Russian Professor Dr. Benjamin Sutcliffe Russian Professor Dr. Benjamin Sutcliffe

GRAMELAC Alumni Newsletter - November 2016

November 2016
Volume 17, Issue 1

Dr. Noriko Reider Publishes New Book

Book Cover Seven Demon StoriesIn Japanese culture, oni are ubiquitous supernatural creatures who play important roles in literature, lore, and folk belief. Characteristically ambiguous, they have been great and small, mischievous and dangerous, and ugly and beautiful over their long history. Here author Noriko Reider presents seven oni stories from medieval Japan in full and translated for an English-speaking audience.

Reider, concordant with many scholars of Japanese cultural studies, argues that to study oni is to study humanity. These tales are from an era in which many new oni stories appeared for the purpose of both entertainment and moral/religious edification and for which oni were particularly important, as they were perceived to be living entities. They reflect not only the worldview of medieval Japan but also themes that inform twenty-first-century Japanese pop and vernacular culture, including literature, manga, film, and anime. With each translation, Reider includes an introductory essay exploring the historical and cultural importance of the characters and oni manifestations within this period.

Seven Demon Stories from Medieval Japan offers new insights into and interpretations of not only the stories therein but also the entire genre of Japanese ghost stories.


2016 Chinese Skit Competition

Participants in the 2016 Chinese Skit Competition

The Confucius Institute hosted the 2016 Chinese Skit Competition for the Chinese language program students on Wednesday, April 13 from 6:00 pm- 8:30 pm in Leonard Theater Peabody Hall. The students did very well in the Skits and all had great time!


German M&Ms and New Friends

By: Samantha Silber

M&MsOn a Wednesday evening in October, a crowd of forty current and prospective German M&Ms (majors and minors) gathered in Kreger Hall to indulge in candy M&Ms and other treats and learn more about what Miami University’s German program has to offer.

The social information session was resurrected by Dr. Mila Ganeva after a few years’ remission and provided students with the opportunity to get to know one another better and hear from all seven German faculty members.

“Rarely do we get together in one place in one room and get to talk about ourselves and get to talk about what we do outside of the classroom,” Dr. Ganeva explained. “We have interesting research projects and other interests that students are sometimes unaware of, so I think all of that contributed to a very lively one hour session very rich in information, very rich in interaction…”

In addition to finding out more about their professors and the courses they teach, students heard about the department’s study abroad programs, including its Intensive German Summer Program and opportunities to spend a semester or year in Munich. Faculty members also discussed career opportunities, Fulbright Teaching Assistantships in Germany, and the department’s various scholarship opportunities.

Dr. Ganeva was pleased with student engagement, “Students asked a lot of questions and especially... in the week after... I got so many visits from students who either signed up for the minor or the major, or got into the really intensive phase of planning about study abroad. So that was, from my point of view a very productive, very successful meeting.”


Dr. Qinna Shen Moving on to Bryn Mawr College

By: Samantha Silber

Dr. Qinna Shen Dr. Qinna Shen has taught at Miami University from 2008 to 2011 and from 2014 to 2016 and in the fall will begin a new chapter of her career, teaching German at Bryn Mawr College in Philadelphia.

Most recently, Shen instructed a second semester language course and fourth year film survey course at Miami.

“Students love the films,” said Shen.  “I select representative films from the beginning of German film to current contemporary films, and since it’s a survey course and I can only teach ten, I pick the ones that are most interesting.”

Shen has also been collaborating on a research project which was recently published in a German online magazine.

“We are interviewing the Chinese in Germany and Germans in China, so it’s a transnational project,” explained Shen. “We are very interested in knowing their experience because the relationship between China and Germany is very close due to trade...the power relationship between China and Germany has shifted, and also then, how the Germans view [the] Chinese…

Book Cover The Politics of Magic“Then the Germans, they go to China to study and to work. I mean, it was not the case some time ago... So it has all changed due to how wealthy the country has gotten.”

During her time at Miami, Shen particularly enjoyed teaching a wide variety of both content and language-based courses. She had the opportunity to connect her research on the portrayal of East German fairy tales in DEFA films (seen in her book The Politics of Magic: DEFA  Fairy-Tale Films) to her Honors fairy tale seminar. She also utilized her research on German-Chinese relationships to teach a connection course.

