Introducing…

*drum roll*

…It’s another introduction! We hope you’ve been enjoying our interviews with the people who have been involved with Hidden Perspectives over the past few months – we’ve certainly enjoyed getting to know them and are incredibly grateful for all their help so far.

In today’s blog post we will be introducing Harriet, so let’s meet her:

1) Hi! Please tell us about yourself – who you are and what you do

Hiya, I’m Harriet – a third year undergraduate student at the University of Auckland. I study a BA in History and Religious Studies. harriet nz

My academic interests reside specifically in the Protestant Reformation; I’m particularly interested in the ambiguous legacy left for gender relations by Martin Luther. I’m fascinated by how his conceptions of womanhood (present in his treatise On the Estate of Marriage) helped shape the gendered norms and roles that exist in Western society today.

I’m also heavily involved in a student-led movement called Thursdays In Black which is aimed with ending sexual violence.

2) What interests you about the project and why

The idea of fostering an inclusive and empowering community for LGBTI+ students where we can meet likeminded people and share our academic interests and insights with each other excites me.

3) Why do you think the project is important right now?

Because despite the fact that New Zealand is a very progressive place in terms of LGBTI+ rights, being a young queer person can still be really tough. It’s especially difficult when there is a lack of visibility of other young queer people and can make the process of coming to peace with yourself a turbulent one. As students, our university communities play a core role in our lives and for there to be a visible (and vibrant) project specifically for queer students is immensely reassuring and comforting.

4) What do you hope to get out of being a part of the project?

I hope to have productive and insightful discussions, become more empathetic and learn from others.

5) Why is it important to bring the arts and humanities out of the closet?

Because queer students and academics have a unique set of experiences which inform their work and worldview. Having these out in the open would bring enrichment and diversity to our university campus.

6) What are your hopes for the future?

That diverse sexualities and genders are both normalized and celebrated rather than stigmatized.

Advertisements

Introducing…

This week we’re very excited to introduce the ever fabulous pioneer behind HPNZ … Caroline Blyth!

Hi! Please tell us about yourself – who you are and what do you do?

Hello! I’m Caroline and I’m a senior lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Arts. I’m originally from Scotland and came to New Zealand six years ago to work at the University. My research and teaching here focuses mainly on gender, sexuality, and religion. I’m particularly fascinated by representations of gender, sexuality, and religion in pop culture, and the ways that religions play a role in perpetuating and challenging harmful cultural attitudes around gender and sexuality.

What is your role in Hidden Perspectives NZ? 

I got involved in Hidden Perspectives NZ after learning about the fabulous (and original) Hidden Perspectives project at the University of Sheffield. I wanted to start something similar at Auckland and was able to do so when I took up the role of Student Equity Liaison for the Faculty of Arts. Working with the brilliant Chip Matthews and Zoe Henry (who are both in the Arts Student Development and Engagement Team), we decided to launch Hidden Perspectives NZ – a student-led project which provides a safe and inclusive platform for queer student voices in Arts. We hope that through this, we will build a social and academic community where together, we can celebrate the diversity and inclusivity (the queerness!) of the Arts.

Why do you think Hidden Perspectives is important?

When I was a student (many moons ago), there was no visible queer presence on my University campus – any LGBT groups that existed stayed in the background and so you had to actively go in search of them. As a young queer woman, who was still trying to work out who she was, I simply didn’t have the confidence to seek out these groups, and so found campus life quite an isolating and lonely experience. I don’t want any student in Arts at Auckland to feel like that – to feel that they can’t be themselves, or to feel that there’s no one around they can talk to. So a major focus of HPNZ will be to make our queer community both visible and welcoming. One of the students at our HPNZ launch made a poster that said ‘I love Hidden Perspectives because I know I’m not alone’. That, for me, sums up why the project is so very, very important.

What are your future hopes and plans for Hidden Perspectives NZ?

My dream is to see our HPNZ community continue to grow in size and visibility. Already, people in the Faculty of Arts and beyond are starting to learn about it and we are getting some really positive feedback from staff and students. Our contact list and Facebook group are growing at a healthy rate, and we are seeing more engagement through our social media presence, which is really heartening. We already have a fantastic core group of students who are involved in planning and advertising our events, and I hope more students will take on this role, as we want HPNZ to be as student-led as possible. In terms of future events, I just hope that they continue to be as successful as they have been so far! We have lots of things planned this year (movie screenings, social events, seminars) and if we can sustain the high levels of interest and engagement we’ve seen so far, then I will be very happy.

