Sam Peterson: Prize for Best Undergraduate Work in Sexuality Studies

Tell us about your project.

My hour-long, one-man multi-media performance project, F to M to Octopus, grew from my honors thesis in Communication Studies, “Squid Elasticity:  A Deeper Dive into the Realm of Hormonal ‘Transition’ with Testosterone.” I use the octopus as personal imaginary and a real model of how we might reconceive ourselves and others in ways that are expansive, elastic, and playful. Octopus offers accessible ingress into the very personal realm of transitioning from gender to gender.” During its two-week run at Swain hall’s Studio Six, F to M to Octopus played to full houses, accolades, and standing ovations.

What courses had the most impact on your undergraduate career?

I’ve been able to be an out transguy at UNC-CH in part because Sexuality Studies has opened the minds of faculty and students regarding the varieties of human experience! Knowledge is power, and so is having a voice. As an artist, my intellectual canvas could have been limited or even censured. I have found intellectual community and inspiration from my Sexuality Studies classes.In the Communications Department, my classes were structured so that each one built atop its predecessor in brilliant ways. Cultural Studies and Critical Theory have been invaluable as a way of framing performance meaningfully. My independent studies with Joseph Megel were tremendously fruitful; I couldn’t have written or performed F to M to Octopus without his dramaturgical edits and his willingness to help me extend as a live performer. All my Comm studies professors have been generous with their time and invested in my scholarship beyond the call of duty. Remarkable.

What’s next for you?

I’m rewriting and rebuilding the show: 28 percent more octopus! I’ll continue to push my transspecies/transgender agenda; I’m thinking about kinship in new, energizing ways and I hope to continue my exploration in graduate school here at Carolina.