The piece Mette chose for her upcoming presentation is Queerskins, a web-based novel. It is about a young, gay HIV physician named Sebastian, who grew up in rural Missouri and with Catholic parents. Apparently, he died at the beginning of the HIV epidemic. The piece deals with a modern and important topic and I will try to briefly point it out in the following post.
But let’s start with the first impression
I have to admit, I was already impressed by the design of the homepage, before I even thought about clicking anything – I loved the fond ( yes, I have a thing with fonds) and I really liked how the page is divided into two parts. On the left side, the reader can explore „Queerskins: A Love Story) (a VR experience and interactive installation) on the right one can find „Queerskins: A Novel“. I looked at both, but as it is more interesting to me, I’m just gonna talk about the novel part.
When I opened the novel. I got confronted with a bunch of pictures and videos, as well as classical music playing. I tried clicking on all of the images and videos, but nothing happened.
The bottom page presents you with the names of the different chapters: Missouri, Mother, Alex, Carlos, End, Bathilde, Jean-Marie and Return. These chapters are divided into numbered parts so in the end one has maneuvered himself through 62 slides (or maybe pages?).
Starting with Missouri, every new page offers different audio files, videos and pictures, as well as „handwritten“ notes/diary entries and (flash-)cards. They all overlap each other which made it quite confusing for the first few seconds. But soon I realized that I could move and drag-and-drop everything on the screen. As I tried to „find everything“ I decided to move everything I had already seen to the left sie of the screen and maneuver my way through the different slides. After Missouri I made my way through all the other chapters and was impressed – I really really liked the story and the way Illya Szilak created this piece of ELit.
Let’s talk about the topic…
Digging through the different notes/diary entries, I felt like I was invading someone’s privacy – but the audio files reminded me more of a documentary (so not really as personal as a diary) – I could even picture everyone in these audio files sitting there and talking into a camera (someone wants to have a guess who might have spent a little too much time watching documentaries on Netflix the last couple of days?)
By talking about Sebastian, we do not only get to know him and his story, we also learn about the other characters.
We meet the mother, who loves her son but her religiousness makes it heard for her to accept her son’s homosexuality; the father who seems to be unhappy and unaccepting of his son and his life, we get to know Sebastian’s first love and his longtime boyfriend as well as others.
Everything they say about Sebastian and all the personal notes we discover during the different chapters makes it possible for us to piece together our own picture of him. To me, Sebastian seemed to feel guilty, somehow torn between his religious upbringing and his homosexuality, which is considered a sin in the Catholic Church. He seemed very caring of others (his time in Africa) and yet it seems like he does not really fit into the society he lives in.
I am really excited to discuss this piece of ELit in class because I think there is way more to this story than the conflict of religion vs homosexuality.
About my personal project
I started to work on my own project over the last couple of days. My initial idea was to create a small collection of poetry and/or short stories considering a certain topic. I started writing and re-worked some of my already existing pieces, but I haven’t fully decided on the main topic yet. I did some free writing and came up with several ideas, I just need to finally make a decision. As I grew up speaking German as well as French I thought about writing the same poem/story in both languages and creating different shapes with them, making it look like they mirror each other. French is not the only possible option, I thought about the combination of German-English too. I think I just need to see what makes the most sense to me and how it looks.
Considering the technical implementation of everything I looked at several tools from our list. I tried Storybird, looked at Canva and Notegraphy. But I think I will end up using Adobe Spark – basically just because I have never worked with it before and I’m really curious how things will turn out with it – even though my project might not end up looking like I am imagining it right now.