British Association for American Studies


60 Seconds With Rachael Mclennan

The U.S. Studies Online 60 Seconds interview feature offers a short and informal introduction to a postgraduate, academic or non-academic specialist working in the American and Canadian Studies field or a related American and Canadian Studies association. 

Last month you spent 60 seconds with the U. S. Studies Online Editorial team. This month we have invited the Executive Committee of the British Association for American Studies, our parent organisation, to tell us a little bit more about themselves, their interests, the way they made it into academia and, crucially, their top advice for new academics.


Where are you right now?

Working in my (rather hot, very untidy) office.

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

So many. But it would have been amazing to be in Washington when Obama became President (that’s pretty recent, I know…).

 Who would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?

A random and abbreviated list: Jennifer Aniston, Michelle Obama, Michael J. Fox, Jeffrey Eugenides, Joyce Carol Oates.

You’re stranded on a desert island, but luckily you pre-empted it. Which book do you take with you?

A difficult one! But maybe Jeffrey Eugenides’s Middlesex. So moving, clever and beautifully written (and lengthy, which would be important).

What has been your most memorable career moment so far?

Probably being told I’d got my current post!

What advice would you give to early career academics?

Don’t work too hard…

What is the most exciting thing you have planned in the next six months?

I’m hoping to get in a lot of book-writing.

How did you come to your current area of research?

I’m working on a book about representations of Anne Frank in American literature and culture, and I got interested in it through my Ph.D work on adolescence in American fiction. I’ve always been fascinated by Frank and her Diary, and so when I spotted references to Frank in some of the novels about adolescence, I got curious.

What profession other than academia would you like to attempt?

When I was younger I wanted to write novels.

What book is currently on your bedside table?

Elizabeth Strout’s The Burgess Boys. It’s brilliant.

Be honest; how long has it been there?

A couple of weeks.

What’s in your fridge right now?

Salad. Did I mention it’s hot?

About the Author

Rachael Mclennan is a lecturer in American Literature and Culture in the School of American Studies at the University of East Anglia. In broad terms, her research and teaching activities focus on a wide range of interdisciplinary postwar and contemporary texts, from texts published in the 1950s to texts published in the twenty-first century. Her Ph.D study at the University of Glasgow examined first-person narratives of female adolescence in American fiction published after 1950. She has published several articles on this area, and her monograph, Developing Figures: Adolescence, America and Postwar Fiction, was published by Palgrave in 2009.