Doctoral Students

Baxter, Joshua
Modern Japanese History  

Joshua received his B.A. from Redeemer University College (2004) in History (Honours) and his M.A. in East Asian Studies from the University of Toronto (2008).  His PhD research focuses on the emergence of the state, state religion, and the economy in the Meiji period in connection with the history of Yasukuni Shrine. His research interests include urban development, political economy, religious rituals and labour history. In 2009 he went to Japan to further his research with support from the Dr. David Chu Scholarship in Asian Studies. In 2013-2014 he held a Japan Foundation Japanese Studies Doctoral Fellowship to undertake research at the University of Tokyo.

Chen, Xi
Chinese Literature

Xi Chen is a Ph.D candidate in modern Chinese literature and cultural history. She received her B. A.(2006) and M.A.(2009) from Tsinghua University, Beijing. Her research focuses on the discursive formation of species,  and particularly an inquiry into the concept of the animal (dongwu) and its relations with the human subjectivity in the 20th century China. She is currently writing  her dissertation tentatively entitled with “The Question of the Animal in the 20th Century Chinese Cultures” with the support from the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation Doctoral Fellowship (2015-16).

Cheng, Wen YinCheng
Chinese Archaeology

Wen Yin is a PhD student in Chinese archaeology. She received her BA in Anthropology from Laurentain University and completed her MSc in Technology and Analysis of Archaeological Materials from the Institute of Archaeology in University College London. Her study of interest encompasses First Nations pottery, Chinese Neolithic to Bronze Age pottery, as well as ancient Chinese armour use and production from Qin dynasty (221-206 BC) to Han dynasty (206BC – 220AD).

Jeong, SeongpilSeongpil_Jeong(profile)

Seongpil Jeong is a Ph.D student in the Dept. of East Asian Studies. He is interested in the modern Korean history as well as critical theories around postcolonial studies. Specifically, he wants to scrutinize the governmentality of post/colonial Korea, focusing on the relationship between subalterns and ‘developmental’ projects by the state. He is also interested in the intellectual and cultural history of historical socialisms and nationalisms in East Asia.

Kaygusuz, Banu
Japanese History, Visual Culture   

Banu Kaygusuz is a PhD student in Japanese history and visual culture. She received her B.A. and History at Bogazici University. She was an exchange student at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, as well as a research student at Keio University. Her research focuses on the politics of photography from a multidisciplinary perspective. Her M.A. thesis (“Representing Japan in the Photography Collection of Abdulhamid II”) incorporates research conducted in both the Ottoman archives and the archives in Japan, and elaborates on the transnational exchange of photographic technologies, and representation strategies. The comparative approach to socio-cultural aspects of Meiji Japan and the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire embodies her historical perspective.

Ko, Sun Ho   

Sunho is a PhD candidate in modern Korean history. His broad interest is to think about modernity, capitalism, and colonialism in the context of 20th-century Korean history. In particular, he is interested in the circulation of rice in the Japanese empire with a focus on how Colonial Korea was integrated into the empire. He holds a B.A. degree in Korean history from Seoul National University and an M.A. degree in East Asian Studies from the University of Toronto.  

Lau, Jennifer Junwa

Jennifer studied English Literature and East Asian Studies as an undergraduate at the University of Toronto (2009) and went on to pursue her Master’s degree at the National Taiwan University in 2010. Following her interest in issues of translation and travel, her current research focuses on Chinese and Canadian interactions of the nineteenth and twentieth century. Jennifer is a recipient of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada’s Doctoral Fellowship, Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Master’s Scholarship, and a Canadian Studies Graduate Fellow at the University of Toronto’s University College.

Lee, Do Kyung Tina
Korean Cultural History   

Tina Lee received a BA in English from York University (2002), a BFA in Art and the History of Art from Concordia University (2005) and an MA in the History of Art, supported by a Commonwealth Scholarship, from SOAS (2006). Her MA thesis explored the relationship between celadon and aristocratic statehood in the Goryeo dynasty. As a PhD student, her research interests include the historiography of Korea, cultural heritage and the aesthetics of faith.

Li, Yanfei
Modern Chinese Literature   

Trained in comparative literature and cultural studies, I take interest in Chinese literature and films, history of Chinese cities, and philosophy of language and space. My dissertation studies the decline of vernacular space in China represented by the disappearance of Beijing alleyways and courtyard houses in the past three decades. Viewing the disappearance of vernacular architectural forms as a significant but understudied phenomenon in the transformation of Chinese post-socialist cities, my research reveals the epistemic shifts and cultural atmosphere in literature, architecture, planning, and policies that play a part in such decline. In addition, I have interest in urban cultural topics such as cities in literature, the cultural construction of Chinese heritage, and the production of independent documentaries as part of the civil society movement in contemporary China. I also teach courses in Chinese literature, history of modern and contemporary Chinese cities, and all levels of modern Chinese language.

