Meet our new faculty: Humanities

This fall, 28 new researchers and instructors join 15 humanities departments and programs in Arts & Sciences. New faculty in the natural sciences can be seen here, and new faculty in the social sciences will be showcased next week.

Welcome to our incoming faculty! 

African and African-American Studies

Dwight A. McBride joins the Department of African and African-American Studies as the inaugural Gerald Early Distinguished Professor. He also will serve as a senior advisor to the chancellor. McBride comes to WashU after serving as president and University Professor at The New School in New York City. Prior to that, he held leadership appointments at Emory University, Northwestern University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and was a faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh. His work centers on Black studies, sexuality, and identity politics. He is the co-founder and co-editor of James Baldwin Review and a founding co-editor of "The New Black Studies Series." McBride earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, and a master’s degree and doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles. 

American Culture Studies

Sabnam Ghosh joins American Culture Studies as a lecturer in Asian American studies. Her research focuses on displacement aesthetics in Asian American and postcolonial studies, engaging with how issues of displacement, diaspora, migration, immigration laws, and new materialisms manifest in literary forms and disrupt questions of identity, culture, and nationhood. Before joining WashU, she was a visiting assistant professor in postcolonial and global Anglophone studies at Fairfield University. She received her master’s in comparative literature from The University of Edinburgh and her doctorate from the University of Georgia.

College Writing Program

Meg Gregory joins the College Writing Program as assistant director and lecturer. Gregory’s background is in medieval early English literature, with a focus on gender studies and life writing. Her recent research on the scholarship of teaching and learning involves employing inclusive and equitable teaching strategies, engaging students in reflective writing, and supporting the development of students’ disciplinary reading and writing skills. She received her doctorate at Illinois State University. Prior to joining the College Writing Program, she was associate director of faculty programs in the Center for Teaching and Learning at WashU.

East Asian Languages and Cultures

Jiayi Chen joins the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures as an assistant professor. Chen’s research is concerned with early modern Chinese literature and its intersections with games, theater, material culture, and print culture. Her current book project explores the critical potential of games in shaping a pre-digital ludic age in early modern China. In it, she investigates how games inspired creative engagement with literature and theater, leading to the development of a distinct epistemological perspective for understanding and navigating reality. Chen earned her doctorate from the University of Chicago.

Motomi Kajitani joins the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures as a lecturer in Japanese. Her research interests include cognitive-pragmatic analyses of linguistic constructions in Japanese and other languages from a functional, usage-based perspective, focusing on how everyday interactions shape human languages. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in linguistics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and she is currently pursuing her doctorate in linguistics at the University of New Mexico. Prior to joining WashU, she was a teaching assistant in the Japanese and linguistics programs at UNM, where she received a Teaching Excellence Award.

Wonseok Lee joins the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures as a lecturer. His work primarily focuses on how musical genres emerge, what sociocultural elements affect them, and how the meaning of musical genres changes over time. He earned his doctorate from The Ohio State University. In his dissertation, “K-Pop Resounding: Korean Popular Music beyond Koreanness,” Lee examines how the meaning of “K” in “K-pop” is (re)interpreted by individuals, how K-pop resounds beyond Koreanness, and, eventually, what elements constitute the K-pop phenomenon today.

Yan Ma joins the departments of Performing Arts and East Asian Languages and Cultures as a lecturer. She obtained her doctorate from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Her current research project, “Gendering Male Dan: Jingju Male Cross-Gender Performers and Performance in the Reform Era,” identifies and explicates the gender politics of Beijing “opera” from 1978 to the present. As an artist-scholar in Asian theater, she has a broad research interest in Asian and Asian diaspora theater, queer theater, and performance studies. She has directed and performed in traditional Chinese theater and intercultural theater productions. 

Yanjie Li joins the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures as a lecturer in Chinese language. Her research interests involve reading in a foreign language and pedagogy. She received her bachelor’s degree at Qingdao Agriculture University and her master’s degree at Webster University. Yanjie received her doctorate in education from Washington University, where she specialized in applied linguistics. Upon graduation, she was honored with the Dean's Award for Teaching Excellence and the Excellence in Educational Research Award.


