‘POOR QUEER STUDIES’ BY PROFESSOR MATT BRIM EARNS WORKING-CLASS STUDIES ASSOCIATION AWARD
Poor Queer Studies describes how the field has been molded by wealthy, elitist institutions, leaving out students from working-class backgrounds and creating a set of ideas that is often irrelevant to them.
By Lida Tunesi
The book Poor Queer Studies: Confronting Elitism in the University by Professor Matt Brim (GC/College of Staten Island; Women’s and Gender Studies/Queer Studies, English) merited the 2021 Jake Ryan and Charles Sackrey Award from the Working-Class Studies Association. The award honors books by writers of working-class origins, or work that speaks to issues of the working-class academic experience.
“One of the main insights of writing by working-class academics is that class is imbricated throughout our academic institutions; that there is no ‘escape,’ there is only erasure,” the award judges wrote. Brim’s book, however, argues that schools need not be this way. “We can remake our institutions so that they serve all of us, and this is one great example of where to start.”
Poor Queer Studies describes how the field has been molded by wealthy, elitist institutions, leaving out students from working-class backgrounds and creating a set of ideas that is often irrelevant to them. In a previous interview, Brim explained how his experience teaching and meeting students at the College of Staten Island has let him see this neglected side of queer studies, and how the field could ultimately be reshaped.
“We talk about breakrooms and bus rides to work and customer service roles and student-teaching classrooms, and we translate ‘high queer theory’ to those local worksites,” Brim told the Graduate Center. “We think about how queer studies can make work life a bit better.”
The Working-Class Studies Association is an international group that promotes scholarship, teaching, and activism around working-class life and culture. Brim gave the plenary address, titled “The Unfashionable Line of Poor Queer Studies,” at the WCSA’s 2021 conference.
“This recognition of Poor Queer Studies by the Working-Class Studies Association speaks to the organization’s broad vision of the field of working-class studies,” Brim said. “On a personal level, I would say that it’s no small thing to be generously welcomed into another corner of the academy as a queer studies scholar.”