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Dr Christian O’Connell

Senior Lecturer in History

Studying history is much more than learning dates and names. It's about exploring, questioning, and interpreting the stories we tell ourselves about the past.


I am Academic Course Leader in History, and Senior Lecturer in American History. My interest in the subject began with African American music and the blues, which led to my first book Blues, How Do You Do? (Michigan, 2015). More broadly, I am fascinated by the ways American culture has travelled and shaped societies and cultures beyond the nation’s borders.

These interests have led me to examine representations of American culture in Britain and the experiences of African American GI’s in Europe during WWII.


  • BA (Hons): Geography, University of Leeds, 2001
  • MA: American Studies, Kings College London, 2006
  • PhD: History, University of Gloucestershire, 2012
  • PGCert: PGCAP, University of Gloucestershire, 2015


HOTCUS Article Prize 2022 for ‘A Roman Holiday?’

International History Review Research Award 2019

Fulbright-Elon Scholar Award (Jan-May 2016)

BAAS/UCL Institute of the Americas Visiting Fellow, 2015

BAAS Short-Term Travel Award 2011

Eccles Centre Postgraduate Awards in North American Studies 2011

Membership of professional bodies

  • Trustee of the European Blues Association
  • British Association of American Studies
  • Historians of the Twentieth Century United States
  • Transatlantic Studies Association.

Teaching & Research


Christian teaches American social, cultural and political history. His modules focus on the relationship between democracy and slavery from the Revolution to the Civil War; Reconstruction and the rise of the ‘New South’ after the war; conflict, capitalism and culture in the ‘American Century;’ and the African American experience in the 20th century.


Primarily a cultural historian, Christian is interested in the transatlantic diffusion of American culture, particularly music. He has published on the representations of the American South on British television, and most recently on relations between African Americans and Italians during WWII. Christian has also worked on local history projects such as Cheltenham’s Lower High Street: Past, Present & Future. At present, he is contributing to Gloucester’s monuments review by examining legacies of transatlantic slavery in the city.


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View Christian O’Connell’s publications in the Research Repository.

External responsibilities

Christian is an executive committee member of the European Blues Association, which looks after the Paul Oliver Collection of African American Music at Oxford Brookes. He is also on the Steering Committee of History UK, which is the independent national body promoting and monitoring History in UK Higher Education. He also works in partnership with local organisations such as the Gloucester History Festival and Voices Gloucester developing community-based history projects.

Subject for media interview

American and African American History

The Blues and African American Culture

Race Relations and Politics in the US