Two American Literary Studies students, Daoine Bachran and Natalie Kubasek, recently completed and successfully defended their dissertations as UNM-Mellon Dissertation Fellows. They will matriculate and hold their doctoral degrees in December 2016. Dr. Jesse Alemán directed both dissertations.

Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the highly competitive and nationally recognized Mellon award supports dissertations in the humanistic social sciences relevant to Latino/a and Native American communities. The year-and-a-half award assisted Bachran and Kubasek by providing a $25,000 stipend for each semester; tuition remission; health care coverage; and $1,500.00 for professional development or research support. ALS students in the English Department with relevant dissertations are qualified to apply for the next round of awards when funding is announced.

Daoine Bachran defended her dissertation, “From Recovery to Discovery: Ethnic American Science Fiction and (Re)Creating the Future,” in October 2016. The dissertation argues that science fiction by writers of color disproves the scientific racism embedded in genetics, nuclear development, digital technology, and molecular biology. The project looks at Afrofuturism, Chicanafuturism, Indigenous speculative fiction, and Latino/a sci-fi films to demonstrate how ethnic science fiction challenge science’s purported objectivity and imagine instead alternative scientific methods.

Natalie Kubasek defended “Chicana Feminist Acts: Re-Staging Chicano/a Theatre from the Early Twentieth Century to the Present,” in November. By examining early and contemporary Chicana playwrights, including Josephina Niggli, Estela Portillo Trambley, Cherríe Moraga, and the Teatro Chicana troupe, Kubasek argues that Chicana theater stages a series of feminist “acts” that continuously re-stage Chicana identity to resist fixed patriarch and nationalist paradigms of gender and sexuality. Through archival work, textual analysis, and oral histories, the dissertation demonstrates that theater has always played a transformative role in Chicana feminist history.