Areas of Study and Research Interests
Syed Shiraz Ali, Islamic Studies.
Intellectual history of the Islamic world. Arabic-Islamic philosophy and literature.
Shiraz is a doctoral student with a special focus on the history of rationalist disciplines in Persianate Hindustan. He received his Master’s degree in Islamic Studies from Harvard University in 2018.
Doaa Atamna, Arabic Language and Literature.
Doaa is a student of classical Arabic poetry and comparative literary studies. Her interests are in narrative, translation, and philology.
Rachel Barnas, Egyptology.
A first-year PhD student in Egyptology, Rachel recently graduated from the University of Toronto with a Master’s in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, and previously received her B.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Yale University. Her current research interests are focused on the composition and use of magical texts in ancient Egypt, particularly apotropaic and medical spells, investigating their implications for social and ontological paradigms.
Gil Breger, Cuneiform Studies.
Gil studies how astronomical knowledge was produced in Mesopotamia. His dissertation investigates the way Babylonian astronomers classified stars in order to describe and construct the world around them, focusing primarily on stars that were classified with the Akkadian term ziqpu, "upright." Taking part in the Science and Technology Studies program, Gil brings in approaches and methodologies from the history and philosophy of science in order to contextualize knowledge and its place in society. These will shed light on the broader questions of how knowledge is created, ways in which the phenomenal world is described, and how reasoning plays a role in the way we engage with the world.
Shirelle Maya Doughty, Hebrew Language and Literature.
Shirelle is a doctoral student focusing on Israeli and Palestinian cinema and literature as part of her broader engagement with the role of art in constructing group identities and in creating conditions that enable (or break down) tolerance between groups.
Nesma Gewily, Arabic language and Literature.
Nesma Gewily received her MA in Arabic literature from the American University in Cairo. Her MA thesis is entitled Cairo: Mapping the Neoliberal City in Literature. Her current work focuses on Arabic young adult literature. She is also a creative writer and her book Irth al-Hikayah was published in 2014.
Dylan Guerra, Cuneiform Stydies.
Dylan Guerra obtained his B.A. in Anthropology from UCLA in 2015. While he was there he studied cuneiform alongside archaeology, and excavated in Tunisia and Ethiopia. His academic interests include scribal schools, lexicography, genre and textual transmission, scribal identity, the performance of magic, and humor in Mesopotamian literature. In addition, he is greatly interested in the Digital Humanities as way to model and strengthen Assyriological research.
Jessica Johnson, Egyptology and Art History.
Jess received her B.A in Art History from New York University in 2013 and her M.A in Egyptian Art History and Archaeology and a Graduate Certification in Museum Studies from the University of Memphis in 2015-16. Her M.A thesis focused on the synecdochical relationship between Gate Guardians and the demon Ammit in New Kingdom Books of the Dead. Jess's interests include Demonology and narrative constructions within religious texts, tombs, and temple wall decorations. Jess is also interested in the museological well being of Egyptian collections and their public outreach ability. She has experience working within the museological field for the past ten years within university settings, galleries, and auction houses. She hopes to continue both her Egyptological and Museum Studies passions interchangeably through pursuing a career as a Curator.
Kea Johnston, Egyptology.
Kea obtained BAs in both Computer Science and Biology from Brown University in 2005, though she maintained an interest in Egyptology throughout her undergraduate studies. While at Brown, she was invited to go to Egypt as an epigrapher with the Brown/AUC expedition to the Abu Bakr Cemetery at Giza in 2005. Having been a software engineer for a decade, she is currently working towards a PhD in Egyptology. Her interests include the development of funerary art and iconography during the New Kingdom and Third Intermediate Period, as well as class differences amongst the Ancient Egyptians.
Fateme Montazeri, Persian Studies.
Fateme Montazeri is a PhD student of Persian Studies. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Tehran, and moved to the United States to pursue her Ph.D. She completed the Master’s program of Islamic Arts at the Graduate Theological Union, in which she focused on Persian illustrated manuscripts of Middle Ages. Her thesis, “Why Death? An Inquiry into Text and Context of Persian painting,” deals with a 15th century manuscript of Layla and Majnun. Her research interests include Persian medieval literature, Sufi literature, codicology, early manuscripts of the Quran, and Islamic arts of the book—particularly calligraphy, Persian painting, and text-image relationship within manuscripts.
Jason Moser,Cuneiform Studies,
Jason is a PhD student in Cuneiform Studies. His academic interests include the transmission and reception of languages and writing systems throughout the Near East, historical/comparative linguistics and applying computational techniques to assist these endeavors. He has a background in Mathematics, Classical languages and computer programming.
Brooke Norton, Egyptian Archaeology.
Brooke received her B.A. in archaeology from Boston University in 2011 and her M.A. in Ancient Near Eastern and Egyptian Studies from New York University in 2013. Her M.A. thesis focused on an examination of the archaeological contexts of a group of magical objects collectively known as Execration Texts. Brooke’s interests include Egyptian art and archeology, and cultural connections between Egypt and the Southern Levant. Brooke has excavated in Egypt and Jordan; but also has experience excavating in Israel, Italy, and the USA. In Egypt, Brooke works with the Wadi el-Hudi Expedition in the Eastern Desert. Her dissertation research examines the geographic distribution and types of New Kingdom Egyptian temples and ritual installations in the Sinai and the Levant to better understand how these ritual interactions were negotiated as a result of culture contact.
Matthew Ong, Cuneiform Studies.
