G. Vaughn Joy

Vaughn’s research interests lie in entertainment and social histories, particularly in the post-war period in the United States. For her PhD research project, Vaughn is exploring the extent of Hollywood’s reflection of and influence on the political and cultural climates of the early Cold War period through the propagandising of Christmas films from 1946 to 1961. By exploring the cinematic representations of Americans and their traditions during the Christmas season, the thesis argues that these sentimental films, and other innocuous media of the like, are not simply feel-good media, but rather provide commentary on the world around them. 

Before pursuing a research degree at UCL, Vaughn completed an MA in History at UCL and an MPhil in Classics at Trinity College Dublin with dissertation titles “Venus in Manhattan: A Study of Gender Relations in Post-WWII New York” and “Reproductive Demonesses: Mental Escapism from Reproductive Failures in the Ancient World,” respectively.

Alongside bylines in The Washington Post and Red Pepper Magazine, Vaughn is an active public scholar with appearances on numerous podcasts and radio shows including NPR. Vaughn is also a researcher and co-host on the Impressions of America podcast which explores American politics, culture, and media in the latter 20th century, as well as creator, researcher, and host of the Joy of Star Wars podcast melding themes in American history with those in the Star Wars franchise.


Supervisor: Melvyn Stokes
Working title: A Cold War Christmas: Reflections of American Politics and Culture in Hollywood Christmas Films, 1946-1961
Expected completion date: 2024

Selected Lectures, Publications, and Papers Presented

(Co-Authored) Joy, Vaughn and A. Stuart-Thompson. “O Ornitólogo, João Pedro Rodrigues (2016)”, in Naturezae Cinema Português Contemporâneo, edited by Filipa Rosário and José Duarte (Lisbon: Editora Documenta/Sistema Solar) [Forthcoming, 2024].

“Love, Marriage, and a Snow-Covered Carriage: Foundations of the Romantic Christmas Genre in Post-HUAC Hollywood, 1949-1954” in Under the Mistletoe: Holiday Romance Films, edited by Liz W. Faber, McFarland. [Forthcoming, 2024].

Selling Santa: How Miracle on 34th Street (1947) Stole and Rebranded Christmas.” Comparative American Studies An International Journal, Taylor & Francis, October 2023,

“Introduction to Film Theory, Analysis, and Hollywood History.” 90-minute guest lecture at University of Texas at Austin for Dr. Michael Webber’s interdisciplinary engineering course “Energy at the Movies”, 23 August 2023. 

“Monopolywood: Why the Paramount Accords Should Not Be Repealed.” Red Pepper Magazine, December 2022.

“Heart-Shaped Hot Tubs and Coin-Operated Beds: Hollywood’s Honeymoon Destination, 1940-1980” at Northeast Modern Language Association, Niagara Falls, NY, March 2023.

“Capra-Vision: The Cinematography and Authorial Gaze of Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)” at Experiencing Visual Images, University College London, November 2022.

“Dressing Up New York: Meeting Cosmopolitan Standards in Pocketful of Miracles 

“Jokes and Mirrors: Using Cartoons as Primary Sources for Historical Research.” Adam Matthew Digital, SAGE Research Methods, December 2021.

(1961)” at Cosmopolitan Aspirations in English-Speaking Cinema and Television, SERCIA, Universidad de Zaragoza, September 2021.


Dissertation in progress: A Very Cold War Christmas: Reflections of American Politics and Culture in Hollywood Christmas Films, 1946-1961