New Adventures in Lincoln

So, a few thoughts on Lincoln over in England, where I interviewed for the Lectureship in 21st Century literature earlier on this week…

The Brayford Pool and Lincoln Cathedral

The Brayford Pool and Lincoln Cathedral

The city of Lincoln seems lovely, in many ways a kind of an English Galway. It doesn’t have the sea, but it has the Brayford Pool, a naturally occurring lake on the River Witham which was used as a port by the Romans (“Romans!”). The university is built right alongside it, with people mooring their houseboats and barges on the edge of the campus. What I saw of the rest of Lincoln also seemed great, with a large pedestrianised core surrounded by a wealth of old buildings, bridges, and so on. Like Galway, it seemed to be a city the size of the town, with much Viking and Medieval heritage to colour its identity. The train station and the cinema are in the centre of town too, which is always nice.

Some additional observations on Lincoln as a city:

  • Lincoln Central seems to be a redress of the Stirling train station set.
  • The waterfront along the Brayford pool was nice and modern on the town side and borderline lovely on the Uni side. There’s a swan population. So, again, Galwayesque
  • There’s a very decently sized Waterstones there. It’s no Charlie Byrne’s, but it’s nothing to sniff at either.
  • In all, the city was about two and a half hours travel time from London, including the time spent waiting for my connecting train. I guess it’s also easy to travel from it to Sheffield, Durham, and Edinburgh.

On the presentation/interview then…

The H.R. girl I was dealing with mentioned, darkly, that there had been ‘a lot of applications’; and she said this in a way which suggested she had been the one to go through them all. She also paid me the kind of compliment which only an academic could be pleased with: ‘I really like your slides’!

The presentation went very well, I think. It was to a panel of lecturers from the English and History Departments, which of course suited me perfectly. They definitely connected with a lot of what I was saying (‘I’m exhausted after that,’ one of them joked) and the Q&A session which followed was very productive. Very interesting people, like the man who wanted ‘to take back video games because they’re narrative. They belong to us!’

The interview panel which followed was, in the manner of these things, filled with the senior academics, the MA Directors, the Head (no, not the Face of Boe), the Dean, and so on. And, it has to be said, they were really nice people. In fact, the experience underlined how belligerent my last interview experience in England had been (not the academics, mind, but the higher-ups with their ‘I don’t care what it’s about, how many pages is it?’ nonsense). The Lincoln interview was extremely positive, and though the more I think about it the more I reckon I won’t be offered the job, I am very pleased with how it went. They all asked the kind of questions which let me talk about my interests and my future projects. They were very pleased with my review work (unlike the last England interview: ‘You’re very productive with these short pieces’; ‘Thank you’; ‘No, that wasn’t a compliment’). They also seemed very receptive to my thoughts on engaging with people outside the ‘ivory tower’ and were very happy to hear about recent creative successes too (‘Oh, that wouldn’t be on your CV then, no? I’ll just write it in’).

A couple of other comments:

  • Lincoln has a Faculty of Media, Humanities and Technology, which is a interesting mix, isn’t it?
  • It was possible to have a few laughs with the people here, which for me is an essential. Dean: ‘How do you make time for everything?’; Me: ‘Get up an hour earlier in the morning and you’ll get anything done’. Dean: ‘I must try that’.
  • There was probably one person on the interview panel who didn’t ‘get me’. But that’s always going to be the case. In any event, there were probably one or two more who didn’t let on as much, ha!

In all then, an experience I’m very pleased with. I’m not expecting an offer – I’d never allow myself to do that – but if one does come I could certainly see myself living and working in Lincoln (which, again, I couldn’t really in that school I interviewed for back in April).

I don’t expect to hear back from them before late next week at the earliest, but, sure, we’ll see…

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