PhD Student Profiles

Berge-Becker, Zach
Bernard, Allison
Bensen, Nolan
Buckelew, Kevin
Chambers, Harlan
Chang, Jian Ming (Chris)
Chang, Tsai-Wei
Chao, Glenda
Chung, Jae Won Edward
Deckrow, Andre
Eaton, Clay
Estep, Chloe
Fong, Sau-yi
Ganany, Noga
Hao, Tenggeer
Hauk, Michelle L.
Healy, Gavin
Huang, Yanjie
Ishida, Yuki
Kaplan-Reyes, Alexander
Kim, Yong-ha
Kindler, Benjamin
Komova, Ekaterina
Korolkov, Maxim
Kung, Ling-Wei
Lei, Lei
Liu, Peng
Luo, Yuqing
MacBain, Abigail
Mei, Rachel
Mendoza, Antonio
Miyazaki, Maho
Moody, Peter
Ngo Vu, Nhat Phuong
Pang, Carolyn
Peacock, Christopher
Qian, Qichen (Barton)
Reeves, Kristopher
Revells, Tristan
Reynolds, Elizabeth
Rogers, Joshua
Sakai, Komei
Schlachet, Joshua
Shahaf, Nataly
Shakya, Riga
Shen, Yiwen
St Amant, Guy
Stilerman, Tracy
Sun, Myra
Thompson, John
Tsering, Sonam
van der Meer, A.J.
Walker, Jeffrey
Wang, Shih-han
Wang, Yijun
White, Oliver
Wu, Dongming
Yang, Chung-Wei
Yang, YingChuan
Yi, Yuan
Yuan, Ye
Zhang, Chi
Zhang, Jing
Zhang, Yifan
Zou, Dongxin
Recent PhDs
Batts, Joshua
Felt, Matthieu
Gaubatz, Tom
Kief, Jonathan
Lin, Hsin Yi
Thompson, Luke
Wang, Zi (Chelsea)
Woolley, Charles



Zach Berge-Becker

Chinese History, Advisor: Robert Hymes

Zach Berge-Becker specializes in the writings and worldviews of Song dynasty elites (shi, 士). He received his BA from McGill University, and his MA at Columbia. His MA thesis compared conceptions of reputation in the writings of Sima Guang 司馬光 (1019-1086) and Shao Yong 邵雍 (1011-1077), to demonstrate that reputation can be an effective lens through which to better understand a broad range of elite priorities and values. His current research focuses on Northern Song elite methods of self-categorization within certain social networks, observing the ways in which their identities were constructed not only relative to each other and their aristocratic predecessors, but also in relation to other members of Song society. When not immersed in Song poetry and prose, he is also a student of the Mei’an (梅庵) style of playing the ancient zither (guqin, 古琴).

bernardAllison Bernard

Chinese Literature, Advisor: Shang Wei

Allison is a doctoral student in premodern Chinese literature. Her research interests include the intersections of literary and historical writing, book history and print culture, and the world of Chinese theater. Her dissertation engages the literary world of Kong Shangren’s seminal play The Peach Blossom Fan, using the play and its network of related texts to examine ideological resonances among stage, society, and writerly legacy. Before joining Columbia’s PhD program in the fall of 2012, Allison received her BA from Middlebury College (2010) and an MA from Columbia’s EALAC department (2012). She also has interests in Japanese theater, poetry, art history, and media studies.

Nolan Benson

Nolan Bensen

Chinese History, Advisor: Robert Hymes

Nolan Bensen got his BA from New College of Florida and his MA here at Columbia. He studies the history of the early Ming Dynasty, founded in 1368. His research focuses on Ming foreign relations, large-scale Ming state projects, and the effects of former inclusion in the Mongol Empire on Ming China’s sense of the rest of Eurasia.


Kevin Buckelew

Chinese Religion, Advisor: Bernard Faure & Zhaohua Yang

Kevin is a Ph.D. candidate in Chinese Buddhism and religion. His dissertation explores the rise of the Chan Buddhist tradition during the Tang-Song period, analyzing how Chan Buddhists reinterpreted the canonical aesthetics of buddhahood and invented a new set of images and norms according to which Chan masters themselves could be recognized as living buddhas. Other research interests include the role of figurative imagery in mediating the reception of Buddhism in medieval China, with particular attention to the ways this imagery provided a space for Buddhists and Daoists to negotiate the boundary between materiality and metaphor. Before coming to Columbia, he received his B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College.

Harlan ChambersHarlan Chambers

Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, Advisor: Lydia Liu

Harlan Chambers is a Ph.D. student affiliated with Columbia’s Institute of Comparative Literature and Society. Before coming to New York, he earned a licence in Chinese language and civilization at France’s Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (INALCO) as well as an MA in Asian Cultures and Languages from the University of Texas at Austin. His dissertation research focuses on cultural mobilization projects from the Yan’an period through the Cultural Revolution. He aims to investigate how, over the course of this period, various cultural forms (literary, visual, performance, etc.) contributed to and complicated China’s revolutionary project of building a “new society.” Formerly an actor in Paris, Harlan also has an avid interest in theatre and other forms of live performance. Additional research areas include late Qing radical thought, Sino-soviet cultural exchange, and critical theory.

DSC04775JM Chris Chang

Chinese History, Advisor: Eugenia Lean

JM Chris Chang is a student in modern Chinese history working on the relationship between petition writing and ideological revisionism in the post-Mao transition. He received his BA from Amherst College and a dual-MA from Columbia and the London School of Economics. Prior to returning to Columbia to begin the PhD track, he was a visiting researcher at Beijing University.


changTsai-Wei Chang

Modern Chinese Literature and Cinema, Advisors: Ying Qian & Jane Gaines

Tsai-Wei Chang received her B.A. in Foreign Languages and Literatures from National Taiwan University and M.A. in Film Studies from Columbia University. She is a Ph.D. student in Chinese cinema and media. Her research interests include the history and theory of Chinese cinema and visual cultures, world cinema, media arts and digital cultures. Her dissertation project explores the formation of spectatorship and film experiences in the history of Chinese-language cinema.



chaoGlenda Chao

Chinese History, Advisor: Li Feng

Glenda is a PhD student focusing on the archaeology of the Bronze Age in south China. Her research interests include how archaeological, historical and paleographical sources can be used in conjunction with one another to study the origins of regional bronze culture styles during the late Western Zhou and early Spring and Autumn periods in China, as well as how the archaeological record reflects the political, social, and economic relationships between different regions of China during the Eastern Zhou period. She also has a budding interest in archaeological theory and its relationship to the development of the archaeology of China as a discipline. She received her B.A. in archaeology from Boston University in 2007 and her M.A. in East Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia in 2009.

