A Life-Changing Experience

ding rong

“The Economics doctoral program has changed my life. I have been provided with the opportunities to interact with excellent professors and fellow students, and the challenging research experience, interesting courses, top-level seminars and conferences have trained me to become a researcher. This learning experience has a life-long influence on me and my career.”

Ding Rong
(PhD, NUS, 2014)
Assistant Professor, University of International Business and Economics

Danish winter, French summer: A memorable sociolinguistic journey by Raymund Vitorio

I had a chance to go to two PhD schools this year—the Copenhagen Winter School in Sociolinguistics in March, and the Paris Interdisciplinary Summer School in Language and Economy in August. These are two competitive PhD schools in sociolinguistics, which gave me the opportunity to meet a few of the most prominent scholars in my field. I presented the preliminary findings of my PhD project, which examines the discourses of integration of ‘new citizens’ in Singapore.

Copenhagen Winter School in Sociolinguistics

The Copenhagen Winter School was a five-day event organised by the LANCHART Center and the Department of Nordic Research of the University of Copenhagen. Lecturers discussed contemporary concepts and frameworks in sociolinguistics while student participants presented their PhD projects. As a relatively young field, sociolinguistics is filled with many new concepts and theories, which makes PhD schools that aim to clarify and highlight contemporary concepts such as this worth going for.

I was very fortunate to have had a chance to consult with the faculty members and student participants about my PhD topic. Given that most of us came from different countries, I was able to get a cosmopolitan perspective on my topic. Many of the students and faculty members also conduct research on the relationship of language and migration, and watching their presentations made me appreciate the complexities of this field even more. Watching presentations about Copenhagen migration made me realize that while Copenhagen and Singapore seem to be very different from each other, they still have many interesting similarities given that both cities are experiencing immigration-related challenges.

The organisers of the winter school also made sure that we had enough time to enjoy Copenhagen. They took us out to dinner in different parts of Copenhagen almost every night, and they also treated us to nice Danish beers (Tuborg> Carlsberg, in my opinion!) on a few nights. These social events also gave us even more opportunities to discuss our projects with the faculty members, which was a nice complement to the intense lectures and presentations that we had during the day.  The Danish winter may have been too punishing especially when you bike around the city without gloves, but the warmth of the organizers’ welcome more than made up for it anyway.

Background: Copenhagen Town Hall, foreground: I and my freezing hands and smile

Paris Interdisciplinary Summer School in Language and Economy

Five months after the Copenhagen Summer School, I went back to Europe for the Paris Summer School in Language and Economy. This two-week summer school was sponsored by the Collegium of Lyon, France in collaboration with the Réseau Français des Instituts d’Etudes  Avancées (RFIEA), and was organised by two prominent sociolinguists, Prof Salikoko Mufwene of the University of Chicago and Prof Cécile Vigouroux of the Simon Fraser University.

As someone who studies the intersection of migration and language, I learned a lot from this summer school. The summer school brought economists and linguists (faculty members and student participants) together in an attempt to bridge the gap between these two disciplines, given that they are actually related to each other. This interdisciplinary perspective was quite a unique experience for a sociolinguist like me as it allowed me to improve not only the depth but also the breadth of my understanding of the two disciplines on the level of theory and method. The diversity of the participants of the summer school was really impressive. Similar to the Copenhagen winter school, this diversity resulted in thought-provoking discussions and interactions.

Selfie time with Prof. Salikoko Mufwene
Selfie time with Prof. Salikoko Mufwene

All the students were billeted in the Cité International Universitaire de Paris, which was the Parisian counterpart of the NUS University Town. Each “house” in Cité International was designed after the architecture of the country that it is supposed to represent. We stayed in the Portuguese House, where we met many Portuguese students who study in Paris. My classmates and I hung out almost every night over nice dinners and good French wine as we discussed our own experiences as PhD students. We also got to travel around Paris together during the weekend, as we all tried and failed to pick up French.

Bonjour, Paris! The Eiffel Tower as seen from the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
Bonjour, Paris! The Eiffel Tower as seen from the top of the Arc de Triomphe.

Back in Singapore with a wider perspective

These PhD schools were very enriching and enjoyable. As I learned about the works of other people, I also began to appreciate how nice it is to discuss Singapore with a very wide audience. Sharing insights about my current research here in Singapore in these PhD schools was very memorable, especially when people told me that they now know more about Singapore, and Asia as well. The friends that I made and the academic connections that I had in these schools are definitely something that I would remember as I write my dissertation.

