders. Prior to receiving the Bilinski Fellowship, she received USC’s Presidential Fellowship. Before pursing her Ph.D., Stephanie earned an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, Nonfiction, from the University of Arizona, and a B.A. in History and English from Hiram College in northeastern Ohio. She previously worked as a freelance writer while teaching literature, composition, and creative writing in western New York. At USC, she has taught composition and advanced writing courses. She spent two years as an Assistant Director of First-Year English, and earned the Dr. William Richey Student Mentor Award in 2014.Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Adam Griffey, English
Adam Griffey is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of South Carolina focusing on novels that address themes of religion, violence, and young people, under the direction of Dr. Sara Schwebel. He received a B.A. in English from Berea College and M.A. degrees in English and History from Appalachian State University. He has taught courses in Rhetoric and Composition, American Literature, World Literature, Religious Literature, and Young Adult Literature at USC and Appalachian State. He was a USC Presidential Fellow from 2011-2015 and has presented at conferences for the Society for the Study of Southern Literature and the Children’s Literature Association. He is grateful to the Bilinski Education Foundation for the resources and time to complete his dissertation. Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
David W. Hancock, Spanish/Portuguese
David W. Hancock is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Languages, Literatures,
and Culture’s (DLLC) Spanish/Portuguese Program. His research interests include representations
of gender performance in Brazilian and Mexican crime/detective fiction from the 1980’s
to the present. Last fall he presented his research in Mexico City at the Conferencia Internacional de Literatura Detectivesca en Español. He plans on presenting again at CILDE and at the Congreso de novela y cine negro held in April 2016 in Salamanca. He also looks forward to interviewing author Rubem
Fonseca in Rio de Janeiro. David has interpreted/translated in local courts and in
Southeast Florida, and he has taught Spanish at Crestwood High School in Sumter, SC.
At USC, he teaches Spanish and Portuguese language classes that range from basic to
advanced levels. He recently won the DLLC Teaching and Dissertation Awards for graduate
students. As a research assistant for Dr. Rachel Davis in the Department of Public
Health in 2014, David collaborated in writing short stories, translating documents,
and conducting interviews used in Dr. Davis’ study titled Crafting health promotion narratives: Childhood obesity prevention among Mexican-origin
mothers of preschool-aged children, with his name included as part of the study’s authorship. He was also the Spanish
121 Course Coordinator during the 2014-15 academic year.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Irina Vasilyeva Meier, Comparative Literature
Irina Vasilyeva Meier is a doctoral candidate in Comparative Literature. Originally
from Russia, she completed a Specialist degree in Translation and Theory of Translation
at Vyatka State University of Humanities in Russia before moving to the United States
to earn a B.S. in Political Science and then an M.A. in English from Eastern New Mexico
University. Her main academic interests focus on interdisciplinary studies including
terrorism in Russia, terror and literature, national identity and exile, women's issues
in Russia and the Soviet Union, and connections between literary theory and practical
politics. At the University of South Carolina, Irina taught course sections of Beginning
Russian, Intermediate Russian (an intensive online eight-week summer course), and
Advanced Russian; 19th Century and 20th Century Russian Literature in Russian; Conversational Russian; and World Literature.
Prior to receiving the Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship, Irina’s research was funded
through teaching assistantships, Rhude Patterson Graduate Fellowship, Ceny Walker
Graduate Fellowship, and the Cantey Fellowship in Liberal Arts from the University
of South Carolina. Irina is very grateful for the generous financial support provided
to her by the Bilinski Foundation, as it will enable her to devote all her time and
effort to her dissertation and, after completing her doctoral degree, to continue
pursuing her professional goals in both university teaching and research.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Douglas Page, Political Science
Douglas Page is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science who studies
European Union politics. He focuses on the democratic legitimacy of the EU, the EU’s
anti-discrimination policies regarding women and LGBT people, and the reasons behind
public support for the EU. He received his B.A. from Vanderbilt University in 2010.
He presented his research at leading national conferences, including the annual meetings
of the American Political Science Association, International Studies Association,
Midwest Political Science Association, and Southern Political Science Association.
In USC’s Political Science Department, he taught courses on European Politics, European
Union Politics, and the Politics of National and International Courts. He was a Presidential
Fellow of USC’s Graduate School before receiving the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Neal Polhemus, History
Neal Polhemus is a Ph.D. candidate in the History Department at USC. He received a
B.S. in Psychology and Master’s degree in History from the College of Charleston.
