Sample Student Bio

I am a W&M student and am very interested in Japanese pop culture and koalas!Koala

David Waterman

Greetings. My name is David Waterman and I’m a sophomore here at the College of William and Mary. Some have claimed that I am a chemistry major with an avid appreciation of worldly cultures, perhaps leading me to the Gross National Cool. Or perhaps it was the enticing name. Either way, I’m here, and this is my biography. I’m from Philadelphia (although not a particularly violent fan, I have some of the tendencies. . .) and went to a small Quaker school for a number of years. I ran cross country and track with some successes and much of the reason why I chose William and Mary had to do with cross country and track. The academics were of course also a large part of the decision to enroll. After an initial interest in Biology, which contained too many words, I decided to make the move to chemistry. The general interest I had in other cultures and the sickening feeling of registering for another 300 person lecture led me to the GNC. So far my knowledge of Japan (and culture in general) has increased an estimated tenfold times. If you ever wish to contact me, my email is

ps. That’s my cat.

pps. Notice the cat ears

Tim Hogge

Howdy! My name is Tim, and I am a member of the class of 2014 at William & Mary. I am an East Asian Studies major, with a focus on modern Japanese culture, society and literature. The Fall 2012 semester, I am particularly interested in Miyazaki Hayao’s films, and researching the social commentary within his films. I also read up on Koreans in Japan, and issues that surround them within the country. In my free time, I read articles on Anime, work lightly on translation, and continually expand my knowledge of the Japanese language. During the winter of 2012-2013, I am traveling to Kanazawa for a short stay language and culture immersion program.

In the future, I wish to attend graduate school for Japanese Studies. My hope is to one day become a professor either at the Community College or University level.

Isabel Bush

My name is Isabel Bush, and I’m a sophomore here at the college. I am majoring in Gloriously Undecided, but I’m considering an AMES/Theater double major. Last year I took “Japanophilia” as my freshman seminar, which really piqued my interest in the academic study of Japanese culture, and its reception throughout the world.


I decided to take “Gross National Cool” because the course feeds two of my foremost passions. Firstly, it centers on cultural narratives, how those narratives are consumed, and what can be understood about a culture from its narratives. Secondly, this course studies all of that by examining Japan, a country whose culture I have studied since before coming to college. I did a cultural and linguistic exchange program in Hokkaido before my senior year of high school, and I aspire to return one day.


When I’m not studying Japan or its language, I am interested in theatrical costume and millinery, and I enjoy cooking and sewing, and just generally making things. I use my free time to teach my toddler cousin to fist bump.

Meredith Burns

My name is Meredith Burns. I am a junior and a transfer student.  My area of study concentrates on women, the Middle East, Islamic cultures and Arabic.  In order to keep all my options open, I took this class as a way to expand my horizons on unfamiliar cultures.  I have no experience whatsoever in Japan, anime, Japanese language, manga, or anything else Japanese.  My version of Japan is a mix of admiring the beauty of kimonos, being impressed by the level of ritual in everyday life, devouring sushi and puzzling over business men doing karaoke with their bosses.  I wanted to see what other people think is so fascinating.  I thought there would be more game shows, horseradish ice cream, and cat ears.  I wanted my preconceived notions either confirmed or dispelled.

In my future endeavors I hope to work with many different cultures across the globe and having a basic knowledge of  the theory of Japanese pop culture and soft power is a start.


Andrew Shelton

Hello, my name is Andrew Shelton and I am a junior majoring in Economics. I founded and run a small clothing company, Enxstinct, and spend most of my free time working on new designs.  I was first interested in studying Japanese Popular culture when I was exposed to the overwhelming number of talented Japanese artists and designers. Murakami TakashiKawakubo Rei, Tomoaki Nagao “Nigo”, Shimizu Yūko, and Yamamoto Yōji are just a few of my favorites. My interest in Japanese popular culture is centered around American obsessions with Japanese art and fashion.

Chris “Let Me Show You My Pokemons” Young

Mecha from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing (2005).

こんにちわ みんなさん!

My name is Chris Young, and I’m a senior Geology major at the College.  I transferred in from Thomas Nelson Community College last fall.  I plan to head off to a graduate program in Natural Disaster Prediction and Mitigation after graduation, and I’d eventually like to work with natural disaster response in lesser-developed regions of Asia.

My background in Japanese language and culture is entertaining.  I was first introduced to Japanese cuisine as a kid–my dad was a chef with a penchant for tempura and wasabi.  As a teenager I became interested in anime and manga of the 1990’s–Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Outlaw Star, and Neon Genesis Evangelion, to name a few.  My interest focused on a few specific database elements: giant mecha, space colonies with no discernible applicability to modern physics, paramilitary organizations, war, and an appalling lack of cohesive plot.  In order to understand the context behind many of the customs presented in these mediums, I began researching Japanese culture.  Once it became apparent that I’d have to wait weeks for new volumes of manga to be translated by fans during the heyday of 56K dialup and AOL, I began learning hiragana and katakana.  I founded the first Japanese Culture and Language club at my high school before graduating, and I still consume a frightening amount of J-Rock and J-Pop in addition to manga and assorted imported Japanese snacks.  I proudly consider myself a second generation otaku.

In addition to learning about Japanese language and customs, I think a coherent understanding of the historical context behind the culture produced in Japan is critical to fully appreciating how it reflects national identity and values.  My interest in contemporary Japanese culture is specific to how it translates across language and cultural barriers, and I’m quite intrigued with the way in which we as Americans consume and internalize memes of Japanese culture and give them a Western spin.  We can learn quite a bit about our own digital anthropology in studying Japan’s technoculture.

Jenny Lee

こんにちは !

My name is Jenny Lee, and I’m currently an English major at the College of William and Mary. As a child, I had always been exposed to Japanese merchandise and cartoon shows, which ranged from magical heroines like Sailor Moon to the adorable electric mouse Pikachu from Pokemon. However, I was never aware that all these things were Japanese – or Asian, for that matter.

Back in middle school, I used to be an avid fan and collector of anime goods like most American otaku do today. Though nowadays, I consider myself a “closet” anime fan. I also admire acclaimed filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, particularly for his adaptation of Howl’s Moving Castle by British author Diana Wynne Jones, and also for his own enrapturing fairytale, Spirited Away.

But besides cartoons, the reason I decided to join this class was in hopes of wondering how Japan became such a dominant cultural superpower in such a small amount of time – and in a highly efficient way. Additionally, I hope to learn more about the ways in which the Western views of Japan continue permeate our society today . . . and also to know how other people perceive this super ‘cool’ and ‘kawaii’ country!ヽ(● ω ●)ノ