Education

PhD candidate in East Asian Languages & Cultures                               May 2018-present

Columbia University, New York, NY

  • Dissertation: “Foreign Persuasion: International Monks in Eighth Century Japan”

  • Current status: Fulbright Graduate Research Fellow, Kyoto University Graduate School of Letters (Sept. 2018-Nov. 2019)

 

MPhil in East Asian Languages and Cultures                                          May 2018

Columbia University, New York, NY

  • Examination Fields: Japanese Religion; Premodern Japanese History; Mainland Asian History & Religion; Themes & Theory

  • Committee: Michael Como, Bernard Faure (advisors), David Lurie, D. Max Moerman

MA in East Asian Languages & Cultures                                                  February 2015

Columbia University, New York, NY

  • Master’s thesis: “Women and Oracles in the Early Hachiman Cult” 

  • Advisor: Michael Como

MA in Religion                                                                                              November 2008

McMaster University, Hamilton, ON

  • Master’s thesis: “Temples and Sutras: National Protection in Nara Japan” 

  • Committee: Mark Rowe (advisor), James Benn, Shayne Clarke

 

BA in Religious Studies & History-Asian Studies                                     May 2004

St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY

Magna cum laude with Honors in Religious Studies

  1. Honor’s thesis: “The Exploration of Buddhist Themes in Medieval Shintō’s Incorporation of Buddhism As Seen in the Jinnō Shōtōki”  

  2. Advisor: Mark MacWilliams

Fellowships, Honors & Awards

 
2020
  • Donald Keene Dissertation Write-Up Fellowship in Japanese Studies 
  • Sen Lecture Fellow, Donald Keene Center
​2018
  • Fulbright Graduate Research Fellow, Fulbright Foundation                    

  • Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Short-term Postdoctoral Fellowship (declined)

2017
  • Lead Teaching Fellow, Columbia University                                             

​2015
  • Blakemore Freeman Fellowship, Blakemore Foundation

  • Academic Year Foreign Language & Area Studies (FLAS) scholarship (declined), Columbia University

  • Weatherhead Ph.D. Training Grant, Columbia University

​2014
  • Summer FLAS (FLAS) scholarship, Columbia  University

2007
  • Scholarships for Japanese language program, McMaster University; Middlebury College

2006
  • Full scholarship & bursary for Master’s program, McMaster University

2004
  • Kathryn Frazer Mackay Endowed Prize in Religious Studies, St. Lawrence University

  • Faculty Scholar, St. Lawrence University 

2003
  • Scholarship for study in Japan, Mukogawa Women’s University 

  • Freeman Fellowship scholarship, St. Lawrence University 

 

Publications

Book Reviews
Dorothy C. Wong. Buddhist Pilgrim-Monks as Agents of Cultural and Artistic Transmission: The International Buddhist Art Style in East Asia, ca. 645–770

reviewed in Journal of Asian Humanities at Kyushu University 4 (March 2019).

 

Lectures & Invited Talks

“Platforms of Legitimacy: Searching for a Precepts Master and Shifting Monastic Ordinations in Eighth Century Japan”

Kyoto Asian Studies Group. Doshisha University, Oct. 2019.

“Guided tour around Nara”

Kyoto Symposium for Japanese Studies. Oct. 2019

“How Religion Helped Shape Kyoto: A Brief Tour Through Higashiyama”

Fulbright International Education Administrators. Jun. 2019.

“Japan and South Korea: Additional Tensions and Controversies.”

Lecture in Introduction East Asian Civilizations: Korea course. Mar. 2018.

 

Presentations

“Precepts, Platforms, and Politics: Monastic Ordination Reform and Political Control in Eighth Century Japan” 

Association for Asian Studies (AAS) 2021 Annual Conference. Seattle, March 2021 (Upcoming; Proposal Accepted). 

"How Religion Helped Shape Kyoto: A Brief Tour Through Higashiyama"

Enrichment Program with Fulbright International Education Administrators. Kyoto, June 2019.

“The Ongoing Legacy of Ethnicity for Bodhisena, the First Indian in Japan” 

Columbia University EALAC: 26th Annual Graduate Student Conference on East Asia. Columbia University, February 2017.