What have you learned from your involvement in Hidden Perspectives NZ?

I’ve met so many wonderful students through my role in HPNZ, and they’ve really inspired my commitment to this project. Aotearoa is becoming an increasingly tolerant society towards diverse genders and sexualities, but young queer people still face a lot of challenges – the students I’ve met are both resilient and committed to positive change, and I’m learning a huge amount from them.

Introducing…

Following on from our last post, we would like to introduce you to another student involved with Hidden Perspectives in anticipation of this week’s launch event. Introducing… Lara!

Hi! Please tell us about yourself – who you are and what you do?

Hey, my name is Lara, I am a student (of many things) and a Freelance Journalist. I’m also a Lesbian.

What interests you about the project and why?

I want to create a more engaging academic space for Queer-related content and ideas.

Why do you think the project is important right now?

Because we still live in a society where certain members have less than full and equal rights under our laws.

What do you hope to get out of being a part of the project?

I hope to gain some experience in events, engaging in wider issues and networking.

Why is it important to bring the arts and humanities out of the closet?

Because the Arts and Humanities is a vibrant and diverse faculty in itself, whereby we need to engage further with the diversity in our subjects just as much as the diverse array of subjects on offer.

What would you like to see on the HPNZ blog/social media?

I would like to see appropriate papers or web seminars.

What are your hopes for the future? 

That we can all be equitable and free, no matter who we are.

Please share with us anything else you’d like to tell us about…

I’m very interested in my own personal culture, something which drives my understanding of the wider human condition.

Introducing…

In anticipation of our official launch on the 16th, we’d like to start introducing  you to fellow members/advocates of our sparkly new project. Kickstarting this is… Nevin.

Hi! Please tell us a little bit about yourself…

Hey, hey – I’m Nev! I’m currently doing my Masters in documentary film production and  I also hold a Bachelor of Theology degree. My main interest is the history of the early church and expressions of queer sexualities in scripture and the contemporary media.


What interests you about the project and why do you think it’s important right now?

In my opinion, having a platform where students and professors can come together and share their opinions on the same level is pretty unique. It begins to subvert some of the more superficial power-dynamics on campus and encourages equal field of discussion. It surprised me that the Faculty of Arts has taken this long to create a group specifically catering to LGBT interests. It’s long overdue for voices/opinions to be more visible around campus!

 

Why do you think that it’s important to bring the arts and humanities out of the closet?

It’s a bit of a stereotype that the Faculty of Arts caters to LGBT students, our interests, and aspirations.  Providing a visible academic/social platform would make students more comfortable and inspire a larger number to explore subject matter that is traditionally outside the interests/scope of the mainstream.

 

What would you like to see on our blog/social media and what do you hope to get out of being a part of the project?

Being a film student, I’d love to see a bit more queer engagement with mainstream film/media in general as more often than not our community tends to look to the indie/art-house or we are relegated to predominant walking/talking stereotypes. Bringing a queer perspective to the superhero/sci-fi/fantasy genres begins to open the space for alternative ways of viewing as well as increasing the potential for more accurate portrayals on screen. Being a part of the project, I’d love to see more student-driven/forum events happening where there is substantial time and space to open up for a good conversation about less mainstream ideas.

 

What are your hopes for the future?

I’m hoping that my documentary receives interest from a few international film festivals next year. I’d love to present something as part of the Hidden Perspectives program once production has properly kicked off!

 

Introducing our UK recruits!

The build up to the launch of Hidden Perspectives has been exciting for all involved and we are eagerly anticipating the launch event next Thursday – hope to see you there! Our partner project in Sheffield has been working closely with us and we are delighted to have Jo Henderson-Merrygold, a member of the Sheffield project, here in New Zealand with us at the moment. We have also been fortunate enough to have two MA student interns from the UK working with us alongside their studies. Melanie Smiley and Rachel Davies are currently managing our website and social media.

So let’s meet them:

Hello! Tell us about yourself…who are you and what do you do?

