British Association for American Studies


60 Seconds with Maria Elena Carpintero Torres-Quevedo

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. 

Maria Elena Carpintero Torres-Quevedo is a PhD candidate in English Literature at the University of Edinburgh and USSO’s new European Relations Editor for 2018-2020.

Where are you right now?

In my room, at my desk.

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

I don’t know that I could pick just one moment, but I would love to experience the political and social shifts of the 1960s.

Who would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?

Isn’t there a saying about how you shouldn’t meet your heroes?

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

Probably Marilynne Robinson’s HousekeepingIt’s short, but every time I reread it feels like the first time again.

What has been your most memorable career moment so far?

Right after my undergraduate degree I got a scholarship that enabled me to go and spend a year taking classes and doing research at Cornell university. That year was a real turning point for me in many ways.

What advice would you give to your younger self (or younger scholars)?

There’d be two, Firstly, your worth as a human has nothing to do with how many hours a day you work or how many words you’ve written lately. Secondly, academia will push you to be competitive, but your best experiences will be collaborative

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

I just received some funding to go and look at Dorothy Allison’s drafts of her novel Bastard Out of Carolina at Duke University over the summer, so I’m pretty excited for that.

How did you come to your current area of research?

My Masters thesis was on women’s coming-of-age stories, and I soon became interested in the similarities between the generic markers and philosophical concerns.

What’s your favourite archive or library?

I’m going to have to go with Belle’s library in Beauty and the Beast—beautiful, sunny, quiet, and full of fiction.

What profession other than academia would you like to attempt?

I think I’d like to be a chef at a small, niche restaurant.

What book is currently on your bedside table?

Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing.

Be honest; how long has it been there?

About a month, through no fault of its own!