Polhemus has been a recipient of several grants and awards for his research, such
as a SPARC Graduate Research Grant, the Atkinson-Wyatt Fellowship, and grants from
the USC Institute for Southern Studies and the USC Institute for African American
Research. Polhemus has presented his research at the McNeil Center for Early American
Studies and the Southern Historical Association and published articles in the Transactions of the Huguenot Society of South Carolina and (forthcoming) in Atlantic Studies: Global Currents. In addition to traditional publication venues, Polhemus has curated and developed
two digital humanities exhibits for the Lowcountry Digital Library. Since 2011, Polhemus
has served as a graduate liaison for the Latin American and Caribbean Section (LACS)
of the Southern Historical Association.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Sueanna Smith, English and American Literature
Sueanna Smith is a doctoral candidate in Colonial and 19th Century American Literature in the English Department at USC. She received her B.S.
in Social Science from Saint Thomas Aquinas College and her M.A. in English from California
State University Stanislaus. As a specialist in early African American literary history,
her doctoral research examines the social and cultural contexts surrounding the production,
dissemination, and reception of early black writing. Sueanna has held research fellowships
at the American Antiquarian Society and the Massachusetts Historical Society. Her
research has also been funded by the Omohundro Institute for Early American Literature
and Culture and USC’s Institute for African American Research. Her work has been published
in The Sigma Tau Delta Review, The San Joaquin Valley Journal, and most recently in African American Leadership: A Concise Reference Guide. Additionally, Sueanna served as Senior Editor for Southern Humor Periodical Repository, a digital collection sponsored by the South Caroliniana Library. Sueanna enjoys
teaching for USC’s First Year English Program, where she has recently taught courses
on American sports culture and on the representation of race in popular culture.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Charlton Yingling, History
Charlton Yingling is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History at the University
of South Carolina. He earned his M.A. in Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt University
and B.A. in History at Marshall University. He works on themes of radicalism and counterrevolution,
popular religion, race, and nation in colonial Spanish Santo Domingo during the Haitian
Revolution amid broader Caribbean and Atlantic connections. He has published articles
in History Workshop Journal, Early American Studies, and Sociales, and a chapter in the book Crossing Boundaries: Ethnicity, Race, and National Belonging in a Transnational World. His research in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Spain, the Vatican, and the United
Kingdom has been funded externally by the Ministry of Culture and Education of Spain,
the Academy of American Franciscan History, Conference on Latin American History,
Harvard University Atlantic History Seminar, and internally by the Institute for African
American Research, the Walker Institute for International Studies, and the Vice President
for Research at the University of South Carolina. Chaz is extremely grateful for the
support of the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Fellowship.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Kevin Ash, Geography
Kevin Ash is a doctoral candidate studying environmental hazards and disasters in
the Department of Geography. His research interests include risk perception and communication,
evacuation behavior, social vulnerability, and disaster resilience. He worked for
the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute at USC from 2010-2014 and contributed
to several projects including vulnerability to flood hazards in southeastern Louisiana,
long-term recovery in Mississippi and New Jersey after Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy,
and community disaster resilience metrics for the contiguous United States. He is
also interested in how people understand and act upon warnings for rapid-onset weather
events. Specifically, Kevin’s dissertation is investigating the intended tornado sheltering
of manufactured home residents in South Carolina. Kevin’s educational background includes
a BA in Geography from the University of Oklahoma and a MS in Geography from the University
of Florida. Prior to graduate school, he was employed with Weathernews, Inc. as a
risk communicator and with the US Geological Survey as a geographic information systems
technician. He is a native of Oklahoma and became interested in disasters after a
tornado struck his neighborhood near Oklahoma City in 1999.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Dean Clement, English and American Literature
Dean Clement is currently a PhD candidate in English Literature at the University
of South Carolina where he studies the imaginative literature and political philosophy
of the English Renaissance. After earning his BA from the University of Mississippi
and his MA in English Literature from the University of Montana, he crossed the country
once again to study at the University of South Carolina. During his time at USC, Dean
has taught multiple courses in Critical Thinking & Writing and Rhetoric & Composition.