Shen praised the engagement of all her students: “I think Miami students, they really work with you. So the class dynamic is something I really enjoyed a lot. That’s why I teach, is to be able to interact with the students. And my teaching style is also always trying to have dialogue with students in all classes. In lecture classes as well as in content courses, I always try to create a dialogue with students so that the class is always dynamic and interactive... I think Miami students, they participate, they are respectful, and they are well-prepared.”

One of Shen’s favorite courses to instruct was on German drama production, which she taught during her first appointment at Miami. She enjoyed working with her small casts of students and instructed the course three times, directing six plays, which she said were always fun and well attended.

“I want to thank the German program and my colleagues here because they give me all different courses to teach. So that’s the other thing that makes teaching really enjoyable, is that I have taught so many different courses over these five years,” said Shen.

She explained that her diverse teaching experiences at Miami qualified her for her tenure track advanced assistant professor position at the small, prestigious women’s college, Bryn Mawr, where she will also be teaching first and fourth level courses.

“Basically you have to be able to teach all levels of German courses and be very flexible...For a small college like Bryn Mawr, they want people to teach language and content... I’m from Yale, so I’m also from a very prestigious graduate program, but I have, in my teaching career, also taught language and content courses, and that I think, makes me a good fit for the program. So that’s why I’m very grateful for the Miami journey.”


GRAMELAC Says a Fond Farewell to the Hindi Program

By: Samantha Silber
 
Mrs. Lalita SatyalAfter retiring from thirty-six years teaching elementary school, Mrs Lalita Satyal received a call from Miami University, where she had earned her Master of Arts in Teaching in 1972 after completing her Hindi and Sanskrit degrees and Master of English Literature in India.
 
Satyal was invited to return to her alma mater to help establish and teach the Hindi program, which she has been building up for the past eight years, teaching Hindi language courses from levels 101 to 202.
 
“So really, this was my dream come true,” said Satyal. “I love it all. It’s been really great teaching Hindi. The world is so global now and everyone is, you know, eating Indian food and they’re learning Hindi. They’re watching Bollywood films, and they’re just so excited about India and its scene in the world right now, with the business and economy and everything prospering.”

Satyal has been especially moved by the feedback she received from students who have taken her courses: “It’s connecting my Indian-American students to their roots, and to their grandparents and parents and other people who speak Hindi really well. And my non-Indian-American students they’re just exploring a new world...that they hadn’t been able to before, through Bollywood films or Hindi speaking or just learning the cultures of India...One of the girls wrote that [my Hindi course] connected her with her grandma in India, so whenever she went back to visit, she just felt that she was connected with the language and the culture.”
 
Her students praised her for her kindness, availability outside of class, and genuine interest in their lives and goals.
 
“It’s just really, really nice letters that I have received, and I really appreciate it,” Satyal added.
 
Satyal also explained how grateful she is to her colleagues and directors in the GRAMELAC department for making her experience so wonderful.
 
“[I]t has been awesome to come back and teach at Miami, but especially teaching at GRAMELAC...The people here have been so helpful and so friendly...and they always want to know how you’re doing...offering suggestions in the beginning...when I needed some mentoring. This was the first time I was going to teach in a college, and they were very, very helpful.
 
“My department chair Gretchen Margaret Ziolkowski, she’s been awesome. Our secretaries have been just wonderful. But people in general, have been just very, very helpful. Dan Meyers, director for the learning center, any time you need anything, he’s just right there to do it. And so it’s the people here have really made a difference, and it’s been a very good experience.”
 
Satyal also described her time organizing the Indian Film Festival last year with Dr. Mary Jane Berman. Open to the public and students across Miami’s campuses, the festival films focused on women and their importance in Indian families. The festival also featured panels of guest speakers and students.
 
“It was a huge success,” said Satyal. “[It] tied beautifully with my Hindi classes, because many of them got to extend the experience by going to a film festival and connect that with the roots of India themselves, and it really just gave them a further opportunity to explore the culture along with the language. To me language and culture are the same because they’re interwoven...you have to enjoy the food, the culture, the religion, the language, everything kind of comes together, so it’s really part of language learning.”
 
To students wishing to begin learning more about Indian culture, Satyal recommends the film Queen directed by Vikas Bahl about an independent young Indian woman, and the novel Gora by Rabindranath Tagore, about a man finding himself and exploring his culture and beliefs.
 
