AHA Member Spotlight: Michael Cullinane

Michael CullinaneAHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership, AHA Today features a regular “AHA Member Spotlight” series. The members featured in have been randomly selected and contacted by AHA staff, but if you would you like to nominate a colleague for the AHA Member Spotlight, please contact Nike Nivar.

Dr. Michael Patrick Cullinane is a senior lecturer in American history at Northumbria University. He lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, and has been an AHA member since 2006.

Alma mater/s 

Pace University; National University of Ireland, University College Cork

Fields of interest

U.S. foreign relations; imperialism and anti-imperialism; Gilded Age and Progressive Era; transnational history; memory and history

When did you first develop an interest in history? 

My interest in history began in high school when our class interviewed local World War II veterans and family members who gave rich accounts of depression-era life. These interviews, captured on video and screened at the school, were my first substantial engagement with the past. My interest grew with a study abroad experience to Ireland that led to further studies of U.S. foreign relations from the other side of the Atlantic. The transatlantic and transnational perspective that became a part of my personal life instigated an interest in transnationalism in late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

What projects are you working on currently? 

This year I finished my first monograph Liberty and American Anti-Imperialism, 1898-1909, which examines the anti-imperialist movement in the United States. The book has been such a significant part of my life for so long, but I have recently started a new monograph project. My new project is a scrutiny of the memory and legacy of Theodore Roosevelt. It is designed to be a centennial view of how Roosevelt has been imagined in historiography, pop culture, politics, and memorials since his death. I am also working on a series of articles on public diplomacy in Anglo-American relations and the role of memorials and heritage sites in building public sentiment.

In addition to research, I have long had an interest in technology and learning which has recently culminated in the design of an online master’s degree.

What is the last great book or article you have read? 

I am currently reading Inderjeet Parmar’s newest book, Foundations of the American Century (2012). It is an examination of the Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Ford foundations and illustrates the extent of soft power used in U.S. foreign policy. The subtleties of the foundations’ practice exhibit a new side to philanthropy. The book certainly made me think more about funding bodies and my research. 

Another book that captured my interest for other reasons was Richard L. Collin’s Travels with Rima (2002), a memoir of his last years with his wife. Both Richard and Rima were academics and their love story was touching. As an avid reader of Richard’s academic work it was even more fascinating to read about his personal life, including the trivial moments.

What do you value most about the history profession?

The archival work of a historian is one of the greatest pleasures of the profession. In this digital age where more and more contact with the past is being done through a computer screen, the ability to touch the physical pages of diaries and correspondence is a joy. From the archives I most treasure the quirkiness of reality which sometimes is captured in odd and humorous stories of the past. The value of history, to me, is in understanding how these stories overlap the context of everyday life and explain something of the human condition. 

The other great value of the profession is the ability to meet and work with new cohorts of students every year. Teaching U.S. history abroad is an adventure with a different set of expectations from students and the academy more broadly, but one that has the same rewards.

Other than history, what are you passionate about?

Travel and the New York Yankees.

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