Department of American and Canadian Studies

Postgraduate student profiles

Emily Potts MA ACS
MA in American Studies: 2017-2018

After completing my BA in History and American Studies, and having thoroughly enjoyed researching for my dissertation, I decided to do an MA in American Studies. It seemed a great opportunity to not only study topics that particularly interested me but to improve my in-depth researching skills. The Department of American and Canadian Studies is a great place to research and study, and I have been able to work closely with academics who specialise to a high level in a variety of areas.

During the MA I have had the opportunity to choose modules which match my particular interest in Black Power and the Civil Rights Movement as well as topics I haven’t previously examined in depth such as the Vietnam War and contemporary America, including Trump’s presidency.As a member of the postgraduate community, I have been able to pursue several volunteering opportunities. For example, as a representative of the University I delivered a lunchtime lecture to a class of sixth-form students at a grammar school in Birmingham. Given my research on the Civil Rights Movement, I discussed the importance of the movement and its historical legacy. The experience was a great way to help improve my public speaking and engage in discussion with others who are passionate about American history.

One particular aspect of the MA I have really enjoyed is the ability to choose the direction of your own work, to independently decide on your coursework topics and explore new ideas. I hope to pursue a career in research, perhaps in the areas of human rights law and activism or foreign affairs. I believe my MA has helped to further improve and expand my skills and outlook in terms of independent research and writing which will prove valuable for the future.

MA in American Studies: 2017-present

I’m Richard Gill and I’m a part-time MA student in American Studies. I was inspired to study this course as US history and politics have been a long-standing hobby, and I wanted to expand and deepen my knowledge of the subject.

Nottingham appealed to me as I knew both the university and the Department of American and Canadian Studies have a superb reputation for research and the quality of tuition. The self-contained campus is superb, providing a relaxing atmosphere to study in, unlike some other city-centre universities.

For me the best part of the postgraduate community is the quality of the teaching and extra support given by the department. Having been away from study for some time I feel I have really been given every opportunity to develop my skills in a very friendly environment.

The course is challenging but stimulating. As a part-time student, I’m also supported to attend extra events and seminars, and I still feel a valued member of the department. There have been many opportunities to take part in extra activities: I have delivered one outreach lecture and am planning the second within the next month, and I’ve also been able to join societies and attend conferences, which further develop my interests and skills, as well as giving me the opportunity to network with academics from other universities.

Having enjoyed my first year I’m planning to study for a PhD and I feel that the opportunities and support I have received will allow me to achieve this – I’m very pleased to be at Nottingham – I made the right choice!




Eastwood Image
PhD in American and Canadian Studies: 2015-present

My research concerns the interplay between nuclear policy making during the Cold War and government attempts to sell that policy to the American public. Specifically, I am interested in the period 1952 – 1964 when the United States’ position on nuclear weapons, particularly regarding nuclear testing, underwent several dramatic vacillations. My research examines each of these changes in policy and asks how public support for these rapid and very different changes was secured by the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations. By considering the relationship between policy-making, attempts to manifest support for changing policies and the public response to those attempts, my research contributes to both U.S. political history and the social history of the arms race.

The development of my thesis has been greatly aided by the American Studies PG community at Nottingham. With the benefit of our own research office, the collaborative and congenial atmosphere has allowed me to share ideas with colleagues and benefit from their input and expertise. Of particular advantage has been the work in progress seminars, something I believe is quite rare at other institutions. The ability to present my work and engage in meaningful discussion during these sessions has greatly strengthened my academic development and confidence in defending my ideas.

I am funded by the AHRC's Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training partnership and during the PhD, I have had the opportunity to undertake several research visits, including a one month visit to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston and the New York Public Library. More significantly, I held a three-month Kluge Fellowship at the Library of Congress in the spring of 2017. Secured through the AHRC International Placement Scheme, the fellowship allowed me to conduct an extended period of research in Washington D.C. which has been vital to the development of my thesis. The fellowship also gave me a unique opportunity to present my work to leading scholars as well as policy makers at the Congressional Research Service. Alongside these research visits, I have been afforded a number of excellent career development opportunities. Of particular note was a PhD placement I undertook at the British Library’s Eccles Centre for American Studies during the summer of 2016. The aim of the placement was to highlight the US foreign policy collections of the Library and culminated in me producing a series of written guides and organising an academic symposium. These three months away from my primary research allowed me to develop a number of important employability skills as well as greatly developing my contacts within the field. Similarly, I currently hold the position of ‘Postgraduate Representative’ for the Historians of the Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS) professional organisation which has given me excellent access to the leading scholars within my field in the United Kingdom. 



Hannah Jeffery
PhD in American and Canadian Studies: 2015-present

I loved my time as an undergraduate in the Department of American and Canadian Studies (2009-2013) so much that it compelled me to stay on and take an MRes (2014-2015). Eight years later, I’m into the third year of my PhD. I’ve always had an interest in African American cultural history, and taking a PhD at Nottingham means I can delve into all aspects of a field of study that I have a real passion for, such as the Black Power Movement, African American art, the Civil Rights Movement, the Harlem Renaissance, and slavery and emancipation. 

One of the things that inspired me to do a PhD in American and Canadian Studies was the staff. The department at Nottingham is fantastic and has such high-achieving staff members who are interested in a multitude of fields and disciplines. American and Canadian Studies is such an interdisciplinary field that it quite literally allows you to study anything. There is such a broad range of PhD topics in the department—from Puerto Rican activism in New York’s East Village to women’s prison magazines, and from the life of Frederick Douglass in Britain to Cold War foreign policy.

The ACS postgraduate community is second to none, and from what I’ve heard from people at other universities, we are one of the biggest and friendliest! We all support each other, do social things weekly, and work in the same office space together.

One of the great things about the ACS Department at Nottingham is how many opportunities it provides students. In the last two and a half years, my CV has grown from two pages to seven pages, purely from helping organise conferences, running Black History Month, getting involved in local projects, such as creating Nottingham’s first black history mural, and curating a couple of exhibitions. I am certain that I wouldn’t have achieved these things if it wasn’t for Nottingham and the staff making these opportunities available.

Omara Dyer Johnson ACS PhD
PhD ACS – Black Studies: 2017-present
My name is Omara and I am doing a PhD in Black Studies. My research focuses on Afrofuturism, an aesthetic influenced by science-fiction and fantasy. I am currently looking at the way Afrofuturists conceptualise black identity in comics and graphic novels. Whilst doing an MA in American Studies, I decided to apply for a place within the doctoral programme. I had thoroughly enjoyed the breadth of topics covered in the MA course and the research for my dissertation. Throughout the MA and currently, teaching staff and my supervisory team have been helpful, supportive, and enthusiastic. The opportunity to receive input from other postgraduate students in ‘Works in Progress’ sessions has been incredibly useful, and it is also interesting to hear about other students’ research. My research is funded by the Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership which also offers a variety of placement opportunities related to the arts and humanities.



Department of American and Canadian Studies

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