As of today, I’ve joined the Department of Geography of the University of Kentucky. I am thrilled to be on this new adventure in my work. While I was hired with a focus on digital geographies, I will be still be devoted to my feminist and queer research and teaching. My spring courses will be an introductory undergrad course, Digital Mapping (re-versioned from the pedagogy of Wilson and Zook; how fun), and a grad seminar, Social Geography: Geographies of Queer Theory. The latter will give me a chance to have conversations with geography grad students about how they read the geographies of queer theory. Scholars like C. Riley Snorton (Nebraska, the church), E. Patrick Johnson (the South), Eve Sedgwick (the closet), Ann Cvetkovich (the archive), Michael Warner (publics), Lauren Berlant (the nation), and so on have always put geography forward but with little consideration of geographic thought and theory within. I am so giddy to read this work that I shall have to make a separate seminar of LGBTQ Historical Geography, which includes every LGBTQ historian who tells their story in and about a place (e.g., Chauncey, M. Stein, N. Boyd, E. Kennedy & M. Davis, D’Emilio, Hobson, Hanhardt, and on and on). What fun we shall have!
At the same time, this move is a hard one. I’ve been the sole geographer in the Program in American Studies at Trinity College for three years now, and I’ve loved every minute of being part of an interdisciplinary conversation with my colleagues in history, literature, Native American studies, Black studies, Latina/o studies, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. A liberal arts college with geographers in Urban Studies, International Studies, and the dean’s office too, there is a sense that geography matters at Trin, and I felt a deep sense of camaraderie with so many of my colleagues. My Trinity students adored learning geographic concepts and putting them to use, and I will miss them and my colleagues in AmSt and throughout the college very much. I’ve made a home at Trinity, and it is one I will think of with affection and often.
I’m only just beginning to reflect on my work as an American Studies scholar–not that I shall ever stop being one, but I won’t have the outward identification as such, and heck do I know that identities matter–and I find myself both sad and excited to reflect on how my years as in AmSt have shaped my work. It is not only the interdisciplinary, but the way AmSt scholars see and critically address the nation-state at all of its scales that has made me a stronger, more rigorous scholar–and surely a better person. At the same time, I was hired with a focus on Public Humanities, and that devotion to PubHum projects and methods, and the ethics of public scholarship, data, and research will not waver; if anything, PubHum will be even more central to my work as I take on more digitally-focused courses.