Though there will be no Hindi program next fall due to insufficient class enrollment, Satyal will be doing research for her Spring 2017 Bollywood and Indian culture course, which she has taught several times in the past. Students in this course watch Indian films, try Indian foods and learn about dress, henna, social issues, and popular genres. In the past the group held a small cultural festival in combination with the course.
 
Satyal hopes students will continue to explore Indian culture, despite the end of the Hindi program.  
 
“Because of the globalization of Bollywood, the culture, the business, the economy growing, people are really opening up to Hindi and Indian culture. So I’m sorry to see it go. And I’m hoping that at some point, we can bring it back... Many universities are adding it at this time...So it’s a little bit of a sad feeling that it will not be there in the fall. But I’m looking forward to teaching our Bollywood course and hopefully bringing Hindi back at some point again.”


Hebrew Students Keep Busy during the Academic Year

Hebrew Students Learn About the New Year

Hebrew students sharing their New Years Resolutions

For the new Jewish year, each student shared his or her resolutions for next year, while playing a fun and engaging card game. All was done in Hebrew of course. In the photos are: Alana Beck, Megan Boyce, Rachel Ferster, Viv Fierberg, Parker Frey, Sarah Yael Gasdick, Matthew Houk, Jonathan Maxwell, David Muskal, Kourtney Spaulding, Leia Withee, and Megan Zimmerer.

Learning About Purim 2016 (פורים 2016)

Students Learning about Purim Learning about Purim in the Modern Hebrew class.
From right to left (like in Hebrew): Josh Brody, Vince Palozzi, Adisson Caruso, Kathryn Jordan, Adam Glassman, and Amit Morag.

Quoting from Wikipedia: "Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from Haman, who was planning to kill all the Jews. This took place in the ancient Persian Empire. Haman's ... plans were foiled by Mordecai and his cousin and adopted daughter Esther, who had risen to become Queen of Persia. The day of deliverance became a day of feasting and rejoicing... Purim is therefore celebrated among Jews by: 1) Exchanging reciprocal gifts of food and drink, 2) Donating charity to the poor, 3) Eating a celebratory meal, 4) Public recitation of the Scroll of Esther, 5) Reciting additions,... to the daily prayers and the grace after meals."

The Hebrew Class Hummus Contest

Hummus Competition Contestants show off their resultsThought that Hebrew class is only a language course? THINK AGAIN!

In Hebrew class we take things very seriously. This is why we put emphasize on cultural aspects like Jewish and Israeli traditions and holidays, learning and singing modern Hebrew songs, reading and writing kids’ books, having a “pen-pal” collaboration with a Hebrew day school and so forth.. but the yummiest part is defiantly when we learn about traditional foods, and nothing is more traditional than HUMMUS!!

People’s culinary traditions reflect on their culture, their history, their religion, etc. Hummus is claimed as a “national dish” by Israel and Arab countries throughout the region. So the HBW 101 and 201 classes decided to take it one step further this fall semester. To not only talk about hummus, or even to make it from scratch, but to have a “Hummus Contest” in which they could explore different recipes and tastes.

The first ever “Hummus Contest” took place on November 18, 2015, at 11:30am in 126 Irvin Hall with ten contestants.

They started off by dividing into three groups.  Group one included Adam Friedman, Kathryn Jordan, and Daniella Reuter.  Adam Glassman, James Grant, Grace McKittrick, and Jackie Perelman made up group two.  Group three consisted of Elliott Cohen, Tybie Geleerd, and Ally Williams.  Then each group was on to translating the basic recipe they were given. 

The first group that correctly completed the translation could start asking for ingredients (in Hebrew of course!).  After a while things became a bit messy, but that’s have the fun. The competitive spirit was fierce between the three groups!  Finally came the time for each team to present their creation for tasting!

And the winners were… Adam Glassman, Grace McKittrick, James Grant, and Jackie Perelman.

After the winners were announced and congratulated, everyone involved received a Participation Certificate that also included lots of laughter and cheering of classmates.

Thank you guys! It was great! You were all awesome!!

~Amit Morag, Instructor of Hebrew


Dr. Noriko Reider on NPR

Dr. Noriko Reider was recently on the radio on NPR's special series "The Changing Lives of Women." The October 28, 2015 episode is titled: "Why Are Old Women Often The Face Of Evil In Fairy Tales And Folklore?" Take a listen!


