School of Cultures, Languages and Area 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 Radicals in America (Cambridge, 2015), a comprehensive history of the American left since the Second World War co-authored with Howard Brick. While his intellectual interests remain broad, at present his research agenda is focused primarily upon sexuality at midcentury.

His articles have appeared in The Journal of American History, The Journal of American Studies, The Journal of the History of Sexuality, and other scholarly journals, as well as such popular outlets as the Financial Times, Times Higher Education, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Nation,, and Salon.

In addition to several awards for excellence in historical and political writing, Phelps 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 is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

He welcomes post-graduate student supervisions in the history of sexuality or any other field his scholarship engages, including American political, intellectual, and labor history. His completed PhD students include Lorenzo Costaguta on race and socialism in the Gilded Age, Kim Moody on geographical mobility and the American working class, John Tiplady on McCarthyism and the anti-Stalinist left, and Bart Verhoeven on the John Birch Society. He currently supervises PhD students Graham Ashurst on Diane Ravitch and American education and Daniel Watson on automation and modernization.

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: 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 Chronicle of Higher Education, InsideHigherEd, and other news providers.

Teaching Summary

Autumn 2017

- American History 1 (Q41101)

Spring 2018

- Sexuality in American History (Level 3, Q43533; M.A., Q44353)

Additional modules to be offered again in future years:

- American Radicalism (Level 2, Q42322)

- History of American Capitalism (Level 2, Q42301)

- American Labor History (Level 3, Q43340; M.A., Q44340)

Selected Publications

School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

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