Nicole Gervasio

Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature
Columbia University

Nicole Gervasio is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature. Her research emphasizes intersections between contemporary postcolonial literature from Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and South Asia and women's, gender, and sexuality studies. Her work focuses on the politics of representing violence from the perspectives of women writers and exiles who disidentify with ongoing state-sponsored political repression in their countries of origin. Her dissertation is on the ethical problems of representing systemic violence during eras of military dictatorship, civil war, and genocide. She examines how histories of systemic violence provoke postcolonial writers to puzzle out ethical strategies for representing traumatic absences-- victims, stories, and events that are missing from dominant narratives in the aftermath of mass killings, forced disappearances, and ethnic cleansing. She owes much of her thinking to her affiliations with Columbia's Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality, where she served as a 2014-15 Graduate Fellow and teaching assistant, and Center for the Study of Social Difference, where she has been invited to participate in two transnational faculty working groups, Women Mobilizing Memory and Reframing Gendered Violence.

As a Javits ScholarBeinecke ScholarMellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, and Institute for Recruitment of Teachers Associate, Nicole complements her work as a feminist scholar at Columbia with civic engagement in New York City. Her public humanities projects reify her commitment to eradicating disparities in higher education for other first-generation college students. She is currently a facilitator and former mentor at Girls Write Now, an arts education nonprofit that empowers young women through creative writing and college admissions counseling. As a Public Humanities Fellow with Humanities New York, she has founded a city-wide, diversity-based literacy project that fosters a love of reading among public high school students each summer. At the Kaleidoscope Project, students gain access to non-Western literature that speaks directly to the marginalized experiences of immigrants, students of color, women, and LGBTQI-identified youth. 
An avid educator, Nicole has taught both university and underrepresented populations across the U.S. She has taught creative and academic writing at the Student Press Initiative at Teachers College826 ValenciaCitizen Schools, Greater Philadelphia Cares, and the Teaching & Learning Initiative at Bryn Mawr College. At Barnard College and Columbia University, she has been the instructor of record for courses on the classics, composition, and literary texts and critical methods. A course of her own design, "Human Rights in World Literature and Visual Culture," won the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Teaching Scholars competition and has run for the last two summers. Most recently, she received the Core Preceptor Meyerson Award for Teaching Excellence in recognition of her work as a Literature Humanities preceptor in Columbia's Core Curriculum. She received her B.A. in English and Growth & Structure of Cities with concentrations in creative writing and Africana studies in 2010.