In our second installment of “Five Questions with First-Years,” we bring you Kameron Dunn. Kameron comes to UT after teaching in Oklahoma with plans to research the furry fandom and queer online subcultures. Read on to learn more about Kameron’s interests in digital humanities and creative American Studies research (and for a perfect answer to the question, “What are your goals for graduate school?”).
What is your background, academic or otherwise, and how does it motivate your research?
I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, which proved to be a bit of a learning experience as a queer person. For this reason, a lot of my identity expression was shaped by my online interactions. This act of discovering my queer identity in spaces beyond my immediate location has inspired my research on queer online subcultures, with my particular focus being on the furry fandom. I am very active in the furry community here in Austin and more broadly online, so my involvement also inspires that type of research that I do and what I want it to do. Teaching-wise, my background at a regional university that served the rural population where I come from influences my desire to make higher ed as accessible as possible for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Why did you decide to come to AMS at UT for your graduate work?
I felt like my research interest on the furry fandom combined with my methods (in the digital humanities) was kind of…peculiar, and seemed to fit in with a lot of the creative work being done by graduates in the department. The field of American Studies seems conducive to the type of work I am wanting to do, so being able to do that in a super cool department in the super awesome city of Austin seemed like a really worthwhile opportunity.
What projects or people have inspired your work?
For the furry fandom specifically, there is a large research project entitled “FurScience” that has been going on for a while now. I attended a talk by one of the researchers and found what they were doing to be very compelling. They publish their findings publicly, so I have used data from that project for some of my initial work in the fandom, as well. Moving forward, I’ve reached out to them and am hoping to be part of the project in some way.
What projects do you see yourself working on at UT?
In addition to my research on the furry fandom, I am hoping to participate in ongoing Digital Humanities projects happening at UT. Additionally, I want to do some work in David Foster Wallace’s archives, as my last big DH project was on his work, Infinite Jest.
What are your goals for graduate school? What do you see yourself doing after you graduate?
- Get a PhD
- Do research that contributes to the field and my own community(ies)
- Make new pals
My main goal coming into this is professorship, but as long as I continue to be in a position where I can conduct research, I will be quite happy.
Bonus: In your own words, what is American Studies?
Still figuring this one out, haha.