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AJ Horton

Women, Gender & Sexuality

Hometown: Mason, MI
Women, Gender & Sexuality
Study Abroad:
Hikone, Japan
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:
Green tea
Best Adjective to Describe You:

In 10 words or less, why should a student want to be involved in this department?
WGS provides the theoretical foundation for effective cultural analysis.

What initially drew you to this department?  What keeps you coming back?
I came to WGS with a background in LGBTQ activism and was hoping to learn more about my community and the work I’d done in high school. I stayed because I found the language in queer theory to effectively articulate myself and form critiques in a more thoughtful, less reactionary way.

What’s your biggest piece of advice to first years and sophomores in this department?
In a department that pushes on your presuppositions and sense of self, you will change. Don’t be too hard on your past self—there is no social justice finish line, you will always make more mistakes. The best you can do is sincerely own up to them.

How does your department connect to your other interests and activities?
I use the theory I’ve picked up in WGS when thinking critically about social justice in non-academic spaces. I also utilize this theory in an interdisciplinary way, often drawing from it in the department of my major, which is English.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned at K?
Protecting your emotional health is important, but don’t make excuses for or coddle yourself. Long term emotional well-being is not maintained by skipping your reading.

What has been your favorite class at K?  Why?
WGS 390 Feminist and Queer Inquiries. This class taught me how to apply the theoretical frameworks I’d picked up at K over the years and helped me format my SIP. It also challenged a lot of what I held to be unequivocally true, pushed me to think beyond binaries of good/bad, and honed my close reading skills.

What is your SIP?
My SIP is a critical analysis paper within the English department. This project is divided into two parts, in which I perform close readings of the discursive spaces of the Internet and science fiction, and the possibilities they offer for transgender embodiment and activism. I will specifically be looking at twitter hashtag trans activism as an entry point for change within the context of gendered embodiment through culturally coded images and language. I will also be doing a literary analysis of several science fiction novels that feature genderless/non-binary/ungendered characters, and what possibilities for self-definition non-binary people have within the scifi genre and spaces beyond fiction.

What are your career aspirations/next steps after K?
I’m planning to take a gap year or two abroad and then attend graduate school for Queer Studies, hopefully focusing in Transgender Studies. If that goes well I’d like to get my doctorate and teach at the collegiate level. I’m also considering working with anti-capitalist grassroots organizations that intentionally push back against the non-profit industrial complex.

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