Graduate Students

Current Students

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

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.

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 focuses on late imperial Chinese literature. I am currently working on my dissertation, tentatively titled “Reading the Virtual: Games and Fictionality in Late Imperial China,” which explores the interplay between games and literature in China from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries when the boundaries of different fictional genres were consciously developed. Situating myself at the crossings of literary studies, game studies, and visual/material culture studies, I examine games (e.g. guessing games, gambling, weiqi) both as a topos of literary imaginations in novels, short stories, and plays, and as a metaphor to understand the modes of “participatory readership” of fictional writings during this period, especially as related to aspects like virtuality, textual visuality, and narrative uncertainty.

Besides, I also hold broader interests in practices and representations of storytelling, text-image relationships, and Sino-Japanese cultural exchanges, as well as reader-response criticism and theories of media studies.

Yaoying Dai

Area of Study: Japan, China
BA: Nanjing University, 2016
MA: University of Pennsylvania, 2019

Yaoying pursues further studies on intellectual and literary history of Japan and China, with specialized interest in modern state-building, alternative modernities, and knowledge construction from the fin-de-siècle to WWII. She is also a keen translator introducing Sinological and Japanological monographs to Chinese readers. Her past projects include translations of works by Itaru Tomiya, Brian Daizen Victoria and Harry D. Harootunian. 

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.

Yueling Ji

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

Yueling Ji is a PhD student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. She is interested in the social and participatory aspects of literature, especially the social function of literary style and form. More broadly, she also studies Sino-Soviet relations, Marxism, and feminist and queer theories.

Siting Jiang

Area of Study: Modern Chinese Literature
BA Peking University, Chinese Literature (2013)
MA Peking University, Comparative Literature (2016)
MA Penn State University, Comparative Literature and Asian Studies (2019)

I am interested in modern Chinese literature, sound studies, and media studies. East Asian studies provides a highly interdisciplinary and intellectually diverse platform for me to fully develop my interests. For my dissertation, I wish to explore the question of listening in twentieth century China, focusing on how ideas, technologies, and practices of listening change within different media, and how listening works as a way of subjectivity formation in socialist and postsocialist China.

Lilian Kong

Area of Study: China
BA: Stanford University, East Asian Studies + Film and Media Studies, 2018
MA: University of Chicago, 2020

My research, which most often takes a comparative, trans-cultural approach, centers on contemporary Mainland Chinese film and visual media. I have been fascinated by emergent aesthetic forms and vocabularies that are shaping contemporary Chinese popular culture, which is of course always engaged in titillating dances with globalizing, ever-changing forms of Chinese state-management. In my undergraduate career, I took state control, nationalism and national identity as the core of my research. Much has changed. As of now, I hope to think about contemporary global visual media circulations at large with Chinese networks at their center, in terms of visual aesthetics, global politics, and cultural worldviews.

Current theoretical interests include media, atmosphere, vernacular modernism, and cultural/aesthetic critique in post-modern and late capitalist contexts. Broader interests include socialist era Chinese film and culture, and contemporary Korean popular culture.

Past research has focused on topics ranging from the use of melodrama in the works of sixth generation Chinese filmmakers (Jia Zhangke and Lou Ye) to the political implications of Wolf Warrior II’s aesthetic- and production-level relation with the Marvel Franchise.

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.

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 transnational literature, performance, and media in twentieth-century Japan. My dissertation explores the performing arts and media culture of Japan's interwar period with a focus on modes of vocal performance across poetry, popular music, and theater. In particular, I am interested in examining how these embodied practices of voicing intersected with the figure of 'voice' as a figurative heading for aesthetic and political expression via emergent technologies of amplification, broadcast, and sound recording. In so doing, I turn an ear to the overlapping imperial soundscapes of the interwar Asia-Pacific and the transnational network of performers and social actors who generated and traversed them. By tracing these sonic pathways, I hope to arrive at new ways of understanding the cultural politics of race, gender, and mobility across this period.

