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Alum Profile: Kristen

Kristen Hogan
Plan II Honors & English Honors
Class of 1998
Director of Collections Strategy and Library Operations, Barnard College

When I found my way to my first Plan II class in a seminar room in the Calhoun basement, I knew I had found my way home. “Write the first paragraph of your autobiography,” Professor Carol MacKay assigned, exhorted, conjured in the first meeting of the Women’s Autobiography class. And, just like that, we were also writers. She circulated feminist books like sacred texts, and they were. In one class, I saw a familiar passage of Alice Walker’s poetry, and I felt called, here, feminist literature is life’s work.

Be nobody's darling;

Be an outcast.

Take the contradictions

Of your life

And wrap around

You like a shawl,

To parry stones

To keep you warm.

– Alice Walker, “Be Nobody’s Darling”

In that moment, and so many after, teachers in Plan II changed my life, made my self more possible. Professor MacKay agreed to supervise my thesis, and I traveled to the Beinecke Library at Yale and to feminist histories in Paris. I can trace a patterns in the weaving from those beginnings through my work at BookWoman, one of two feminist bookstores in Austin – along with Resistencia Bookstore, my dissertation on the histories of feminist bookstores, my work as co-manager and book buyer at the antiracist and trans-positive feminist Toronto Women’s Bookstore, my teaching in feminist and queer studies, my work teaching workshops across campus on how to build affirming spaces for women and LGBTQA+ people and people of color and people of more than one of those identities, my librarianship, and my book, nominated for a Lambda Literary Award in 2017, The Feminist Bookstore Network: Lesbian Antiracism and Feminist Accountability (Duke, 2016). Plan II invited critical thinking and literature as life practice. In difficult political times (all times), literature is social justice work, home work (in reference to Aimee Carillo Rowe’s Power Lines: On the Subject of Feminist Alliances), feminist work. I fold all that into my current job at Barnard College Library where I am the Director of Collections Strategy and Library Operations. I am grateful to Plan II for calling me home.

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