Get to know the graduate students in the CRS program at Syracuse University!

MariannMariann Fant

Mariann Fant joins CRS from Indiana; having graduated from Ball State University with a degree in Public Communication Studies. Having competed in forensic speaking for seven years, she has been pleased to teach Presentational Speaking and continue working with Syracuse undergraduates on developing their public speaking and speech crafting skills. Her research interests are varied, but she predominantly works in the areas of queer theory, affect theory, and Performance Studies. Specifically, she is interested in the identity construction, and policing of middle identities with a focus on multiracial identities. Additionally, her graduate thesis project is interested in discerning affective and performative ways of doing environmentalism and developing ethical consciousness in the Anthropocene and contemporary ecological destruction. 

She looks forward to presenting her paper, “Foucauldian Ethics of the Self: Genevieve Gaignard’s Multi-Racial Navigation of the Racial Paradox” and serving as a member of the panel, “Access to Advocacy” at the 2019 NCA Convention this November. Outside of the classroom, Mariann is a proud part of graduate worker unionization efforts and hopes to aid in seeing the establishment of such a union at Syracuse University.

Nicole TanquaryNicole Tanquary

Born and raised in the Syracuse area, Nicole moved away to complete a Bachelor’s degree at Hobart & William Smith Colleges in 2017, majoring in Writing & Rhetoric with a focus in theory, and minoring in Studio Art, Geoscience, and writing/teaching pedagogy. Following the Bachelor’s degree, she moved back to the Syracuse area and began working at SU in the Stevenson Tutoring Center for Student Athletes. From there Nicole enrolled in the Master’s program in Communication and Rhetorical Studies, and have been working happily as both a student and a teaching assistant ever since.

She is interested in political communication, particularly interactive political performances and how participants can potentially engage in resistive practices against the enactment of discriminatory logics. My thesis will focus on Donald Trump’s domestic solo press conferences and how Trump and journalists interact/react to one another within this setting, discursively constructing their relationship and, for some journalists, engaging in resistance. I also enjoy studying rhetorical criticism, “monstrosity,” and rhetorical enactments of discrimination.


  • “Journalists versus President Trump? Positioning in the Trump/Media Conflict.” Will present this paper at the 9th annual Language and Social Interaction (LANSI) conference at Columbia University in mid-October, 2019.
  • “Book Review: The Migration and Politics of Monsters in Latin America Cinema.” Writing and editing for publication in The Quarterly Journal of Speech.
  • “The Power-Play: A Case Studies in Political Confrontations with Power Disparities” published in Queen City Writers (out of the University of Cincinnati), issue 5 number 2.
  • 28 total publications of short works of creative writing in the genres of fantasy, science fiction and horror.

NatalieNatalie Weathers

As a young woman born and raised in Chicago, college-educated in Iowa, and currently residing in Syracuse, I’ve developed a fascination for experiences and the influence they have on our identities. Chicago’s metropolis shaped my love for travel; Iowa’s homogenous population developed my appreciation for cultural diversity; and Syracuse has provided space to explore the legacy I wish to leave behind. My research interests primarily reside in Pan-African rhetoric and Black American pride; but new areas of interest include critical discourse analysis and theory defining “truth” and perspective taking.


Courtney DreyerCourtney Dreyer

Courtney Dreyer is a second year in the CRS program, hailing from Grand Rapids, Michigan. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and English from Western Michigan University. In the past she has worked as a research assistant in a psych lab, grant writer, film editor, and middle school teacher. When she’s not busy being a graduate student, she enjoys watching movies, playing video games, reading, and organizing her many Pinterest boards. She also loves spending time with her two cats and her friends’ many dogs and other furry friends.

