Professor Jonathan Bell

Professor of US History

Director of UCL Institute of the Americas


Jonathan Bell arrived at UCL in 2014 as Professor of US History and Director of the Institute of the Americas. Prior to coming to the Institute he was an Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Reading, including four years as Head of Department. He gained his BA degree from the University of Oxford and his PhD from the University of Cambridge, and spent a year as a research student at the University of Maryland.

He is a historian of US politics, with a particular emphasis on American liberalism since the New Deal and the ways in which liberal politics have adapted to social change during the twentieth century. He has published widely in US political history, including a book on how the Cold War transformed American political discourse and policy formation on domestic issues during the Truman Presidency, a collection of essays on American liberalism, and a book charting the changing political complexion of California since World War Two.

His current project, tentatively entitled Unhealthy Bodies: Health Care and the Rights Revolution since the Sixties, aims to unite the two phenomena of rights politics and health care delivery politics to help us understand how the sexual and gender dynamics of medical care in the US shed significant light on the political culture of the nation at a time of significant political change in the era of government and health care retrenchment that began in the seventies and grew considerably in the Reagan era. The project shows that both state and private conceptions of gender and sexuality impacted upon their ability to provide health care to a diverse population, and demonstrates how a private-public delivery system drastically impacted upon the ability of rights movements to translate basic legal rights into full-blown economic citizenship, a question of vital public importance today on both sides of the Atlantic.

Professor Bell is currently Chair of the Historians of the Twentieth-Century United States (HOTCUS), and is an AHRC Strategic Reviewer and member of its Peer Review College.

Professor Jonathan Bell
icons_PM__phone.png +44 (0)20 7679 9853; internal extension: 09853
icons_PM__mail.png jonathan.bell@ucl.ac.uk
icons_PM__home.png Office 207, 51 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PN
icons_PM__clock.png Mondays, 10:00 -11:00

Current teaching and research supervision

Professor Bell would like to hear from any student interested in pursuing graduate study in the areas of US political history, policy history (in particular the relationship between gender and sexuality and public policy), and the history of political ideology.

Publications, networks and links


Jonathan Bell, The Liberal State on Trial: The Cold War and American Politics in the Truman Years (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004). In the series Columbia Studies in Contemporary American History

Jonathan Bell, California Crucible: The Forging of Modern American Liberalism (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012) In the series Politics and Culture in Modern America

Jonathan Bell and Timothy Stanley, ed., Making Sense of American Liberalism (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2012). Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2013

Journal articles and book chapters

Jonathan Bell, ‘Liberalism from the Fair Deal to the Great Society,’ Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History (Oxford University Press, 2015). http://americanhistory.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199329175.001.0001/acrefore-9780199329175-e-13

Jonathan Bell, ‘Building a Left Coast: The Legacy of the California Popular Front and the Challenge to Cold War Liberalism in the Post-World War Two Period,’ Journal of American Studies, 46:01 (2012), 51-71

Jonathan Bell, ‘Social Politics in a Transoceanic World in the Early Cold War Years, Historical Journal, 53:2 (2010), 401-421. Republished in Daniel Scroop and Andrew Heath, ed., Transatlantic Social Politics, 1800-Present (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

Jonathan Bell, ‘“To strive for economic and social justice”: Welfare, sexuality, and liberal politics in San Francisco in the 1960s,’ Journal of Policy History, 22:2 (2010), 193-225

Jonathan Bell, ‘From Popular Front to Liberalism: Redefining the Political in California in the Post-World War Two Era,’ in Bell and Stanley, ed., Making Sense of American Liberalism (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2012)

Jonathan Bell, ‘The New Deal,’ in Duncan Brack, ed., Dictionary of Liberal Thought (London: Methuen/Politico, 2007)

Jonathan Bell, ‘Social Democracy and the Rise of the Democratic Party in California, 1950-1964’, Historical Journal, June 2006, 497-524.

Jonathan Bell, ‘Conceptualising Southern Liberalism: Ideology and the Pepper-Smathers 1950 Primary in Florida’, Journal of American Studies, 37:1, April 2003, 17-45

Jonathan Bell, ‘The Changing Dynamics of American Liberalism: Paul Douglas and the Elections of 1948’, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Winter 2004, 368-393

Jonathan Bell, ‘Edward Costigan,’ in R.McElvaine, ed., Encyclopedia of the Great Depression (New York: Macmillan, 2003)

Jonathan Bell, ‘Debating Political Consensus Post World War Two,’ in Robert J. Allison (ed.), History in Dispute Volume II: American Social and Political Movements 1945-2000: Pursuit of Liberty (Columbia, S.C.: Manly, Inc., 2000)

Jonathan Bell, ‘“We Have Run Out of Poor People”: The Democratic Party’s Identity Crisis in the 1950s,’ in Iwan Morgan and Robert Mason, ed., The Liberal Consensus Reconsidered: American Politics and Society in the Postwar Era (University Press of Florida, forthcoming)

Page last modified on 25 jan 17 12:49 by Oscar V Martinez Gonzalez