Alumni Updates Alumni Updates: Chinese Studies News News: Chinese Studies spring2021more

Chinese Studies Professor and Alumni Become 2021 Wilson China Fellows

The Chinese Studies program is delighted that two of our alumni, Emily Matson ’12 and Auston Strange ’12, are joining current Associate Professor Emily Wilcox as Wilson China Fellows! Prof Wilcox taught both Matson and Strange while she was a visiting assistant professor at William & Mary.

Emily Matson holds a Ph.D. in Chinese history from the University of Virginia.

Austin Strange holds a Ph.D. in government from Harvard University and works at the University of Hong Kong.

Prof. Wilcox recently rejoined the department as an Associate Professor of Chinese studies after teaching at the University of Michigan.

You can read more about Wilcox, Matson, and Strange’s wonderful accomplishment in the recent write up by the University.


News: Chinese Studies sidebar Spring 2021

Qian Su elected president of the Chinese Language Teachers Association of Virginia

Qian Su, a senior lecturer in Chinese studies in the Modern Languages and Literatures department, was recently elected president of the Chinese Language Teachers Association of Virginia (CLTA-VA)! The CLTA-VA is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and improving Chinese language education in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Congrats to Qian for this impressive honor, and thanks for your impressive commitment and service to Chinese Studies!

Alumni Updates: Chinese Studies Fall 2020 News: Chinese Studies

Chinese Studies hosts a career panel

This semester was relatively quiet in the Chinese Studies program, but we did have one memorable career panel as part of William & Mary’s homecoming festivities. On the evening of October 13, two Chinese Studies alumni and two professionals working in China-related fields joined us for several hours to discuss their career paths, surprises they’d encountered since graduating college, and general advice for students about to set off into their post-graduation life. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear from people at different stages of their careers and resulted in a very productive conversation. We were joined  by Alex Bate (W&M ’18), Helen Taylor (WM ’07), Susan Jakes, and Graham Webster (and you can see their biographies below). Chinese Studies looks forward to hosting more events like this in the coming semesters.


Alex Bate ’18 is an Asia Analyst at Sayari Labs. Prior to Sayari, she worked in due diligence, open-source investigative analysis, and Chinese market research and policy analysis. She received a degree in International Relations and Chinese from William & Mary and has studied at Tsinghua University in Beijing. She speaks Mandarin and Spanish.

Helen Taylor ’07 is the Director of Grant Programs at the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery where she coordinates program design and oversees implementation of transformative projects. Helen previously conducted human rights policy advocacy at Physicians for Human Rights and the U.S. Department of State, where she also managed a $60 million grant portfolio. She holds a Master’s in Human Rights Law from Hong Kong University and dual B.A. degrees in International Relations and Chinese Studies from William & Mary. As a Fulbright Fellow and Gates Millennium Scholar, Helen conducted qualitative and quantitative research on marginalized communities in Latin America and East Asia.

Susan Jakes is Editor of ChinaFile and Senior Fellow at Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations. From 2000-2007, she reported on China for Time magazine, first as a reporter and editor based in Hong Kong and then as the magazine’s Beijing Correspondent. She covered a wide range of topics for Time’s international and domestic editions, including student nationalism, human rights, the environment, public health, education, architecture, kung fu, North Korea’s nuclear weapons, and the making of Bhutan’s first feature film. Jakes was awarded the Society of Publishers in Asia’s Young Journalist of the Year Award for her coverage of Chinese youth culture. In 2003, she broke the story of the Chinese government’s cover-up of the SARS epidemic in Beijing, for which she received a Henry Luce Public Service Award. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, and The Los Angeles Review of Books, among other publications. Jakes speaks Mandarin and holds a B.A. and M.A. from Yale in history. Her doctoral studies at Yale, which she suspended to join ChinaFile, focused on China’s environmental history and the global history of ecology.

