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Professor Kendrick Oliver PhD

Professor of American History and Head of History Department

Professor Kendrick Oliver's photo

I specialise in the history of the United States from 1945 to 1980.  In particular, I am interested in exploring modern American political, social and cultural responses to some of the larger questions of human existence.  This theme links my doctoral work on nuclear diplomacy with subsequent studies of memory and catastrophe, wartime atrocities, crime and punishment, religion and space exploration, and with my current research into the social and cultural history of scientific cosmology in the United States.

I currently serve as chair of Historians of the Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS). I also co-convene the Institute of Historical Research North American History Seminar in London. 

H-Commons profile

Research interests

My third book, To Touch the Face of God: the Sacred, the Profane and the American Space Program, 1957-75, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in January 2013. Research for the book was facilitated by a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship.

My current book project explores the social and cultural history of the ‘big bang' theory of the universe's origins. This project, contracted to University of Massachusetts Press, has received generous financial support from the American Philosophical Society, the American Institute of Physics and the Dibner History of Science Program at the Huntington Library.

I have also recently completed a suite of four articles and chapters exploring the history of American evangelicals’ involvement with prison ministry at home and abroad. The fourth and final article in this suite was published in a special issue of the Journal of American Studies on the global history of American evangelicalism, which I edited alongside Professor Axel Schäfer (Johannes-Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany), Dr. Uta Balbier (King's College London) and Dr. Hans Krabbendam (Catholic Documentation Center, Nijmegen, Netherlands). The special issue was produced with the help of a workshop funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.

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Book Chapters


Journal Special Issue

Areas where I can offer postgraduate supervision:
Modern U.S. history, particularly the Vietnam War, the history of twentieth-century science and technology, and post-war religion.

Past PhD projects supervised:

James Morgan, 'Radical Critiques of US Imperialism'. Published as Into New Territory: American Historians and the Concept of US Imperialism (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2014) 

Christopher Fuller, 'The Eagle Comes Home to Roost: The Historical Origins of the CIA's Lethal Drone Programme'. Published as See It/Shoot It: The Secret History of the CIA’s Lethal Drone Program (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017)

Alex Ferguson, 'The US Embassy in Saigon, 1950-1957'. For an article derived from this project, see Alex Ferguson, ‘Press Management and U.S. Support for France in Indochina, 1950-54,’ Diplomatic History 42(2) (2018).

Thomas Ellis, 'Reds in Space: American perceptions of the Soviet space programme from Apollo to Mir 1967-1991'.  For an article derived from this project, see Thomas Ellis, ‘”Howdy Partner!” Space Brotherhood, Détente, and the Symbolism of the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz Test Project,’ Journal of American Studies, advance publication online, April 2018.

Current PhD projects supervised:

Fiona Bowler, ‘The British Nuclear Test Veteran: National Service, Nuclear Weapons and the Soldier's Body, 1952-2003’.

Professor Kendrick Oliver
Building 65 Faculty of Arts and Humanities University of Southampton Avenue Campus Highfield Southampton SO17 1BF United Kingdom

Room Number: 65/2061

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