Meet the Spring 2021 Francis Jones Graduate Assistants

The Francis Jones Graduate Assistantship Program is a newly created program aiming to support the study of the humanities and social sciences and to encourage service-based learning for pre-doctoral researchers who plan to pursue careers both within academia and beyond the academy. For the Spring 2021 semester, five Harvard graduate students have been awarded graduate assistantships and will be working with various CHS projects. These projects are: New Alexandria Commentary Platform, which facilitates the creation of digital editions, translations, and commentaries; Philosophy and Ideas, an online events series related to topics of social and political philosophy; and Reading Greek Tragedy Online, a series that brings together actors and researchers to perform and discuss scenes from Greek tragedy.

Spring 2021 Francis Jones Graduate Assistants

Francesca Bellei

Francesca Bellei is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at Harvard University. She holds an MLitt in Creative Writing from the University of St Andrews (2016) and a BA in Classics from the University of Cambridge (2014). She works primarily on Latin, Ancient Greek, Italian, and Anglophone texts. She is currently writing a dissertation on the uses of mothering and nursing as metaphors in dynamics of identity construction and cultural hegemony. Recent publications include ‘Border Queers: Writing the Gender of Boundaries’ in Romance Sphere (2018), ‘Bilingual Mistranslations’ in Comparative Literature Studies (2020). She has a forthcoming chapter in the edited volume Unspoken Rome: Absence in Latin Literature and its Reception (CUP), entitled ‘Omnibus umbra locis adero: Elena Ferrante and the Poetics of Absence.’ She will be working on the Reading Greek Tragedy Online project and the New Alexandria Commentary, focusing on issues of race and gender in Virgil’s Moretum.

Zhan Chen

Chen, Zhan holds a BA in Mathematics from Peking University and an MA in Theology from Heidelberg/Tübingen University. He received his doctoral degree from NELC, Harvard, in November 2020. His dissertation focuses on the Peshitta of the Hebrew Bible, particularly on the Book of Isaiah, and analyzes several important aspects of the translational text, such as the status of its Vorlage and its dependence on other ancient versions and books, notably the Septuagint and the New Testament. His ongoing research focuses on the biblical commentaries of Syriac writers and all kinds of digital humanity tools related to this topic. He will be working with and contributing to the New Alexandria Commentary platform.

Dimitrios Halikias

Dimitrios Halikias is a PhD Candidate in the Harvard Department of Government, where he studies political philosophy and the history of political thought. His dissertation project deals with the uses of feudal nostalgia in nineteenth century diagnoses and criticisms of liberalism and capitalism. He has published work on Adam Smith and the origins of commercial society, and he has further research interests in American political thought, nineteenth century theories of slavery, and contemporary democratic theory. Dimitrios graduated from Yale College in 2016 with a B.A. in Ethics, Politics, and Economics. He is delighted to be part of the inaugural cohort of the Francis Jones Graduate Assistantship Program, working on and contributing to Philosophy and Ideas.

Leah Justin-Jinich

Leah Justin-Jinich is a PhD candidate studying Japanese art history and literature in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. Her New Alexandra Commentary Platform (NACP) project, and thesis, focuses on the inscribed paintings of the famous early-modern poet Ōta Nanpo (1749–1823) and artists of the commercial “Pictures of the Floating World” (ukiyo-e). She hopes to utilize the NACP’s unique ability to create “webs of meaning” to understand the nexuses between groups of paintings, volumes of poetry, and prints, all of which feature the same poem. Through this work, she will endeavor to understand the complex social ties between artists and poets of “mad verse” (kyōka) in this period. Prior to attending Harvard University, she received an MA in Japanese literature at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Zachary Rothstein-Dowden

Zachary Rothstein-Dowden is a PhD candidate in historical linguistics with interest in Indo-European historical phonology and morphology, ancient poetics and onomastics. Before coming to Harvard, his main academic focus was on Classics and medieval history. He is hoping to bring his background in both subjects to bear in his work on the New Alexandria commentary project.