Christopher T. Keaveney, Professor of Japanese, Linfield College, McMinnville, Oregon (MA Japanese Language and Literature , Ph.D.in Japanese and Comparative Literature )
When I arrived at Washington University in 1990 and entered the M.A. program in the ANELL Department, I had lived in Japan for three years and spoke Japanese reasonably well, but I had never taken a formal Japanese course prior to entering the program, and my reading and writing skills were largely self taught. Admittedly, in retrospect, my Japanese skills were pretty rough. It was Marvin Marcus, my advisor, and Virginia Marcus, the head of the Japanese language section, who helped identify specific linguistic areas in need of improvement and provided direction during those critical early years of graduate study.
I was fortunate to take Japanese literature courses with Marvin Marcus, Rebecca Copeland and Robert Morrell, each of whom led me through close readings of works of Japanese literature, while also taking Chinese literature courses with Robert Hegel. I also was given the invaluable opportunity to teach Japanese as a Teaching Assistant with master language instructors including Virginia Marcus and Emi Fujiwara. This combination of opportunities helped prepare for the career that I have pursued as a Japanese instructor at a small liberal arts college. It is hard for me to imagine having the kind of close interaction with such an array of stellar faculty members at any other graduate institution in the country.
I applied to Washington University from Japan where I was living at the time in an age before the Internet and thus had little opportunity to research the ANELL Department and Japanese Language and Literature program carefully. I essentially just had a good feeling about the program and was aware of Washington University’s excellent academic reputation. I count my acceptance into that program as one of the best things that ever happened to me, and my decision to go to Washington University was one of the best decisions I ever made. As I advise my own Japanese undergraduate majors who are considering graduate school, I can think of no better place to pursue graduate studies in Japanese language and culture than Washington University.
Lee Friederich, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Wisconsin, Ph.D. in Japanese and Comparative Literature (2008)
My entrance into the Ph.D. programs in Japanese and Comparative Literatures at Wash U was the result of meeting an MA student from Wash U at a symposium for graduate students at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Because of my emphasis in women’s literature, he felt that Rebecca Copeland might make a good match for me as a graduate advisor, and he was right. My one Ph.D. application warmly accepted, upon arriving at Wash U after a brief detour to the Inter-University Center in Yokohama, I was met by another wonderful guide into my chosen field of contemporary Japanese women’s poetry, Marvin Marcus, whose love of classical and modern poetry helped to provide the breadth and depth my study needed. I was fortunate enough to enter Wash U at a time when Laurel Rodd, translator of the Kokinshû no less, was filling in as our classical literature expert and was able to work closely with her translating poets such as Izumi Shikibu and Yosano Akiko.
The graduate program at Wash U is small in terms of its student numbers, but large in terms of the wealth of knowledge that can be gleaned there. My husband Joel and my two young children always thought of the school I went off to everyday as a castle, and looking back, I think they might be right. While the life of a grad student is hardly leisurely, I will always be grateful for the intellectual stimulation and positive personal growth my Wash U experience provided me. While at Wash U, I was able to gain teaching experience in literature under the guidance of both Professors Copeland and Marcus, which allowed me to enter my current teaching assignment in East Asian Languages and Literature at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with relative ease and confidence. Providing not only academic support and guidance to find my way into the field of Japanese Literature, Wash U also generously supported me with ongoing Teaching Assistantships, summer pre-dissertation research funding to travel to Japan (which led to a Fulbright Fellowship for further dissertation research), and a dissertation writing fellowship.
I am currently working to transform my dissertation into a book on Japanese and Korean women’s poetry with the help of new friends and mentors as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in World Citizenship this year and next at the Center for the Humanities at UW Madison, a project that would not be possible for me without the training and support I received in the Graduate Program in Japanese and Comparative Literature at Wash U.
Christopher Born, current Ph.D. student in Japanese Language and Literature, (MA in East Asian Studies '03)
Having studied Japanese since my early years as a high school student in New York City, I can definitively say that the Japanese program at Washington University has been an invaluable asset to my professional development, both as a researcher and an instructor. From increased lexical skills to advanced grammatical development (and everywhere in-between), the professors have deeply invested in my growth as a student of not only the Japanese language, but Japanese culture. Such insights have contributed to my success as an instructor after completing the MA in East Asian Studies, as well as helping to foster essential skills for closer reading of original texts for doctoral research. To be sure, all of the professors' deep dedication and vast expertise became the deciding factor in my coming to Washington University first as an MA student, and now as a PhD student in Japanese Literature.