Junior Fellows

Junior Fellows are students enrolled at Yale who are engaged in the PhD program and who work in the CCS. They are the core participants in our weekly workshop along with any visiting scholars.

Alphabetical, by last name

Anne Marie Champagne

Research interests: Cultural Sociology (visual and material culture, iconicity, performativity and symbolic interaction); Sociology of Gender, Medicine and the Body; Sociology of Conscience, Moral Development and Social Solidarity; Social Theory. Anne Marie Champagne’s current research projects include an investigation of the relationship between breast surgery and gender wellness (meaning-making, affirmation, and performance) among breast cancer survivors and female-to-male transgender persons as well as an historical examination of the civil sphere’s influence in the social construction and (re)interpretation of masculinity. Education: B.A. Multidisciplinary Studies (Social Science, Communications and Educational Psychology), University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Shivani ChoudharyShivani Choudhary

Shivani Choudhary is a PhD Candidate in Sociology and a Junior Fellow at the Center for Cultural Sociology. Her research aims to understand and explain the relationship between politics, culture and religion in society. Her work proposes elaborating on this connection by analyzing the symbolism and cultural politics of India’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Areas of Research Interest: Cultural Politics and Symbolism in India, Populism, Religious Nationalism, Civil Sphere and Cultural Associations in India, Performative Politics and Caste inequalities.

She received her MPhil & M.A. in Political Science from Center for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University and her B.A. in Economics and Political Science from Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Delhi University.

Jessie Dong Jessie Dong

Jessie Dong is a PhD Candidate in Sociology and a Junior Fellow at the Center for Cultural Sociology. Her interests lie at the nexus of culture – broadly understood as collectively shared meaning – and relationalism. More specifically, she is interested in exploring how notions of political community are created through the substantive meaning of the ties which bind people together in a variety of cultural contexts. Her B.A. thesis centered on a refugee-led walking tour in Berlin. It proposed an analytical framework with which to evaluate the efficacy of such performative political interventions, integrating logic-centered analysis and cultural performance theory.

Nicolás Rudas Nicolás Rudas

Nicolás received his B.A and M.A in Sociology from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. He is interested in the relationship between culture, radicalism and democracy.  Part of his research focuses on leftist revolutionary movements that emerged on Latin American universities during the sixties. It shows how they gradually distanced themselves from violent rhetoric and embraced a civil discourse through the use of specific symbols and narratives. He currently investigates how ’scientific icons’ (figures, diagrams, charts) shape public controversies in contexts of polarization, such as post-war Colombia.

Willa SachsWilla Sachs


B.A., Kenyon College, 2016

M.A., Sociology, Yale University, 2022

Areas of Interest: 

Law & Social Movements; Cultural Sociology; Racial Politics; Comparative-Historical Sociology; Social Theory

Willa Sachs is a PhD candidate in Sociology and a Junior Fellow at the Yale Center for Cultural Sociology. She received her B.A. in Sociology from Kenyon College in 2016. She is currently a Visiting Scholar at the American Bar Foundation in Chicago, where she serves as an associate editor of Law & Social Inquiry.

Her research broadly centers on how legal idioms and ideologies shape social movement activists’ discursive practices, objectives, identities, and understandings of justice.

Sachs’ dissertation examines the development of legal consciousness within the Black Panther Party (BPP), arguing that constitutional law shaped the formation and evolution of the Party, its political goals and identity, and its mobilization strategies. She is currently working on two articles adapted from her larger dissertation project. Her first article examines the function of American constitutional thought in the ideological agenda and framing strategies of the Black Panther Party from 1966 to 1971, and in particular its role in the Party’s demand for all-Black juries.

Her second article theorizes the role of mock “people’s trials” in the protest repertoire of the BPP, in which activists symbolically convicted state actors or exonerated activists identified as political prisoners. This article argues that people’s trials offer a key demonstration of how constitutional law is “made,” mobilized, and negotiated by everyday actors in cultural fields of contestation outside of formal institutions. 

