At the intersections of queer and youth, there is no single story

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


Caleb Snider, Congress 2016 student blogger

The Congress 2016 roundtable hosted by the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE) and the Association for Research in Cultures of Young People (ARCYP) on May 31st entitled At the Intersections of Queer and Youth featured some of the brightest up and coming minds from Canadian academia.

Recent graduates Jordan Fischer (University of Calgary) and Andrea Oakunsheyld (University of Calgary), and Doctoral Candidates Isabelle Groenhof (University of Calgary), Meredith Snyder (University of Alberta), and Joshua Whitehead (University of Calgary) each presented papers on queer spaces and methods of identity formation in popular culture. These topics ranged from literature (Groenhof, Snyder and Whitehead) to music (Fischer) to fan fiction (Oakunsheyld). Each brought a unique perspective and emerging voice to the roundtable.

As different as each paper was, Professor Nat Hurley (University of Alberta), the panel respondent, identified several important themes that the presentations had in common: the reclaiming of spaces of affective negativity (for example, elements and practices from horror film and hardcore punk music), the construction of queer infrastructures that do not conform to the normative expectation of growing up (instead, offering spaces to grow sideways or grow queer), and questions of what antinormativity looks like, now that queer culture has been taken “out of the closet” and into the mainstream.

Ms. Oakunsheyld succinctly encapsulated the entire panel during the roundtable discussion after the presentations. Citing a course she took with panel chair Professor Derritt Mason (University of Calgary), she said that when it comes to queer texts, there is “no single story”: there is no one-size-fits-all method of establishing alternative methods of identity formation and self-definition. As inherently antinormative, they must tailor themselves to diverse circumstances and needs. In queer youth culture, and among the rising new scholars that study it, there really is no single story.


Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences