Graduate Students

Current Students

Please note that many of the dissertation titles listed here are tentative.

Scott Aalgaard

Area of Study: Japan
BA: University of Victoria, 2001
MA: University of Victoria, 2011

After many years of living ‘in-between’ Canada and Japan, I’ve gravitated toward the study of Japanese music, literature, and social criticism, with a focus on some of the different forms of critique that have been expressed in these mediums since 1970 or so. Crisis is a key foundational condition of critique, and much of my work seeks to understand how different social actors aim to survive different kinds of crisis – economic, geopolitical, natural, and more – and imagine futures and/or alternative histories that can resolve or provide protection and shelter from these through a re-shuffling or re-imagining of the terms of everyday life and experience. My work takes me to peripheral regions of Japan such as Okinawa, Fukushima, and Kagoshima, where the experience of crisis tends to be amplified, but I do not consider myself a ‘regionalist’ – rather, I am interested in laying hold of specific places that may be populated by trans-regional actors sharing a similar affective sense of crisis, and considering the ways in which different modes of belonging (or non-belonging) may be endorsed or imagined therein. The ambiguous potential of these places, I suggest, derives not solely from their distance from established frameworks, but also, in some cases, from their proximity to the same. In this work I find myself consumed by questions of fascism, and of the razor-thin line that seems to separate fascism from more helpful forms of critique.

I am a rabid fan of post-1970 Japanese music, and have been fortunate to learn from such greats as Kagawa Ryo and Nagabuchi Tsuyoshi. I aim to follow these masters by attempting to bring a sense of ‘liveness’ to my own work – in other words, by prioritizing sites of practice and performance, and the unpredictable ways that history unfolds therein. My research is made possible by generous financial support from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Japan Foundation, and the University of Chicago.

 

Yin Cai

Area of Study: Early Modern China
BA: Kalamazoo College, 2012
MA: University of Chicago, 2014

History of Chinese handicrafts, especially the textile production; Early Modern Craftsmanship, Technology and Visual Culture.  I am interested in the creation and transmission of knowledge, craftsmanship, and political ideals through the social network of production, consumption and circulation. Particularly I am also interested in the visual and textual representation of technology/craftsmanship in the Chinese tradition.

William Carroll

Area of Study: Japan
BA: Wesleyan University, 2009 (Film Studies and East Asian Studies)

Joint PhD with Cinema and Media Studies

I became interested in Japanese cinema because of its similarities with Hollywood (both were major popular film industries run by a studio system with similar genre and star systems), which I had mainly studied as an undergraduate.  Within Japanese studio-era cinema, I am particularly interested in cinephile culture of the 1930s and 1960s (and the genre filmmakers that they championed) and film theories focused on poetics.  I have also been working on a side project that combines phenomenological, cognitive, and historical film theory to address the topic of audience engagement with the film.

Ling Chan

Area of Study: Medieval China
BA: Peking University, 2011

I am interested in Medieval Chinese religion, particularly how and what manuscripts (from Dunhuang, excavations in Turfan, Japanese temple archives etc) and other material sources can tell us about the religious beliefs and practices of the time, and what significance these beliefs and practices had in a wider social context. I also hope to study how these may present a different picture than canonical sources, and if so how these differences could reflect upon issues such as the nature of the source material or distinct regional traditions. I am currently working on a collection of Buddhist gatha, spells, and ritual manuals on a late 10th-century manuscript, hoping to build towards a project on similar miscellanies.

Jiayi Chen

Area of Study: Early Modern China
BA: Fudan University, 2014
MA: The University of Chicago, 2015

My research interests center on the multiple relationships between literature and material objects during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Not limited to text-bearing objects and their materiality, I am specifically interested in the literary representation and imagination of material objects, as well as texts concerning collecting and displaying various objects. By means of theoretical tools in literature, anthropology, and art history, my research aims to enrich our understanding of not only the various roles played by material objects in people’s everyday life, but also the influence of material culture in shaping textual production and reception in Ming and Qing China.

