The project: This project will draw on the British Library’s extensive holdings of American political pamphlets to study and contextualise the writing, printing, distribution and dissemination of political pamphlets produced in the years preceding and during the Second World War. The Library’s collection of American pamphlets from the interwar period contains publications by different anti-fascist, anti-capitalist and pacifist societies. These include the Socialist Party of America, the Young People’s Socialist League, the American League Against War and Fascism, the Jewish People’s Committee, the War Resisters League, the World Peace Foundation, as well as anti-imperialist societies such as the United Aid for Peoples of African Descent, among many others. The researcher will also benefit from access to the extensive collection of US political pamphlets at the Marx Memorial Library, a partner of the project.
Through co-supervision the doctoral researcher will be guided towards the production of a multi-layered digital map of the pamphlets held in the collections, which will then be used to reanalyse the landscape of transatlantic radicalism during the period. This research will be underpinned by the production of a digital resource that charts the origins, production, distribution and reception of the pamphlets. Some of the pamphlets will be digitized as part of the collation of data and for public presentation of the findings. This resource will document, and present in an accessible way, the British library’s collection of pamphlets in this area, as well as link to similar ephemera contained in other archives, including those held in the Marx Memorial Library, London.
The doctoral candidate will be examining and contextualizing the political pamphlet as a material object through a joint literary/cultural historical lens: recording metadata such as the type of paper used, who printed it, the number of copies printed, the design and layout and the inclusion of illustrative materials alongside the broader historical and political contexts. The resulting PhD thesis will offer a unique portrait and understanding of the history of American political pamphleteering through the exploration of the production and dissemination of pamphlets during the period 1920-40.

Supervision and training: The holder of the studentship will be registered as a doctoral candidate at the University of Sussex, and will fulfil all the requirements of the PhD degree there under the supervision of Dr. Sue Currell. As a doctoral candidate at the University of Sussex the student will have access to doctoral training programmes and a community of scholars and expertise, including the substantial research infrastructure centred around the Sussex Humanities Lab which supports pioneering work to develop new forms of digital humanities. The successful candidate will normally have had postgraduate experience (e.g., at MA, M.Phil, or M.St level) in American Studies, English Literature, History, Cultural Studies or another relevant discipline which includes the interpretation of texts, analysis of historical documents, and critical scholarship, with an established interest in book history and material culture.
The student will be co-supervised by Dr Mercedes Aguirre (Lead Curator, Americas, British Library). The student will benefit from the staff expertise, collections, and environment of the British Library, which provide students with a unique doctoral research and training experience. Our collaborative doctoral students benefit from a range of training workshops, networking events and shared working facilities to enable them to develop together as a cohort, rather than lone scholars. We continue to work with our collaborative research partners in universities, museums, galleries, libraries and archives across the UK to maintain a track record of excellence in postgraduate training and research on a national scale.

Type of award

Postgraduate Research Scholarship

Award amount

£14,553 tax-free bursary per annum, plus a waiver of UK/EU fees and up to £1600 research expenses per annum for 3 years


Eligible candidates will have very strong academic records; they will normally have a relevant Masters’ degree or equivalent post-graduate qualification. Those with backgrounds in American Studies, English literature, History (and especially book history and print culture) will be especially well-prepared.
Residency Criteria:

  • British nationals who have lived in the UK and Islands all their lives are eligible for the full award (stipend and fees)
  • Also eligible are non-British nationals who have settled status AND have been resident in the UK for 3 years immediately prior to the date of the start of the course.
  • EU nationals who have been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands for three years immediately prior to the date of start of the course are eligible for the full award
  • Overseas (non EU) students are not eligible

EEA and Swiss nationals (EEA migrant workers) should refer to the full RCUK guidelines to check eligibility.

Application procedure

All applications should be submitted online through the Sussex University postgraduate application system. . Please apply for a PhD in English under the supervision of Dr Sue Currell and indicate on your application that you wish to be considered for the “Sussex University and the British Library: American Political Pamphlets 1920-1945.” Further information on application procedures can be found at:
Please include in your application:
– Your personal statement (2000 words) outlining your motivation for applying for this studentship and your ideas on how you would like to develop the research proposed.
– CV
– Copy of MA diploma if relevant
– Two letters of recommendation (references)


The deadline for submissions is 1st June 2017.
Interviews will be held on 26 June at the Sussex University campus.

Further information

The British Library will provide research-related expenses of up to £1,000 p.a. (against receipts, and in addition to the normal research expenses element of an AHRC studentship), including, but not limited to, travel to other libraries that hold relevant archival material and to project-related conferences. The Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library has agreed to offer a £600 per annum bursary over three years (£1800 in total) to help with travel costs to the British Library. The student will also have free staff-level access to Library-wide training courses.
The School of Engish
The 2014 Research Excellence Framework placed the School of English as 9th in the UK out of 89 submissions to the English Language and Literature panel. Our research environment is assessed at 90% ‘world leading’, placing us 3rd in the UK.

Contact details

To discuss the project further, potential candidates are welcome to approach Dr Currell
( ) and Dr Aguirre ( ).
For queries with respect to the application process please contact Laura Velcott, Research Co-ordinator: .
To apply visit: