The Xaverian Weekly's Article Published in Atlantis


Mount Saint Vincent University’s Atlantis gets rights to second publication

A creative work written by Katherina Hirschfeld and Rhea Ashley Hoskin originally published in The Xaverian Weekly gets a second round of exposure in Atlantis: Critical Studies in Gender, Culture, & Social Justice, a Mount Saint Vincent University journal. 

Hirschfeld discusses the writing process of this edition “Rhea just completed her PhD, so she has been involved in research and writing longer than I have. As an undergraduate student with no published works whatsoever, I was fairly intimidated. But writing a manifesto was a great way to start collaborating together. As an English major, I am more familiar with the mechanics of poetry than Rhea. As a seasoned academic, Rhea has a breadth of knowledge about theory and the publication process. We both brought our own assets to the table and it resulted in a very balanced undertaking. Plus, we’re friends who often talk about our own research together. So, hanging out and writing a femme call-to-arms together was so much fun!”

Pursuing a Master of Arts degree at Acadia university after graduating from a Bachelor of Arts degree with honours, Hirschfeld said “My undergraduate degree from StFX really prepared me for the rigor of a master’s program. I did my BA English Honours degree at StFX, which required me to write a thesis paper. Not all universities offer a thesis option in an undergrad, and because of that opportunity I learned a lot about how to conduct more significant research and literary analysis than any term paper would require. As a result, I feel very confident and well-equipped for my master’s degree.

Not only did my time at StFX prepare me for the significant amounts of writing and research involved in a master’s degree, but it also prepared me for an academic career by supporting and offering conference experiences. I presented my thesis at Student Research Day as well as at the English Colloquium during my graduating year. Both were followed with a Q&A period, which I have never experienced before. Writing is one thing, but answering questions about your own research on the spot is a crucial skillset for academia as well as a legal career (which I hope to pursue after my master’s degree). That same summer, I also had the unique opportunity to present a poster about my thesis at the annual Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) conference with the assistance of the Jules Léger Endowment. All of these opportunities have allowed me to grow more as an academic, and I do not think I would have had the same chances to do so at a larger institution.”

Photo: Madeleine Killacky

Photo: Madeleine Killacky

Hoskin is an instructor at the StFX Student Success Centre and a doctoral student at Queen’s University in the Department of Sociology. She notes that “This creative piece was inspired primarily by our own experiences as queer femmes – who like to eat, love to lift, and feel empowered by our femininity – something that, for many people, seems contradictory. We wanted to expand on our own experiences of being femme and how we navigate some of the complexities and intersections of our own femininity, to also consider the varied embodiments of femininity, and what it means to re-value femininity in a world that seems to fairly consistently (and pervasively) tell us that femininity isn’t something to be valued.” 

Photo: Dr. Karen Blair

Photo: Dr. Karen Blair

The abstract of their work emphasizes the piece’s intention of encouraging the “reader to think beyond femininity’s articulation as a source of oppression to, instead, consider how it can be reframed as a form of resistance.” Readers who ponder this piece rethink “femininity” critically. 

Hoskin says “resistance comes in many forms, of course. In this particular context, we use resistance as something that pushes back against oppressive norms – norms that systematically divide and subordinate individuals.  Resistance offers ways to re-imagine, to uproot reductive or determinist views of oneself and each other. 

Think about it this way – in order to resist, we need to be able to imagine the possibilities that exist outside of an oppressive structure. Femme, to us and to many others, offers such a re-imagining – whether it’s to re-imagine the beauty of fat bodies, the worth of queerness, the strength in vulnerability, or to re-imagine the boundless gender possibilities that exist outside the gender binary.” 

Hirschfeld remarks “society can put a lot of pressure on us to perform in certain ways. Identities are put in boxes, and each box carries expectations with respect to appearance, behavior, mannerisms, and so on. To me, resistance happens when you refuse to comply with those societal conventions. Resistance against heteronormative assumptions can occur in various ways. Writing ‘A Femme Manifesto’ is a form of resistance. Rhea and I have both recognized and experienced certain societal pressures to present ourselves a certain way, and often feel the weight of feminine assumptions, so creating a piece about refusing the standards placed on us is empowering. It gave us a voice and helped us to claim a visibility that’s often denied to femme-identifying individuals.”

Hirschfeld is writing a thesis on representations of time within queer narratives at Acadia. She mentions, “much like our published creative piece, though, my master’s thesis also focuses on forms of resistance. I am investigating the relationship between subject and temporality within queer narratives. Our understanding of time, much like our understanding of identities and sexualities, is often based on normative assumptions and conventions. My research investigates how time is treated differently within several queer narratives and what those differences signify. I’m hoping to submit one of my chapters to Rhea’s Call for Papers on Femme Theory.”

Hoskin is busy as well, having already published two research collaborations “Transgender exclusion from the world of dating: Patterns of acceptance and rejection of hypothetical trans dating partners as a function of sexual and gender identity” and “Ameliorating transnegativity: assessing the immediate and extended efficacy of a pedagogic prejudice reduction intervention” this year. 

“‘Beyond Aesthetics’ is actually my first creative piece, Katerina’s too I think. I am first and foremost a researcher, so this was entirely a new venture for me. It has, however, opened some interesting venues or opportunities that I hadn’t previously considered. Katerina and I are definitely going to collaborate in the future, but it will likely take the form of a critical essay.

I do have some exciting non-creative projects coming up! Well, I’m sure all projects require some degree of creativity. I’m currently guest-editing two special issues for international LGBT+ journals. The first issue is for the Journal of Lesbian Studies and will focus on the application of Femme Theory. The second will be co-edited with Dr. Blair, and will be a special issue on Critical Femininities for the journal of Psychology & Sexuality. We’ve heard some really great feedback and have already started receiving submissions. 

My upcoming research project examines how anti-femininity drives much of the violence we’ve seen in Canada over the past 40 years; for example, the Montreal Massacre, the alleged Incel Rebellion, missing and murdered Indigenous women, the rates at which trans women and trans women of colour are murdered, or even serial killers Bruce McArthur and Russel Williams. These acts of violence all share a commonality, which I argue is how we, as a society, see and devalue femininity.” 

Hirschfeld and Hoskin will likely work together again in the future. Hoskin comments “While I imagine plenty of collaborations with Rhea in the future – or should I say, Dr. Hoskin – I’m currently focusing on my masters and in the process of applying to law school.” Both researchers continue to make notable contributions to Femme, queer and transgender theories. 

“Katerina and I make a great team. We actually met as group fitness instructors at Goodlife, where we would frequently teach classes together. Even in that capacity, we really fed off of each other in very creative ways. I think Katerina and I have a really unique synergistic and creative chemistry.”