Born and raised in Colorado, Dr. Kristina Quynn has been able to call CSU home since childhood. With her father serving as a CSU chaplain, she first learned how to play tennis on the old campus courts. After completing her PhD in Michigan, she answered a job posting to come home again.
Ever since I decided to call CSU my home, Kristina has been such a wonderful professor and mentor to me. A few semesters after taking her course in British Literature, I asked if she would like to be my advisor for my senior thesis on women in Irish film because of her expertise in Irish literature and storytelling.
Perhaps that’s why I was able to break the ironclad rule of Show Up & Write: no talking. Tagged as “like drop in yoga without the downward dog”, Show Up & Write is a part of Kristina’s new CSU Writes project. I stopped by the drop in writing group’s first meeting this past Wednesday to ask about teaching, writing, and Green Eggs and Ham.
A: What inspired you to pursue a degree in English?
K: I fell into being an English major, quite honestly. I changed my major five times. But it made sense, ultimately, that because I was always interested in texts and how texts work I would pursue English (rather than History, Journalism, or Film, which were some of her other majors as an undergraduate).
A: What do you enjoy the most about your work?
K: I love the dynamic exchange of ideas among people who are interested texts, reading and writing and constructions of sex and gender. I think in terms of teaching what I enjoy most is conversations with students that take them from one place of understanding to a newly shaped idea.
A: What accomplishments are you most proud of?
K: I’m really proud of having done my doctorate and dissertation. I’m really proud of the research and work that I did to write on gender and mobility in modern women’s writing. I didn’t realize when I first started out working on the PhD how much you have to do to put together a research project like that.
I finished up a PhD in six-and-a-half years as a single mother, which is remarkable in the field of English. It’s usually much more along the lines of seven plus years. The fact that I was able to do that with kids was only because I had a strict schedule and I had a writing group that I could submit work to.
A: Is that what inspired you to start CSU Writes?
K: When you teach four classes, it’s very difficult to continue doing research and being productive. The writing group in graduate school had helped me stay focused and on task, so when I got here to CSU, I was looking for a similar kind of group. I didn’t find it easily. There wasn’t such a thing as a faculty writing group. I thought, “Well, that’s a program waiting to happen.” So when I saw the Ripple Effect grant call, I applied.
A: I think the faculty knows a lot about the Ripple Effect, but I’m not sure that students do.
K: The Ripple Effect is about CSU acknowledging that there are gender biases at work in academia. Women in academia do struggle in different ways depending on your department or your discipline, whether you’re faculty or staff or janitorial crew. It’s important to recognize that gender does influence how we work and are treated in the workplace. I think it’s great that the Ripple Effect is taking that on. I’m grateful to the Ripple Effect for putting out monies to allow faculty to be creative and put together initiative that make the campus a better place for women to work. I think it’s so cool that I get to create CSU Writes out of it.
A: Who is CSU Writes for?
K: The writing group programs are open to all CSU faculty, students, staff, and even emeritus community. The writing groups are more focused on people who are working on larger projects for publication and creating some sort of support network so that people can publish more here. So they’re a little specialized, but it is still a program that’s open to anyone and everyone who wants to be part of it.
A: And Show Up & Write is for all students?
K: You don’t have to be part of a writing group to participate in Show Up & Write. It is open to anyone, whether you’re working on a CO 150 paper or a Capstone project for a course. The Show Up & Write sessions contribute to the CSU Writes program because people who have a regular writing practice are much more apt to finish those long-term writing projects.
Ideally, I want Show Up & Write to become so big that we fill not just 102 Shepardson Hall, but the large auditoriums on campus with 200 or 300 or 400 writers. And, ultimately, if we could fill the whole stadium three times a week with writers, I think that would be a great use of the stadium.
A: You’ll be using Show Up & Write sessions to work on your own writing as well. What kind of projects do you think you’ll be doing?
The one thing that I brought to work on today is a book proposal for a book called My Breasts and Clam. It’s a revisionist story of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham. It’s a lesbian revisionist tale about a pesky character called, “Pam” instead of “Sam.”
A: One last question: if Show Up & Write is like drop in yoga without the downward dog, what is the standard position for drop in writing?
K: Feet up. Pen to page.
Show Up & Write sessions are on M-W-F from 1-2:50 PM in 102 Shepardson Hall.
To join a CSU Writes group, attend one of the introductory workshops on Tuesday, September 15 (Clark C359) or Wednesday, September 16 (Clark 358) from 4-5:30 PM.