Ron Callan recently retired from the School of English, Drama and Film at UCD where he was a lecturer in American Literature and general legend for many years. He is also a leading light in the IAAS, has held various committee positions, was the editor of the Irish Journal of American Studies, and is the first President of the IAAS.
How did you end up where you are now?
The result of a remarkably persistent ageing process, and experiences as a student and/or teacher in Trinity College Dublin, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA, University College Cork and University College Dublin.
Tell us a little bit about your current research interests?
After attending a fine panel at the IAAS/BAAS conference, I am rereading the work of Henry David Thoreau.
Book: Endless list of the influential ones include, Edwards’s Narrative, Spring and All, Transport of Summer, Moore’s Collected Poems, Moby Dick, Scarlet Letter, Wings of the Dove, The Crying of Lot 49, Beloved, Libra, Infinite Jest, and on and on it goes!
Film: My reaction to my first movie, a Three Stooges film, was a protest—I walked out because they were “too rough.” Still managed to find my way back to the Drumcondra Grand Cinema regularly. At one time, I could say that I had seen every movie showing in Dublin. Still recall the thrill of Vanishing Point, The Graduate, French Connection, Sophie’s Choice, and Raising Arizona as part of a long list.
Music: The excitement of the 1960s and Butch Moore and the Capitol Showband, the Memories, the Johnstons (included Paul Brady) and the Vampires … and the Beatles, Beach Boys, Bob and the Band, Mountain, Joni, Leonard, and on and on through Bruce to Gorgeous Colours and Oliver Cole indicate a line of interest.
Universities don’t exist. What job would you have instead?
I’d be a semi-professional footballer for Drumcondra in the days when expenses were inexpensive and Tolka Park drew capacity crowds.
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
President Michael D. Higgins (average camera work and we could be body-doubles)
How did you get involved with the IAAS?
Peggy O’Brien’s and Stephen Matterson’s encouragement and direction.
In an alternate universe to question 4, you have somehow ended up establishing your own university. What’s the motto?
Feet on ground; head in books!
We’re all going to call around this evening. What’s for dinner?
Cheddar cheese sandwiches on wholemeal bread and Coca Cola; tea and chocolate for dessert!
Who is your hero, academic or otherwise?
Now this roll is endless as I marvel at the lives of my family and extended family, friends, former colleagues, and former students, and reflect on their immense influences on me. Without the slightest doubt, I can apply the term “hero” to an extensive list.