Next up in our Meet the Committee series is Kate Smyth, one of our Postgraduate and Early Career reps…


How did you end up where you are now?

I did my BA in English and Psychology at NUI Galway and an MA in Writing there, and then came to KS picTrinity to do the M.Phil in Literatures of the Americas. I did my dissertation on Toni Morrison, but was reading Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood at that time too. I took a couple of years out to work and teach English as a foreign language, and to figure out what my PhD research would look like. It took quite a bit of reading and note-making but I pursued my interest in Munro and Atwood, discovered Mavis Gallant, decided to focus on the short story form, and started my project in 2014. I’m about halfway through now, managed to get IRC funding, and things are trucking along pretty well.

Tell us a little bit about your current research interests?

I work on the short fiction of Gallant, Munro, and Atwood, focusing specifically on the post-war period, and on issues of belonging, identity, and gender in their stories. I’m interested in issues to do with home and place, as well as the social and cultural construction of identity and the ways in which this can change over time and through movement from one place to another.

Favourite book/film/album?

Mavis Gallant’s From the Fifteenth District / Lost in Translation / The Last Shadow Puppets, The Age of the Understatement

Universities don’t exist. What job would you have instead?

Professional dog minder

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

Judi Dench

How did you get involved with the IAAS?

Having attended a couple of the conferences, I was recruited to become an IAAS PG rep. And I’m glad I was because I’ve met some cool and interesting people as a result.

In an alternate universe to question 4, you have somehow ended up establishing your own university. What’s the motto?

“Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus”

We’re all going to call around this evening. What’s for dinner?

Burgers (I’ve gotten pretty good at making them).

Who is your hero, academic or otherwise?

Elif Shafak, Turkish writer and journalist.

Free space! You have about 200 words to plug something dear to your heart/announce plans to take over the universe/tell us about the grand plans you have as a member of the committee…

I highly encourage any postgrads interested in American studies to join the IAAS. We’re good craic and you can learn a lot and meet a lot of interesting people. It’s an important part of the postgrad process to include yourself in your academic community, and we welcome any and all postgrads to come along to events or give us a shout with questions. As for my grand future plans, right now I’m focussing on finishing this thesis chapter and trying not to get distracted by re-watching episodes of That 70’s Show.