Nick Ogonek

Area of Study: Japan
BA: Bard College, 2011

I study and write about queer authors working in Japan today. More broadly, I am also interested in genre fiction, translation studies, media theory, cultural analytics, and the processes and structures of community and social movement formation.

Yiying Pan

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

I am a Ph.D. candidate specializing in late imperial Chinese history. I received my BA in history from Tsinghua University (Beijing, China) in 2013.

My dissertation, “Symphonic Spaces, Synthesized Knowledge: Environment, Society, and Governance of Eastern Sichuan Highlands, 1723-1864,” examines the interaction between the Qing statecraft knowledge on environment and local geopolitical strategies in eastern Sichuan highlands from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century. In the eighteenth century, the eastern Sichuan highlands in central China had functioned as a transitional zone for the Qing state, which backed up both the Qing state’s military occupation of the northwestern frontiers and its economic developments of the southwestern frontiers. Such central-level geopolitical policies were both counting on and shaping a dynamic socio-economic network in eastern Sichuan, which paved way for the decade-long “White Lotus” rebellions in this area at the turn of the nineteenth century. My research not only aims to offer an explanation for the outbreak of this crisis, but more importantly, to trace how local reconstruction experiences accumulated through this crisis reshaped central-level statecraft thinking on the intersections of environment, political economy, and community making throughout the nineteenth century and beyond.

Aside from this specific dissertation project, I have developed broader interests in knowledge making, long-distance migration, and the mechanisms of social crisis. My research experiences with archival and fieldwork materials have also inspired me to reflect on issues like the pedagogical usage of local materials and the spatial unfolding of historical dynamics.

Kyle Peters

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

My dissertation, Social Ontology in Modern Japanese Aesthetics, serves as an extended philosophical investigation into the aesthetic structures constitutive of social formations, while at the same time providing an inter-disciplinary and historical investigation into the central role that philosophical schools and literary coteries played in the formation of counter-publics in modern Japan. My most recent publication was: “Artistic Production and the Making of the Artist: Applying Nishida Kitarō to Discussions of Authorship” in Philosophy East and West 68.2. My recent presentations include: “The Kyoto and Tokyo Schools in the Sphere of Print: Moving Beyond Academia through the ‘Culture of the Printing Press’” at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and 「初期の西田哲学とオートポイエシス-自己形成の二つ形態」[Early Nishida Philosophy and Autopoiesis: On Two Frameworks of Self-Formation] at the University of Tokyo.

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.

Yuanxie Shi 史原榭

Area of Study: Modern China
BA: Beijing Foreign Studies University
MA: Columbia University


I am interested in crafts, craftsmen and craftsmanship. For my doctoral research, I plan to examine how artisanal work has engaged in the production of cultural representations of China in a global context; how changes in economic and political systems, alongside the effects of imperialism and colonialism, has impacted local craftsmen; and how local encounters with globalization and industrialization influences such basic craft processes as wood carving, pot throwing, textile dying and weaving.

Anthony Stott

Area of Study: Japan
Brown University (Comparative Literature), 2015

I work, broadly speaking, on postwar Japanese literature, culture, and thought. My research is motivated by problems of philosophical aesthetics and affect, reception and circulation, and translation. I pursue these problems as they are manifested not only in more typical literary texts but also across performance, architecture, and criticism as a self-sufficient object of analysis. 

Much of my PhD work has centered on the Japanese writer Ōe Kenzaburō. Emanating out of that  work, my dissertation project hopes to unearth the broader formations of artists and intellectuals with which Ōe is in dialogue in Japan and beyond. In reconsidering the cultural networks in which Ōe is enmeshed, my aim is to shed new light on the way that postwar modernisms and structuralisms together with their institutions are understood, while also extending and reframing contemporary debates around “postcritique” in the U.S. academy. Finally, a distinct but not discrete avenue of my research focuses on Muromachi-period nō and its global and transmedial afterlives in the 20th century. For example, what would it mean to take seriously nō and nō aesthetics, often neglected by scholars of modern Japan, within a postwar media ecology?

