Finally winter is over, and we have ended up smack dab in the middle of summer, or so it seems, without even stopping for spring. The sunshine and warmth are nice after a long, snowy winter, but I could do without the humidity. On the plus side, when I went home to the Eastern Shore this weekend for the annual May Bird Count, I actually went swimming in the river, which is unusual for this time of year.
Today marks the end of classes at UMD, which is bittersweet for me. I am glad to be done with the work of teaching, but I will miss my students, and I don’t know when I will be back in the classroom. This semester I was teaching LGBT 200: Intro to LGBT Studies, and had a great time exploring lgbt identities and histories with my students. It was exciting to have a new class after teaching WMST 250 for a few semesters. Still, it reminded me that it takes a semester or two to work out the kinks in a syllabus, and there was a bit of a learning curve in regards to figuring out how to navigate my biggest class yet–40 students!
The highlight of the semester was when artist and film-maker Be Steadwell visited the class for a screening of her film “Vow of Silence.” She also performed two songs, and participated in a question and answer session. My students were completely enamored! 😀
In regards to my research, I have spent the year writing fellowships and interviewing parents. I was very lucky that my fellowship applications paid off (it’s so competitive that I wasn’t sure what would happen!). I have a department fellowship for the summer and a graduate fellowship next spring. To fill in the gaps, I will also be working at the LGBT Equity Center for a few hours a week, but fortunately the fellowship support means I can focus almost entirely on the dissertation this next year! April 2016 defense date, here I come. Over the course of the year I have also been interviewing parents of trans and gender-creative children and completed my 27th in March. Now onto transcription and analysis.
I have begun some of the preliminary analysis, and in April I presented at Queer Studies at UNC, which went okay. Overall, I wasn’t pleased with my presentation, feeling I had not had time to adequately analyze and present all of the information from my many interviews. However, it proved to be helpful in preparing me for Queer Studies at UMD, and my paper “Is it a girl or a boy?” “Maybe.”Queer Speculations of Children’s Gender”, which was part of a queer youth panel, went really well. As usual, I thoroughly enjoyed the conference and made some exciting scholarly connections with people there.
One of the themes I am exploring in my work currently is the role of happiness in parents’ narratives, and I have returned to “The Promise of Happiness” by Sara Ahmed for her discussion of how happiness is used to uphold heteronormativity. I also just read Cvetkovich’s “Depression: A Public Feeling” and am interested in seeing how it will influence my work and my thinking on what it means to survive in a racist, classist, heterosexist society. Cvetkovich’s text was particularly poignant to read considering the current racial situation in the US, and the protests and community organizing happening in DC and Baltimore, both cities that I love and am living near. Stay tuned for more about that at a later date.