British Association for American Studies


60 Seconds With Christina Brennan

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. 

Christina Brennan (University of Manchester) has joined the USSO editorial team as Social Media Assistant Editor.

Where are you right now?

I’m in transit. I’m on a train back from the city of Lincoln (after a morning in the bookshops).

Who would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?

They’d all be authors or journalists. I’d invite Olivia Manning, author of Fortunes of War and a favourite living British author like Sarah Waters.

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

If it’s just one, I’d bring John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley – it has a nice, eccentric dog in it.

What has been your most memorable career moment so far?

Opening the AHRC funding email after the prolonged process of drafting and submission was a wonderful moment.

What advice would you give to early career academics?

Since I’m only a first year PhD student I’m not sure I’m in the position to offer advice to others yet. I’d tell anyone to be selective about advice they take on board. People have lots different ideas of what you should be doing during your PhD and I’m sure that continues into the early career stage. Talk to as many people and colleagues as possible; be skeptical of advice which seems too optimistic but critical of demoralising advice dressed up as practicality.

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

I’m potentially heading to Big Sky, Montana for the Western Literature Association conference in late September. And a hiking weekend in the Lake District next month.

What profession other than academia would you like to attempt?

I’d like to say a journalist. Although I’m not sure my slim experience matches this ambition. I once had a comedy horoscope column in a student newspaper. It involved a really bad photo of me and I had to come up with twelve light-hearted forecasts every single week. I don’t think it did too much for my career prospects or my street cred.

What book is currently on your bedside table?

I’ve just started John L. Hess’ memoir My Times: A Memoir of Dissent. It’s an account of what The New York Times didn’t report during the Vietnam War. I also have the latest Stephen King.

Be honest; how long has it been there?

I’ve been nibbling through Hess for a few months but the novel has been there a couple of weeks or so