PhD Student Research | Graduate | Department of English | Faculty of Arts | UNB

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UNB Fredericton

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PhD student research

McKenna James Boeckner is interested in history, how we (re)define it, and also how we can respectfully disregard it.

In 1749, Thomas Cannon published Ancient and Modern Pederasty—a pamphlet of short stories with the stated intention “in defense of Sodomy.” While this text was lost to history—censured after the author’s prosecution for his sexuality in 1750—portions of the document have been unarchived in legal proceedings and represent what may be a collection of shared stories within an unexplored queer subculture during England’s Long Romantic Period (c.1750-1850). Taking recent discoveries of Cannon’s life as archival fervor, Boeckner's dissertation project provides critical/creative inquiry into an alternative eighteenth-century—seeking traces of sodomy and other queer acts as literary and culturally disruptive performances within our sanitized version of history. Inspired also by the traditional silences that pockmark LGBTQ2S+ legacies, Boeckner concludes their investigations by forecasting an imaginative and anti-institutional approach to history. Toying with incomplete memory of Cannon and his contemporaries, Boeckner invites queer historians to become not only transhistorical but also infatuated with becoming lost, found or unfound, perpetually reinvented by the queers of the future and their created superfluous archives, their own ways of imagining us and making believe that often exceed restrictive concerns of historical accuracy.


Phillip Crymble is currently interrogating recent trends in contemporary American poetry with the express purpose of revealing both the problems and benefits inherent to Hybridity and the other new poetries of inclusion that have emerged in the first two decades of the twenty first century.

His dissertation will investigate the claimed achievements of the new “hybrid” poetries in order to assess whether or not the more flexible approaches they have developed to incorporate New Formalism and Language poetry alike have brought a legitimate close to the poetry wars of the late twentieth century. It will also evaluate accusations that “hybridism” has merely paved over real poetical and political conflicts by presenting a poetry that puts forward a liberal pretence of diversity, but, in essence, is largely homogenous.


Kitty Elton's main area of interest is nineteenth-century British writing that reflects the radical destabilization of traditional belief systems by scientific research and the widening tensions between the arts and sciences as they competed to authoritatively describe life.

Her doctoral dissertation, "George Eliot's Mind/Marian Evans's Head: Nineteenth-Century Realism and Science," examines the rising influence of scientific thought and how it is reflected in both the writing and the life of the Victorian realist writer George Eliot (Marian Evans).


Eliza Ives’s research centres on the relations between philosophy and literature. Her PhD dissertation examines literary works in which the practices of fiction and nonfiction appear to merge — including lyric poetry, autobiographical novels, and memoirs — and considers how borderline or hybrid texts might illuminate the fiction/nonfiction distinction and contribute to developed philosophical understandings of both fiction and fictionality.


Meghan Kemp-Gee writes poetry, comics, and scripts. Her academic interests include lyric poetry, comics studies, visual rhetoric, disability studies, composition pedagogy, and creative writing pedagogy.


Amber McMillan studies Canadian, American, and Indigenous literatures.

Her dissertation will take up the literary and critical region of Atlantic Canada, in particular, the intersection between poetry and philosophies of place through metaphor, wilderness, and the homing instinct.


Andrew Ramos studies contemporary Canadian fiction as well as fiction about politics, with a keen interest in how The New Sincerity movement operates within both fields.

His doctoral dissertation, “Small Worlds,” is a novel that satirizes neoliberal rationality and totalitarian impulses in order to interrogate how institutional and political gaslighting, astroturfing, and purism can physically, emotionally, and intellectually coerce or manipulate individuals into complicity and/or complacency with systemic inequality. In so doing, the novel ultimately argues for greater fluidity, plurality, and sympathy within our political discourses and interpersonal relationships.


Mike Thorn studies the horror genre through the lens of epistemophobia, or the relationship between fear and knowledge. His work interrogates horror's innate disruption of customary thought, specifically its capacity to dismantle human exceptionalism. These topics bear on his interest in pessimistic philosophy, a vegan ethos, and anti-anthropocentrism.

He will write a creative prose dissertation advancing the thematic fixations that undergird his first three books (Shelter for the Damned, Darkest Hours, and Peel Back and See [coming October 2021 from JournalStone]). Namely, his fiction grapples with the coded violence beneath social propriety, the dread of existential contingency, social conditioning, pessimism, addiction, and obsession.


thom vernon’s doctoral research seeks to theorize failure as a creative and critical instrument for creative writers and scholars. His dissertation includes a novel and its critical introduction. The novel deploys failure in the context of intertwining historical and contemporary queer exile to generate its story. The critical introduction theorizes failure as an instrument for creative writers and scholars and offers methodologies for its use.

thom is a Dr. William S. Lewis Doctoral Fellow, a Magee Doctoral Fellow, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) award recipient, and a Vanier Doctoral Scholar.