James Hussey is a PhD candidate in the School of English at Trinity College Dublin, and was recently elected as one of our Postgraduate and Early Career Representatives.

How did you end up where you are now?

I completed my B.A. (Hons) in Trinity College Dublin in 2013 and, after taking Prof. Stephen Matterson’s “Hawthorne and Melville” course during my final year, I decided that these ostensibly gloomy nineteenth century writers had a pretty good view of things. This inspired me to opt for Trinity’s MPhil in Literatures of the Americas. After trying desperately to stay within the confines of New England I realised there was only one thing for it, and, here I am, over three years later, working towards a PhD on the life and career of Nathaniel Hawthorne, for whom solitude, sherry and good cigars often took the place of companions or friends. Apart from the first of these I haven’t quite got the hang of the latter pair.

Tell us a little bit about your current research interests?

I’m in the penultimate year of a PhD that researches the influence of Jacksonian individualism on the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne. My contention is that Hawthorne’s career and writings were informed and influenced by a societal-acceptance of individualism that transcended mere ethical concerns, and took on identifying qualities for Americans of the era. I have published on Faulkner and Hawthorne respectively, and have contributed to a wide variety of panels, largely on nineteenth century American literature, at international conferences, including the MLA and ALA. Other interests include baseball literature and culture, Thomas Pynchon, Ralph Waldo Emerson and the lyrics of Hank Williams.

Favourite book/film/album?

My favourite book is The Sickness Unto Death by Søren Kierkegaard. I’m not a fancy, big city lawyer usually one for big claims or statements, but Kierkegaard is my vote for best prose writer of the nineteenth century. This work, quite apart from its philosophical implications, is written with wondrous dexterity. It’s a fascinating look at the self from an interesting, unique perspective.

My favourite film is Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I never get tired of Bill S. Preston Esq., Ted “Theodore” Logan or Rufus, not to mention the fact that “strange things are afoot at the Circle K”. Is it the best film ever? Absolutely not, but it’s unapologetically my favourite.

There are a couple of albums I could choose as a favourite (Ok Computer, Songs for the Deaf, Sea Change), but I’ll go against most critical belief and all sense of public taste or decency and say Be Here Now. Sure, “All Around the World” is nearly 10 minutes long and they probably should have eased up on the arguments (and cocaine), but it was initially considered the most ambitious British album since Sgt. Peppers, and we can all get behind ambition right?

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

A baseball writer. The “thrill of the grass” as W.P. Kinsella put it. The chance to get paid to do something you love is rare, so to be paid to watch something I love is unimaginable. A beat writer for the Yankees, couple of books on the historical tidbits that the game accumulates. I reckon I’d settle for that.

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

If I was to answer this seriously and ask for a sympathetic portrayal I would go with Casey Affleck. He’s been my favourite actor for years, and after Manchester by the Sea I feel like his next great acting challenge could be that of a PhD candidate/academic.

If Casey passed up on this opportunity to impress the Academy, then a mid-fifties version of Robert Mitchum would do just fine, maybe without the “Love” and “Hate” tattoos on his knuckles.

How did you get involved with the IAAS?

Throughout my MPhil programme in Trinity, the IAAS was advertised as an excellent way to meet like-minded, academically-inclined postgraduate students at symposia, the annual conference, and various other occasions during the year. I, of course, promptly ignored all advertisements and spent the following year, the first of my PhD, wondering at my own foolishness. From the start of my doctorate onwards, I began to engage with the aforementioned events and learned that this organisation provided a friendly, not-at-all sarcastic view of academia, one that encouraged scholarship and participation within a community of emerging students and established professors.

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

“There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness.” I was tempted to quote Dante, but Melville will do fine – just to welcome the undergraduates on the right note.

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

Chili con carne. Various dried and fresh chillies, lots of spice, and no kidney beans (blasphemy!).

Who is your hero, academic or otherwise?

I’ll go with Alessandro del Piero. The only time I have ever cried over a “celebrity” was when he injured his ACL against Udinese in November 1998. I can tell you where I was, what I had just eaten for dinner and other strange little details of which traumatic incidents tend to provoke remembrance. My 7 year old brain, attempting to process the Channel 4 commentary, genuinely believed that football was about to end.

