Sussex Centre for American Studies

Research

With an international reputation for our research, American studies faculty at Sussex span a wide range of interdisciplinary research expertise: we have specialists of 19th to 21st Century literature, history and culture with strength in visual culture, civil rights, historical memory, transnational foreign policy, modernism, migration and poetry. You can find details of some of our current research projects in our profiles below.

Dr Anne-Marie Angelo

Anne-Marie 380x180pxDr Anne-Marie Angelo is Senior Lecturer of the US in International History. Her research examines interactions between American and global racial formations. Her forthcoming book, Black Power on the Move: Labor, Migration, and the Black Panthers of Great Britain and Israel, examines the British and Israeli Black Panthers alongside elite efforts to paint racism as a purely American problem. She is also a screenwriter and historical consultant for television. Dr Angelo has held fellowships in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies from the US Department of Education; in digital humanities from the Humanities, Arts, Science & Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC); and in transnational history from the Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University. Her work has appeared in the Radical History Review, Sixties, and the Journal of Civil and Human Rights.

Dr Tom Bamford-Blake

Kathy Acker, American novelistDr Tom Bamford-Blake is Lecturer in American Literature and American Studies.  His research explores the concept of transgression as it operates in contemporary queer and feminist experimental writing, activism and education.  He also teaches creative writing as part of the Widening Participation project Sussex Writes.  His current practice- and theory- based project draws on this work, responding to current crises and controversies in teaching by putting bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress and Teaching Community in dialogue with Bataillean and Bakhtinian approaches to transgression and community.  This research draws on a diverse range of Americanist themes including the legacy of New Narrative writing, the role of ‘transgressive’ forms such as horror cinema in Americanised popular culture, and current discourses around academic freedom, campus security and safer spaces in US institutions.  He is also an internationally published poet, his most recent book being The Gag Reel (2017). 

Dr Natalia Cecire

Natalia 380x180pxDr Natalia Cecire is Senior Lecturer in English and American Studies. She specializes in American literature since 1880 and the theory of minor knowledges. Her research interests include history of science, poetics, gender and sexuality, childhood, media, and visual culture. Her book Experimental: American Literature and the Aesthetics of Knowledge (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019) draws on history of science to theorize U.S. 'experimental' literature. She is at work on a new project, Quartz Contentment, a study of queer insensibility and biological theories of minimal death from 1850 to the present. With Dr Samuel Solomon (English), she is also developing a new project on racial capitalism and the "mycological turn." Her essays have appeared in ELH, WSQPMLAdiacritics, and other journals.

Dr Tom Adam Davies

TomD 380x180pxDr Tom Adam Davies is Senior Lecturer in American History. His current research focuses primarily on the relationship between the black freedom struggle and liberal and conservative politics during the second half of the twentieth century, and on challenging conventional analyses of Black Power and its impact on African American society and American political culture more broadly. His essay ‘Black power in action: the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, Robert F. Kennedy, and the politics of the urban crisis’ appeared in the Journal of American History (Dec. 2013). His monograph Mainstreaming Black Power (University of California Press, 2017) received Honorable Mention for the 2018 BAAS Book Prize, and was shortlisted for the Royal Historical Society's 2018 Gladstone Prize for the best first book in non-British history.

Professor Richard Follett

Richard 380x180pxRichard Follett is Professor of American History and Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor — International. He has published widely on American slavery and emancipation, including the multiple-award-winning The Sugar Masters: Planters and Slaves in Louisiana’s Cane World, 1820–1860 (LSU, 2005). He co-authored (with Eric Foner and Walter Johnson) Slavery’s Ghost: The Problem of Freedom in the Age of Emancipation (Johns Hopkins, 2011), and additionally works on digital history, Caribbean slavery, and Afro-Brazilian culture. He is currently completing White Fright: Slave Revolts in American Memory, a major study of every U.S. slave conspiracy and rebellion, and the co-authored Plantation Kingdom: The American South and its Global Commodities.

Dr Doug Haynes

Doug 380x180pxDr Doug Haynes is Reader in American Literature. His research areas are American and transnational modernist, postmodernist and avant-garde writing and visual art, particularly as they interface with critical theory. He has written in journals like Modern Fiction Studies, Critique, Textual PracticeThe Modern Language Review, and Papers of Surrealism. He is currently writing a book on black humour. Doug founded research network SAVAnT (Scholars of American Visual Art and Text) with Joanna Pawlik (Sussex). He is co-editor with Tara Stubbs (Oxford) of Navigating the Transnational in Modern American Literature and Culture (Routledge, 2017).

