University of Oxford USA
University of Oxford USA
Connections between Oxford and the United States are strong across the spectrum of the University’s activities. The USA is the largest source of students and second largest source of academic staff outside of the UK and is home to the largest number of international Oxford alumni. Oxford academics and scientists publish research with American colleagues more frequently than with any other nationality, and the USA provides the largest source of funding for Oxford research outside of the UK.
Oxford University Press has deep historical links to the US: in January 2009, President Barack Obama was sworn into office on the same Bible as that used by Abraham Lincoln in 1861, which was published by Oxford University Press in 1853. The Oxford University Press, Inc. (OUP USA) is Oxford University Press’s second major publishing centre after Oxford, and is by far the largest university press in the USA. Set up in 1896, OUP USA was the Press’ first international office. Since it began to publish its own US books in the 1920s, the Press has been honoured with seven Pulitzer Prizes, several National Book Awards, and over a dozen Bancroft Prizes in American history. It publishes at a variety of levels and for a wide range of audiences in almost every academic discipline, furthering Oxford University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education.
The focal point for the study of the USA at Oxford is the Rothermere American Institute. Opened in 2001 by former US President Bill Clinton, it is an international centre of excellence dedicated to the interdisciplinary and comparative study of the US. Bringing together scholars, intellectuals, policy-makers, and public figures from around the world, it seeks to promote a greater public and academic understanding of the history, culture, and politics of the US. It is considered to be one of the best places to study the United States outside America. The Director of the RAI is Professor Jay Sexton, an expert on the American presidency and currently Tutorial Fellow in American History at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. His research focuses on nineteenth century America and its connections with the wider world.
The study of American history enjoys great vitality at Oxford thanks to its dynamic expansion in recent years. The Oxford Centre for Research in US History (OxCRUSH) is housed in the Faculty of History and brings together the substantial body of American historians who work in Oxford.
Provision in the field is now unsurpassed within the British university system. Forming one of the largest establishments of American history specialists in the country, the group of nearly 10 Faculty post holders teach and supervise most of the major areas of American history. The annual Harmsworth Professorship makes Oxford unique amongst British institutions by enabling a distinguished American scholar to spend a year in Oxford teaching, conducting seminars, and pursuing research.
As a mark of the standing of Oxford’s scholars of the US, in February 2009, Professor Richard Cawardine, Lincoln biographer, former Rhodes Professor of American History, and President of Corpus Christi College, became the only non-American to receive the Order of Lincoln from the State of Illinois.
American Politics and International Relations
Oxford is home to a number of specialists in American Politics and International Relations. Professor Marc Stears, University Lecturer in Political Theory, specialises in the history of radical political thought with a recent focus on US radicals. Professor Desmond King, the current Andrew Mellon Professor of American Government, is a leading scholar of American political development and the author of many works on labour markets, race, immigration, and ethnicity.
American literature is one of the major research areas of Oxford’s Faculty of English Language and Literature, and the RAI also hosts a research programme in American literature. Oxford’s American literature specialists publish widely on American modernist literature, poetry and the history of American literature. The Faculty is home to specialists in the works of authors including Ezra Pound, Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson, TS Eliot, and Philip Roth among others.
The USA in its regional context
The North American Studies programme, established in 2012 at St Antony’s College, seeks to examine the common problems and issues that transcend national boundaries in North America, the interrelationships among North American states and societies, and the relationship of the region to the wider world. It is designed to create a lively and world-class multi-disciplinary programme at Oxford to study North America as a region, defined as the area from the Arctic to Panama, including the Caribbean. It is a substantial and permanent programme for the study of North America, and was designed to build on the strong base that already exists at Oxford through our wide range of North American experts in faculties such as History and Politics and in such centres as the Rothermere American Institute, International Studies, the Environmental Change Institute and Migration Studies. The North American Studies programme also brings in leading scholars and practitioners from the UK and North America.
Academics can be found working on North American issues, and in collaboration with North American colleagues, throughout the University. Academically, the study of the United States – its history, culture and politics – received a renewed focus in Oxford with the establishment of the Rothermere American Institute which was opened by former US President Bill Clinton in 2001. The RAI is an international centre of excellence dedicated to the interdisciplinary and comparative study of the United States.
Studying North America in its regional context allows the programme to focus on common issues and challenges such as migration, security, trade, environment, resources, aboriginal rights and governance, which affect the continent as a whole. The programme will initially look at three main areas: the common problems and issues which transcend national boundaries in North America; the interrelationships among the states and societies of North America; and the relationship of the continent to the external world.
It is a sign of Oxford’s strong ties with the region that one of only three international University offices is located there. The University’s North American Office, based in New York, reflects and seeks to further strengthen Oxford’s relationship with North America.
Libraries and Museums
Several of the University libraries and museums hold extensive collections of items relating to native and post colonial America. For instance, the Rothermere American Institute is host to the Vere Harmsworth Library (part of the Bodleian Library), the finest library of Americana to be found outside the US. Its collection focuses predominantly on the history, social, political and economic, of the United States from Colonial times to the present day.