Graduate Students

Ph.D. Students

Taranee Yuning  Cao

Taranee Cao is a PhD candidate specializing in Japanese linguistics, and her dissertation investigates the factors influencing usages of honorifics and how honorifics should be taught. Topics of her previous projects include Japanese youth language (wakamonokotoba) and acquisition of Japanese mimetics. In general, she is interested in pragmatics, sociolinguistics, second language acquisition, and language teaching. She is certified in ACTFL OPI testing and is currently serving as a Graduate Teaching Consultant.

Yan Chang’s current project centers on trans-linguality, trans-culture, and trans-nationality in post-Cold War Japanophone literature. His academic concerns also include visuality and modernity of modern Japanese literature in the Taisho period as well as Shanghai urbanization and the concomitant media representations in the 1990s.

I am a Ph.D. student in Modern Chinese Literature. Before coming to Stanford, I earned a Master of Arts in History from Miami University with a thesis on Uyghur collective memory and the history of ritual practice at the Afaq Khoja mausoleum in Kashgar. While completing my Master of Arts in Chinese at Stanford, my research focused on class-based discourses of environmental injustice in post-Mao era narratives. Intent on excavating critical resources from China’s socialist revolutionary tradition, my current research involves the image of the soldier in Chinese socialist narratives. What interests me in these narratives is the thin line between cadres and soldiers in an ideological framework in which both are tasked with serving the people. I am currently exploring this line by way of a comparative analysis of characterization in rural mobilization and military narratives. I also continue to be interested in Uyghur culture and Central Asian studies in general. 

Before beginning my academic career, I was a professional translator of Chinese, a background which has stimulated, among others, two recent projects: a creative re-writing of Lu Xun’s A Call to Arms and the translation of several wuxia short stories. 

In addition to my academic research and creative writing projects, I am interested in second language pedagogy and have taught Chinese and English as second languages for multiple years at the secondary, post-secondary, and adult levels.

Melissa Hosek

Melissa A. Hosek is a PhD candidate specializing in modern Chinese literature with interests in environmental humanities, science, technology and society studies (STS), and digital humanities. Her dissertation examines how technological progress transforms ideas regarding nature and environmentalism in modern Chinese literature. Working primarily with science fiction narratives, she analyzes how writers and filmmakers diagnose the changing human-nature relationship amidst science-driven development since the 1970s. Her research constructs an ecocritical literary history of contemporary Chinese science fiction and maps the transformation of humanistic reactions to the environmental crisis. In addition to her dissertation research, she is also interested in Chinese language teaching and learning in higher education, and is certified in Language Program Management and ACTFL OPI testing. In the field of digital humanities, she has developed several projects and received the Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities. Her other interests include: materialism, science fiction studies, critical theory, and nationalism.

Elise Huerta

My dissertation, Untouchable: On the Cultural Politics of Hands in Modern China, aims to produce new understandings of intimacy, alienation, labor, and violence in the modern era through the interdisciplinary study of tactile culture. The project explores the many powers invested in human hands through narrative, taking a particular interest in the discourses and social mechanisms that contribute to the construction of "untouchable" people and groups. My research is supported by a Mellon Foundation Dissertation Fellowship in 2021-2022 and an AAUW American Fellowship in 2022-2023.

Qian Jia is a Ph.D. candidate of premodern Chinese studies, specializing in middle-period literature and culture, sensory studies, material culture, knowledge production, intellectual history, and regional studies. Her dissertation investigates the birth of incense culture in Song dynasty China, answering two questions: “How did it smell?” and “why did it matter?”  

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Akira is a Ph.D. candidate in Japanese, specializing in modern and contemporary Japanese literature. In particular, they are currently working on a dissertation project exploring the intersection between queerness and disability in that body of literature.

Maciej Kurzynski

I am a Ph.D. Candidate majoring in Modern Chinese Literature. Before coming to Stanford, I received a Bachelor’s degree in History of Art from the University of Warsaw and a Master’s degree in Literary Theory (文艺学) from Zhejiang University.

In my research, I combine the fields of distributional semantics, cognitive literary studies, aesthetic theory, and intellectual history to understand the ways in which Chinese writers appeal to human emotionality and engage with PRC nationalism. Whereas the bulk of current digital scholarship in the humanities focuses on amassing huge amounts of data (geographical, historical, social, infrastructural) and provides publicly available tools to explore this data, I conceive of my work as an interpretive endeavor—I believe it is possible to “distant read” a single novel. I am particularly interested in formal devices that writers need to constantly invent and reinvent in order to evoke strong and deep emotions in readers: how is emotional vocabulary distributed diachronically in modern Chinese texts? What narrative technologies are employed to situate the same plot in various contexts in such a way as to provoke diametrically different emotions and interpretations? What cognitive affordances and ethical frameworks are made available through formal rearrangements of the exact same plot in different narratives? One of my attempts to confront such questions by using computational methods and metaphors can be seen in this recording (YouTube) from the Digital Orientalist conference (and in this sublime poster).

Besides, I am a proud member and co-organizer of the Save Cantonese campaign, aiming to restore the Cantonese language program at Stanford, and a recipient of the 2020 Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship (SIGF). 


