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Linell Ajello

College: Graduate Center
Awards: Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Tulane University, 2012

Outstanding Student

Linell Ajello graduated in May with a Ph.D. in theatre and has accepted a two-year Mellon postdoctoral fellowship in the communications department of Tulane University.

For her dissertation, "Tragic Practice: Participatory Democracy and Activist Theatre in the U.S., 2000-10," Ajello studied how the performances of four activist groups engaged in democratic communication and connected scholarship on deliberative democracy with scholarship on tragedy. The groups included Iraq Veterans Against the War, Invisible Children, and Community Action Association, which hosts Poverty Simulations, a role-playing theatre game.

In her coursework in theatre and political science, she developed her interest in analyzing theatre as political engagement and in performance as a vital form of expression within a democratic republic. During her postdoctoral fellowship at Tulane, Ajello will study current representations - newspaper photos, movies, TV, theatre - of poverty in New Orleans and compare them to presidential and popular discourse about poverty. She also will teach one course per semester on democracy and performance.

During her graduate studies, Ajello held three fellowships that provided her time to research and write: a two-year Writing Fellowship as well as, currently, a Communication Fellowship, both at the Bernard L. Schwartz Communication Institute, Baruch College; and a Graduate Center Dissertation Fellowship.

Her publications include "A Game of Poverty and Tragic Deliberation," Constellations: An International Journal of Democracy and Critical Theory (forthcoming) and "Profile: ‘Sekou Sundiata: Poet and Performer, 1948-2007,'" Ecumenica Journal of Theatre and Performance 3:2 (2010).