Jae Won Edward Chung

Korean Literature, Advisor: Theodore Hughes

Jae Won is a doctoral candidate in modern Korean literature. His researching and teaching interests include literary studies, intellectual history, popular culture and visual culture. His dissertation project looks at the discourse of “everyday life” (saenghwal, 生活) as a battleground of representation by writers, intellectuals, photographers, filmmakers, rural leaders and U.S. and South Korean policy makers primarily in the years following the Korean War (1950-1953). Before coming to EALAC, Jae Won received his B.A. in philosophy from Swarthmore College, and M.F.A. in creative writing from Columbia’s School of the Arts, and worked as a literary translator in Seoul. He is also interested in Asian American studies, theories of race, film studies, and history of photography.

deckrowAndre Deckrow

Japanese History, Advisor: Carol Gluck

Andre Deckrow is a doctoral student in modern Japanese history. His research focuses on twentieth century Japanese migration to Latin America, specifically Brazil. He received his B.A. in History and Asian Languages and Cultures from Amherst College in 2006. Andre spent the 2007-2008 academic year traveling around the Pacific Rim researching Japanese gardens as symbols of historical memory as a Thomas J. Watson Fellow. For the 2010-2011 academic year, Andre serves as a Co-President of the Graduate History Association, the organization that represents all history graduate students at Columbia.

eatonClay Eaton

Japanese History, Advisor: Carol Gluck

Clay Eaton received his B.A. from Lewis & Clark College in 2007, where he studied International Relations, History, and Japanese. Before beginning his graduate studies he spent two years teaching English in Hyogo, Japan. He began working on his PhD at Columbia in 2010. His MA Thesis (2012) addressed the construction and public use of three monuments built in Singapore under British, Japanese, and PAP rule. His dissertation focuses on social policies implemented by the Japanese administration of Singapore during the Second World War. Using Japanese, Chinese, and Malay sources, he studies both the intricacies of Japanese policy-making and diverse local responses to the administration’s initiatives.

estepChloe Estep

Chinese Literature, Advisor: Lydia Liu

Chloe Estep received her A.B. in comparative literature from Princeton University (2009) and M.A. in Chinese studies from the University of Michigan (2013). A student of modern Chinese literature, her M.A. thesis examined the influence of translation practice on early twentieth century Chinese poetics. Also a student in the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, Chloe is primarily interested in the intersection between translation theory and practice, as well as modern Chinese poetics and semiotics. She is also an avid translator of fiction and poetry.

Sau-yi Fong

Chinese History, Advisor:

Sau-yi Fong is a doctoral student in Chinese history. She received her BA from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (2008) and her Mphil from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (2013). Her research interests lie in the intersection of military history, intellectual history and the history of science and technology, with a focus on late imperial gunpowder technology, the manufacture of armaments and literati conceptions of war and violence in Qing China. She worked as a translator in Hong Kong for more than 5 years before joining Columbia in 2014.

gananyNoga Ganany

Chinese Literature, Advisor: Shang Wei

Noga is a PhD candidate in Chinese Studies. She is currently writing her dissertation, which examines hagiographic narratives in the context of late-Ming print culture and lay religious practice. Before joining the program, Noga received her BA and MA from Tel Aviv University, Israel, and in between studied at Xiamen University. Her master’s thesis explored the literary tradition and religious worship of judge Bao-gong in late imperial and modern China and Taiwan. She is interested in late-imperial Chinese cultural history, and in particular the dynamics between literature and religion.

Tenggeer Hao

Modern Chinese Literature and Cinema, Advisor: Ying Qian

Tenggeer Hao is a Ph.D. student in modern Chinese literature and cinema. His academic interests include modern and contemporary China, critical theory, and Buddhisms. In a close reading of several Chinese films, his M.A. thesis theoretically examines the notion of “coming out of the closet” in terms of representation, togetherness, and ethics of liberation. This has further brought him to the current project of formulating a Buddhist film theory. It explores how some filmmakers theorize both about and through filmmaking, and how such theorizations would speak to Buddhist understandings of visuality, desire, emptiness, temporality, and compassion. Tenggeer is also a documentary filmmaker, interested in documenting the camera’s encounter with such social units as a family, a school, or a monastery in their geographical and sociopolitical environments. Tenggeer received his BA in Chinese Language and Literature from Beijing Normal University (2013), and an MA in East Asian Studies, Critical Asian Humanities Track from Duke University (2016).

Michelle L. Hauk

Japanese History, Advisor: Gregory Pflugfelder & Paul Kreitman

Michelle L. Hauk studies the social history of architecture in Japan and is interested in urban history, domestic architecture, and gender studies. Before entering the Ph.D. program at Columbia University, she taught studio and architectural history at the Sam Fox School of Art & Design at Washington University in St. Louis, including a course on Women in Architecture. Michelle earned an M.Arch and MSAS at Washington University in St. Louis in 2015 and received her BA in studio art and East Asian studies from Kalamazoo College in 2007.

Gavin HealyGavin Healy photo

Chinese History, Advisor: Madeleine Zelin

Gavin Healy is a doctoral student in modern Chinese history. His research interests include late-Qing print culture, relations between Qing-China and Chosŏn Korea, and PRC-era public diplomacy. He plans to write a dissertation on the development of the tourism industry from the founding of the PRC to the market reforms of the late 1970s and early 1980s, examining how industry personnel struggled to balance the use of tourism as a form of public diplomacy with the demands of developing a revenue-generating service industry in a socialist economy. He received his BA in Asian Studies from Cornell University, a JD from Columbia Law School, and an MA in Chinese Studies from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Before entering the PhD program, he practiced law in New York and Seoul.