Matthew Ong obtained a BA in mathematics from Princeton cum laude in 2003, and an MA in Near Eastern Studies from UCLA in 2010 and one in Linguistics from UCSC in 2013. In 2008 he was a Fulbright Scholar in Syria doing research on cuneiform collections in museums and studying Arabic. Between 2013 and 2015 he was in China teaching English and studying Chinese. His research interests include Babylonian astronomy and mathematics and comparison of ancient writing systems.
Ahmad Rashid Salim, Persian Literature.
Ahmad Rashid Salim is a Ph.D. student with a focus on Persian mystical literature -- primarily poetry, Islam, Mystical exegesis, and Afghanistan.
Jason Silvestri, Egyptian Archaeology and Art History.
Jason Silvestri is a PhD student in Egyptian Archaeology and Art History. He received his B.A. hon. in Ancient Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations from the University of Toronto in 2019. His current research interests focus on issues of multiculturalism, diversity, and migration in New Kingdom and Third Intermediate Period Egypt. Additionally, he is interested in applications of the Digital Humanities to Egyptology, particularly with regard to archaeological data.
Jenna Stover-Kemp, Hebrew Bible.
Jenna Stover-Kemp works in the area of Hebrew Bible and is interested in cultural memory and intertextuality. Her dissertation traces three case studies from different literary genres and analyzes how relatively late biblical authors work with the memory of earlier text, theorizing forgetting as an aide to the preservation of cultural memory and to the formation of literary canon.
Hassan Rezakhany, Islamic Studies. History of philosophy and science.
Hassan is a PhD student interested in intellectual history in Arabic and Persian sources.
Betty Rosen, Arabic and Hebrew Literature.
Betty Rosen is a doctoral student focusing on Arabic and Hebrew literature. She earned her A.B. in Comparative Literature from Harvard in 2012 and her MA in Arabic Literature from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London in 2013. She is interested in medieval Arabic theories of poetics and rhetoric—as well as Hebrew texts that respond to those theories—and in reading this Near Eastern critical tradition as an equal partner alongside the Continental tradition. In doing so, she aims to enable new, productive, and genuinely multicultural ways of thinking about the possibilities of literature and literary thought.
Pei-Chen Tsung, Arabic Language and Literature.
Classical Arabic Literature.
Pei-Chen Tsung received her B.A in Arabic Language and Literature from National Chengchi University (Taipei, Taiwan) and M.A in Arabic and Islamic Studies from Harvard University. Her current research focuses on Classical Arabic Literature and Arabic rhetoric. Her dissertation project aims to construct a theoretical bridge between ‘Abd al-Qāhir al-Jurjānī’s theory and Western Cognitive Linguistics. Her academic interests include: metaphor, metonymy, love and wine poetry in Classical Arabic Literature.
Lubna Safi, Arabic language and Literature.
Lubna Safi is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Near Eastern Studies and in the Designated Emphasis Program in Critical Theory. She holds an M.A. in Comparative Literature from The Pennsylvania State University, where she completed a thesis on 20th century Spanish poets and the ways they invoked and mobilized al-Andalus (Muslim Iberia) in order to negotiate Spain’s changing national, racial, and literary identities. Her work centers on aesthetic experience, knowledge formation, reading praxis, and theories of vision and the imagination, with a focus on al-Andalus and the Maghreb. Her dissertation examines the relationship between vision, poetic representation, and knowledge in the poetry and literary theory of premodern al-Andalus and 20th century Morocco.
She has previously published in The Comparatist and Exchanges and has a version of her M.A. thesis forthcoming in Comparative Literature.
Oren Yirmiya, Hebrew and Jewish literatures.
B.A. in Literature and Sociology, Tel-Aviv University (2014); M.A. in Hebrew Literature, Tal-Aviv University (2016); Ph.D. candidate in Near Eastern Studies Department with a double designated emphasis in Jewish Studies and Critical theory (present).
Oren is a research student of Hebrew poetry and culture, focusing on lyric theory and its multiple intersections with Jewish literature. In his upcoming dissertation, Oren follows the genre of Piyyut, focusing on its unique intertextual devices and the way the genre was defined as “oriental poetry” by Orientalizing scholars. This work critiques both studies of modern Hebrew literature and contemporary lyric theory, showing how these fields carry the occidental biases of their romantic-era founders in following only European modalities of writing. By highlighting the classic Piyyut’s sophisticated and agentic intertextual devices, Oren theorizes a model of lyric intertextuality, one that is defined by a communitive fusion of horizon through shared poetic articulation. Oren also shows how this lyric intertextuality manifests in modern Hebrew and Yiddish poetry and can allow for an alternative conceptualization of Jewish socio-literary taxonomy of groupings, genres, and generations. Oren regularly teaches in the Center for Jewish Studies. Among his classes so far: “Jews, Superheroes and other Curiosities [JS39, Spring 2019],” “Travelers, Immigrants, Refugees: Introduction to Jewish History and Literature [JS100, Spring 2020],” and “Escape Artists in Jewish Popular Culture and Literature: Houdini, Kafka, Kirby, Chabon [JS39, Fall 2020].”
Madeline Wyse, Hebrew Language and Literature.
Rabbinic Literature, Arabic Literature, Religious History.
Madeline Wyse received her B.A. in Classics and Mathematics from Pomona College in 2011 and a second B.A. in Arabic Language and Literature from Portland State University in 2015. She is interested the construction of “religion” and demarcation of religious communities from the advent of Christianity to the rise of Islam.