Current Students

Current Students

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese is proud to have the following students enrolled in its graduate program:

M.A. Students


Sarah Elizabeth Crilly

Daniela Marcela Maldonado Castaneda
I hold a B.A. in Literature with a minor in Art History from Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá, Colombia), where I graduated Magna Cum Laude. I am interested in the wisdom literature in the Middle Ages. Specifically, I am interested in the collections of framed stories. I have been studying the sense of the advice in these tales and the possible didactic meaning of these books.

Maylin Ortega Zulueta
"I only see love through my eyes." Maylin Ortega Zulueta  BAMus, BEd.
After 22 years dedicated to music education, performance, and songwriting, I am pursuing a new challenge in the Spanish and Portuguese Department. The first artistic thing I ever wrote was a poem, and the first taste of enjoying my writing comes from my compositions at elementary school. During my undergrad, I took a creative writing course with professor Marta Batiz, that ignited this immense curiosity I presently have about Literature, which has always being a floating passion. Moving to Canada has taken me through amazing learning paths that I had never imagined of. From doing customer service in the food industry, to teaching fitness instruction. After such a long journey, It is time to come back home. I have found my shelter at last in the Spanish and Portuguese Department at U of T, with my native language, and my culture. I am interested in researching about the experiences of Latin American immigrant women in Toronto. I am eager to voice our struggles, and strategies to overcome barriers of the 21st Century, still male dominated, society. I feel grateful having the opportunity of a new beginning with the MA program, developing into a PhD, and unleashing the Spanish writer that lives in me.

Jesus Alberto Porras Vielma

Josette Rosenzweig Espinal
I am a Mexican-Canadian, born and raised in Mexico City. I received my BA as Specialist in Spanish at the University of Toronto and currently I am pursuing a Master´s Degree in Hispanic Literatures and Cultures. I am passionate about Arts in general and I have a special interest in creative writing, cinema, and the study of Hispanic American literature.

Alejandro Javier Soifer
I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1983. I did my undergraduate studies on Latin American and Argentinian Literature and Spanish and Literature Teaching at the Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA). After graduation I worked for seven years as a High-School teacher. At the same time I worked as a cultural freelance journalist and wrote and published five books, two works of non-fiction: Los Lubavitch en la Argentina (Sudamericana, 2010), Que la fuerza te acompañe (Marea Editorial, 2012) and three novels: Rituales de sangre (Penguin Random House, 2014), Rituales de lágrimas (Penguin Random House, 2015) and Sangre por la herida (AS Ediciones, 2017). I am currently doing my M.A. in Hispanic Studies and intend to enter a PhD program next year. My area of interest is representations of violence in popular and massive Latin American literature from 1990 up to today.


Ph.D. Students


Yadira Álvarez López

Oleksiy Babych

Oleksiy Babych
Oleksiy Babych is completing his PhD at the University of Toronto, Department of Spanish and Portuguese. His primary research interest is contemporary Spanish Peninsular novel. Oleksiy is planning to defend his dissertation on Literatures of Economic Crisis of 2008 in Spain. His other research interests include relations between cinema and literature (cinematic impact on artistic texts) and neoruralism in the Literature of Spain. Previously Oleksiy Babych was awarded the Fulbright Scholarship from the US Department of State (2007) and MAE-AECI research scholarship from the government of Spain (2006). Also Oleksiy contributed to the International Research Project “I + D” The Myth of Don Quixote in Eastern Europe funded by the European Union (2008-2012).

Lisa Bellstedt

Agnieszka (Agnes) Bijos
Testimonial literature, subversive narratives, literature of exile. Cultural theory; memory studies; (theory of) translation.
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Veronika Brejkaln
My scholarly interests have always stemmed from a personal desire to reconcile the influence of everyday politics with issues of culture, identity and beyond. Throughout my studies, I have come to believe that literature has the power to offer a truer and more complete version of reality than traditional political texts. As such, the aim of my PhD is to explore this theory by examining Latin American fiction as a tangible political tool, while demonstrating the ways in which it can simultaneously serve to reflect or subvert political attitudes and events. Ultimately, I hope to offer insight to the extent of the inseparability that exists between literature and politics and to discern between different representations of truth through writing.