Sarah T. Weston joins the Department of English as an assistant professor. She specializes in literature and art of the 18th and 19th centuries, with a particular interest in William Blake, Romanticism, environmental humanities, and the history of science. Her current book project, “The Cypher and The Abyss,” is a cultural history of Romantic data, entwining literature, mathematics, and art. Her other research interests include book history, digital humanities, and disability studies. Weston is a writer and book artist who replicates Romantic-era printmaking techniques. She received a joint doctorate in English and the history of art from Yale University.

Film and Media Studies

James Fleury joins the Film and Media Studies Program as a senior lecturer. His research interests include media franchises, and the intersection of Hollywood and the video game industry. He received his bachelor's degree at Le Moyne College and his doctorate at UCLA.

Germanic Languages and Literatures

Aylin Bademsoy joins the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures as an assistant professor. Her first book project examines how modernization and racialization are entwined in German and Turkish cultural discourse. Bademsoy has also contributed essays on gendered violence in capitalist patriarchies and on völkisch racism in the colonial context. She recently co-edited with Marco Abel and Jaimey Fisher a volume of translated interviews of the Berlin school filmmaker Christian Petzold. She earned her doctorate at the University of California, Davis.

Sarah Koellner joins the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures as an assistant professor. She is a scholar of 20th and 21st century German literature, culture, and media with an interdisciplinary interest in surveillance and migration studies. Her current book project, “Participatory Privacy in Contemporary German Culture,” investigates how cultural, theatrical, and literary works of art critique, resist, and challenge contemporary surveillance cultures and the role privacy plays in such artistic exploration. She earned her doctorate at Vanderbilt University.

Global Studies

Elizabeth Reynolds joins Global Studies as a lecturer in Chinese and inner Asian history. Her research centers on the economic history of Tibet with a particular focus on monastic economies, currency, taxation, labor systems, and long-distance trade networks. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Barnard College and her doctorate from Columbia University. After two years as a postdoctoral fellow in WashU’s Department of History, she spent a year as a Luce/ACLS Early Career Fellow and is excited to return to WashU this fall.


Anne Schult joins the Department of History as an assistant professor. Her research interests include the transnational history of migration, the human sciences, and late European colonialism and decolonization. She is currently at work on her first book manuscript, which explores the impact of the quantitative social sciences on the politics and management of refugeedom across Germany, Britain, and France in the 20th century. Schult received her bachelor’s degree from the New School, her master’s from Columbia University, and her doctorate from New York University.

Dalen Wakeley-Smith joins the Department of History as an assistant professor. His research focuses on the history of the American Romani people and interrogates issues of race, ethnicity, and migration. He is currently working on his manuscript tentatively entitled “A Gypsy Capital: American Romani Migration, Race, and Representation in New York City.” Prior to coming to WashU, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University. Wakeley-Smith earned his doctorate from the University of Michigan.

Jonathan Judaken joins the Department of History as the Gloria M. Goldstein Professor of Jewish History and Thought. His research focuses on representations of Jews and Judaism, race and racism, existentialism, and post-Holocaust French Jewish thought. He is a founding member of the International Consortium for Research on Racism and Antisemitism. His new book, “Critical Theories of Anti-Semitism,” is forthcoming from Columbia University Press. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, San Diego, and a master’s and doctorate from the University of California, Irvine.

Jewish, Islamic, and Middle Eastern Studies

Mona Kareem joins the Department of Jewish, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies as an assistant professor. Her research centers on literary cultures of race, class, and gender in the Global South, with a focus on Afro-Asian encounters in the Arabian Peninsula/Persian Gulf region. She is also an accomplished author with three poetry collections. As a Bedoon woman born in Kuwait, her stateless legal status did not allow her to attend a public university there. Her poetry and academic history, however, earned her a scholarship to attend the University of Kuwait. She received her doctorate from Binghamton University.


John McDonald joins the Department of Music as lecturer, director of vocal studies, and director of choir. He is a highly sought-after choral clinician and guest conductor who conducts The St. Louis Children's Choir's tenor-bass ensemble, Cantus. He received his bachelor’s degree at Middle Tennessee State University, his master’s degree at East Carolina University, and his doctorate at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Prior to joining WashU, he was assistant professor of music education and director of choral activities at McKendree University.

