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Q&A with Candace Moore, the newest professor in the WGST and CAMS departments

<ndace Moore arrived at Carleton this fall as an assistant professor and Mellon Faculty Fellow. She will be teaching in both the Women’s and Gender Studies department and the Cinema and Media Studies department.

Q: Can you give me a little background on your academic research?

Moore: I write about queer and transgender representations in moving image media and most of my academic scholarship focuses on TV. Right now, for example, I’m working on an article about queer affect and the power dynamic between female spy and female assassin in the BBC thriller Killing Eve. I was so thrilled to see that Sandra Oh won a Golden Globe for her role in that show! I’m also finishing a book called Heteroflexibility: Empathetic Queerness in Television—it’s an historical account of television that suggests that rather than “queer TV” starting in the 1990’s with Ellen and Will and Grace as is popularly constructed, transgressive sexualities and genders have been crucial to TV’s narrative and emotional logics all along—though managed or co-opted in different ways, era to era. Last year, I presented work at conferences on the appearance of non-binary characters in everything from Showtime’s Billions and Amazon’s Transparent to a Super Bowl halftime commercial for Coke that will form the conclusion of my book. I also published a chapter based on interviews I did with black lesbian producers working both inside of and outside of Hollywood in the Duke anthology Sisters in the Life: A History of African American Lesbian Media-Making. That work is part of a second book project that relies on production studies methodologies, titled Marginal Production Cultures: Infrastructures of Sexual Minority and Transgender Media.

Q: What were you up to before you landed in academia? What made you want to go into this field?

Moore: Before I decided to pursue a PhD in Film, Television, and Digital Media at UCLA, I already identified as a writer. I had received an MFA in Creative Writing and became an entertainment journalist for the queer press. In fact, for the entire decade of the 2000s, even throughout graduate school, I wrote monthly film columns and feature articles for the national lesbian magazines Curve and Girlfriends. After my MFA, I also worked as an academic editor for the Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA for four years. I realized through journalism that I wanted to study LGBTQ representation in media more critically, and through my editorial work that I really wanted to join academic discourse and join a PhD program in a Cultural Studies related field. At that time there was very little written about queer representation in TV that was both theoretical and historical in approach and considered both audience/fan cultures and production cultures and how they differently affected the images being constructed. I hoped, along with other scholars in these areas, to help fill this gap.

Q: What is your favorite part about getting to work in both the CAMS and WGST departments?

Moore: The department of Cinema and Media Studies (CAMS) and the program of Women’s and Gender Studies (WGST) together really represent what I’m excited by, what I love teaching and the themes, texts and theories I write about. I feel perfectly situated between them and welcomed heartily in both campus cultures. Though this first year I’m mostly teaching in WGST for fellowship reasons, I’m really looking forward to bringing consistently offered courses in Television History, Genres and Theory to the CAMS curriculum, beginning next year. I’m also planning crossover classes or courses housed within either CAMS or WGST that serve students interested in both subjects.

Q: You’re one of the only professors at Carleton who teaches classes specifically on queer and sexuality studies. What do you hope having more of an academic emphasis on these topics will add to campus?

Moore: There are certainly other professors at Carleton who incorporate queer and sexuality studies into their courses, or teach occasional courses centered on the topic. However, you’re right that part of my role on campus is to make sure courses on LGBTQ+ topics are consistently offered, especially since both sexuality and gender studies are such a vital part of WGST’s larger academic project. I know that WGST has been working to bring someone into my position to regularly teach “Introduction to LGBTQ Studies” and focus on queer and transgender theory for a while. Now that they were able to create a tenure track line for the position in concert with CAMS, WGST is actually considering changing its name to include Sexuality Studies in the title. I’m also looking forward to working more with the Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC) and have attended their fall welcome event and contributed as a panelist to their fabulous “Beyond Single Stories” event. I hope to do more in the future to bridge the academic and student life sides of LGBTQ programming and resources for students on campus.

Q: Previously, you were a professor at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. What has your experience been like transitioning from a big university to a small liberal arts college?

Moore: Honestly, it’s been fantastic for me and is such a better fit personally! I say that without any disrespect to my former institution. Big research universities serve important functions, obviously, such as providing graduate students training among other things—but it’s also easy for students to get less attention from professors in such an environment. I’d often teach TV History classes at Michigan with an enrollment of up to 100 students, whereas here my largest class is 30. That means I can really get to know my students personally—not just their names—but get time to meet with them one on one about their class projects. For me it feels so much more fulfilling to be able to really see the impact I’m having on students’ ideas about things. Here I can regularly build productive seminar environments where students feel safe to test their ideas and get opportunities to work collaboratively and in groups. There is such an intellectual and progressive culture at Carleton! I love going to see visiting speakers talk here and observing how invested students are in critically engaging with them during Q&A. I genuinely think that faculty, staff, administrators, and students here contribute to making sure Carleton is an ethical as well as an exceptional place to learn. On another note: I also adore the Twin Cities! Northfield is lovely, but as a big city type, I value the proximity of a diverse and rich metropolis, with great art museums, theatre, and a sizeable queer culture.

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