Me and my grant

Mhairi McFarlane has written a fantastic parody of vapid celebrity interviews that may sound familiar to any of you who read women’s magazines:

So, I say, was it a difficult decision to choose to play Eva Braun, as she’s a controversial figure? She suddenly looks serious. “Obviously people have their views on what she did but really I just approached her as a character, as a story. You know, before anything else she was just a woman, in love with a man, trying to make a life for herself in Nazi Germany.” Did she do much research? “I avoided reading anything about her because I didn’t want my performance to be affected by other peoples’ opinions. You know, I wanted to get to the emotional truth. That’s your job, as an actor.”

I’d like to think that I’m slightly more concerned about the implications of representing the Nazi past than McFarlane’s fictional interviewee… but you can judge for yourself. Penny Sarchet interviewed me about my AHRC fellowship for Research Fortnightly, and you can read it here, though unfortunately only if you’re a subscriber to Research Fortnightly or you work for a university that subscribes. Some extracts:

Of the seven new fellows, two others also conduct research related to the Holocaust. Is this a coincidence, or is this a particularly strong field right now?

I think it is particularly strong and Britain has strength in it. [Other fellows] Stuart Taberner, from my own institution, and Jean Boase-Beier, from the University of East Anglia, are really world-leading scholars in the field. And I think there has also been a very strong development of memory studies, that’s been an academic trend over the past 10 years, so I think there is a cultural moment, certainly.

Do you have any advice for recent PhD graduates about pursuing a languages research career?

I think applying for research fellowships is the best way to go. I’ve been a teaching fellow myself, I haven’t had a research fellowship up until now, and that’s worked for me. But I do think it is really useful having a period of one or two years to really focus on your research, take that critical step away from your PhD research, get your book out, and start thinking about your next project.