As a joint degree student working at the crossroads of East Asian studies and Comparative Literature, I pay special attention to cultivating interdisciplinary methodologies and transnational approaches throughout my work. My research is shaped by a longstanding engagement with discourses of comparative literature and world literature, and takes particular interest in how these discourses invoke (or, more often until the recent past, excluded) East Asia.

Susan Dan Su

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


My dissertation studies the use of language in the cultural production of Amdo Tibet in the 2000s. I pay particular attention to the diverse ways in which language, ethnicity, and politics intersect and are in conversation with cultural production during this period. I am also attentive to the individuals and organizations involved in the creation of said products and the roles that they play with regard to linguistic regulation and standardization.

More broadly, I am interested in translation studies, multilingualism, critical race theory, and media studies.


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.

Jiarui Sun

Area of Study: Contemporary China
BA: Zhejiang University (Chinese Language and Literature) 2016
MA: Dartmouth College (General Liberal Studies) 2019

My main research interest lies in the intersection of cultural studies, film and media studies, and critical theories. I am particularly interested in issues of nationalism, misogyny, technology, and emotions represented and contested in contemporary Chinese popular culture. Because I take a trans-cultural/trans-media perspective on the production and consumption of popular cultural products in today’s China, the subjects of my research include animation, television, and social media across and beyond East Asia. Apart from what is revealed within the text of cultural products, I am also interested in how different cultures and media forms negotiate with (and inform) one another in the process of production.

Ethan Waddell

Area of Study: Korea
BA: State University of New York at Geneseo, (Creative Writing), 2009
MA: Yonsei University, (English Language and Literature), 2016


I am interested in Korean literature, both contemporary as well as from the colonial era. After studying in South Korea for five years, I became fascinated by the prospect of using theories on literature, nationhood, and ethnicity produced by Korean authors during the colonial era to interpret contemporary Korean transnational and diaspora literature. For my doctorate research, I would like to expand upon this interest, with a broad emphasis on representations of nationhood and ethnicity in Korean literature.

Sophia Walker

Area of Study: Japan
BA, Bowdoin College, Asian Studies/Cinema Studies, 2017

Sophia Walker is a PhD student in the joint-degree program in the departments of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and Cinema and Media studies, focusing on Japan. She is interested in the intersections between local, national, and trans-national medias and audiences; representations of the supernatural and the ghostly in cinema and new media; and, very broadly, the representation and reinterpretation of history onscreen.

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.

Fang Wu

Area of Study: Early China
BEd: The Education University of Hong Kong, 2014
MA: The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2016

I am interested in pulling together excavated materials with the transmitted texts and examining the hidden messages in the minimalist narrative patterns of the excavated texts exposed the disenchanted complicated history of the pre-Qin period. In order to develop a more scientific method to study early Chinese thought, historiography, and literature, I have attempted to reach across disciplinary boundaries by exploring the excavated manuscripts, with an emphasis on the interactions between orality and writing, form and grammar, as well as intertextuality and exegetic traditions in early China.

Yiwen Wu

Area of Study: China
BA: University of Virginia (Drama, Media Studies), 2017
MA: UChicago, 2019

Joint Program with Theater & Performance Studies

My research focuses on Chinese opera and the history of performance. I am particularly drawn to the transitional period from the imperial nineteenth century through the iconoclastic twentieth century because of its revolutionary nature and proliferation of theatrical entertainment. My MA thesis, “Actor, Character, and Theater: An Adaptation of Macbeth in Chinese Opera,” is a case study of Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking scene in a 1986 kun opera production. My interests in performance have emerged from one fundamental question: How do stories evolve across time and space? I want to explore the modality of Chinese opera across mediums, across decades, and across evolving national cultures. Along this line of inquiry, the dynamic interplay between performance and its medium fascinates me the most: How does media awareness affect our conceptions of performance? How does the experience of reading, listening, and watching enrich each other?

