By Cooper Drummond
When CJ Jones graduated from Syracuse University, they were faced with a big decision: go into the gender studies field or become a professor. They chose to do the latter.
“I knew before my senior year of college, I wanted to be a professor,” said Jones. “I was really just in a perfect environment, to do what I wanted, which was to think, read and write.”
They then completed their master's at SUNY Buffalo in American studies, then completed their Ph.D. at UC Santa Barbara in feminist studies. Pre-graduate school, Jones wrote their senior thesis on the history of the AIDS crisis in Syracuse.
Now, Jones is a visiting instructor of gender studies at Purchase, where they began teaching this semester.
But before getting hired, Jones was unsure where they would end up teaching.
“The job market is very competitive because the market is oversaturated with Ph.D.'s,” said Jones. “It's not like STEM where so much money and resources go into it. So, there's always a need to hire, or at least more so than the social sciences. And so, wherever I get the job, wherever I'm going to go is where I go. In the middle of a pandemic, it's a miracle that I got this postdoc."
They embrace both aspects of being a visiting instructor: teaching students and producing scholarly work, as they both are able to help them understand gender studies more.
“I wanted to be a professional learner and a professional thinker, which is really what this is," they said.
Their favorite part of instructing students is thinking and learning with passionate students who are asking questions and engaging with the material. This semester, they are teaching transgender studies, which is more of an introductory course.
Next semester they are teaching queer and trans sports studies, which is their specialty and a topic of their scholarly research. One of their works, Unfair Advantage Discourse in USA Powerlifting: Toward a Transfeminist Sports Studies was published in February of this year.
“It focuses on trans women and sports, and sort of debates about this both in feminist circles, how conservative organizations are… and sort of very transphobic vile arguments against trans people playing sports,” said Jones.
They also have an interest in other people’s experiences of being queer and trans in the prison industrial complex.
“It's basically just looking at abolitionist writing by queer and trans people who have been incarcerated, or are currently incarcerated, and critiquing the police and carceral state from within," said Jones. "They look at prisons, detention centers and anything related to law enforcement or incarceration. They argue that these structures sort of produce gender at the same time that they are an effect of gender."
Additionally, they have an interest in feminist and disability studies.
Jones said, “Disability studies really look at assumptions within anything in the world that assumes that the person we're talking about is able-bodied in every possible way.”