Yanjie Huang

Modern Chinese History, Advisors: Eugenia Lean & Madeleine Zelin

Yanjie Huang is a doctoral student in late imperial and modern Chinese history. His research interests center on the transformation of the modern Chinese state during the last one-and-a-half centuries. In particular, he is interested in the rise of a unified and centralized modern state in China amidst the total wars of the mid-twentieth-century and the early Cold War(1937-1953. He received his BA in Economics (2008) and MA in History (2015) from the National University of Singapore. His master thesis focuses on the conceptual transformation of sacrifice in modern China. Before joining Columbia, he worked as a researcher in a Singapore-based think tank on contemporary China and East Asia.

Yuki IshidaYuki Ishida

Japanese Literature, Advisor: Tomi Suzuki

Before joining Columbia University, Yuki received her B.A. in Comparative Japanese Studies from the University of Tokyo and her M.A. in Russian literature from Saint Petersburg State University (Russia). Her M.A. thesis (2015) addressed the interplay of the documentary and the fictional in 20th century postwar literary imagination in Russia and Japan. Her current research interests include the intersection of intellectual history and literature in 20th century Japan, focusing on the problematics of fiction in modern Japanese literary and intellectual discourse.

Alexander Kaplan-Reyes

Japanese History, Advisors: Gregory Pflugfelder and David Lurie

Alexander Kaplan-Reyes is a doctoral history student in early modern Japanese history. Alexander’s primary research focuses on male-male sexuality among elite samurai networks during the Warring States Period and how fragmented political and cultural authority at this time created spaces for experimentation that in turn influenced normative male-male sexual practices and behavior during the Edo Period. He is also interested in modern popular culture interpretations of major historical figures and events of the Warring States Period and how this shapes and reflects so-called “common knowledge” about them. He received his BA in East Asian Studies from Occidental College in 2011 and his MA in East Asian Studies from University of California, Los Angeles in 2014.


Yong-ha Kim

Chinese History, Advisor: Li Feng

Yongha is a doctoral student concentrating on early Chinese history. Before joining Columbia’s community of scholars (Fall 2016), he received both his B.A (2009) and his M.A in history (2014) from Korea University. Under the guidance of Professor Li Feng, he is currently analyzing China’s first empires, the Qin and the Han, from the perspective of the Warring States Period, and seeks to explore the tension between integration and disintegration that constantly haunted the empires. Yongha is especially engrossed in research topics such as the diversity of the Warring States, the counter-reaction towards standardization, and the empires’ measures to pacify the force of dissolution. He is also interested in comparing the process of Chinese empire formation with other cases of the world. As well as using the received texts, he is eager to blend archaeological data, and paleographic sources to reconstruct the history of this era.

Benjamin Kindler

Modern Chinese Literature and Film, Advisor: Lydia Liu

Ben Kindler is a student of the cultural politics of the Chinese Revolution. In particular, he is interested in the ways that Chinese activists and intellectuals thought through the question of labour across China’s twentieth century. He is currently preparing a PhD project on the relationship between labour and culture from the 1920s up to the early socialist period, in which he tracks the reconfiguration of cultural production as itself a form of creative labour via the figure of the “communication worker”, together with the aestheticization of material labour and the working-class body through radical cultural production. His interests encompass the varied media of prose literature, performance studies and film. Beyond his current project on labour, Ben is also interested in the complex legacies of Soviet socialism during the Mao and post-Maoist eras, internationalist projects of cultural production during the Cold War era, particularly those between the People’s Republic and Vietnam, as well as issues of historical memory in the contemporary People’s Republic.

Ekaterina Komova

Japanese Literature, Advisor: Haruo Shirane

Ekaterina is a PhD student in premodern Japanese literature. Prior to coming to Columbia, she received her BA in Asian Language and Culture (Hons., 2012) followed by her MA in Asian Studies (2014) from the University of British Columbia. Her primary research areas include the history and development of linguistic thought as well as the interrelation between linguistic processes such as grammatical and semantic broadening and their effect on the evolution and aesthetization of certain poetic and literary concepts. She is also interested in the tradition of poetic commentaries and reception, in addition to the stylistics and reading of kuzushiji (cursive) texts. Outside of her field of specialty, Ekaterina is actively involved in the research of phonetics of Czech and Russian.

Maxim Korolkov

Chinese History, Advisor: Feng Li

Maxim received his B.A. in history from Moscow State University (2007) and M.A. in Chinese history from Beijing University (2011). As a doctoral student in Columbia University, he is exploring the administrative organization and economic management in the early Chinese empire of Qin (221-210 B.C.) as reflected in the archive of Qianling County excavated from the remains of the Qin fortified settlement at Liye, Hunan Province. Maxim is particularly interested in the organization of production, accumulation, storage, and distribution of food and other material resources; official communication and transportation; management of labor; operation of monetary economy; and government intervention into local economic activities. He is also interested in possible implications of the existing theories of social power and anthropological research on the construction of value in various societies for the interpretation of the ancient Chinese paleographic documents.

Ling-wei Kung

Tibetan and Chinese History, Advisors: Gray Tuttle & Madeleine Zelin

Ling-wei Kung is a Ph.D. student in Chinese and Tibetan history. His research interests center on international legal practices and global economic exchanges between modern China and Inner Asia during the 18th-20th centuries. He is also more broadly interested in the roles of Inner Asian peoples, especially Tibetans, Mongolians and Uyghurs, in the competitions between the Qing, British and Russian Empires. His research project discusses the intertwinement of “tributary system” and “international law” in Qing China, and its influences on the commercial activities between modern China and Inner Asia. In so doing, he primarily works with Manchu, Mongolian, and Tibetan documents, along with Chinese materials. In addition to the fields of his specialty, he is learning Persian and Turkish languages as a novice. Ling-Wei received a B.A. in History from National Taiwan University (2012), and his M.A. in Tibetan Studies from Columbia University (2015). Before coming to New York City, he stayed in Beijing, where he studied Chinese and Inner Asian history, as well as Manchu, Mongolian and Tibetan at Renmin and Peking Universities for two years.

