who i am
carina stopenski (they/them) is a born and bred pittsburgher, living in southwestern pennsylvania their whole life. some of their many identifiers include radical information activist, body horror aficionado, unapologetic dyke, and kitchen witch. they dedicate themself to the accrual of knowledge, whether it be through formal education, consumption of literature, or cultural engagement through activism. carina currently works as a teen librarian in the carnegie library system, a freelance humanities educator for middle schoolers, and an independent researcher in a variety of literary and media fields. outside of their professional endeavors, carina loves to play video games, attend concerts, cook for their friends and family, and meditate in nature. they currently reside on the east end of pittsburgh, pa and will probably keep roots in the city forever.
as long as they can remember, carina has been dedicated to writing as a career path. when they were small, they used to staple together pages of construction paper, chronicling their "stories," which even as the incomprehensible ramblings of a child, served as a foundation for their dedication for narrative storytelling. carina dabbles in a variety of creative forms, but primarily works in poetry, literary horror, and experimental transgender fiction. in their poetry, carina draws from personal experiences, queer embodiment, religious trauma, and ecofeminist perspectives. they believe our environments, whether they are physical or sociocultural, serve as a tremendous inspiration for poetic voice. carina implements experimental structure and hybrid narration as an execution of this practice.
in their fiction writing, carina follows the gothic tradition and can best categorize their narratives as "unhinged queers and dangerous transformation." they love body horror, bizarro, and dark fiction, and so often these genres are viewed as sleaze and not taken seriously. by combining these niche horror genres with a poetic, literary voice, carina hopes to elevate grossness and gore, showcasing the beauty that hides beneath the surface of the grotesque. when they write realistic fiction, carina only highlights queer and transgender protagonists, and they believe it is imperative to show all the ugly imperfections that come with queerness while still depicting joy. carina derives great pleasure writing liminal narratives and blending between worlds and liminalities.
some of their poetry influences include andrea gibson, j. jennifer espinoza, kayleb rae candrilli, sam sax, neil hilborn, danez smith, and franny choi.
some of their fiction influences include eric larocca, torrey peters, imogen binnie, casey plett, jeanne thornton, and joseph fink.
carina is a chronic academic and is more than happy to learn about any subject, but their primary research interests include horror studies, ludology, animation, information activism, and queer theory. on a more specific level, their recent focuses have centered on the erotic grotesque in horror media, metanarrative and experimental diegesis in video games, sex in dating simulators, and abjection's relation to body horror, torture films, and monster studies. some of their recent conference presentations have centered on subjects such as extradiegetic narratives in project salvato's horror video game doki doki literature club!, monstrous lovers in sex-based games, and fragmented memory as a narrative technique in charlie kaufman's film adapation of iain reid's novel i'm thinking of ending things. most recently, carina's article "exploring mutilation: women, affect, and the body horror genre" was published by sic : journal of literature, culture, and literary translation. in this paper, they propose a foil to the trope of the final girl, the female mutilator, and discuss the implications of female antiheroes that do the torturing themselves rather than being the one tortured, and what this says for body horror as a feminist genre. currently, carina has several personal research projects in process, primarily focusing on queer theory, information science, and multimedia studies.
some of carina's greatest inspirations in their humanities research include julia kristeva, barbara creed, jack halberstam, xavier aldana reyes, bo ruberg, adrienne shaw, leslie feinberg, and susan stryker.
in their information sciences research, carina draws from scholars such as sanford berman, kj rawson, cait mckinney, marika cifor, amber billey, kc councilor, and emily drabinski.
as a queer, autistic, disabled adult with adhd, carina knows how difficult the world can be to navigate when you struggle with feeling accepted or seen by the media assigned in traditional curriculums. to end that cycle, they elevate students regardless of their divergences, mental illnesses, or other possible hindrances or marginalizing factors. they prioritize diverse narratives and take a gentle approach in literary analysis that allows all students to thrive and grow at their own pace.
carina focuses on creative writing, literary theory, and media analysis in their pedagogy, but also will work flexibly with students on editing, paper structure, citation help, and information literacy. they especially enjoy exploring popular culture through television, film, and video game studies, as well as socratic discussion on current trends in literature, media, and other humanities-based avenues.
carina takes a holistic approach to writing and teaching, and truly believes in the healing power of writing, reading, and honest critical analysis. they think that young people especially are some of the most creative, innovative people in the world and deserve space to explore their imagination, and carina's educational spaces provides a safe environment for students to do such.