Department of American and Canadian Studies

 

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Peter O'Connor

Teaching Associate in American and Canadian Studies, Faculty of Arts

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Biography

I am currently a Teaching Associate in the Department of American and Canadian Studies at the University of Nottingham. I completed my PhD at Northumbria University in 2014 and began working as a lecturer in 2015. After a year at Northumbria I moved to the American Studies Department at the University of Manchester before returning to lecture at Northumbria in 2016. I joined Nottingham at the beginning of 2018.

Expertise Summary

My research focuses on Anglo-American history between the War of Independence and the US Civil War. I am particularly interested in the relationship between literary culture and politics, the political and cultural connections between Britain and the US in the nineteenth century and the history of the American south.

Teaching Summary

I am currently the convenor of the first year core module 'Race, Power, Money and the Making of North America 1607-1900.' I also convene a final year research informed optional called 'The Special… read more

Research Summary

I have recently had an article accepted for publication in the Journal of Transatlantic Studies which examines the attempts of Confederate diplomats and their British supporters to reframe the cause… read more

Recent Publications

  • PETER O'CONNOR, 2021. Defending the Indefensible?: The Pro-Confederate Lobby in Britain in the aftermath of the Emancipation Proclamation The Journal of Transatlantic Studies. (In Press.)
  • PETER O'CONNOR, 2017. American Sectionalism in the British Mind 1832-1863 LSU Press.
  • PETER O'CONNOR, 2015. ‘An Anglo-American Synecdoche?: Thomas Jefferson’s British Image 1800-1865’, Journal of Transatlantic Studies. 13(2), 154-175
  • PETER O'CONNOR, 2014. ‘John Quincy Adams: An Exceptionally Average President?’. In: MICHAEL PATRICK CULLINANE and CLARE FRANCES ELLIOTT, eds., Perspectives on Presidential Leadership: An International View of the White House Routledge.

I am currently the convenor of the first year core module 'Race, Power, Money and the Making of North America 1607-1900.' I also convene a final year research informed optional called 'The Special Relationship, Spit and Slavery: Britain and the US 1776-877.' In addition, I contribute sessions on the American South, Appalachia and the Ozarks and Los Angeles to the second year module 'North American Regions.'

Current Research

I have recently had an article accepted for publication in the Journal of Transatlantic Studies which examines the attempts of Confederate diplomats and their British supporters to reframe the cause of the south during the Civil War in the aftermath of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. The article is scheduled to appear in summer 2021.

I currently editing another piece based on research undertaken thanks to an Eccles Centre Postgraduate Fellowship. This article considers popular British responses to the 1812 Anglo-American war to challenge the prevailing scholarly consensus which suggest that the war was viewed simply as a minor front in the global Anglo-French conflict. My work highlights the extent to which groups within Britain engaged with the war as a distinct entity and shows how their attitudes allow us to see the shifting use of the US as a symbol in British political discourse.

Past Research

My first monograph, American Sectionalism in the British Mind 1832-1863, was published by Louisiana State University Press in 2017. It builds on my PhD work to argue that British reactions to the American Civil War can only be understood within the context of pre-existing ideas about the relationship between the North and South. My monograph draws on the published work of British novelists, travel writers, scientists and political reformers to reconstruct this antebellum framework. Through my analysis I demonstrate how responses to the Civil War were the product of these ideas intersecting with the propaganda produced by partisans for the Union and Confederacy.

While studying for my PhD I published work on the American presidency during the early nineteenth century. In 2014 I produced a book chapter on the legacy of John Quincy Adams as part of a Routledge edited collection. During the following year I published an article in the Journal of Transatlantic Studies that drew on fiction, visual culture and journalism to examine how the image of Thomas Jefferson was deployed in Britain between 1800 and 1865.

Future Research

I had previously been working on an article examining the connections between British Whig/Liberal politicians and the American Whig party between 1837 and 1856. I had already conducted enough research to establish the ways in which Britons embraced American Whiggery as a 'palatable' form of US identity which they believed could provide the basis for closer Anglo-American relations. Unfortunately, the covid 19 outbreak has prevented me from conducting the next stage of archival research on the project.

I have started to sketch out a new direction for my research in recent months with a focus on placing the early reconstruction period in an Atlantic context. I had initially approached this from the perspective of American expansion into the Caribbean and while I am still interested in writing an article on a failed 1867 scheme to purchase Danish Atlantic colonies their is a limit to what I can do on this topic during lockdown. Nevertheless working on this subject led me to the possibility of developing a new monograph examining the ways in which concepts of citizenship and race were discussed by both Britons and Americans within the context of the reconstruction of the Union and governance of the British Empire.

  • PETER O'CONNOR, 2021. Defending the Indefensible?: The Pro-Confederate Lobby in Britain in the aftermath of the Emancipation Proclamation The Journal of Transatlantic Studies. (In Press.)
  • PETER O'CONNOR, 2017. American Sectionalism in the British Mind 1832-1863 LSU Press.
  • PETER O'CONNOR, 2015. ‘An Anglo-American Synecdoche?: Thomas Jefferson’s British Image 1800-1865’, Journal of Transatlantic Studies. 13(2), 154-175
  • PETER O'CONNOR, 2014. ‘John Quincy Adams: An Exceptionally Average President?’. In: MICHAEL PATRICK CULLINANE and CLARE FRANCES ELLIOTT, eds., Perspectives on Presidential Leadership: An International View of the White House Routledge.

Department of American and Canadian Studies

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Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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