The Department of English is proud to welcome Dr. Jian Chen, who is joining us to add her special expertise to the Queer Studies area of Gender and Sexuality Studies. Jian Chen spoke to Feature Intern Andrea Leigh Hilliard about her research, and the importance of the LBGT perspective on literature and cultural studies ... and her first impressions of OSU, and the Midwest …
Meet the New Faculty Members in the Department of English
Jian Chen, Assistant Professor in Queer Studies
Jian Chen comes to The Ohio State University after finishing a Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University. Chen found herself drawn to the job description for Queer Studies at Ohio State and she was curious about Ohio and the Midwest since she had never been to this part of the country. Chen explained that her interest lies in the fact that “There are positions that are geared towards Women’s Studies and Gender Studies, but none that explicitly say this is a Queer Studies position. It’s really integral to the work I do so I was excited to see a position geared towards that.”
Chen’s work is centered on her research, which explores strategies for queer and transgender cultural intervention and activism at the turn of the 21st century. Through the English Department’s Interdisciplinary Sexuality Studies Program at Ohio State, she is able to introduce ideas on queer and transgender critique; film, media, and communications; East Asian diasporas; post-semiotics; and comparative ethnic studies.
While Chen has always been interested in English and comparative literature, she found, during her college years, that she had a need for a broader representation of experiences and imagined possibilities. It was difficult for her to find literature that addressed lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. All of this culminated into an interest in Queer Studies that became personal for Chen, but she also connects it to how she viewed cultural representation as a crucial part of social democratization. According to Chen, “Queer Studies is a very young area…A Queer perspective is really important to me because it speaks to a different moment, to a certain extent, where LGBT cultural politics are re-radicalized, in the 80s and 90s, but around a whole different set of conditions and cultural strategies that are really attuned for today’s landscape.”
Along with research and teaching, Chen is enjoying her time at The Ohio State University for other reasons. “The campus is gorgeous,” she said, “the students are wonderful…there is diversity in terms of age, diversity in terms of the kinds of cities and towns they come from, what they are negotiating on an everyday level…how they’re negotiating the more recent arrival of international students, along with longer standing immigrant communities within the community, and the long standing immigrants within the community. I like that it is a very fresh campus in terms of the types of conversation and debates that are happening ... It’s a very lively campus for me and it’s exciting.”
Report by Andrea Leigh Hilliard, AU11 Website Intern