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…

Well, apart from telling everyone to get on the Jackson-as-comparison train before Trump gets impeached/resigns/couldn’t be bothered, I would implore all students and teachers of American Studies to explore the heterogeneity of approaches that the IAAS brings to an already varied field.

Symposia, conferences, guest lectures, workshops, funding applications; not only is this a list of rejected 1960’s Batman sound effects, it is also an indication of the breadth of opportunity provided by this tireless association. I must also take this chance to ask people to visit and re-visit this website, which is updated regularly and is, truly, a one-stop shop for all things American Studies. It is a resource that cannot be underestimated.

Look out for news about upcoming postgraduate events over the next year, as your representatives, Sarah and I are looking forward to putting together an exciting, fruitful symposium that caters for the diversity of students applying themselves to the study of the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave. Of course, we also encourage study of South and Central America, I just got a little hyped there.

Sarah Cullen is a PhD candidate in the School of English at Trinity College Dublin, and was recently elected as one of our Postgraduate and Early Career Representatives

How did you end up where you are now?

I started my BA in English and Drama in UCD in 2009 and went straight into UCD’s American Literature Masters once I’d finished in 2012. At the end of my BA there were a few different areas I was interested in pursuing, but what pointed me towards American Literature was that it was the last year one particular individual would be teaching the course (need I say it? It was of course Ron Callan). During my MA the nineteenth-century class (taught by our own Dara Downey) tickled my fancy despite the fact that up till then I had been fairly set on twentieth-century fiction, and as a result I began thinking tentatively about a nineteenth-century PhD proposal even as I was handing in my twentieth-century MA thesis. Then, after a couple of years out in the real world (just enough time for me to realise what a cold, dead wasteland it is) I took the plunge in September 2015 and here I am, still technically alive, Trinity PhD candidate and IAAS Postgrad Rep in 2017!

Tell us a little bit about your current research interests?

I’m researching Night Studies in Nineteenth-Century American Literature. I’m examining ways in which representations of night were used to challenge ideas regarding race and gender, by focusing on authors like Charles Brockden Brown, Harriet Jacobs, Frederick Douglass, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Part of that is also looking at how the advent of electricity changed attitudes towards the night throughout the century. I’m also currently writing a chapter on Frederick Douglass for a collection entitled Surveillance, Race, Culture.

Favourite book/film/album?

I don’t know I have favourites, but I’m going to say Paradise by Toni Morrison. I feel like it’s a book I would never get tired of reading. (The fact that it was also the focus of my WTM Riches essay is…pretty nice, I suppose!)

My favourite movie might be Jacques Taiti’s Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot because who doesn’t want to holiday in a sleepy seaside French village in the fifties?

For favourite album I’ll just say anything by Fleetwood Mac because that’s my study soundtrack.

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

I would rather like to be an artist. I enjoy painting and it’s something that I hope I will be able to keep up alongside more academic pursuits!

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

I’ve been told I look like Julia Stiles a couple of times. Her heady mix of Shakespearean high school escapades and international espionage please me, so I say yes.

How did you get involved with the IAAS?

I was lucky enough to win the IAAS’s own WTM Riches Essay prize as a Masters student back in 2013, and they haven’t left me alone since! But seriously, the IAAS was my way into Ireland’s academic community even when I was between degrees, as they were always very welcoming at their conferences. Getting opportunities to present as an independent scholar was one of the key factors in encouraging me to return to start a PhD.

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

Hmm, what’s the motto from Animal House?

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

Oh good grief. Probably a roast? I feel like that’s achievable. And by achievable I mean I will burn it and you’ll all be disappointed and no one will ever call around again.

Who is your hero, academic or otherwise?

This is probably way too grandiose, but everything I’ve been reading about Frederick Douglass makes me very teary-eyed. Even the POTUS has noticed him now! I truly believe we can expect a bright future from Douglass.

