Announcing CPH Postdoctoral Fellows for 2018-2019

The Center for Presidential History is pleased to welcome two new postdoctoral fellows to SMU for the 2018-2019 academic year: Dr. Gregory Brew and Dr. Lizzie Ingleson.

Gregory Brew completed his PhD in U.S. International History at Georgetown University in Spring 2018. Greg’s book project is Mandarins, Paladins, and Pahlavis: The International Energy System, the United States and the Dual Integration of Oil in Iran, 1925-1964. The manuscript explores the relationship between oil and development in Iran during the mid-20th century, and the origins of the U.S.-Iranian relationship. Brew’s work has appeared in Iranian Studies, International History Review and Mediterranean Quarterly and has received support from the Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library and the Rockefeller Archive Center.

Lizzie Ingleson arrives at the CPH after completing her PhD in History from the University of Sydney in 2017. Her current book project, Making Made in China: Race, Politics, and Labor in Sino-American Trade, 1972-1978, examines the relationships between trade, diplomacy, and labor in the origins of the U.S.-China trade relationship. Ingelson’s work has been supported by the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, SHAFR, and the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to commencing her PhD, she worked at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in Canberra.

Brew and Ingleson join current CPH postdoctoral fellows Lindsay Chervinsky (PhD, UC-Davis) and Blake Earle (PhD, Rice).

2017-2018 Events – Center for Presidential History

The CPH is pleased to announce its schedule of events for the 2017 – 2018 year!

Click here for a full list of our events.

The theme for this year is “America’s Place in the World.” Featuring presentations from historians and scholars from all over the United States, we will explore how America has interacted with foreign nations in the past and how it has affected our international policy and positions today. Many of our events will be presented in partnership with other institutions, including the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, and the Division of Music in the SMU Meadows School of the Arts.

Highlights include:

  • Twenty-Six Seconds: A Personal History of the Zapruder Film (October 26, 2017)
    • The moving, untold family story behind Abraham Zapruder’s film footage of the Kennedy assassination, presented by Alexandra Zapruder, Abraham’s granddaughter.
  • When the World Seemed New: George H.W. Bush and the End of the Cold War (November 14, 2017)
    • Based on unprecedented access to previously classified documents and dozens of interviews with key policymakers, here is the untold story of how George H. W. Bush faced a critical turning point of history—the end of the Cold War. Includes a book sale and signing with our own Jeffrey Engel.
  • How Van Cliburn Got to Moscow (February 20, 2018)
    • In partnership with SMU’s Meadows School of Music, Danielle Fosler-Lussier of Ohio State University explores the life of famed pianist Van Cliburn, and how musicians like him got to Moscow during the height of the Cold War.
  • Southern Belles, Washington Balls, and Dixie’s Reach: How Southern First Ladies Changed America’s Compass (March 28, 2018)
    • A day long panel conference featuring various speakers on the impact of Southern First Ladies.


Our events are free and open to the public.
Registration for each event opens about three weeks before the event date.

To receive email updates on events, sign up for our mailing list here.
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Upcoming Publication: When Life Strikes the President

when-life-strikes-the-presidentThe Center for Presidential History will soon see the publication of When Life Strikes the President: Death, Scandal, and Illness in the White House (Oxford University Press, 2017), based on the 2014 conference of a similar name.

Americans demand much from their presidents. They practically require them to be superhuman no matter the circumstance: cool in moments of stress, compassionate in times of tragedy, steadfast in time of war. Yet they are also human, and sometimes, life strikes even the White House. Death can touch their family. They can fall ill.  Their personal judgment can lapse. Everyday citizens typically ride out in privacy such personal trials. A president does not have that option. They have a moral, legal, and most profoundly ethical responsibility to their office no matter what might be occurring in their private life. Indeed, at crucial points in the annals of the presidency, personal crises have affected a president’s ability to lead, and even altered the nation’s course.

Edited by Jeffrey Engel and Thomas Knock, this book collects the work of our nation’s foremost historians, writers, and leaders. When Life Strikes the President will be released March 2017 through Oxford University Press.  Chapter contributors include: Aaron Crawford, Daniel Feller, Kiron Skinner, William Chafe, Michael Holt, Michael Burlingame, Amity Shlaes, David Nasaw, Thomas Knock, Frank Costigliola, Jeremi Suri, and Randall Woods.

Announcing the 2016-2017 CPH Writing Fellow

katherine-engel_webThe CPH Writing Fellow for the Spring of 2017 is Professor Kate Carté Engel, Associate Professor of History in the William P. Clements Department of History at SMU. Carté Engel is completing a manuscript about how the American Revolution transformed international Protestant communities, and the idea of religion itself.