Lei Lei

Chinese Literature, Advisor: Lydia Liu

Lei Lei is a PhD candidate in modern Chinese literature with a concentration in comparative literature. Her research interests include 20th century Chinese literature and American literature, history of biology and psychology, and critical theory. Her dissertation project looks at how 20th century writers and psychologists in China and the US made sense of the psychic life of the working class during the time of political mobilization and mass education movements. Before joining in Columbia, Lei also received a MPP from UMCP with a concentration on China-US relations.

liuPeng Liu

Chinese Literature, Advisor: Shang Wei

Peng is a Ph.D. candidate in late imperial Chinese literature. His dissertation examines the crucial role of Chinese vernacular fiction in popularizing religious symbols that were otherwise marginalized or forgotten. Besides his dissertation project, he has also paid attention to the revival of Buddhism at the turn of the twentieth century when Chinese intellectuals traveled to the West and propagated Buddhist ideas on the world stage.

Yuqing Luo

Chinese History, Advisor: Robert Hymes

Yuqing is a Ph.D. student in pre-modern Chinese history. Her research interests include Song popular religious texts, medieval ritual performance and cross-cultural mortuary traditions. Yuqing received her BA in Chinese Language and Literature from Zhejiang University (2013), and her MA from Stanford University’s East Asian Languages and Cultures Department (2015). Her MA thesis examines the relationship between Song literati and spirit writing tradition. Before joining Columbia’s Ph.D. program in the fall of 2016, she spent a year working as an intern at Zhejiang University Museum of Art and Archaeology.

macbainAbigail MacBain

East Asian Religion, Advisors: Michael Como & Bernard Faure

Abigail is working toward a PhD focused on early Japanese religion and history. She began her studies at St. Lawrence University (BA, 2004), where she developed an honor’s thesis on Shinto-Buddhist syncretic themes in theJinno Shotoki. After a two year period teaching English in northern Japan, she continued her studies at McMaster University (MA, 2008). While there, she developed a particular interest in researching Buddhism in mainland Asia and examining the various political and cultural influences that accompanied its entry and acceptance in Japan. Her master’s thesis focused on early Japan’s Buddhist national protection temples and sutras. It also considered similar systems developed by other Asian rulers, whose examples the Japanese court may have been copying. Prior to entering Columbia in 2013, she worked for four years at the Consulate General of Japan in Miami, FL.

staumRachel Mei

Japanese Literature, Advisor: Tomi Suzuki and Haruo Shirane

Rachel Mei received her B.A. in East Asian Studies from Harvard College (2009). Before coming to Columbia, she worked for the JET Program as a Coordinator for International Relations in Takaoka, Japan. In 2011, she entered Columbia’s Japanese Literature Ph.D. program. She is currently researching stories about women from other worlds in Japanese literature, focusing on otogizoshi (late medieval popular fiction), as well as the reception and rewriting of these stories in different genres across time.

mendozaAntonio J. Mendoza

Chinese History, Advisor: Eugenia Lean

Antonio is a first-year PhD student studying the history of modern China. He is interested in the development of plastic and cosmetic surgery from the early to mid-twentieth century. Prior to arriving at Columbia, Antonio studied in Berkeley, Taipei, and Paris. He received his BA in History and Philosophy from California State University, Long Beach. A Southern California native, Antonio nevertheless has a complicated relationship with sunshine.

Maho, Miyazaki

Japanese Literature, Advisor: Haruo Shirane

Maho Miyazaki is a PhD student in premodern Japanese literature. Before joining Columbia she received her BA (2012) and MA (2014) in English literature from Kyoto University. Her current research interest focuses on the Noh plays, such as the significance of changing clothes and masks during the performance, cross-dressing, its relationship with shirabyōshi (female cross-dressing performer in the medieval period), and comparative study with English Renaissance drama. She is also interested in translation studies in general and the English translation of Japanese premodern literature by the early 20th century intellectuals.

pmoodyPeter Moody

Korean History, Advisor: Charles Armstrong

Peter is a Phd student in East Asian History specializing in the cultural and intellectual history of modern Korea and Japan. He is interested in looking at how the discourse of tradition vs. modern evolved during the colonial and post-war periods, particularly when state actors used notions of civilization and advancement to win support for political projects that were sometimes at the expense of the subaltern. Before coming to Columbia, he obtained his Master’s in East Asian Studies from the University of Virginia (2010) where he wrote his thesis on mass mobilization campaigns in North Korea. His recent research interests include microhistories of North Korean coastal cities and the intersection of North Korean ideology and cultural production, particularly when it comes to the popular music soundscape.

PhuongNhat Phuong Ngo Vu

Japanese Literature, Advisor: Haruo Shirane

Phuong is a Ph.D. candidate in premodern Japanese literature. She is interested in classical literature, visual culture, and performance broadly conceived. Her dissertation, tentatively titled “Lyric Poetry as Social Performance: Ambiguity of Authorial Presence in Classical Poetry,” seeks to investigate the degree of identification between the poet and the poetic persona across the major genres of waka in order to explore the relationship between artistic production and consumption in Heian Japan. This project argues that the ambiguity in the autobiographical presence of the poet in the fabric of the poems is the very quality that makes up the complexity and sophistication of waka, an important component of Japanese court culture.

Carolyn Pang

Japanese Religion, Advisor: Michael Como

Carol is a Ph.D. candidate in Japanese Religion. Her research interests focus on East Asian religious practices and folk beliefs, and extend to the study of traditional ritual performances in Japan, specifically kagura. Carol is currently in Japan doing her dissertation fieldwork on the Izanagi-ryū, a folk religion that is still practiced in contemporary Kōchi, Shikoku. Through a study of the scriptures and ritual practices of the Izanagi-ryū, Carol’s research investigates how peripheral regions in Japan used local cultic practices to position themselves in relation to the capital center, and how religion functioned in these distant provinces’ construction of their local identities. She received her B.A. (2005) and M.A. (2010) in Japanese Studies from the National University of Singapore. During this period, she participated in research programs at Waseda University and Rikkyo University in Tokyo.

