It’s time for Round 3 of the Public Texts personality profiles, and this time I’ve invaded the privacy of none other than my supervisor, Kelly McGuire. I was pretty excited to see Kelly’s answers, because she’s honestly one of the sweetest, most playful and thoughtful people that I’ve had the privilege of working with. She’s also ridiculously smart, but that goes without saying—in fact, she’ll be teaching part of the Public Texts core course next year (I’m a little jealous of next year’s cohort, not going to lie). Yet perhaps one of the most significant things that I’ve taken away from my studies with Kelly (specifically in her wicked awesome Plague Narratives class) is the fact that I need to buy a bunker out in a secret, isolated location STAT, so that when the inevitable humankind-ending virus hits (zombies? a face-melting disease? whatever), I have a place to hide and survive. I’ll invite Kelly too because I like her so much. You can see why in her answers below:
So what’s keeping you busy lately?
Teaching, research, rambunctious toddler… I recently completed my book and am now researching a new project on plague narratives and public health in eighteenth-century literature.
Describe your perfect day. Feel free to be creative, i.e. does Ryan Gosling show up at your front door?
Let’s see, my daughter lets me sleep in late but not so late that we lose the morning, then we breakfast at the Planet Bakery and take a walk along the river with our lab, Cairo, before teleporting to San Marino, where we spend a glorious hour in the gardens of the Huntington, play squash somewhere with someone, have pizza at the Vancouver Public Library (the best curried potato & peas pizza around), take in a baseball game at Wrigley Field, and flake out in the evening on a random Greek isle (again, as a technology that I would assume wouldn’t leave a carbon footprint, teleportation is integral to this fantasy).
You’re handed a free ticket to anywhere in the world. Where do you go, and why?
San Francisco: husband, ocean, City Lights, a vegetarian restaurant called Greens, and the Giants.
What are the last three books that you read? Did you enjoy them?
Judith Butler et al, The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere. Actually, I’m in the midst of working my way this collection of essays, but am intrigued so far and can’t wait to get back to it when classes end.
Marina Warner, Stranger Magic. It was quite riveting. I loved what she had to say about the reception of One Thousand and One Nights in eighteenth-century England.
Suzanne Collins, Hunger Games. I read this at the prompting of a young friend and, yes, I have to say that I enjoyed it and hope to put it on my popular fiction syllabus next year along with the Japanese Manga, Battle Royale.
Name your top three favourite films. Be honest 🙂
Off the top of my head, I would have to say:
Do the Right Thing
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
What kind of music do you like? Do you have any favourite artists/groups?
I seem to gravitate to melancholy yet whimsical stuff by groups like Death Cab for Cutie and Belle & Sebastian, as well as indie and alternative groups like Arcade Fire and The Smiths. Lauryn Hill also gets a lot of play, and I adore Beethoven.
Yes yes YES to all of the above. Lauryn Hill, come back. We miss you.
What do you think is the most valuable and/or unique aspect of the Public Texts program?
The students. Every year since the program was launched, each cohort has consisted of a delightful and eclectic blend of people with widely varying interests, talents, backgrounds, and fantastic projects.
Choose three words to summarize your own experiences as a graduate student.
Angst, doubt, excitement. A fairly intense experience, all in all.
Any advice for those currently pursuing their own graduate degree?
Give yourself time to experiment, play, and explore. Trust that the pieces will fall into place when they need to.
The experience can be isolating, so try to find an outlet, preferably a social one. Mine was playing third base each summer and occasionally in the fall on my department’s softball team, the Jane Errors.
And finally: if you could have any superpower, what would it be, and why?
Time travel: a historian’s dream. But I would have to be able to travel into the future too, just for kicks.