He has also taught upper-level surveys of British Literature, World Drama, and the
English Renaissance. The time and money that the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski
Dissertation Fellowship has generously provided him will enable Dean to finish out
the program with a strong dissertation and a foothold into his academic future.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Erica Fischer, Rhetoric and Composition
Erica Fischer is a PhD candidate in Rhetoric and Composition in USC’s English Department
where her areas of research include composition-rhetoric, contemporary poetics, and
writing pedagogy. During her time at USC, Erica has had the opportunity to develop
her research and pedagogical theories in her Advanced Writing courses and as an Assistant
Director for First Year English. Erica plans to defend her dissertation in the spring
and credits the generous support of the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Fellowship
for the time and resources to reach her academic goals.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Ashley Harrell, Sociology
Ashley Harrell is a doctoral candidate in the Sociology department. She has also earned
a BA in Psychology and an MA in Sociology from the University of South Carolina. While
at USC, she has taught a broad Introductory Sociology course as well as courses in
Statistics for the social sciences. She was named Distinguished Graduate Scholar in
2013 from the University of South Carolina, and has won both departmental and national-level
awards for a paper developed from her MA thesis, “Do Religious Cognitions Promote
Prosociality?” She has published sole- and co-authored work in Rationality and Society and Social Forces. Aside from religion, she is also interested in studying cooperation and prosocial
behavior more broadly. Her dissertation focuses on the role of leadership in enhancing
cooperation in groups.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Evan A. Kutzler, History
Evan A. Kutzler is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in the History Department under the
advisement of Dr. Mark M. Smith. He received his Bachelor of Arts at Centre College
in Danville, Kentucky, in 2010 and his Master’s degree in Public History at the University
of South Carolina in 2012. As a doctoral candidate, Kutzler has taught courses for
the Institute of Southern Studies that explored the U.S. South from an interdisciplinary
approach. He has also published in academic and public history formats. The forthcoming
article, “Captive Audiences: Sound, Silence, and Listening in Civil War Prisons,”
will appear in the December 2014 issue of the Journal of Social History. Kutzler’s other publications include a co-authored piece on slavery and public history,
“Breaking the Silence: Telling the Story of Slavery at a Public University in the
South,” which appears as a short series on History@Work, a joint imprimatur between The Public Historian and the National Council for Public History online publications. In addition to the
Bilinski Education Foundation, Kutzler’s research is funded through institutions that
include the University of South Carolina, the Virginia Historical Society, the Kentucky
Historical Society, and the Filson Historical Society, the Friends of Andersonville
Organization, and the National Park Service. Funding provided opportunities to expand
his work on the sensory history of captivity during the American Civil War through
research trips to more than twenty-five libraries and archives between 2011 and 2014.
He is currently set to defend his dissertation in spring 2015.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Julia McKinney, Linguistics
Julia McKinney is a doctoral candidate in Linguistics specializing in sociolinguistics.
A native of California, she earned her B.A. in International Relations from Stanford
University and her M.A. in Linguistics from the University of South Carolina. At USC
she has taught classes in the Linguistics and First-Year English programs, served
as the Assistant Director of the Writing Center, and tutored writing for the Student
Success Center. Julia’s research focuses on how older speakers actively construct
identities in interaction using linguistic resources, with a particular interest in
the intersection between interpersonal and popular discourses. While completing her
M.A., Julia conducted ethnographic research at an traditional, older women’s hair
salon in Columbia, examining the connections between discourse, the body, and age.
Her dissertation research was conducted at a senior center and examines the relationship
between language, identity construction, and understandings of temporality. Julia
has presented her research at leading national conferences, including the American
Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, New Ways of Analyzing Variation, and Georgetown
University Round Table, and at regional conferences such as the Southeastern Conference
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Timothy K. Minella, History
Timothy K. Minella is a Ph.D. candidate in History who specializes in the history of science in early America. He received his B.A. from Hamilton College in 2009. His dissertation examines the connections between the Enlightenment and scientific practice in the United States from 1789 to 1860. He conducts several case studies of such topics as agriculture, natural history, print culture, and political philosophy. He has served as an instructor and a teaching assistant for courses in the history of science, American history, and Western civilization. He enjoys sampling local microbrews, cheering for Carolina athletic teams, and jogging.
Anthony Stagliano, Rhetoric
Anthony Stagliano is a filmmaker and scholar of rhetoric, and currently a PhD candidate
at the University of South Carolina, studying the digital and material contours of
public rhetoric. After a BA in Classics from SDSU, Stagliano earned an MA in English
at DePaul University in Chicago. His films and media art pieces have been shown in
festivals and galleries around the country. His feature narrative film, Fade, was released theatrically and on DVD by Cinema Epoch. Stagliano’s academic research
is in contemporary rhetorical theory. Specifically, a posthumanist study of the materiality
of digital forms of public rhetoric, and its concomitant political risks and possibilities.
