Graduate students

The graduate community at the RAI displays disciplinary breadth, intellectual depth and energy, and a high level of activity. Groups of doctoral students in History, Politics, and Literature meet weekly for research seminars and to hear and discuss papers in progress from their peers.

“Working on a thesis in American history at Oxford, the RAI has become a second home for me. Of special importance for me is the graduate workshop, where I benefit from the stimulating works of my colleagues and get the opportunity to present my project and receive invaluable comments in the friendliest environment."
Nimrod Tal, doctoral student from Israel, working on a thesis entitled 'The American Civil War in Twentieth Century England: Popular, Political, Military and Academic Legacies'

Biographies of current doctoral students


Todd Carter is a DPhil candidate in History at University College. His research focuses upon the conduct of British and American policies toward Rhodesia (and Namibia) in the context of the Cold War in Southern Africa. Stretching from 1964, immediately prior to Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from Britain, up until the creation of the new nation of Zimbabwe, in April 1980, he explores the dimensions and content of UK and US diplomatic engagement in the region. The research question that animates Todd’s study is: what can an exploration of said policies reveal about the Special Relationship between the two powers in the 1960s and 1970s? The case is one of the evolution of policies by successive governments, statesman and diplomats of two close allies with respect to a problem that interwove so many dominant issues of the era: decolonisation, the East-West struggle, racial justice, and civil rights. At the same time, his research will also shed light on the part that personality and human relationships played in promoting (and occasionally obstructing) progress in Rhodesia, and consider whether partisan control of British government mattered for relations between Britain and the United States. His supervisors are Dr Nigel Bowles, Dr Sue Onslow, and Professor Stephen Tuck.

Jane Dinwoodie is a DPhil candidate in US and indigenous American history. Her dissertation focuses on the many communities of indigenous Southerners who avoided Indian Removal in the 1830s. Seeking to tell a cross-regional history of non-Removal, her work explores how these groups negotiated with the United States to remain east of the Mississippi, and how federal and local officials reacted to their enduring presence in the decades beyond. Her supervisor is Professor Pekka Hämäläinen. Before coming to Oxford, Jane earned a BA(Hons) in History and an MPhil in Historical Studies from the University of Cambridge.

Rivers Gambrell is a DPhil candidate in History at Kellogg College. Her research focuses on professional sport and the social performance of nationalism in the United States during the twentieth and twenty-first century. She is interested in global perspectives of American sporting rituals, and the sociocultural influence of the National Football League in both the US and Europe. Her supervisors are Drs. Jay Sexton and Simon Skinner.

Louisa Hotson explores the development of American Political Science in the middle decades of the twentieth century. Her research considers the discipline, as a profession and as a science, in the context of a broader changes in American political and intellectual history. She has an undergraduate degree in Politics from Durham University, and an MA in US History and Politics from the Institute for the Study of the Americas, London.

Horatio Joyce is a D.Phil. candidate in American History at St Cross College. His work examines the Gilded Age clubhouses of New York City designed by the firm of McKim, Mead & White. Clubs were an English institution widely adopted by the American establishment at the end of the nineteenth century and yet the subject remains largely unexamined. The outcome of his research promises new insights into a neglected building type and the working practices of McKim, Mead & White.

Oenone Kubie is a D.Phil. candidate in US History at St. Cross College. Her research is a study of working class and immigrant boys’ street cultures in Chicago in the early twentieth century. While much has been written about the new juvenile institutions created and expanded in the Progressive Era United States, Oenone’s thesis will consider how boys evaded, challenged and lived outside of institutional spaces. In doing so, she hopes to demonstrate that boys’ use of urban space in Chicago disrupted official plans for the city and altered the urban experience for Chicagoans, old and young. Her supervisors are Mara Keire and Stephen Tuck.

Christoph Nitschke is a D.Phil. candidate in US history at Keble College. His dissertation, tentatively titled America in the world of crisis: the Panic of 1873 and U.S. foreign relations, will explore the transnational history of this late 19th century financial crisis. Tracing the extensive financial networks of the time, he is particularly interested in the movement of commodities, people, and ideas connected to the crash. This study will allow an assessment of how Americans and American capitalism interacted with the world, and how an international economic crisis potentially changed these dynamics. His supervisors are Dr. Jay Sexton and Dr. Stephen Tuffnell.

Kathryn Olivarius studies the impact of the environment on the development of American slavery in the Deep South after the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. In particular, she studies the determinative aspects of two highly lethal diseases—malaria and yellow fever—and how they influenced slave labour systems, pro-slavery ideology, and regional identity. Though not unknown in other parts of the United States, yellow fever visited the Deep South at epidemic levels every two or three years, sometimes killing off as much as ten per cent of the white populations of New Orleans, Mobile, and Natchez. The fear of death cast a long shadow: thousands fled cities in panic, grinding commerce, government, and social life to a complete halt during the autumn. The quizzical, if epidemiologically ill-understood, idea that enslaved black people suffered less than whites from yellow fever became the chief justification for why widespread racial bondage was not just preferable, but fundamentally necessary along the Gulf Coast. Kathryn holds a B.A. in History from Yale University and a M.St. in US History from Oxford.

