Carol L. Campbell, a student of the Master of Art in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Women and Gender Studies will be walking across the stage next week to finish off her journey at Mason. Here's her story.
How did you decide on the MAIS with a concentration in Women and Gender Studies program? What courses did you enjoy? What were some of your research projects/topics? What was the topic of your final capstone paper/project?
I chose the MAIS with a concentration in Women and Gender Studies because I have an established career as a women’s advocate. I loved all of my classes but I will say that my queer performance class with Professor Rachel Lewis was one of my favorites. A lot of my work is in performance activism. The queer performance course assisted in creating a viewpoint that interrogated dominant culture’s normative and restrictive gaze on women, women’s roles, LGBTQ roles (to name a few) and how theater creates a type for othering in the theatrical canon. By applying critique using queer studies to traditional theater, we can expand the narrative and move away from normative patriarchal ideology. I also chose this program because of the interdisciplinary nature of the degree. I wished to utilize elements of classes outside of the WMST program to inform my work and further my performance activism.
My final capstone project is a satirical stage play that is based on documented evidence found in the intersectional scholarship surrounding political asylum and queer migration studies that interrogates gender and sexual oppression as well as issues of class, race and nationality. The Lesbian Wannabe is a fictional composite featuring a queer woman of color from Uganda, Jacqui Kabumba, who finds herself in precarious and absurdist circumstances when she seeks political asylum in the US.
The setting of the play takes place primarily in an immigration office and a lesbian bar. These spaces reflect similar worlds where gender and sexual oppression are normalized. Lesbian asylum seekers face a barrage of racialization, classization and othering in both Trump's America and the gayborhood. This is manifest through actions by the gaze of colorful characters in the play; namely, a butch lesbian, DD, whose questioning of Jacqui’s reasons for entering a gay bar is similar to the way that the immigration officer interrogates Jacqui to determine her qualifications for entering the country.
What have you learned that has surprised you/changed your perspective?
I came of age in the 80’s/90’s and developed a very particular perspective on women’s empowerment and sisterhood solidarity. In my years at Mason I studied intersectionality and transnational feminism that have opened my critical eye in order to recognize that women around the world are not having the same experiences. Through human rights classes I have come to understand structural ideology and the work we need to engage in to make transformative change happen, not just mitigating change.
Tell us about your dream job. How has courses in Women and Gender Studies helped further your plans?
I feel that this degree has filled a funnel of human rights awareness, inspirational truth-telling and created in me a sense of urgency that will inform my work in playwriting and storytelling. I also recognize now that I would like to pursue teaching undergraduates.
Please share any internships, jobs, or volunteer experiences that you have taken part in during your time at Mason?
I’ve produced more than six theatrical presentations that include working with faculty, alumni, undergraduate and graduate students as cast and crew to produce my work and that of a local playwright, Domnica Radelescu.
Please share any accomplishments or opportunities that you are proud of.
Was recognized and awarded the Outstanding Graduate Student Project at annual Women and Gender Studies' Scholar’s Lecture for my capstone project. My longstanding and living storytelling series, The Goddess Diaries, completed a seven-year-run October 2016 as a fundraiser that supports efforts of WGST program.
Any additional information you would like to share about your time with Women and Gender Studies?
It’s been a joy and an honor to work/learn among so many brilliant minds. I will miss everyone - student and faculty.
Congratulations Carol! Women and Gender Studies wish you a great journey ahead.
Carol can be reach at the following: