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Dr. Pitelka, Japanese Ceramics, and the Ackland Art Museum: A Video Lecture

October 14, 2021

On Friday, October 8th, the Ackland Art Museum opened a new exhibition entitled Buddha and Shiva, Lotus and Dragon: Masterworks from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection at Asia Society, on view until January 9, 2022. Don’t miss it, and before you go, consider watching this lecture from our very own Dr. Pitelka about one of the pieces in the collection, commissioned by the Ackland to complement the new exhibition:

Meet the Grad Students: Samir Sefiane!

September 24, 2021

Here’s a little bit about Samir, one of the students in the first DAMES graduate program cohort!

Tell us about yourself!

I graduated from North Carolina State University last year with a Bachelor’s in History and a Middle East studies minor. My initial plan had been to stick with History in my graduate studies, but I kind of fell in love with Middle East studies, so here I am! Studying Arabic is a big part of my field, so I was pleased to be part of the CLS (Critical Language Scholarship) Program over the summer.  It was supposed to be in Ibri, Oman, but due to COVID, we did it online. It was still a great experience, and I really feel like it took my Arabic abilities to the next level. In my free time, I enjoy reading/watching sci-fi (go see the new Dune movie!), playing chess, and spending time with my partner and our lazy cat.

What program track did you choose?

I chose the Interdisciplinary track and intend to focus primarily on Middle East studies

What are you hoping to gain from your experiences here in DAMES and at UNC?

I was thrilled to be accepted into the DAMES program here at UNC because I tend to shy away from academic overspecialization, and the program’s commitment to a humanist approach to the decidedly complex issues that accompany Asian and Middle East Studies really resonated with me . I look forward to improving my language abilities, making connections with other departments, and interacting with my fellow DAMES students.

Meet the Grad Students: Caroline Williams!

September 13, 2021

Here’s a little bit about Caroline, one of the students in the first DAMES graduate program cohort!

Tell us about yourself!

I’m from Cumming, Georgia, and I graduated from the University of Georgia in May 2021 with a BA in History and a BA in International Affairs (go dawgs!). A fun fact about me is that I grew up on a farm, and during my time at UGA, I participated in the Disney College Program and spent a semester working at Disney World. I also completed a (virtual – thanks, 2020) summer study abroad with the University of Oxford. I’m already loving it here in Chapel Hill and am so excited to be a Tar Heel!

What program track did you choose?

Here in DAMES, I’m on the interdisciplinary track, focusing on the Middle East. I’m currently studying Arabic, and my research interests lie in gender and security studies, especially in Egypt.

What are you hoping to gain from your experiences here in DAMES and at UNC?

Through my experience at UNC, I hope to gain new perspectives for analysis in my field. I’m already enjoying my classes and finding new points of interest, and I’m sure DAMES is going to offer me many more valuable connections!

Meet the Grad Students: Kun Meng!

September 13, 2021

Here’s a little bit about Kun, one of the students in the first DAMES graduate program cohort!

Tell us about yourself!

I am Kun Meng, an incoming graduate of UNC at Chapel Hill. I am from the People’s Republic of China, a beautiful country which is growing and flourishing in its own way. I obtained my bachelor’s degree (BFA) in Sha’anxi Normal University and my master’s degree (MFA) in East China Normal University. During both experiences, I have majored in studies of traditional Chinese painting. After graduating from ECNU, I engaged myself to be a volunteer of Shanghai Library. Plus, I got a job as a teacher of Asian culture!

What program track did you choose?

I chose the Chinese track to be my program, specifically transcultural and political studies of ancient China.

What are you hoping to gain from your experiences here in DAMES and at UNC?

I think I will improve my ability of writing and analyzing in this program. Also, I hope I can acquire the knowledge of research methods of Western countries, to examine and judge the ancient Chinese cultures from a different perspective.

Meet the Grad Students: Muziah Kargbo!

September 1, 2021

Here’s a little bit about Muziah, one of the students in the first DAMES graduate program cohort!

Tell us about yourself!

Hi, my name is Muziah Kargbo, a first-year grad student from Huntersville, NC. I graduated from UNC last year with a BA in Asian and Korean Studies with a dash of Japanese. Nice to meet you all.

What program track did you choose?

I’m taking the interdisciplinary Track with a focus on Korean and Japanese courses.

What are you hoping to gain from your experiences here in DAMES and at UNC?