“They Say He Came From India: the Eighth Century Brahman Bishop Bodhisena’s Use in Medieval Japanese Art, Literature, and Religion” (in Japanese)「中世日本の美術、文学、宗教に登場する八世紀のバラモン僧正菩提僊那」

Encounters & Intersections in East Asian Religions: A Columbia University Graduate Student Conference in Kyoto. Bukkyō Daigaku, June 2016.

“Buddhist Nationalism in the Development of the Japanese State”

American Academy of Religion, Eastern International Regional Conference. McGill University, May 2008.

 

Teaching Experience

Teaching Training

Teaching Development Program (TDP)                                                    Sept. 2020-May 2021

Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), Columbia University

Innovative Course Design Seminar (ICSD)                                               Oct.-Dec. 2020

Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), Columbia University

Supporting Hybrid & Online Learning & Teaching (SHOLT) Course Aug.-Dec. 2020

Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), Columbia University

Inclusive Teaching Seminar                                                                         Jan-May 2018

Center for Teaching & Learning (CTL), Columbia University

Lead Teaching Fellow (LTF)                                                                       Sept. 2017-May 2018

Center for Teaching & Learning (CTL), Columbia University

Organized Workshops:

  • Spring 2018: Designing Syllabi for East Asian Studies

  • Fall 2017: Fellowship Applications: Another Form of Teaching 

Professional Development

2020

PhD Application Workshop for MA students, guest speaker

GSAS Fellow in Academic Administration at Office of Academic Integrity 

Online Academic Writing Retreat & Working Group, organizer

Online Fellowships Application Workshop, presenter

2018

Dept. of East Asian Languages & Cultures Fellowships Database, creator

2015-2016

Committee member for C-BEAR Graduate Student Conference in Kyoto 

University Service

Academic Mentor                                                                                          June-August 2020

Academic Resource Center, Columbia School of General Studies; School of Professional Studies Specialties: Reading & Argument Coach (East Asian Languages and Cultures); mentoring (social sciences, humanities) 

Teaching Assistant                                                                                        Jan. 2015-Apr. 2018

Columbia University, New York, NY

Courses:

  • Spring 2018: Intro to East Asian Civilizations (27 students)

  • Fall 2016: Asian Humanities: Major Texts (Como) (22 students)

  • Spring 2014: Asian Humanities: Major Texts (de Bary) (24 students) 

Teaching Assistant                                                                                        Sept. 2006-Apr. 2008

McMaster University, Hamilton, ON

Courses:

  • Spring 2008: Religion and Popular Culture in Japan (50 students)

  • Fall 2007: Indian Religious Tradition (16 students)

  • Spring 2007: Death and Dying: Comparative Views (50 students)

  • Fall 2006: Japanese Religion (20 students) 

Assistant Language Teacher (ALT)                                                            July 2004-July 2006

Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program, Aomori, Japan 

2017-2018
  • Graduate Student Advisory Council (GSAC) Vice President of Communications, Columbia University

2016-2017
  • Departmental Representative for GSAC, Columbia University

  • GSAC Representative to International Student Services Organization (ISSO), Columbia University

  • Graduate student advisory committee member for the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture, Columbia University

  • EALAC PhD advisory committee member, Columbia University

  • Collegium Musicum member, Columbia University                           

2013-2014
  • Collegium Musicum member, Columbia University

2007-2008
  • Graduate student departmental representative, McMaster University 

2003-2004
  • Undergraduate student departmental representative, St. Lawrence University

2000-2004
  • Laurentian Singers member, St. Lawrence University                           

Selected Work History

Cultural & Educational Affairs Coord.; JET Program Coordinator     May 2009-July 2013

Consulate General of Japan, Miami, FL 

Language Skills

Japanese

Advanced, all skills (modern); advanced reading knowledge in classical Japanese (kobun) and kanbun

French

Intermediate reading; Introductory speaking, writing, listening

Chinese 

Intermediate reading; introductory speaking, writing, listening 

 
 
 
 
 

Disclaimer: Advice and suggestions are based upon personal experience as a student, applicant, and administrator. Listed content may not be fully comprehensive or applicable to all situations or circumstances. All content is original, but it is not necessarily unique and may bear similarities with others' suggestions. Content will also grow and adapt as I gain more experience.

Anyone making use of the resources and suggestions listed here are encouraged to seek out additional recommendations to build their own personalized approaches to navigating the often intimidating world of academia.

©2020 by Abigail I. MacBain