Parkorn Wangpaiboonkit joins the Department of Music as an assistant professor. His research in the emerging field of global music history investigates musical and intellectual exchanges between Europe’s colonial powers and the empire of Siam in the 19th century. In his book project, “Sounding Civilization: Race and Sovereignty in the Imperial Music of Siam,” he examines the localization of European music and sound practices at the Siamese court as a means of negotiating new conceptions of sovereign personhood in colonial survival. He earned his doctorate in musicology at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Vincent Varvel is now a lecturer and director of guitar studies in the Department of Music, as well as an instructor of guitar. At Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Varvel had the opportunity to perform with jazz greats such as Michael Brecker, Peter Erskine, and Dan Gottlieb. He began his professional career in college, freelancing with many different performers in the St. Louis area. Since then, he has toured the United States and Europe with various ensembles and led his own jazz group performing original compositions.

Performing Arts

Antonio Douthit-Boyd joins the Performing Arts Department as a professor of practice in dance. He has served as the co-artistic director of dance at COCA — Center of Creative Arts — for eight years and will continue to serve as artistic director of the dance program. Before joining WashU, he enjoyed a distinguished performing career, holding the position of principal dancer at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and soloist with the Dance Theatre of Harlem in New York City. He earned his MFA from Hollins University.

Elaine Peña joins the Performing Arts Department as a professor. Her teaching and research interests include performance as theory and method, border studies, material religion, space and place theory, and hemispheric Latinx performance. Her books include “Performing Piety: Making Space Sacred with the Virgin of Guadalupe” and “¡Viva George! Celebrating Washington’s Birthday at the U.S.-Mexico Border.” She has held appointments at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Yale University, the University of Edinburgh, and the George Washington University.

Elinor Harrison joins the Performing Arts Department as a lecturer in dance. A dancer and movement scientist, her work spans performance, choreography, teaching, and neuroscientific inquiry into human movement. Her research draws upon her performance expertise to develop arts-based therapies to improve mobility for people with impairments due to age and neurological decline. She received her bachelor’s degree in French literature and dance from Washington University and returned to pursue her doctorate in movement science. She is also the artistic director of Elinor Harrison Dance.


Michael Barkasi joins the Department of Philosophy as a lecturer. He studies the integration of auditory feedback into motor control during movement sonification and the phenomenology of sensory perception, episodic memory, and dreams. He received his bachelor’s degree at Kutztown University and his doctorate at Rice. Prior to joining WashU, he was a postdoctoral visitor at Harris Multisensory Integration Lab at York University in Toronto.

Romance Languages and Literatures

David Cortés Ferrández joins the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures as a lecturer of Spanish. His research focuses on critical discourse analysis and discourse in the new media, especially in his native languages — Catalan and Spanish — on Twitter. He received his bachelor’s degree at Universitat Rovira Virgili in Tarragona, Spain, and his doctorate at the University of Kentucky, where he taught prior to joining WashU. 

Nathan Dize joins the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures as an assistant professor. He studies the grieving process in Haitian literature and has translated the poetry and fiction of numerous Haitian authors. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and his doctorate from Vanderbilt University. Before coming to WashU, he was a visiting professor at Oberlin College & Conservatory. 

S. Veronica Anghel joins the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures as a lecturer. She specializes in gender, religion, and politics in the modern West with a focus on Spain. She received her master’s in comparative literature from Dartmouth College in 2013 and will receive her doctorate in Hispanic studies from WashU in November.

Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Tamsin Kimoto joins the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies as an assistant professor. Their research centers on women of color feminisms, queer and trans studies, health humanities, philosophy of race, and social and political philosophy. Kimoto is currently working on a manuscript that draws connections between racial sciences, the history of plastic surgery, and contemporary trans medicine in order to think about the political potential of a radical trans of color aesthetics. Before coming to WashU, they were assistant professor of philosophy and women, gender, and sexuality studies at Goucher College.