My name is Ravynn and this is the story of how I did grad school.
I’m an MA/Ph.D. student in American Studies at the College of William and Mary. My scope of my research interests are so broad that occasionally it’s hard to define what I do, but for the most part I can say that I apply my literary training to tease out what all types of narratives can tell us about race and gender. I’m trained in world literature, as I was a Distinguished major of French Language and Literature at the University of Virginia, as well as a major of Comparative Literature. I’m interested in all types of stories and the varied ways people choose to tell them. Therefore, I’m interested different forms of narrative: TV shows, film, and most importantly, graphic novels.
My current project is my Master’s thesis, which, at my institution, is a portfolio of two essays connected by a shorter piece that explains how and why the two essays compliment each other. My first essay is a paper I’ve been writing and revising for over a year now: “Reclaiming Wakanda.” I’m very interested in the transformation of Black Panther the comic character since his creation in 1966 to his current use as a political allegory at the hands of Ta-Nehisi Coates, thus this paper has been more of a historiography with traces of literary analysis to understand Black Panther’s current social significance. My second essay focuses on Mat Johnson’s graphic novel Incognegro, in which I do a fairly straight forward literary and comic analysis of a work that deconstructs and reforms our notions of racial identity at every possible level of reading, from the art, to the words, and the combination of the two, while giving fair due to the literary and historical legacy from which the story draws.
Outside of my studies, I have earned my keep, so to speak, by serving as an editorial apprentice at the Omohundro Institute, where I did a lot of copy editing and fact checking. This year, I will be serving as the Graduate Assistant for the Lemon Project: A Journey to Reconciliation. The Project works to learn more about the presence and role of the enslaved at the College of William and Mary. My main projects will be to help organize Porch Talks, aid in the planning of the annual Lemon Project Symposium, and, hopefully, help jump start an academic journal that the project will publish.
When I’m not studying or working, I try to keep up with my long and lively list of hobbies, my favorite of which include bullet journaling, painting, writing for web magazines, kayaking, watching overly dramatic CW superhero shows and frequenting local independent coffeeshops and comic book stores.
One day, I’m going to figure out how to do this whole “Academic” thing. Until then, enjoy the ride.