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 recognise that James and myself have a lot to live up to in follow on after Rosemary, Katie and Kate as Postgraduate Reps, and we’re very much looking forward to the challenge! We’ve a few new ideas to incorporate into future postgraduate symposia while trying to maintain the high standard of excellence that’s come before. As a result I would of course encourage anyone who’s interested in American studies in any shape or form to join the association – the more diverse the interests the better! And on a slightly more personal note, I would particularly like to encourage anyone who is interested to enter the WTM Riches Essay competition. It’s a great way of getting involved with a great bunch of lads, and a wonderful way to start off your publishing career too!

David Coughlan is a Lecturer in English at the University of Limerick, and is the Executive Editor of the Irish Journal of American Studies

DCHow did you end up where you are now? 

I did a BA in English and Philosophy and an MPhil at University College Cork, and I did my PhD in Goldsmiths College, University of London. After that, I was an English Lecturer in Chuo University, Tokyo, for three years, was unemployed for a year, was a Teaching Assistant in the University of Limerick for a year, and was a Postdoctoral Fellow in University College Cork for a year. I returned to the University of Limerick in 2008 as a Lecturer in English, and I’ve been here ever since.

Tell us a little bit about your current research interests?

Currently, I have a book coming out, called Ghost Writing in Contemporary American Fiction. The blurb says, “This book examines representations of the specter in American twentieth- and twenty-first-century fiction. David Coughlan’s innovative structure incorporates chapters on Paul Auster, Don DeLillo, Toni Morrison, Marilynne Robinson, and Philip Roth, alternating with shorter sections that connect the significance of the ghost to the philosophy of Jacques Derrida, particularly within the context of his 1993 text Specters of Marx. Together, these accounts of phantoms, shadows, haunts, spirit, the death sentence, and hospitality provide a compelling theoretical context in which to read contemporary US literature. Ghost Writing in Contemporary American Fiction argues at every stage that there is no self, no relation to the other, no love, no home, no mourning, no future, no trace of life without the return of the specter or, that is, without ghost writing.”

Favourite book/film/album?

Don DeLillo’s The Body Artist, which is a masterpiece; Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums, and not just for Owen Wilson as Cormac McCarthy; and Sufjan Stevens’s Carrie & Lowell, which I saw him perform live in the Kings Theatre, Brooklyn, unforgettably.

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

In this alternative universe, I’d be aide to US President Jennifer Daly.

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

Mark Ruffalo, apparently.

How did you get involved with the IAAS?

For a long time, I was “involved” with the IAAS without realising it. In my second year in UCC, I took Introduction to American Literature with Sue Norton, now in DIT and a former treasurer of the IAAS. In my third year, I took Twentieth-Century Fiction with Ron Callan, former Chair and current President Emeritus of the IAAS. In Goldsmiths, I tutored on Modern American Fiction when the lecturer was Philip McGowan, former Chair and current EAAS Representative of the IAAS. So the IAAS has been there at every stage of my life in American Studies. But it wasn’t until 2012 that I attended my first IAAS conference and got properly involved – so properly involved that we hosted the conference in UL the following year.

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

“To learn to live finally” (Derrida, Specters of Marx xvii).

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

Tonight? Let’s eat out! Or there’s leftover curry?

Who is your hero, academic or otherwise?

Academic: Derrida. Otherwise: Spider-Man.

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’m on the committee as the Executive Editor of the Irish Journal of American Studies, the journal of the IAAS. The journal first appeared in 1992, edited by W. T. M. Riches (after whom the IAAS essay prize is now named) and Stephen Matterson. It included articles by Milton Cantor and Steve Ickringill and a tribute to Alan Graham (a founding member of the IAAS), and it published the first Alan Graham Memorial Lecture, delivered by his good friend George Shepperson. The journal has, since its inception, been at the heart of American Studies scholarship on this island even as it has published work from around the world, including an essay by Angela Davis and an interview with John Updike. The journal has also seen a number of changes, going online in 2009 and, more recently, adopting a rolling publication format. I’m proud to be in a position now to continue the extraordinary work of the previous editors and to ensure that this vital journal remains the place to publish on American Studies in Ireland.

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.

roncallanHow 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.

Favourite book/film/album?

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.

Alan Gibbs is a Lecturer in American Literature at UCC’s School of English, and is also Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in the College of Arts. He was elected to the position of Chair of the IAAS at the AGM in April 2016

 

P1040942 (00000002)How did you end up where you are now?