Raymund Vitorio
Department of English Language & Literature

Ready for the Journey Ahead


“The decision to pursue my doctoral studies at this late stage was a conscious one. I felt ready to pursue something that would be challenging but also satisfying in the rigour it required of me. An alumnus of NUS, I knew I would be stretched and was ready for the journey ahead. It has not been an easy one but definitely very satisfying and rewarding for all aspects of scholarly life: learning, leading, and serving.

I have learnt not only from the courses I undertook as part of the modular requirement but also beyond. I have learnt equally from courses I audited voluntarily on campus as well as the Overseas Education Programs and summer courses I’ve had an opportunity to attend due to the extensive affiliation programs that NUS has with partner universities globally.

The support offered by the faculty for overseas fieldwork has enriched my research and deepened my perspective. Additionally, the opportunity to participate at overseas conferences has allowed access to feedback from experts and from colleagues working in similar areas elsewhere.

The opportunity offered to represent graduate students of my department has taught me the importance of teamwork and mutual support that a community can offer and the difference it can make to members in their academic trajectories.

Finally, tutoring on faculty courses has been a ‘learning experience’ as much as it has been a ‘teaching experience’. I have gained much from the students I’ve come in contact with and feel better prepared to enter the world of academia.”

Ritu Jain
Graduate Student, South Asian Studies Programme
Recipient of the Graduate Students’ Teaching Award

Finding the Right Balance

Netty Haiffaq

Netty Haiffaq Binte Zaini Mattar recently received the Maurice Baker Prize which is presented to the best graduate in the Department of English Language and Literature. The prize was first awarded in July 2010 to the recipient who has “achieved sufficient academic merit”.

For Netty, being an English student has always been a part of her nature. She has been teaching English Literature upon the completion of her Bachelors 14 years ago.

“I love how the study of literature opens you up to the world of human experience, the complexity and diversity of it,” she says.

“It’s a challenging subject that requires not only the study of literary texts, but also of cultural theory, philosophy and history, which gives you a broad knowledge base, and versatile skill set. It encourages you to engage with the big social and political issues of the times, and to think deeply and creatively about how things are connected, which is important and exciting,” she adds.

Hence the graduate PhD programme with the Department of English Language and Literature was an apparent choice for her. The department is academically diverse and recognised for the quality of its teaching. The abundance of available resources and financial support offered also makes for a conducive environment in which she has been able to develop her research in interesting ways.

The crux of it itself has been inspired by her supervisor, Professor Rajeev Patke whose guidance helped to sharpen her research skills and fine tune her research interests.

His guidance, coupled with various activities that the department organised – seminars, workshops, graduate tutoring programme, supported conference participation – further encouraged her development.

She also attributes her award to her committee members Dr Susan Ang and Dr Chitra Sankaran who have given their time so readily during the course of study.

Of course, challenges were inevitable as well.

The mother of two says, “Looking after my children alongside research has undoubtedly been challenging but you get through it by being flexible, making adjustments, and remaining committed. I am also blessed with an amazing support network, namely my husband and family. In addition, my supervisor has been very supportive with regards to my balancing work with domestic responsibilities.”

Indeed, the adjustments that she had to make had paid off with the receipt of the award and vast academic opportunities that has opened up.

With regards to her future plans, she says, “Right now, I am enjoying my time with my kids, but I continue to write and explore my research interests. I would like to pursue a career as an academic and perhaps teach at a university.”

Learning the Communicative Art of Teaching


Shobha Vadrevu, from the Department of Communications and New Media, was awarded the Graduate Student Teaching Assistant Honour Roll at the FASS Awards Ceremony 2015.

For the former secondary school educator, the receipt of the award is a testament of the hard work and dedication of all teachers as well as the guidance that she has received from her module coordinators.

She shares with us her reasons for pursuing a graduate education with the Department of Communications and New Media, her experience as a teaching assistant and the biggest takeaway from her teaching experience.

Why did you choose Communications and New Media?

I started out as a secondary school teacher intensely interested in how new media technologies and platforms seemed to be shifting the nature of the relationship between teachers and students. This led me to write my masters dissertation on how teachers manage their interactions with students on Facebook, navigating multiple issues such as blurred public/private boundaries, and professional/personal identities. While this was in the field of educational research, my search for relevant literature for this dissertation led me to the work of Associate Professor Lim Sun Sun, to whom I wrote an email out of the blue, including my CV, a writing sample and my research interests, just so she knew I was serious about exploring the possibility of working with her. With what I have come to realise is her characteristic and unique mix of curiosity and generosity, she wrote back and agreed to meet me. With her input, as well as further input by other faculty members at the department, my desire to get a handle on the politics of new media (insofar as I understood it from what I observed about its impact on hierarchies in school as well as in wider society) led to a thesis that explored the scope for agency in the technological society based on an empirical investigation of the configuration of the media literacy curriculum in Singapore’s educational and technological policy. Communications and New Media turned out to be exactly the right place for me to explore ways in which I could contribute to growing understandings of the complex role of digital technologies in shaping citizenship.

