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Graduate Students

Chiraz Amani is a second-year M.A. student in French. She was born in Algeria and has a B.A. in French education and an M.A. in Didactics of French Foreign and Secondary Language from the École Normale Supérieure of Algiers. After three years of teaching in a public high school in Algiers, she was hired in 2020 through CODOFIL as a French teacher in Lafourche parish. She also worked at the Alliance Française de la Nouvelle-Orléans for two years. She's a singer, a theatre comedian, and she likes to write poetry and songs. She's interested in North African culture and literature.
John Ashburn

My name is John Ashburn (ABD) and I am a PhD student and Graduate Teaching Assistant here at UL. I’m originally from Northeast Tennessee, and I completed my undergraduate studies in French & Spanish at Belmont University in Nashville. I’ve been in Lafayette since 2018 working on my Masters of French. I’m primarily interested in spoken & written language as it relates to identity, both individual & communal, particularly within queer, non-normative & non-binary groups of gender & sexual expression.

Morgan Beard is a first-year PhD student and Graduate Assistant in the Francophone Studies program. He is originally from Yellow Springs, Ohio, and holds a B.A. in French and a B.S. in Journalism, both from Ohio University. His undergraduate thesis, titled “La Satire Politique et la Liberté de la Presse au 19e Siècle,” covers the early development of political cartoons in France. He has spent time living in Belgium, France, and Tunisia. After two years working as a local newspaper reporter on Massachusetts’ South Coast, he enrolled at UL to further his studies of French language and culture with a focus on political satire and the press.

Katarina Brankovic is a Ph.D. student and Graduate Teaching Assistant at UL. Her research interests include biopolitics, phenomenology, disability, and postcolonial studies. In her dissertation, she analyses the role of prosthesis in the (de)construction of the ontology of body in 21st century French literature.

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Kyezie Bwanangela Kyezie Bwanangela is a Ph.D. student in Francophone Studies and a Graduate Teaching Assistant. He holds an M.A. in French and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice. He has a passion for teaching, research, and community engagement in the field of Francophone Sub-Saharan African Literature studies and Politics.
Throughout his career, he has had the privilege of working on numerous projects such as the McNair Summer Research Program, where he gained hands-on experience in research and publication at Grand Valley State University. Additionally, he was honored to receive the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Award for his work in promoting diversity and inclusion in the community at Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan.
His professional journey is grounded in his values of social justice, equity, and the decolonization of knowledge. As a teaching assistant, he aims to create a collaborative and inclusive learning environment that fosters intellectual curiosity and linguistic proficiency. His dissertation project on "Crime, Punishment, and Dehumanization during the Colonial Period in the Congo Free State, as Depicted in the Film and Book King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild," utilizes a postcolonial and critical race theory framework to examine the complexities of colonialism and its enduring legacies.
His career goal is to continue to contribute to ongoing discussions on the decolonization of knowledge and the importance of centering the voices and experiences of marginalized communities in scholarly work. He is excited to connect with others who share his values and passions and who are interested in exploring the intersections of power, culture, and identity in the colonial history of Africa.

Bhynty Charif is a first-year PhD student in Francophone Studies. She is French from Comoros and Madagascar. Passionate about literature, she first obtained a degree in French Literature at the Université de Paris-Est-Marne-La-Vallée. Her interest in Francophone culture and her desire to share the French language then led her to obtain a Master's degree with a specialization in language acquisition pegagogy (Université de Grenoble) and FLE (French as a foreign language) (Université d'Artois). Her professional career as a teacher of French as a Foreign Language spans almost 15 years in France and abroad (Africa), within the Alliances Françaises, Institut Francais, middle schools, and universities (Paris IV), in different socio-cultural contexts and learning communities (children, adolescents, adults, migrants). Based in Louisiana since 2014, Bhynty teaches in Saint Martin Parish, at Parks Middle School, in the heart of Cajun and Creole country. As a fervent defender of linguistic and cultural diversity, she is involved in numerous associations, particularly within the community of young French people with origins in Comoros in Paris as a cultural manager and newspaper editor. As a board member of the Alliance Française de Lafayette, she actively participated in the promotion of French-speaking culture in the parish. Today, she is part of the Union des Africans Francophones de Louisiane which promotes African culture in Louisiana. 
Louise Dalbudak (first-year PhD student): Coming from an atypical career with bifurcations, I had the opportunity to join the Francophone Studies program at UL Lafayette to perfect my knowledge in French literature.Being motivated from an early age to learn about different cultures, I began my university career with a bachelor degree in Geography that I obtained in my hometown of Bordeaux. I also have a bachelor’s degree in Literature, Language and Civilization & International Relations that I obtained in Paris. Both of these degree programs gave me insight into the close relations that States are able to maintain, and the common culture that these exchanges generated, after decades of complicity. My interest in children's literature and my passion for transmitting knowledge, led me to achieve Master’s degree in Education and Instruction. I worked as a teacher for 5 years in France and am currently teaching in New Iberia in conjunction with CODOFIL.
Sarah Djos-Raph (ABD) (née Denslow) (she/her) is a mother, a wife, a philanthropist, a friend, and a Ph.D. candidate in Francophone Studies and graduate teaching assistant in French. Originally from Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, she holds a B.A. in International Affairs with a concentration in Women’s Studies and a B.A. in French from The University of Maine. Additionally, she holds a M.A. in French from The University of Louisiana at Lafayette. As an American-Beninese dual citizen, her dissertation centers around feminine figures and sorority in contemporary Beninese literature written by women Beninese writers, and her research interests include West African nationalism, identity, and diaspora. Sarah has previously served as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student, Fulbright Canada Killam Fellow, and Peace Corps Volunteer, and she is a current Rotarian and runs a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of youth.