I hope that by the time I graduate from DAMES, I will be more fluent and adept in Japanese and Korean so I can use both in my future career and endeavors whether that be translating, writing/journalism, or researching and educating myself and others about the entertainment industry in both countries (which I hope I can find an internship or work in!) But ultimately, I hope to gain the confidence, skills, and connections for post-grad life and my future.

Meet the Grad Students: Rania Adamczyk!

August 23, 2021

Here’s a little bit about Rania, one of the students in the first DAMES graduate program cohort!

Tell us about yourself!

I come from the Midwest, born, raised, and schooled, so the flora of North Carolina has had me enthralled since I stepped off the plane. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, where I filled many waking hours playing, singing, and writing music, taking theatre classes, and being an old-time radio buff. Ask me about The Saint. On second thought, maybe don’t. (I can also sing 1940s cigarette jingles from memory, just saying, it’s a neat party trick you don’t see every day.) From Oberlin College and Conservatory, just outside of Cleveland, Ohio, I have a Bachelor of Music in Composition and a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema Studies. I also did a math minor there, for which I got to take a très cool applied seminar in using math to make art. I’m passionate about the connective power of art and I hope to get involved soon in collaborative, community-minded art projects here in Chapel Hill! When I’m not doing that, you’ll find me buried nerd-deep in the study of popular Hindi cinema — which is the area of my thesis work.

What program track did you choose?

Interdisciplinary track – I’m interested in popular Indian cinema as a site of multicultural, national, and international discourse, as well as comparisons between Indian and Korean stardom.

What are you hoping to gain from your experiences here in DAMES and at UNC?

A regional studies-specific master’s program is a great opportunity to focus on language acquisition and immerse in the context of history, literature, etc. I don’t have coming from a background in film studies and music. I’m looking forward to being in a department that bridges the whole continent of Asia and the Middle East, with chances to make expected and unexpected connections across what peers are studying and passionate about.

 

Meet the Grad Students: Sophie Eichelberger!

August 16, 2021

Here’s a little bit about Sophie, one of the students in the first DAMES graduate program cohort!

Tell us about yourself!

I graduated from Davidson College in 2020 where I majored in English and East Asian Studies. After graduation I had planned to teach English in Japan through the JET Program, but due to COVID, I ended up staying in North Carolina and worked as a college adviser this past year.

I’m interested in pre-modern Japanese art history, as well as East Asian history as a whole. When I’m not studying, I love taking care of my excessive number of house plants.

Which track in our grad program are you studying?

Interdisciplinary!

What are you hoping to accomplish here in DAMES, and here at Carolina?

I hope to increase my grasp of Japanese, do lots of research, and make connections with other people in the Carolina community.

There and Back Again: The Resurgence of Vietnamese at Carolina in DAMES

June 14, 2021

Exciting news, everyone! Vietnamese is back!

Vietnamese at Carolina: A Look Back

The last year DAMES offered Vietnamese classes prior to the upcoming fall semester was the 2005-2006 academic year. Once taught by Professor Emeritus Eric Henry, Vietnamese was eventually phased out of the curriculum as interest in the Chinese language program boomed and funds were rerouted to support that growing interest. Dr. Henry, who also taught Chinese, was compelled to devote his time to teaching Chinese language and content courses. His other courses about Vietnamese culture, like “The Social History of Popular Music in East Asia” and “Introduction to Vietnamese Culture through Music and Narrative,” became fond memories for alums of the program.

Dr. Henry retired in 2012. He still visits campus often, however, and maintains a steady presence at local cafes and coffee shops. He’d doubtless be delighted to know that Vietnamese is rekindling within the department, soon to enthrall a new generation of college students.

What’s next for Vietnamese?

Starting this fall, DAMES will be offering VIET 101 and, in the spring, VIET 102, both semesters of Elementary Vietnamese. Next fall we’ll also be offering VIET 203 (Intermediate Vietnamese) in tandem with Elementary Vietnamese, which means that anyone who starts taking Vietnamese in Fall 2021 will be able to take the courses necessary to fulfill their foreign language requirement.

After that, only the horizon awaits. As always, student enrollment, interest, and funding will determine the path forward for Vietnamese, and with luck, Dr. Henry will pay the new classes an occasional visit to provide invaluable wisdom for the program’s future success.

News of DAMES Alums!

