CFA Honor Thesis Student: Christal Hazelton

April 02 2018

We are pleased to introduce to you Christal Hazelton, a College of Fine Arts student who is currently completing a thesis research project about queer representation in mainstream children’s animation. The culmination of the Honors Bachelors degree, the Honors Thesis is a significant undergraduate research project completed under the supervision of a faculty member approved by the Honors Faculty Advisor in the student’s major. Its purpose is to advance knowledge and understanding within the context of a research university and to further develop the student’s intellectual, professional and personal growth as a member of the Honors College. Thesis projects may take different forms in different majors but always demonstrate research expertise in the major field, a command of relevant scholarship and an effort to contribute to that scholarship.

Please explain your thesis research project, including the impact you hope it has.
My research project is about queer representation in mainstream children's animation. I'm looking at where it's been and where it is now, with television shows like Avatar: The Legend of Korra and Steven Universe. A lot of people I talk to don't realize that there is queer representation in children's television so I hope to shed light on that. That, and how far there still is to go. Children's television is extremely political.

Please tell us how your relationship with your faculty advisor has impacted your education/research?
My faculty advisor is Professor Lien Fan Shen from the Department of Film and Media Arts and I am so lucky to know her. When I was initially interested in this topic, I stumbled upon an interview of Professor Shen discussing her panel on queer comics at the 2010 Comic Con. After discussing my topic with her, I learned more about her research in gender and sexuality, her animated shorts, and her previous work as a comic book artist. She made me realize that you can do both - you can love animation and constructively critique and dissect it.

What are some of the lessons you've learned throughout your experience as an Honors student.
Two lessons that I've learned as an Honors student is (1) to apply for everything and (2) take all media as a text. "Apply for everything" because it's very surprising how many people will take a chance on you and "take all media as a text" because it's easy to forget how tweets, graphic novels, and animation are a reflection of a time and collective identity.