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By Sarah Lofstrom, Graduate Communications Editor 

Meet Emily Sferra! Emily is a fourth year PhD student and teaching fellow in the Department of English and Comparative Literature. As part of the new Graduate Student Spotlight series, we asked Sferra a few questions about her research and intellectual interests. 


Can you tell me a bit about your research?

Throughout nineteenth-century British novels, readers encounter friendships and sisterhoods between characters on the cusp of womanhood. My research considers adolescent women who fail to follow the expected trajectory of domestication and their relationships with other young women. I ask: Does the aberrant woman’s relationship, or lack thereof, with other young women influence her ability to thrive as wife and/or mother? 


What has been inspiring you intellectually lately during these difficult times? 

My inspiration comes from the people I work with every day in the public humanities. Both the Jane Austen Summer Program and PlayMakers Repertory Company have made incredible strides over the past year to make their work more accessible and affordable to the public as we have been stuck at home. And even more, I’m inspired by our audiences, who find the time to watch and participate in these online events. Whether facilitating Jane Austen & Co. ‘s lecture series “Race and the Regency” or helping the PlayMakers distribute access to their streaming productions, I am encouraged by the public’s eagerness to access the arts and humanities through these newly accessible avenues. This past year has been isolating for so many people, and yet, communities are connecting over Zoom, email, and in YouTube comments. Witnessing and participating in these moments of connection encourages me to stay strong throughout the trials of both the pandemic and graduate school, not only for the sake of my research, but also so I can continue to help make both the arts and humanities more accessible for all.


What is something bringing you joy this semester?

Daffodils blooming all over Carrboro, spring produce slowly returning to the Carrboro Farmers’ Market, and homemade brown sugar oat milk shaken espressos.

emily sferra
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