Department of American and Canadian Studies

Hannah McHardie

Hannah is a second-year American and Canadian Studies (Study Abroad) BA student. She discusses why she loves her course, and how it's so relevant to today's world.

What made you choose your course? 

"I was very stuck on what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to go to uni. I’d really enjoyed doing American history and American politics at A level, so I just looked up ‘American history’ in UCAS and it came up with this whole degree of American Studies!

I was really intrigued and interested that I could study this one topic I’m really interested in as my whole degree. I then saw there were all these different strands and areas you can look at, more than just the history side. Also the study abroad was an incredible opportunity."

Hannah McHardie, wearing a white and blue stripy top, and smiling into the camera

What skills have you gained from your course so far?

"Definitely discussion and argument; being able to structure arguments and see both sides of different discussions.

A lot of the conversations we have in class are very relevant to today. We’ve done a lot on Black Lives Matter and the confederate statues, the confederate flag. It’s being able to bring in the context of history, and see how America as a whole affects these decisions, then how that affects the rest of the world.

As much as, as a degree, it doesn’t take you on a strict career path, it does provide a lot of these abilities and key thinking skills which help with problem-solving. It’s also really interesting to learn about!"  

How do you choose your optional modules?

"This year, I picked 'Immigration and Ethnicity in the United Sates', 'America's Borders: Culture at the Limit', 'American Violence: A History' and 'African American History and Culture' as my optional modules. I’m really interested in looking at race in America and the history behind that, as it is so relevant today.

The African American history module was really interesting, to look at that specific side of African American culture. Rather than just looking at black lives in America, it’s looking at actually what black lives in America means, from their own perspective.

My favourite module was the 'America's Borders' one. It’s really interesting to see the comparison between Canada and Mexico and how the different economies and cultures clash, and how colonisation has impacted these two areas and still does today. It’s a whole topic that I’d never looked into before that I found really interesting to learn about."

What's been your favourite assignment?

"In a first-year culture studies module, we were looking at female representation in television. We looked at 'Girls', looking at middle-class white women and their representation, then we looked at 'Orange is the New Black'

For 'Orange is the New Black', we looked more at the intersectionality and intersectional rights of black women in America. So we were looking at the justice system and how race affects that, and how that is represented through television. The assignment was to analyse a scene. I picked an episode of 'Orange is the New Black', linking it to the idea of intersectional rights."

I really enjoyed analysing film and techniques and looking at the context. I didn’t think it was something I’d be able to do with this degree, but I’ve found I’m enjoying it and am actually quite good at it!

What is your dissertation going to be on?

"I’m not sure yet! I’m looking at lots of different things. Maybe something to do with the Mexico US border. Maybe abortion rights, due to the recent Roe vs Wade decision. Or maybe black representation in TV shows. I’m deciding if I want to take a historical, political or cultural stance, as that will decide which topic I go for."

Any staff shout-outs? 

"Steph Lewthwaite. She’s so lovely and always up for helping. I had her for two of my modules this year and I really appreciate the way she teaches and runs the seminars. She’s always really interested to hear what students are saying. 

I found that with Anthony Hutchison as well. His seminar structures are really good at creating that discussion between students, rather than it just being a talk from the seminar tutor. It’s good to be encouraged to have your own independent discussions."

What are your career plans after your graduate?

"I’m not 100%. I don’t really want to sign up to one thing and stick to that forever. That scares me more than not knowing! I like the idea of trying lots of different things. Currently I think my plan after I graduate is to possibly move home and try lots of different things, and do some internships.

I’m looking into maybe teaching, I’m even thinking of finance, as I did my Year 12 work experience at an accountancy firm and quite enjoyed that. It’s just nice I can have my options open. And I think it’s quite good doing a niche course like mine, because it’s a talking point in interviews."

Anything else to add? 

It’s a really fun degree! I enjoy even just doing my reading and turning up to seminars and having discussions because it’s something that I am passionate about.

"It makes doing your degree a lot easier, because you’re wanting to learn everything! And especially when it’s so relevant. If this is something you’re passionate about, you’ll absolutely love it."

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Study American and Canadian studies

Department of American and Canadian Studies

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Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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