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Adam Sharp

BA (Hons) American Studies

Ba Hons American Studies Student Adam SharpYou have travelled around the world quite a bit and lived in some interesting locales. Could you tell us a little about your background and how you became interested in American Studies?

I was quite restless for a while and have lived, for varying lengths of time, in Melbourne, Sydney, Queensland, the Channel Islands, the Canary Islands, and North America. Throughout my teens I also had the unusual summer job of stilt walker for a street theatre company and got to see a lot of Europe that way. My compulsion to escape to the farthest corners of the world can probably be explained by the fact that I grew up in Manchester. (I love Manchester really).

As for how I became interested in American Studies, it was initially purely for research for future books I plan to write. My previous books have all been set in Britain, addressing British topics (English music primarily), but I have always loved American literature and have been interested in writing American historical fiction for some time. When I heard Northumbria was establishing an American Studies program I figured going back to university would be a more enjoyable, and sociable, way to do the research than doing it alone in my gloomy office, which it has been.

What might you tell incoming students about living in the north east and Newcastle?

Newcastle is small and intimate enough to regularly bump into people you know and to not get lost (even I have never managed that and my sense of direction is terrible) yet at the same time there is always plenty going on, such as the Vamos! Festival or the SummerTyne Americana Festival, and there seems to be a new and interesting bar opening every other week. Newcastle is also much more culturally diverse than it used to be, which is great (unless you’re a Daily Mail reader) and adds to the vibrancy of the place. I think it is a wonderful time to be here.

What research and writing have you undertaken in your American Studies modules that have sparked your interests?

The module on Abraham Lincoln was fascinating. In fact, I developed an unhealthy obsession with him that I’ll probably have to seek professional help for at some point. There have been lots of other topics aside from Lincoln that have sparked my interest though. I was expecting to mostly be interested in the literature side of things coming into the course, and I have indeed enjoyed studying it, especially Mark Twain and F. Scott Fitzgerald and the poetry of Walt Whitman and short fiction of Flannery O’Connor, but the history topics have sparked my interest just as much, if not more, particularly the Civil War, the Western Frontier, slavery, and the Civil Rights Movement. Some of the popular culture studies, such as Avatar and South Park, have been a lot of fun too.

Do you have any advice for someone who is considering choosing American Studies at Northumbria?

It is a particularly good course if you are not a hundred per cent sure which subject you want to do because you get to sample a bit of everything in the first year (as they do in American universities, which I think is a really good system) – literature, history, politics, film etc. – and then tailor the degree to your main interests in the second and third years with the many module options you have. I would say, though, that anyone who has an interest in American life and culture in general would get a lot out of it. And if you admire Abraham Lincoln all your dreams will come true.

What are your future plans beyond the degree programme?

I will continue writing and publishing my own projects but I have enjoyed the American Studies course so much, and being back at university in general, that I would love to carry on studying longer, if I can juggle it all – I’m not a very good multi-tasker – and do a Masters degree and even a PhD (on Abraham Lincoln, obviously).

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