Dr Nick Witham
Lecturer in US Political History
Nick is a historian of the twentieth-century United States. He joined the UCL Institute of the Americas in 2015 as Lecturer in US Political History and the Programme Director for the MA in US Studies (History and Politics).
Previous to this, Nick worked for three years as Lecturer and then Senior Lecturer in American History at Canterbury Christ Church University. He completed his PhD in American Studies at the University of Nottingham in 2012, and his BA in History and Politics at the University of Warwick in 2007, during which time he was a Cornell London Club Scholar at Cornell University.
Nick is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, sits on the steering committee of HOTCUS (Historians of the Twentieth Century United States), the executive committee of BAAS (British Association for American Studies), and is an Associate Editor of Journal of American Studies. His research has been funded by the British Academy, the Fulbright Commission, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Association for American Studies, and the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh.
To date, Nick’s published research has focussed on the politics and culture of protest and dissent in the United States since the 1960s. I. B. Tauris published his first book, entitled The Cultural Left and the Reagan Era: U.S. Protest and Central American Revolution, in 2015, which won the 2016 British Association for American Studies Arthur Miller Prize for best first book in American Studies. The book examines the responses of prominent intellectual and cultural figures to the social and political crises that took place in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala between 1979 and 1992, and is the first comprehensive history of these important political contributions, which provided vital support for the international solidarity movement that opposed U.S. intervention in Central America.
Nick is currently working on two discrete research projects:
“Reframing 1968: American Politics, Protest and Identity” is a collection of essays on the history of 1968 in the United States, which he is co-editing with Martin Halliwell (University of Leicester). Edinburgh University Press will publish the volume in 2018, and it will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the year’s political upheavals, with contributions from Doug Rossinow, Andrew Preston, Sharon Monteith, Simon Hall and Stephen Tuck, amongst others. Nick’s contribution to the book, entitled “The Idea of 1968”, will examine the important function played by memory of the year’s social upheavals within the memoirs and autobiographies of a range of activists and intellectuals, including Abbie Hoffman, Paul Berman, Angela Davis, Tom Hayden, Todd Gitlin, Bill Ayers, and Susan Brownmiller.
“The Popular Historians: American Historical Writing and the Politics of the Past, 1945-present” is a book-length project that examines popular histories written by US historians as a means of engaging with audiences beyond the academy, and focuses on the work of Richard Hofstadter, John Hope Franklin, Daniel Boorstin, Howard Zinn and Gerda Lerner. Rooted in multi-archival research, the project explores the ways in which US national history was remembered in the second half of the twentieth century, and how this process helped shape political debates about the future of the nation, both at home and abroad.
Current teaching and research supervision
Modules in Term 1 (Fall Term) 2016/17:
Modules in Term 2 (Spring Term) 2017:
Nick would like to hear from prospective students looking to pursue graduate study in twentieth-century U.S. political, cultural and intellectual history, the history of popular protest and radicalism, historical and political filmmaking, and historiography and memory studies.
Publications and networks
2015: The Cultural Left and the Reagan Era: U.S. Protest and Central American Revolution (London: I. B. Tauris).
- 2017: ‘Popular History, Postwar Liberalism, and the Role of the Public Intellectual in Richard Hofstadter’s The American Political Tradition (1948)’, The Historical Journal (forthcoming 2017).
- 2014: ‘Transatlantic Social Politics After the 1960s: New Left Review, Verso Books and the Politics of Central America Solidarity’, in Daniel Scroop and Andrew Heath (eds), Transatlantic Social Politics: 1800-Present (New York: Palgrave Macmillan).
- 2014: ‘U.S. Feminists and Central America in the “Age of Reagan”: The Overlapping Contexts of Activism, Intellectual Culture and Documentary Filmmaking’, Journal of American Studies, Vol. 48, No. 1.
- 2011: ‘Confronting a “crisis in historical perspective”: Walter LaFeber, Gabriel Kolko and the Functions of Revisionist Historiography during the Reagan Era’, Left History, Vol. 15, No. 1.
- 2009: ‘Rambo America Resisted: Intertextual Politics in Oliver Stone’s Salvador (1986) and Platoon (1986)’, U.S. Studies Online, No. 14.
Page last modified on 22 may 15 17:33 by Oscar V Martinez Gonzalez