Léa Fougerolle is a third-year Ph.D. student (ABD) in the department. Born in Langres, France, she initially graduated from the Université de Lorraine in Nancy, where she earned a B.A. in Cultural Studies (2014-2017). She then spent three years at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris, obtaining an M.A. in Social Sciences with a major in Sociology (2017-2020) by writing two theses with the guidance of Cyril Lemieux (LIER-FYT). In 2019, she relocated to the Philadelphia area and served as a Fulbright Foreign Language Assistant at Ursinus College for one year. Following a transitional year spent between Belgrade and Novi Sad in Serbia, she returned to the U.S. and eventually settled in Lafayette to join the department.

She is now a Doctoral Fellow in the program and is conducting research on sensory experiences within a corpus of 20th and 21st-century Francophone poetry. For now, her dissertation is titled "Faire corps. Écriture du sensible et (éco)poétique de l’écriture dans les œuvres d’Eugène Savitzkaya, Matthieu Messagier, Liliane Giraudon, Suzanne Doppelt et Pierre Alféri (1970-2010)." and combines two of the fields that Léa is the most interested in: sensory and poetry studies. On the side, she is also a former Editorial Assistant of Études Francophones, and a regular contributing editor for Venti Journal in Chicago. Her multitude of interests encompass modernist and contemporary literature, the exploration of how social changes and ecological issues can be addressed through literature, visual studies (primarily photography), as well as everything olfaction and nose-related. Finally, she also has a strong inclination toward translation studies and is actively involved in creating a small journal that could host French and American poetry in translation.


Emma Hartlet Emma Harlet (ABD) is currently completing a joint-supervised Ph.D. dissertation (cotutelle) in Francophone Studies at UL Lafayette and in Anglophone Studies at the Université Bordeaux-Montaigne in France. She grew up in the north of France where she received a Licence and Master's degree in American History and Literature at the Université Catholique de Lille.

For her Master’s thesis she studied the French heritage of Louisiana in the late 20th century. In her research, she seeks to illuminate and better understand Louisiana’s deep and complex culture, and her dissertation focuses on the concept of creoleness in the work of francophone and anglophone female writers from the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Camille Harrington of Cow Island, Louisiana, is a first-year M.A. student and a recent graduate of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she earned her B.A. in French, with minors in both Cajun and Creole Studies and Anthropology. Camille’s interests are centered around cultural preservation and development in Louisiana, with a focus on sociolinguistics and Cajun and Creole folkways. She is currently assisting at the Center for Louisiana Studies, combining her experience in French and francophone studies with her interest in public history and public humanities.
Colby LeJeune is a first-year French M.A. student from L’Anse LeJeune, a rural community in Acadia Parish, Louisiana. He earned a B.S. in Linguistics and in Geology from Tulane University before going on to spend several years working in rice cultivation and research. Colby is a current board member of the Cajun Prairie Habitat Preservation Society, which aims to conserve Southwestern Louisiana’s indigenous grassland ecosystems, and much of his research interests lie in the confluence of the human and the natural in the region, especially the folk taxonomy, animal and plant names, and ethnobotany of the Louisiana French. He is also interested in other aspects of both space and place, principally toponymy and the classification of landforms, and their relation to other spheres of culture, such as music. Phonological, morphological, and other variation in Louisiana French and Creole language varieties round out his research interests.
Lucas Lezian Lucas Lezian (ABD) is a Ph.D candidate and Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Francophone Studies. He holds a licence in Modern Languages (English and Italian) and a Masters degree in Political Science from the University of Toulon, French Riviera. Since the beginning of his academic journey, he has been involved in his programs' activities. In France, he served as student representative for four years. In 2019, he joined the editorial board of UL Lafayette’s literary journal Feux Follets. Among his interests are fantasy and sci-fi literature, time-related features and the way they are depicted in literature, as well as the study of literary spaces, aesthetics, and pathos as a means of rhetorics. He will be conducting research on a French graphic novels series entitled Donjon for his dissertation.
Rodrigo Munhoz is a Ph.D. student in Francophone Studies and a Graduate Assistant at UL. He holds degrees in Languages and Literature (Portuguese and French) from the Universidade Estadual de Londrina (UEL) in Brazil and and the Erasmus Mundus Master's degree (2011) in "Media Engineering for Education'' from Université de Poitiers (France), Universidad de Educación a Distáncia de Madrid (Spain) and Universidade Técnica de Lisboa (Portugal). He was a collaborating professor in the French language section of the Department of Modern Foreign Languages at UEL. He also worked at the UEL Language Laboratory as a teacher of French and Portuguese. He is an official evaluator of the Celpe-Bras, certificate in Portuguese as a foreign language. He was also a French teacher in public education in the state of Paraná, Brazil. He was a volunteer of the educational radio station UEL FM, producing and presenting the weekly show of songs in French "Les Belles Chansons" and also manages his own channel on Youtube "Francês Total", dedicated to the teaching of French. He has experience in the field of languages, with an emphasis on modern languages teaching and the use of technology in education.
Pierre-Olivier Pire is a second year PhD student and Graduate Teaching Assistant from Belgium in the Francophone Studies program. He holds a B.A. in French education (2017) from the École Normale Catholique du Brabant Wallon and graduated in 2020 with a M.A. in Langues et littératures françaises et romanes (French and Italian) from the Université Catholique de Louvain. His master’s thesis “Le courant de la négritude : embargo sur le Congo?” focuses on francophone literary production in Congo during and after the colonization.