Liu, Shasha Liu

Shasha Liu is a PhD student in modern Chinese culture and art. She received her B.A.(2008) and M.A.(2011) in Art History from Tianjin Academy of Fine arts. She also holds a Master degree in Art History from University of Toronto (2011). Her research interest lies in foreign explorers at Mogao caves (The caves of Thousands Buddhas) in Dunhuang during Republican period.

McConaghy, Mark F.
Modern Chinese Cultural History   

My work is motivated by a desire to understand how various cultural forms can be mobilized to bring into being new configurations of collective life. How can an aesthetic work operate within a given cultural context to foster radically different forms of consciousness? What, finally, does it mean to talk about “cultural revolution,” both as an historical phenomenon and a contemporary political problem? Such questions have compelled me to study the cultural dimensions of modern Chinese nationalism, socialism, and capitalism. Recently, I have been researching Chinese nativist literature of the 1920s (乡土文学) and its relationship to emerging concepts of nationhood, revolution, and utopia. In order to conduct such research I was recently awarded a Joseph-Armand Bombardier SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship.

Michielson, Edwin 


Edwin Michielsen is a PhD student in Modern East Asian Literature. He received his BA and MA in Japanese studies from Leiden University. His current research is tentatively called “Envisioning an International Community: Proletarian Arts in East Asia” and deals with articulations of trans- and internationalism in proletarian literary and cultural movements in East Asia and Russia during the 1920s and 1930s.

Osenton, Sara   

Sara Osenton is currently writing her dissertation on contemporary Japanese art. Sara also completed her MA at the University of Toronto in East Asian Studies, and prior to that attained a BFA in visual arts from Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and a BA in Japanese Studies from UBC. Her research interests include hybridity, post-humans (robots and cyborgs), multi-temporality, Zenga, avant- garde art and parody.

Poborsa, James D.Poborsa
Contemporary Chinese Art   

James’ doctoral research focuses on contemporary Chinese art, art theory, and the intellectual history of modern and contemporary China. His doctoral dissertation examines contemporary Chinese photography from the late 1970s until the present, with a focus on the relationship between photographic theory and practice, and the intellectual and cultural politics of the period. He has taught multiple courses on the history, politics, culture, and art of modern East Asia, and has given numerous public lectures, including a series of talks on contemporary Chinese art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, in tandem with the Ai Weiwei exhibit According to What? in 2013. He holds an M.A. in East Asian Studies (2009), and a B.A. (Hons.) in Economics and Philosophy (2005), both from the University of Toronto. He was previously a senior visiting scholar at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou (2013-2014), and visiting doctoral researcher in the Department of Chinese Language and Literature at Tsinghua University (2014-2015).

Wang, Jing
Modern Japanese Literature   

Jing Wang is a Ph.D candidate in modern Japanese literature. Jing received her B.A. in Chinese Language and Literature and M.A. in Comparative Literature from Tsinghua University (Beijing). Her research concerns the mutually formative relationship between urban space and literary representations in early 20th-century Japan. She is currently writing her dissertation titled “Urban Space and Modern Japanese Literature within the Context of Colonial Modernity.”

Wen, Yuyu wen

Yu Wen is a first year PhD student in pre-modern Chinese literature. She received her B.A. (2012) from the Department of Chinese Language and Literature in Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou and M.A. (2014) in East Asian Studies from Arizona State University in United States. Her research interest lies in classical poetry 3rdd through 11th century, especially banquet poetry and poems concerning music. Currently she is focusing on sensory studies on the “Han and Meng Poetry School” (韓孟詩派) in late Tang period, poet Li He (李賀) in particular. She is also interested in performance literature, as medieval Chinese performance texts and narratives.

Weng, Ruoyang GabrielWENG Ruoyang

Ruoyang is a PhD student in Chinese philosophy. He received his B.A. (2012) from the Department of Religion and Philosophy in Hong Kong Baptist University and M.A. (2015) from the Division of Humanities in Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. His current academic interest lies in comparative philosophy between China and the West, focusing on the study of emotion. He is also interested in Chinese history (especially the Song dynasty) and intellectual history.

Yo, Yvonne Jia-Raye

Yvonne receives her B.A from Tshinghua University, Beijing and her M.A. from East Asian Studies at University of Toronto. Her current research interest is on the concept of landscape in modern Taiwanese literature, particularly in modern poetry. She is also interested in topics such as modernity, neo-Confucianism, and eco-poetics.

Zhang, Yuanfang

Yuanfang Zhang is a PhD student in modern East Asian history. He holds BA degrees from Peking University and Waseda University received in 2008, majoring in international relations; and received a MA degree in University of Victoria in 2012. He studied Marxist criticism of capitalist political economy, and modern Chinese and Japanese histories. He is currently working on Japanese immigrants in China in the beginning years of postwar period.