Manuel Campirano
For several years and before he turned to the study of literature, Manuel worked as a journalist and translator for various news agencies and media outlets in Mexico City, including Excélsior and United Press International (UPI). He received a B.A. in English and Spanish literatures from Dalhousie University and a Master's degree in Spanish American literature from the University of Victoria. A recipient of the Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarship, Manuel is currently studying the Neobaroque in Twentieth-century Latin American literature.

Catia Corriveau-Dignard
Catia Corriveau-Dignard is currently a first year Ph.D. student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Toronto. She holds a Master degree in Hispanic Literatures and Cultures from the University of Toronto and a BA Honours from Bishop’s University, where she focused on the questions of representation and otherness in contemporary Cuban literature. Her research interests also include Latin American Studies, Cultural and Film Studies, Contemporary Spanish literature, and Sociolinguistics applied to the analysis of contemporary Caribbean narrative.

Ailen Cruz
In 2014, as I rummaged through Robarts’ stacks, I found a beautifully decorated novel while looking for another one entirely. The animals on the cover called my attention and I —thankfully— ignored the literal meaning of the antiquated notion that one should not judge books by their covers. The book contained a bestiary as a narrative tool. Back then, the concept was an exciting yet foreign idea. Today, my life revolves around bestiaries and the paths they lead down: subversive, ruminating, critical, devastating, and delightful paths. As I continue to dig them up in the corners of every library and bookstore I visit, what began as literary curiosity now spans over 35 works. This contemporary corpus innovates and pushes the boundaries of the genre.Through my work, I aim to bring recognition to this understudied aspect of Hispanic literature and decipher what about the genre continues to attract authors centuries after its origins.

Mariya Dzhyoyeva
Mariya Dzhyoyeva’s current specialization is the Post-Boom Latin American Literature. She has previously earned an MA (Honours) and a PhD in Russian Studies, as well as a BA Summa Cum Laude in Modern Languages with Spanish concentration. Her current research is focused on the novels by Tomás Eloy Martínez, an Argentine journalist, writer, scholar, and one of the most prominent representatives of the literature of exile. She explores the ways in which the contexts of exile, power, and violence (re)shape the notions of gender and its representations. Due to her cultural background, she is also interested in the mechanisms that facilitate the creation of an alternative, violence-free reality through government-sponsored news media outlets in authoritarian states.

Jose Eduardo

José Eduardo Villalobos Graillet
Jose Eduardo is a Teaching Assistant at the Department of Spanish  & Portuguese at the University of Toronto where he's also a PhD student in Spanish Medieval Literature & Culture. Jose Eduardo holds a MA in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from University of Guelph, a profesional Masters Degree in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language from Universidad de Jaen, and a BA in Communication Studies from UPAEP, Mexico. His research interests are diverse: Applied Linguistics in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language, and both Latin American and Spanish literature and cinema. For his dissertation, Jose Eduardo plans to analyze the cinematographic and TV adaptations of Celestina.

Elsie Gorgo

Estefania E. Gordo G.
Elsie Gordo is a PhD student in the Spanish Department. Her primary research interests include Latin American Literature, Creative Writing, Feminist Theory, Gender Studies, Contemporary Art, Spanish Films and Philosophy. She plans to incorporate her interest on the vision of gender into a dissertation about Latin American Theater. Her love for literature and languages has led her to learn Catalan and Italian. She has lived in Spain, England and the United States. When she is not reading she enjoys hiking, frequenting museums and travelling.

Erin Hamlyn
Latin American and Caribbean literature.

Nae Hanashiro Avila
Nae Hanashiro holds a B.A in Hispanic Linguistics and Literature, and a M.A in Cultural Studies, both from the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru. She is currently a PhD student in Hispanic Literature. Her primary research interests include Latin American Theatre, Gender Studies, and Postmodern Theory.

Sophie Elizabeth Harrington

Gaby Klassen

Gaby Klassen
I have a BA in languages, which sparked my interest in language structure and acquisition. My interests include syntax, morphology, and first and second language acquisition of Spanish.

