By Ryen Cinski ’22
As a student who has attended a rigorous public high school and is now enrolled in a liberal arts college, I’ve encountered my fair share of daunting texts. Whether it be by an AP biology textbook or page after page of Chaucer, I’ve been challenged. However, the biggest academic challenge that I’ve ever come to face is my queer theory class, Modern Love. Before this year, I had never come into contact with queer theory and had little to no knowledge on the expansive and diverse discipline. Although I felt a strong sense of excitement when I first enrolled in the class last year, I also felt very anxious. While my public high school challenged me in many ways, it had never challenged me to consider things “queerly.”
When I got back to my room with a big box of books that I’d just picked up from The Hub, I dropped them on my desk and began to look through them. When I came across a graphic novel, I was honestly in shock. Queer: A Graphic History, the title read. Flipping through the book, I saw little blurbs and illustrations, but also a comprehensive and accessible approach to an extremely hard subject.
Sometimes the concept of accessibility can be confused with a sort of “dumbed down” version of a complex piece. Queer: A Graphic History is actually my textbook for Modern Love, and the fact that there are illustrations and that everything is broken down is extremely helpful and comforting. Imagine trying to dive headfirst into a world of new terms and ideas, things that you have never once been expected to explore, with texts that are inaccessible to you. This would be counterproductive, as possible outcomes could be confusion, a lack of foundation, or even so much frustration that you call it quits and curse the subject (hi chemistry, I’m talking about you). Thus, when wrestling with the topics of biopsychosocial, the heterosexual matrix, and understanding/deconstructing compulsory heterosexuality, my accessible texts have provided me a good foundation which will then allow me to move foward and expand.
Accessible knowledge is so absolutely essential to moving in a positive and progressive direction as a society. This isn’t to say that we should ban the use of complex academic terms, but more to point out that it is much easier to approach things when they are put into simpler terms. I am no scholar in queer theory, yet I want to understand it and to spread the knowledge and acceptance that comes with it. A graphic novel for a textbook in conjunction with theory readings, media clips, and other forms of knowledge allows myself and others to get a good grip on a challenging and constantly changing discipline that continues to baffle and amaze.
Knowledge is the greatest power that one can possess. It would be a shame to turn away from or to preach hate towards something because you refuse to or simply cannot understand it. Accessible knowledge allows everyone, no matter what academic background they have, to verse themselves in extremely important issues and matters.