British Association for American Studies


60 Seconds With Aaron DeRosa

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. 

In the past you may have spent 60 seconds with the Executive Committee of the British Association for American Studies (BAAS), the organisers of the 2014 postgraduate BAAS conference, our first contributors, and before that the lovely (ahem) U. S. Studies Online Editorial team. To usher in a new series of 60 seconds interviews for 2015 we have invited contemporary war literature experts Assistant Professor Aaron DeRosa (California State Polytechnic University), Assistant Professor Peter Molin (Rutgers University) and Associate Professor Patrick Deer (New York University) to tell us a little bit more about themselves and their expertise.

DeRosa, Molin and Deer will lead our January #Bookhour discussion on Phil Klay’s REDEPLOYMENT on the 27th January 2015, 9-10pm GMT. 


Where are you right now?

The NSA can tell you, I’m sure.

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

As a child I was always fascinated by the lost colony of Roanoke. And Don DeLillo writes this epic scene of the Bobby Thomson “Shot Heard Round the World” homerun in 1951 that still grips me. But I’m going to go with something more abstract. I think it would be amazing to be among the first humans to look out over the Grand Canyon. The world opening up under your feet, it must have been terrifying.

Who would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?

Everyone in Greenwich Village in the 1950s and 1960s.

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

Go big or go home… Collected Works of William Faulkner.

What has been your most memorable career moment so far?

I’ve been very fortunate, but there’s nothing quite like that first article acceptance to tell you you may have a shot at this. And shortly before that, the first time a professor, John Duvall in my case, told me I had an idea worth publishing.

What advice would you give to early career academics?

Academia involves sacrifices: time, pride, money, and sometimes even your “way of life.” Find ways to stay motivated (by researching your interests), organized (taking copious notes), and productive (maintain a schedule that fits with your priorities for success). I don’t know people who accidentally fall into successful careers anymore.

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

This year at the American Literature Association conference I’ll be co-chairing two panels on Contemporary War Literature in preparation for a Modern Fiction Studies anthology I’m putting together with Stacey Peebles. We have some excellent panellists lined up and I’m excited to hear the papers. Plus Boston is a blast. Though to be perfectly honest, right now all I can think about is when my Bed, Bath, and Beyond shipment will arrive, as I’m trying to reclaim space in my miniscule kitchen and I’m too excited to sleep.

How did you come to your current area of research?

My research began with trauma and 9/11, and branched into wars, both hot and cold. Now I study perpetual war and the Homeland Security State, and thus questions of sovereignty, temporality, resistance, and optimism.

What profession other than academia would you like to attempt?

Although my partner tells me I’m not funny, stand-up comedy. Or woodworking. I used to repair string instruments and I miss the raw, callused fingers, Gordon Lightfoot playing on the radio, and the smell of freshly-sanded wood.

What book is currently on your bedside table?

Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story, Jodi Melamed’s Represent and Destroy, and an issue of Harper’s.

Be honest; how long has it been there?

Six months, two months, and four months. Does a holiday break vacation count? I feel like that’s unfair…