Following an attempted (but, in 1988, aborted) undergrad degree in what was then Coventry Polytechnic, I moved to Bristol. After a few years there, I went back into academia via a part-time English degree at the University of the West of England (UWE), which featured a generous smattering of American literature, including Henry Roth’s novel, Call It Sleep (1934). Before I started my English Masters at UWE, I read Roth’s more recent novels, and thought this would make a good topic for my MA dissertation. Turns out it also made a decent topic for a PhD, in the School of American Studies at the University of Nottingham. Got my PhD in 2005, and after a year’s pretty intensive temporary teaching at Nottingham, was fortunate enough to land my current job in the School of English, University College Cork.

Tell us a little bit about your current research interests?

As with the previous monograph, Contemporary American Trauma Narratives (Edinburgh University Press, 2014, but still available at a generous price), I’m looking at contemporary America, but now broadening the scope a bit to include film, television, etc. I’ve also switched focus a little, and am now investigating manifestations of naturalism in contemporary American culture, in writers such as Cormac McCarthy, Lionel Shriver, Philipp Meyer, and Jess Walter, but also films including All Is Lost and There Will Be Blood, plus TV series such as The Shield and Breaking Bad. I’m trying to link these manifestations of naturalism with prevailing cultural and political discourse in post-9/11 America, in particular the widespread notion of victimhood.

Favourite book/film/album?

In order not to be boring and choose Moby Dick, I’ll say Jorge Luis Borges’ endlessly fascinating Collected Fictions. I can never decide on a favourite film between Vertigo, Twelve Angry Men, and King of Comedy, but if pushed would probably choose the first. Favourite album revolves around several choices, but Loveless by My Bloody Valentine is always right up there, closely followed by any number of Sonic Youth, Low, or Wedding Present albums.

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

I like to think that after a successful professional football career, I’d now have a cosy punditry job. More likely, I’d be a failed writer.

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

After extensive consultation (I asked my wife), Hugh Laurie gets the gig.

How did you get involved with the IAAS?

Same as everyone else: Philip McGowan twisted my arm.

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

“Eruditio in se est finis”, which, Google translate tells me, is Latin for “Learning is an end in itself” (so if it actually means “don’t keep eggs in the fridge”, don’t blame me). Anyway, the point is to debunk the idea that universities exist merely in order to produce trained and compliant consumer-workers.

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

I’m a dab hand at Indian cuisine, and since living in Cork I’ve got good at cooking seafood, so maybe fish curry.

Who is your hero, academic or otherwise?

In personal life, probably the late Prof. Kate Fullbrook, a terrific and generous lecturer in American and postmodernist literature at UWE, who first put me onto Henry Roth. Also Prof. Judie Newman, Head of School, single mother, prolific publisher, and inspirational PhD supervisor at University of Nottingham. As for the more famous, a whole bunch of people, but certainly including Beethoven, Melville, and whoever invented blue cheese, assuming it wasn’t one of them.

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…

My grand plans as incoming Chair of the IAAS involve simply attempting to continue the work of my predecessor. So, look to increase membership of the Association, and in particular to broaden the range of disciplines represented, and to continue looking for ways in which we can help students and early career researchers with funding for research. I’ve yet to work out if this new role gives me any special powers in relation to helping Bristol City get promoted to the Premiership (and subsequently European competition) but, well, it’s early days. I’m also Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in the College of Arts at UCC, and I would see one element of that role as being an advocate against the widespread notion that humanities graduates are at a disadvantage in terms of employability. Quite the contrary: when you actually ask employers they confirm the value of well-rounded individuals with information-processing skills. (And, yes, I am aware there is a tension between this and my answer to question 7, but there it is, I contain multitudes…)

Nerys Young is a Lecturer in American History at the Ulster University and is currently the IAAS’s Treasurer

imageHow did you end up where you are now?

I completed my DPhil in American History at the University of Ulster in 2003. I then taught part-time for quite a few years at both Ulster and Queen’s University Belfast. While working on my DPhil and then teaching part-time, I also worked in the Culture and Arts division of Queen’s University Belfast for ten years and was involved with both the Belfast Festival at Queens and the Queens Film Theatre. I joined Ulster in 2009 as a full-time Lecturer in American History.

