Five Questions with First-Years Returns: with Holly Genovese!

It’s October, and it’s time to introduce the newest cohort of UT AMS doctoral students! We asked all five incoming students about their academic backgrounds, their intellectual interests, and projects they plan to pursue here at UT. Today we bring you Holly Genovese. She’s straight out of the hallowed Civil War streets of Central Pennsylvania, and she’s done with the northern winter.headshot 

1) What is your background, academic or otherwise, and how does it motivate your teaching and research?

I got my B.A in history and political science (Temple University, ‘13) and M.A in History (South Carolina, 15). Right before coming to UT I served as the coordinator for the Field Family Teen Author Series at the Free Library of Philadelphia, planning author events for teens throughout Philadelphia. My work with YA literature has really influenced my interest in the cultural production written by and for those who aren’t taken seriously. This includes teenage girls, but also people of color, the incarcerated, and other marginalized groups. I had the opportunity to be trained in the Inside Out Prison Exchange Program a few years ago, which really motivated my work with and about the experiences of incarcerated people. And while I’ll always love history, my love of literature comes first, and I was feeling limited by some of  the boundaries of history.

2) Why did you decide to come to AMS at UT for your graduate work?

There were so many reasons I chose AMS at UT. The diversity of faculty and faculty interests, the supportive graduate student environment, the ability to explore my interests in history, in literature, in ethnographic research all in one place…I was also running from the northern winter, to be honest.

3) What projects or people have inspired your work?

So many! I am constantly inspired by the work of cultural critics, from Ta-Nehisi Coates to Susan Sontag to Roxane Gay. Activist scholars, like Ruthie Gilmore and Angela Davis. And importantly for my work, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated activists and intellectuals have been so inspirational to me, especially Robert King and Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3, whom I now consider friends.

4) What projects do you see yourself working on at UT?

I am trying to stay open minded because I tend towards myopic focus. But my work thus far has focused on cultural production and activism amongst prisoner rights activism in Louisiana. I hope to continue this work while at UT, as well as working more on African American women’s prison writing. But honestly, my interests are so broad, who knows where I will end up. I love writing and talking about the politics of young adult literature, feminism in television, southern studies, and victorian children’s literature.

5) What are your goals for graduate school? What do you see yourself doing after you graduate?

For graduate school, I want to soak up as many books as possible. I want to practice my writing, both academic writing and popular writing. I want to get more experience working in museums and historic sites. I have a lot of ideas about what I might do after I graduate, but in an ideal world I would be some sort of cultural critic and teach in a prison or jail. That might mean I have a traditional academic post or it might not. I’m just excited to see where UT leads me.

Bonus: What is American Studies?

I have no idea what American Studies is, but isn’t that kind of the point?

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