Why did you choose to go into Academics?
I think really just the enjoyment and the interest that I have for my subject. Just before we began recording we were talking a little bit about taking some time out between undergraduate study and graduate study. I went and worked to save money for a while, and that really put into perspective how much I enjoy reading about history, writing about history, talking about history, and having the chance to do that as a career would be fantastic.
Can you tell us about your experience of doing your PHD at Cambridge?
Yes. Well as you probably saw [when doing research], I did not study at Cambridge for either my undergrad or master’s degree. So there was a lot of adjusting, it was quite a unique place with quite a different approach to things. But from my point of view they have fantastic resources for American History, and I also met some academics there so it was a very important place for American History. So from my point of view, for me that was fantastic. Particularly I had the opportunity at Cambridge to do an exchange year at Yale University on a fellowship and was obviously studying US politics, US History, it was a fantastic opportunity.
What are you currently working on?
My current work is on Lyndon Johnson and his administration’s Latin American policies, with Thomas Mann being Johnson’s main advisor on Latin American issues. It is something of a biography of him combined with a study of Latin American relations in the 1960s in particular. That was my PHD subject and I am currently developing it to a book.
What made you choose to come to the University of Manchester, was it teaching opportunities, research options etc.?
Really the opportunity at Manchester, these aren’t the kind of opportunities that come along very often for Academics. It’s a department that is expanding, that is bringing on people. That is incredibly enticing to an Academic at the moment in the current climate. It was pitched very much as there are no other American historians in the department; I am the first and I think it was a definite decision by the department to increase the options for students. That meant I would have a fair amount of freedom in offering new courses and new modules, so obviously that is extremely appealing having that freedom to offer things that are my own interest, as I am offering a module on Kennedy’s foreign policy this year for third years. I am really just happy to be at an institution like Manchester, one of the leading universities, the support is there for both my research and my teaching.
So are you looking forward to the year?
Definitely, yes. So this week I have been meeting my students for the first time, I have a really nice combination of first years, who I am currently going through a bit of a learning process with them, we are kind of discovering things together, finding out how things work, and then third years who are obviously a lot more with it, understand what is happening, but they have all actually chosen to switch onto my Kennedy module from their other options, so they are all really keen, really enthusiastic, so I am really looking forward to teaching them.