Naixi Feng

Area of Study: China
BA: Peking University (Archaeology and Museology), 2012

My dissertation, with the tentative title “City on Edge: Inhabiting Literary Beijing on the Eve of the Manchu Conquest,” studies miscellaneous literature in the textual tradition of “city monograph”. I pay particular attention to the role of Beijing on the cultural map of the Ming Empire and parse how literary representations of the northern capital are connected to and different from the prosperous and sophisticated portraits of contemporaneous cities in Jiangnan. I also explore the permutations that the literary and cultural images of Beijing underwent in the Ming-Qing transitional period, and examine the “afterlife” of such images in the republican era, when nationalist intellectuals employed the idea of a “Ming-Chinese era” to fight against the recent Qing-Manchu past.

 

I have wider interests in Chinese literature, intellectual history and material culture. My research addresses the following issues: the early modern conceptualization of time and space, historiographical theory and intellectual movements from the sixteenth century onward, and the historical ideas of frontier, centrality, and legitimacy.

 

Helen Findley

Area of Study: Japan
BA: Wesleyan University (East Asian Studies), 2003
MA: Columbia University (East Asian Languages and Civilizations), 2005

Interests: Meiji Buddhist preaching practices, print media, and the advent of Western rhetorical studies in relation to public speech-making; religion and education in modern Japan
Dissertation Title: Moveable Feast: The Place of Sekkyo in Meiji Buddhist Discourse
Awards: 2005-present (currently pro forma status), Neuabuer Presidential Fellowship; 2008-09, Fulbright-Hays DDRA Fellowship

David Hogue

Area of Study: Early China

BA: Princeton University, 2007 (English Literature)

MA: Nanjing University, 2013 (Classic Chinese Literature)

Interests: I am interested in early Chinese historiography, particularly in claims made about the supernatural world and ancestral sacrifice in Warring States period historiographical texts. My MA thesis, A Fresh Look at the Ghosts and Spirits of the Zuo Commentary, is about how the Zuo Commentary, in dialogues about ancestral worship rituals and narratives in which animistic gods and the spirits of the dead appear, articulates a theory of statecraft and makes evaluations about the personalities and moral qualities of historical personages. More broadly, I am interested in narrative storytelling (in text, image, or other mediums) and its ability to express worldviews, attitudes, emotional experience, and states of being.

Aliz Horvath

Area of Study: Japan, China and Korea
BA-MA (combined): Eotvos Lorand University (Japanese-Chinese), 2012
BA: Eotvos Lorand University (Korean), 2013
Non-degree: Osaka University (Japanese language and history), 2010-2011
Non-degree: Shandong Normal University (Chinese language), 2007-2008

A native of Budapest, Hungary, I am a PhD student focusing on East Asian comparative cultural and commercial relations. I received an MA in Japanese and Chinese (double major, 2012) and a BA in Korean (minor in Finnish, 2013) from Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest, Hungary). As a scholarship holder, I also spent a year in China, another year in Japan, and two months in Finland. My Japanese thesis dealt with the influence of Chinese philosophy in Japan - based on the Seventeen-Article Constitution (attributed to Prince Shotoku), while my Chinese thesis focused on Sino-Japanese diplomatic relations during the late Tang – based on the diary of Ennin the monk. I continued the latter topic in my Korean thesis which explored the role of Koreans in late Tang Sino-Japanese diplomatic relations. This led me to the world of commerce and merchants that I would like to further investigate from a comparative perspective. I am also interested in East Asian comparative business culture and travel writing.

Yueling Ji

Area of Study: Contemporary China
BA: Renmin University of China, 2013
MA: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2015

My research focuses on contemporary Chinese literature and popular culture. Especially, I want to look at how bodies and desires come into shape within socio-economic structures. Working from a comparative perspective, I am also interested in Cold War cultures in East Asia, Soviet Union, and the United States. My theoretical interests include gender and sexuality studies, affect theory and feminist science studies.

Thomas Kelly

Area of Study: China
BA: Oxford University (Chinese), 2009

My dissertation research, which grew out of broader interests in the relationship between the literary imagination and the decorative arts, looks at the poetics of object inscriptions in the late Ming. I pay particular attention to the ways in which attempts to animate and possess things through poetic acts of naming became closely intertwined with concerns about the authority of writing and the shifting boundaries of the self. I was awarded an International Dissertation Research Fellowship from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to conduct research in China during the academic year 2014/15.

