Before I started my undergraduate career at the College of William & Mary, I figure skated competitively. Taking lessons from a couple of Russian Olympians and skating to the popular Russian folk song “Kalinka” were perhaps the two main factors that launched my interest in studying Russian. Little did I know that I would decide to major in Russian and Post-Soviet Studies at William & Mary or that the decision would introduce me to an entirely new world. Every class that I took was interesting, especially Russian Myths and Legends and a course on Western and Russian detective novels, as well as Russian language, cinema, history, and political courses. There is not a single class in all of RPSS that I regret taking. Moreover, I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to live in the Russian House as well as study abroad in St. Petersburg! St. Petersburg is a lovely city, filled with street musicians and the aromas of fresh markets, cafes, and restaurants. I can almost hear the accordion players now just thinking about it!
During my college career, I was President of The Russian Music Ensemble, where I played the violin, prima domra, and alto balalaika. Playing with the ensemble was one of my favorite hobbies, because I loved sharing beautiful traditional Russian folk music with others through concerts and gigs, such as our performances at W&M’s Global Film Festival and the Russian Language Olympics. I am proud to say that the ensemble is now a one credit course and that all instruments and voice types are welcome. So far, the ensemble has a small talented choir and musicians who play both classical Western and Russian folk instruments. In fact, I enjoyed Russian music so much that I sought out other groups, with which I could continue playing the balalaika after graduation. These groups include the Washington Balalaika Society and the Balalaika and Domra Association of America.
This summer, I will be teaching Russian through the STARTALK Russian immersion program at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. My intense RPSS curriculum certainly helped me to find job opportunities and I am very thankful to the W&M Russian faculty for being so supportive. I definitely plan on returning to Russia to do more research on Russian symphonic orchestras, folk music groups, and concert culture.
Daniel Birriel is very interested in Japanese language and culture, and someday hopes to work for Nintendo localizing video games. These interests led him to focus his AMES Capstone Paper on how localization affects intercultural exchange and the response Japanese video game companies should take regarding this exchange. Understanding localization requires an understanding of how it is different from translation. While translation takes a product and moves it from one language to another, often modifying certain words or phrases to create a smooth transition between languages, localization involves adjusting aspects of a product, like culture, music, art, fashion, religion, in addition to words and phrases in order to ensure a product will be accepted and succeed in a foreign market. This is commonly seen in the video game market as some of the biggest game developers are based in Japan. To what degree Japanese culture, humor, gender norms, and marketing will need to be modified for foreign markets is always a key concern for these companies. Japanese video game companies must be more aware of the shifts in consumer markets that create this growing group of consumers seeking more and more “authentic” Japanese video games, else they find themselves losing out on potential profits. The paper also touches on the influence video game and anime has had on American pop culture, such as cartoons and film, as well as how Japan utilizes soft power politics to shape its global image.
Over the course of his research, he discovered one important way that American consumers are engaging with Japanese pop culture and media. After watching anime or playing video games developed by Japanese video game companies, they start seeking out more Japanese products and begin a search for what they deem is truly “authentic.” The way this search sometimes manifests itself is through switching a games voice acting to Japanese or by playing video games that were never released in the US and were translated by fans.
For fans, this is a great way to engage with Japanese games that they otherwise would never have been able to play. However, for Japanese game developers, these fan translated games represent an interesting problem. On one hand, they never officially released the game in the US so they lose no profit, but on the other hand, their intellectual property is being placed in the hands of people who may not translate their game in the way they would like.
The Japanese Studies Program is proud to announce the recipients of Kinyo Awards for Excellence in Japanese language study for 2017 – 2018 academic year. The prize recognizes the hard work and achievement of the top student at each level of William and Mary’s Japanese language program. The awards are made possible through the generous support of Mr. Kazuo Nakamura of Kinyo Virginia, Inc., who established the awards in 2007 and has maintained them since then. This year’s recipients are: in first year, James Stinneford; in second year, Isaelle Tsow; in third year, Victoria Park; and, in fourth year, Celia Metzger. These students have demonstrated extraordinary diligence and accomplishment in Japanese language study over the past year. Congratulations to all the winners, and keep up the good work! 皆さん、おめでとうございま
Arianna Afsari has received the Critical Language Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, to study Russian. Arianna will participate in an intensive eight-week Russian language program in Vladimir, Russia this summer. Поздравляем!!! “I am so honored to receive this incredible opportunity to partake in Russian immersion this summer!,” Arianna said. “I encourage all students at William and Mary who study any critical language (Russian, Arabic, Chinese, etc.) to apply for CLS for the chance to travel to your target-language country and interact directly with native speakers. With CLS you not only take language classes, you also travel within your host country and visit various cities and fascinating sites. CLS is not only a prestigious program that will contribute to your language success and cultural understanding, it is also an all-expenses-paid experience! So, what are you waiting for? Apply for CLS Summer 2019!”
