Christopher-James Llego: 'Make a list of ways to de-stress.'

Christopher-James Llego

Comparative Literature & Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies  

Brooklyn, NY

What is your main extracurricular activity? Why is it important to you?

Just like my two majors, my extra-curricular activities can be divided into two categories: literary and queer. In my four years at Cornell, I’ve served as the managing editor of The Cornell Book Review and editor-in-chief of RICE Magazine, The Carnelian Review, and Writer’s Bloc. This past year, I co-founded Death in the Afternoon [literary magazine] with my friend, Emma Craven-Matthews ’17, and watched as our hopes for more multilingual literary opportunities turned into a physical magazine devoted to international and non-English works. It was through our time in the comparative literature department that we developed our professional network, our eccentric senses of humor, and our mutual love for non-English creative projects. On the queer side of things, I’ve devoted a major chunk of my college life to Cornell’s LGBTQ+ community. I have the luxury of going home during the holidays and having a family that loves and supports my various identities. I recognize that this is a privilege and so I’ve worked endlessly to give my peers the same level of love. I founded the Queer and Asian Society as a safe space for queer and questioning Asian-Pacific Islander students; worked on community building projects in my many roles on the Haven executive board; founded “The Dear Queer Cousin Project” as a way to support students during school breaks; helped to coordinate and publicize major events like IvyQ and Filthy/Gorgeous; and used my GLAAD Ambassador network to kick start queer-creative projects, performances, and publications. 

What, if any, research projects did you participate in at Cornell?

As amusing as it may sound, I’ve been studying feminism in horror movies for the past three years. How are bodies filmed, portrayed, and treated? Who looks at whom? What are the visceral and psychological effects on the moviegoer? How has the genre “progressed"? This research started off as a short paper assignment in a sophomore year class on Violent Femmes, became a more tangible topic through courses in Film Theory, LGBTQ+ History, and Psychoanalytic Theory, and has gone on to become my honors thesis. While my friends laughed at the idea of spending one's college years analyzing B-rated cinema, my professors — in departments ranging from comparative literature to English to gender studies to anthropology to Romance and Asian studies — lauded my research and pushed me to think more critically about my understandings of media theory, intersectionality, and transnational feminism. My thesis has all of their fingerprints on it and I am so grateful for their patience during office hours and impromptu coffee chats and late night frantic emails about how I “just saw this new horror movie and it was great but it also kills all of my research, help ahhhh!!!” They treated me like a scholar from day one, and it was their trust in my abilities that concretized my commitment to academia.

If you were to offer advice to an incoming first-year student, what would you say?

Make a list of ways to de-stress. During those awful points in the semester (prelim or midterm-paper time!!!), refer back to this list. For reference, my list includes: buy an orange chicken burrito bowl from Terrace and don't forget to ask for guacamole; check out a novel from the New & Noteworthy section at Olin Library; purchase ice cream from the Dairy Bar; watch a movie at Cornell Cinema, order popcorn, and ask for “extra, extra, extra" butter and salt; splurge at Nasties and use your BRBs to buy a soda and snacks and ice cream and more snacks and revel in the glory that will eventually become an awful stomachache; go to the gym, blast that playlist, and just start running. Remember that mental health is a super important part of surviving (and thriving) in college. If you need to cry or rant or just laugh, reach out to friends or any of Cornell’s numerous resources. Build yourself a healthy and reliable support network from day one and never be embarrassed to ask for help.

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		 Chirstopher-james Llego