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Our student will continue her studies at PhD History Programme at the Princeton University, USA

Liya Xie tells about her applying process and specificities of the Princeton History Programme and future research plans.

Our student will continue her studies at PhD History Programme at the Princeton University, USA

Liya Xie, the student of HSE Master’s Programme 'Applied and Interdisciplinary History «Usable Pasts»' has successfully passed the exams to be admitted to one of the leading American universities, Princeton University, New Jersey. She managed to succeed in the excessive competition (only 1 of 16 applicants becomes enrolled every year). Now Liya is eager to tell about her experience in this admission in details.

General information about the programme:

Princeton’s History Ph.D. programme is designed to be completed in five years. During the first two years students complete their coursework, language training, two original research papers, and take the General Examination. They devote the next three years to researching and writing the dissertation, drawing upon Princeton’s rich library holdings as well as archives across the world. Many students also choose to teach undergraduate courses as preceptors to gain valuable classroom experience. The Ph.D. degree is conferred following the successful Final Public Oral Examination of the dissertation.

All students admitted to the program are usually supplied with a five-year fellowship package from the Graduate School, which covers tuition, healthcare, and stipend. This is possible due to Princeton’s highest in America financial endowment.

Admissions and my preparation:

Admission to the graduate programme in History is highly competitive. Each year, the department reviews approximately 400 applications and enrolls a cohort of approximately 25 students.

Personally, I started to prepare for my PhD application in the summer vacation after the first year of master's program. I was preparing for the Graduate Record Examinations from mid-July to mid-October, and I got 169 out of 170 for Verbal Reasoning, 166 out of 170 for Quantitative Reasoning (math), and 5 out of 6 for Analytical writing. From mid-October until the application deadline, I was mostly focusing on writing the statement of purpose and revising my writing sample. Apart from that, academic transcripts and three recommendations letters from professors were also required for the application.

I have applied to 7 programs in total, and I got into three of them. Apart from Princeton University, I also get fully-funded offers from Georgetown University and the University of Toronto. In the end, I have decided to attend the program at Princeton University as its funding is the most generous (about $88 thousand per year) and the academic reputation is beyond mentioning.

Liya Xie
Master's Programme 'Applied and Interdisciplinary History «Usable Pasts»'

Future research:

I believe that the skills that I have learned from my bachelor and master's education will be a valuable asset to my graduate research, in which I would like to continue to explore the historical contacts between Russia and China both in the regional and global context.

Inspired by Fernand Braudel's longue durée approach to the Mediterranean and subsequent works on regional systems around the world, I hope to conceptualize a new regional system of Eurasia within which multiple layers of exchanges are embedded, including political, economic, social, cultural and artistic ones.

One potential research direction is an investigation of the study and transmission of Chinese medicine in Russia with a focus on the role played by Russian Orthodox missionaries. The history of medicine in Russia could be a useful entry point to understand how Russia tried to find its place in the world, given the different medical traditions in the West and the East.

Another project could be an examination of the history of tea trade between Russia and China in the general context of the emergence of consumerism in Europe and increasing trade connections around the world. The critical issue that I hope this project would address is the question of how the consumption of material objects like tea in different social strata shaped the perception of the cultural other and constructed the notion of "the self."

In both projects mentioned above, I am interested in exploring how the duality of the Russian identity, which is in part shaped by the country's bi-continental geography, complicates the conventional conceptualization of the contacts between Europe and Asia as a clash of Western and Eastern civilizations.

Liya Xie
Master's Programme 'Applied and Interdisciplinary History «Usable Pasts»'

How our program helped me with my academic development:

The process of writing my master’s thesis has greatly equipped me with the essentials of historical research

Firstly, I became well read in the historiography on Sino-Russian contacts, Orientalism, Russian and European Sinology, as well as material culture. These studies narrowed down my research focus helping to find the appropriate theoretical framework

On top of that, my experience navigating in Russian archives and libraries has considerably enhanced my Russian language skills in understanding both contemporary scholarly works and Old Russian orthography. For this, I am truly grateful for all the assistance and guidance provided by my supervisor Professor Marina Loskutova, whom I respect for her erudition, patience, and eagerness to help students.

Liya Xie
'Applied and Interdisciplinary History «Usable Pasts»'

We the faculty members and Programme Office congratulate Liya Xie with such a great achievement and wish her success in her future endeavors!