Over the past four years, much of my academic and extracurricular life on campus has revolved around Russian and Post-Soviet Studies. I have participated in student-led groups, such as the Russian and English language newspaper Gazeta and the Russian Music Ensemble. I lived in the Russian language house for two years. This year, I also served on the Russian Language Olympics organizing committee. My favorite courses have included Bella Ginzbursky-Blum’s language classes, Robert Mulcahy’s class on the Fantastic in Russian Literature, and Elena Prokhorova’s seminar on Russian television genres. In addition, I had the privilege of assisting Alexander Prokhorov on his Cinema and Memory research project. Conducting, transcribing, and translating interviews conducted in Russian has exponentially increased my listening comprehension and vocabulary in the Russian language.
As a double major in Russian and Post-Soviet Studies and English, I have always looked for ways to synthesize these two areas of interest. For instance, while studying abroad in St. Petersburg my sophomore year, I visited the apartment of poet Anna Akhmatova to research the impact of her living conditions on her long poem Requiem. More recently, I composed an undergraduate thesis with the help of the English and Russian departments in which I compare the works of Modernist Virginia Woolf and the Russian Futurist writer Elena Guro. The project included transliterations of Guro’s original Russian text, allusions to Slavic folklore in both works, and close reading analysis based on Russian formalist and French feminist theory.
Undoubtedly, enrolling in Russian 101 was the greatest decision I ever made as an undergraduate. My experience with the RPSS department has provided me with invaluable analytical, creative, and social skills that I will use in my future endeavors, and, perhaps more importantly, it has connected me with my most trusted friends and mentors. This fall, I will begin a Ph.D. program in Slavic Studies with a concentration in Russian Literature at Indiana University, Bloomington. I am excited to embark on new intellectual journeys while also treasuring the memories and friendships I have made at William & Mary.
Rachel Dubit graduates in Spring 2018 with a major in Classical Studies (Latin) and a minor in Italian Studies. During her time at William & Mary, she has studied abroad in Italy twice and in Greece. In addition to Latin and Ancient Greek, she continues to study Italian literature and German language and will participate in a language program through Stanford University this summer to continue her German studies at the Goethe Institute in Germany and Austria. She most recently wrote an Honors Thesis under the direction of Dr. Swetnam-Burland on the Carmen de Bello Actiaco, a fragmentary Latin epic preserved as a papyrus from Herculaneum, focusing on the cultural dynamic between Rome and Egypt during the rise of the principate. She hopes to continue her research on cultural issues in Latin poetry as a graduate student at Stanford, where she will begin her PhD studies in Classics this fall. She also hopes to promote research that bridges the gap between modern and ancient language studies in higher education through reception studies, comparative literature, and the application of contemporary literary theories (many of which she has been exposed to in her Italian classes here at W&M) to ancient texts. In April Rachel was recognized by Gamma Kappa Alpha, the National Italian Honor Society, for her outstanding undergraduate scholarship in the field of Italian Studies.
Nicole Cook is graduating with a double major in International Relations and Chinese Studies. About her undergraduate experience in the Chinese Studies Program at W&M and herplans for the future, Nicole states: “I feel beyond blessed to have been a part of the Chinese Studies Program all four years! I truly love the challenge of mastering a second language so different from English. I entered William & Mary never having studied Chinese, but the encouraging faculty and supportive environment have fostered some of my favorite college experiences. During the summer of 2016, I studied in Beijing through the W&M Summer Study Abroad program. I am excited to return to China this fall, studying for one academic year in Guilin as a Boren Scholar. As a Boren Scholar, I will be taking 20 weekly hours of one-on-one Mandarin classes taught by the Chinese Language Institute, a small Mandarin Learning Center affiliated with Guangxi Normal University. I hope to achieve professional fluency through my studies. In particular, I hope to focus my studies on topics that will be of future relevance to a career in US-East Asian security policy, such as Chinese economic development and CCP leadership.”