Research Interests

Rhetoric of media and film, film industries, popular culture discourse, representations of identity, religion, horror and monstrosity, and affect theory

Presentations/Publications/Activist work 

  • Contributions from Theater, Film, & New-Media Studies, Scholar-to-Scholar, presented at National Communication Association 2019 Convention, Baltimore, MD, 14-17 Nov 2019
  • “A Sympathetic Witch: Affective Criticism of the Monstrous-Feminine in The Witch (2015).” Presented at Fear 2000, Sheffield-Hallam University, Sheffield, UK, 1-2 June 2019
  • “Promoting, Supporting, and Managing Group Work.” Presented at FPP Annual Conference, Syracuse University, Hamilton, NY, 16-17 May 2019
  • Camp Rhetoric, hosted by the Department of Communication Arts & Sciences, at The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA; 29-30 March 2019
  • Rhetoric Society of America Undergraduate Research Network; Minneapolis, MN; 2 June 2018
  • “Creating Paranoia: A Rhetorical Trailer Analysis.” Paper Presented at Sigma Tau Delta International Convention; Cincinnati, OH; 22 March 2018

JoshJosh Ratel-Khan

Josh is from Chesterton, Indiana and received their bachelor’s degree in Public Communication and Political Science at Ball State University.  They are interested in how dominant structures explains transgender identities and how that differs from how trans people explain their own identities, especially as this pertains to indigenous individuals whose gender expression and identity do not fit into Western understandings of gender. 

Through their research, they have found themselves to be interested in Queer Marxism, Decolonial Studies, Social Movements, and Transgender Liberation. They currently organize with Syracuse Graduate Employees United, which works to unionize graduate student employees to fight against exploitation and for better working conditions.

Nyasha MakazaNyasha

I am originally from Zimbabwe and I recently completed my undergraduate studies at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Outside of school, my interests include writing, creating art, listening to music, and traveling. 

My research interests include postcolonial feminism and post-colonial political movements in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Past Publications

  • “Still Not Your Negro: Recovering James Baldwin’s Challenges to Big Het Lies” by Nya Makaza in the Spring 2018 publication of the Drake University Social Science Journal.

Panel Presentations

  1. Back to Gilead’s Post-racial Future: Postcolonial Critiques of White Feminist Dystopia in the Handmaid’s Tale.  Rhetoric Society of America Biennial Conference. 2018. Minnesota.
  2. Shaping the Cultural Eye: Transformative Depictions of Black Figures in New Film andTelevision. National Communication Association Annual Convention. 2017. Texas.

I am also presenting on a panel at the 2019 National Communication Association Annual Convention.

Amanda BoyleAmanda Boyle

Amanda was born in Syracuse and is a lifelong resident of Central New York. She attended community college before transferring to Ithaca College where she double majored in History and Writing. In her free time, she enjoys running, audiobooks, and Star Trek.  

Research Interests

  • Postcolonialism and decolonial studies
  • Women, gender, and sexuality studies
  • Feminist theory
  • Rhetoric of health, wellness, and medicine
  • Literary culture and literary citizenship
  • Study abroad culture

SamSam Blakley

Sam is a first year Master’s student in Communication and Rhetorical Studies. His research explores queerness, identity construction, and performance. He is interested in performance studies, queer rhetorics, and affect. Originally from North Carolina, Sam received his degree in Mathematics and Integrated studies emphasizing journalism and political science from Brevard College in Brevard, North Carolina. Sam is a member of Syracuse Graduate Employees United and represents the department as a Graduate Student Organization’s senator from CRS.

LucasLucas Hann

Lucas is a second-year Master’s student in Communication and Rhetorical Studies.  His research examines race, identity construction, and whiteness in the United States.  He is particularly interested in how meaning is communicated through space and design in the places we live and work.  Originally from Los Angeles, California, Lucas received his Bachelor’s degree in Government and Politics from St. John’s University in Queens, New York, with a minor in Rhetoric and Public Address.  Lucas is a member of Syracuse Graduate Employees United’s Organizing Committee, working to improve working conditions and unionize graduate workers at SU. He also represents the department as the Graduate Student Organization’s senator from CRS.

