latin american literature

Alice E.M. Underwood

portrait: Alice Underwood

Office Hours: 
by appointment


Alice entered the Ph.D. program in Comparative Literature in Fall 2012. She is interested in intersections of poetics, sexuality, and political resistance in twentieth-century narrative prose, particularly in Russia and Latin America. Queer theory, postmodernist thought and aesthetics, and the Frankfurt School have influenced her approach to the study of literature. 


"Masks of Opposition: Is Pussy Riot a Drag?" Panel presentation at “Pussy Riot: Performance, Protest, and the Russian State.” Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, Stanford University, 2012. 


Fluent: Russian, Spanish

Reading: Portuguese, French, Czech






A.B. from Harvard University, 2011. Magna cum laude with highest honors from the Department of Slavic Literatures and Cultures; secondary field in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. 

Undergraduate Thesis: “Rights on Parade: The Russian LGBT Community’s March Toward Equality," 2011. Slavic Department Best Undergraduate Thesis Prize; Eugene Cummings Award for Thesis on LGBT Topics, Honorable Mention. 

Jessie Byron Ferguson

portrait: Jessie Ferguson

Focal Group(s): 
Humanities Education
Focal Group(s): 
Philosophy and Literature

I began my doctoral studies at Stanford in 2007.  Before that, I studied Central European literature and culture as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, where I was also an enthusiastic member of the Women in Philosophy group.  I then received my M.A. from San Francisco State University with a thesis on history and autofiction in three novels of the mid-1990s. 

My dissertation focuses on the 20th century "essayistic" novel in Latin America (Cuba) and in Europe (Austria), in the context of distinct national/cultural traditions of philosophy and essayistic writing.  I am particularly interested in one shared aspect of these works: the evolving tensions between authorship and fictional creation in the 20th century.  Although my focus is on the era from roughly 1910 to 1965, this tension becomes increasingly salient as the century concludes; I argue that by studying earlier experiments in essayism, we can construct a crucial prehistory of autofiction and related postmodern subgenres on both continents. This is not a triumphalist history of radical uncertainty prevailing over dogmatic realism; it is equally the story of a counter-movement away from creativity and towards a more defensive posture, i.e. an attempt to assess the costs as well as the benefits of essayistic style without simply recapitulating Lukács (although you may draw the glasses and mustache on my portrait above, if you must).

I am also interested in the essay as form in world literature; in the construction and extension of "nonfiction" as a literary category; and, much more broadly, in the figure and theme of education within modern literature: as an imperative, as a curse, as a utopia, as a forest not seen for the trees.


2007: M.A. Comparative and World Literature, San Francisco State University. Additional coursework at the University of California-Berkeley and Freie Universität Berlin (2006).  Thesis: "The Archimedean Author: W.G. Sebald, Roberto Bolaño, and Narrative After Borges."

2002: B.A. General Studies in the Humanities, University of Chicago.  Emphasis on East-Central European literature and culture.

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