Christopher Peacock

Chinese Literature, Advisor: Lydia Liu

Christopher graduated from the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London), earning his B.A. and M.A. degrees in Chinese & History and Chinese Literature, respectively. His research interests are focused on Tibetan literary writing – primarily Tibetan-language texts, but also Chinese-language literature about Tibet written by both ethnically Tibetan and ethnically Han authors. His dissertation aims to tackle some of the major questions that arise from considering Tibetan literature in the context of the modern Chinese literary and national spheres. Beginning with late-Qing and Republican-era conceptions of ethnicity, race, nation, and state, particularly the discourse of ‘national character’ and the work of Lu Xun, his project sets out to question assumptions about the meanings and implications of these key ideas in modern China. The bulk of the dissertation goes on to explore Tibetan literary and intellectual nationalism from the 1980s onward. It examines, among other issues, how Tibetan intellectuals have deconstructed and re-purposed Chinese nationalist discourses to create their own iterations of ethnicity and nation, and how in doing so they have complicated our understanding of these notions both in the present day and throughout modern Tibetan and Chinese (literary) history. In addition to his research, Christopher also works on translations of modern Tibetan literary texts.

Qichen (Barton) Qian

Tibetan and Chinese History, Advisors: Gray Tuttle and Zhaohua Yang

Qichen (Barton) Qian is a doctoral student of Sino-Tibetan history and esoteric Buddhism from the 17th to 20th centuries. His research incorporates military and economic history of the Tibetan Ganden Podrang regime (1642–1959) and the Qing empire (1644–1912), as well as violence in Buddhism and material culture of firearms. Barton received his B.A. in Political Science/Math with a minor in Economics from Emory University and his M.A. in Tibetan and Chinese history from Columbia University.

reeves Kristopher Reeves

Japanese Literature, Advisor: Haruo Shirane

Kristopher is currently a PhD candidate interested in issues of literary heteroglossia, focusing primarily on Chinese-style poetry (kanshi) composed by Japanese writers in the ninth and tenth century. Kristopher seeks to draw more attention to the so-called private or family anthologies (shikashū) of Chinese-style poetry. He is currently exploring, on the one hand, ways in which these family anthologies adapted, combined, and, by interweaving poetic traditions taken over from the world of waka verse, significantly transformed earlier genres of Chinese-style poetry, and, on the other, how these literary transformations might be understood simultaneously as sociopolitical responses to different types of readers, from the exalted patron to the fellow poet.


Tristan Revells

Chinese History, Advisors: Madeleine Zelin and Eugenia Lean

Tristan is working on legal and business history in late Qing and early Republican China. He is currently researching regulatory standards and marketing and distribution patterns in the Jiangnan region. He received his BA from the University of Chicago in 2008, eventually moving to Shanghai where he tried his hand at freelancing and Mandarin while sporting a dizzying array of Feiyue. Two years in Taipei at ICLP and National Taiwan University preceded the start of his PhD.


reynoldsElizabeth Reynolds

Tibetan History, Advisor: Gray Tuttle

Elizabeth is a PhD candidate in the History-East Asia Program focusing on Tibetan and Chinese History. Her research examines the crossovers of economic history and material culture between China and Tibet from the 17th to 19th centuries. Specifically she is interested in posing questions on cross cultural economic networks, material culture in translation, and material culture as a unique form of cultural expression. A practiced artist herself, Elizabeth plans on incorporating the physical and interactive elements of art and material culture into her research. Elizabeth received her BA from Barnard College, Columbia University in 2011. Upon graduating she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to do research on the commercialization of Tibetan thangka paintings in Amdo, modern day Qinghai, China. Living in Qinghai for two years, she studied at Qinghai Nationalities University and worked extensively for Columbia’s Engaging Digital Tibet project.

rogersJoshua Rogers

Japanese Literature, Advisor: Tomi Suzuki

Joshua Rogers is a Ph.D. student in modern Japanese literature. His research investigates the role of Christianity in Japanese literature after the Meiji period, arguing that although there were drastically fewer practicing Christians among Japanese intellectuals from the Taishō period forward, the cultural and intellectual impact Christianity had in Meiji remained relevant throughout the 20th century. By tracing the evolution of how Christian ideas and motifs were adopted by Japanese authors in this period, Joshua hopes to show the impact of Christian themes on issues ranging from cosmopolitanism and cultural identity to humanism and ethics. Joshua graduated from the University of Tokyo with a B.A. in Contemporary Literary Studies in 2012, worked as a freelance Japanese translator for nearly two years, and started his Ph.D. at Columbia in 2013.

Komei Sakai

Japanese Religion, Advisor: D. Max Moerman

Komei Sakai is a doctoral student of pre-modern Japanese religion. He received his B.A. (2013) in East Asian Studies from New York University. His primary research interest is in the religious iconography of Japanese arms and armor from the Kamakura period, with an emphasis on the engraving on sword blades related to the worship of Fudō Myō-ō. He believes that his research will be able to provide a new perspective in the understanding of the samurais’ religious beliefs. He is also interested in the exchange of swords in pre-modern Japan and China.

Riga Shakya

Sino-Tibetan Histor, Advisor: Gray Tuttle

Riga Shakya is a PhD candidate in Sino-Tibetan history in the History-East Asia Program. His interests broadly span classical and contemporary Tibetan literature and the history of Sino-Tibetan relations. Riga’s doctoral research centres on the emergence of Tibetan political biography during the Qing period, with particular attention to the literary works of the Tibetan cabinet minister and polymath Dokhar Tsering Wangyal (Mdo mkhar tshe ring dbang rgyal). He is currently working on the first English language translation of Dokhar’s autobiography Reflections of a Cabinet Minister (Bka’ blon rtogs brjod). Riga holds a BA in East Asian Studies and Religious Studies from the University of Toronto, and a certificate in Tibetan Language and Culture from Tibet University, Lhasa. He is also an avid translator of contemporary Tibetan fiction and poetry.

schlachetJoshua Schlachet

Japanese History, Advisors: Carol Gluck & Gregory Pflugfelder

Joshua Evan Schlachet is a fourth-year doctoral student in 19th-century Japanese cultural history with an emphasis on Japan’s international relationships during the Tokugawa period. His research interests focus on the impacts of emerging food exchange networks on the cultural, economic & intellectual transformations of the early-19th century as well as the tensions between emerging popular restaurant culture and the crises of famine and social upheaval along Japan’s rural margins. Joshua earned his B.A. in History and Asian Studies from Cornell University in 2008 and his M.A. in Japanese Studies from the University of Michigan in 2011. He conducted Fulbright research on the socio-political significance of the sugar trade in southern Japan in 2009 and more recently explored questions of Japanese ethnographic representation in Leiden, The Netherlands.