I have wider interests in Chinese literature of the Ming and Qing periods and recently published an article in the Journal of Chinese Oral and Performing Literature entitled, “Putting on a Play in an Underworld Courtroom: the ‘Mingpan’ (Infernal Judgment) Scene in Tang Xianzu’s Mudan ting (Peony Pavilion).” Meanwhile, I have pursued my interests in material culture by translating an essay by Professor Bo Songnian on “New Year Prints,” and writing pieces on the German collector Berthold Laufer and a set of Qing dynasty playing cards for the exhibition catalogue Performing Images (2014). I was also awarded the Karen DiNal Award for Excellence in Teaching Undergraduate Academic Writing in 2014.  

 

So Hye Kim

Area of Study: Korean Cinema
BA: Korea University (Education), 2003
MA: Korea National University of Arts (Cinema Studies), 2010

Interests: Korean independent films and Korean diaspora films

David Krolikoski

Area of Study: Korea and Japan
BA: University of California, Berkeley, 2010
MA: University of Chicago, 2013

Interest: I study colonial Korean literature with a specific focus on the representation of childhood in literary works. In pursuing this topic, my research deals with colonial censorship, education policy, and the relationship between modern Japanese and Korean literature.

Nicholas Lambrecht

Area of Study: Japan
BA: Dartmouth College (Anthropology), 2004
MA: University of Chicago (East Asian Languages and Civilizations), 2013

Research interests: modern and contemporary Japanese literature and criticism; “minor” genres and “minor” literature in Japanese; Japanese colonial literature; literary theory, including the frameworks of “world literature” and comparative literature; the theory and practice of translation; and patterns of media consumption, including publishing culture, canonicity, cross-platform adaptations, and selection processes for literary prizes.

I have spent over eight years in Osaka and Kyoto in various teaching and research capacities since heading to Japan for the first time in 2004. My dissertation project focuses on the ongoing effects of repatriation and decolonization on Japanese-language literature and postwar Japanese society. I pursue this by reconsidering the boundaries of the nascent genre of repatriation literature, arguing for the reassessment of works by Fujiwara Tei, Abe Kobo, Miyao Tomiko, Morisaki Kazue, and Nakanishi Rei and the incorporation of works by “non-repatriate” writers including Ri Kaisei, Hayashi Kyoko, Nakajima Atsushi, and Tsujihara Noboru. At the University of Chicago I have taught materials related to modern Japanese literature and film as well as Japanese history. My studies in Chicago have been supported by the University of Chicago and the Japan Foundation. In addition, a Fulbright Graduate Research Fellowship gave me the opportunity to act as a visiting scholar at Doshisha University in Kyoto for fifteen months in 2015-16.

David Lebovitz

Area of Study: Early China
BA: University of California, Berkeley (Molecular and Cell Biology), 1998
MA: National Taiwan University (Chinese Literature)

My research interests center on Warring States Chinese thought and culture. I am particularly interested in how beliefs (philosophical or religious) are transmitted and interpreted, and the role that figurative language plays in the process.

Li Qi

Area of Study: Early China
BA: Wuhan University of Science & Technology, 2013
MA: Wuhan University, 2016

Currently my interests focus on agricultural appearance of Erligang period, furthermore making a comparison between the discoveries of Central Plain Region, like Zhengzhou Shang City, and Panlongcheng and its surroundings, focusing on the similarities and differences of their characteristic of subsistence economy, analyzing whether the characteristics are identical or not between different regions, besides the fact that these regions shares the highly unanimous archaeological appearances.

Daniela Licandro

Area of Study: China
BA: University of Naples (Comparative Literatures and Cultures), 2006
MA: University of Naples (Comparative Literatures and Cultures), 2009
MA: Leiden University (Chinese Studies), 2009

My dissertation historicizes the emergence and development of the culture of self-criticism (jiantao) in China, from the late 1930s through the early 1980s. While acknowledging the intricate relation between self-criticism and the history of thought reform in socialist China, a major concern of this project is to investigate the understudied effects of self-criticism in the spheres of cultural production and writing practices before, during, and after the socialist era. Besides self-critical essays proper, I examine manuals, autobiographical texts, diaries, and memoirs to show how self-criticism developed as a mode of expression that became increasingly connected with life writings.

