Andrew Loman teaches and writes about nineteenth century American literature, but also makes frequent scholarly forays into the worlds of film, theatre, and graphic novels. Originally hailing from Calgary, he received his undergraduate degree from the University of Victoria and his MA and PhD from Queens University. He was hired by the Department of English in 2006.
The first week of the PhD program. My MA was a bad experience (see 4, below), and I spent two years licking my wounds and picking up odd research jobs around Vancouver before I decided to return. I wasn’t sure I’d made the right decision until I started my courses. It was like slipping into a warm bath.
2. What was your worst grad school experience?
The last year or so of the PhD program was tough. My program had stretched to six years: friends were graduating; funding had dried up; our beater finally died; and there was no clear end in sight to my dissertation. I spent one summer unable to pay rent, so I squatted in friends’ abandoned apartments while they went on to bright and promising academic lives. A sense that my grad school roll-of-the-dice had turned up snake’s eyes was pretty overwhelming. On the bright side, the post-fellowship grad school diet is radically slimming. (Self-pity isn’t, though. Alas.)
3. What was the place outside your home/apartment where you spent the most time?
I loitered in a lot of cafes, longing to eat the pastries.
4. What text/book did you do in grad school that you never, ever want to encounter again?
I’ve had an aversion to Middle-English Romance since performing abysmally – disastrously, Ragnarokally – in a course on the subject in my MA. My aversion is born of shame. But I still have Larry D. Benson’s edition of the Stanzaic Morte Arthur and the Alliterative Morte Arthur on my bookshelf, and someday I’ll crack the spine again and see if it time has washed that soil. “Ragnarokally,” by the way, is a perfectly respectable coinage, and I dedicate it to my colleague Bill Schipper, who took the same course from the same professor many years earlier, and who did very well in it, he tells me.
I’m not fond of H.D., either; I sold Helen in Egypt to a used bookstore in Vancouver, and when the cashier gave me a surprising sum for it, telling me that I had good books, I stared at him incredulously. I threw the money in his face and said, “Your aesthetic judgement is so terrible that I won’t accept your money!” And then I changed my mind, grabbed the thirty-five cents, and ran.
5. What was your grad school comfort food?
My family spent a year in Seattle while my wife worked on her MFA at the University of Washington. Whenever we were feeling irresponsible, we’d order a gorgonzola, pear, and walnut pizza from a local gourmet pizzeria: I know the combination sounds suspect, but it was perfect. I still miss that pizza; I was back in Seattle in January and discovered with deep woe (well, with some regret) that it’s no longer on the menu. There’s no respect for tradition anywhere.