Introducing Distinguished Major: Ida Knox

Sunday, September 1, 2013
Ida Knox

Recently enrolled in the Chinese Distinguished Major Program, Ida is a double major in Philosophy and Chinese Language and Literature. She’s already finished all the requirements for the Chinese major, so she decided to challenge herself by taking on a Distinguished Major thesis at UVA in her final year. She plans to focus on translating works by fiction writer and dramatist Su Qing, chiefly those which give her views on the roles played by sex and women in China of the 1940s. She plans to augment her understanding of these works by pursuing classes on Feminism in the Philosophy department.

She writes that her Philosophy major is a wonderful way to gain insight into the development of thought and identity in the Western Hemisphere, while majoring in Chinese is the exact opposite of that--delving into Eastern thought and cultural understanding. In an increasingly globalized environment, she says, it's incredibly important to be well versed in both sides of the question.

Not content to concentrate solely on literature and philosophy, Ms. Knox will be taking Media, Business and Classical Chinese courses next year as well. And if she runs out of academic work, she can always turn to her involvements in two comedy groups at UVA -- Amuse Bouche Improv Comedy and La Petite Teet Sketch Comedy. She also manages to hold down two part-time jobs while juggling her academic and creative endeavors.

Ms. Knox spent the summer after her second year with the UVA program in Shanghai, and in her typically unvarnished fashion she relates, “I loved it and I hated it pretty equally, to be honest. I am from a small town, so living in a city of 29 million was a slap in the face to my perspective of everything I had spent the last two years studying in a classroom, but I grew to love a lot of individuals while I was there. I think that's where cultural understanding really takes root, in the one-on-one relationships. It's so much more meaningful to sit around a table and exchange stories and ideas than a textbook or a lecture can ever really be.”

Her future plans include travel between East and West, however, so the good clearly outweighed the bad during her time in Shanghai. As far as future careers go, she states that “I'm interested in the ever changing world of communication as it relates to human rights. My thesis project is an amazing opportunity because it's as if I get to live through the thought process of an academic, driven woman in China during a period of great transition. China is still in a period of transition when it comes to human rights, and with the new technological face of global communication I believe there are great strides still to be made.” We will be watching her career trajectory with interest, and in the meantime, we wish her luck this year.