CAREERS ABROAD: Letting Your Language Work for You

The Department of German, Russian, Asian, and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures will be hosting Mr. Brian Hock (Miami 1994) on November 9, 2015.  While at Miami he double-majored in History and Accountancy and took four years of Russian. Immediately after graduation, he took a position as an auditor with Price Waterhouse in Togliatti, Russia. He started his own company, HOCK Training, in Moscow in 2000. Hock Training provides training classes for various international accountancy exams. In addition to Moscow, the company currently has offices in Minsk, Kyiv, and Almaty. Mr. Hock returned to the US in 2012 after almost two decades in Russia. He continues to work for HOCK International, which is one of the world leaders in training materials for the CMA, CIA, and CPA Exams.
 
Mr. Hock’s talk on Nov. 9 is scheduled for 4:30pm in Irvin 142 and he will be discussing his experiences as an entrepreneur and living in Russia (poster attached).  He is very personable. Students interested in working abroad after graduation should find hearing about his experience of great interest.


2015 Intensive German Summer Program

By: Samantha Silber

Eleven students attended the 2015 Intensive German Summer program led by Dr. John Jeep and Dr. Catherine Grimm. The summer program, which began in Luxembourg in 1974, has since moved to a university in Heidelberg, Germany. Students spent seven weeks traveling to four major German cities and earning credit for second or third year German.

The rigorous coursework included classes for five hours a day, five days a week, in which students wrote an essay a day on average. Participants also conducted independent study projects, presenting their subjects to the group at the end of the semester. Students delved into topics including German history, politics, science, opera, gerontology, and education.

“Our experience has shown that students who are strong in the summer come back and do very well on campus. So that tells us we’re achieving the same learning outcome [as students in Oxford],” observed Jeep, who explained that students studying in Germany become especially proficient in the areas of speaking and language comprehension.

In addition to their German coursework, students participated in an immersive cultural experience. They spent half of their trip living with host families and holding their classes in a local university in Heidelberg. Afterwards, the group traveled to Jena for a week, staying with new host families, and soaking in the atmosphere of the vibrant university town. From there they made their way to Dessau, where they were hosted by the Moses Mendelssohn Society.

Portrait of Felix MendelssohnAs the society’s largest annual international guests, the students were able to learn about the life of Mendelssohn, a German, Jewish enlightenment philosopher who was considered the Socrates of his age. They also had the incredible opportunity to visit the German parliament, or Bundestag, and speak with a staff member about current issues.

From Dessau students headed to their final destination, Berlin. Along with enjoying themselves in what Jeep dubbed “one of the most exciting cities in the world,” students took the time to engage more deeply with the city’s tumultuous history. Jeep explained that one of the most emotional parts of the trip for many students was walking through the Steles in the Heart of Berlin memorial, one of the first erected in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

Steles in the Heart of Berlin MemorialAs Jeep described it, “It’s an entire city block with rectangular stones in rows and the height of them kind of undulates and you can walk among them and the depth of the walking space is also kind of underneath… students are moved by that. That’s not speaking, that’s just being there and experiencing it.

“One description is, it’s like a scab, and that parcel of land is worth about as much as anything you could imagine, and yet they have designated it as reminder.”

Along the way, students made incredible, lasting memories. One student was able to study her ancestry and visit the city on the Rhine where her German family members had lived. Another student, who was passionate about theater, was thrilled to attend an opera for the first time.

Jeep has led sixteen groups of students with varying passions and interests, his own German studies having been inspired by his exchange student experience in Austria. When asked what keeps him coming back, the answer was simple: “I think it’s the best place for students to learn a language.”


Miami Summer Tianjin Chinese Program

By: Samantha Silber

Tianjin at NightIn summer 2015, nineteen Miami University students led by program director Dr. Liang Shi participated in the seventh Miami Summer Intensive Chinese Program in Tianjin.

Students lived on campus and attended classes at Tianjin Foreign Studies University, one of the longest running programs in China to teach the language to foreign students. Centrally located in the third biggest city in China, students had the opportunity to experience life in the city, which is well known for its hospitality, generosity, and unique traditions.

The program teaches students about Chinese language, literature, people, and culture, according to Shi, who established the program and leads each summer excursion. It is open not only to majors and minors but all students interested in experiencing Chinese culture first hand.

“...Students who do not take Chinese sometimes find the program, because they want to sort of open their eyes. This program provides the opportunity for them to travel to a country different from America,” continued Shi.

The program balanced travel to China’s biggest city Beijing and life in Tianjin with visits to more rural areas and national parks. “[It is] a place which is more rural, more remote, where you have beautiful natural scenes…So our students really loved that experience,” said Shi.   