Tell us a little bit about your current research interests?

Currently I am researching Virginia Hill Hauser, bag lady for the mob – she’s been described as “dumb like a fox”. She knew and kept some very scary people’s secrets. She was an expert manipulator, not just of the mob but the media and Hollywood too. I think it’s time that there was a history of organised crime article that had a strong female protagonist.

Favourite book/film/album?

Book: A Town Like Alice (Shute)
Film: Ice Cold in Alex
Album: Very Best of Al Green
For completely different answers ask me again tomorrow.

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

Short-order cook. Small menu but done well, with a different blue-plate special every day. Thursdays is meatloaf. Don’t miss Thursdays.

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

I’d like to say Rebel Wilson but for realism it’s definitely Hattie Jacques.

How did you get involved with the IAAS?

I gave a paper at an IAAS conference pre-millennium and was a member for a while but disappeared for a bit. My mentor, Tony Emmerson, then harassed me for a long-time to join again so I did in a low-profile way. Then when he passed I felt it was my duty to get more involved. I attended the AGM in April 2016, blinked and found I had gone from a spectator to an ordinary committee member to the new Treasurer.

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

Per aspera ad astra (Through difficulties to the stars)

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

Well, if it’s Thursday then it’s meatloaf – are you not paying attention? On other days it might be a nice lamb curry or more probably marmite toast. But there’ll be brownies, I promise.

Who is your hero, academic or otherwise?

First person who came into my head was Grizzly Adams but apparently he’s not “real” or a hero. Then I thought of Guy Gibson, a brilliant and courageous WWII bomber pilot, grounded by his superiors due to his propaganda value, and finally struck down on a sneaky night mission by friendly-fire. But I’m going to have to go with my hometown hero, newly crowned double Olympic gold medal winner, Max Whitlock. I find a forward roly-poly quite challenging so Max is definitely a hero to me!

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 am the current IAAS Treasurer and I like to spend money, especially when it is not mine. The IAAS has numerous prizes, early career bursaries, and travel grants, especially for post-graduates, so get entering for these and help me send you the Association’s money!

Jennifer Daly recently completed her PhD at Trinity College Dublin and is the current Secretary of the IAAS

20160809_100307How did you end up where you are now?

I finished my BA at UCD in 2003 and had great plans to keep going in academia after completing the MA in American Literature (also at UCD) in 2004. Then, y’know, I had bills to pay so I worked for a while. Then I got bored of that and went back to do the American Studies MA at the Clinton Institute and had such great plans to continue in academia once I finished that in 2006 except, y’know, plans don’t always work out so I went off and worked in retail/admin/anything that paid for a few years. After many conversations with the legendary Ron Callan, I finally, finally started a PhD in Trinity in 2012. Having just passed my viva in June (hurray!) I can safely say I have no idea where I am.

TL;DR: I took the scenic route.

Tell us a little bit about your current research interests?

Well. My thesis looked at masculinity in American fiction, specifically Richard Yates, Richard Ford, and Jonathan Franzen. It also had stuff on suburbs, and exceptionalism, and identity… so I’ll probably keep going with that for a while because it’s FUN. Outside of that, I also work on Marilynne Robinson, and have always had a soft spot for Presidential speechwriting so might do something on that soon. My thesis for the American Lit MA was on John Steinbeck’s use of the Bible, and my thesis for the American Studies MA was on faith-based initiatives so religious things get a look in quite a bit in terms of what I like to think about as well.

Favourite book/film/album?

Book: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson; The Easter Parade by Richard Yates; Canada by Richard Ford; Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett; The Elements of Style (I’m not even joking).

Film: The Castle (the Australian comedy). Oh! And Submarine. And also It’s A Wonderful Life. Zuzu’s petals get me every time. Also The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, because I’ll never not be amazed by the colours and the costume design and the wallpaper-matching clothes.

Album: Um. I’m going to cheat and say the album I’ve compiled that consists of REM’s entire back catalogue (but not Around the Sun). If I have to base my selection on current heavy rotation, Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear. Or In Rainbows by Radiohead. Or Closing Time by Tom Waits.