How did FASS and NUS contribute to your journey thus far?

The research scholarship that NUS awarded me was the key factor enabling my development as a scholar. Applying for a PhD at the age of 40, I worried about whether any institution would support my dreams of an academic career, given the focus often placed on investing in youth rather than life experience. The research scholarship gave me – a mother of two who had stayed at home for ten years to raise her children – the opportunity to break free of the constraints of culturally imposed gender norms and move towards a goal of financial independence and intellectual growth. The award of the President’s Graduate Fellowship one year into my candidature provided significant affirmation for my academic trajectory. Through the facilitation of these developments, the provision of opportunities to engage with students and teachers across the faculty, the nurturing of a vibrant research environment, and the avenues for contribution to the community at every level, FASS has provided a very supportive context for the realisation of my goals. Significantly for me, stepping into FASS meant access to experienced scholars and an abundantly stocked library.

How do you feel about the award that you have achieved?

The award is yet another form of affirmation, this time of skills and experience that I brought to NUS with me. As a trained teacher with experience in the secondary school classroom, I had a chance to develop my philosophy and style as a teacher before I began teaching at NUS, and have always been reflexively engaged with the project of my own development in this regard. While the higher education classroom is of course a very different space, the pedagogical relationship is one that is fundamentally contiguous across contexts. In the four years that I served as a graduate student teaching assistant, I never thought of myself as “just” a teaching assistant. Rather, I viewed the position as a way of informing my perspective about teaching at the university level, and as a bridge to eventually designing and implementing my own undergraduate and graduate modules. The award, based as it is on a combination of student feedback and administrative oversight, represents for me a very democratic and credible way of affirming teachers for the work that they do. It also encodes the support and validation of module coordinators who guided me, engaged with my feedback, and wrote in to nominate me for the award.

What are some of the observations you have made while teaching?

The undergraduates I have had the pleasure of teaching have been eager to learn and engage, and very responsive when they perceive that they are in a safe learning space. The fact that I was also grappling with the vulnerability of being a learner in my doctoral studies enabled me to empathise and led me to attempt to co-construct such a safe space with the students. I’ve also learned that students appreciate having access to their tutors for individual consultations should the need arise.

Describe a memorable moment in your teaching experience.

One particularly memorable moment was when I was faced with a mountain of lengthy individual project reports to grade. At that moment my decision to leave secondary school partly  because of the heavy grading load, only to be once again plunged into a similar situation, seemed a little like leaping straight out of the frying pan into the fire, and I admit to having indulged in a few tears of despair. However, reading the reports actually had a calming effect on me once I’d gathered the courage to get started, because of how interesting they were. It also helped that the module coordinator had worked out with the tutors ahead of time a systematic rubric for grading that made the process much less painful. That initial reaction, however, is one I will never forget. One major lesson I learned from it was to be more proactive in discussing my targets with module coordinators.

What is the biggest takeaway out of these teaching experiences?

My biggest takeaway out of these experiences is that teaching well is a communicative art – one that depends on a delicate balance of knowledge, institutional power, interpersonal relations, and emotional investment. Being a graduate tutor puts you in the unique position of being both “inside” as well as “outside”. You are both student as well as teacher. This seems to me a much more complex situation than it is often made out to be, and I believe that it is potentially a very productive one for exploring the scope for agency within an institution of higher education. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to experience this dynamic, which I think has been a central part of my postgraduate journey.

What are your future plans with regards to your academic development?

Having just submitted my doctoral dissertation for examination I am now awaiting the examiners’ feedback. I see the PhD as the beginning of my intellectual journey, rather than the closing of a chapter. My future plans involve seeking a position with an academic institution that supports my goals for further research. I am fortunate that my years as a graduate student at FASS have allowed me to develop relationships with mentors who continue to provide guidance as I plan the next stage of my academic career.

Making Greater Contributions with Knowledge Gained


“The Masters in Applied Economics programme has enabled me to acquire deep expertise in various economic disciplines such as Industrial Organisation and International Trade. While the depth of the economic curriculum is challenging, the kind guidance of my professors allowed me to pick up new skills and knowledge.

