Reading in Tamagawa Garden

Gabriel Young

Gabriel Young, Essay Contest Winner in the First Year, ENGL 125 Category, 2022-2023

Gabriel Young

Gabriel Young is entering his second year of English courses. Reading and writing are two of his greatest interests, perhaps because Gabriel finds it “fascinating to look at just how much literature reflects and impacts human cultures.” While he is most drawn to literature and creative writing, Gabriel is also very interested in the zoology and paleontology, and enjoys getting out and enjoying the natural world.

The class that led to his award-winning essay -- ENGL 125: Topics in Literature, with Professor Bryn Skibo – might have been tailor made for his interests. It provided Gabriel an opportunity to explore where the lines between human and animal, nature and culture, cross and blur. In his essay, “Hybridity and Performativity: Different Approaches on Human Nature Through Human-Animal Hybrids in Science Fiction,” he explores what it means to be human in The Island of Doctor Moreau, by H.G. Wells, and Nathan Adler’s “Abacus.” An avid reader of Sci-fi, Gabriel found “Nathan Adler's approach to the topic, as … an Indigenous and queer author,” most intriguing. While noting their profoundly different approaches to the question, he argues that both texts conclude that “humanity is ultimately performative.” His essay is a careful examination of how humans use perceptions of the Other to help construct and perform a sense of self.

Gabriel’s top three recommendations, for their “layered, clever, and unique” stories, are Jurassic Park (1993), Nope (2022), and Severance (2022). His advice for fellow students looking for a successful and humane semester? “Read ahead, think about what your text is telling you both explicitly and implicitly, and most importantly, take care of yourself. It's easy to get burnt out over the semester, and I find that pacing yourself and putting importance on your mental health goes a long way.”