I’m bad at picking favourites.

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

Speechwriter. Or baker. Or general organiser of stuff, if that’s even a job.

Failing that I’ll be Donna Moss. Or Donna Paulsen. Basically I’ll be Donna.

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

I was told once I looked like Rachel Weisz. Poor Rachel. So I’ll go with Allison Janney because everyone would just be all like “Oh my God, Allison Janney is SO cool!” and she would win all the awards and I would accidentally become cool as a result.

How did you get involved with the IAAS?

I heard vague rumblings about it in my first run at postgrad work in the early 2000s. I might even have gone to something once. Then it fell off my radar until I started the PhD and my supervisor, Stephen Matterson, made it sound like I would fail at life if I didn’t at least join the association. So I did that, and ended up getting one of the PG bursaries to go to the BAAS postgrad conference in 2012 so I thought that this association knew what it was doing. Then I made the big mistake of going to the AGM at the Limerick conference in 2013, and by virtue of being the only other postgrad in the room besides Rosemary, I got nominated as PG rep, and since 2015 I’ve been the Secretary.

In other news, my term expires next year.

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

We always have time for coffee. But in Latin.

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

I’m not great for the main courses. I could rustle up a nice pie? Or some lasagne? My forte is desserts so maybe we could all go out for lunch then head back to mine and I’ll wheel out a dessert trolley. There’ll be the best lemon and mango cheesecake you’ve ever tasted. Maybe some red velvet cake. And some chocolate cake. Shortbread? Something involving rhubarb. And crumble. Rhubarb crumble. Custard! Basically, send me your cake-based requests and I will provide it.

Who is your hero, academic or otherwise?

Ron. Duh. Or Kate Bush.

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…

Things I’m currently working on include an edited collection for McFarland on Richard Yates (forthcoming in 2017), a special issue of the Irish Journal of American Studies on Marilynne Robinson (also in 2017), and finding a job (insert year here). If you’re interested in any of those things then get in touch!

More to the point, please get involved in the IAAS! In the few years I’ve been involved it has been kind of amazing to see how much it has grown and evolved into something really great. It would be lovely to see that continue with a whole bunch of enthusiastic new people getting involved and bringing exciting new ideas to the table. Tell all your friends, and bring them to events with you, and even if you don’t want to be on the committee send us your ideas anyway. We love a good idea and will always accurately cite our sources.

Tim Groenland recently completed his PhD at Trinity College Dublin and was elected as an Ordinary Committee Member at the AGM last April.

Tim pic July 2016How did you end up where you are now?

After doing an undergraduate degree in UCD I spent several years playing music and working in miscellaneous jobs, many of which involved the provision of customer service relating to products I didn’t understand. I started to feel the pull of serious book-learning again and gravitated back to Belfield to do the MA in American Literature (then run by the incomparable Ron Callan), which was a great, energising experience. This confirmed to me that scholarship was my natural habitat, and I continued on into a PhD in Trinity.

Tell us a little bit about your current research interests?

I’ve just finished that PhD, which studies the editing process in the fiction of Raymond Carver and David Foster Wallace, and am still researching in the same vein to see where it takes me. I’m interested in contemporary US fiction, editors and editing, and everything to do with the institutions and networks involved in literary production. I also worked with a lot of manuscripts and drafts during the last few years, and have become very interested in how literary archives (and writers’ working methods) are changing in the 21st century.

Favourite book/film/album?

I hate to pick favourites since the answers to these questions change every day. But if I’m being packed off to a desert island right now I’ll take Moby-Dick, The Big Lebowski, and Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions.

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

Bass player in an unsuccessful rock band, probably, or apathetic customer service agent. In a better world – writer of tabloid headline puns.

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

Nicolas Cage. The plot would be little more low-key than what he’s used to, but I’m confident he’d enliven the material.

How did you get involved with the IAAS?

Well, the community of Americanists in Ireland is small enough, so it became obvious pretty soon into my PhD that the IAAS was the best place to go to meet them! More specifically, I joined to go to the 2014 conference in Galway and then presented a paper at the postgrad conference later that year. I’ve found the conferences to be a great way to share ideas and get feedback from a supportive and enthusiastic group of people.

