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.
Vaughn is a researcher and co-host on the Impressions of America podcast which explores American politics, culture, and media in the latter 20th century. She has also guest hosted on multiple other film and history podcasts including Struggle Session and Kino Lefter.
Additionally, Vaughn co-hosts the weekly Theories and Methods Reading Group for UCL History PGRs.
Supervisor: Melvyn Stokes
Working title: A Cold War Christmas: Political and Cultural Perceptions in Hollywood's America
Expected completion date: 2023
Papers Presented and Talks
- “’You'll Be Living Rent Free’: Disney's Villainous Marriage Proposal in Babes in Toyland (1961)” at Archival Kismet Conference, Mississippi State University, April 2021.
- “A Very Anti-Communist Christmas: A Discussion of Hollywood Propaganda in Christmas Films, 1946-1961,” UCL History Society Public Lecture Series, University College London, Cancelled due to Covid-19.
- “Starry-Eyed Dreamers: Capitalistic Idealism in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)” at Historical Fiction, Fictional History, and Historical Reality International Conference, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, March 2020.
- “The Common Man’s Capitalist: George Bailey and the Question of Communist Subversion in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)” at Trinity History Con, Trinity College Dublin, November 2019.
- “Life After Graduation,” to La Salle University History Department, La Salle University, October 2019.
- “Obstetrics and Gynaecology in the Ancient World,” at the Foreign Language Symposium, La Salle University, April 2016.