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Student Spotlight: Ryan Doan-Nguyen ’25

Portrait of Ryan Doan-Nguyen
Photo by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Ryan Doan-Nguyen ’25 is a joint concentrator in history and literature and in government with a secondary concentration in ethnicity, migration, and rights. He was a Radcliffe Research Partner with Margaret Litvin from September 2021 through May 2022 and is currently working as a research assistant with Lauren Kaminsky on a course titled Queer Archives, which she will teach in the spring.

Queer Archives will offer a broad exploration of queer life in the past, using archival materials from the Schlesinger Library. Students will be looking at materials from important LGBTQ+ activists, such as Pauli Murray, and poets, such as Pat Parker. One of the focuses of the course is “understanding the way our institutions of knowledge are evolving in relation to the increasingly better understanding of queer identity,” says Doan-Nguyen. For example, students will explore how queer identity labels have changed over time and across space. Doan-Nguyen is working on an annotated bibliography of archival materials that will be used to make selections for course materials.

Doan-Nguyen says he originally intended to declare an English concentration, but after working on several projects using collections at the Harvard University Archives and the Schlesinger Library, he “found a calling in materials of the past” and “gained a deeper appreciation for pairing the present and the future with the past.” He says working with archives is a bit like browsing in a great bookstore: “You’re walking through the shelves and something catches your eye that you weren’t even looking for. But it calls to you, and it ends up changing the arc of your life in ways you never would have expected.”

Sam Zuniga-Levy is a writer at Harvard Radcliffe Institute.

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