Yining Zhou is a first-year graduate student pursuing her PhD at the English Department of Memorial University of Newfoundland. In 2017, she received a masters degree from Soochow University, China, with a thesis on American masculinity and Western myth in Sam Shepard’s plays. Currently, she is working on screen violence in transnational cinema and a fantasy reading of martial arts films. Her research interests include film studies, genre studies, gender studies, drama, Hong Kong cinema, wuxia genre, Westerns, action films, fantasy, and violence.
How and why did you decide to attend Memorial for your graduate degree?
I first encountered Memorial at an information session on overseas universities in Shanghai, China. Since I was planning to further my study in Canada, I kept it in mind. One year later, when I applied for PhD programs, I approached Memorial and began to communicate with Dr. Joel Deshaye, who was understanding and open-minded – just the supervisor I wanted. After I came to Memorial, I realized I’ve made the right choice.
What drew you to explore English originally?
A love for English literature is the reason for me to explore English. I became fascinated with English novels in high school. Since then, I began to dream of reading and writing everything in English, and excavating the mysteries of the Western cultures.
Can you tell us a bit about your current projects?
My current projects consist of a comparative study of Chinese films and Western films in terms of their respective techniques, cultural origins and literary antecedents.
A supervisor can be key to the success of any grad student. What does your supervisor (Joel Deshaye) bring to their role as your advisor and mentor?
As mentioned earlier, Dr. Deshaye is the major reason for me being at Memorial. He is smart and inspiring. He is always ready to help and give me advice on any issue. Owing to his persistent encouragement, I overcame all kinds of difficulties and got accustomed to life and studying here, which are rather different from what I had previously experienced in China.
How does studying in the humanities and social sciences affect your worldview?
This is the very question that gives me the chance to advocate the one great advantage of the English department at Memorial. The courses here are inclusive and open. They give me a broader view on literature from an interdisciplinary perspective of all human beings. This allows me to make connections between the Western and Eastern cultures, and consequently helps me to ultimately be a bridge between them.
As an international student, what are your thoughts on St. John’s specifically and on Newfoundland in particular?
This is a very beautiful place with picturesque scenery. The life here is quiet and pure without the disruptions of the overwhelming materials. Meanwhile, this small city has all the facilities and conveniences you want.
Are you involved in any organizations on-campus or off? If so, can you explain and detail such involvement?
What do you like most about being a graduate student at Memorial?
I like its small-group teaching system. This allows the professors to take each student’s needs into consideration and do their best to guide and help them. They offer many opportunities to develop students’ diverse abilities, which are beneficial for both their academic and working careers.
What do you hope to do after completing your graduate degree?
I hope to continue my academic pursuits and become a teacher at a certain university.