ENG 295 Students Lead Discussion on “Quarter Life Poetry”
- Joseph Shoulders
- Friday, March 26th, 2021
On Tuesday, March 23, students of Dr. Dawn Hall’s ENG 295: Popular Culture and Gender course hosted a discussion on Quarter Life Poetry and invited other members of the WKU Department of English to join the exploration of the female-led short films. A total of 23 students and faculty attended. The students who led the discussion were Ceara Baker, Megan Mays, Samantha Campbell, Hailee Lunte, Tuesday Grenead, CL Lowe, Jessica Robinson, Landon Owens, Reagan White, and Katie Doll.
The Quarter Life Poetry title refers to Samantha Jayne’s series of works sharing her “quarter-life crisis” experiences. Jayne initially posted the writings on Instagram, and then she developed them into a book of poetry. In collaboration with FX, Jayne converted her poetry into a series of short films. The ENG 295 class focused on the Quarter Life Poetry short films.
The student panel contextualized the videos within the topic of women in film. The short films offer prominent female representation on and behind the screen since most of the acting and development teams involved in the project are women. Jayne herself was highly involved in the creation process as the lead actress, scriptwriter, and head of the music department. To demonstrate how this representation made Quarter Life Poetry an outlier in portraying women, the students compared the series to statistics of the film industry.
The students chose three of the short films to present and lead conversations, starting with “Friday Night.” The panel asked attendees to discuss how the film portrayed socialization, focusing on the prominence of social media, and many participiants shared feeling pressured to post, often to exaggerate the positivies of their lives. Because social media can damage one’s self-esteem, attendees deliberated on how to limit their usage of the platforms and on how logging off is not a feasible option for many creators, like authors.
The next short film discussion was on “Mortality.” The film’s negative aspect of corportate work cultue, especially among young professionals, resonated with many of the participants. The attendees debated how to fix the mentally straining system that is so deeply integrated into the broader society. Lastly, the panel presented the short film “Planned Parenthood,” which highlighted the struggles women face when mangaging their healthcare.
At the end of the panel, the students expanded the conversation for any of the Quarter Life Poetry short films. Reviewing all the films, participants noted how the topics are told from a limited perspective. They discussed how some videos might be rewritten to be more inclusive in regard to race and class. Despite the narrow perspective, participants agreed that the Quarter Life Poetry short films were creative and humorous works that started necessary conversations on many social issues.