Graduate students enter the Saint Louis University American Studies program with a variety of skills, research interests, backgrounds and professional histories. This diversity of backgrounds is highly valued and enriches our department.
An introductory core sequence at SLU ensures that all subsequent courses, symposia, workshops and internships revolve around a common frame of reference. You and your cohort will then move through a rigorous curriculum that offers you sound, ethical and broad professional development.
Current Graduate Students
I am a veteran and former intelligence officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency. I have earned a B.S. in business administration, an MBA, a Master of International Relations, and hold certification in advanced Russian language studies and a professional screenwriters certificate from UCLA. I am a certified screenplay analyst for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscars), and an essayist who has been published in the Boston Globe and the New York Times. My research interests within American Studies are African American film and literature.
I entered the American Studies graduate program in Fall 2016. I study the 20th-century U.S. and my major research fields are urban history, race and ethnicity, and environmental history. I’m interested in issues related to metropolitan geography, particularly the way “place and space” have historically affected ethnic and racial identity formations, influenced social structure and behaviors, and informed political ideologies from New Deal liberalism to New Right conservatism. I hold a master’s in American Studies from Saint Louis University, a master’s in history from San Diego State University, and a B.A. in political science (geography minor) from the University of Missouri. I have presented research at the Society for American City and Regional Planning History conference and the Urban Affairs Association conference. More recently I have presented papers at the Western Literature Association conference and the Missouri Conference on History.
Aretha D. Butler
Dissertation working title: “On the Front Lines: Culture Wars in the Era of Black Lives Matter, 2012–2018”
I am a doctoral student, originally from the Bronx, New York, and began at SLU in Fall 2012. I am also pursuing a graduate minor in women’s and gender studies at SLU. I attended DePauw University from 2005 to 2009 as a Posse Scholar and majored in Black studies and women’s studies. After graduating from DePauw, I taught middle-school math in New York City as a Teach for America corps member. My current research interests include black popular culture, transnational studies, and critical race theory and race in post–civil rights America.
I am a local St. Louis historian and Ph.D. student in American Studies. My interests are in urban history and Black political activism. I have been studying the life and works of Martin Luther King, Jr. since graduate school and I am very interested in researching his influence on the ecumenical community in St. Louis. King spoke at Temple Israel (now the Missouri History Museum Archives), Christ Church Cathedral, Washington Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, and lastly, at Saint Louis University. His presence in St. Louis ranged from a casual breakfast with a former Morehouse classmate to addressing an interracial audience one day before he received the Nobel Peace Prize.
Dissertation working title: “Rune-Maker, Majic–Maker, Traveler: The Mystical Tourism of H.D. and Her Circle
My research interests include modernism, feminist theories, mythology, and transnational literature. Currently, I am an associate professor of English and chair of the Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Program at St. Charles Community College.
I received my B.A. from the University of Texas in history, English, and American studies. My predominant research interests include the history of American policing and efforts at resisting it, protest movements, decoloniality, water distribution, and cultural memory.
I am a local high school American and world history teacher, as well as the sponsor for my school’s Youth and Government program, Mock Trial teams, Travel and Cultures Society club, Foundation Junior Board club, and announcer/scoreboard operator for multiple sports. I have a B.A. in history and a master’s in education from the University of Missouri–St. Louis. My undergraduate research analyzed St. Louis suburban displacement and my master’s research evaluated changing lecture to primary resource analysis to drive historical inquiry and modern connections. Outside of academia, I am still a big history fan, St. Louis sports fan, video game enthusiast (especially on the N64 and GameCube), and enjoy spending time with my family, friends and pets.
Dissertation working title: “Lives between Empires: Islanders, Agents, and Activists in the Transimperial US Virgin Islands, 1917–1941”
A St. Louis native, I have completed my master's degree with distinction in American studies and am all-but-dissertation on the path toward earning my doctorate. My dissertation examines the ways islanders, imperial agents, and islands-linked activists experienced and navigated the transition between Danish and U.S. empires in the Danish West Indies/U.S. Virgin Islands. My publications include “‘Neither citizen nor alien’: Migration, Territoriality, and Malfunctioning Empire in the US Virgin Islands," published in Summer 2020 in The Journal of Transnational American Studies. I have presented papers at conferences at SLU, the University of California–Santa Cruz, and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. I have conducted research at archives on the U.S. mainland and in the U.S. Virgin Islands. My broader research interests include transnational American religion, empire, imperial transition, race, and immigration/migration history in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. I hold a B.A. cum laude from Knox College in international relations and art history. While at Knox, I received a number of awards including a Ford Fellowship. Professionally, I have worked as a newspaper reporter and editor, in the nonprofit sector as a grant writer, and in positions in research administration and communications in higher education.
Dissertation working title: “Closer to Nature: Land, Locals, and Gentrification in the Ozarks”
I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism at Missouri State University and my Master of Social Science at the University of Colorado–Denver. I have research interests in transnationalism, environmental history, place and region, urban history and the history of the American West.
Cicely B. Hunter
Dissertation working title: “Blaring Silence: The Silent Protest of 1917 and Its Historical Influence on Activism”
I am a doctoral student originally from Kenosha, Wisconsin, and I joined the SLU American Studies Department in Fall 2014. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Marquette University in Spring 2014, double majoring in history and political science. My current research interests consist of early 20th-century Black women’s history with an emphasis on memory and feminism.
I joined the American Studies program in Spring 2021 after many years in the classroom teaching American and world history to local high school students. I have a Bachelor of Journalism and a B.A. in history from the University of Missouri, and earned an M.A. in American culture studies from Washington University in St. Louis. Having recently begun the program, I have yet to determine a research focus, though my interests lie in urban studies, particularly the rise, fall, and renaissance of industrial Midwestern cities.
