Singer, Writer Soro ’14 Creating Performance Based on Lesbian Presence in WWII Army Corps

Jackie Soro '14 considers herself a " feminist with an activist consciousness and a knack for critical theory."

Jackie Soro ’14 considers herself a ” feminist with an activist consciousness and a knack for critical theory.” She is double majoring in feminist, gender and sexuality studies and history.

In this issue of The Wesleyan Connection, we speak with Jacqueline “Jackie” Soro from the Class of 2014.

Q: Jackie, where are you from and what brought you to Wesleyan?

A: I’m from Oak Park, Illinois, just outside of Chicago — one of the few Midwesterners on campus (I think there are more international students than Midwesterners, so I’m a rare bird)! I came to Wesleyan because I knew I wanted to attend a small, community-centered school somewhere other than the Midwest, and also because I decided that I didn’t want to go to art school. I wanted a place where I could make art and not sacrifice my academic interests in the process of artmaking (and vice versa). At Wesleyan, I can do both! So, it seemed like a great fit for me – and it’s worked out wonderfully.

Q: What are you majoring in and why?

Jackie Soro works at the Center for the Arts Box Office.

Jackie Soro works at the Center for the Arts Box Office. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

A: I am a feminist, gender and sexuality studies and history double major. Another reason I chose Wesleyan, actually, is because of the flexibility of the curriculum — without a restrictive core curriculum, you can really create your own path of study, and that’s exactly what I’ve done. I’m a history major because history been my favorite subject since elementary school; there’s just something so fascinating about tracing the histories of global patterns of influence. And I chose FGSS because the politics and poetics of gender and sexuality (to use a very Wesleyan phrase) are my passion. I am a feminist with an activist consciousness and a knack for critical theory, so I love the compassion and rigor of the FGSS major.

Q: Tell us about your senior performance art project.

A: My performance is one part performance art, two parts dance, three parts playtime and one part improvisation. It’s interdisciplinary, just like my course of study has been; it’s a physical expression of the research I have done on history of lesbian presence in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II. I want to take some of the concepts I’ve been grappling with on paper and transform them into a kind of dance, and ask questions about how humans communicate on a nonverbal plane(s), and how the gaze of others shape our physical bodies. Basically, the performance will include a lot of questions, a few answers, some more questions, singing, dancing, interactive genderbending, and face paint.

Q: What are your plans after graduating this May?

A: Up in the air! I know I’m going to spend the summer in one of my favorite places in the world – Circle Pines Center in the middle-of-nowhere, Michigan, working as a counselor for the kids’ social justice summer camp there. I’ve been involved at Circle Pines as a camper, counselor, musician, and volunteer since I was 13, and I think it’s the perfect place for me to return to and gather my thoughts after graduation.

Q: How long have you worked for the Center for the Arts Box Office? What do you like about this experience?

A: I’ve worked at the Box Office since the beginning of my sophomore year, and to be frank, it’s the best job on campus. Campus life moves at such a fast pace that it can sometimes be difficult to get it together to attend CFA events, so I feel really lucky to be aware of the dozens and dozens of amazing concerts that the CFA sponsors each year. (AND I get into a lot of them for free if I sell tickets at the door!). I also have the coolest boss. Underclasspeople, this is the place to apply.

Q: Tell us about your musical interests.

A: I sing in The New Group, known lovingly as Wesleyan’s second-oldest and sexiest co-ed a cappella group–this is my fourth year with them! I have also been and am in a few campus bands and singing groups, and perform pretty regularly. I’m also involved with the women’s music co-op, which works to bring visibility and safe space to female performers in a male-dominated music scene. I’m actually going to start blogging for Wesleying (the campus blog) about that very issue–I’m excited to get the word out to a wider audience.

Q: What other activities are you involved in?

Soro worked with the Wes, Divest! campaign and helped create a recent exhibit behind College Row.

Soro worked with the Wes, Divest! campaign and helped create a recent exhibit behind College Row.

A: I’m on the staff of Hermes literary magazine–we’re bringing it back from the ashes of a year-and-a-half hiatus with new poetry, essays, art, and fresh perspectives on campus life. We’re non-hierarchical, self-run and self-published, and part of our mission is to provide a venue for quieter voices on a loud campus. I’ve also worked with the Wes, Divest! campaign, which is a group advocating for the university to follow other campuses in divesting from fossil fuels and environmentally harmful extraction practices. You may have seen students walking around with pieces of orange felt pinned to their bags in solidarity (orange is the color of divestment campaigns across the country) or the “This is Why–Divest” posters I made floating around campus.

Q: What will you miss most about Wesleyan?

A: I will miss the incredible reality of living within in a square mile with some of the most brilliant, driven, creative people that I have ever met. I sometimes take for granted that I am surrounded by such high levels of talent, thought, and just plain love. Wesleyan is home to an intense, colorful student body, and I will miss being a part of that colorful rush.