Kiera Gilbert – Offering a Social & Cultural Perspective

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

My time as an English Major has been one of the most gratifying and insightful experiences I’ve ever had. In the time since I joined the English Department I have been introduced to a bigger world, one that I would not have experienced in my previous major. I have been challenged in more ways than I ever could have imagined, but I have also experienced so much growth, both intellectually, and personally.

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

When I look back at my time at MSU, my experiences with Dr. Rachman stand out to me the most. I have had the pleasure of taking two courses with Dr. Rachman, and they have been eye-opening. His classes introduced me to a new realm of literature and theory that has impacted me in the most positive way. Dr. Rachman is extremely supportive, and he helped me navigate my graduate admissions, and gave me a space to talk through the stress of selecting a program. I have had the opportunity to work with Dr. Rachman on a research project this semester, and it has been such a gratifying experience. Dr. Rachman helped me find my voice, and he always made sure that my thoughts were heard and helped me understand that my thoughts were important. He gave me the opportunity to explore a new area of my research interests, and for that, I am extremely grateful.

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

The biggest piece of advice I would give is to push yourself out of your comfort zone. It’s great to take classes about topics that you know and love, but sometimes the class that you take that explores a topic you know nothing about may end up being your favorite. It is important to understand your personal boundaries, but it is just as important to know when to push them.

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

I have had the opportunity to work on three research projects this year, and each one of them has allowed me to further explore and shape my research interests. Last fall, I worked on a thesis project that explored the relation between economic systems and female identity in Kathy Acker’s work. Further expanding on my first thesis project, my second project explores the social implications of revolution and how post-colonial influence the perception of the black body following this separation of institutions. Both of the projects were exciting to me because I think it is important to acknowledge how social issues are multi-dimensional and rooted in the pasts of ruling institutions. It was important to me to make these connections so that I could further apply her commentary to 21st century movements.

I have also had the opportunity to partake in an independent study this semester. This research differed from the research I have done in the past, and a new frontier is always exciting. This project focuses on using Camus’ plague metaphor to understand the spread of ideological plagues and interpret this spread from a medical and social perspective. This project has brought me a great deal of joy because it has allowed me to work through multiple lenses and create different connections between concepts across linguistic, social, medical, and geographical borders.

What are your hopes and aspirations, post-graduation?

After graduation I will be attending Carnegie Mellon University to pursue an M.A in Literary and Cultural Studies. Once I complete my M.A I hope to continue my education and pursue a PhD.

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

This year has been tough given all of the circumstances. My professors have been one of the best resources throughout the pandemic. I’ve found that communicating my needs to them has helped me the most. This year many of my professors have prioritized our health, and mental well-being, and have worked with us to build our courses to meet our needs.