Bingxiao Liu is a Ph.D. student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Stanford University. Her research interests include premodern Chinese literature, cultural and intellectual history; gender and sexuality; emotions, literary and political culture. Her research examines how emotions are invoked or invented to constitute interpersonal ties in 3rd - 6th century China. Working with official histories, commentaries, inscriptions, and literary works, her project explores the reconceptualization of identity and community in emotive terms and the signification of emotion as the legitimizing basis for a new social order in medieval China.

Bingxiao received her MA in Chinese Language and Culture from Stanford University. She also holds a BA in Chinese Language and literature, and a BA in Journalism from Fudan University.

Tianlin Meng Walsh

My dissertation revolves around the genre of zuihitsu in Japan during the first half of the 20th century. I read the protean literary form in relation to subjectivity, coloniality, the act of travelling, and print capitalism.

Andrew Patrick Nelson

I am a PhD Candidate in the Japanese Linguistics track, and 2021-22 Co-Coordinator of the East Asian Humanities Workshop and the East Asian Studies Linguistics Workshop

My research is motivated by two primary areas of inquiry: first, to what extent can methods in linguistic science be applied to historical documents to recover a speaker/writer intent and reader/listener interpretation? Second, in what ways are language changes perceived, categorized, and valorized; in what ways do those perceptions, categories, and values shape language ideology; and in what ways does language ideology in turn change language use? My work brings together methods in psycholinguistics, semantics, and pragmatics in analyzing texts on language written in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with Japanese texts as a primary case study, but also leveraging sources in English, French, and German for a transnational perspective.

I am currently a Digital Humanities Graduate Fellow with the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis. My research employs methods from natural language processing to examine the occurrence and context of political neologisms in Japanese metropolitan and diaspora newspapers to expose the early instability of those terms and their subsequent shifts in meaning over time and space. 

Prior to joining the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Stanford, I completed a Master’s degree in East Asian Regional Studies at Columbia University. My thesis contextualized representations foreigners and foreign places in Japanese junior high school textbooks within the broader history of internationalization in the public school system.

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I research the intersection of Japanese literary modernism and Natsume Soseki. Other interests include Meiji and Taisho Era literatures, the history of literary criticism in Japan, 20th century literary theory and the theory of the novel.
Ryo Nomura profile picture

Research interests: pragmatics, semantics, sociolinguistics, 役割語 (role language)

Matthew Palmer

Hello! I'm Matthew Palmer (he/him/his), a Ph.D. candidate in East Asian Languages and Cultures with a Ph.D. minor in Linguistics. I am fluent in English, Modern Standard Chinese (Mandarin), and Japanese. My research focuses on the intersection between corpus linguistics and computer-assisted language learning. Outside of the office, I enjoy exercise, meditation, and moviegoing.

Jie Shen works in Chinese archaeology and osteoarchaeology, especially focusing on exploring the technology of bone artefacts with experimental archaeology methods. Jie’s master’s thesis worked on the decorative techniques of Basket pattern (篮纹) in the Qijia Culture and did a series of replicate experiments.

Ya-Ting Tsai’s primary research interests lie at Chinese linguistics and culture. She is particularly interested in how socio-political separation between China and Taiwan leads to cultural change, and how this difference is manifested in her mother tongues, Taiwanese and Taiwan Mandarin.

Katherine Whatley
My research focuses on how gender informs music and literature in premodern Japan. Through studying the koto—Japanese transverse harp—and Japanese pre-modern music more generally, I examine the intersection of gender and music in the Heian period, and the transcultural interactions between Japan and East Asia during the pre-modern era. My methodology is necessarily transdisciplinary: combining literary analysis, musicology, and the study of material culture in order to understand the function of music in the premodern era. It is also feminist in nature; I study musical motifs and gender roles in Heian-era literary works, combined with feminist analysis to understand how women expressed their emotions and related to the world around them through music and writing. Through focusing on music and gender, I seek the voices the voices of those who have long been forgotten. I hope to amplify the connections between cultures and peoples, relationships that are not always heard.
Yanping Lu

Medieval Chinese literature and history, Chinese shi poetry, gender studies in medieval China

Lingjia Xu

Lingjia Xu is a Ph.D. student in modern Chinese literature, film, and media studies. She also holds a Ph.D. minor in Art History from Stanford. Before starting her Ph.D., Lingjia obtained her B.A. in Chinese Language from Fudan University and her M.A. in Chinese from Stanford. She is currently working on craftsmanship, labor, and technology in East Asia. In addition, Lingjia has side interests in science fiction studies, design history, ecological studies, and popular culture. 

MA Students

My research lies at the intersection of environmental and medical humanities, mainly focusing on post-socialist China. Other interests include cultural anthropology and gender studies. I am also a translator. My translations have been published by major Chinese publishers.

Weiting (“Crystal”) Yu is a master’s student of modern and contemporary Chinese literature with an interest in comparative literature. Before coming to Stanford, she completed her B.A. in Chinese language and literature at Fudan University in June 2021. Currently learning French, she wishes to study the influence of Francophone and Anglophone literatures on Chinese literature during the modern period. Specific topics she wishes to explore include Romanticism and its influence, global modernisms, and ecocriticism. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking and watercolor painting. 

My research interests lie at the intersection between mass media, visual culture and gender studies, particularly focusing on how mass media shapes the reality of modern women in China and the imagination towards them. Other interests include technological fetishism, ecocriticism and feminism.