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Spring 2022 FDM PhD Program Student News

Left to right: Katherine Isbister, Alessia Cecchet, Shelley Stamp, and Susana Ruiz prepare for the PhD hooding ceremony.  Alessia was one of eight PhD graduates this year.

Banner Year For PhD Program

The FDM PhD program celebrated a banner year with eight completions in 2022-23:

  • Alessia Cecchet successfully defended her dissertation entitled Eating and Resurrecting the Goats: Animal Bodies, Death, and Western Culture, which included three animations.  Alessia's committee consisted of Professors Soraya Murray (as chair) Shelley Stamp, Katherine Isbister, and Susana Ruiz.  Alessia also presented her work at the Digital Scholarship Symposium in May.

  • Kiki Loveday passed her dissertation defense with her work entitled: Sapphic Cinemania!  Female Authorship, Queer Desires and the Birth of Cinema.  Her committee members included Shelley Stamp, Jenny Horne, Rick Prelinger, Yiman Wang and Patricia White.

  • Karl Mendonca completed his PhD back in fall with dissertation entitled, Programming the Intermission: A Procedural History of Cinema and Computation.  This was accepted by Professor Warren Sack, dissertation chair, and committee members Professor Anjali Arondekar and Professor Kavita Philip.

  • Ryan Page completed his PhD with a dissertation entitled Simulated Mediation: A Sonic History of Mediation, Affect and Digital Aesthetics.  Committee members included Soraya Murray, Anna Friz, and David Dunn.  Ryan will move on to a position at the Berklee College of Music.  He will be Assistant Professor of Sound Design, and his new departmental home is Electronic Production and Design.

  • Ebadur Rahman is now a PhD graduate, with a dissertation entitled Native Motion Picture Karma: South Asian Foundations of Modernism and Sensuous Knowledge Production Contra Eurouniversalist Practices.  Ebad’s committee consisted of Professors Soraya Murray, Rick Prelinger, Derek Conrad Murray.  In addition, Ebad has published his essay, "Dakini Sutra" in the exhibition catalog for Reading The Earth at the State Gallery of Lower Austria in Krems.  He will present a body of a scientific-artistic research as part of a project called Contemporary Prehistories: The Dissident Goddesses network—authored by Academy of Fine Arts Vienna in association with Forum Morgen.  The book/catalog was published at:

  • Casondra Sobieralski completed her PhD with an expansive theory-praxis work included a written dissertation titled Cult and Copper: Intra-Actions From the Bronze Age to A-Life, and a VR game titled Cult and Copper.  Her committee included Susana Ruiz as chair, Elaine Sullivan, and Anna Friz.  Casondra also presented her work at the Digital Scholarship Symposium in May.

  • Elia Vargas has successfully completed his PhD with a dissertation entitled: Refiguring Oil and/as Media: Field Notes for Future Petropractices.  His committee included Soraya Murray, T.J. Demos, Karen Barad, and Warren Sack.

  • Rolando Vargas successfully defended his dissertation entitled: Kuna Indigenous Media and Knowledge in the Darién. Rolando’s dissertation chair was Professor Sharon Daniel. Professors Anna Friz and Guillermo Delgado-P composed the Dissertation Reading Committee. Rolando’s project focused on the politics of traversal and terrain, mapping and survival, and the geographies of collective labor and will as modes of indigenous resistance


Current students are not far behind with notable accomplishments of their own:

  • The department had a strong representation at the annual SCMS conference with Hahkyung Darline Kim's essay “This Is Korea, the Film Lecture: American Visualizations of the Korean War in Translation," received Honorable Mention in this year's competition for the Jonathan Kahana Graduate Student Writing Award in Documentary Studies. The award is juried and awarded in the Documentary Studies Scholarly Interest Group annually. ​
  • Student participation at SCMS also included but was not limited to Marilia Kaisar presenting a paper entitled Bluetooth Orgasms. Marilia Kaisar has been awarded an NEH Humanizing Technology Teaching Fellowship to join an instructional team and to develop a course on Ethics and Technology. At SCMS Yulia Gilichinskaya talked about her project Upsettler and the Palestinian cost of Jewish Birthright to Israel.  Yulia Gilichinskaya has also been awarded a one-quarter Dissertation Year Fellowship for her dissertation project, Geographies of Settler Innocence.
  • Raed Rafei has been awarded a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship for 2022.  There were 800 applicants for this fellowship with only 50 selected, so it is an honor and a testament to his work.  Raed also just had new article published in the prestigious e-flux journal, Pasolini and the Queer Revolution in Beirut. This is a beautifully written and lavishly illustrated article that experiments with speculative and theoretical writing to think about Pasolini's legacies. 
  • Yasmine Benabdallah just had a podcast published on Screen Worlds, a European Research Council-funded project based at SOAS University of London. The podcast, Decolonising The Moroccan Archive, by Yasmine Benabdallah & Rim Mejdi is an intimate account of the conditions of history/ies’ erasure and dispossession perpetuated by the ongoing fabrication of a missing or inaccessible archives.

  • Laimir Fano has accepted a tenure-track job at Boston College in Film Studies!

  • Dorothy Santos has been awarded the President's Dissertation Year Fellowship for her dissertation project, Sonic Futures: Assistive Technologies, Gendered Labor, and the Colonization of Voice.  In addition, Dorothy also served as an editor for the successful Insidious Rising project at Hyphen-Labs.  
  • Ksenia Fir was nominated for the National Humanities Center 2022 Graduate Student Summer Program.
  • Lior Shamriz’s new film, Estuaries, will have its premiere at Frameline this year.
  • Last but certainly not least, PhD student Mahshid Modares's film Sanctions on the Sky, her thesis project from when she was in our Social Documentation MFA program, was nominated for a Webby Award for Best Student Video of 2022.

Congratulations to all our students and new alums!