Carnegie Mellon University

Ariel Hoffmaier


Ariel HoffmaierMajors: Creative Writing and Ethics, History & Public Policy
Minor: Professional Writing
Adviser: Sharon Dilworth
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A Trove of Connections: Reimagining LGBT Identity Through Multimedia Stories

My thesis will be a series of linked, realistic, literary fiction stories related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) identity and infused with multimedia elements. These stories will be connected to one another both by recurring characters that will form a “six-degrees-of-separation” web of social relationships, and by the overarching theme of LGBT identity. Multimedia elements will further emphasize this theme of interconnectedness, allowing the reader to experience the wonder of discovery not only in how the characters' lives intersect but also in where those characters' printed stories transition into non-print mediums. Ultimately, I would like to explore this space between traditional fiction and digital media, a largely untouched space with rich potential for exposing a reader to unexpected depths in a narrative.

As far as my research has shown, there are only a few published collections of linked stories all related to queer identity, and even fewer feature exclusively queer protagonists. Further, multimedia fiction is a fledging genre as yet confined mostly to textbooks, children’s books and down-market genre novels. A literary multimedia book focused on LGBT individuals does not yet appear to exist. On one level, my collection will provide queer people of all ages with much needed representation that is not tragic, stereotyped or devoted entirely to their sexuality. On a more trailblazing level, it will tap into the enormous potential of multimedia to enhance and even revolutionize how stories can be told.

Bio

I have spent much of my young adult life manufacturing new ways to combine my dual passions for art and social justice. In my creative writing major, I have gained extensive experience relevant to this project in fiction workshops, where I have written numerous short stories and screenplays featuring queer characters and storylines. In my Ethics, History & Public Policy major, I have similarly targeted my coursework toward LGBT rights and other social justice issues. Other interdisciplinary courses have allowed me to build my film, photography and other multimedia skills.

In my extracurricular life, I have been a proud member of ALLIES, Carnegie Mellon’s only LGBT support and activism group, since my freshman year. I recently had a blast performing in MORF’s production of “The Vagina Monologues,” which features multiple monologues from the perspectives of diverse queer women. During my two-year tenure as forum editor for The Tartan, I wrote and edited dozens of editorials on social justice issues. I also helped to build the social media presence of Carnegie Mellon's Office of Admissions as their communications & social media ambassador, creating text, photo and video posts for their assorted channels. In my spare time, I enjoy baking anything chocolate and accompanying myself singing on the acoustic guitar.