Nataly Shahaf

Chinese History, Advisor: Eugenia Lean

I am studying modern Chinese intellectual and cultural history with particular focus on the encounters between China and Japan during the late Qing and early Republican periods. I received both my B.A. and M.A. from Tel Aviv University. My Master’s thesis examines the nexus of Buddhism and Neuroscience by tracing the transition and transformation of knowledge along with the practical application of knowledge in relation to the changing social context of the time. I am currently working on the history of art production and distribution, and the visual presentation of religion and women, especially prostitutes. I am interested in the open-ended processes of collecting, printing, publishing, presenting and distributing of art in China vis-à-vis the developments of global networks of technology during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

shenYiwen Shen

Japanese Literature, Advisor: Haruo Shirane

Yiwen is a Ph.D. student in classical Japanese literature. She received her B.A. in Chinese Literature from Fudan University, Shanghai (2008), M.A. in Japanese Literature from Columbia (2011), and M.A. in Chinese Literature from University of Wisconsin-Madison (2012). Her fields of interest include Japanese and Chinese literature, with particular focus on medieval narrative prose. She hopes to examine the common ground and shared nuances of the relevant accounts in China and Japan by paying close heed to their original historical milieu, even while tracing the religious context and visual representations of them. Currently she is conducting research on the literary and visual analyses of the netherworld and influential death-related icons in the early Japanese setsuwa collections from the Nara through the medieval period.

Guy St Amant

Advisors: Zhaohua Yang and Bernard Faure

Guy St. Amant is a Ph.D student of Chinese religion. His research focuses on the development of esoteric Buddhism in middle-period China, and he is particularly interested in questions related to the transmission of Buddhist scripture from South to East Asia. Prior to coming to Columbia, he worked on the history of Chinese medicine as well as the depiction of foreign gods in Chinese scripture. Guy earned his B.A. from Cambridge University and his M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Tracy (Howard) Stilerman

Tibetan Buddhism, Advisor: Gray Tuttle

Tracy (Howard) Stilerman is a PhD candidate in Tibetan Buddhism whose research focuses on the history of Buddhist sites and Tibetan engagement with the landscape in the 17th to 20th centuries. Before beginning the PhD program she received a BA in Tibetan Studies from Columbia University, worked as a translator and interpreter of Tibetan language in the US and Tibet, and spent one year at Waseda University in Tokyo as an exchange researcher.

sunMyra Sun

Chinese Literature, Advisor: Lydia Liu

Myra received her B.A. in English and Chinese Language from UC Berkeley (2007). Before coming to Columbia in 2009, she worked for two years in Nara, Japan as an assistant language teacher with the JET program. Currently, she is a Ph.D. student in modern Chinese literature and a fellow at the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. Her current research explores issues of intellectual and creative labor, textual authority, and literary practice in late Qing and early Republican China. Her dissertation project will focus on the influences of editing and early 20th century new media on the formation and canonization of modern Chinese literature. She is also broadly interested in Chinese theater and performance, film, and media culture from the late 19th century to the present.

johnthompsonJohn Thompson

Chinese History, Advisor: Eugenia Lean

John’s dissertation focuses on the construction of bomb shelters in Chongqing during the Second World War. His research encompasses the practice of emergency government in East Asia, the politics of large-scale technical systems, the way war expanded the Chinese state’s technological capacity, and Chinese contributions to global models of civil defense. Before coming to Columbia, John received a BA in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago and a MA in Regional Studies – East Asia from Harvard University.

Sonam Tsering

East Asian Religion, Advisor: Gray Tuttle

Sonam Tsering received his Master of Arts in Buddhist Studies from Central University for Tibetan Studies and Master in Theological Studies from Harvard University. He has served as managing editor of Tibet Journal for several years and worked on various translation projects. Having completed his Master of Philosophy at Columbia University, Sonam is currently studying the role of texts in the formation of the Gelukpa School of Buddhist thought in Tibet during the fourteenth-fifteenth centuries for his doctoral dissertation. His latest publication is a critically annotated translation titled Arya Nagarjuna’s Precious Garland: Buddhist Polity on Life and Liberation (LTWA 2014). Sonam is also working on a project on Tibetan history during the seventh and eighth centuries.

A.J. van der Meer

Japanese literature, Advisor: Tomi Suzuki

Before coming to Columbia A.J. van der Meer studied at Leiden University (BA, MA) and Waseda University (MA). The main focus of his research has been Meiji literature in general, and the novels of Natsume Soseki more specifically. For his project at Columbia he hopes to broaden the focus of his research by examining issues of empire and nation-state in the broader context of 19th century literature.

walkerTyler Walker

Japanese Literature, Advisor: Paul Anderer

Tyler received his B.A. in Japanese Studies from Middlebury College (2008), following which he spent a year working as a translator in Hiroshima, Japan. He has since taught Japanese language in Massachusetts and in his native Mississippi. Tyler has worked on the intersection of radical politics and art that characterized the emerging agrarian and proletarian literature movements of the Taishō period. An avid hiker who loves traveling the Japanese countryside, Tyler ultimately hopes to explore new critical approaches to rural and regional literature to gain insight into the fascinating relationship between country and city in 20th century Japan.

s-wangShih-han Wang

Chinese History, Advisor: Li Feng

Shih-han is a PhD student in the history of early China. Her research interest lies in the relationship between Central Plain and the Eurasian Steppe, especially the interaction reflected on material cultures. She is also interests in the narrative and the composing of Western Zhou inscriptions and the concept of recording and historiography. By incorporating archaeological, historical and paleographical sources, she hopes to obtain a clear picture of the frontier region and of the people’s understanding of the frontier in the pre-Qin period. Shih-han received both her B. A. (2011) and M.A. (2016) from National Taiwan University.

wangyijunYijun Wang

Chinese History, Advisor: Dorothy Ko

Yijun is a doctorial student in Chinese history. Her interest lies in material culture, gender, economic, and legal history of late Imperial China. Her research concerns the networks, negotiations, and exchanges of power and status that lies behind the making, circulation and consumption of objects. More broadly, she is interested in the discussion of the state-and-society and private-and-public spheres in the late Imperial China through the perspective of material culture. She received her BA in history from Tsinghua University in Beijing (2010) and her MA in East Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia University (2012).