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

“Ron serviam.”

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

Some, um, Catcher in the Rye bread to start with. For the main course, a choice of Tortilla Flats, Burrito Cereno, and Lunar Pork (for the vegetarians – Uncle Tom’s Cabbage).

Dessert: why, some Grapes of Wrath of course, and maybe a slice of Tell-Tale Tart?

(Let’s stop there. And if you think these are bad, you should have seen the ones I didn’t use).

Who is your hero, academic or otherwise?

Ron Callan, of course. I thought this would be everyone’s answer.

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’ve just joined the editorial board of the IJAS and am excited to be involved in getting new work published. There’s some intriguing stuff lined up for the near future, and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes in to us next. If you have an essay you’d like to send out into the world, or if you have an idea for a feature that you think might be of interest (an interview, for example) please get in touch! I published an essay of mine there last year, and it’s an excellent way to get your research peer-reviewed and published in an accessible way.

Dara Downey is the Vice Chair of the IAAS, and chair of the prizes subcommittee.

DaraHow did you end up where you are now?

Well, where I am now is still kind of up for grabs, but really it all started with a 2nd year essay during my undergrad degree in English in Trinity, on Nathaniel Hawthore’s The Scarlet Letter and Stephen Crane’s “The Blue Hotel.” It was sort of about American space and fear and gender and, like, stuff, and it was really really hard to write. Anyway, then I started seeing things in the cinema like Sleepy Hollow and Lake Placid, and I realised that the essay contained the germs of a much bigger idea. My PhD (also in Trinity) ended up being on American haunted houses, and my monograph (which came out of a lovely IRC postdoc) is on American women’s ghost stories and material culture, but those initial ideas about space and the settlement of the land have always been a major part of my thinking. Job wise, I’ve worked in Trinity, UCD, Maynooth, St. Pat’s, and Independent Colleges, and in the autumn I’ll be back in Trinity. From there – the world is my lobster!

Tell us a little bit about your current research interests?

I’m currently working on a new monograph on servant and slave figures in American uncanny fiction. It’s going to be in two parts – the first, on the period from before the Civil War to the decline of the servant system (so roughly 1850 to 1930), and the second on neo-Victorian novels like Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea and Morrison’s Beloved that re-imagine the nineteenth century. The focus is on the ways that WASPy masters and mistresses interact with their African-American or Irish-American servants and slaves, and how they position the people they employ as somehow more in tune with the supernatural due to their ethnicity and religious beliefs.

Favourite book/film/album?

Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Elizabeth Hand’s Waking the Moon, and Diana Wynne Jones’ Charmed Life. I also like Moby Dick, though, honest! But mainly Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Buffy fixes everything and is endlessly rewatchable.

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

I’d be a kind of writing guru – not just for people doing academic-y things, but everyone who finds themselves having to write something and is daunted by the task. That, or someone who reads people’s dreams.

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

I’d love to think it’d be someone cool like Janeane Garofalo or Amy Acker, but I’d settle for Rose McIvor (she’s in iZombie) [she said, modestly].

How did you get involved with the IAAS?

I suspect it was Bernice Murphy (one of our committee members) telling me about it in the first year or so of my PhD (she told me about pretty much everything I needed to know at that stage). Anyway, I ended up giving my first conference paper at the postgrad symposium in UCD, and it was a lovely experience (considering I was completely terrified). I got some really useful suggestions for books to read, and met some people who I still know to this day (including our wonderful former Treasurer Tony Emmerson, who sadly is no longer with us, and who treated me like a grown-up when I felt like a total imposter). My memory is hazy, but I seem to have just kept going to things, somehow ended up on the committee (which I really enjoy), and have more or less been on it ever since.

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

“Of,” “which,” and “being” are not your friends. But the Oxford comma is.

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

Er, probably pizza or Thai food from my nice local take-aways. I don’t really cook well with others.

Who is your hero, academic or otherwise?

This is a bit soppy, but my secondary-school English teacher, Mrs Madden, who I was lucky enough to have for Classical Studies and German as well. She really was just the most encouraging, passionate, no-nonsense teacher I’ve ever had, and I don’t think I would be where I am today if I hadn’t been taught by her. Either her or Buffy.