The knowledge that I have gained would help me in my job in the Economist Service at the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Through this programme, I am confident that I will be able to make a greater contribution to advance the economic analysis of policies in Singapore.”

Eileen Lee Jia Zhen
Graduate Student, Department of Economics
Recipient of the Lim Chong Yah Medal

My Joint Degree Programme Experience at King’s College London

In the autumn of 2014, I arrived at King’s College London (KCL or King’s for short) under its Joint PhD Degree Programme with NUS. Located in Central London by the side of River Thames, King’s is a vibrant academic community and the home of more than 10 Nobel Laureates. My stay in London and study at KCL have been a fruitful and eye-opening experience.

Year-end lunch organized by King's Interdisciplinary Social Science for its members.
Year-end lunch organized by King’s Interdisciplinary Social Science for its members.

One feature I think very positively about King’s academic community is that the links across departments are strong and the boundaries are almost nonexistent. For example, although I was officially hosted by the China Institute for the Joint Degree Programme, I was able to appoint a professor from the Department of Management as my main supervisor because of the close proximity between my research and his. The King’s Interdisciplinary Social Science Doctoral Training Centre (KISS-DTC) was established with the aim to build links for social scientists across the college. Soon after I arrived at King’s, I became a member of the KISS-DTC and benefited a lot from the methodological training I received at the center. In the process, I also got to know and became friends with many doctoral students from other disciplines of social science.

Celebrating the 2015 Chinese New Year with the classmates of King's College London
Celebrating the 2015 Chinese New Year with the classmates of King’s College London


Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria. Taken during the 2015 European Political Science Assoiation Annual Meeting
Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria. Taken during the 2015 European Political Science Assoiation Annual Meeting

During my time at King’s, in addition to researching for my dissertation, I had the opportunity to audit two modules on European political economy and public policy. The insight gained from the modules complements my current research very well. Given that I focus on monetary policy, the case of the European Monetary Union has greatly enhanced my understanding of the topic and at the same time, poses many theoretically challenging questions for me to reflect on. Furthermore, these materials are very useful for a political economy module that I am currently teaching at NUS, as they allow me to introduce a European perspective to a mostly Asian audience.

IAPSS World Congress 2015, Birkbeck College, University of London
IAPSS World Congress 2015, Birkbeck College, University of London

One good thing about studying at King’s is that one automatically has University of London. That brings about much more opportunities and resources beyond KCL itself. When I was at King’s, I often walked across the (highly dangerous) road to attend seminars at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), talk to the scholars in my field of study or visit the British Library of Economics and Political Science (the LSE library). Moreover, the geographical location of London makes academic conferences in Europe much more accessible and affordable. Within the academic year, I managed to attend three conferences held in Jerusalem, London and Vienna. At the conferences, I received valuable feedback for my research and greatly expanded my social network.

Academic conference at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Academic conference at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel


St. Anthony's College, Oxford University
St. Anthony’s College, Oxford University


In front of the International Court of Justice (Peace Palace), The Hague, The Netherlands
In front of the International Court of Justice (Peace Palace), The Hague, The Netherlands

My life in London was certainly not all about academics. During my free time, I often walked along River Thames and visited the parks and the museums of London. On weekends, I could travel to other places in the UK for sightseeing or join my friends studying at Oxford or Cambridge. In addition, I also travelled to other European countries such as France and the Netherlands for slightly longer holidays during my stay in London. The marvel of the European culture and civilization only not opened my eyes and mind, but also constantly made me reflect on themes such as humanity, modernity and scientific progress.

Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France


Louvre Palace, Paris, France
Louvre Palace, Paris, France


St. John’s College, Cambridge University, where Mr. and Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew took their photos three times in their lives.

Today, when people ask me what I miss about London and the UK, I can easily give them a long list, which includes, among other things, the vibrancy and diversity of the society, the splendid culture, the spirit of the Industrial Revolution that continues to inspire us today, as well as the Green and Pleasant Land, the British sense of humor and the aphrodisiac accent. Virginia Woolf, a famous modernist English writer and alumna of King’s College London once wrote: “London itself perpetually attracts, stimulates, gives me a play and a story and a poem…” That is, I think, the most accurate and vivid summary of my memory of London.

