The Camp 10 – Guess Who!

This month I was going back and forth about which person I should interview next. Then a friend asked whether I had ever thought about interviewing myself. What? Become more than just the person hiding behind the computer screen? Well, actually I thought this was a really good idea because I know so few people in Kansas City and the area. So here is the revealing exposé! OK, perhaps not that revealing …
1. How did you end up at KU?
Well, back in 2003, I began to look at graduate schools. I was in the M.A. English program at North Dakota State University in Fargo. I was studying Renaissance literature and shopping for a Ph.D. program. KU wasn’t even on my radar until I attended a conference in Lawrence. I looked around and thought, “Wow! Look at the hills! Look at the trees! There’s a bookstore! I could live here!” Out of the 10 schools that I applied to, KU was the one to accept me (unlike other schools whose English departments only accept as many students as they can fund, KU doesn’t guarantee funding, so they accept more than two to four Ph.D. students each year).
2. How has it been living in Kansas compared to North Dakota?
Well, to begin with, the weather is so much better in Kansas! Yes, it is incredibly hot during the summer, but I can deal with that much better than seven months of winter! Both states are politically conservative, although I often think that Kansas is more so, but then I also live here now. I absolutely love Lawrence because of how liberal it is. In 2004, when I moved to Kansas, I was only out to my friends and a few colleagues at NDSU. Now I am completely out. I love it!
3. What are your research interests?
When I first came to KU, I was going to study either medieval or early modern literature. Within the first week and a half, I was bored off my butt. I knew that I couldn’t go on with it. I mean, I’d written my master’s thesis on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and other slayers throughout literary history. That should have been a big hint right there! People suggested that I apply to American Studies at KU, but I didn’t know what I should do. I was a bit lost for that first year. And then I had a really great two-week summer course in 2005 that introduced me to multicultural queer literature. It all fit. I suddenly knew what I wanted to study in my life. So, I study 20th century American queer multicultural authors, autobiography, and LGBT archives.
4. How did you choose your dissertation topic?
I have been with the Kenneth Spencer Research Library at KU since 2005. In 2008, Bruce McKinney in Wichita donated his LGBT archive to KU. The archive was collected over a period of 40 years (and he’s still collecting and donating!). Many of the documents were collected by different people and then given to McKinney for the archive. I was told in November 2009 that I had been nominated to process that collection, which made sense as I was the only openly queer worker at the KSRL. I began to process the collection in 2009. This archive became the subject of my dissertation. I wrote about how this archive is a communally collected and created autobiography of LGBT Kansans. The archive is wonderful, and I am still in love with my dissertation topic.
5. Can anyone view the McKinney Collection?
Yes! Anyone who is 14 or older can access any of the collections at KSRL, including the Bruce McKinney Collection. It is not necessary to be affiliated with KU or any other institution.
6. Is your dissertation available to the public?
No, at this time it is embargoed, meaning that that abstract (summary) is available online, but not the actual document. I am working to publish portions of the dissertation. I’m also working it into a book manuscript for publication. There’s a great deal of work involved yet. There are chapters that I’ll need to add that weren’t written for the dissertation because the project would have been too long. In fact, I’d probably still be writing!
7. And you’re still teaching at KU? What classes do you teach?
Yes, I am still at KU. I am an adjunct lecturer and am looking for a full-time position teaching at the university level. I currently teach freshman/sophomore English classes — English 101, 102, and 209. The 100-level courses are basic composition courses. English 209 is Introduction to Fiction, which I teach as an LGBT literature course.
8. What do you like best about teaching at KU?
There is a combination of things that I love about teaching at KU. I really enjoy my students. They are really excited about learning (well, usually!). They constantly challenge me to consider how I think about literacy through the language that they use (and how they use it, such as through social media, texting, etc.). The other thing that I love is what I teach. I am so fortunate to be able to teach LGBT literature. My department has been nothing but supportive. Many people are surprised when they learn that most of my students are straight. My students don’t learn until the first day what I teach (unless they’ve known somebody who has taken my English 209 class), and a surprising number choose to stay in the course. This gives me great hope for the future.
9. Do you consider yourself an activist?
Yes and no. Much of my activism is through social media, where I share things on Facebook or Twitter. I’m pretty shy, and it’s much easier to be an activist behind a computer screen. I also feel as though I am an activist by teaching what I teach. Although I only teach LGBT literature in one class, I like to challenge all of my students in all of my classes to consider how they think about those who differ from them.

