Comparative Literature & English

The American University of Paris


Alumni & Student Profiles

Shannon Centeno, class of 1997

sans-titreShannon  wrote to us recently to let us know how she is doing:

After happy days in the Comp Lit department at AUP, I took a year off to travel (more like slope around with a backpack and a maxed out Visa) before deciding that more education was definitely the answer to “next steps”. I spent a year at Trinity College in Dublin, picking up where I left off in Comp Lit with psychoanalytic literary theory and graduated with an M. Phil in Psychoanalysis. Thereafter, I moved to New York and set up a business selling antique lithographs and later worked at Getty Images. As seems to be the case with many other itinerant AUPers, I soon decided to move again, and applied to law school in London. I began practicing intellectual property law in 2006 and continue to do so. After my two sons were born, we decided that it would be good for them to grow up near family (and in the sunshine) and picked up again and moved to San Francisco where we have been for almost a year. I would be delighted to extend a welcoming hand to any alums/students/staff who are in SF or passing through.

Any students or alumni who would like to take Shannon up on her kind offer should get in touch with Dan Gunn for her contact details.


Jennifer Kerns (CL alumna) writes about her life since AUP

Jennifer KernsI remember telling my parents that I could die happy because I was 20 years old and in Paris. I really meant it. I was the luckiest person around. Thankfully, I didn’t die then, but I think the experience taught me something about appreciating the present, and doing what I really liked doing (for me, reading and thinking, being free to explore new things, being challenged by different cultures). I did know what I liked because I find myself now, at age 43, doing many of the those things still – I am a therapist/counsellor (so I listen to stories and make comparisons and connections) and I live in the United Arab Emirates (where I am challenged by many cultures – Emirati, Pakistani, Indian, Phillipino, Brazilian, Thai, Omani, South African – and am always seeing new things).

The final paper I wrote in 1993 that Dan Gunn marked was about stepping outside yourself – the “I” observing the “I” – and about how we are not really ever exactly in the present moment. Today I use that idea daily in therapy. If we can observe ourselves and our feelings and patterns, we can change. The downside is that it is very hard to stay with ourselves as we are always moving ahead. I think in Paris, even so young, I sensed this difficulty. I think saying I could die happy was a way of knowing I got close to being in the moment – seeing beauty in a market, feeling lonely on the street surrounded by people, reading and writing. It is funny to me that I still even remember that paper and that the idea still matters to me.

Since 1993, I lived 10 years in the UK, worked in fundraising in Cambridge, had two children (11 and 13), lived 8 years in Michigan, got 3 more degrees, moved to the middle east. Now my current day job is teaching nursery school to Emirati 3-year-olds. I couldn’t have predicted that if I’d tried. I hope my children can find their own 20-year-old-in-Paris experiences. I hope I find it more often myself. I keep trying.

What our alumni do – Pascal Jeanjean

On Monday 31 March, on TV5, there will be a documentary about Pascal Jeanjean, alumnus of the department (class of 1988). He is a master papermaker. This interview with him gives a great account of what it is to really decide what you would want to do with your life, and includes this delightful insight:

As a literary person who also loves the visual arts, and who is interested in books, I have always been aware of paper as a base, a support. There is a relation between the base and the contents. We choose our paper depending on what we want to write, and this choice is generally an unconscious one.

The documentary is on TV5 Monde, Monday 31 March, 16:25-17:00.


Gabrielle Flam (2010)

I am currently in the second year of my Master of Fine Arts Program in creative writing at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, concentrating in the genre of poetry. It was in Paris and at AUP that my incredible professors lit the literary spark within me, turning my poetic consciousness into a burning flame, and as my mentor and former teacher Jeffrey Greene likes to say, “ruined my life.” Unable to ever stop writing, I dove into my master’s studies last year, enrolling in workshops with wonderful poets, and exploring my new city of Boston. The fall foliage in full splendor, the reds and yellows welcomed me with open arms. Unfortunately, I soon discovered that Boston is not Paris—but then again, nowhere, I think, will ever be able to compare.

Last year I worked on an afterschool community outreach teaching program called EmersonWrites, teaching inner-city high school students creative writing. This year I have earned a position on staff as a teaching and research assistant to a professor in the Writing, Literature, and Publishing department. This has been a wonderful look into the world of academia, assisting with research and undergraduate classes on modernist and contemporary American poetry.

In Boston I have also been able to get a look at the publishing world. This past summer I worked at the literary and political magazine The Boston Review, as well as currently reading submissions for a literary arts journal, Redivider.

I am looking forward to finishing this year of coursework and writing my master’s thesis next fall, a collection of poetry.

Congratulations to new graduates from the department

We’d like to wish all of the new graduates well – we’ll try to get some pictures of graduation up, and hope to see their profiles on this site very soon.

Very warm wishes to:

Anna Beer (CL major)

Sophia Bogner (CL major)

Kaitlyn Cawley (CL major)

Alexia Chalendon (CL major)

Bethsabee Ory (LCA major)

Dalea Reichgott (LCA major)

Hannah Waldhorn (CL major)

Cassidy Flanagan (2007)

Graduating in Comp Lit in May 2007, I had the incredible opportunity of interning with BusinessWeek magazine (now Bloomberg BusinessWeek) in their Paris bureau.

An intern in this case meant a very poorly paid reporter (I did have that magical booklet of Tickets Restaurant: if given the chance, I would write an entirely separate blog post on how great those are!) but the bureau chief let me pitch my own stories and run with my own ideas.  While I wrote a lot about the French luxury market and learned the entire process of running a magazine, I was thrust into the throes of financial reporting when the initial economic crisis begin to set in, late summer of 2007. Continue reading “Cassidy Flanagan (2007)”

Alex Shteriev (friend of the department, AUP 2002)

At AUP I completed a double-major in International Economics and International Business Administration. After working for three years in a variety of sales and marketing jobs, I enrolled in the accelerated (one-year) MBA program at Emory University, graduating in 2006. From my AUP days I will always remember the words of my favorite English teacher, Roy Rosenstein, who told me, ” Sasha, I remember when you came to us at AUP, you had so much to say but you could say so little….” I would like to believe that the Comparative Literature Program at AUP helped me become much more eloquent and assertive in both my oral and written English skills, while providing me with much joy reading and analyzing the work of some great authors.

After completing my MBA at Emory University and working in Washington, DC, for the real estate consulting company Robert Charles Lesser, I took a position as an investment manager for a joint venture between a Bulgarian investment fund and the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Oman, working on developing real estate projects in Eastern Europe. In 2009 I moved to Toronto to join Sunbelt Business Brokers, an intermediary specializing in facilitating the purchasing and selling of small to mid-size private enterprises. In the summer of 2010 with a business partner I started our own company, Beacon Brokerage (, building on our experience and focusing on main street market transactions.

Maya Stoilova (2006)

Two months after I quit my IBM remote technical assistance job and two years after I finished the one-year screenwriting program at FAMU, Prague, AUP helped me regain some sense of perspective and remember who I was (since I gave up on ever knowing who I am and will be). After reading the CompLit blog, I intensely revived AUP as one of the few continuous (and still continuing) experiences in my otherwise episodic life. Sometimes, I have the feeling of living several lives, not consecutively, but simultaneously. It almost makes the rebirth question irrelevant.
Continue reading “Maya Stoilova (2006)”

Amy Wood (2007)

Originally from Clearwater Florida, I grew up performing in musical comedies with a traveling theatre troupe. Working at a car wash outside of high school hours permitted me to save up enough money to get the hell out of Florida and I first came to Paris at the age of 18 as a model.

Continue reading “Amy Wood (2007)”

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