I’m a senior double majoring in Art History and Cinema Studies. I planned my last semester’s schedule to tackle all the subjects that I put on my college to-do list when I first got to Penn. I originally wanted to take some sort of survey on feminism—learn the history and various movements and all of that—but I thought it would be more engaging to combine my love of art and knowledge of cinema with this topic about which I know very little.
Theory is one of the things in school that I get more excited about—it helps me make sense not only of contemporary art and classic film, but of life itself. I thought it would be worthwhile to delve deeper into the queer and feminist domain, which several of my courses have touched on and which I’ve found especially compelling (maybe because it seems crazy multifaceted and somehow inaccessible?). When we compared The Kids Are Alright and Go Fish in one of my classes during our queer theory segment, it got me thinking a lot about heteronormative mainstream representation of queer culture versus a more inside expression of queer culture (that does little to orient people who are outside of the community, that isn’t performing some popular notion of what it means to be queer). I remember realizing in that discussion that “queer” does not refer only to sexuality, but to a questioning of norms in general. I think that whole idea of “queering” something—as in subverting expectations and turning conventions upside down and being somehow marginal—really appealed to me. That, and studying Laura Mulvey (which comes up in almost every art history and cinema studies course, and who I haven’t yet tired of because I think she gets at something very true about the experience of being a woman in contemporary western society even if I don’t agree with everything she says) are two academic experiences that contributed to my greater curiosity about queer and feminist theory.
I hope by the end of this course I have complicated my understanding of the term “queer” and that I have learned totally new ideas concerning feminism. I’m also interested to see what I get out of the more activist aspect of this course. I wasn’t expecting that component, but it seems pretty relevant and I’m happy to learn and participate.
Looking forward to getting to know all of you guys! I have a feeling this will be an enriching and productive time.