Vanina Sofia Machado Araujo
My name is Vanina Machado and I am Uruguayan and Canadian. My native language is Spanish and I speak advanced English and intermediate Brazilian Portuguese. I coursed my BA (4 year Licenciatura) in Linguistics in Montevideo, Uruguay where I worked with historical linguistics  and ditigal literacy. In 2017 I received my M.A in Hispanic Linguistics at Western University, Canadá. I specialized in sociolinguistics, more specifically in Phonetics and Phonology (Intonation transfer, language variation, heritage languages, language stigmatization,etc) focusing on a group of speakers from the border of Uruguay and Brazil that speak a variety of Dialects of Uruguayan Portuguese. At the moment I am coursing my PhD in Hispanic Linguistics at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese of University of Toronto and my aims are to develop the mentioned studies and continue to contribute to the knowledge of multidialectism, intonation transfer, heritage languages. I have also been a Spanish Teaching Assistant and Instructor since 2015. At the moment, I am a TA of Spanish 100 and Spanish 320 at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Toronto. I am very interested in starting to publish my work, present it and write/cowrite any projects related to my areas of interest. If you are interested, you can contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Olivia Marasco

Olivia Marasco
I received an Honours B.A. from York University in Spanish and it is there that I discovered my passion for Linguistics. I am currently working on a PhD in Hispanic Linguistics. Specifically I am interested in the phonetics and phonology of both first and second language. I am currently working on my dissertation which focuses on the acquisition of second language intonation.

Ruth Maria Martinez
I received an Honours BA in Linguistics from McGill University, where I conducted two sociolinguistic projects on phonological and lexical variations occurring in Rioplatense Spanish, my native variety. I also completed an MA in Linguistics at Université de Montréal, where I wrote a thesis on the naïve perception of Brazilian Portuguese nasal vowels by Spanish, French, and English speakers. I am currently completing a PhD in Hispanic Linguistics at the University of Toronto under the supervision of Prof. Laura Colantoni. Specifically, I plan to work on the perception-production link in the second language acquisition of Portuguese nasal vowels as well as on nasalization processes in Caribbean and non-Caribbean Spanish varieties.
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Petre Marian Ene

Andrew McCandless
I have been interested in languages and studying languages for as long as I can remember. I did an Honours B.A. here at University of Toronto, Victoria College, and I studied languages broadly, including Celtic Studies, Spanish, and French as a Second Language. I was very happy to have the opportunity to stay here at University of Toronto and concentrate on Spanish. I have completed an M.A. in Spanish, which provided me with a strong foundation in Hispanic Linguistics, and I am now in the second year of the Ph.D. program in Hispanic Linguistics, specializing in Phonology.
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Vanessa Melo
Vanessa Melo is currently a PhD Candidate at the University of Toronto. She completed her B.A. at York University in 2014 and received her M.A. from the University of Toronto in 2015. Her research focuses on Caribbean Women of the Spanish speaking Diaspora. She works with performance texts and is interested in the way the artists she studies encode meaning on their bodies. For Vanessa, these texts are theatrical narratives which are often influenced by autobiographical events, where the body of the performer is the central medium to encode meaning. These texts are often performed in both public and unconventional spaces, are unfaithful to their scripts, and challenge the traditional dichotomy of audience/performer. 

photo Olga

Olga Nedvyga
I am currently completing my PhD in Hispanic Literatures and Cultures. My dissertation focuses on Hispanic Caribbean literatures of the late 19th – early 20th centuries. I am particularly interested in interconnections among (para)science (allopathic medicine, pharmacy, psychology, psychoanalysis, traditional medicine, and spiritism), fiction, and political mobilizations. For me, it means some long over-due revisions of the varied and rich cultural production of the period from perspectives other than the vague and homogenizing rubric of “positivism”. Additionally, I am something of a connoisseur of Roberto Bolaño’s writing, a passion I have cultivated since my days in the Ukraine.

