As of yesterday, I am officially a holder of the degree of Master of Arts in East Asian Languages and Cultures from the Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. (For those who are interested, you can read my academic writing.)
It was a long road, fun most of the way, and a great experience studying with brilliant, distinguished professors and thoughtful, bright, passionate fellow students. Among those who helped me the most:
- Professor Charles Armstrong, my thesis advisor, who read and commented on many drafts and helped me to shape my thesis into something coherent.
- Professor Laurel Kendall, whose insightful, humane, funny work on Korean shamans was a primary source of inspiration, whose insights and suggestions helped guide my own work, and whose introductions to Korean scholars helped immeasurably.
- Professor Morris Rossabi, who let me audit his introductory course and supported me in becoming an MA student.
- Professor Sue Mi Terry, whose excellent courses, energy, political insights, and general badassery shaped my first year at Columbia.
- Professor Michael Como, whose course Ghosts and Kami opened my eyes to hidden worlds, changed the direction of my studies, and demonstrated what real devotion to pedagogy can accomplish.
- Professor Tomi Suzuki, who stuck with me through a tough but necessary semester of critical theory that gave rigor to my academic work, and who, to my delight, exclaimed with real enthusiasm that my thesis topic was “so interesting!” (and also artist Gina DeNaia, whose deep knowledge of critical theory was a huge help in making that semester worthwhile).
- Professor Dongkyu Kim, whose research provided invaluable background for my own work.
- Hendrikje Lange, the principle subject of my thesis, whose patience and generosity cannot be overstated.
There are many others, of course. I am grateful for the many friends I made along the way, for every professor who taught me, for everyone who granted me an interview, for the departmental staff that helped me find my way through bureaucratic mazes, for the summer language programs at Ehwa University and Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, for all the Korean tutoring I received.