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Marie-Liz Hayton

BA Hon(s) American Studies

What do you like best about the American Studies degree?

The best thing about the degree so far is how well designed it is. All the modules dovetail well. For example, we learn about the history of slavery in “From Sea to Shining Sea,” then we get the more personal and literary elements of slave narratives in “Representing the U.S.,” which informs our broader political view of it in “Events and Icons: Lincoln,” and then this all gives us a good foundation to consider how the repercussions of slavery still exist in “Contemporary America.” Connecting the dots is essential to interdisciplinary study, and showing us how to do it through the course structure itself is brilliant. Good work, Brian and Randall (lecturers on the degree)!

Why did you decide to do American Studies, and why at Northumbria?

I actually chose to study at Northumbria because I used to work here. Seeing how much genuine passion the academic and admin staff had for giving the best possible education inspired me to come back as a student. My old colleagues at Northumbria were head and shoulders above anyone else I’ve ever worked with, and I knew I would be in the best possible hands here.

I was intrigued by the American Studies degree, so I clicked on the description to see what it was all about. Realising that it combined everything that interested me—history, literature, politics, and America in general—I knew that I’d found the course I’d always wanted to do.

What aspects of American culture fascinate you the most?

I absolutely adore American comic books and cartoons. I think they are a fantastic resource for interpreting and illustrating a lot of the stuff we study. For example, Superman can be used as an exploration of the tension between American values and immigrant cultures. Also, I am secretly six, and superheroes are awesome.

What parts of the course have you found most challenging?

Learning how to synthesise the interdisciplinary aspects of the course has been a challenge for me, but the tutors have all offered some great advice about this. Brian Ward ran some fantastic sessions where we all got together as a group to talk about our essays and offer each other suggestions about areas we could expand or focus on.

What advice would you give to someone considering choosing American Studies at Northumbria?

I would strongly advise them to go for it. That, and do the reading, or else risk the wrath of Dr Joe Street!

What are your future plans beyond the degree programme?

My goal is to carry on my studies after my degree and eventually teach it. Either that, or to get a job at Marvel Comics. I am currently looking into doing an internship with them next year, which would be fantastic if I can pull it off.


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