Information for graduate applicants

Yomi Braester


My research interests include:

• Chinese and Taiwanese literature, cinema, theory of the arts, visual culture, and urban development.
• Critical theory, with special emphasis on the insights gained from non-Western literatures and cinema, discourses of the Enlightenment, testimony and trauma, and theories of space and vision.
• Israeli and Palestinian literature and film.

My interests may also be gleaned from my course syllabi. P
lease check my pages of previously taught courses and currently taught courses.

I will gladly work with students from any department who wish to write their Honors Thesis or Ph.D. dissertation on these subjects.


Should prospective graduate students who wish to work with me apply to the Department of Comparative Literature or to Asian Languages and Literature (AL&L)?

I am listed fully in the Comparative Literature and am a core member of its Program in Cinema Studies. I also teach in Asian Languages & Literature, but I am not a voting member of that department. Graduate students in either department, or in any other department, are welcome to work with me.

When deciding on which department to apply to, prospective students should take into consideration their main field, methodological approaches, other areas of interest, and future teaching concerns. The following advice reflects my personal perceptions and opinions alone.

Comparative Literature is more theory-oriented and interdisciplinary; it is also home to the Program in Cinema Studies. AL&L is more concerned with the history of Chinese and other Asian literary traditions. Students interested primarily in Chinese film should apply to Comparative Literature. Students who look for a focus on Chinese literature and linguistics will find a welcoming home in AL&L. Think also of your future research and teaching: the curriculum in the UW AL&L Department prepares scholars whose work relies heavily on linguistic nuance and who wish to teach language courses. The academic tilt of Comparative Literature favors analysis of universal terms and local discourses, viewing Chinese literature and film within the larger field of cultural production, reception and interpretation.

Ph.D. Applicants should also consider the strength of other faculty with whom they are likely to work. I have been fortunate to collaborate with many colleagues, especially at the Cinema Studies Program and the China Studies Program. I have often suggested to students to work also, among others, with James Tweedie (Comparative Literature, interest in Chinese cinemas), Chris Hamm (AL&L, interest in vernacular Chinese literature), Madeleine Dong Yue (History, interest in modern Beijing), Sasha Welland (Women Studies and Anthropology, interest in contemporary Chinese art circles), and Dan Abramson (Architecture and Urban Planning, interest in modern Chinese urban preservation policy). The loose structure of Comparative Literature is especially amenable to students' pursuit of interdisciplinary interests in the humanities.

There are also pragmatic considerations, exacerbated by the current financial crisis. Not all graduate students accepted to the UW receive fellowships; almost all fellowships are TAships, requiring students to work as Teaching Assistants for up to 20 weekly hours, usually in their home department. Practically all AL&L TAs teach language and must have native fluency.Comparative Literature has a limited number of highly competitive TA slots in large literature and film courses; additional slots may be found in teaching languages, but AL&L students enjoy priority in teaching Asian languages. You should take note of your qualifications and preferences for teaching when deciding on the appropriate department for you.


General questions often asked by graduate applicants:

- What should I include in my Statement of Purpose?
The statement should be 2 pages long and should define and emphasize your preparation, special skills, strengths, and goals. Convey your main areas of interest and your reasons for pursuing graduate studies, and describe how the specific program may suit your needs.

- What should I submit for my Writing Sample?
The Writing Sample is typically 10-15 pages long. You are welcome to use a copy of an undergraduate research paper or a piece of professional writing (you may wish to revise it first). It should reflect your writing style, analytical approach, and scholarly concerns.

- Should I contact individual faculty members before applying?
If you have questions that are not answered in this section, you're welcome to contact me or the relevant graduate program coordinator. Such contact will not affect the application procedure, since admissions are approved collectively by the department, which considers only the written material included in your dossier.

- What is the weight of each item in my dossier?
Each item helps us evaluate your suitability for the graduate program. We are especially concerned with your academic interests, writing skills, and previous experience. The Statement of Purpose, writing sample and recommendation letters should convey such concrete information and count much more heavily than quantifiable (GRE) scores.

- What are my chances? What does it mean if I'm not admitted or am not offered financial support?
Each department has a limited number of available TA positions. With the available resources the department strives to form a graduate student body that balances various interests and fields. The department makes the best possible estimate of your likely happiness and success at the University of Washington. Many students we cannot admit end up in equally reputable universities.




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