In the early afternoon of Sunday, Oct. 27, more than a dozen students gathered in Allen House to discuss an array of poems and articles. The event marked the first meeting of Kenyon’s new Queer and Trans Literary Society, a student group that aims to read and discuss various genres of queer literature.
Founders Carly McDonald ’20 and Morgan Paik ’22 envisioned the group as a comfortable space to explore narratives that often get left off the traditional syllabi.
“We both saw a deficit in our knowledge on queer literature, and we wanted to force ourselves to explore it more,” McDonald said. “Forming a social book club both provides that impetus to do it and actually read something every month and also has a space for you to talk about what that literature is and what it means.”
For the first meeting, the students discussed fragments from Sappho, poems from Emily Dickinson and a chapter from A Queer History of the United States, readings all tied to the celebration of LGBTQ+ History Month. Members came prepared with questions, comments and anecdotes.
“We wanted to make it a space where people can bring their own ideas and not necessarily have to talk about what their identity is but be able to find themselves within the readings,” Paik said. “I know a couple people brought in their own stories and their own history in the meeting on Sunday, and that was great.”
Outside of the reading discussions, the founders imagined that members could become more comfortable discussing queerness and queer stories in general, without feeling pressured to disclose their own identities.
The group plans to meet one Sunday per month. For the next meeting, members will read The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson. McDonald and Paik are also exploring options for long-term support from the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI), including the possibility of becoming an official affinity group. Such distinction would give them more access to funding for books and other materials.
The founders also want to establish resources for members beyond the monthly meetings. “One of the other things we’re trying to do is compile a reading list, created by members and for members, so that even if they can’t make it to a meeting one month or if they graduate, there will still be this resource of literature to come back to,” McDonald said.
Students interested in attending future meetings can email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for more information.