Day four of this blog challenge actually requires me to think, which is why I’ve been procrastinating on writing this for most of the day. The prompt is “Person who influenced you” and if there were only one person in my life who had influenced me this would be a very easy post to write. There are a lot of people who have influenced me over the years and this prompt is so non-specific as to make me have to choose.

So I’m going to choose Dr Margaret Toye, who taught me several Women’s Studies* courses during my undergraduate degree (I graduated with a double honours in English Literature and Women’s Studies and a minor in Religion and Culture), as well as a seminar on affect theory during my Masters Degree (in English and Film Studies, at the same institution as my undergrad).

Dr Toye taught me that theory isn’t just written by old European white guys and that it can have a lot of significance to my life and way of being in the world. She was the one who introduced me to feminist posthumanism, to animal ethics, to affect theory, to queer theory, (not to mention to feminist and womanist theorists of intersectionality) and who encouraged me to keep working on what would eventually become my first published paper (examining affect in Oryx and Crake) in Canadian Literature (which is a big deal but I, being a naïf, had no idea at the time).

Feminist, affect, and queer theory have all been really instrumental in helping me to better understand the world, my place in it, and the social relations of the societies we all swim in. Cruel optimism** and the promise of happiness*** not to mention queer optimism & utopia**** all figure largely in the last bit of my thesis, currently, and inform my thinking about the present moment. Dr Toye really encouraged me to love learning and to engage fiercely with theory, to really enjoy chewing over ideas and discussing them with others.

So yeah, there we have it. Day 4, done.

*Now known as Women and Gender Studies
**Lauren Berlant
***Sarah Ahmed
****Michael Snediker, José Esteban Muñoz


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