"We continually question, and that is why we are Bryn Mawrters."

photo of Kate Severance“My academic experience has informed almost every aspect of my life, from the way I understand the spaces I occupy to the modes of presentation, self-expression, and identity production that I incorporate into my very sense of self. The theory I’m integrating into my thesis isn’t simply a citation; it’s a window into an entirely new way of understanding the world I occupy, and my ability to occupy it.

“As a queer person, I understand that my position at a women’s college is one that can easily be written off as stereotype, and I worry that our need to defend Bryn Mawr may sometimes obscure the community’s expansive understanding of the beauty of queerness. By queerness, I do not simply refer to my gender identification or sexuality. Queerness at Bryn Mawr goes far beyond simple definitions: it allows us to think deeply about the ways we express ourselves, the ways in which we interact with others and form relationships, the ways we can communicate and translate knowledge between bodies and communities.

“We are not simply a well-run factory for future leaders. We are reexamining the ways we think about leadership, about who makes decisions and who decides why they need to be made. We are not just ‘fighting the patriarchy;’ we are also fighting homophobia and cissexism, taking a stand against ignorance and archaic definitions, and thinking about the way structures of power are formed and who gets a voice in these issues. We learn empathy, not sympathy, respect as well as negotiation. We are a support system because we hold one another accountable, and we are a family because we understand the fluidity of the term.”

photo of Kate Severance


Kate Severance ’12
Queensbury, N.Y.
Major(s): English
Minor(s): Creative Writing


Note: A Hanna Holborn Gray Undergraduate Research Fellowship funded Kate Severance's research for her senior thesis, a two-year project that explores Native masculinity through the lens of James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales, and the effect that popular media portrayals of Native American masculinity has had on federal legislation and policy-making. A winner of the College's Anne Kirschbaum Winkelman Literary Prize for short fiction, Severance was selected for the 2011 masters class at the New York State Writers' Institute, where she worked with Mary Gaitskill and Amy Hempel. She is active in a number of LGBT advocacy groups.