Prospective students interested in MUSE, and learning more about graduate study in MSU’s Department of English, are encouraged to consult our faculty’s bios and research projects.

Dr. Yomaira Figueroa

Assistant Professor, Global Diaspora Studies

Woman with brown and purple hair in a cream-colored sweater

Yomaira Figueroa works on 20th century U.S. Latinx Caribbean, Afro-Latinx, and Afro-Hispanic literature and culture. Her current book project, Decolonizing Diasporas: Radical Mappings of Afro-Atlantic Literature, focuses on diasporic and exilic Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, and Equatoguinean texts in contact. Framed with critical attention to decolonial thought, women of color feminisms, and feminist philosophy, the book complicates and enriches ongoing conversations and debates in Black/Latinx/Hispanophone studies through a sustained mediation on poetics and cultural productions.


Dr. Tamara Butler

Assistant Professor, African American and African Studies

Woman with black hair in a green shirt and rainbow scarf

Tamara T. Butler focuses on 20th and 21st century Black women’s narratives, Black Girl Literacies, and Black women’s activism connected to land and environment.  Her current book project, Rooted Literacies: Black Women’s Placemaking and Memory Work, is a study of place based Black feminist storytelling practices emerging from the Gullah-Geechee Corridor. Through a case study of Johns Island, the project documents Black women’s stories as sites of future imaginings of Black rural places.


Dr. Emery Petchauer

Associate Professor & Coordinator of English Education Program

Man with short brown hair and gray beard in a purple shirt

Emery Petchauer is an Associate Professor in the Department of English. He also holds a faculty appointment in the Department of Teacher Education and coordinates the secondary English education program. His research has focused on the aesthetic practices of urban arts, particularly hip-hop culture, and their connections to teaching, learning, and living. He is the author of Hip-Hop Culture in College Students’ Lives (Routledge, 2012), the first scholarly study of hip-hop culture on college campuses, and the co-editor of Schooling Hip-Hop: Expanding Hip-Hop Based Education Across the Curriculum (Teachers College Press, 2013). Nearly two decades of organizing and sustaining urban arts spaces across the United States inform this scholarly work.


Dr. Divya Victor

Assistant Professor, Creative Writing and 20th-Century and Contemporary Transnational Poetry and Poetics

Woman with short curly hair in a purple dress sitting at a desk with plants

Divya Victor is the author of KITH, a book of verse, prose memoir, lyric essay and visual objects; NATURAL SUBJECTS, UNSUB, and THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR MOUTH. Her chapbooks include Semblance and Hellocasts by Charles Reznikoff by Divya Victor by Vanessa Place. Her work has been collected in numerous venues, including, more recently, the New Museum’s The Animated Reader, Crux: Journal of Conceptual Writing, The Best American Experimental Writing, and boundary2. She has been a Mark Diamond Research Fellow at the U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum, a Riverrun Fellow at the Archive for New Poetry at University of California San Diego, and a Writer in Residence at the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibit (L.A.C.E.). Divya Victor is Assistant Professor of Poetry and Writing at Michigan State University and Guest Editor at Jacket2. She is currently at work on a project commissioned by the Press at Colorado College.


Dr. Lamar Johnson

Assistant Professor, English Education

Man with short black hair wearing gray suit and bowtie

Lamar Johnson is Assistant Professor of Language and Literacy for Linguistic and Racial Diversity in the Department of English at Michigan State University. He is interested in the complex intersections of race, language, literacy, and education and how English language arts (ELA) classrooms can become sites for racial justice. His current projects focus on the following questions: (1) How do Black lives matter within ELA classrooms? (2) How are white supremacy and anti-blackness re-inscribed through educators’ disciplinary discourses and pedagogical practices? and, (3) How can Critical Race English Education (CREE) be an analytic framework and methodological tool for literacy teacher educators of Color and teacher educators more broadly?


Dr. Zarena Aslami

Associate Professor, 19th-Century British Literature and Culture

Zarena Aslami’s research and teaching focus on nineteenth-century British literature and culture. Special areas of interest include empire, history and theory of the novel, feminism, psychoanalysis, and the digital humanities. Her current book project, Sovereign Anxieties: Victorian Afghanistan and the Literatures of Empire, continues this line of inquiry, examining the affective content of political forms in a transnational context. Broadly, a study of the British Empire, Sovereign Anxieties focuses on the case of Afghanistan, tracking how and why nineteenth-century British discourse cast it as vague and inassimilable. The project gathers Victorian representations, including military memoirs, photographs, and fiction, of the three Anglo-Afghan Wars (1839 to 1919) and pays particular attention to how the British imagined Afghan political authority.


Dr. Tamar Boyadijan

Assistant Professor, Medieval Literature

Tamar Boyadjian’s research and teaching interests focus on medieval literature and culture. Additional areas of specialization include Medieval English literature; Jerusalem in medieval literature; the crusades and crusading literature; Mediterranean studies; medieval theology and historiography; and literary intersections between Europe and the Middle East in the medieval period. She is also interested in Medievalism –particularly the expression of beliefs and practices of the Middle Ages in contemporary art, film, and pop culture.


Dr. Justus Nieland

Associate Chair, Graduate Studies, Department of English

Justus Nieland is the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies in the Department of English. His primary research interests include modernism, film and media studies, and contemporary fiction. Additional interests include theories of the affects and emotions, film and media theory, film noir, avant-garde and experimental cinema, modern architecture and design, and transnational modernisms. His most recent book, Happiness by Design: Modernism, Film, and Media in the Eames Era is forthcoming with the University of Minnesota Press in 2019.