Emily Yoon

Area of Study: Korea

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

I am working on a dissertation on collective consciousness in feminist Korean and Korean American poetry.

Danlin Zhang

Area of Study: Modern Japanese Literature
BA: UC Berkeley, 2018 (Japanese Language and Literature & Cognitive Science)

I am interested in early modern Japanese prose and novels, especially those produced on both the geographical and political frontiers of imperial expansion. I want to investigate the possibility of engaging the reading of early modern Japanese literature with the larger context of the modernization of East Asia and the influence of Japanese and Western imperialism by bringing in material from areas outside of mainland Japan, especially the colonies and Republican China.

I am an enthusiastic reader of both classical and modern Japanese poetry, and one of my objectives is to seek a way to understand early modern Japanese poetry in relation to traditional poetic forms, western influences and modernization.

I am also very interested in literary, social and culture theory. Thanks to my undergraduate experience as a Cognitive Science major, I am also interested in investigating the possibility of incorporating newly developed theories in modern Cognitive Science into literary theory and criticism.

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 Language and Literature), 2012
MA: Columbia University (East Asian Languages and Cultures), 2014

My dissertation examines how several idiosyncratic 17th-century Chinese authors endeavored to explore the extralinguistic aspects of the voice through the portrayals of ventriloquism, whistling, bird speech, and laughter—sounds that escape, resist, or distort speech and language. In so doing, I probe an implicit discursive network centered on the problem of speech during the late Ming and early Qing. Working in the intersections of literary studies, sound/voice studies, and media studies, I persistently reflect on issues including: How do extralinguistic and nonlinguistic forms of expression and communication modify our conceptions of speech and language? How do sounds in literature enrich our acoustic experience? What makes language human? A comparatist in spirit, I also work on early medieval and medieval Chinese literature.

Yuwei Zhou

Area of Study: Early China
University of California, San Diego, 2020; B.A. in History and B.S. in Mathematics-Computer Science

My current research interest lies on the craft production system in late Shang China. I want to investigate how craft production reveals the elite activity and power relations of the site Yinxu and more generally, of other archaeological sites in China. I am also interested in the development of early Chinese writing, as reflected in the oracle bone inscriptions and bronze inscriptions. Coming from an undergraduate background of math and computer science, I am very enthusiastic about using computational methods to quantize and visualize the late Shang elite social network as represented in the distribution of clan emblems, which are preserved primarily on bronze vessels.

Yunjun Zhou

Area of Study: Early Modern China
BA: Sun Yat-Sen University, 2011
MS: University of Pennsylvania, 2013
MA: University of Chicago, 2017 
My research interests center around the dynamic relationships between texts and images. Specifically, I am interested in how human as a visual object of appraisal were perceived, viewed, defined, termed, ranked and valued in late imperial China; how these textual descriptions are selected, internalized, and transformed into pictorial devices, including but not limited to portraits, illustrations, game-cards, and other images derived from texts; and how these images, in return, reconstructed and redefined their originary texts, and influenced the popularization, circulation, commercialization, and (re)interpretation of the texts. I am also interested in how technological, economic, social and epistemological changes interact with literary and pictorial portraits. 
Prior to joining the University of Chicago, I worked as a lecturer in East Asian Studies at Princeton University for three years. I also taught as a head instructor at the Princeton in Beijing (PiB) program in the summer of 2013.
China’s Development and Dilemmas: Authentic Readings for Advanced Learners 中国的发展与困境现代汉语高级读本 (1st Edition). by Chih-p’ing Chou, Yongtao Zhang, Yunjun Zhou. Boston: Cheng & Tsui, 2018.

Jiayi Zhu

Area of Study: Medieval China, Japan and Korea
BA: Middlebury College (Anthropology and Environmental Studies), 2014
MA: Columbia University (East Asian Buddhism), 2017


My research focuses on Esoteric Buddhism and Buddhist art in East Asia from 7th to 10th century.