British Association for American Studies


60 Seconds with Anna Maguire

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. 

For the next week we will be spending time with the postgraduate BAAS conference organisers Shima Jalal Kamali,  Sima Jalal Kamali and Anna Maguire, just in time for the conference on the 15 November.


Where are you right now?

On the Isle of Wight.

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

To witness Louisa May Alcott’s school lessons with Henry David Thoreau.

Who would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?

Toni Morrison, Jane Smiley, Barbara Kingsolver, Elaine Showalter, and Joyce Carol Oates (all for some help with my research while nibbling canapés), and I’d throw in my friend, who is a former Dutch National Air Guitar Champion, to liven things up a bit.

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

The Vintage Book of American Women Writers, edited by Elaine Showalter.

What has been your most memorable career moment so far?

Giving up my first career in order to start my PhD.

What advice would you give to early career academics?

Join the union.

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

The BAAS Postgraduate conference, of course!

How did you come to your current area of research?

A combined love of nature and American women’s fiction.  Plus I was spurred on by reading a newspaper article debating the Great American Novel, in which no women were mentioned.

What profession other than academia would you like to attempt?

I harbour a fantasy of having some as yet undiscovered talent such as gliding, dog grooming, or extreme ironing (yes, apparently this is a sport).  Sadly, I am still waiting for my moment.

What book is currently on your bedside table?

High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now or Never by Barbara Kingsolver, and A Nation Under our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration by Steven Hahn.

Be honest; how long has it been there?

Kingsolver –  just a couple of days: it’s a great read. Hahn –  a bit longer: it is fascinating but a big book!

What’s in your fridge right now?

Some unusual purple broccoli (which looks like a purple cauliflower), fresh from the island.  On the less virtuous side, half an easter egg (don’t ask).