I have wider interests in: modern Chinese literature and film; literary theory and criticism, especially theories of modernism and studies in autobiographical narratives; women’s writing, and political history.

Philomena Mazza-Hilway

Area of Study: Japan
BA: Bard College (Psychology, Literature), 2009
MA: Bard College (Teaching English), 2010
MA: University of Michigan (Japanese Studies), 2013

My primary research involves literary depictions of femininity in Taishō (1912-26) era literature, with specific focus on the construction and development of the feminine grotesque - both physical and psychological - in works authored by women. Some of my broader research interests include psychoanalytic theory, genre fiction, canon formation, women's literature, translation theory, and Japanese literary studies as discipline, practice, and field.

Alex Murphy

Area of Study: Japan
BA: Kenyon College, 2010
MA: Columbia University, 2014

My research interests center on popular music and transnationalism in twentieth century Japanese history. I am particularly interested in the involvement of Japanese-American performers in the Japanese popular music industry across the “transwar” period from 1930 to 1970. I intend to focus on their use of lyrical and musical tropes in popular songs as a means of interweaving the experiences of urban, regional and diasporic communities in the popular cultural imaginary. More broadly, I hope to explore the extensive transnational networks of contact and collaboration that characterized popular music during this period and the role of these artists in negotiating the social and cultural borders of Japanese society.

Yiying Pan

Area of Study: Early Modern China
BA: Tsinghua University (History), 2013

I hope to research on the popular cultures in late imperial China, with a geographical focus on the Jiangnan region. Currently, my especial interest is popular religion. Four perspectives – text, space, ritual, and social network – constitute the basic scope of my observation. Before joining EALC, I received my B.A. degree from the history department at Tsinghua University. My B.A. thesis centers on the Jiangnan gentries' fanaticism for the Longsha Prophecy during the late-Ming period. In my future studies, I am willing to explore and absorb methodologies from fields beyond history, such as literature, art history, and sociology.

Hyun Hee Park

Area of Study: Korean and Japanese Cinema
BA: Dankook University (Film Studies), 1999
BA: Yonsei University (Philosophy), 2001
MA: Korean National University of Art (East Asian Cinema Studies), 2005

Kyle Peters

Area of Study: Japan
BA: Colorado State University (Philosophy, Anthropology), 2009
MA: University of Hawaii at Manoa (Comparative Philosophy), 2013

My research focuses on the discursive space of the aesthetic in interwar Japan, in particular the conceptual convergence of seemingly disparate discourses in calligraphy, literature, dance, and the philosophy of art. On one side, I approach this aesthetic space according to its historical development out of endemic and introduced artistic trends, practices and theories, working to discursively locate important moments in its emergence and to trace its movements in and across national and transnational frameworks. It is my contention that this space was fundamentally political, and I work to make clear the ambivalent way in which the modern Japanese aesthetic was enmeshed in and alongside the sensible, those networks of perception, action and intelligibility embodied in everyday practices and politico-economic institutions. 

My historical research into the aesthetic is structured by my active interest in philosophy, in particular genealogy, ontology and the philosophy of art. Across these fields I am interested in the production of subjectivity, and Kyoto School philosophers like Nishida Kitarō, Miki Kiyoshi and Tosaka Jun are integral to my thinking on these matters. My historical and philosophical work is also influenced by theorists in late-18th and early-19th century German Idealism,  contemporary Continental philosophy and modern Chinese philosophy. Most recently, I have been awarded the  FLAS for the 2016–2017 academic-year, and I am using it in an effort to further explore historical and philosophical trends within the latter.

Anne Rebull

Area of Study: China
BA: The College of William and Mary, 2004

My research and teaching interests focus on indigenous Chinese theater (xiqu 戏曲) in the modern era, including representations of theater on film, the evolution of performance theory, including theater criticism, and the study of Chinese drama as a literary form more broadly. My dissertation, Staging Aesthetics from the Stage, Screen, and Page: Xiqu Reform 1937-1959, addresses the politics of theater aesthetics during the turbulent years of the mid-twentieth century, when theater was a centerpiece of both popular culture and government propaganda efforts. I have translated xiqu films and plays, and published a translation of a portion of Mei Lanfang's biography in Opera Quarterly. Forthcoming work focuses on the reconstruction and adaptation of acting traditions in the 1950s, especially under the influence of film. 