Carlos Antonio Pajuelo

Matthew J. Patience
I am currently completing my Ph.D in Hispanic Linguistics.  My primary interest is in the phonetics and phonology of adult foreign language acquisition.  My work in this area focuses on:
- the role of difficulty in L2 speech; specifically, its articulatory basis and how phonetic production constraints influence the acquisition of a new sound system.
- crosslinguistic influence in multilingual speakers.
My overall goal is to contribute to models of language acquisition. 
I am also interested in the phonetics and phonology of English and Spanish, at both the segmental and suprasegmental levels.  My current research investigates prosodic phrasing in English and Spanish through my role in the L2 Intonation Research Group.  

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Erin Suzanne Marie Pettibone
Erin Pettibone is a doctoral candidate in Hispanic Linguistics at the University of Toronto. Her doctoral work investigates how children and adult learners map the meaning of adjectives to syntactic structure, exploring issues of word order, and the restrictive/non-restrictive contrast (Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarship to E. Pettibone). She is particularly interested in how developing pragmatic knowledge shapes the learning process. She is a member of the Toronto Complexity and Recursion Project (SSHRC grant to A. T. Pérez-Leroux and Y. Roberge), where she has been in charge of the bilingual recursion study.
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Malina Radu
I received my Honours BA with a major in French Language & Linguistics, and a double minor in Spanish and English. I then completed my MA in Hispanic Linguistics, and currently, I am working on my PhD. My thesis focuses on the second language acquisition of Spanish sounds by native speakers of Romanian and French. My secondary areas of interest are third language acquisition and socio-phonetic variation.

Natalia Rinaldi

Brys Stafford
Medieval and Golden Age Spanish Peninsular literature.

Ross Kent Swanson
I hold an MA in Hispanic Studies from the University of British Columbia and a BA Honours in Romance Languages from the University of Alberta. My research interests include Latin American visual and popular culture (especially comics and graphic novels), ecocriticism, and urban and regional identities. Currently, I am interested in examining the portrayal of shamanic figures in popular culture and how they may contribute to new and better ways of imagining the relationship between humans and the non-human world. 

Olga Tararova
Being an immigrant in Canada, the topics of bilingual speech, the role of minority communities, language attitudes towards minority languages, language transfer, and its maintenance and loss, among others, have always fascinated and inspired me to study linguistics in depth. I received my B.A. from York University with double major in Spanish and Communication Studies. Then, I completed my Masters in Guelph with the specialization in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Currently, I am completing my dissertation that is a continuation of my M.A. project, in which I explore the interplay of social and linguistic factors in the domain of negation in the bilingual Italo-Mexican community, Chipilo, Mexico.

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Oliver Velazquez
Oliver Velázquez Toledo (Isthmus of Tehuantepec, 1980) holds a Bachelor’s degree in Hispanic literature with a specialty in editorial production from the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, and a Master of Latin American literature (collaborative program: Book History and Print Culture) from the University of Toronto. He was a reporter for El Imparcial in Oaxaca, an editorial assistant for the publishing house Letras Vivas, a bookseller in second-hand bookshops, the chief of staff of a Gandhi Bookstores branch and the head of the Franz Mayer Museum bookstore, ending up as a proofreader for SM Ediciones in Mexico City. Some of his work has been published in the newspapers El Financiero and El Día, in the magazines Cantera Verde and Latin American Encounters, as well as in the anthologies Sales de nostalgia and Desde el fondo de la tierra. Presently, he is a member of the graduate magazine Apuntes Hispánicos. With chapters on Poesía en movimiento, Pedro Páramo, Cartucho and Los de abajo, his dissertation research deals with the ways the editing process amends text to become a book and, as such, attempts to define Mexican 20th century literature.

Owen Richard Ward

Maria Soledad Zabalza
M. Soledad Zabalza holds a Master degree in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from the University of Guelph and a BA Honors in Spanish from Wilfrid Laurier University.  She is currently a third-year Ph.D. student in the department of Spanish & Portuguese at the University of Toronto. Her doctoral dissertation focuses on the political construct of travel literature in the Argentine South during the nineteenth century. Her research on the political discourses of these expeditions of the Argentine Patagonia and La Pampa regions, seeks to analyze how these hegemonic discourses were constructed by white men explorers, why were they successful in excluding the indigenous peoples, and the way these same negative views of the other are still reaffirmed in our society by means of the media. 
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