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The University of Southampton
HistoryPart of Humanities

Dr David Cox 

Lecturer in Modern American History, Marketing Officer, Admissions Team

Dr David Cox's photo

I specialise in the history of the United States during the nineteenth century. In particular, I am interested in ideas of race and the ways in which these ideas shaped discourse on African American culture. Having earned my BA and MA at the University of Sheffield, I moved to the University of Cambridge where I completed my PhD.

Before joining the department I lectured in American History at Swansea University and the University of Sheffield.

Research interests

I am currently completing my first monograph, provisionally entitled American Intellectuals and African-American Folk Culture, 1862 to 1914. Beginning with ‘Gideon’s Band’ (those northern missionaries and teachers who descended upon the Sea Islands of South Carolina in 1862) my work traces the ways in which American writers of all stripes – including ‘local-color’ authors, reformers, journalists, folklorists, and social scientists – represented the folk culture of black southerners, transcribing and discussing their songs, stories, and religious beliefs. I argue that such discourse must be understood as profoundly political; discussion of black folk culture became an arena within which intellectuals debated the place and future of African Americans within the US body politic. As well as highlighting the political nature of this discourse, I use Congressional debates and periodical literature to investigate the ways in which it was appropriated within the political sphere.

I am also working on a project tracing the influence of Sir Spencer St John’s infamous Haiti, or, the Black Republic, which was published in 1884, and which dwelled at length on the child sacrifice, sexual transgression, and cannibalism supposedly characterising Haitian Vodou. From the late 1880s onwards, Americans seemed incapable of discussing Haiti without making mention of ‘voodoo.’ Newspapers reprinted St John’s claims, adding their own salacious details, while social scientists and politicians from both parties cited his work to bolster their authority. I investigate the ways in which St John’s book fed into a broader discourse on race and was appropriated by Americans seeking to justify Jim Crow at home and test their imperial power abroad.

Dr David Cox
Building 65, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Southampton, Avenue Campus, Southampton SO17 1BF, United Kingdom

Room Number: 65/2063

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