Beyond the theater, I maintain an interest in art film, performance traditions including music and the martial arts, and research into vernacular practices. As part of the latter, I have helped to organize the Vernacular Practices Across East Asia graduate student conference held in October 2016. I also coordinate the Theater and Performance Studies Workshop. I have taught in East Asian Languages and Civilizations and for the Humanities Common Core at the University of Chicago, and a course on Sinophone film at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Sabine Schulz

Area of Study: Japan, Korea
BA: Columbia University, 2012

My research concerns the transnational cultural phenomena termed “Cool Japan” (クールジャパン) and the “Korean Wave” (한류), in particular Japanese and Korean idol singers, the local music and film talent who have become both de facto and official representatives of government-sponsored soft power policies. I examine the circulation, mediation, manipulation, and discourse surrounding media commodifying Japanese and Korean idols in the original and nonnative loci of reception via the Internet and I hope to elucidate the logic, significance, and implications for the individual, nation, and paradigm of a cultural world order in the export of cultural symbols across borders in an evolving, multifaceted media landscape. 

To that end, my research encompasses the Japanese and Korean idol production systems, male and female idols, and the anthropological, economic, musicological, political, sociological, and technological factors involved in the international popularization of Japanese and Korean media. I am particularly interested in the collaboration of the Japanese and Korean governments in promoting popular culture abroad, the transnational adoption of tropes and other genre markers, and the reflexive circulation of cultural products.

I focus on the role of technology in these transnational interactions, particularly as it relates to translation and communication, and I afford specific attention to quantitative and qualitative data analysis and digital humanities in my work.

Susan Dan Su

Area of Study: China, Tibet
BA: Lewis and Clark College (International Affairs), 2011
MA: UC Berkeley (Asian Studies), 2014

My current research seeks to understand issues of culturalization and cultural self-representation through the study of Tibetan Sinophone literature in relationship to the ongoing debate surrounding authenticity and "Tibetanness."

My MA thesis, titled Portrayals of Tibetanness in Meizhuo's Clan of the Sun, was the first step in this direction. This thesis explores the ways in which Clan of the Sun presents cultural and historical truths through its portrayals of objects and politics. It also brings to light the complicated and compromised position of the author Meizhuo, a self-professed mediator of Tibetan culture to non-Tibetan audiences, and how her novel fits into the greater political atmosphere of the 1990's when it was published.

H.S. Sum Cheuk Shing

Area of Study: Medieval China
BA: LIU Global, 2010 (Global Studies)
MA: University of Toronto, 2015 (Religion)

My research focuses on medieval Chinese religions, specifically the practices of Buddhism and Daoism. I am particularly interested in the parallels and intersections between these two traditions, especially the visual and material culture of ritual materials. My work also seeks to engage with broader methodological and theoretical concerns in ritual studies, visual culture and religious history.

Pao-Chen Tang

Area of Study: Modern China
BA: National Taiwan University, 2012
MA: University of Chicago, 2013
Joint PhD with Cinema and Media Studies

I came to the joint degree program to pursue my interests that lay at the intersections of Chinese-language cinema and the audiovisual representation of nature and nonhuman entities, especially animals and landscapes. While I’m committed to expanding upon, complicating, and inflicting the discussion of Chinese-language cinema through the refreshing theoretical perspectives of animal and landscape studies, I am also interested in, conversely, thinking about how area studies could breathe new life into said theoretical framework: What happens, for instance, when regional cultures encounter the radical singularity of nonhuman biological forms so emphasized in discourses surrounding animal studies? How do we place national traditions of filmmaking (if they even exist, that is) into dialogue with natural elements and contingent phenomena such as the sun, trees, water, and fire that Sergei Eisenstein famously calls “beyond good and evil”?

