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Graduate Program

Student Profiles

One of the many advantages of majoring in Asian Studies is having access to a tight-knit and diverse community of students, faculty, and staff. We have listed below information about our undergraduate association and profiles of our graduate students to give you a sense of student life here.

M.A. candidates

Max Brandstadt
Max Brandstadt received his B.A. from Bowdoin College in 2013, with majors in Asian Studies and Classical Studies. His research focuses on the development of Chinese Buddhism during the Sui and Tang dynasties. Specific areas of interest include early Chan, the Three Levels Movement (三階教), and the forms of rhetoric deployed by Chinese Buddhists to talk about normativity within the monastic establishment.

Jeremy Breningstall
Jeremy Breningstall graduated with a B.A. in history and political philosophy from Bates College. He worked as an English teacher in China for six years, most recently at Shanghai International Studies University. His freelance journalism work has been published by the Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times. He has twice been the recipient of a Critical Language Scholarship from the U.S. State Department. His research interests include internet culture, visual studies and ethnic folklife in contemporary China. He is a fan of Red Dust by Ma Jian and the Tang poets. When he has time, he participates in touch football or dragon boating.

Donagh Coleman
Finnish-Irish-American Donagh Coleman holds degrees in Philosophy and Psychology, as well as Music and Media Technologies from Trinity College Dublin. After his studies, Donagh has worked as a documentary filmmaker, spending long periods in India and China, where many of his subjects come from. Previous films with wide international festival and TV exposure include A Gesar Bard's Tale (winner of best documentary film at the 2014 First Peoples' Festival in Montreal), and Stone Pastures (winner of the Grand Prix prize at the 2009 Cervino Cinemountain International Film Festival in Italy). Besides films and TV-docs, Donagh directs radio documentaries for the Finnish and Irish national broadcasters. His Radio Feature “Gesar!” was Finland’s entry for the 2012 Prix Italia competition, and his latest feature “Do I Exist?” was Finland’s entry for the 2015 Prix Europa competition. Alongside his documentary career, Donagh has also worked as a TV journalist and presenter for the Finnish broadcaster YLE News. Focusing on Tibetan Buddhist studies, Donagh is currently researching a new documentary subject in the context of the M.A. at UC Berkeley.

Nick Constantino
Nick Constantino received his B.A. from New York University in Philosophy and East Asian Studies. At Berkeley, his research focuses on the historical processes that define ethical discourse in the Warring States and Han. In addition, he is interested in meta-ethics, moral psychology, and ritual theory. His M.A. thesis explores the role of wei (偽) in the Xunzi, and what this term might imply about Xunzi’s view of ritual practice and the requirements of ethical cultivation.

Nathaniel Ming Curran
Nathaniel Ming Curran graduated from the UW-Madison with degrees in International Studies and Asian Studies. He studied Chinese and Korean in college, and currently focuses his study on contemporary Korea. He plays a great deal of Table Tennis and Go (Baduk) and plans on someday becoming a professor in Korea.

Jessica Feltner
Jessica Feltner received her B.A. from Meredith College, majoring in History and minoring in Public History. Her research interests include Modern Chinese history in the latter half of the 20th century, focusing on the inter-dependencies of gender, youth, education, and government particularly during the Cultural Revolution.

Tom Maxon
Before coming to Berkeley to pursue his master’s degree, Tom studied History at the University of Nevada (BA, 2013) and at Chinese in Taiwan (ICLP, MTC 2010-2013). His thesis, tentatively titled “Filial and Subversive Nezha: Power and Resistance in Chinese East Asia,” is based on fieldwork conducted in the Taiwanese locales of Tainan, Kaohsiung, and Taipei. His thesis examines the ways in which local Taiwanese power groups harness, manipulate, and then pacify the violent image of the rebellious child deity, Nezha. His research methodology critically combines sources from the archive and field (as literary texts informing ritual practice). Beyond his specialized research topic of everyday religious experience, Tom’s intellectual purists are driven by sundry appearances of everyday power relations, conceptions of age in China and Japan, the poetics of space and travel literature, and genre and translation theory.

Anthony Morreale
Anthony Morreale received a BA in Anthropology with a minor from the Blum Center for Developing Economies at the University of California, Berkeley. After 2 years of foreign language study in Vietnam, he has returned to Cal to pursue graduate schooling. His research focuses on Kinh ethnic majority perception and experience of the Central Highlands' indigenous populations, and the way that shifts in these attitudes can be correlated to military, environmental, and economic problematizations of the region.

Young-min Seo
Young-min Seo received his B.A in Chinese Language and Literature from Seoul National University in the Republic of Korea (ROK). On his graduation in Spring 2009, he began his career as a career diplomat, working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Korea. His first assignment was the Japanese Division, Northeast Asian Affairs Bureau, where he developed both his Japanese fluency and his keen interest in the East Asian region, mainly focused on historic relations and cooperation between the three countries (i.e. Korea, China, and Japan). He then served as an intelligence officer of the ROK Navy for about three years to fulfill his mandatory military service, working closely with his US counterparts of the United States Forces Korea (USFK). Based on this experience, he returned to the MOFA in 2013 to work for the ROK-US Status Of Forces Agreement (SOFA) Division, North American Bureau, where he made many observations of the crucial role of the US in the East Asia. Against this backdrop, his main interest at the moment lies in looking into the modern history of Japan (and Korea), which was a critical turning point in the region’s history and thus the basis of many contemporary issues today. As his study in this M.A. program is being conducted under the auspices of the MOFA, he is scheduled to return to his career soon as he completes his study, with a view to implementing his academic experience into an actual business between countries.

Alex Sheehan
I am a second year in the Group in Asian Studies' M.A. program, focusing on Early Chinese texts from the Spring and Autumn Era to the Eastern Han (8th cent. BCE — 220 CE). My research is largely driven by an interest in how people thought they should live their lives, and, on the flip-side of the same coin, the historical evidence that explains how people did live their lives. To give more specific examples, I am currently investigating topics related to intellectual history, economic history, theories of ritual propriety, ethics (distinct from morality!), and authority (among other related topics).