Department of American and Canadian Studies


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Christopher Phelps

Associate Professor of American History, Faculty of Arts



Christopher Phelps is a historian of modern American political and intellectual life. Born near Washington, D.C., he has taught at universities in five countries: Britain, the United States, Poland, Hungary, and Canada. He is author of the intellectual biography Young Sidney Hook (Cornell, 1997; 2d ed., Michigan, 2005) and the book Radicals in America (Cambridge, 2015), a comprehensive history of the American left since the Second World War co-authored with Howard Brick.

His articles have appeared in the Journal of American History, Modern American History, Journal of American Studies, Journal of the History of Sexuality, and other scholarly journals, as well as the Financial Times, Telegraph, Times Higher Education, Chronicle of Higher Education, The Nation, Jacobin, Dissent,, and Salon. While his interests are broad and eclectic, at present his research agenda is primarily focused on sexuality in the first half of the twentieth century.

Phelps has been awarded the Historians of the Twentieth-Century United States (HOTCUS) article prize, the Labor and Working-Class History Association (LAWCHA) prize for best article published in the journal Labor, and the Michael Fellman Award for historical writing, among other awards. He has received two Fulbright fellowships and research grants from the New York Public Library, the Huntington Library, and the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies at the University of Michigan. He serves on the editorial board of Radical Americas (UCL Press), is a contributing editor of Labor: Studies in Working-Class History (Duke University Press), and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Expertise Summary

Available for comment on most U.S.-related news events and items, particularly regarding these topics:

  • American politics and elections
  • Radicalism, protest, social movements
  • Race and racism
  • History of American capitalism
  • Labor, class, and strikes
  • History of sexuality
  • American intellectual and cultural history

Media appearances include the following. Television: CNN International, BBC News, BBC World News, Sky News, Deutsche Welle, France 24, Al Jazeera. Radio: ABC (Australia), BBC Radio 4 ("The World at One," "In Our Time"), BBC World Service ("Newshour"), ​BBC Radio 2 ("The Chris Evans Show"), BBC 5 Live ("Afternoon Edition"), BBC Radio Scotland ("Good Morning Scotland"), Bloomberg Radio ("First Word Europe"), LBC ("The Nick Ferrari Show," "The Andrew Castle Show"). Newsprint and internet media: quoted in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Times, Newsweek, The Independent, Deutsche Welle, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and other news providers.

Teaching Summary

Autumn 2022

- American Radicalism (Level 2, AMCS2033)

Spring 2023

- History of American Capitalism (Level 2, AMCS2049)

- Sexuality in American History (Level 3, AMCS3051)

Conceivably to be taught again in a future year:

- American Labor History (Level 3)

Selected Publications

Department of American and Canadian Studies

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