UCL Institute of the Americas


Nick Witham

Dr Nick Witham


Associate Professor of United States History

Director of Research


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 research is situated at the intersections of political, cultural, and intellectual history. His interests span the history of America in the world since 1945, 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. Nick’s latest book is provisionally titled Popularizing the Past: Historians, Publishers, and Readers in Postwar America, and is under contract with the University of Chicago Press. He is also the co-editor of Reframing 1968: American Politics, Protest and Identity (Edinburgh University Press, 2018). 

Nick will shortly turn his attention to a new research project that examines the intertwined histories of power and protest in U.S. foreign relations as they were navigated in the lives and writings of four dissenting activist-intellectuals: Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, Marilyn Young, and Howard Zinn.

Teaching Summary


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

AMER0059: Contemporary Issues in the Americas

AMER0084: Confronting the Colossus: Power, Protest and United States Foreign Relations, 1945-present

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:

Tom Cryer, “Walking the Tightrope: John Hope Franklin and the Dilemmas of African American History in Action” (first supervisor).

Will Ranger, “Society, Patriotism and American Civil Religion: A Contribution to the History of Mentalities” (first supervisor).

Emily Hull, “Irving Kristol: Cold War Liberal and Conservative” (first supervisor).

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

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:

Elliot Askew, “Requiem for Reality: An Intellectual History of the Response to Neoliberalism in 1980s and 1990s America” (first supervisor).

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

Joshua Hollands, “Work and Sexuality in the Sunbelt: Homophobic Workplace Discrimination in the US South and Southwest, 1970 to the Present” (second supervisor).

Selected media appearances

More staff media appearances here.