The CPH supports scholars at its home institution of Southern Methodist University. This Writing Fellowship provides an SMU scholar in the final stages of their manuscript project with a one-semester sabbatical from teaching.

Announcing Two New Postdoctoral Fellows at the CPH

We are thrilled to announce that two scholars will be joining the CPH in the Fall of 2016 as postdoctoral fellows:

Sarah Coleman thumbnailSarah R. Coleman is a historian of post-1945 U.S. political history with a focus on domestic policy development. Sarah received her PhD from the Department of History at Princeton University. Her book manuscript explores the shifting politics of immigration policy in the last quarter of he twentieth century. Before returning to academia, Sarah worked in the White House as a senior policy analyst focused on domestic policy and justice issues and on the United States Senate Judiciary Committee.

Renfro, Paul thumbnailPaul Renfro studies twentieth century U.S. history with thematic interests in political culture, childhood, region, and gender/sexuality. Renfro received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Iowa, where he was a Louis Pelzer Dissertation Fellow. His book manuscript, tentatively titled Stranger Danger: The Politics of Child Safety in the Age of Reagan, centers on the missing children scare of the late twentieth century.

The CPH maintains an active and competitive postdoctoral fellowship program. These two-year fellowships provide a junior scholar first and foremost with time and resources to complete their book manuscript. The position also provides an opportunity to enhance their overall scholarly profile by participating in the Collective Memory Project and in the overall life of the CPH. For more information, click here.

In Case You Missed It: Music and Politics in the Founding Era

In case you missed the final CPH event of 2015 — “Hailing Columbia: Music and Politics in the Founding Era” — a video of the forum is now available.

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This recording is the property of C-SPAN and may only be used for research and teaching purposes. It cannot be copied or reproduced for profit. © 2015

The event featured Professor Kirsten Wood of Florida International University.  With the help of musicians from SMU Meadows School of the Arts, Dr. Wood provided attendees with an opportunity to listen to the music of the early republic and understand the political and metaphysical purposes behind the programming of such songs as “Hail Columbia,” “Jefferson and Liberty,” and “To Anacreon in Heaven,” better known today as the melody for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Professor Wood discussed the many political purposes of music during the founding era of the United States, including its use as a tool of political manipulation, taunting of adversaries, and enjoyment during Independence celebrations.

Two CPH Publications Available for Purchase

The Center for Presidential History has released two books which are now available for purchase.


The Four Freedoms: FDR and the Evolution of an American Idea

Edited by Jeffrey A. Engel, this book includes seven essays by top scholars, exploring how each of Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms evolved over time, for Americans and for the wider world. It was published on December 21, 2015 by Oxford University Press.

Purchase: Oxford University Press | Amazon

Click here to watch the accompanying conference.

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Faith in the New Millennium: The Future of Religion and American Politics

This book highlights some of the ways in which religion is impacting the most important political, social, and cultural issues of the current era. The sixteen contributors reveal how faith is shaping modern America, and how modern America is shaping faith. It was published on December 24, 2015 by Oxford University Press.

Purchase: Oxford University Press | Amazon

Click here to watch the accompanying conference.

Announcing the 2015-2016 CPH Writing Fellow

AtesThe CPH Writing Fellow for the Spring of 2016 is Professor Sabri Ates, Associate Professor of History in the William P. Clements Department of History at SMU.  Professor Ates is completing a manuscript on the first Kurdish revolt, its attempt to establish a Kurdish nation-state, and its aftermath. The revolt started in the last months of 1880, when tens of thousands of Iranian and Ottoman Kurds marched on northwestern Iran, and ended in failure in early 1881. By writing a history of this revolt, Dr. Ates aims to answer the question of how the Kurds responded to the age of nationalism, and ultimately failed, only to be described as the world’s largest ethnic group without a state.

The CPH supports scholars at its home institution of Southern Methodist University who are working on projects in the field of presidential history, broadly defined. This Writing Fellowship provides an SMU scholar in the final stages of their project with a one-semester sabbatical from teaching.

Two Forthcoming Books from CPH

The Center For Presidential History will be releasing two books in the near future: The Four Freedoms: FDR and the Evolution of An American Idea (Oxford University Press), and Faith in the New Millennium: The Future of Religion and American Politics(Oxford University Press). CPH will be hosting a book release and signing at our final semester event on December 9. The event is open to the public and free to attend. Further details on the event and how to register can be found here.

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