Graham Webster is a research scholar and editor of the DigiChina project at the Stanford University Cyber Policy Center and a fellow with New America. A joint effort of Stanford and New America, DigiChina is a collaborative project to translate, contextualize, and analyze Chinese digital policy documents and discourse. Webster also writes the independent Transpacifica e-mail newsletter. He was previously a senior fellow and lecturer at Yale Law School, where he was responsible for the Paul Tsai China Center’s U.S.–China Track 2 dialogues for five years before leading programming on cyberspace and high-tech issues. In the past, he wrote a CNET News blog on technology and society from Beijing, worked at the Center for American Progress, and taught East Asian politics at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs. Graham holds a master’s degree in East Asian studies from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. He is based in Oakland, California

Graduates 2019-2020 News: Chinese Studies Spring 2020 More

Brian Donahue named Chinese Studies Outstanding Graduate

donahue_brian_chin-300pxA hearty congratulations to Brian Donahue, who has been chosen as Chinese Studies’ outstanding graduate for the class of 2020! Brian majored in Chinese Studies and minored in biochemistry. Between his sophomore and junior years he participated in the William & Mary study abroad program at Tsinghua University in Beijing. He also studied Chinese Language at Shaanxi Normal University on a Department of State Critical Language Fellowship during Summer 2019. In the future, Brian plans to study medicine and work with Chinese communities.

Graduates 2019-2020 News: Chinese Studies Spring 2020 More

Congrats to the Chinese Studies class of 2020!

Chinese Studies Graduation Zoom Celebration
Chinese Studies Graduation Zoom Celebration

The Chinese Studies program is delighted to announce that eight students graduated from the major on Saturday, May 16th: Carleton Anderson, Brian Donahue, Michael Giovanniello, Carolin Helmholz, Erika Marr, Gabrielle Ramirez, Williams Song, and Jack Toll.

Another seven students earned a minor in Chinese Studies: Camden Cathell, Sarah Chen, Laura Chier, Samuel Fortune, Sophial Luwis, Nikita Mellor, and Athena Zacharakos.

It was a pleasure celebrating with you on the 16th! We wish you good luck in your future endeavors!

Faculty Profiles Fall 2019 fall2019more

MLL Welcomes Professor Paul Vierthaler to the Chinese Studies Program

In fall 2019, Dr. Paul Vierthaler joined MLL’s Chinese Studies program, and we asked him some questions about being a professor of Chinese Studies:


How did you become interested in Chinese?

When I was deciding what I wanted to study in college, I really wanted to learn a language that had a lot of utility that a lot of people spoke. Growing up in southwest Kansas, there were not many language options in high school, but when I headed to the University of Kansas I was delighted to discover that they offered Chinese. I did not start with a fundamental interest in the language per se, nor I did anticipate this would be one of the central choices that would shape my career. While at KU, my interest in China rapidly developed, so to further my language skills, I spent my junior year abroad at the Associated Colleges in China study abroad program in Beijing. The immersive experience of acquiring the language and living in Beijing were enough to convince me to return to China after graduation. I lived in China for several years before going to graduate school, and I began studying classical Chinese at Yunnan Normal University in Kunming. This was my first sustained encounter with classical literature, which I rapidly became enamored of. This then led me to the decision to go to graduate school so I could study and teach classical Chinese literature and culture professionally.
What is the focus of your research?

The broad focus of my work centers on fictional literature written in the Ming dynasty in China (1368 to 1644). I am currently working on a book that analyzes how historical stories are told in untrustworthy media (novels, dramas, and unvetted historical texts) written during the late Ming and early Qing (1500 to 1700, roughly speaking). The thirst for information on recent events resulted publishers producing a high volume of works to meet the demand, and they really influenced how people saw their past. This publishing trend meant that a fair number of these works were of relatively low literary quality, making them arduous to read. As such, I use large digital collections of historical texts and study them with techniques developed by computer scientists, linguists, and even biologists. My research also extends in this computational direction, and I am interested the application of machine learning, natural language processing, and big data analytics to cultural datasets.


What kind of classes do you like to teach best?

I’ve been fortunate to teach a wide variety of courses, and they all tend to be rewarding in their own ways. Introducing students who’ve never read a Chinese book to the Water Margin, working through a complicated passage in the Zhuangzi with advanced students, and teaching students how to program are all extremely rewarding. This being said, my favorite classes are those intermediate classes where students have moved beyond the basics of Chinese studies and are seeing the vast possibilities of the field for the first time. It is very difficult to beat the sense of discovery in the first seminar after that intro class that blends new literature with new methods to engage with materials at a deep level for the first time. I also love to teach methodologically focused classes and lab sessions where the main focus is building computer tools for studying Chinese literature.


What do you think of William & Mary so far?

Coming here has been a wonderful experience! My students in particular have been amazing. They are deeply engaged with the course material, have been eager to discuss in class, and always ask incisive questions. The research environment here is also top-notch. I’ve found that there is a lot of support for research of all sorts, and particularly for research that encourages student involvement! This support has allowed me to start the new MLL digital humanities lab, which is getting off the ground early in the spring semester, and I am really looking forward to guide MLL students in research projects that they help design.