We sat down with WGS and English double-major Tanner Crunelle to talk about his passions, his work with I-CAN, and his involvement in activism on campus and beyond.
Why did you chose to study WGS?
I chose to study WGST because of a few reasons. One, all the WGST professors — or at least those who consistently thought about race, gender, sexuality, and oppression — seemed to be my favorite. I also found a lot of WGST coursework both on accident and at a crossroads in my life. After dropping my education major, I had to take stock of what brought me joy. It’s destroying and rebuilding things like gender, I’ve come to find, through language, and direct action. All while clarifying new ways of relating to people along the way.
What areas/aspects of WGS you find most engaging/interesting/what you’re most passionate about?
There is immense joy in thinking culturally, which means also across traditional boundaries of disciplines in academe. Much of my work is in reading cultural texts of many forms against the tendency to be skeptical, stingy, pessimistic reader and is dissatisfied with disciplinary logics of argumentation, representation, production. What would it mean for the things we read and study to give us joy and show possibilities, rather than dampen our spirits with claims to “truth?” I think this is a theoretical and conceptual problem, but one intimately tied to our ability to actually enact these possibilities through our various activisms. WGS coursework allows for that exploration.
Tell us about any extracurricular work you’re doing (ex. volunteering/local activism), or any involvement you have on campus with clubs/organizations.
In January, I’ll start a certification program to become a yoga teacher. I recently saw a tweet about how the pain we have inside us, how we can’t sit on it, that we can and therefore must channel it into healing others. With our queer bodies facing unprecedented violence in this modern age, self-care must be thought of as a matter of survival. Figuring out our own boundaries so we can be love generously. Nourishing our flesh so we can carry on doing the things it allows us to do. Rewriting the very basis of how we think about nonviolence, locating it in ourselves and in our muscles, tendons, blood, bone, marrow, our every last sinew. Through this teaching, I look forward to becoming even more deeply connected to Charleston as my home, and my LGBTQ+ siblings working tirelessly in addressing our place-based trauma. In addition, I have various on-campus projects coming from the Intersectional Cougar Action Network (I-CAN), which is a coalition of minoritized students demanding a more just CofC campus, and from Out Front, which aims to foster queer community and support queer students at CofC through various directed initiatives and interventions into institutional policy and programming. I also chair the student planning committee for the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) upcoming Diversity Equity and Student Success conference.
Why should every CofC student take a WGS class before they graduate?
Being able to call in a variety of seemingly unrelated sources and perspectives, and having faculty nourish this tendency of mine, has been the most formative trend across WGST faculty. But I wouldn’t know that was something I could do safely, and have it be appreciated, had I not taken a WGST class. So try one–and experiment. Do all of the reading! Ask lots of questions! Make a fool of yourself! It will pay dividends in your personal life, enrich your thinking in other classes, and give you a lot of great concepts to work with for the rest in whatever careers you end up in.
What are you plans post-graduation? And how will you take what you’ve learned in WGS with you once you’re no longer a student here?
Most likely, I will next spend some time traveling the world and teaching English in Europe. Then I will start with my PhD. I knew I was good at school, but I couldn’t see myself as an author, as someone authorized to speak and write with authority, until the WGST coursework I pursued and advisors I worked with at CofC. There’s nothing scarier to The System than someone who knows where they’re going, why they’re there, and how they’re going to overthrow whatever the current regime may be. I think I have lots of those tools now, and a powerful analytic to bring to all the conversations I’m a part of.