Current Fellows Spring 2022

Faculty Fellows

  • Ren Ellis Neyra

    Associate Professor of English & African American Studies; Coordinator, Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory Certificate

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    Professor Ellis Neyra writes in the fields of Caribbean, African diaspora, and U.S. Latinx studies of aesthetics, especially poetry, music, and cinema. Trained in poetics of the Caribbean and the Americas, and Literary and Critical Theory, they are as interested in the possibilities for thought that emerge between aesthetic and literary forms and theory, as they are in zones of critical impossibility--impasses, negativity, and irresolvable ethical quandaries. Ellis Neyra has additional interests in deconstruction, Third Cinema, Cine Imperfecto, ethics of reading, and translation.

    Ellis Neyra is the Coordinator of the Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory Certificate: , and the liasion to the English Majors Committee in 2021-2022.

    Ellis Neyra is the author of The Cry of the Senses: Listening to Latinx and Caribbean Poetics (Duke University Press, 2020). One can read their most recent work here: Small Axe Journal's sx salon ; Public Books ; Radical History Review's The Abusable Past .

    Two new book projects consisting of two different historical archives and distinct critical approaches to sovereignty, individuation, nationalism, racialization, and sexuation are underway: one about the Kardashians and the Bobbitts; the other about unsovereignty and anti-sovereignty in the Caribbean dating from the 1700s. As a writer, Ellis Neyra thinks in the genres (and temporalities) of scholarly essays, as well as art reviews, and poetry. You can read their work in various scholarly and art venues: Habana EleganteLa Gaceta de Cuba; Sargasso: A Journal of Caribbean Literature, Language and CultureJournal of Popular Music Studies; The Cambridge Companion to Queer Studies; ASAP/Journal; ARTFORUM; BOMB magazine; Terremoto: Contemporary Art in the Americas; Obsidian: Literature and Arts in the African Diaspora. Ellis Neyra published their debut book of poetry, Meteor Shower/ Días Sin Shower (2017), and a co-edited, collaborative volume, Caribbean Cautionary Tales (2017), with La Impresora Press, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

  • Rashida Shaw McMahon

    Associate Professor of English, African American Studies, & Theater

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    Rashida Z. Shaw McMahon is an Associate Professor in English and an affiliated faculty in African American Studies and Theater at Wesleyan University. Her course offerings and research exemplify interdisciplinary methodologies and collaborative approaches towards examining: the dramatic and performance traditions of African Americans and the larger African Diaspora; American drama; American musical theatre; American and European theatre and performance histories; theatrical spectatorship; dramatic adaptations of poetry, novels, and historical fiction; and, the application of critical race theories, gender theories, sexuality theories, and popular culture theories to drama and performance. Her book, The Black Circuit: Race, Performance, and Spectatorship in Black Popular Theatre (Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, March 2020), examines “Chitlin Circuit” theatrical productions and the reception practices of African American spectators. Professor Shaw McMahon’s scholarship has appeared in various print and online journals, such as E-misfèrica, in media res: a media commons project, Theatre Survey, Theatre Topics, and Theatre Research International as well as in edited anthologies on race, performance, media, musical theatre, and sociology, including The New Black Sociologists: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2018), The Palgrave Handbook of Musical Theatre Producers (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), From Madea to Media Mogul: Theorizing Tyler Perry (The University Press of Mississippi, 2016), Black Theater is Black Life: An Oral History of Theater and Dance in Chicago, 1970-2010 (Northwestern University Press, 2013), and Sticky Reputations: The Politics of Collective Memory in Midcentury America (Routledge, 2011). Her interviews with playwrights and actors of “Chitlin Circuit” Theatre have been published by Time Out Chicago magazine. She has been consulted as an expert in African American theatre and drama by journalists from the Kansas City Star and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Her current projects include an investigation into the public exhibition of children from the Danish West Indies (referred to today as the United States Virgin Islands) in early twentieth century Denmark, investigations into the hypervisibility of African American women characters within the plays of August Wilson, and examinations of the politics of Black pleasure and Black joy as presented within African American drama and performance.

    Professor Shaw McMahon is originally from the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She is a Wesleyan alumna, class of '99, who majored in Theater (with a concentratron in Acting) and Sociology. Her Wesleyan honors BA thesis in Theater is entitled Color Aware enough to be Color-blind: A look at Color-blind Casting from the Perspective of the Black Actor. After Wesleyan, she attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois where she received her Ph.D. in Theatre and Drama. Her dissertation, entitled Theatrical Events and African American Audiences: A Study of Contemporary "Chitlin Circuit" Theatre, examines Chitlin Circuit (a.k.a. Gospel Musical) theatrical productions and the reception practices of African American spectators through interdisciplinary methods of research that span across theatre, performance studies, sociology, film and dance studies. She is a member of the American Society of Theatre Research (ASTR), the Association of Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), the Black Theatre Association (BTA), and the International Federation of Theatre Research (IFTR). In 2016, she was awarded the Mellon Mays Mentor of the Year Award at Wesleyan. 

  • Yaniv Feller

    Jeremy Zwelling Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies, Assistant Professor of Religion

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    Yaniv Feller specializes in modern Jewish thought, Jewish-Christian relations, and material culture. Yaniv’s book manuscript, Jewish Fantasies of Empire: The Life and Work of Leo Baeck, offers a new interpretation of one of the most prominent German-Jewish thinkers of the twentieth century by focusing on German and Jewish imperial fantasies of domination. In 2015-2017, Yaniv worked as an exhibition curator for the new permanent exhibition at the Jewish Museum Berlin. This experience taught him to consider space and material culture seriously. Since then, he has been researching the ways European Jewish museums represent Jews and Judaism.

Andrew W. Mellon Fellows

  • Mlondolozi Zondi

    Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

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    Mlondolozi (Mlondi) Zondi is a scholar and interdisciplinary artist whose research focuses on contemporary Black performance and art history. Currently, Mlondi is working on a book project titled Unmournable Voida study of critical artistic practices that tend to the historical conditions of anti-black violence resulting from transatlantic slavery, colonialism, and apartheid. The manuscript approaches questions of matter, mourning, and ontological absence through an engagement with revolutionary Black thought, psychoanalytic theories, art history/visual studies, and dance/performance theory. Mlondi completed a PhD in Performance Studies at Northwestern University (with certificates in Critical Theory, African Studies, and Gender and Sexuality Studies). The dissertation project received support from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. Prior to attending Northwestern, Mlondi received an M.F.A in Dance as a Fulbright scholar at the University of California, Irvine; and a BA (Hons) cum laude in Cultural Studies and Performance Studies from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa. Mlondi’s work has been published in The Drama Review(TDR), ASAP Journal, Text and Performance Quarterly, and Propter Nos.  

Student Fellows

  • Asiyah Herrero

  • Anna Marti

  • Jahnavi Mehta

  • Shiva Ramkumar