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September-October 2010: Alan Dobson

Alan Dobson
Professor of Politics, Dundee University

1. Where, when, and why did you become interested in British history?

I’ve always been interested in British history and foreign policy in particular and those interests came together when I did my doctoral studies at Durham University under the guidance of Charles Reynolds. Charles was a theorist par excellence but he acted as my intellectual mentor then and for many years after.

2. Who most influenced your academic development?

The four teachers who influenced my intellectual development most were my English teacher at school Geoffrey Flitton, and university tutors David J. Manning from Durham University, Peter Calvert from Southampton University and most of all Charles Reynolds. As my career developed the most important mentor in my historical studies was Warren Kimball of Rutgers University.

3. If you hadn’t become a historian what career path would you have chosen?

Opera singer, chef, or a painter and in an ideal world a combination of all three

4. Of your academic projects, which one has proven to be most fulfilling?

This is a difficult one. In terms of publishing, in many ways, I think that I’ve probably made the greatest contribution to scholarship in terms of my work on the policies and diplomacy involved in the international airline regime, but my work on Anglo-American relations has also been deeply fulfilling and my best book is possibly US Economic Statecraft for Survival. In the non-publishing spheres, I would have to say the founding of the Transatlantic Studies Association and The Journal of Transatlantic Studies has been hugely fulfilling for me.

5. Where do you see the field of British history heading in the next few years?

I’m not sure, but I would hope that British diplomatic history and studies of foreign policy will renew their popularity.

6. What advice do you have for graduate students and beginning academics about finding a topic of interest and publishing on it?

Go with what fires your interest and publishing will look after itself.

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