Brian White

Area of Study: Japan
BA: University of Pennsylvania, 2011

In general terms, I am interested in the ways in which technology has been imagined to intersect with notions of selfhood in late-capitalist Japanese society.  My research concerns technology in its role as an affective and bodily force, intimately interwoven with human subjectivity in ways that fundamentally shape our notions of being in the world.  I plan to pursue these issues through a study of 20th and 21st century Japanese SF (science- or speculative-fiction) literature and film.  This includes texts that can be recognizably placed within the genre of science-fiction as well as texts belonging to SF’s predecessor genres, such as the Gothic horror and mystery stories popular since the Taishō and Shōwa periods.  Having built its bubble-era economy on cutting-edge consumer technologies, Japan is often viewed as a “techno-topia,” and I expect this perception to make itself felt in popular media.  If we further consider technology to be one of the foundational concerns of SF, then Japanese SF media provide a uniquely apt lens through which to examine the present and future of technological society and our place within it.  This in turn will help us re-calibrate our understandings of (post-)modernity, which often takes technology, the network, and so on as self-evident and monolithic analytical entities.

Yuqian Yan

Area of Study: China
BA: Goldsmith, University of London (Media and Communications), 2007
MA: New York University (Visual Culture), 2009
Joint PhD with Cinema and Media Studies

Research interest: representation of history in Chinese cinema, the relation between opera and cinema, Chinese independent documentary films. I am particular interested in how cinema changes our perception of and relation to history as compared to experiencing the past through words. Along this line, I also have related interest in the circulation of "history as common sense” through opera performance, novels, and other forms of popular culture.

Panpan Yang

Area of Study: China
BA: Peking University (double major in Film Production and Philosophy), 2012
MA: New York University (Cinema Studies), 2014

Joint Program with Cinema and Media Studies

I’m particularly interested in how cinema makes possible a mutually illuminating dialogue between Western and Chinese aesthetics. Along this line, I have been writing on some unique genres in Chinese-language cinemas, such as ink-and-wash animation, Teochew opera film, and the Wenyi genre. Two concepts are central to my theoretical investigation: time and rhythm. Beyond cinema studies, I maintain a lifelong interest in Dream of the Red Chamber.

Emily Yoon

Area of Study: Korea

BA: University of Pennsylvania (English and Communication), 2013
MFA: New York University (Creative Writing - Poetry), 2015

I am interested in fetishization and objectification of kisaeng and other women in colonial Korea. I hope to study gendered representations in literature and visual media. My poetry also explores the themes of trauma, war, and violence toward women; I look forward to seeing how my academic work engages in conversation with my creative projects.

Han Zhang

Area of Study: China
BA: Shanghai University (Chinese Language and Literature)
MA: Shanghai University (Chinese Language and Literature), 2003
MA: University of Colorado, Boulder (East Asian Languages and Civilizations), 2009

Research Interests: late imperial literature and performance. I am particularly interested in the issue of language in understanding and reconstructing the relationship between text and performance. My dissertation works on the literature and performance conducted in Wu dialect in the lower Yangtze river delta (Jiangnan) from the seventeenth century to nineteenth century. I am also interested in media studies, problems of translation, social and historical linguistics, as well as bilingualism.

Yiren Zheng

Area of Study: Chinese Literature
BA: Sun Yat-Sen University (Chinese Languages), 2012
MA: Columbia University (Chinese Literature), 2014

I research mainly on late imperial Chinese literature with a particular interest in generating rich descriptions of the way in which senses are mediated through writing. My inquiry focuses on the oral and the aural: How did people reflect on their attentive listening? Why and how do practices of sound making and listening matter to pre-modern Chinese experiences of writing and reading? How do text and language capture, evoke, and re-create sound? The sound objects that I have been tracing include insect chirps, ventriloquism, whistling and so on. While working at the intersection of literary studies, sound and voice studies and media studies, I seek to observe new models for understanding human perception of sound in pre-modern times.

Boqun Zhou

Area of Study: Early China, Intellectual History
BA: Bejing Foreign Studies University
MA: The University of Chicago

I'm primarily interested in ancient Chinese intellectual history and paleography, especially how recently discovered manuscripts may challenge the way we understand ancient texts, thinkers, and schools. Other topics of interest include: the use of metaphor and analogy in arguments, the relationship between ancient technology and philosophy, Daoist perspectives on language and body, and intellectual historiography.