Participants also took advantage of opportunities to explore on their own.

“[We offer] usually at least two or three group excursions during the program,” said Shi, “and...we provide the opportunity to travel on their own time. You know, they have different interests in different parts of China, and so they can choose to travel to places that they find more appealing.”

Shi said he could not pick a favorite experience and looks forward to directing the trip for many years to come.

Faculty Present Work and Attend 39th German Convention in DC

By: Samantha Silber

German Studies Association Journal CoverGerman faculty members Mariana Ivanova, Nicole Thesz, Qinna Shen, and Sascha Gerhards attended the 39th German Studies Association Annual Convention on October 1-4, 2015, in Washington DC.

The German faculty try to participate in this convention for German Studies specialists each year. During the convention the Miami participants attended multiple film screenings, round tables discussing issues of the profession and the future of German Studies, and business meetings. They also met attendees from diverse fields such as film scholars, art historians, linguists, and historians, as well as attendees from abroad, many of whom traveled from Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

Ivanova acted as a facilitator, moderator and commentator for six papers on the first day of the three-day long seminar. She and Shen co-organized a seminar titled: East German Cinema and TV in a Global Context: Before and After 1990.

“The seminar provided a forum to examine and reposition East German cinema and art in a larger cultural, political historical and social framework and to identify and explore possible ‘blind spots,’” wrote Ivanova and Shen. It focused on examining “the continuities and connections between the production of East German film and related visual media and cultural production during the interwar period, the Third Reich, and the Cold War, as well as examin[ing]... DEFA and East German television and media post-1990.”

“The papers that we...discuss[ed]... revisit, redefine and still grapple with the notion of DEFA as a state-run institution in a state that sought recognition from within and from abroad. The questions raised, therefore, address the complex relationship between state ideology, the representation of a nation through its art, and control mechanisms, on the one hand, and artistic compliance and creativity, on the other.”

Ivanova noted about the experience: “Dr. Qinna Shen and I... gained invaluable experience in exchanging our ideas with and presenting our research to more senior colleagues, scholars who are established and well-known in the field of German Film Studies. At the next annual German Studies Association conference in 2016 that will take place in San Diego, CA, Qinna and I are now co-organizing a series of panels under the title: German Film Import/Export, Exchange, and Collaborations during the Cold War (1945-1990).”

One of Ivanova’s favorite experiences at the convention was the Thursday “Arts Night” which included a screening of the Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft Film Library and conversations with many famous German composers and emigrants.

“Overall, I see as the most important value the opportunity to network at the conference, to reinforce already established connections and to enter into dialog with new colleagues, to hear about their research and to ‘get on the same page’ with others who also work in the field,” concluded Ivanova, “The conference offers a venue for scholarly exchange, for learning about new publications and teaching materials.”


Eightieth Anniversary for Miami’s Beta Kappa Alpha Chapter

Delta Phi Alpha National LogoThe National German Honor Society, Delta Phi Alpha, seeks to recognize excellence in the study of German and to provide an incentive for higher scholarship. The Society aims to promote the study of the German language, literature and civilization and endeavors to emphasize those aspects of German life and culture which are of universal value and which contribute to man's eternal search for peace and truth.

Miami’s Beta Kappa Chapter strives for those same goals with the assistance of Dr. John M. Jeep, Faculty Advisor and former National President, Delta Phi Alpha (2004-2009). Dr. Jeep organized the celebration of the 80th anniversary of Miami's Delta Phi Alpha Chapter on November 12, 2015. Those in attendance besides Dr. Jeep were Jack Henne, Thomas Yarcusko, Paul Back (Honorary Member), and Miranda Couch.

If you have an interest in becoming a member of this prestigious group, contact Dr. John M. Jeep and he will be glad to give you details on how this is possible.