Work Presented at Conferences

  • Hann, Lucas J.  “The “How” of White Supremacy: Narrative Identification and White Victimhood.”  Nov. 14, 2019. National Communication Association 105th Annual Convention. Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Hann, Lucas J. “Militarizing the Police Function: How Neoliberal Discourse Changed Our Relationship to the Police.”  Nov. 16, 2019. National Communication Association 105th Annual Convention. Baltimore, Maryland.

Alex BrethAlexander Breth

Alexander Breth is a second-year student in the CRS program. Originally from Hatfield, Pennsylvania (an almost unheard town outside of Philadelphia), he received his B.A. in English: Writings with a concentration in visual theory and digital media from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. He is a photographer, cover designer and would-be performance artist.

Reinforced by this practical approach, Alexander’s research interests lie in performance studies, curation, food studies, and visual culture. His current project focuses on the usage of food photography in building digital identity. 

Recent Publications and Projects


  • (work-in-progress)Installation art/Devised multimedia performance. Nom-Sequiturs: An exploration of food and digital identity. Created and performed by Alexander Breth, as part of the thesis project “Your Image is Served! Food Photography and the Performance of Digital Identity on Instagram.” Anticipated Spring 2020.
  • Cannarella, Jane-Rebecca. Better Bones. Thirty West Publishing House. 30 August 2019. (cover design)
  • Peters, Charnell. Un-Becoming. Thirty West Publishing House. 20 September 2018. (cover design)                                                                                                                


  • Breth, Alexander. “A Review of Queer: A Graphic History”. enculturation: a journal of rhetoric, writing, and culture. (TBA)
  • Breth, Alexander. “The Audience of Tourists: Spoken Poetry and Accessibility of the Past”. The Weekly Degree. 19 May 2019.

Cara HardmanCara

Cara Hardman is a first year graduate student and a teaching assistant. Originally from New Jersey, she attended Cumberland County College for the first two years of my undergrad, earning an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts/Spanish before transferring to Rowan University. Cara graduated from Rowan University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. Outside of course work, She enjoys watching television and movies (primarily Disney and Harry Potter), coloring is one of my favorite ways to relax, and I enjoy spending time with my family, friends, and dog whenever possible.

My research interests are primarily centered around gender. More specifically, I like to analyze representations of masculinity and femininity throughout popular culture (especially in Disney films). In addition, I have recently become more interested in exploring the perception of the female body in public space(s).

Publications and Presentations

  • Hardman, Cara. “Part of His World: A Feminist Examination of Hierarchy and Masculinity in The Little Mermaid.” April 11, 2019. James C. McCroskey and Virginia P. Richmond Undergraduate Scholars Conference. Providence, Rhode Island.

MegMeagan Bojarski

Meg is a first-year student in CRS. Her research interests are public memory, constructions of race in popular culture, and international communications. Her work analyzes both overt representations of history (museums, monuments, etc) and more implicit versions (film, games, etc.). Originally from Lawrenceville, GA, Meg received her bachelor’s degree in History (concentration in Public History) from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, with minors in English and Ancient and Medieval Studies.

Presentations/Publications/Activist Work 

I have submitted a presentation on public forgiveness to the Southern States Communication Association Conference, and am in the process of working with Dr. John Saunders (University of Alabama in Huntsville) to prepare a paper examining the rhetorical construction of memory surrounding Nathan Bedford Forrest in Memphis, TN for publication.

Former Conference Presentations

  • Bojarski, Meagan and John Saunders. “Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Crisis of Identity: Controversy Over Conflicted Personas as Represented in a Memphis Statue.” April 6, 2019. Southern States Communication Association Conference. Birmingham, Alabama.
  • Bojarski, Meagan. “Becoming a Queen: A Feminist Reading of Rumpelstiltskin.” February 2, 2019. Mississippi Communication Association Conference. Jackson, Mississippi.
  • Bojarski, Meagan. “Dungeons and Distortions: Misconstructions of Druidism in Dungeons and Dragons.” April 11, 2019. National Conference on Undergraduate Research. Kennesaw, Georgia.