A marvel of art on the bank of River Thames, an embodiment of British creativeness
A marvel of art on the bank of River Thames, an embodiment of British creativeness


Big Ben and red telephone box, two icons of London
Big Ben and red telephone box, two icons of London

Li Xiang
Department of Political Science

Facilitating Discussions


Nandabalan Panneerselvam, a teaching assistant at the Department of English Language and Literature, has received the Graduate Student Teaching Award Honour Roll. The award recognises sustained high performance in winning the award three times.

In a recent interview, he shares with us how each of his teaching experience varies from one another, the memorable moments he treasures and his hopes as a graduate tutor.

1) Why did you choose English Language and Literature?

There were a number of majors that interested me when I started my undergraduate studies – Literature, History, South Asian Studies, Theatre Studies, European studies. Soon, however, I found myself taking literature modules all the time! I simply could not stay away from any of the modules offered by the department. So perhaps it is more apt to say that Literature chose me! Literature felt like home. Furthermore, literature is naturally intertwined with many other disciplines, such as history, philosophy, geography and sociology, so to a certain extent I felt like I was studying all these subjects along with literature. It can be said that the study of literature involves an interest in discourse. More than the thing itself, we are fascinated by the way the thing is conceived and perceived, used and related to, talked about and discussed. This perfectly suits my temperament.

2) How did FASS and NUS contributed to your journey thus far?

I received my BA and MA degrees from NUS and am currently enrolled in a PhD programme offered by NUS. As such, there can be no doubt that NUS has shaped my thoughts, personality and motivations.  I’ve had the privilege of being taught by excellent lecturers, not just from my department but others as well, and they have ignited my passion for many subjects and topics. The conversations I have had with fellow students have been invigorating and have resulted in many epiphanies.

 3)  How do you feel about the award that you have achieved?

I feel honoured and humbled to receive this award. It has been a wonderful experience working as a teaching assistant. I hope this award indicates that I have succeeded in creating and sustaining a love for the subject in my students.

4) After teaching for three semesters, what is the difference between your most recent experience and the first time you became a teaching assistant?

The first time I was a teaching assistant was years ago when I was a Masters student. At that time, my teaching style tended to be rather top-down. I tended to control the direction of the discussion almost entirely. This has changed over the years. Now my teaching style has become far more collaborative. I let the students take charge of their own discussions and have learnt to be more of a facilitator, providing guidance and clarity when required.

 5) What are some of the observations you have made while teaching?

Mainly I have taught film modules. On one hand, students are very comfortable in discussing films, because they are so familiar with the medium. On the other hand, precisely because they are so used to being consumers of film, they frequently find it difficult to enter a more critical and academic frame of mind and the discussions can become rather banal. However, over the course of the module, I have noticed the students undergoing a noticeable change and they finally become students of film rather than remain as consumers.

 6) Describe a memorable moment in your teaching experience.

A student wrote to me, thanking me for letting the students have greater control over their discussions. She went on to inform me that usually she would be somewhat silent during tutorial sessions, but in my class she felt safe and motivated enough to express her own opinions. Her email made my day!

 7) What are your hopes as a graduate tutor?

As a graduate tutor, I wish to equip my students with enough knowledge and experience to start their own discussions and conversations, so that eventually they can make their own contributions to the field, be it in the form of an essay or one day, a thesis or a published book.

 8) What is the biggest takeaway out of these teaching experiences?

I think learning to relinquish control was the biggest takeaway from me. Rather than controlling the discussion, I have learnt to facilitate discussions, so that students can play a bigger role in their own education. I have witnessed the benefits of this strategy in the way this has aided the academic development of students.

9) What are your future plans with regards to your academic development?

I enjoy teaching tremendously so I envisage that teaching would still remain an important part of my life after the completion of my PhD. I also hope to write and publish academic articles on various topics that interest me.

Beyond conventional ways


Miguel Escobar Varela, has always been interested in theatre. Combining his passion for theatre and computer programming, Miguel – who also teaches a module UAR2207 Theatre and the World under the University Scholars Programme – decided to embark on an unconventional research project on Javanese Wayang Kulit using Digital Humanities.

The product of it is an interactive online dissertation that had bagged the Wang Gungwu Medal and Prize for the Best PhD Thesis in the Social Sciences/Humanities at the recent FASS Awards Ceremony 2015.

He shares with us the reasons behind his decision to pursue Theatre Studies and discussed the crux of his dissertation.

1) Why did you choose Theatre Studies?

I’ve always been interested in theatre as a way of understanding other cultures. I have been fortunate to live in different countries and theatre has always provided me with a unique mode of learning about other ways of looking at life. Theatre is about interactions: between people, between artistic forms and between ideas about the past and the future. I wanted to study theatre because I think it provides a fascinating insight into the way people think about themselves and others.