The aim is to articulate robust conceptions of rhetorical tactics and rhetorical encounters
useful for the production, circulation, and analysis of rhetoric in the current historical
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Michael C. Weisenburg, English
Michael C. Weisenburg is a PhD candidate in the Department of English, focusing in
Colonial & Nineteenth-Century American Literature. His research interests deal with
the transition between the late colonial & early national period. He is currently
working on a dissertation about the British American Loyalists and the question of
loyalty as it extends throughout the nineteenth century in American literature, with
Dr. David S. Shields as his director. His other research interests include cartography,
aesthetics, & affect. For the past few years, he has been a research assistant for
Dr. Joel Myerson, collating & reading proofs for the Tenth Volume of the Collected
Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson as well as Dr. Myerson’s Supplemental Bibliography of
the Works of Walt Whitman. He frequently works for the Irving Department of Rare Books
and Special Collections, most recently compiling meta-data and designing a website
for Dr. Myerson’s collection of nineteenth-century American literary manuscripts.
Michael has taught a variety of English courses in the University’s common core curriculum,
including Fiction and Themes in American Writing. In 2011, Michael’s service, research,
and teaching was acknowledged through a William H. Nolte Graduate Assistant Award.
He is grateful for the opportunities that being a Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski
Dissertation Fellow will afford him this academic year.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Anna Bennion, English
Anna Bennion is a doctoral candidate in the English department here at USC. She is
originally from the state of Washington and loves this chance to study and live in
South Carolina. Anna has long been a lover of literature, and her graduate studies
have focused her on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British novels. She has presented
papers on gothic literature, Jane Austen, and Romantic-era prose. She is also interested
in film adaptation and has published a paper on literature and film pedagogy.
Dissertation Abstract [pdf]
Jennifer Karash-Eastman, Comparative Literature
Jennifer Karash-Eastman is a doctoral candidate in Comparative Literature. Her academic
formation is in contemporary transnational literature with a focus on Latin American
and the Caribbean, as well as contemporary African American and migrant writing in
the United States. In addition to an interdisciplinary doctorate degree, Jennifer
is also completing a graduate certificate in Women’s & Gender Studies.
Sandra Keller, Linguistics
Sandra Keller is a Ph.D. candidate in the Linguistics program, where her research
areas within sociolinguistics – including interactional discourse analysis, performance
studies, and linguistic ideologies in France – have been motivated by her interest
in how speakers of Gallo, a regional language of France, use verbal performance to
integrate local traditions into the cultural practices of modern life. Sandra earned
a B.A. in Psychology and French from Rhodes College (Memphis, Tennessee), where her
senior honors thesis examined the creation and circulation of storytelling motifs
in two preschool classrooms. Sandra then spent an academic year working as an English
language teaching assistant at a small-town high school in Brittany, France, where
her interest in verbal performance and community found a new focus in the storytelling
and conversational practices of speakers of the local language of Gallo. After this
year of attending performances and Gallo classes and participating in daily life in
Brittany, Sandra was inspired by the sociolinguistic richness of this context to study
at the University of South Carolina, earning an M.A. in French and pursuing her doctorate
in Linguistics. She is very grateful for USC’s Ceny Walker travel fellowship, which
enabled a preliminary return to Brittany in 2012 to establish research contacts, and
for the Bilinski Foundation fellowship, which has permitted her to conduct one year
of ethnographic fieldwork among Gallo-speaking residents of Upper Brittany.
Sara Lide, Linguistics
Sara Lide is a native Southerner working on her PhD in Linguistics. She attended Rice
University (BA) and Lancaster University, UK (MA), before starting her doctoral work
at USC. Her academic interests are in the fields of sociolinguistics and linguistic
anthropology, both of which address social aspects of language use, including how
and why language varies from person to person and from group to group. Inspired by
her own experience growing up in the South, Sara’s research examines the ways that
language is tied to regional identity.
Michael Odom, English
Michael Odom is currently a Ph.D. candidate in English at the University of South
Carolina where he studies religion and literature in the U.S. South. After receiving
a B.A. in English at Auburn University Montgomery and a M.A. in Theology at Southwestern
Seminary, he taught secondary English, Philosophy, and Religion for several years.
Fascinated by the profound impact evangelical religion has upon the social, economic,
and political spheres in the South, Odom came to the University of South Carolina
to study under the direction of Distinguished Southern Studies scholar, Robert Brinkmeyer.
The Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship has afforded Michael
Odom the opportunity to devote full attention to a cultural and literary topic that
has interested him for many years, enabling him to bring his dissertation to completion
and emerge into the academic job market with a compelling scholarly agenda.
