Tag Archives: Red Scare

Sexuality and Sumner Welles

29 Aug

The latest episode of the American History Too podcastwelles (which I co-host with Glasgow University’s Mark Mclay) focuses on historical attitudes towards the LGBT (to use an anachronistic term) community in the United States during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Our guest, Chris Parkes, has made this the focus of his research for a considerable period, with a particular interest in the life and circumstances of foreign policy figure Sumner Welles. Towards the end of the episode, Chris also discusses the challenges and rewards of teaching LGBT history as part of broader university history courses.

Spy Scholarship

10 Apr

To help kick off the third annual Edinburgh Spy Week, I thought I’d offer some thoughts on great works of espionage, intelligence, and surveillance scholarship. Below are a half dozen books that I think are essential for the reader interested in the world of intelligence. This is a personal list, and as such focuses on the twentieth century UK, USA, and USSR. So, no Elizabethan skullduggery, Great Game goings on, on anything like that, I’m afraid.
classified
Classified: Secrecy and the State in Modern Britain
, Christopher Moran, 2012

For anyone interested in the history of intersections between the British state, the media, the public, Chris Moran‘s Classified is a must read. The book takes a thematic approach, covering topics like the political memoirs, official histories of intelligence, and the groundbreaking work of Chapman Pincher. All of the themes covered are cleverly combined to offer a dynamic, comprehensive study of the multifaceted nature of secrecy in twentieth-century Britain.

Christopher Moran will be appearing at Spy Week 2016 talking about James Bond in fact and fiction.

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McCarthyism and the Anti-vaccination Movement. What?

10 Feb

real enemiesA conspiracy of circumstances (how appropriate) lead me to the topic for this post. This week, I’ll be teaching undergraduates about the Second Red Scare in the United States. I’ve also been reading about the recent Disneyland Measles Outbreak in the United States. How are the two connected? Please, bear with me on this.

As part of my prep for classes, I’ve been re-reading Kathy Olmsted’s marvellous 2009 book Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War 1 to 9/11. Olmsted persuasively traces the rise of conspiracy theory and mistrust in the US government. The twentieth century, Olmsted argues, saw a turn from a belief that alien enemies were out to destroy the Republic to a belief that the government itself was the main conspirator.[1]

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Bodysnatched!: Screening Invasion of the Body Snatchers

20 Feb

This week is Innovative Learning Week at the University of Edinburgh. According to the official blurb, ILW will “be used as an opportunity for experimentation and innovation in areas which may normally be constrained by the curriculum.” The American History 2 course team have organised a series of film screenings relating to different periods in American history. We’ll be showing Glory (the Civil War), O Brother Where Art Thou? (the Great Depression), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the early Cold War), and Full Metal Jacket (the Vietnam War.)

My part in all of this is to introduce, screen, and then lead the discussion on Body Snatchers. And here’s what I plan to say! (warning: this is about 900+ words, so the longest post I have yet done on this blog!)

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Teaching American History – My 20th Century Syllabus

6 Jan

Just the other day, I sent my students (and hello to any of you reading this!) the syllabus for this semester in American History 2 (the second year undergraduate survey course that I’m a teaching assistant/tutor on.) Now that we have covered the broad sweep of American history from the Colonial period to the end of Reconstruction, it’s time to move into the twentieth century.

One thing I am very keen on is giving students the chance to take classes that appeal to them, as long as they fit within the overall course. So at the end of last semester, I offered some choices in what classes to take. Populism was quite roundly rejected in favour of a more detailed study of Progressivism. Which is something of a shame, as I had just managed to pick up a bargain priced second hand copy of The Populist Vision by Charles Postel!  Both tutorial groups were almost universal in their desire to have a class each on the early Cold War abroad and the early Cold War at home, as opposed to the somewhat challenging task of rolling the two into one. Classes on Nixon and Reagan were also universally popular.

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