Daniel Rowe is a D.Phil. candidate in History at Lincoln College. His research focuses on the reaction of different national, subnational and local groups to the overlapping economic crises of the 1970s and 1980s. Challenging tired clichés about the rise of the Right and emergence of the Rust Belt, this thesis illuminates the important role that local politics and informal community networks played in conditioning the national response to the challenges of post-industrialism during the 1970s and 1980s. His supervisor is Dr Gareth Davies.


James Cetkovski is a D.Phil. candidate in English Literature at New College. His research focuses on the relationship between the university and twentieth-century American literature, as well as legacies of modernism in postwar American poetry and fiction. His supervisors are Lloyd Pratt and Hannah Sullivan.

Gaetan Maret is a D.Phil. candidate in English Literature at St Hugh’s College. His research focuses on the relationship between African-American and French black authors during the interwar period. Questioning the idea of ‘black internationalism,’ the thesis traces networks of influence between writers and intellectuals usually connected with the Harlem Renaissance and the Negritude movements. His supervisors are Prof. Michèle Mendelssohn and Prof. Lloyd Pratt.

Nanette O’Brien is a D.Phil. candidate in English Literature at Wolfson College. Her research explores the significance of food in Anglo and American modernist literature. Specific American interests include the politics of Ford Madox Ford's writing about agriculture and dining in America in the 1930s and the aesthetics of Gertrude Stein's consumption of American food at home and abroad. Her supervisor is Prof. Dame Hermione Lee.

Politics and International Relations

A. Blake Ewing is a DPhil student in political theory at Oriel College, Oxford, where he works on the interrelationship between ideology, philosophy and history. He holds a MSc at The London School of Economics and a BA from Colorado College. His main interests centre around the intersection between ideas and politics and exploring how historical events shape and change how we construct political ideologies. He is a graduate member of Oxford's Centre for Political Ideologies and also co-runs a politics and international relations seminar series at the RAI. Before coming to Oxford he worked in Washington as a journalist, writing mainly for The Economist, and also as a writer/researcher at the World Bank. Other interests are intellectual history, economic and political development and, when in need of a diversion, West Ham United Football Club.

Roosmarijn (Rose) de Geus is a DPhil candidate in Politics and studies voting behavior in the US. Specifically, she explores how partisan voters respond to negative information about their preferred party or candidate. Examples of these ‘difficult decisions’ are political scandals or the recent economic crisis. Her research relies on empirical analyses of survey and public opinion data, as well as the use of quasi-natural and lab experiments. Roosmarijn holds an MPhil in Comparative Government from Oxford, an MA in Conflict Studies & Human Rights and a BA in International Relations, both from Utrecht University.  

Sebastian Huempfer is a DPhil candidate in economic history. His dissertation examines the trade policy views of business elites in the United States from the end of World War I until the 1960s. His research interests include the political economy of US trade policy; business attitudes to foreign policy; international trade and public opinion; and the relationship between US foreign policy and domestic political debates. He is the convenor of the Business History Network at Oxford University ( His masters dissertation on the political economy of the Marshall Plan was awarded the 2013 Feinstein Memorial Prize. He holds an MPhil in Economic & Social History and a BA (First Class) in Philosophy, Politics & Economics, both from the University of Oxford.

Nathan Pinkoski is a DPhil student in Political Theory at St Edmund Hall. He holds a BA (Honours) from the University of Alberta, Canada, and an MPhil in Political Theory from the University of Oxford. His research is on the interpretation of classical political thought in the 20th century, to address contemporary political and philosophical concerns. He focuses on the thought of Hannah Arendt, Leo Strauss and Alasdair MacIntyre, and how they interpret Aristotle to examine the state of American liberal democracy. He convenes the RAI Graduate Seminar in American Politics, and teaches Latin for the Faculty of Classics.

Nina Yancy is a DPhil candidate in Politics studying how matters of race, class, and geography intersect to influence white Americans' opinions on policies related to race and redistribution. Focusing on the contemporary period and using both quantitative and qualitative methods, Nina's dissertation explores how racial policy preferences vary according to the conditions of racial diversity and material inequality that whites experience in cities across the US. She is supervised by Professors Desmond King and Ben Ansell and is the recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship to support her graduate study at Oxford. She holds an MPhil in Comparative Government from the University of Oxford and an AB in Social Studies from Harvard University.