Diana Filar

Diana FilarPhD
MA in English Language and Literature, University of New Mexico, 2015
BFA Writing, Literature, and Publishing, Emerson College, 2012

Research Interests

Multi-ethnic immigrant literature, 20th and 21st century American novel, theories of ethnicity, migration, and diaspora, critical race theory, contemporary literature and neoliberalism

Dissertation Abstract

My dissertation, “Naming (in) the Immigrant Novel: Identity and Conditions of Belonging in Contemporary Multiethnic Fiction” examines US fiction by writers from Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Sub-Saharan Africa to show how immigrants, across a range of geographical contexts, actively shape the parameters of their own belonging and contest that circumstances that determine their citizenship. The characters in these novels express an ambivalence toward the standard story of assimilation or failure, ultimately offering a range of complex, alternative forms for and understandings of what it means to be an American immigrant in the 21st century.  My research shows that in many of the fictional texts written by immigrants about the immigrant experience, characters often define their relationships to the United States by questioning their names, developing new names, and challenging the naming traditions of their countries of origin and of their adopted cultures. In novels as wide ranging as AmericanahThe People of PaperPetropolisThe Lost Children ArchiveWe Need New Names, and The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, experimentation with names becomes a way for immigrant characters to forge their identities on their own terms, from trying to fit in, struggling to stand out, and everything in between. Across these texts, we see immigrants attempt to pass as other ethnicities, visit and return home, refuse seemingly evident solidarities, and engage in unlikely friendships and animosities across origin and migration sites. Immigrant novels that feature discussions around naming and names thus reflect the ways in which immigrants negotiate the interconnectedness of identity’s multiple manifestations, calling attention to the transnational contexts that shape them and influence their own conceptions of subjectivity and global citizenship. Writers from a range of ethno-racial groups use names to identify, document, and test cultural practices that differentiate ethnic groups and races, thereby unsettling crude generalizations that too often inform political debates about immigration. Instead, the deployment of formally and thematic diverse onomastics becomes a vector for envisioning—and naming—alternate possibilities for the form of the contemporary novel and also, offering new vocabularies for the discussion of ethno-racial US-immigrant identity.     


“Naming (and) the Form of the Contemporary US Immigrant Novel.” Forms of Migration Conference. University of Graz, Department of American Studies, Graz, Austria, May 2-4, 2019.
Naming (in) the Immigrant Novel: Literary Onomastics, Racialized Subjectivity, and the Assimilation Narrative.” The Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States (MELUS). University of Cincinnati, OH, March 21-24, 2019.
“The Name of the Game: Critical Ethnic Studies, Postcritique, and Onomastics in All Our Names.” American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA). Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., March 7-10, 2019.

Panel Moderator: “Germany Today: Migration, Integration, Innovation.” Reflecting on the Past, Envisioning the Future: The Center for German & European Studies at Brandeis turns 20. Brandeis University, October 6-7, 2018.

Co-Organizer of Seminar: "The Figure of the Contemporary Worker." ACLA. University of California — Los Angeles. March 2018.

"Henryk Sienkiewicz's US-Immigrants in Za Chlebem (After Bread): Sans-Nationalism, Anti-Exceptionalism, and the Failed Immigrant Novel." MELUS Conference (The Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States). MIT, Cambridge, MA. April 27-30, 2017.



"Feeling, Form, Framework: A Review of Rachel Greenwald Smith's Affect and American Literature in the Age of Neoliberalism." Postmodern Culture 25.1 (Sept. 2014).


Dissertation Year Fellowship (2020)

The Connected PhD (2020)

Provost Dissertation Award (2019)

Evan Frankel Endowed Fellowship 

Mellon Dissertation Research Grant (2019)

Center for German and European Studies Research and Travel Award (2019)

Grant for Graduate Research in Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies (2018)

Max Kade Travel Grant, Center for German and European Studies in (2017) and (2018)

Andrew Grossbardt '72 Endowed Fellowship 

Outstanding Teaching Fellow Award, Brandeis University (2017)

Outstanding Core Writing Instructor Award, University of New Mexico (2015)

American Literary Studies-Elizabeth and George Arms Fund Outstanding Graduate Student Essay Prize, University of New Mexico (2015)

Classes Taught & Assisted

(TF) Indian Love Stories, Professor Ulka Anjaria (Spring 2019)

(TF) GCES: The Princess and the Golem: Fairy Tales, Professor Sabine von Mering (Spring 2018)

UWS: Huddled Masses: Immigrants in America (Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018)

(TF) Classic Hollywood Cinema, Professor Paul Morrison (Fall 2017)

(TF) Critical Race Theory, Professor Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman (Spring 2017)

(TF) Introduction to Literary Studies, Professor Jerome Tharaud (Fall 2016)

(TF) American Independent Film, Professor Caren Irr (Fall 2016)

(TF) Within the Veil: African-American and Muslim Women's Writing, Professor Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman (Spring 2016)

Favorite Work

Roberto Bolano "2666"