Oliver White

Japanese Literature, Advisor: Haruo Shirane

Oliver is a Ph.D. student in premodern Japanese literature. Before joining the program at Columbia, Oliver received his B.A. (2015) and M.Phil (2016) from the University of Cambridge. His dissertations centered on the mid-nineteenth century hanashibon (“jest-book”) series, Kotowaza Heso no yadogae, by Ikkadō Hansui, and the kibyōshi (“yellow-covered books”) of Santō Kyōden, with a theoretical focus on the use of translation as an epistemological tool. Oliver also participates in group research projects transcribing and translating a variety of Edo Period wahon texts.

Wu, Dongming - PhD Candidate

 Dongming Wu

Chinese History, Advisor: Li Feng

Dongming Wu is a doctoral student in early Chinese history. He received his BA from Sichuan University in 2008 and an MA from Columbia University in 2015, in which year he started his PhD study. Dongming’s research is based on archeological evidence and his interests build on bronze. Analyzing bronze inscriptions, Dongming focuses on the complexity of the border regions in Western Zhou time (1045-771 BC). He studies how the Zhou state maintained its integrity by strengthening ethnic ties and sustained the allegiance of foreign polities by authorizing their political identities. Integrating archeological and textual sources, Dongming looks into the functioning of the Zhou state and tries to elucidate the nexus between central and border, ideology and governance.

Chung-Wei Yang

Chinese Literature, Advisor: Shang Wei

Chung-Wei Yang is a Ph.D. student in pre-modern Chinese literature, with emphasis in fiction and drama in the late imperial period. Chung-Wei received her B.A. in both Chinese and English literature, and M.A. in Chinese Literature from National Taiwan University. Her M.A. thesis deals with the relationship between material/visual culture and historical consciousness in early Qing drama. Building on her past research in the area, Chung-Wei’s future project will highlight the interplay among different genres, from Ming-Qing fiction and drama to the films of the Republican period.


Yingchuan Yang

Modern Chinese History, Advisor: Eugenia Lean

Yingchuan Yang is being trained as a historian of modern China, particularly the fledgling years of the People’s Republic. His research probes the intersection of social history, cultural history, and the history of science, foremost inducing an investigation of the history of radio that delineates a Chinese model of governmentality, shifting interpretations of the discourse of piracy, and the position of China in the global 1950s. His other ongoing projects include a reappraisal of socialist modernity in Beijing and a reconstruction of a zhiqing/educated youth’s personal experience. A native of Dongcheng, Beijing, Yingchuan received his B.A. in History from UCLA in 2016.

yuanyiYuan Yi

Chinese History, Advisor: Eugenia Lean

Yuan is a PhD candidate in modern Chinese history. Her dissertation examines the industrialization of Chinese textile production in the early twentieth century with emphasis on the textile machinery business between China and the US. By charting the challenging process of mechanization on the shop floor, where US machines often malfunctioned, it attempts to show how various groups of experts engaged in the making of the factory system, with multiple layers of knowledge obtained through hands-on experience of machines, formal engineering education, and the long tradition of handicraft technology in spinning and weaving. Yuan received her BS in Business Administration from Korea University, Seoul; an MA in Clothing & Textiles from Ewha Womans University, Seoul; and an MA in History from the University of Utah. Before coming to the US she worked for Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation and LG Electronics.

yeyuanYe Yuan

Chinese Literature, Advisor: Wei Shang

Before joining EALAC’s PhD program in Chinese literature at 2013, Ye received her BA in Chinese literature and MA in linguistics at East China Normal University at Shanghai and MA in Chinese history here at Columbia. Her MA study at EALAC focuses on the sojourning lives of early Qing scholars, drawing for primary material on publications of seventeenth century. In her doctoral studies, she is interested in further examining how publishing related to lives and cultures of the literati in late imperial China as well as the published texts.

zhangchiChi Zhang

Japanese Literature, Advisor: Haruo Shirane

Chi is a PhD student in Japanese Literature, with interests broadly centered on the construction of China in the Japanese literary and cultural imagination, including the transformation of Chinese philosophical and religious writings in Japanese literature and the use of different genres in the depiction of Chinese images, and the ways in which different Japanese genres bonded with specific Chinese “sources” or genres, mostly from the Heian through the medieval period. She is also interested in examining the Edo period in which a number of earlier threads of Japanese cultural and discursive constructions of China were first brought together and emerged within a range of new forms of writing and texts. Chi received her B.A. in Japanese Language from Tsinghua University, Beijing before joining Columbia.


Chinese History, Advisor: Eugenia Lean

Zhang Jing joined the department as a Ph.D student in Modern Chinese History in 2010. Before coming here, she studied Chinese Literature in Peking University and Chinese history in National University of Singapore.Her research interest lies in urban society, popular culture, everyday lives of Asian countries, especially those of China. She plans to study public rumors surrounding political celebrities and public affairs in urban Shanghai from late Qing to Republican era.