My research focuses on music as a function of identity formation both in the contemporary and historical context. Examining the relationship between self and community as related to the social formation as well as the structure of feeling inscribed in both the creation and consumption of aural arrangements motivates the investigations explored by my musical inquires. My scholarly interests also extend to race, urban settings, cultural studies, sociological theory…. look, the list is endless. When I am not reading every word assigned, I can be found frequenting local record stores in the endless pursuit of collecting even more vinyl.
I entered SLU with a bachelor's degree in history and constitutional democracy. I have always loved American history, and as a child, you could have found me reading autobiographies of U.S. presidents in the library rather than playing at recess. However, after undertaking a course at the University of Missouri titled "History of American Law," the significance of understanding history in conjunction with law became especially evident to me. Therefore, I decided to start working towards my master's degree before a law degree in order to prevent myself from succumbing to many of the issues within the American legal system by using the research skills and the “big picture” approach engrained in the day-to-day work of historians.
Originally from Turkey, I received a Bachelor`s Degree in American Culture and Literature from Bilkent University. In 2017, I earned my M.A. in American Studies from Penn State–Harrisburg. In fall 2018, I became a Ph.D., student in SLU’s American Studies department. My research interests involve studying American neoliberalism as a cultural structure that brings market rationality, competition, individualism, and fetishization of wealth into all spheres of life. When I am not studying popular culture to explore the traces of the neoliberal cultural structure, I enjoy writing short stories!
Ph.D. student | she/her
I am from central Illinois and I studied at Bradley University there, receiving a B.A. in English and a B.S. in Sociology. I came to Saint Louis University because American Studies is the perfect place for me to continue pursuing interdisciplinarity in my work. My current research interests include the intersection of historical records and physical objects, sociocultural aspects of storytelling, materiality, and feminism. Additionally, I love to try my hand at things that I’m studying (from calligraphy to lace making) to experience a bit of it myself and I also hope to explore the impacts of that practice.
Ph.D. candidate | she/her/hers
Dissertation working title: “American Godzilla”
With a B.F.A. in Theatre from Columbus State University and a year working for the Project Continua female biography project (now The New Historia), I came to the field of American Studies with a background in the arts and in public humanities. I earned my M.A. in American Studies along with a graduate certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from The George Washington University in 2017. My research interests include transnationalism, film studies, and the horror genre. Specifically, I study American remakes of foreign horror films and attend to the cultural exchanges and appropriations as well as American exceptionalisms and revisionisms present in these interchanges. I am also a member of the Graduate Public Humanities Working Group here at SLU, and a former American Studies ambassador to the SLU Graduate Student Association.
Ph.D. candidate | she/her/hers
Dissertation working title: “‘Church-School-State’”: Boarding Schools & Catholic Education in the 19th Century”
I’m a doctoral candidate from Cleveland by way of Buffalo, New York. I have an undergraduate degree in English, creative writing, and political science and a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs administration from Canisius College. I’m interested in 19th-century Catholicism, Native American history, and archival studies. My dissertation is focused on the intersections between Catholic schools for white students and Catholic schools for Indigenous students and what can be learned about empire, education, and citizenship by studying this history. When not talking about religious history, I can be found with a crossword, watching sports, or discussing the importance of teamwork.
I graduated from SLU in 2023 with my B.A. in American Studies and History and am excited to continue my education within this department. My main interests in undergrad included American death culture, how Americans cope with trauma induced by conflict (both internal and external), and how influential public memorialization is to the maintenance of public memory. My senior thesis focused on the Korean War Veterans Memorial and an analysis of its ability to hold and transmit memory of the Korean War to the American public. I look forward to further interrogating public memory sites and their influence on public interpretations of the past. I am also deeply interested in folk culture, spirituality, and storytelling as integral parts of maintaining public memory. So please share your ghost stories with me!
Kendyl M. Schmidt
Dissertation working title: “Overkill: Culture and Resistance to Anatomical Dissection in Antebellum America”
I am a doctoral student with a long and winding academic trajectory. After receiving my bachelor's degree in political science and master's in public administration, I spent several years working in health care before returning to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville for my master's in history. I came to Saint Louis University to pursue my research interests which include 19th-century death culture and the relationship between science/medicine, religion and death. I am fascinated by disease and society, my Hogwarts house is Ravenclaw, and my favorite dogs are Corgis.
Ph.D. student | she/her/hers
I am originally from New Jersey, having received both my B.A. in English and Creative Writing and my M.A. in English Literature from Seton Hall University, where I focused primarily on epistemology and genre conventions in the rise of the novel. My current research and teaching focus is on literary and popular culture portrayals of 20th-21st century wars and the U.S. military, with a particular interest in depictions of the War on Terror. I have also received a graduate minor in Women’s and Gender Studies here at SLU. Outside of school, you can usually find me at a movie theater or playing Dungeons & Dragons.
Born and raised in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, I graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison with bachelor’s degrees in history and political science, and with certificates in leadership and gender and women’s studies. I work at Saint Louis University as the program coordinator for the Center for Interpersonal Education and Research. I am interested in studying interpretation techniques at national parks and ways to connect local communities to historic sites. I am a founding member of the National Association for Interpretation’s Young Professional Council and am a Certified Interpretive Guide. I sit on the parish council of St. Francis Xavier (College) Church and am the parish liaison for the College Church Young Professionals organization. Previously, I was an interpretive park ranger at Gateway Arch National Park and taught for Disney English in Shanghai.