UCL Institute of the Americas


Emily Hull

Irving Kristol: Cold War Liberal and Conservative


Dr. Nick Witham (primary) and Dr Nadia Hilliard

My research studies the intellectual career of Irving Kristol (1920-2009), the former Trotskyist and so called ‘Godfather’ of neo-conservatism. Thus far, Kristol has principally received historiographical notice in scholarship concerning the New York intellectuals and neoconservatives. However, despite many cameo appearances in these works, Kristol lacks full biographical attention, which my PhD will remedy.

The project fuses intellectual history and biography to investigate four key issues: the increased engagement of intellectuals with the American public in the 1930s and 1940s; the conflict between the Old and New Left in the 1950s and 1960s; the tensions between the intellectual right and left in the 1970s and 1980s; and the role of public intellectuals during and after the Cold War. Additionally, the project asks what Kristol’s later works can tell us about the nature of American capitalism.

Awards | Grants | Scholarships | Funding

My project is funded by the Wolfson Postgraduate Scholarship

June 2021: BFWG Caroline Coignou Award

March 20212: BAAS Postgraduate Short-Term Research Assistance Award, the John D. Lees Award

March 2021: HOTCUS Travel Award

Conference papers and presentations

  • June 2021: “Irving Kristol and the Urban Crisis: Understanding how the Great Society Shaped the Development of Neoconservatism,” Historians Of Twentieth Century United States.  
  • March 2021: Heidelberg Spring Academy
  • February 2021: “An American Journalist in London: How the English Conservative Tradition Shaped Irving Kristol’s Neoconservative Thought,” Historians Of Twentieth Century United States Winter Symposium.

Conference and event organisation

June 2021: UCL Americas Research Network Conference: Histories of Inequality


September 2021: “Antti Lepistö, The Rise of Common-Sense Conservatism: The American Right and the Reinvention of the Scottish Enlightenment,” Book review for USSO here.

May 2021: “Nancy Sinkoff, From Left to Right: Lucy S. Dawidowicz, the New York Intellectuals, and the Politics of Jewish History,” Journal of American Studies, 55 (2), E14. Doi: 10.1017/S0021875821000177.  

Beyond the cultural Cold War: 'Encounter' and the post‑war emergence of Anglo‑American conservatism. Journal of Transatlantic Studies, March 2021


Associate Fellow AFHEA | PGTA 2021-2022:  AMER0038: Encountering the Americas: Key Themes and Concepts 

PGTA 2020-2021: AMER0050: Making of Modern America: The United States 1920 to present

Media appearances and citations