June 11, 2021

Have you ever wondered what DAMES alums are up to? Now you can know! Here are updates from DAMES alums Erin Posas and Matt Coss, both 2016 grads!

Fun fact: This picture of Matt and Erin was taken at another class of 2016 DAMES alumnus’s (James Williams) wedding!

After nearly five years as a consultant working first with the public sector and then, for the last six months, working in the firm’s global office to improve her company’s internal sustainability efforts, Erin will be starting a Master of Science in Environment and Sustainability with a concentration in Environmental Justice at the University of Michigan.

Erin said of her plans: “I want to spend my career driving racial and socioeconomic equity in environmental policy and planning across the private and public sectors, both locally and internationally. At my time at UNC, the Asian Studies department afforded me irreplaceable opportunities, from language study to study abroad, which helped me become a world citizen. The Asian Studies department aided me again recently with a recommendation for my graduate studies applications (thank you so much, Dr. Visser!). I continue my journey now toward becoming a citizen of the planet, able to pair science with multilingual and intercultural abilities in pursuit of a greener, more just world.”

Matt completed a master’s degree in Second Language Acquisition at the University of Maryland and worked for four years at the National Foreign Language Center developing materials for learners and teachers of critical languages (including Chinese, Arabic, Hindi, Farsi, etc.). During and after his MA, Matt taught Chinese at both Georgetown and (currently) George Washington University, where he has also successfully proposed and taught three new courses and is actively involved in both undergraduate and MA programs. Matt will be starting his PhD in Second Language Studies at Michigan State University, focusing on instructed (classroom-based) second language acquisition—learning, teaching, and assessment of second languages! After graduation, Matt hopes to take an academic job where he can combine his passions for language teaching (Chinese and Spanish!) and Applied Linguistics/Second Language Acquisition research.

“I continue to be so grateful to the Asian Studies department at UNC for helping build the foundation on which I’ve built my academic and professional career,” Matt said. “I am still frequently in touch with Professor Zhou (we have even collaborated on curriculum design and professional development events these past two years!), and frequently see other members of the Chinese faculty at conferences and other events, which is always so nice. I look forward to continued conversations and collaborations with Asian Studies and the Carolina Asia Center as I work through my PhD!”

Wrapping up 2021 with DAMES!

May 20, 2021

Though the 2020-2021 academic year brought challenges of the most unprecedented sort to our campus, classrooms (virtual!), and community, DAMES accomplished great things! Our students worked unbelievably hard. Our faculty rose to the occasion. We came together to work through hardship, and below are some highlights of our endeavors.

  • DAMES devoted most of its human resources to the significant challenge of remote teaching and learning in the fall and spring semesters, with great results. Claudia Yaghoobi, for example, connected one of her Persian studies classes to a classroom in Iran through the university’s new Connecting Carolina Classrooms with the World (CCCW) initiative.
  • We also worked hard in the fall semester to promote the launch of our new graduate program, and this spring we successfully recruited our first class of MA students.
  • DAMES received international attention for hosting an innovative and timely “Blackness in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies” speaker series; several of the events are available for streaming online.

Many of our faculty won awards!

  • Doria El Kerdany, Teaching Associate Professor of Arabic, won a Sitterson Teaching Award
  • Yuki Aratake, Teaching Professor of Japanese, won a Tanner Teaching Award
  • Professor Nadia Yaqub won a Senior Humanities Research Fellow at NYU-Abu Dhabi
  • Associate Professor Yaron Shemer won an Institute for the Arts and Humanities Faculty Fellowship
  • Assistant Professor Jonathan Kief won an Academy of Korean Studies Fellowship

Three of our students presented their honors theses at our yearly colloquium!

  • Faith Virago, “Gender in the Lives of Chinese Women: The Impact of Cross-Cultural Transitions to the US”
    Advisor: Li-ling Hsiao
  • Junqi Zhang, “The Reception of Thai Boys Love Series in China: Consumption, Imagination, and Friction”
    Advisor: Mark Driscoll
  • Thomas Curtis, “Minamoto no Yoshitsune: From History to Cultural Nationalism”
    Advisor: Morgan Pitelka

And last but certainly not least, we finished our Celebrating 40 Years: 40 for 40 campaign in December 2020, showcasing the achievements and adventures of our faculty, staff, students, and our alums.

2021 isn’t over. Fall is coming and we’re gearing up, as always, for new opportunities.

See you soon!