Mabon Foo is a first-year Master of Arts in English student who completed his honours degree in English at UBC. We sat down (virtually) with Mabon to talk about his interest in new media and Indigenous futurisms, challenges he foresees in his future career, and his advice for new graduate students.
Why did you decide to pursue an English graduate degree?
I’ve always been interested in reading and analyzing texts (books before, but branching out into digital/visual media now), so the disciplines contained within English have always felt like home to me and really speak to me as a potential career that I can be passionate about.
What are your research interests?
I’m planning to look at new media, such as virtual reality, social media, film, video games, through a posthumanist and postcolonial lens that questions how bodies and identities are formed and policed through textual and visual representation. I focused on Indigenous futurisms specifically for my undergraduate thesis but am interested in science fiction and futurism movements from a variety of cultures.
What is it that attracted you to UBC English?
I think the main reason why I chose to pursue English (during undergraduate and now in my graduate studies) over other humanities departments was the quality of courses available and both the knowledge and approachability of the professors here.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?
I’m definitely looking forward to starting on my master’s thesis (I’m still in my first semester of grad study), since I’ve never written that long and complex of a piece before.
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?
Probably narrowing my focus and finding an academic niche to fit in. English is such a wide field with so many eras, theories, cultures to explore that I think not simply following in others’ footsteps and finding your own connections and personal attachments to different materials is paramount.
How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?
I feel like the faculty (but also the students) have been very helpful and willing to lend their time
Do you have any extra-curricular activities that you engage with that are either related to or unrelated to your program, and what are they?
I do some creative writing on the side whenever I get a bit burned out from the academic side of things. Listening, playing and writing music also helps.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
My primary piece of advice would be not to doubt yourself as you enter the wider world of academia. I’ve done that as I’ve researched for papers and I’ve come to realize that dense language and quoting as many dead philosophers as you can doesn’t make you any more prestigious of a scholar. Just focus on what you know and have faith in that.