Abby Jaroszewicz – Exploring David Bowie’s Legacy on Queer Popular Culture

Abby Jaroszewicz – Exploring David Bowie’s Legacy on Queer Popular Culture

Faculty Shout-out by Dr. David Stowe: Abby is one of the brightest, most motivated, enthusiastic, and well-rounded students I have encountered in more than  25 years at Michigan State. I first worked with her last spring in a class I taught on Popular Culture Studies. It was my first time teaching the course, and having Abby in the class was a real boon, as she was consistently prepared, interested, and willing to contribute in class. Other students recognized her talents and upped their own games, it seemed to me, as she modeled how to participate in a small seminar discussion. 

Faculty Shout-out by Dr. Brian Burns: Abby is a uniquely skilled individual who will be missed. Both as a curious and motivated student in ENG 280 and as a skilled and enthusiastic tutor for young writers in the gifted and talented program on campus, Abby has shown me again and again that everything she is involved in is made significantly better by her participation. Now the world beyond East Lansing will get a chance to work with her.

Faculty Shout-out by Dr. Tamar Boyadjian: “I had the pleasure of having Abby as a student in the department Summer in London program, and to have her in my senior seminar this term on fairy tales, women warriors, and princesses across literature. Abby’s final project is a fascinating exploration into the Cinderella story across time. She is creating a collage using the image of the different shoes across many Cinderella representations as a metaphor for the socio-historical, political, and gendered dynamics that play across the tradition of fairytales across multiple cultures and time periods. Working with Abby and having her as a student both in London and at MSU has been a great pleasure for me!

Shout-out by English Advisor Andrew Murray: Abby represents nothing less than an incredible Spartan.  She’s really pushed herself to fully explore all that our department and MSU has to offer.  Utilizing all she’s learned, she is ready to be a trailblazer and role model in the field of higher education.  I’m excited to soon call her a colleague and I can’t wait to see what’s in store.  Congrats Abby!

How would you describe your time as an English or Film Studies major at MSU?

When I came to MSU I chose English as my major purely because it was something I loved, and people always say to do what you love.  I had no idea what my experience would be like, and where I would be when it was over.  But what I found was a positive and welcoming academic community, with incredible faculty and a fascinating curriculum.  I’ve not only learned about literature–I’ve learned about life, and what kind of person I want to be.  My time as an English major has been fulfilling and inspiring, and I’m so grateful for the friends and mentors I’ve bonded with through this program. 

Which classes, instructors, or experiences particularly stand out for you and why? How did they prepare you for the next phase of your life? 

My first English class that I ever took here at MSU was taught by Dr. Brian Burns, and even though that is the only time I’ve had Dr. Burns as a professor, he has been a constant advocate and mentor of mine ever since.  I learned so much in his class about how to write, how to analyze, and how to learn, but his continual mentorship and support has been invaluable.  I also went on an English study abroad to London with Dr. David Stowe and Dr. Tamar Boyadjian, and my experiences abroad with them were some of the best of my college career.  They are some of the smartest and best people that I know, and together they opened my eyes to fields I never even thought to study, like popular culture.  Finally, the English advisor Andrew Murray is the single biggest influence on my education and growth over the past years.  He is endlessly helpful and kind, and he showed me the importance of having someone in your corner.  I want to be Andrew Murray when I grow up! 

What advice would you give future English or Film Studies majors, based on your experiences in the department?

I would say that they shouldn’t be afraid to take a class that seems a little out there!  Not all English classes will be Victorian Literature or studying the canon–you’ll have the opportunity to take classes on all sorts of things.  I have taken classes on everything from post-colonialism and orientalism to comics, fairytales, and even music!  You will find that the classes where you step outside your comfort zone are the classes where you learn the most.  Try everything! 

What coursework-related projects were/are you working on this year, and what interests or excites you about them? 

This semester I am finishing my senior honors thesis, which is very exciting!  Because my major concentration is Popular Culture, I have chosen quite the unique topic for my thesis: glam rock.  More specifically, David Bowie, and how David Bowie’s legacy lives on in queer pop artists today.  One of my favorite things about being a pop culture scholar is that I have the opportunity to study almost anything!  I can choose things that interest me, things that I interact with in my daily life, so getting to dive deep while researching those topics is always really fun.  

What are your hopes and aspirations, post-graduation? 

When I said I wanted to be Andrew Murray, I wasn’t kidding!  I will be going to graduate school here at MSU for my Masters degree in Student Affairs Administration.  I hope to become a major adviser at a college or university, so I can help other students have the best possible college experience, just like I did.  Outside of my education, however, I hope to travel!  I hope to try lots of foods, cooking and eating!  I hope to cultivate my hobbies, like painting and crocheting!  I’m really excited to have the opportunity to grow and learn not just as a student, but as a person of the world.  

Please reflect a bit on the strange experience of being a graduating senior during this moment of local and global crisis. What resources have been most useful to you in navigating this unprecedented situation?

Graduating at a time like this has been really strange.  I thought I would get to celebrate with all of my fellow English majors in our final classes and during commencement, but instead I do not know if we will ever see each other again.  But for me, perspective is crucial in times like this.  It is sad, but we need to think about the safety and health of not just ourselves and our families, but all of the people that may be put at risk.  I am grateful for MSU and the College of Arts and Letters, for all of their continued support and communication during this crisis.  I know they all are working to make sure that all of us seniors still feel acknowledged and celebrated for our accomplishments.