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Nick Witham

Dr Nick Witham
Nick Witham

Associate Professor of United States History

Chair, Undergraduate Board of Examiners

Director of Research


Biography

Nick is a historian of the twentieth-century United States. He joined the UCL Institute of the Americas in 2015. Before arriving at UCL, he worked from 2012 to 2015 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 Co-Editor of the Journal of American Studies. His leadership in learning and teaching has been recognized by a Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and has served on the steering committee of HOTCUS (Historians of the Twentieth Century United States), and the executive committee of BAAS (British Association for American Studies). With colleagues at King’s College London and the British Library, he co-organized EBAAS 2018, the largest American Studies conference ever to take place in Europe.

Nick’s 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.


Research interests

Nick’s interests span post-1945 US political and intellectual history in transnational perspective, encompassing the histories of protest, imperialism and anti-imperialism, historiography, and memory.

Nick’s first book, The Cultural Left and the Reagan Era: U.S. Protest and Central American Revolution (I.B. Tauris, 2015), won the British Association for American Studies Arthur Miller Prize. He is also the co-editor of Reframing 1968: American Politics, Protest and Identity (Edinburgh University Press, 2018).

Nick’s current book-length project is provisionally titled The Popular Historians: American Historical Writing and the Search for an Audience, 1945-present, and is under contract with the University of Chicago Press. It 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. An article on Richard Hofstadter drawn from this project and published in the Historical Journal won the 2017 Society for US Intellectual History Dorothy Ross Prize.


Teaching Summary

Undergraduate:

AMER0050: The Making of Modern America: The United States since 1920

AMER0068: The United States and the Cold War

AMER0059: Contemporary Issues in the Americas

Post Graduate Taught:

AMER0023: Confronting the Colossus: Power, Protest and United States Foreign Relations, 1945-present

Research Supervision:

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 protest and radicalism, historical and political filmmaking, and historiography and memory studies.

Current PhD Students:

Emily Hull, “Irving Kristol: Cold War Liberal and Conservative” (first supervisor, funded by Wolfson Postgraduate Scholarship).

Chris Sarjeant, “The Forgotten Culture War: The Roots, Structures and Implications of Intellectual Divergence on the American Left During the Long 1990s” (first supervisor, funded by Wolfson Postgraduate Scholarship).

Elliot Askew, “Requiem for Reality: An Intellectual History of the Response to Neoliberalism in 1980s and 1990s America” (first supervisor, funded by London Arts and Humanities Partnership AHRC Studentship)

Josephine Harmon, “US Gun Politics and Libertarians: The Conservative Coalition and the Role of Libertarian Thinktanks and Advocates in the Formation of Gun Policy in the 1990s and 2000s” (first supervisor).

Sailin Li, “Arms Sale to China: How Did the US and UK Engage China Against the Soviet Union (1972-1989)” (second supervisor).

Stephen Colbook, “Fighting Federal Indifference: The State and Social Reform during the Early HIV/AIDS Crisis” (second supervisor, funded by Wolfson Postgraduate Scholarship).

Elizabeth Evens, “Regulating Women: Professional Women and the Surveillance of Female Reproduction and Sexuality in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries” (second supervisor, funded by Wolfson Postgraduate Scholarship).

Michael Byrne, “‘Succeeding Greatness’: a comparative study of the challenges faced by four U.S. presidents who succeeded ‘transformational presidents’ of their own party, having first served as their vice president” (second supervisor).

Completed PhD students:

Joshua Hollands, “Work and Sexuality in the Sunbelt: Homophobic Workplace Discrimination in the US South and Southwest, 1970 to the Present” (second supervisor, funded by Wolfson Postgraduate Scholarship, now Teaching Fellow in US History, UCL Institute of the Americas).