MLL and the Japanese studies program are proud to announce inductees into the Japanese National Honor Society for 2017 – 2018 academic year. Among this year’s graduating class, three students have met the Society’s demanding criteria: completion of five semesters of Japanese language study (or their equivalent), all taken for a grade (rather than audited or pass-fail); a grade-point average of at least 3.5 in Japanese language courses; and an overall GPA of at least 3.0. You will recognize our new inductees at commencement by their red and white tassel cords; please join us in congratulating Daniel Birriel, Mackenzie Neal, and Yunyi Zhu: 皆さん、おめでとうございます! Thank you for setting an example for others studying the language. We hope you will continue to build your Japanese language skills, and we wish you all the best in your future endeavors!
I took German for the first time my freshman year and had the opportunity to study abroad twice. My experience at the University of Potsdam, led by our own German Studies program, showed me both the challenges and the opportunities of language learning. I met some of my best friends, both from William and Mary and abroad, and this experience led me to spend six months in Berlin with IES. Here, I enrolled in two courses at Humboldt University, enjoyed an internship in Sustainable Planning over the summer, and grew exponentially in my ability to speak and understand German. The support and knowledge that I have gained from the German Studies program at W&M ultimately allowed me to achieve the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Berlin, Germany, where I will spend my next year. Additionally, I will be pursuing my Master’s in Historical Urban Design at the Technical University of Berlin.
Michelle Hermes is graduating as a Government and German Studies double major at the College, and hascompleted an honors thesis in the Government department. Through William & Mary’s German Studies Program, she has worked as a teaching assistant and a grading assistant for the department at the German 101-202 level. Through these experiences, she had the opportunity to form close relationships with many of her professors. With Professor Jennifer Gully’s encouragement, she applied for and was accepted to the Austrian Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship program for the 2018-2019 academic year. Since she did not have the opportunity to formally study abroad, she is looking forward to the experience of returning to Europe. After my year in Austria, she hopes to attend law school in the United States and work in international law.
Throughout his time at W&M, Jesse Tanson has studied a wide range of topics in French and Francophone Studies, including cinema, literature, and creative writing. Jesse studied abroad in Strasbourg through the IFE program and worked in cinema there. He was also the recipient of the French program’s most prestigious award: the McCormack-Reboussin scholarship, which supports significant undergraduate research projects abroad. This research trip to Paris became the basis for Jesse’s honors thesis research. Following graduation, Jesse will teach English in the Aix-en-Provence/Marseille Region with the TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France) program.
Félicitations, Jesse! Bonne continuation!
When she took Prof. Greenia’s class on the Medieval book as a freshman, Alexandra Wingate could not have imagined that she would eventually write an Honors Thesis on the political value of private libraries in Early modern Navarre.
As a sophomore, Alex joined Prof. Greenia to do archival work at the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library at St. John’s University (Collegeville, MN). Thereafter, she collaborated with Prof. Terukina in his annotated edition of Grandeza mexicana (1604), was mentored by Prof. Homza and analyzed the inventory of a private library in early modern Navarre, and wrote a paper for Prof. Cate-Arries’s seminar (currently under consideration at a professional journal) on the Spanish government’s literacy projects in rural village libraries during the pre-Civil War period. Alex also spent two summers taking courses at the prestigious London Rare Book School (U.K.).
A summer back in Pamplona thanks to a Monroe Scholarship allowed Alex to start working on her Honors Thesis. “A qué manera de libros y letras es inclinado”: las bibliotecas privadas de Navarra en los siglos XVI y XVII [“To what kind of books and writings is he inclined”: private libraries in Early modern Navarre] is a highly interdisciplinary, and complex project that analyzes 37 private libraries in Early modern Navarre as symptomatic of their owners’s political identities. Alex combined her knowledge of pre-modern technologies (Spanish paleography), her growing training in Book History, her linguistic skills in ‘old’ Spanish, and her skills in Cultural studies. Her project received Highest Honors.
As she prepares to start an M.A. in History of the Book at the University of London (U.K.) next fall, Alex will receive the R. Merritt Cox Award, which recognizes a HISP major who achieves academic excellence and pursues a graduate degree.
We wish Alex the best in all her future endeavors!
Three W&M students from the Chinese Program went to Boston to participate in the 17th Chinese Bridge Speech contest (East USA Preliminary) last Saturday at U Mass Boston. We achieved a great success! Michael Briggs (白杨)won the 2nd place and Grace Klopp (格蕾丝)won the 3rd place in the Beginners Group. Emily Pearson-Beck(李美丽) won the 2nd place in the Advanced group.We are really proud of the students and wish to thank the Confucius Institute which has generously sponsored students’ trip to Boston!