Matthew Chernick, BA/MA '17

“MACH allows students to chart their own path, explore and expand their interests within an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural context. While rooting my work in humanistic inquiry, MACH allows me to develop my own research and scholarly methodology.” —Matthew Chernick, BA/MA '17

Matthew Chernick

PHOTO BY SIMON GOODACRE

Learn more about Matthew's MACH experience and his postgraduate plans to work in Romania for the Fulbright U.S. Students program.

Alumni Profiles

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Student Profiles 2017-2018

Amanda Votta

Amanda VottaThe creation and transmission of myth is something I have always been fascinated by. Myths can be seen as the cultural memory of a people, providing a framework for how they define, order and perpetuate knowledge about their ideas and ideals, their concepts of sacred and profane. Whether it is the Ancient Greek myths surrounding the Elusinian Mysteries or modern American legends like that of the Devil-dealing, hellhound-haunted bluesman Robert Johnson, the stories a people tell, that permeate their culture and become the basis for myth, reveal a great deal about the culture from which they spring. Likewise, the basis for ritual in myth, of ritual as a reenactment of myth that perpetuates the memory of quasi-historical events also interests me. Within these broader concerns, I am specifically interested in looking at the figure of the musician and their role in perpetuating, and even embodying, the myths of a people, of their position as liminal figures whose songs can be both sacred and profane—a dichotomous viewpoint from which they themselves are often perceived. The use of song and sound, its role in rituals, and contribution to the experience of the sacred is of central importance in my work. Rudolf Otto’s concept of the numinous, that holy or wholly other which is experienced as something inspiring intense feelings of awe and fear, and his notion of "mysterium tremendum et fascinans"—the great and terrible mystery—informs my perspective, as has the work of Davíd Carrasco, my former teacher at Harvard. .

Shiyi Zha

Shiyi ZhaComparative literature ushered into my world early in my teenage years after I read a book named The Crisis of Comparative Literature, written by René Wellek, who was an extraordinary master of literary criticism in the 20th century world literature. I was fascinated by the idea Wellek presented as to study the literary world as a whole. Therefore I threw myself into the study of Comparative Literature in college. During undergraduate years, I covered studying of classical masterpieces in both East and West traditions, as well as some literary theories. I also grew deeply interest in philosophy and languages of Japanese and French. I did extensive reading in pre-modern, modern and contemporary Japanese and Chinese tradition in particular during the four years when I was in Boston University. Eager to continue advanced study in the field of humanities, I chose to pursue an MA degree at Brandeis’s MACH program. My field of interest lies in modern Chinese and Japanese literatures and cultures as well as literary theories. I cherish my study at MACH as a new journey and dream to make my own contribution to the imperfect understanding of humankind.