Fall 2016 Delta Phi Alpha Group Initiation Photo


GRAMELAC’s New Visiting Faculty Members


Irina Anisimova

  • Visiting Professor with GRAMELAC
  • Post-doctoral Fellow at the Havighurst Center
  • Received two Ph.D.s
  • Motivated by curiosity, enjoys crafts, and writes a blog


Dr. Irina AnisimovaI received my graduate degree while in Russia. I later received two Ph.D.s one in comparative literature with emphasis on African American literature from the University of South Carolina. The second one was in Russian culture and is from the University of Pittsburgh. I came to Miami University because I was very interested in the Havighurst Center. I am very interested in contemporary Russian culture, and there are a lot of people here who are involved in this field, either post-communism or actually are involved with contemporary Russian culture. For example, Steve Norris does contemporary film from historical perspective, Ben Sutcliffe used to do contemporary Russian literature and Karen Dawisha does contemporary Russian politics. Many people with the Center focus on the period that I am most interested in. This semester, one of the class I teach is contemporary Russian culture and politics. This is like a seminar style class, where we look at different aspects of Russian culture. Each week illustrates a different topic. For example, we just finished youth movements, and now we are doing gendered politics, with next week focusing on art. Next fall I will be teaching sci-fi east and west. I enjoy learning new ideas from my students. During the discussions, things will come up that I had never thought about. I also find it fascinating when people suddenly discover something new. Sometimes new ideas come up because students are reading the works for the first time, and have fresher perspectives and different backgrounds. I am currently writing a blog about contemporary Russian culture. I provide this as a resource for students, and also request that they utilize the internet for research regarding the different topics we explore. Through this, students are able bring new interests and experiences to the classroom, and myself. I emphasize critical thinking in my classes. I am not only interested in people conducting research, but also being able to analyze the results on some level. I have a reduced teaching load this semester, because as a post-doctoral, I am expected to research. Currently, I am working on a book manuscript, focusing on the period between 1999 and 2014, with the invasion of Cremier. I am looking at five writers who are writing in speculative fiction style. They use science fictional events, historical elements and fantasy elements. I am interested in this, because it reflects contemporary culture, but it also challenges the culture to some extent. These works connect culture and politics, and I am interested in that intersection.

Amit Morag

  • Instructor of Hebrew in the Department of GRAMELAC
  • Degree and M.B.A. in Behavioral Science from Israeli Institutions
  • Is a vegan, likes to juggle, read, and swim
  • Motivated by his family


Mr. Amit MoragSome of the ways that I have expressed my interest through my work, is through doing social education and entrepreneurship. Most of my career, I have been helping companies and sells forces improve their sales, ranging from small, medium, and large institutions in Israel.  I have also taught children in high schools and elementary about life skills as a life coach.

One of the things that I have participated in that has been especially interesting, was having united kids from all over the world, 36 different countries, to form the biggest Israel flag in the world. The children each got a fabric piece, colored that piece, sent it back to Israel, and we sewed them together, turning them into the biggest flag in the world, which classified for a Guinness World Record. This was especially rewarding, because there was a lot of educational material involved with this.

At Miami University, I teach beginner and intermediate Hebrew classes. In Hebrew, what leads us is the conversation, the ability to communicate. To talk, to express thoughts, emotions, and understanding of peers. I find many ways to keep students energetic and positive about learning. These methods often includes singing a song in every class. I occasionally bring my guitar to class to play for students and keep them engaged. Other activities include reading and making children's books. We also have hummus contests. Everyone must translate the recipe and ask for ingredients in Hebrew. This methods create a more interactive, personal, and fun learning environment.

I love teaching. I have done that all my life. What I love about it is the responsibilities, the ability to influence and have a role in other people's lives.



New Tenure-Track Faculty in GRAMELAC

Kazue Harada

  • Research in science fiction and Japanese women and girls in comics
  • Main goal is to publish a book manuscript
  • Likes to do sports like tennis
  • Completed about 12 full marathons
  • Enjoys feminist science fiction conventions.   


Dr. Kazue HaradaOne of my advisers in my M.A. program was working on cyborg in anime. I was very interested in the concept of a hybrid of machine combined with human bodies, which is how I got interested in science fiction.

Oxford is a very interesting environment since it is a small college town. I grew up in the countryside in Hiroshima, Japan which has a similar environment. At Miami, I teach Japanese 101: an elementary language class. The course is also very intensive, we cover multiple chapters of the textbook in one week. Many of the students do not have any knowledge of Japanese, so they have to change their way of thinking. Next semester I am going to teach Japanese civilization, studying ancient times to current times. My teaching philosophy will be that I want the students to be aware where their position in society. I want them to have a foundation to look at other cultures in a critical and sensible manner.

