By MOLLY HOLT
“Everyone my age wishes that something like this existed when we were in college,” Carrie Shanafelt, a professor in the Humanities Department at FDU, said about the new Queer Resource center that she runs at FDU.
The Queer Resource Center (QRC) is located in Robison Hall Room 25. It is a small lending library that is home to a collection of literature involving queer theory. The purpose of the center is to provide students access to queer literature that they may not be able to find or know how to find elsewhere.
Shanafelt compiled the collection by asking her friends, colleagues and former students to donate books that they felt were important for students to have access to.
Shanafelt explained that queer theory is a critical perspective that often gets overlooked because society is so heteronormative.
“These are texts that provide a critical perspective on a culture that is so heteronormative that we don’t even see it,” Shanafelt said.
Shanafelt said that when she attended the City University of New York for her Ph.D., queer theory and queer thought were heavily discussed.
“Then when I went to other schools, I realized that it isn’t as normal in other places to talk about those things,” Shanafelt said. “So students kept coming to me with questions about what they should read, and they were so interested in it, and I realized we really a resource center here.”
She explained that the idea for the campus’s QRC was inspired by the Stonewall Resource Center at Grinnell College, a previous college she taught at.
“That was an entirely student run peer mentorship zone where they had a vast library of books and movies collected over decades, but it was also just a space to have meetings and activities,” Shanafelt said. “It was a really powerful resource, even for me. I used their library. So, I felt like we needed something like that here.”
The QRC is new to the campus this fall. The collection currently consists of 112 different titles, but it is constantly growing.
“I look forward to it growing. Every time I put out a call, I get more and more so the collection is always just kind of growing,” Shanafelt said.
The collection consists of titles from various genres and authors including, but not limited to, fiction, nonfiction, poetry and philosophy. The books cover a wide variety of topics from transgender werewolves with anxiety disorders to gay activism in sports to literary criticisms using queer theory.
Students can check out books or read them in the resource center at one of the tables or in one of the foam bean bag chairs that were donated to the resource center. The QRC is available to all students to use whether it be for personal or intellectual reasons.
“The curiosity might be intellectual like, ‘Wow I just didn’t know there were nineteenth century queer writers’ or something like that. Or ‘I want to be a more responsible person in my relationships with queer identified people,’ or maybe people are wrestling with their own kinds of identifications or are trying to figure out their place in the world,” Shanafelt said. “I invite anybody who is at all interested in kind of getting into inquiry about what non- heteronormative or non- gender normative lives are like to come take a book out.
Shanafelt said that she wanted to have a Queer Resource Center separate from the FDU library.
“They’d just sort of disappear into the collection. Whereas if they’re all in one space, they can be browsed in a different way.”
Shanafelt is also teaching the course, “Theories of Gender and Sexualiity” in the upcoming spring semester for any students who are interested in learning more about the subject. Shanafelt explained that in both her class and in the QRC’s collection, all types of voices will be heard from.
“I’m very invested in intersectionality. These are not just white voices, these are not just gay voices and it’s not just rich people,” Shanafelt said. “It’s working class authors, authors of color, immigrants, trans people and multiracial people. All of those things have to be represented, otherwise I think it’s very easy to get this sense that queer theory is some kind of elite, like a luxury good, and it’s not. It really is about empowering everyone, no matter what their orientation is, to see their life as more free.”
Shanafelt has high hopes for the QRC’s future.
“I’m excited about it. I think as it grows, it will get its own home and its own community, and so far people seem excited that it’s here,” Shanafelt said.
She hopes that someday the QRC will be able to be in a better location, such as the Student Union Building, so that is can be more accessible to students at all times.
The Queer Resource Center’s hours vary. Currently, the hours are Tuesdays from 12:30 p.m – 2 p.m., Thursdays from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays from 1:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. The full collection is listed on the QRC Facebook page, facebook.com/fduqrc.
Categories: Student Lifestyle