Joanne Pettitt

Episode 155,  Nov 26, 2022, 02:45 PM

My guest this week is Joanne Pettitt, Lecturer in Comparative Literature at the University of Kent. Jo and I begin by talking about the art of teaching and the feeling of history that one gets from reading a physical book and the nostalgia of children’s books.

Jo comes from what she describes as a typical British working class background in Nottingham against the backdrop of the miners’ strikes. She didn’t grow up in an academic environment, and Jo reflects on developing consciousness at university. She developed quite a strong liberal agenda at university, and talks about how this doesn’t always fit with going back.

Jo talks about being a really nostalgic person but having a terrible memory and how university comprises the building blocks of her life. We also discuss whether it is good to go to another institution after graduating for postgraduate study and why some institutions don’t always accommodate people from particular socioeconomic backgrounds.

We learn about Jo’s work in Holocaust Studies, what shapes our academic practice, the limitations when she was growing up of television, and along the way we cover Mr. Blobby, Rodgers & Hammerstein and Jojo Rabbit, as well as why Jo thinks it is useful to read a book twice (and why she lost her love of reading for reading’s sake), diaries, children’s literature and whether there is a romanticization of childhood.

We also cover how it is the case that there are some things not directly learned in a classroom – one can become more socially aware from, say, going down the pub. We also discuss the necessity of dealing with students who are struggling and why her aim in her job is to be a safe space.

Towards the end of the interview we learn why Jo is quite a positive person, why she has fond memories, and how during Covid we were channelling nostalgia for the Second World War, and that the recent death of Queen Elizabeth II inspired some of the same feelings of nostalgia.

We also find out what Jo wanted to do as a child and why a PhD is not a marker of intellectual prowess. Jo also talks about her peer group and what they are doing now.