Dr Michael Jonik

Michael 380x180px

Dr Michael Jonik is Senior Lecturer in English and American Studies. His research focuses on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American and transatlantic literature, continental philosophy, contemporary critical theory, and the history of science. He has published Herman Melville and the Politics of the Inhuman (Cambridge University Press, 2018), and he writes on pre-1900 American literature and philosophy, including recent essays on Emerson, Thoreau, Melville, Dickinson, and Henry and William James. He is now editing the New Cambridge Companion to Ralph Waldo Emerson and co-editing The Oxford Handbook of Herman Melville. He is founding member of The British Association of Nineteenth-Century Americanists (BrANCA), and Reviews and Special Issues editor for the journal Textual Practice. He is currently serving as one of the Directors of Research and Knowledge Exchange for the School of Media, Arts and Humanities.

 

Professor Maria Lauret

Maria 380x180pxMaria Lauret is Visiting Professor of American Literature and Culture. Her research is multi-disciplinary and concerns US political discourse as well as the literature of social movements and the multilingual writing of (im)migrants to the United States and is always attentive to the intersection of race, ethnicity, gender, class and sexuality. Her publications include Liberating Literature: Feminist Fiction in America (Routledge, 1994), Beginning Ethnic American Literatures (Manchester, 2001) Alice Walker (2nd edn., Macmillan, 2011) and Wanderwords: Language Migration in American Literature (Bloomsbury USA 2014) as well as articles and book chapters on feminism, African American literature, (im)migrant writing and a host of other topics. Her essay 'Americanization Now and Then: The “Nation of Immigrants” in the Early Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries' (Journal of American Studies, 2016) won the 2017 Arthur Miller Institute Prize. Her most recent publication is Teju Cole: Public Intellectual (Atlantic Studies 2021).

Dr Melissa Milewski

CourtroomDr Melissa Milewski is Lecturer in American History. Her research interests include race and the law in U.S. history, women and the law in U.S. history, the American criminal justice system, the U.S. South, and African American history. She recently completed a book examining civil cases between white and black Southerners, entitled Litigating across the Color Line: Civil Cases between Black and White Southerners from the End of Slavery to Civil Rights (Oxford University Press, 2017). The book examines how black southerners negotiated the system of Jim Crow and an almost all-white legal system to at times win civil cases against whites. She has also published articles on race and the law and an award-winning book on a 19th century U.S. women's life writings entitled Before the Manifesto: The Life Writings of Mary Lois Walker Morris. Dr. Milewski is now working on a grassroots history of American women and the law which examines the ways in which ordinary women across America used the courts in the 19th and early 20th centuries, including suits by black and white women in the U.S. South, Mormon women in the U.S. West, and immigrant women in the U.S. North.

Dr Katharina Rietzler

 

Merze Tate, IR scholar and professor at Howard UniversityMerze Tate, IR scholar and professor at Howard University

Dr Katharina Rietzler is Senior Lecturer in American History and Director of the Sussex Centre for American Studies. Her main research interests are the ways in which U.S. elites and the American public have dealt with the problem of war in the early and mid-twentieth century. Rietzler is co-editor of Women’s International Thought: A New History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021) and the anthology Women’s International Thought: Towards A New Canon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022). She has published several articles on the history of U.S. philanthropy, transatlantic relations, international thought, international law and academic international relations in journals such as Modern Intellectual History, Diplomatic History, Global Society, Diplomacy & Statecraft and the Journal of Global History. Rietzler is a former Mellon Fellow in American History at the University of Cambridge.

 

Dr Tom Wright

Black and white image of a woman addressing a crowd of menDr Tom F. Wright is a cultural historian of nineteenth century America specialising in the role of rhetoric and speaking in politics, education and the history of ideas. He is author/editor of three books: The Cosmopolitan Lyceum: Lecture Culture and the Globe in Nineteenth-Century America (2013); Lecturing the Atlantic: Speech, Print, and an Anglo-American Commons (2017); and Transatlantic Rhetoric: Speeches from the American Revolution to the Suffragettes (2020).  He is a founding member of the British Association of Nineteenth-Century Americanists (BrANCA) and sits on the executive board of the British Association for American Studies.