McKayla Sluga

Year in Program: 2nd

Fields: Modern United States, Modern European, Cultural and Intellectual, Film/Modernism

Advisor: Michael Stamm

Committee: Kirsten Fermaglich, Sean Forner, Josh Yumibe

Research Languages: French, German

Educational Background: B.A. with Honors, Elmira College (2017)


I am a second-year Ph.D. student with an interest in twentieth-century American radical and extremist movements of both the Left and Right. The radicalization processes individuals and groups undergo as well as the ways in which they mobilize to connect theory and action are the underpinnings of my work, but I am particularly attentive to how avant-garde and modernist art and film have been used to project messages within social-political movements. My work also explores relationships between “high” and “popular” culture as well as how intellectuals have engaged with culture, society, and politics.

In a broad thematic sense, my research is an attempt to understand intersections among cultural, social, political, and intellectual movements during the twentieth century. Geographically, I focus on radicalism in the United States, but I have become increasingly concerned with transnational connections and conflicts between radical movements of the United States, Europe, and the Soviet Union.

I double majored in History and American Studies and minored in Philosophy at Elmira College, where I earned my B.A. with Summa Cum Laude Latin Honors and completed the Honors Program. I was also a 2017 Gilder Lehrman American History Honors Scholar Award recipient. My research projects have focused on the relationship between radical social-political movements and radical artistic-intellectual movements of both the United States and Europe. Some examples include US Leftism/Marxism and Social Surrealism of the 1930s; Italian Fascism and Futurism; German Nazism and Modernism; Situationist International theory and Atelier Populaire poster art during the 1968 French uprisings; the 1960s-1970s Black Power and Black Arts Movements; and Afro-Cuban/Martiniquean Marxism and Surrealism. My current projects are interested in how radical/avant-garde visual culture from Europe and the Soviet Union have influenced how American intellectuals understand and construct national identity through art and criticism during the 1920s and 1930s.

TA appointments:

HST 392: History of the Holocaust (Fall 2017)

IAH 203: Latin America and the World (Spring 2018)

HST 304: The American Civil War (Summer 2018-online)

HST 392: History of the Holocaust (Fall 2018)