An interview with Dr Kim Salmons
Why did you choose to work at St Mary’s?
I came to St Mary’s as an undergraduate mature student. I then left to do my Masters at Royal Holloway University of London, but decided to return to St Mary’s to do my PhD. The moment I came as a student I didn’t want to leave. After finishing my PhD I worked as a visiting lecturer teaching on the English Literature and Sociology courses. When a job came up as a Learning Development Lecturer I saw my opportunity to work with students again. I then took on the role of the Programme Director for the Foundation Year when it first introduced to St Mary’s before moving into Academic Strategy while also leading on research across the Institutes. I continue to teach on the English programme and I am also the Course Lead for the new Liberal Arts degree. St Mary’s is a unique institution with a strong ethos and vision which has the welfare and education of its students at its heart. The fact that the University cares so deeply for its students makes some of the challenges of every day working life worthwhile.
Do you have any tips for someone looking to begin a career in Creative related industries?
Before I came to St Mary’s I worked at the Observer Newspaper. I started there as a secretary on the Arts Desk spending most of my day opening the post (I didn’t have a degree then, but I could type pretty fast and I could do short hand). After three years I had become a ‘researcher’ on the arts pages, looking for stories, possible interviews and writing small articles. By the time I left I had become the Assistant Commissioner for interviews, writing articles and reviewing audiobooks. I continue to act as the stand-in Radio Previewer. My ambition since a young child was to become a journalist, but I got side-tracked and went travelling for five years instead, hence why I ended up working as a secretary. But this position helped me to get a good overview of how newspapers worked and being proactive and making myself useful meant I was asked to do more interesting jobs. My advice would be never give up. Try to get into the career you want by any means. Always make yourself useful, be willing, learn and go above and beyond. People will notice you. Never moan, but instead help find solutions to problems. It makes a world of difference to how people perceive you.
Which past experiences do you bring to your lecturing?
Having been a student in the fairly recent past, the experience of learning and the challenges of being a student are still vivid in my mind. I hope that I bring empathy with me as well as an insight into the challenges of juggling a job, being a carer, trying to read for your next lecture, managing your time and trying to have a social life. I also – like many lecturers at St Mary’s – now have children of my own at University and so I can see the experience from both perspectives. I think this pastoral understanding is a really important part of our roles as lecturers.
What is your favourite part of your job?
The Graduation Ceremony. I think all lecturers look forward to seeing their students celebrate their amazing achievement. It’s wonderful to see the students’ hard work pay off and gives lecturers a huge sense of satisfaction.
Can you tell us a bit about your research?
I have published two books on food in modern literature; the first in the novels of Joseph Conrad and the second in the novels of Thomas Hardy. I’m particularly interested in the social, political and historical context of food within literature. I have recently edited a new book - out in August 21 with Bloomsbury – titled, Migration, Modernity & Transnationalism. My chapter is about the role that food plays in migration, specifically how it can act as a barrier to entry into a new community, or equally a material rite of entry. My latest research venture is about food and faith and I am currently writing a paper on the role of food in the imagination and how imagination is linked to faith. This will extend to the experience of migrants and their food based practises in their new environments.
View Kim's academic profile