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Prof Jonathan Bell
Institute of the Americas
Tel: 02076799853
Prof Jonathan Bell profile picture
  • Professor of American History and Director of the Institute of the Americas
  • Institute of the Americas
  • Faculty of S&HS

Jonathan Bell arrived at UCL in 2014 as Professor of US History and Director of the Institute of the Americas. Prior to coming to the Institute he was an Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Reading, including four years as Head of Department. He gained his BA degree from the University of Oxford and his PhD from the University of Cambridge, and spent a year as a research student at the University of Maryland. Professor Bell is currently Chair of the Historians of the Twentieth-Century United States (HOTCUS), and is an AHRC Strategic Reviewer and member of its Peer Review College.

Research Summary

Jonathan Bell is a historian of US politics, with a particular emphasis on American liberalism since the New Deal and the ways in which liberal politics have adapted to social change during the twentieth century. He has published widely in US political history, including a book on how the Cold War transformed American political discourse and policy formation on domestic issues during the Truman Presidency, a collection of essays on American liberalism, and a book charting the changing political complexion of California since World War Two. 

His current project, tentatively entitled Unhealthy Bodies: Health Care and the Rights Revolution since the Sixties, aims to unite the two phenomena of rights politics and health care delivery/welfare politics to help us understand how the sexual and gender dynamics of medical care in the US shed significant light on the political culture of the nation at a time of significant political change in the era of government and health care retrenchment that began in the seventies and grew considerably in the Reagan era. The project shows that both state and private conceptions of gender and sexuality impacted upon their ability to provide health care to a diverse population, and demonstrates how a private-public delivery system drastically impacted upon the ability of rights movements to translate basic legal rights into full-blown economic citizenship, a question of vital public importance today on both sides of the Atlantic

Teaching Summary

Professor Bell teaches modules relating to his research interests in the history of American liberalism, the welfare state, health policy, and the history of sexuality. He has taught an undergraduate final year special subject on the New Deal and the Great Depression, and is launching a new special subject in 2018 on a queer history of the modern United States. He teaches on the undergraduate survey course on the twentieth-century US, and an option on protest politics in the USA from the New Deal to the Tea Party. He teaches two MA options, one called 'From Skid Row to Obamacare: The politics of social welfare in the United States in the Twentieth Century,' and the other 'Challenging the Straight State: Regulation, Repression, and Resistance in US Sexual Politics.'

01-SEP-2014 Professor Institute of the Americas UCL, United Kingdom
01-OCT-2008 – 31-AUG-2014 Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer) Department of History University of Reading, United Kingdom
01-SEP-2000 – 30-SEP-2008 Lecturer Department of History University of Reading, United Kingdom
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