Yifan ZhangYifan Zhang

Chinese Literature, Advisor: Shang Wei

Yifan is a Ph.D. student in premodern Chinese literature, with a focus on the Ming-Qing period (1368-1912). He received his B.A.(2014) from Peking University and M.A.(2016) from Columbia University. He works primarily on Ming-Qing short and long narratives (fiction in particular), departing from which he is also interested in the issues that derive from and respond to literary history, elite culture, local history, intellectual history, and material culture. His M.A. thesis examined how men of letters mobilized the genre of zhiguai (anomaly writing) as cultural imagination of otherness, and thus drew resources from local lure, ruins, gossips, and craze to reconstruct both the physical and figural landscapes in mid-Ming (1450-1550) Suzhou. Currently he is working further to illuminate the casting and recasting of local knowledge put to test the normative in a multifaceted lived space, and ponder how the discourses of norms and anomalies shed new light on the mid-Ming literary and cultural underpinnings that ushered in the late-Ming (1550-1644).

zouDongxin Zou

Chinese History, Advisor: Eugenia Lean

Dongxin Zou is a doctoral student in modern Chinese history, with interests in medicine and science, Cold War politics, and China’s relations with the Middle Eastern and North African countries in the post-colonial world. She received her B.A. and M.A. in Arabic Language & Culture from Beijing Foreign Studies University where upon graduation she worked as a lecturer in Arabic for three years. Prior to entering Columbia, she earned M.A. in History from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Recent PhDs


battsJoshua Batts

Japanese History, Advisor: Gregory Pflugfelder

Joshua Batts received his B.A. from Whittier College (2006) with an emphasis on Japanese history. He began work on a Ph.D. in Japanese history at Columbia in the fall of 2009, teaching English in Japan on the outskirts of Tokyo in the interim. Joshua is currently completing his dissertation, “Circling the Waters: The Keichō Embassy and Japanese-Spanish Relations in the Early Seventeenth Century.” The project examines Japan’s pursuit of trans-Pacific trade with colonial Latin America, Spain’s guarded response, and the unraveling of diplomatic relations between the Tokugawa shogunate and the Spanish Empire. The work connects this specific episode to broader questions of the embassy form as a diplomatic tool and the challenges of diplomacy and commerce in the Pacific world. Joshua expects to defend the completed dissertation in May 2016.

feltMatthieu Felt

Japanese Literature, Advisor: David Lurie

Matthieu is a Ph.D. candidate in premodern Japanese literature focusing on the reception and reinterpretation of eighth-century texts in medieval, early modern, and modern Japan. His dissertation traces the shifting meaning and value of the Nihon shoki (720), Japan’s first official history, through the early twentieth century. His research interests center on the adaptation of myth and early literature in text, art, and film and extend to narratology, textual production, and cultural identity.

Thomas Gaubatz

Japanese Literature, Advisors: Haruo Shirane and Tomi Suzuki

Thomas is a Ph.D. candidate in early modern Japanese literature at Columbia University. His dissertation examines literary representations of chonin (urban commoner) identity in relation to shifts in the administrative policy, print and performance media, and urban space of early modern Japan. His research interests include early modern book history and print culture, especially commercial publishing and the woodblock print as media; social history, urban space, and the Edo-Meiji transition.

kiefJonathan Kief

Korean Literature, Advisor: Theodore Hughes

Jon Kief is a doctoral student in modern Korean literature and comparative intellectual history. His research focuses on 1920s-1950s Korean debates over the proper form and function of “humanist” thought, and he hopes to use these debates’ successive iterations to trace the shifting intellectual currents moving between Korea, Japan, the US, and Europe. Ultimately, his goal is to show how an historical consideration of changing constitutions of “humanity” in Korean discursive practice can help re-embed these contentious decades — often framed in terms of the colonial/postcolonial rupture, the dual Pacific and Korean War divides, and the birth of a new Cold War order — in a more complex narrative linking Korean and transnational intellectual history.


linhsinyiLin Hsin-Yi

Chinese Religion, Advisors: Bernard Faure, Zhaohua Yang

Hsin-Yi Lin is a Ph.D. Candidate in Chinese religion and Buddhism, with a special interest in the interaction between Buddhism and Daoism, and between religion and gender in the medieval China. Her dissertation topic is on reproduction and medieval Chinese Buddhism, discussing the religious notions, metaphors, and practices surrounding childbirth and their interrelation with Chinese conceptions of the body, gender, birth, and life. She is the author of the book, The Decline of Dharma and Women’s Beliefs in Medieval Chinese Buddhism (Taipei: Dao Shiang Press, 2008), and has published articles on medieval Chinese religion and gender. Before joining in Columbia at 2009, She has received her B.A. (2003) and M.A.(2007) in History from National Taiwan University. She is also the awardee of Taiwan Government’s Scholarship, Chung-hwa Buddhist Institute Research Fellowship, and China Times Cultural Foundation Young Scholar Award.

Luke Thompson

Japanese Religion, Advisor: Bernard Faure

Thompson’s research focuses on Japanese Buddhism during the tenth-to-fourteenth centuries. He is particularly interested in Buddhist historiography and the way in which Japanese Buddhists have thought about Buddhist history and their own place within it. His PhD dissertation examined Japanese views of Śākyamuni during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in light of contemporaneous changes in Japanese understandings of Japan’s historical and geographical position within the Buddhist world. He is currently working on a second project focused on the rebuilding of Nara in the last decades of the twelfth century and is also teaching Buddhist Studies courses in New York State prisons through the Bard Prison Initiative’s undergraduate degree program.

Chelsea Zi Wang

Chinese History, Advisor: Robert Hymes

Chelsea Wang is a PhD candidate in Chinese history. Her research interests include communication networks, technologies of information management, and comparative models of government. Her dissertation, “Communication, Paperwork, and Administrative Efficiency in Ming China (1369-1644)” examines the Ming government’s infrastructures of information management and the bureaucratic costs that they produced. More broadly, she is interested in incorporating comparative East Asian perspectives into the study of Chinese history. Chelsea received her BA in History from the University of British Columbia and started PhD studies at Columbia in 2009. During the academic years 2013-15, she conducted dissertation research at the University of Tokyo with support of the Japanese MEXT Scholarship. Her personal academic blog can be accessed here.

woolleyCharles Woolley

Japanese Literature, Advisor: Tomi Suzuki

Despite hailing from Upstate New York, Charles Woolley headed north to receive his B.A. in East Asian Studies from the University of Toronto (2007), after the completion of which he was briefly repatriated before being granted the opportunity to research the development, establishment and institutionalization of the ‘family restaurant’ format within popular culinary culture in Japan under the auspices of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program (2007-2008). In 2008, he was admitted to Columbia’s Ph.D. program in Japanese Literature where he continues to explore his interests in the processes of trans-contextual translation and adaptation between the ‘West’ and Japan and their roles in the construction and elaboration of new linguistic and discursive idioms in the early twentieth century.