My Favorite Class: Gender, Sexuality, and Literature

Field of flowers near Wilson hall.

This story is a part of the “My Favorite Class” series.

Today we feature recent graduate Amanda Carlin. Amanda earned her degree in English with a minor in Psychology and is from Bridgewater, NJ (Somerset County) where she transferred from Raritan Valley Community College. Amanda’s favorite class is Gender, Sexuality, and Literature in the English department, which was taught by Dr. Yvonne Hammond.

Tell us a little about what the class is.

In this class, we read several novels and short stories surrounding the topics of gender and sexuality. We covered a broad range of perspectives, including the perspectives of mothers, the LGBTQ+ community, and the experiences of non-white individuals who are also marginalized by either gender or sexuality. Some of the novels we read were “Bastard Out of Carolina” by Dorothy Allison, “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” by Ocean Vuong, and “Giovanni’s Room” by James Baldwin. Through each of these lenses, as well as inclusion of a historical perspective, we learned how intersectionality was present in these works of literature.

Amanda sitting on a set of steps outside.

Share with us a few details on why this class was interesting or special to you. 

This class was special to me because I felt like it expanded my understanding of how gender and sexuality have been constructed throughout time and how the development of these concepts impact people in a real way. The many different perspectives of various authors gave me a broader understanding of how the concepts of gender and sexuality overlap with other elements of a person’s life. After I was able to read these novels, I felt that I was able to apply their lessons to the real world.

Is there anything else that made this class impactful?

The discussions that I was able to share with my peers, even virtually, allowed me to understand their feelings while reading these texts. Everyone in the class brought a different life perspective, and it allowed us to have very constructive conversations.

What makes this professor great? 

Dr. Hammond allowed us to use our own areas of expertise to write our final project and gave us the space to discuss the texts in a way that was meaningful to us. I also felt that the syllabus was very helpful in conveying the overall ideas of the class, and I always enjoyed each piece we read because it always added to the bigger picture.

Selfie of Amanda in a car.

How did this class help to support your academic or personal growth, or your professional goals? 

This class helped add to my personal growth by allowing me to hear and read the stories of other people who have had different life experiences than me. In the class discussions, I would not only be able to share my own perspective, but I got to listen to my peers explain why these texts resonated with them. This also supported my professional goals by providing practice in analyzing texts and allowed me to participate in group dialogues.

 What are your professional goals? 

I have recently been accepted into a Clinical Mental Health Counseling graduate program at Antioch University of New England. While at Rowan, I majored in English and minored in Psychology, and I felt that a career in counseling was a way that I could help other people while using the academic skills I learned at Rowan. My long-term professional goals would be to continue writing independently while also opening up a private practice for counseling.

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Story by:
Stephanie Batista, junior music industry major

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