Established more than 40 years ago, the Centre for American Studies has established a strong research culture. Our interests are wide-ranging, with particular strengths in the study of race and indigeneity, migration and transatlantic exchange, as well as nature space and the American West.

Our team of scholars maintain close links with a number of US research institutions, and includes several alumni of the Fulbright programme. The University's Templeman Library features impressive collections on slavery, Native American culture, and photography/visual materials, as well as an extensive archive of historical newspapers.

We also host two academic journals, Transmotion, edited by Professor David Stirrup and dedicated to the study of Native and First Nation writing, and The European Journal of American Culture, edited by Dr John Wills, an interdisciplinary platform for the study of America and American culture. 

In recent years our research has been supported by funding from a range of areas including the:

  • Arts and Humanities Research Council
  • Leverhulme Trust
  • Wellcome Trust
  • Fulbright Commission
  • Terra Foundation for American Art.

World-leading experts

An interdisciplinary centre, we bring together Americanists with expertise in the history, literature, politics, and culture of the US and Latin America, whose work influences contemporary debates.

Research excellence

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework, at least 95% of research submitted by our constituent schools was judged to be of international quality.

Our research: Making a difference

The Centre draws on scholars from across the Division of Arts and Humanities and beyond to create a rich environment for studying and researching the Americas. We support a wide range of high-level research in the literature, history, politics and arts of the Americas.

Staff in the Centre for American Studies have expertise in a wide range of areas, from Native American literature and the horrors of slavery through to 21st-century US digital and popular culture. 

As a place to study, the Centre for American Studies combines the experience of a small, friendly and attentive department with a wide range of topics to explore, tailored to suit all interests. Our postgraduate community, whether on our MA by Research in American Studies, or studying for a PhD, plays a vibrant role in the Centre's research culture. 

Several of our PhD students have won funding to support their work from CHASE (Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-East England), while others hold internal scholarships and bursaries, which offer them valuable experience of teaching in a supportive environment while they conduct their research.

Our research falls into three overlapping clusters:  

US Politics and Power

This cluster addresses the domestic context for, and external projection of, US power. Experts’ interests include, but are not limited to: partisanship and polarisation in US domestic politics, US foreign and national security policy in the 20th and 21st centuries as well as the interaction between domestic and international spheres. Recent publications include Andrew Wroe’s research on partisanship and trust, Rubrick Biegon’s book on US foreign policy in Latin America as well as Aurélie Basha’s on Robert McNamara and the Vietnam War

The Centre has become a major interdisciplinary hub for transnational American Studies, with many of our scholars examining the movement, circulation and exchange of people, objects and cultural practices across borders.

Migrations, Borders and the Transnational

Recent and forthcoming research monographs in this cluster include Ben Marsh’s Unravelling Dreams: Silkworms and the Atlantic World (Cambridge University Press, out in 2020), and Will Norman’s Transatlantic Aliens: Modernism, Exile and Culture in Midcentury America (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016).  

David Stirrup’s AHRC funded "Beyond the Spectacle: Native North American Presence in Britain" has also made an important contribution to this work. Patricia Novillo-Corvalán’s research on the transnational reception of James Joyce and Jorge Luis Borges, and Andrew Wroe’s on the politics of immigration further strengthen this area. 

Erik Mathisen is currently working on a project relating to the history of coerced labour in The Atlantic World.

Race, Gender, Indigeneity

The Centre for American Studies has long been known for its scholarship on race and ethnicity in the Americas, a tradition currently evident in Stella Bolaki’s co-edited volume on the black feminist Audre Lorde, Audre Lorde’s Transnational Legacies, and in Natalia Sobrevilla Perea’s recent work on racial and ethnic identities in 20th-century South America. 

The Centre carries strong interests in questions of indigeneity, and is host to the journal Transmotion, which is dedicated to the study of Native and First Nations writing. 

It is also dedicated to exploring the cultural formation and politics of gender and sexuality, for example in Tamar Jeffers Macdonald’s work on Doris Day as cultural icon. Erik Mathisen’s work has examined questions of race and citizenship in the history of the Civil War and Reconstruction periods.