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…

Well, firstly, the Irish Journal of American Studies is a really great, online, open-access, peer-reviewed publication that you should all submit to (I mean send in work, not grovel). We now publish articles individually on an ongoing basis, rather than waiting to group them together into one big issue, which means that your work will be published very quickly. And really, as I hope I’ve conveyed above, the IAAS overall is something that it’s well worth getting involved in. American Studies can get somewhat sidelined in this country, and it’s so helpful to have a community of scholars who can share knowledge and make things happen – you never know where it might take you. Plus we have prizes and bursaries! As Vice Chair of the committee, I’m in charge of the Prizes subcommittee, and giving people money is just the loveliest part of the gig. So check out what we have to offer and apply! (But join first. And submit.)

Rosemary Gallagher is one of our PG reps and is based at NUI Galway.

 

2016-03-18 17.48.44How did you end up where you are now?

I was working in a really cool antiquarian and online bookshop in Galway for a few years (kennys.ie), and though I loved the work I found myself craving a new challenge. I missed talking about books in a really meaningful sense. So I attended a funding workshop, and began the process of applying for a PhD, and lo and behold I got it! (I mean I got accepted, I didn’t get the funding – not until the following year.) My topic was quite a bit broader when I applied, but I talked with the person who was to become my supervisor and honed it in a bit and once I started researching I focussed it even more. It’s pretty surprising to look back at where I started.

Tell us a little bit about your current research interests?

I’m all about the Humour Studies. My research looks at how jokes work in post-World War II American war novels. I am also curious about how jokes function in different cultures, and even outside of literature, so all the recent additions to my “Things to Research When I Finish My PhD” list are on that general theme.

Favourite book/film/album?

Man, picking favourites is tough. Thankfully most of my favourite novels are still by the authors I’m studying. It’d be a toss up between Kurt Vonnegut and Tom Robbins. Do I really have to pick a book? Jeez! Ok. Another Cowgirl with Woodpecker! No, you busted me, that’s three novels smushed together. I’ll be good. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins.

Album: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel

Film: Baz Luhrmann’s Return of the Indiana Jedi and the Raiders of the Field of Dreams Rouge. Don’t give me that look, I picked a novel.

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

Editor of the New York Times Book Review. But only because my accent is too grating to be a Podcaster. I could listen to Roman Mars’ husky voice all day long.

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

Emma Stone? She’s pretty goofy. I’ll aim to grow into Julianne Moore so she can play me in 25 years when you ask me this again. She’ll be 25 years older too but I reckon she could still pull it off.

How did you get involved with the IAAS?

I met Zalfa Feghali at a Postgraduate Conference in 2011 and she introduced me to Philip McGowan, who was then IAAS Chair, at the Manchester BAAS Conference dinner later that academic year. I thought the IAAS didn’t exist anymore, because the website was a bit dated and there didn’t seem to be much happening. Boy was I wrong! Philip set me straight, and around two weeks later I found myself at the IAAS Conference in Cork making new friends every time I turned around. Two weeks and a day later I was on the Committee! We now have a lovely website with lots of information and it’s much easier for new researchers to get involved – you don’t need to go to Manchester for dinner at all at all.

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

In Ron We Trust.

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

I love to cook, so… everything? How do you feel about everything? I bought a balcony-friendly barbecue in Lidl recently so let’s grill up some burgers (I use a spicy sausage meat in my mix for extra flavour), served on home-made burger buns, shrimp in Old Bay Seasoning for the pescatarians (my aunt ships it over from North Carolina), a big salad with my favourite Honey Sesame Dressing and grilled asparagus. Would you mind bringing the potato salad? Thanks, see you at 8.

Who is your hero, academic or otherwise?

Sarah Koenig. I’m going to give her a pass on season two.

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…

As Postgraduate Rep, along with Katie Ahern and Kate Smyth, I’m mostly interested in getting our rookie members more involved. If you’d like to experience what it’s like to be on the committee, help organise a conference, contribute to a journal, or if you have a great idea you’d like some guidance on, get in touch. We can help you set a cunning plan in motion, or we can put you to work, whichever you prefer. You can find me on Twitter: @roe_gal