10. What is your guilty pleasure?
I have three. One, Diet Coke. Two, nachos. Three, Facebook. I’m horribly addicted to all three!

How did you end up at KU?
Well, back in 2003, I began to look at graduate schools. I was in the M.A. English program at North Dakota State University in Fargo. I was studying Renaissance literature and shopping for a Ph.D. program. KU wasn’t even on my radar until I attended a conference in Lawrence. I looked around and thought, “Wow! Look at the hills! Look at the trees! There’s a bookstore! I could live here!” Out of the 10 schools that I applied to, KU was the one to accept me (unlike other schools whose English departments only accept as many students as they can fund, KU doesn’t guarantee funding, so they accept more than two to four Ph.D. students each year).
How has it been living in Kansas compared to North Dakota?
Well, to begin with, the weather is so much better in Kansas! Yes, it is incredibly hot during the summer, but I can deal with that much better than seven months of winter! Both states are politically conservative, although I often think that Kansas is more so, but then I also live here now. I absolutely love Lawrence because of how liberal it is. In 2004, when I moved to Kansas, I was only out to my friends and a few colleagues at NDSU. Now I am completely out. I love it!
What are your research interests?
When I first came to KU, I was going to study either medieval or early modern literature. Within the first week and a half, I was bored off my butt. I knew that I couldn’t go on with it. I mean, I’d written my master’s thesis on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and other slayers throughout literary history. That should have been a big hint right there! People suggested that I apply to American Studies at KU, but I didn’t know what I should do. I was a bit lost for that first year. And then I had a really great two-week summer course in 2005 that introduced me to multicultural queer literature. It all fit. I suddenly knew what I wanted to study in my life. So, I study 20th century American queer multicultural authors, autobiography, and LGBT archives.
How did you choose your dissertation topic?
I have been with the Kenneth Spencer Research Library at KU since 2005. In 2008, Bruce McKinney in Wichita donated his LGBT archive to KU. The archive was collected over a period of 40 years (and he’s still collecting and donating!). Many of the documents were collected by different people and then given to McKinney for the archive. I was told in November 2009 that I had been nominated to process that collection, which made sense as I was the only openly queer worker at the KSRL. I began to process the collection in 2009. This archive became the subject of my dissertation. I wrote about how this archive is a communally collected and created autobiography of LGBT Kansans. The archive is wonderful, and I am still in love with my dissertation topic.
Can anyone view the McKinney Collection?
Yes! Anyone who is 14 or older can access any of the collections at KSRL, including the Bruce McKinney Collection. It is not necessary to be affiliated with KU or any other institution.
Is your dissertation available to the public?
No, at this time it is embargoed, meaning that that abstract (summary) is available online, but not the actual document. I am working to publish portions of the dissertation. I’m also working it into a book manuscript for publication. There’s a great deal of work involved yet. There are chapters that I’ll need to add that weren’t written for the dissertation because the project would have been too long. In fact, I’d probably still be writing!
And you’re still teaching at KU? What classes do you teach?
Yes, I am still at KU. I am an adjunct lecturer and am looking for a full-time position teaching at the university level. I currently teach freshman/sophomore English classes — English 101, 102, and 209. The 100-level courses are basic composition courses. English 209 is Introduction to Fiction, which I teach as an LGBT literature course.
What do you like best about teaching at KU?
There is a combination of things that I love about teaching at KU. I really enjoy my students. They are really excited about learning (well, usually!). They constantly challenge me to consider how I think about literacy through the language that they use (and how they use it, such as through social media, texting, etc.). The other thing that I love is what I teach. I am so fortunate to be able to teach LGBT literature. My department has been nothing but supportive. Many people are surprised when they learn that most of my students are straight. My students don’t learn until the first day what I teach (unless they’ve known somebody who has taken my English 209 class), and a surprising number choose to stay in the course. This gives me great hope for the future.
Do you consider yourself an activist?
Yes and no. Much of my activism is through social media, where I share things on Facebook or Twitter. I’m pretty shy, and it’s much easier to be an activist behind a computer screen. I also feel as though I am an activist by teaching what I teach. Although I only teach LGBT literature in one class, I like to challenge all of my students in all of my classes to consider how they think about those who differ from them.

What is your guilty pleasure?
I have three. One, Diet Coke. Two, nachos. Three, Facebook. I’m horribly addicted to all three!

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