Rachel: Hello! I’m Rachel Davies and I’m an MA English Literature Student at The University of Sheffield. I completed my undergraduate degree at Sheffield this summer Rach photo HPand, as I loved my time in the City as well as in the School of English so much, I have decided to stay on to complete my Masters. I am interested in revealing ‘hidden’ narratives in Literature and have pursued this line of interest since the start of my time at University. So far in my MA I have continued to explore this area in my assessments and so working with Hidden Perspectives New Zealand has given me the chance to broaden this research even further. My first undergraduate essay discussed allegorical homosexuality in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde and my last undergraduate essay explored the hidden homosexual narratives in Ford Maddox Ford’s The Good Soldier alongside Katherine Mansfield’s At the Bay and Bliss. My work has so far explored ‘hidden’ narratives in a multitude of genres and periods and for my MA I am focusing on researching these narratives more specifically within the Hellenistic era.

Mel: Hello! I’m Mel and I’m studying an MA in English Literature with the hopes of getting into publishing somewhere down the line (probably after I’ve managed to get the travelling bug out of my system). It’s my fourth year here in Sheffield in the UK, as I completed my BA in Language and Literature with the University in 2016. I’m really excited to be working with Hidden Perspectives and to be a part of bringing the arts out of the closet! My main interest is in looking at the way literature has been used as a tool to portray trauma.

How did you get involved with Hidden Perspectives? Tell us about your internship.

Mel: Work experience is a key part of landing a job with any publishmel photo HPing company and so I was keen to take part in the work placement module on offer with the Sheffield MA programme. Hidden Perspectives stood out to me because the workload included event organising, writing and editing articles, website management and the opportunity to get involved with the new Hidden Perspectives’ launch in New Zealand. Experience in these areas is invaluable, particularly with how competitive publishing can be. I feel very privileged to have this opportunity and to be able to take part in setting up a brand new venture for Hidden Perspectives abroad. However, I was somewhat disappointed this opportunity didn’t involve an all expenses paid trip to New Zealand…

Rachel: As part of the MA programme this year we were able to select a work placement module for the second semester. We were given a plethora of options and asked to defend our first choice in a 200 word statement. I consider myself very lucky as Hidden Perspectives was my first choice. I’m very excited to be able to take part in a placement which not only provides me with the chance to continue my academic research but also gives me invaluable work experience. During my internship, I am hoping that Mel and I will be able to successfully set up and manage both the Hidden Perspectives’ blog and Social media and also manage events for the UK project.

What else are you working on at the moment? What are your hopes after your MA and this internship?

Rachel: During my first term I have taken two modules – ‘The Analysis of Film’ and ‘Love, Death & Destiny: The Ancient Novel’. For ‘The Analysis of Film’, I analysed how the contemporary romantic-comedy (500) Days of Summer subverts the conventions of Classicism by looking at how gender is constructed and portrayed in the film. For ‘Love, Death & Destiny’, I investigated why homosexuality is a marginalised narrative within Hellenistic novels and focused on Longus’s work Daphnis and Chloe. I am hoping to continue working with Ancient Greek Literature for my Dissertation and I am thinking of applying for my PhD within the next few years to continue interrogating homosexuality in the ancient novels.  

Mel: I have recently completed a module called Confession where I have explored different literary forms of confession throughout history, beginning with St. Augustine. I had an assessment at the end of this where I decided to study the diaries of Anne Lister and explore how they have shaped the discourse of lesbian history. The diaries were written in the nineteenth century and explore Lister’s sexual identity as a lesbian in explicit detail. Her diaries have had a massive impact on studies into female sexuality and gender and have been an invaluable resource for lesbian history today. After researching such a powerful female figure and seeing how far the discovery of her sexuality went towards discrediting the once common belief that lesbianism didn’t exist at this time, it is easy to see how important it is that we bring more pieces of art out of the closet and away from the normative gaze. I think uncovering these lost narratives and challenging a history that only caters to one identity is crucial and I’m really excited to be a part of it.

Rachel, what interests you about Hidden Perspectives in New Zealand?

I think Hidden Perspectives’ research is incredibly important and its platform provides a voice for challenging the norm. The NZ branch of the project is very relevant to my research interests in that it looks at bringing the ‘arts and humanities’ out of the closet. It is important that students feel as though they have a safe space to discuss issues of sexuality, gender, class and race, which is what this project specifically aims to do. Working on Hidden Perspectives New Zealand is going to be an exciting venture for me and will hopefully improve my skills in social media and networking.

Mel, what are your hopes for the future of Hidden Perspectives?

My current hopes for the future of Hidden Perspectives are that me and Rachel are helpful additions to the team and manage to run things smoothly! Aside from this however, I hope it continues to build in strength and picks up an even larger following online, in Sheffield and with the new team in New Zealand.

I’m very grateful for this opportunity and thank you for having me!