An Interview with Amy Greenhough
We interview our newest full-time SOWJ English lecturer, Amy Greenhough.
How should we pronounce your name?
My dad says ‘Greenuff’ – but I think it makes more sense to say ‘Greenhoff’ because I’m from the south and there’s an ‘h’. So, I say ‘Greenhoff’. Is that weird?
A little bit… Tell us how you came to work at Falmouth?
I was born in London, lived there for most of my life, did my BA and MA at Kingston and started my PhD there as well because I get on really well with my supervisor and wanted to keep working with him. We [my husband and I] decided we wanted to move to Cornwall when I had my daughter. We moved ten days before she was born. Then I saw an AL job advertised at Falmouth University so I just went for it! My daughter was six weeks old at the time. Luckily, Falmouth was really flexible with hours so that I was able to work around her.
What’s your speciality?
My PhD is in the use of fairy tale in contemporary fiction but I focus on nature and materiality. So, I’m thinking about how the animism of fairy tales can encourage us to think differently about nature and objects with the aim to blur boundaries between nature and culture or mind and body.
What do you think of Cornwall and Falmouth?
I like being surrounded by sea. I love seeing the seasons change. You don’t really see that in London. It was a really magical thing for me to see the spring arrive last year. My life is so much more outdoors than it was. I like the stars. Stars are good. I like almost never having to take public transport, which isn’t good for the planet, I know! When I was younger I thought the countryside was a cultural vacuum where people just endlessly discussed The Great British Bake Off - but it’s not like that at all. There are so many people here doing really interesting, creative things.
What book changed the way you saw the world?
Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that this book made me a feminist. I was also just blown away by the idea that we shape our culture through the stories we tell.
What are you reading at the moment?
At the moment I’m reading Idols of Perversity: Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-de-siècle Culture by Bram Dijkstia because I’m teaching it, but it is the funniest academic book I’ve ever read. It’s about depictions of women in 19th century art and how they’re always up to their necks in flowers or dying mournfully because they had sex or something. It’s brilliant.
Do you think that degrees are important?
I think they’re important for some people. I think just that you wouldn’t take back learning. Even if I decided that I wanted to be a potter or an electrician, I would never take back what I learnt throughout that time in my life. It’s an opportunity to spend time reading and learning. I don’t think it’s for everyone, but I’m the kind of person who wants to learn. It’s very rare that I’d go to a lecture and not take something away from it.
Tell us a fun fact about you!
I just made a short film called The Vanishing Princess which is based on a short story by Jenny Diski. It’s a surreal feminist fairy tale. It’s just been finalised so we’re trying to send it out to festivals at the moment. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I co-wrote it and associate-produced it so I was involved in making it as well. It was such a great opportunity to use my research in a different way, in a different format and for a different audience.
If you could be any animal in the world, what would you be?
That’s hard. I definitely wouldn’t be a farm animal… I mean, definitely not. You wouldn’t be a farm animal, would you? It sounds really cheesy but maybe a dolphin? I mean you get to just play and flip about. An octopus would be cool. It’s severed limbs change colour. And it has four hearts. And no one messes with them. So yes, an octopus. But probably a dolphin. Or a cheetah.
You’ve been given an elephant, you can’t give it away or sell it what would you do?
Well it would have to come home! What else can I do? It can live in my garden. My daughter would love it.
by Amy Lilwall and Amy Greenhough