2) How has FASS and NUS contributed to your journey thus far?

The Faculty of Arts and Social Science at NUS has been a great place to study. As part of my PhD research I was able to be part of other research projects, to teach things I’m passionate about and to go on field trips to Indonesia, which was a fundamental part of my research project. I was very happy to be able to talk to researchers from other fields and attend talks by experts from many different places. I also had access to great resources at the library. Overall, it was the perfect place to conduct research, share it with others and get feedback.

3) How do you feel about the award that you have achieved?

It’s great honour. The dissertation was a combination of conventional theatre analysis and Digital Humanities (computational methods for the study of culture). The dissertation itself was submitted as an interactive website which includes a combination of diagrams, videos and texts. The methods and presentation format of the dissertation are relatively new, and I feel very encouraged by the fact that NUS chose to give the award to an unconventional, interdisciplinary dissertation.

4) Tell us more about your thesis. What is the crux of it?

The thesis speaks about new developments in the Javanese tradition of wayang kulit (leather puppet theatre). It is a very respected tradition but few young people watch the conventional eight-hour performances nowadays. However, many innovative dalang (puppeteers) have incorporated elements from popular culture and digital media into their performances in order to speak about socio-cultural change in Java. This performances are called wayang kontemporer [contemporary wayang]. For example, there is a performance which combines traditional narratives from the Mahabharata with Hip Hop music in order to explore inter-generational conflicts. My thesis was the result of a systematic study of wayang kontemporer performances that triedto identify patterns in the way the artists combined tradition and new media, and in the socio-cultural challenges they addressed. Even though the performances might seem similar at first glance, the study showed a wide spectrum of creative strategies and a very diverse range of attitudes towards topical concerns in Java. The thesis, in its interactive form, is now available at wayangkontemporer.com. The portal includes interactive diagrams, videos and the full text of the thesis. Users can also leave comments and I look forward to more feedback on this project.

5) What inspired you to conduct research in this particular area?

I first went to Indonesia many years ago to study the languages and performance traditions of Java. I knew a little bit about conventional wayang kulit and I thought it was a fascinating tradition. While I was in Yogyakarta, I happened to see a show that combined traditional puppets, actors and complex stage machinery with special effects. I had never seen anything quite like that and I decided to learn more about it. There were only a few books and articles that mentioned wayang kontemporer but I could not find any comprehensive study of these innovations. So the idea of starting a documentation project stayed with me and, a few years later, I decided that the best way to purse this was through a PhD project. Besides theatre, my other great passion is computer programming. I wanted to find a way to combine both theatre research and programming in my research. I started to read more about the emerging field of Digital Humanities, where researchers are often also programmers interested in using computational methods to study culture. This provided me with inspiration to continue with the project, which eventually became the interactive, online dissertation.

6) Were there any challenges while conducting this research? How did you overcome them?

The project demanded a wide combination of things: video recording, language training, field work, programming and writing. The work was fascinating but it was difficult to figure out how to turn all of these into a dissertation. Luckily, I had very good guidance from my supervisor and from many other people who read the texts, looked at the website and gave me feedback.

7) Were there any memorable moments?

The PhD research was exhausting but also fun. I travelled to every city in Java where I knew of anyone who had done innovative work within the wayang tradition. People often welcomed my curiosity; they happily answered my questions and allowed me to record their performances. I was often invited to share food and tea with many great artists, including not only the dalang but also film directors, writers, musicians and visual artists. My fondest memories of the PhD research are the conversations I had with people such as Sujiwo Tejo, Eko Nugroho, Enthus Susmono, Nano Riantiarno and the late Slamet Gundono.

8) Has your research findings influenced your lectures or your career?

Yes, I think this project has influenced the way I think about teaching and research. I try to encourage my students to do fieldwork and to learn how to use computational tools in their research. The research findings have also led to publications in different academic journals, both in theatre and in Digital Humanities.

9) Do you intend to further your research?

Definitely. For the PhD I tried to keep a narrow focus on contemporary wayang. But I also realized there are many other areas of Indonesian performance worthy of attention, and many ways in which digital tools can help further the study of theatre. I hope I can continue to explore these things through research and teaching.

10) What are your plans (career or research wise)?

I am working on a book project about the methodological implications of computational research methods for the study of theatre. I hope to continue learning about theatre (especially in Indonesia), teaching, and collaborating with people from different disciplines.