Wonderwork: Titles Worth Your Time


In our “Wonderwork” series, CU Denver students, faculty, staff, and alumni recommend a book, podcast, TV show, movie, and more. which deserves more attention. Our ultimate goal is to promote a more diverse and inclusive book and media culture. To celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month, we’re focusing on works by LGBTQ+ creators or LGBTQ+ issues and experience. Name your favorite Wonderwork by emailing [email protected] or posting to social media with #CUDenverWonderWork.

CU Denver Alum Toby Tegrotenhuis on the postcolonial love poem of Pulitzer Prize winner Natalie Diaz.

Toby Tegrotenhuis

“Natalie Diaz is a queer, Mojave, and Latinx poet, former professional basketball player, and registered member of the Gila River Indian community. “Postcolonial Love Poem” vibrates with a powerful physicality, both of the body and of the earth – which, as Diaz establishes in “The First Water Is the Body”, are one and the same, exploited and politicized simultaneously. .

Diaz reuses government documents and guides written in poems such as “Exhibits from the American Water Museum”. A segment of this poem, titled “Marginalia of the BIA Watermongers Congressional Records”, enacts, “To kill [REDACTED]find the river and slit its throat / Kill [REDACTED] polluting their water with the bodies of their daughters / drowned shattered washed up / on the shores, piece by piece. Water and national identity are inseparable: to kill one is to kill the other.

The body is also a receptacle of love and eroticism, often controlled by white demands but always a place of beauty and adoration. Diaz speakers are constantly praising every part of their beloved’s bodies, from their mouths to their hips. I love these passages from “Wolf OR-7”: “A gray wolf’s shoulders are narrower than a buck’s, / but our shoulder myth began before I knew it, / when I opened my mouth to yours… Within me a pack of wolves came and went / on the hill of my heart. / I too am where I always return – / Her.

“Postcolonial Love Poem” is, among so many other things, a celebration of queer love and a heartfelt ode to the brown bodies that make it possible. This book suffers from love for family, for the land, for lovers, for water – indeed, it overflows with it.

– Toby Tegrotenhuis graduated from CU Denver in the spring of 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in English literature, focusing on poetry and communication. As a student, they edited for CU Denver’s student newspaper The Sentineland served as associate editor of the national literary magazine nickel copper. Toby is a 2022 Lambda Literary Fellow in Poetry; their poems appear or emerge from The Allegheny Review, mountain of glass, Collision Literary Magazine and elsewhere.

CU Denver Associate Professor of English Sarah Hagelin recommended the HBO series Gentleman Jack.

Sarah Hagelin

“Based on The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, ‘Gentleman Jack’ is the new TV show from Sally Wainwright, the British dynamo behind ‘Happy Valley’ and ‘Scott and Bailey.’ The show has everything you want from binge-worthy television humor, heart, and the best use of the fourth wall (the imaginary barrier between a work of fiction and its audience) since the incomparable Fleabag.

Believe me: For pure swoon factor, Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy crossing a drenched field has nothing on Suranne Jones as Ann Lister emerges from the mist towards his secret wife, Ann Walker, with the moors of the Yorkshire behind her.

If you think you didn’t care about the coalfields in the North of England, or the crumbling estates, or the lives of LGBTQ people before those terms entered public conversation, you have another upcoming idea.

It’s funny, sexy, thoughtful and profound. It will leave you laughing, thinking, and growing…in a word, transformed.

-Sarah Hagelin is Associate Professor of English and Acting Director of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado at Denver. She is the author (with Gillian Silverman) of “The New Female Antihero: The Disruptive Women of Twenty-First-Century US Television” (University of Chicago Press, 2022) and “Reel Vulnerability: Power, Pain, and Gender in Contemporary American Film and Television” (Rutgers University Press, 2013).

CU Denver Associate Professor of English Gillian Silverman also recommended the HBO series Gentleman Jack.

Gillian Silverman

“There’s a lot of wonderful new LGBTQ+ content on TV these days, but in my opinion, nothing is as compelling as ‘Gentleman Jack,’ created by Sally Wainwright and now in its second season on HBO. The series follows the historical figure of Anne Lister, a 19th century Englishwoman who is sometimes referred to as “the first modern lesbian”.

Lister was a powerhouse – a charismatic businesswoman who was interested in coal mining and railroads and ran many lesbian businesses before exchanging informal vows with Ann Walker, a wealthy heiress. In the HBO series, Lister is played by the wonderful Suranne Jones, and it’s a treat to watch her drive through the Halifax countryside, pointing her cane, giving orders and generally being a badass. He’s a complicated, flawed character who is an utter joy to watch!”

Gillian Silverman is an Associate Professor of English and Affiliate Professor in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at the University of Colorado Denver. She is also a President’s Teaching Scholar at the University of Colorado. She teaches courses in American literature and culture, critical theory, and gender studies. Her latest book, co-authored with Sarah Hagelin, is “The New Female Antihero: The Disruptive Women of Twenty-First-Century US Television”.(University of Chicago Press, 2022).

Assistant English teacher Andrew Scahillon the award-winning documentary “Flee”.

Andrew Scahill

“‘Flee’, a 2021 Cannes and Sundance award-winning documentary, tells the story of Amin, a queer refugee from Afghanistan, who never shared his story of trauma and survival, even keeping it from his partner of many years. The film uses rotoscoped animation (frame-by-frame tracing over live-action footage) to protect Amin’s identity, and the style of the animation changes and morphs beautifully and haunting to tell his story.

Andrew Scahill, assistant professor of English, specializing in film studies. Her work tends to focus on gender and reception (the audience), with a particular interest in depictions of rebellious youth. He was editorial coordinator for Velvet Light Trapand associate editor forQuarterly Literature/Cinema. It has been published in several journals such asCinema Journal, In Media Res, FLOW, Jump Cut,andPost Scriptum. He is the author of “The Revolting Child in Horror Cinema: Youth Rebellion and Queer Spectatorship” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).


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