Graduate Fellows 2009-2010

Elena Bellina
Department of Italian Studies, GSAS
“The Bounded Self: Italian Autobiographical Writing and/in Confinement, 1930-1950”

Elena Bellina received her laurea in Foreign Languages and Literature from the University of Bergamo, Italy, and her M.A. in English from Youngstown State University. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Italian Studies at NYU. Her dissertation, “The Bounded Self: Italian Autobiographical Writing and/in Confinement, 1930-1950” looks at the processes of life-writing in conditions of constraint using diaries and memoirs by Italian POWs in British military camps in Africa, and works by Cesare Pavese, Carlo Levi and Vittorio Sereni. She was recently awarded the GSAS Dean’s Dissertation Fellowship and named an Honorary Fellow to the Humanities Initiative at NYU. She has published articles on Angela Carter and Elena Ferrante, and on the relations between music and postmodern literature. She co-edited, with Paola Bonifazio, State of Exception: Cultural Responses to the Rhetoric of Fear (Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2006) and, with Lindsay Eufusia and Paola Ugolini, About Face: Depicting the Self in the Written and Visual Arts (Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, forthcoming 2009).

Bellina is currently an Assistant Professor of Italian at the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester.

John DiehlJohn “Jay” Diehl
Department of History, GSAS
“Textual Cultures and Practices of Devotion in Twelfth-Century Monasticism”

Jay received his BA from Illinois Wesleyan University, his MA from the University of Chicago, and received his Ph.D. in the Department of History at NYU. He works on the intellectual, cultural, and religious history of the Central Middle Ages, with particular interests in the history of books and literacy, technologies of knowledge, and social networks of knowledge production. His dissertation, “Devotional Life and the Creation of Textual Cultures: Three Models of Monastic Practice in the Central Middle Ages,” reconsiders the notion of ‘literate mentalities’ by exploring how emerging book cultures interacted with traditions of spirituality in monastic communities, as well as proposing new ways to understand the dynamic and fluid nature of monastic culture.

Diehl is currently an Assistant Professor of History at Long Island University. His article, “Harmony Between Word and World: Anselm of Canterbury, Aelred of Rievaulx, and Approaches to Language in Twelfth-Century Monasticism,” was published in Saint Anselm of Canterbury and His Legacy in 2012.

Melis Erdur
Department of Philosophy, GSAS
“On Normative Thought”

Melis Erdur received her B.A. and M.A. in philosophy from Bogazici University in Istanbul. She is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Philosophy at NYU. In her dissertation, she focuses on the fundamental differences between normative (or evaluative) judgments about good/evil, right/wrong, and theoretical (such as scientific) beliefs. Her more recent interests include the relationship between past and present, memory, and silence. When she isn’t brooding about these subjects, she cooks and practices her Spanish. She misses the Mediterranean very much.

John Melillo
Department of English, GSAS
“Outside In: The Sound of Noise from Dada to Punk”

John Melillo is a PhD candidate in British and American Literature at NYU. His dissertation, “Outside In: The Sound of Noise from Dada to Punk,” examines the influence of noise on poetics and poetry during the twentieth century. John was awarded a Dean’s Dissertation Fellowship for 2009-2010 and will join the Humanities Initiative as an Honorary Fellow. In 2009, John received the English Department’s Rosenthal Fellowship for his work in twentieth-century American poetry. In addition to his academic studies in noise, John writes music criticism for many online publications, including Prefix magazine, and plays guitar and sings in a variety of projects, most recently the two-man pop/noise band Jodienda.

John is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona. In 2011, he became an ACLS New Faculty Fellow.

Paul Sager
Institute of French Studies/Department of History, GSAS
“‘Budget Eaters’: The Politics of State Employment in French Colonial Indochina, 1898-1954”

Paul Sager earned a BA in History with High Honors from the University of California, Berkeley. He is now completing his Ph.D at New York University in Modern European History and French Studies. His dissertation, ” ‘Budget Eaters’: The Politics of State Employment in French Colonial Indochina, 1898-1954,” examines the impact of labor organizing by French and Vietnamese state employees under colonial rule in Indochina. The study follows the development of union organizations among postal workers, teachers, office workers, and many others from both colonizing and indigenous sides of the colonial divide. It asks three main questions: how employee salary demands affected the state budget and thereby wider government policy, how a multisided tug-of-war between French and Vietnamese politicians, employees, colonialists and anticolonialists reshaped the segregated state employment structure, and how the progressivist leftism of French state employees influenced colonial politics that are usually associated with conservatism and reaction. In 2007-2009 he conducted archival research in Vietnam, Cambodia, and France with support from an NYU Elaine Brody Humanities Research Fellowship and a Fulbright Advanced Student Grant. In Fall 2008 he published a review essay on the historiography of the Vichy era in Indochina in the Journal of Vietnamese Studies.

Peter Valenti
Department of History/Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, GSAS
“State-Building in Central Arabia: Empires and Regional Actors at the Crossroads of al-Qasim”

Peter C. Valenti completed a joint PhD in History and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. His dissertation, “State-Building in Central Arabia: Empires and Regional Actors at the Crossroads of al-Qasim,” studies the leadership, clergy, merchants, and trade networks of the settled communities in the al-Qasim sub-region of the Najd (central Arabia) from 1800-1932. As an attempt to complicate sweeping narratives of national history, this dissertation enables an understanding of smaller regional units which interacted in a larger geographical and political space. It also identifies the kinds of social and economic organization that existed prior to Saudi control over Arabia—which the Saudis tapped into to facilitate their rise—as well as the measures that other powers, such as the Ottomans or Rashidis, made to ally with or challenge al-Qasim’s sociopolitical actors. The research for this dissertation has included consulting archival collections in Cairo, Istanbul, London, and Riyadh, thanks to the support of a 2008-09 Multi-Country Research Fellowship from the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) and a Research Abroad-Foreign Language & Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS) in 2007-08.

Perter is currently a Master Teacher of the Liberal Studies Program at New York University. In 2011 he published, “Creating a New Historiography of the Persian Gulf: The Case of Qatar,” in New Middle Eastern Studies Vol. 1 (2011).