Sachs has recently published an article (with Jeffrey C. Alexander) in Cultural Sociology. This article examines the role of social movements as a mediating force between public opinion and presidential politics, using the second-wave American feminist movement as a case study.


Sachs, Willa and Alexander, Jeffrey C. 2023. “Presidential versus Civil Power: Cultural Transformation, Second-Wave Feminism, and Party Politics in the US, 1961-1989.” Cultural Sociology, Vol 17(1).

Sena SahinSena Şahin

Sena Şahin received her B.A. in English Language and Literature from Boğaziçi University in 2018 and her M.A. in Cultural Studies from Sabancı University in 2021. She is interested in the relationship between the remembrance of conflictual and traumatic geopolitical pasts and the construction of exclusionary and restrictive collective identities. She is specifically interested in the role of culture in this relationship and the question of whether there are common cultural structures among those countries whose narrative construction of traumatic territory and independence loss, and conflict formulate a particularistic understanding of national identities.

Anne Taylor

Anne Taylor is a PhD candidate in Sociology at Yale University. Her work focuses on cultural sociology, social theory, and religion in media and popular culture. She is specifically interested in interpretive agency, and how religious, or religious-like, communities form, grow, and disband around shared meaning and rituals.

A Junior Fellow at the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale, Anne is committed to developing cultural sociological theory, currently across a series of three papers. Working in the cultural pragmatics tradition of social performance theory, the first paper, “Audience Agency in Social Performance,” published in Cultural Sociology (2022), develops a theory of audience agency via an illustration of Bernie Sanders’ political movement. This paper was nominated for the SAGE Prize in Innovation and Excellence by the British Sociological Association in 2023. Her second paper (under review) builds off of the first to theorize the specifics of how audiences relate back to actors in cultural pragmatics through a case study of a Harry Potter podcast community’s relationship to J.K. Rowling. The third paper in this series (also under review) takes a broader, more empirical view to examine how American travel writer Rick Steves constructs Europe as sacred through performances of travel. She is also working on a book project with her dissertation co-chair, Jeffrey C. Alexander, entitled Cultural Sociology: The Lectures (forthcoming; attributed via “with” authorship).

Taylor’s dissertation explores the concept of ‘enchantment’ across three American case studies: football coach Deion ‘Coach Prime’ Sanders, guided group travel in Europe with travel writer Rick Steves’ (generously funded by the Yale MacMillan Center), and a podcast that reads Harry Potter as a sacred text. 


Taylor, Anne. 2022. “Audience Agency in Social Performance,” Cultural Sociology 16(1): 68-85.

Taylor, Anne. 2022. “What is Cultural Sociological Debate? A Review of Lyn Spillman’s What is Cultural Sociology? (2020, Cambridge: Polity Press)” International Journal of Politics, Culture and Societyhttps://doi.org/10.1007/s10767-022-09427-w

This review was written in an exchange with the author, whose response can be found herehttps://doi.org/10.1007/s10767-022-09428-9

Taylor, Anne. 2019. “Book Review: Douglas Winiarski, Darkness Falls On the Land of Light.” Cultural Sociology 13(4):531-532

Yuqing ‘Dorothy’ Wu Yuqing ‘Dorothy’ Wu

BA in Sociology, Philosophy, and Psychology from University of Wisconsin-Madison

Areas of interests: Cultural Sociology; Social Theory; Materiality & Meaning; International Relations; East Aisa; Media & Communication; Public Sphere

Yuqing’s academic pursuits center on the interplay of power, culture, and the mediums through which they exert influence. Her current research delves into the realm of “soft power,” an interdisciplinary concept bridging international relations and popular culture. She is particularly interested in the bidirectional influences of culture, exploring both its top-down and bottom-up mechanisms. Moreover, she seeks to understand the connection between elite, specialized domains and broader, public spheres. While maintaining a fundamental interest in theories, Yuqing focuses her current empirical studies in East Asia.