Graduate Drew Lyness shares his experiences of American Studies Graduate Drew Lyness shares his experiences of American Studies

Drew Lyness

Graduated: BA American and English Literature
Currently: Academic, teaching at Ohio State University

Attracted to study by the excellent reputation of the American Studies courses on offer at UEA, and the impressive array of study abroad institutions, Drew graduated from the BA American and English Literature degree in 2006.

Could you give a little information about your career to date?
After graduating from UEA, I attended the University of Sheffield and completed my Master's in Print Journalism. However, my real interest was in continuing my investigations into American social inequality, which I had started during my third year at UEA when I was living in New Mexico. During my final year in Norwich, I won an essay prize from the British Association of American Studies taken from my dissertation on attitudes towards homelessness in Albuquerque, and I received the BAAS Teaching Fellowship to undertake a Master's in American Studies at the University of Wyoming. Here, I taught at university level for the first time, and wrote my first one act play, Body of an American. In 2009 I entered the interdisciplinary department of Comparative Cultural Studies at the Ohio State University in Columbus, where I have now advanced through my PhD coursework and final candidacy exams. Whilst at OSU I have been teaching my own classes in cultural studies, critical thinking, race, social justice and the humanities, which is something I greatly enjoy. I have also spent my summers back out in Wyoming, teaching and advising in a high school programme for low income students.

What was studying American and English literature at UEA like?
UEA was a really exciting place to study as an undergraduate student. The faculty are some of the leading researchers and teachers in their fields, and brought together a diverse range of scholars and interests from around the world. Seminars were challenging, and I enjoyed the interdisciplinary nature of studying at UEA which remains quite cutting edge – students are able to experiment with classes from outside of their focused degree which makes for a far more fulfilling education. There was always a great atmosphere around the University, and I had fantastic advisers who encouraged me to attend conferences with them, join professional organisations, and enter essay competitions which have lead to my trajectory in academia today.

Why did you pick this course?
I had already spent a year living in the US as an exchange student, and had developed an interest in American cultural history and knew UEA's reputation as a leading institution in this field. The opportunity to spend a year abroad at a truly impressive array of institutions was also very attractive.

What did you think about your lecturers, teaching and the facilities?
We started with larger lectures, which was a good way to build a common base and academic community across the American Studies degree programmes. We then splintered into much more specialised interests and smaller discussion classes, which was a rewarding way to learn. I had some great teachers and a lot of the faculty are very respected in their fields. I really appreciated the academic freedom and the chances I had to explore new interests as I developed them, and after UEA I really couldn't imagine learning any other way.

How has your course helped you in your career so far?
I've stayed in academia, which has lead to an array of teaching jobs that I believe the material and teaching styles I was exposed to at UEA prepared me very well for. I still teach texts I was introduced to at UEA, and enjoy strong professional connections with the staff who taught me during my undergraduate years.