At the beginning of courses, I tell my students they will be uncomfortable. My goal is to make native speakers eventually feel comfortable with the language and culture, so they must feel uncomfortable at first. With this in mind, I do not usually slow down my speaking in order for students to get used to natural speed. This allows them to produce their language appropriately in an actual cultural setting and perform proper language and cultural manners. This is the type of culture that I bring into the classroom. Then the students can actually use their knowledge if they go to Japan.

I like to run long distance. This keeps me motivated in anything; if I can finish a marathon, anything is possible.


Faculty Members Promoted in GRAMELAC

By: Samantha Silber

Dr. Mila Ganeva

Mr. Mila GanevaDr. Mila Ganeva has been teaching German at Miami University for fifteen years. She recently revived the M&M Social and is always eager to have students drop in her office to talk about their new majors and minors or study abroad.

Ganeva enjoys having the opportunity to teach at all levels and in both English and German, as well as her ability to conduct her own research.

“I enjoy... the freedom I have to explore topics and authors that I’m not an expert on, but that I would like to read and find out more about,” said Ganeva.

Her students may be surprised to learn that she is a prolific writer and researcher.

“My primary area of research is visual culture: the intersection between literature, film, and fashion in Germany, and my first book was on the Weimar Period, the period between the two wars,” Ganeva explained, retrieving a copy of Women in Weimar Fashion from her shelf.

Book Cover Women in Weimar FashionThe cover features an illustration of a model posing in a silky lavender flapper dress and flowing headpiece, as men with cigarettes dangling from their lips appraise her from all angles. The book was written in English and is available to check out from King Library.

Dr. Ganeva has recently been digging through German archives, conducting research for her second book about postwar fashion and film. In September she attended a conference held by the Museum of London, viewing special collections and presenting on this period of austerity to scholars from across Europe.

We congratulate her on the milestone of being promoted to Professor as of July 1, 2016.  It is richly deserved.

Dr. Liang Shi

Dr. Liang ShiWe would like to congratulate Dr. Liang Shi on his recent promotion to Professor on July 1, 2016! Dr. Shi began teaching Chinese at Miami University in 1997.

In his time at Miami, Dr. Shi began the Miami Summer Intensive Chinese Program in Tianjin, China, which he directs each year. He has enjoyed seeing grow into a well-established study abroad experience.

“I can’t say I have one particular favorite trip,” Dr. Shi began, explaining that each group undergoes a unique experience visiting different parts of urban and rural China.

Alongside his research, Dr. Shi has taught a wide variety of courses on Chinese language, culture, literature, and cinema. He is currently teaching Chinese 202: Language and 251: Traditional Chinese literature.

“Miami students are bright and they are curious,” said Dr. Shi, smiling. “So that’s my favorite part of teaching.”

Ben Sutcliffe

  • Associate Professor of Russian and Havighurst Faculty Associate
  • Ph.D.: 2004 from University of Pittsburgh in Slavic Languages and Literature.
  • Area of focus is Russian literature, culture, and language
  • MA: Slavic Languages and Literature in 1999 at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • BA: English Literature in 1996 from Reed College in Oregon
  • Has two published books: The Prose of Life: Russian Women's Writing from Khrushchev to Putin and Ludmila Ulitskaya and the Art of Tolerance
  • Supervised four departmental theses for undergraduates
  • Ph.D. dissertation committee member for a student at University of Michigan


Dr. Benjamin SutcliffeI first began to be fascinated with Russian culture when I went to the USSR in 1987, visiting a youth camp (Artek) in Crimea. I have published many articles (in both Russian and English) dealing with contemporary Russian literature. Last summer I conducted research in Moscow on examining the Soviet author Iurii Trifonov and his concerns about the moral of the intelligentsia, including meeting with his widow, Ol'ga Trifonova, and gathering research materials in the Russian State Library.

Those students who major in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies are very committed: I try to give them the best education I can by challenging them intellectually. Miami is fortunate to have the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies, which is the only research center in the US that focuses on undergraduate education relating to Eastern Europe and the former USSR. I am fortunate to be a tenured professor: It is the attention I am able to give students that is one of the best things about my job.

 Understanding other cultures is crucial if we are to solve the staggering amount of problems faced today and by future generations. I hope that my teaching and research help in this endeavor. Because of my research, I travel frequently. Thanks to support from Miami and outside grants, I have been to Russia three times in the past two years. This allows me to understand how others view the world.

On July 1, 2016 Dr. Benjamin Sutcliffe was promoted to Professor.  We in the Department of GRAMELAC congratulate him on this well-deserved advancement in his career.