On Thursday, April 7, Hawthorne-Longfellow Library (H-L Library) hosted the final installment of its book launch and discussion series with Assistant Professor of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Angel Matos in the Nixon Lounge.
Matos co-edited Media Crossroads: Intersections of Space and Identity in Screen Cultures with Pamela Robertson Wojcik and Paula Massood. Wojcik is a professor and chair in the Department of Film, Television and Theatre and Concurrent in Gender Studies and American Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Massood, who attended the event virtually, is a professor in the Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema at the City University of New York.
The book brings together various scholarly interpretations of the intersection between virtual spaces—including film, video games and social media—and one’s identity and was released by Duke University Press during the spring of 2021. An official event to celebrate the book’s release has been placed on hold until now.
“What we wanted to do was to make sure that it was very rich and that it gave people a different sense of how we see the intersection of space and gender and other facets of identity in different types of medium,” Matos said. “On one hand, we thought that that would allow people to trace a lot of commonalities between how different media use space, but we also wanted to think about spaces more expansively as well.”
Matos began the project with his co-editors in 2018 as a postdoctoral fellow at the College, following a graduate seminar class he took at the University of Notre Dame, in which he wrote about spaces, including the kitchen and queer American television. Wojcik helped bring the three together as collaborators.
“I think that’s something that got us incredibly excited was the fact that we all have a similar interest in space,” Matos said. “But other areas of specialization were very different from each other, so we were very excited about the potential connections that we could explore regarding intersectional theory as applied to space and media.”
Matos and Massood both described the fluid process of working on the book, specifically for Matos as a first-time editor.
“I was actually bracing myself because I had contributed to edit the collections before, but I’ve never co-edited one. And so I was preparing myself for disaster. I was preparing myself to hurt people, but it absolutely was a pleasant [experience],” Matos said.
Matos contributed to the collection with an article focusing on The Legend of Zelda series through a queer lens.
“Even though people have a tendency of framing games as incredibly heteronormative, as conducive only to men and not really cater[ing] to other audiences, I found a lot of queer potentiality in playing video games,” he said. “It was actually in virtual worlds that I did find a lot of comfort that the real world didn’t provide.”
“[Professor Matos] is incredibly daring in what he does, especially as a very young faculty member,” attendee Kai Putnam ’22 said. “I think that a lot of the texts that he’s studying aren’t as academically valued as much as they should be, especially around video games or youth culture or children’s literature or YA literature.”
In the era of the Covid-19 pandemic, Matos and Massood think that people should consider intersections within new spaces like Zoom, which influenced the box-like shapes on the cover of the book. Both professors believe there is much more to explore in the realm of space and identity and that this book acts as an introduction to researchers.
“I’m really interested to see where it’s adopted, who’s using it and where,” Massood said. “It would be nice to have another one that’s more global or expand this one in the future so that we add things to it as technology changes [and] as space changes.”
H-L Library’s faculty book launch series will continue next year, starting with Professor of Art Mike Kolster’s new book, Paris Park Photographs.