After a year working in a bookstore and teaching undergraduate classes in a small university in Brussels, he joined the Francophone Studies program to continue his research. In his dissertation research, Pierre-Olivier compares the use of foreign languages, diglossia, and accents in Belgian and Congolese francophone literary productions.

Pierre-Olivier has already published an article “La littérature du Congo (belge). L’éternelle oubliée” in Francophonie vivante (2020-21) and a book chapter, “Une langue peut en cacher une autre : les particularités du tissage diglossique dans Madame Orpha de Marie Gevers” (forthcoming in January 2023).


Jean-Sylvain Prétat is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Francophone Studies program and Editiorial Assistant of Études Francophones  journal. He was born in Aubervilliers. He first graduated from Sorbonne Université in Paris, earning a Masters degree in Philology, specialized in the 19th century. He then founded and opened a literary cabaret (2016-2023) in the Latin Quarter of Paris, rue du Cardinal Lemoine : L’Eurydice. In his Cabaret, he created a gazette, had a salon, made literaries games, declamed poetry on stage every week, frequented the bonne société of Paris, writers, philosophers, students from the best schools of France. He was a member of the jury of the Absinthiades and created his own absinthe recipe that he started selling a few years later. He was known to have a restless soul, traveling extensively on three continents, every month for about 80 countries visited. Most of his time was spent in the former USSR or the Carribeans islands, having a passion for the Russian langage and literature and Creole. During the COVID crisis, he was in Tanzania and Ukraine where he wrote a play and for the 2022-2023 school year and was a student at the Institut Catholique, studying biblical Greek, biblical Hebrew, biblical Coptic with a focus on the scriptures. He has also published four books, among Les Rires de Samyaza (poetry), La Voleuse d’étoiles (tales), Anthologie de la poésie romantique with Unicité publishing. He is kind.
Esteban A. Quispe is a first-year student in the Masters in French program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Prior to his graduate studies, he served as a TAPIF Language Assistant for two consecutive school years in Avignon and Paris, France. His research interests include the aspects of folklore, poetics, literary contexts, transmission, and development of Franco-Louisiana ballads.

Emily Sawin

Emily Sawin (ABD) is a Ph.D. candidate in Francophone Studies and Graduate Fellow. She is originally from Udonthani, Thailand. She holds a B.A. and a M.A. in French from the University of Mississippi. Her Master's thesis focuses on the influence of the Industrial Revolution on Nineteenth-Century French literary and artistic movements. She is working in the field of Việt Kiều Cultural Production in post-migratory postcolonial context. Her dissertation focuses on minority representation by Việt Kiều writers, cartoonists, and filmmakers, including Anna Moï, Doan Bui, Mihn Tran Huy, Clément Baloup, and Stéphane Ly-Cuong. Her academic interests include postcolonial studies, identity, immigration, postmemory, multidirectional memory, feminism, food studies, and cultural studies. She is currently working on a book chapter “Dwelling in the memory palace: cultural identity, counter-memory, and storytelling in Anna Moï’s Douze palas de mémoire” in Dwelling: cultural representation of inhabited spaces book series (forthcoming with Cultural Literacy Everywhere in Fall 2024).