Tyler D. Parry, History
Tyler D. Parry is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in the History Department under the advisement of Dr. Daniel C. Littlefield. He received his Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude at the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2008, and attained his Master’s degree in History at the University of South Carolina in 2011. At USC he has held positions in the History department; African American Studies Program, and the Institute for African American Research. As a doctoral candidate Parry has taught classes for the History Department and African American Studies Program that emphasize the African Diaspora and slavery in the colonial and Early Republican periods of the United States. His publication record includes book reviews on various subjects of slavery and servitude; encyclopedia entries of noteworthy African Americans; and chapter-length contributions to edited volumes that examine the cultural history of slavery and the impact of race and economics upon the transatlantic slave trade. He also served as an Associate Editor for the 2011 issue of The Southern Historian: A Journal of Southern History, published through the University of Alabama. In addition to the Bilinski Foundation, Parry’s research was funded through institutions that include Harvard University, Duke University, the University of South Carolina, and Florida International University. The funding provided opportunities to expand his work on slave marriage and the African diaspora through research trips to Senegal, the Gambia, Bermuda, Jamaica, England, and Scotland. He is currently set to defend his dissertation on April 7, 2014.
Aubrey Phillips, Linguistics
Aubrey Phillips is a PhD candidate in Linguistics specializing in Second Language
Acquisition. She has a BA in French from Francis Marion University, an MAT in French
and a Graduate Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language from the University
of South Carolina. As a middle school teacher and a university instructor, Aubrey
has won recognition for her teaching, including commendations from the American Association
of Teachers of French and the Michael Montgomery Award for Excellence in Teaching
Linguistics from the University of South Carolina. Aubrey’s research interests include
second language attention and syntactic processing, semantic and syntactic priming,
and foreign language teacher training. Previous research projects have examined the
effects of false cognates on second language processing and syntactic priming of English
phrasal verbs. Aubrey has presented at conferences of the South Carolina Foreign Language
Teachers Association, the American Association of Teachers of French, the Southeast
Conference of Language Teachers, the International TESOL Convention, the TESOL and
Applied Linguistics Graduate Students and the Southeastern Conference on Linguistics.
Sarah Scripps, History
Sarah Scripps is a Ph.D. candidate in the History Department. She earned a BA in History
and French Studies from the University of Minnesota and an MA in Public History-Museum
Studies from the University of South Carolina. As a trained public historian, Sarah
is dedicated to interpreting history to a general audience. From 2009 to 2011, Sarah
worked for Historic Columbia Foundation’s award-winning neighborhood history initiative,
Retrace: Connecting Communities through History. Sarah also curated Imaging the Invisible at McKissick Museum, an exhibit that surveyed the history of scientific imaging to investigate the changing
meaning of data representation. This project served as inspiration for an article
she coauthored that evaluates the role of collaboration in the work of public historians
and scientists that was published in The Public Historian in 2013. These projects were supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services as
well as the National Science Foundation. Most recently, Sarah served as a content
advisor for the Erector at 100 exhibition at the Eli Whitney Museum. In addition to her research on science fairs,
Sarah is also interested in the visual and material culture of nanotechnology, the
development of amateur rocketry, and the history of the Erector set. A Minneapolis
native, Sarah enjoys camping, yoga, and spending time with her family.
Bethany Tisdale, English
Bethany Tisdale is a doctoral candidate in English and holds a M.A. in American literature
and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies from USC. She received an
undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. While
at USC, she has taught courses in English and Women’s and Gender Studies including
Composition and Rhetoric, Themes in American Literature, and Sexual Diversities. She
served last year as the Assistant Director of the University Writing Center and has
three years of experience as a writing tutor. In addition to her graduate work, she
is a Speakers Bureau volunteer with Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands. She is
also a facilitator for the $tart $mart program, a joint effort of the American Association
of University Women and the WAGE Project that promotes educating college women about
Luci Vaden, History
Luci Vaden is a Ph.D. candidate in modern United States history at the University
of South Carolina. Her research examines African American civil rights activism following
the apex of America’s civil rights movement in 1965, with a particular emphasis on
black student and community activism that emerged due to continued racial inequalities
in public schools systems following federally mandated desegregation. Central to her
research are the ways in which local activists used newly won civil rights legislation,
such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, to demand quality
public education for black and minority students in their communities, particularly
in the American South, and the processes whereby their continued activism transformed
state and federal education policy in the post-Jim Crow Era. Vaden earned a M.A. in
education from the University of Tennessee and a M.A. in United States history from
the University of South Carolina. Her forthcoming publication, “High School Students,
The Catholic, And The Struggle For Black Inclusion And Citizenship In Rock Hill, South
Carolina,” In Color and Transcendence: Contested Post-Racialism and Conflicted Churches in the
U.S. and South Africa, with the University Press of Mississippi, examines the ways in which the Catholic
Church in one South Carolina community supported black student activism and protest
following the implementation of discriminatory policies in South Carolina’s desegregated
public school system. Vaden’s research has been supported by the Bilinski Foundation
and Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation.