60 Seconds With Katie Barnett

“What has been your most memorable career moment so far?”

Probably passing my viva and getting a job on the same day, although I can’t say I remember much about it, other than the celebratory nachos. (There were a lot of nachos.)

Other than that – hosting the BAAS postgraduate conference in 2011. Lots of great people, lots of fascinating research, and a disproportionate amount of time spent worrying about tea urns and chocolate digestives. Continue reading

A Relatable Past? Early America on the Small Screen

Do readers need to relate to historical figures in order to understand Early American literature and history? Is it important to connect with the personalities encountered from the past?

Hannah Murray explores these questions in relation to the recent cluster of Early America-inspired television shows. Murray discusses Sleepy Hollow (2013), American Horror Story: Coven (2013), Turn: Washington’s Spies (2014) and Salem (2014). Continue reading

Book Review: Atheists in America, edited by Melanie E. Brewster

Brewster’s collection is filled with sorrowful disclosures of inequality, existential torment legitimated by biblical rhetoric and background, and ultimately a sense of overcoming from its eclectic grouping of contributors. The common thread of endurance binds the experiences of these ‘Atheists in America’. This collection informs the reader of the stigma and deep-rooted suspicion which exists in many parts of the United States, often those one would expect to be receptive of minority identities. It is a timely reminder of the value, virtues and antecedents of rational thinking and the humanistic endeavour which can arise from it. Continue reading

60 Seconds With Alex Bryne

What has been your most memorable career moment so far?

“I would have to say that it was when I found out I had been granted funding for my PhD. I remember feeling relieved that I was going to be able to support myself financially during my PhD and it made me think that I might actually have the skills and qualities required to become a historian. I was in such a state of disbelief that I had to email the School to confirm that they had offered the funding to the correct applicant!” Continue reading

60 Seconds With Antonia Mackay

How did you come to your current area of research?

“When I started my Masters dissertation, I was already writing papers for a module on American Literature which I had found incredibly stimulating. I decided to write down a list of all the books I had read in my lifetime that I had found most enjoyable and the list strangely emerged as one featuring almost exclusively Cold War writers.” Continue reading

Patricia Highsmith’s ‘Authentic’ American and the Performative Subject in ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’ (1955)

‘Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley (1955) conflates the Cold War debate over what it means to be an ‘authentic’ American. It begins to suggest something unnerving about the state of bodies during this period, that they were something other than what they seemed. This is a time in American history that demanded a visible, and conformist identity. One that was single, collective and unanimous, and could distinguish ‘them’ from ‘us’. Highsmith’s work of a bloodthirsty murderer who assumes the guise and identity of his victims, takes on an importance that is not only political, but also troubling.’ Continue reading

60 Seconds With Iain Williams

If you could time-travel to observe one moment in the history of America, where would you go?

“So many possibilities! I think I’d have to travel back a couple of hundred years and visit Yosemite Valley, without having seen it in photographs first. That would be pretty special. Failing that, Hill Valley in 1955 to see Marty McFly play ‘Johnny B. Goode’ for the first time.” Continue reading

Pills, Politics, and Movie Magic: Big Pharma, the FDA, and the Dallas Buyers Club

The 1980s was a time when the regulation of Big Pharma got twisted, turned, and pulled upside down by politicians, consumer groups, and drug industry leaders. Of course, at the centre of the pills and politics tug-of-war was the Food and Drug Administration, an independent government agency that was constantly under pressure. The AIDS crisis raised the stakes even higher: for people who needed special, experimental HIV/AIDS drugs like Ron Woodroof, and for regulators, who sought to carry out their duties in a professional manner. Was the FDA perfect? Certainly not. But was the FDA a cardboard villain, as the movie suggests? Definitely, no. Continue reading