Dr Simon Topping
Profiles

Dr Simon Topping

Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer)

School of Humanities and Performing Arts (Faculty of Arts & Humanities)

Role

Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer) United States History

Exchange Co-ordinator, School of Humanities

Qualifications

I have been at the University of Plymouth since 2004, prior to my appointment here, I taught at the University of Wales (Bangor) for a year. I did my PhD, entitled “The Republican party and Civil Rights, 1928-1948,” at the University of Hull, supervised by Professor John Ashworth and Dr John White, and successfully defended my thesis, examined by Professor Tony Badger (Cambridge), in 2002.

I taught in the American Studies Department at Hull from 1997 until 2003. Before that, I took a Masters degree in American History at the University of Sheffield from 1994 to 1996, working under Professor Richard Carwardine and Dr Robert Cook and specialising in civil rights. As part of my BA in American Studies at the University of Ulster (graduating in 1993) I spent a year as an exchange student at the University of Mississippi (1991-1992), where I was appointed to the Chancellor’s Honor Roll for Academic Achievement.

At Plymouth, I was head of the Popular Culture degree from 2004 until 2009 and subject leader for American Studies from 2008 until 2010. I have been a member of the History team since 2008.


Professional membership

British Association for American Studies (BAAS)

Teaching interests

My teaching concentrates on the United States. I offer a first year core module entitled America from Settlement to Empire (HIST406) which examines American history from the arrival of Columbus to the end of the Spanish-American War. This module introduces students to the key themes in the first two hundred years of European settlement in what would become the United States and demonstrates how the country has been shaped by settlement, revolution,slavery, civil war, westward expansion and imperialism.

My second year module, America Since 1900 continues from where HIST406 left off, examining the key moments in the United States’ rise to superpower status, analysing the Progressive Era, the New Deal, two world wars,the Cold War, Vietnam, Watergate and America's role in the post-Cold War World.

I developed American Popular Culture since 1945, a second year module using various forms of mass culture to understand the United States. Thus, for example, we look at McCarthyism through film, the impact of television on the democratic process, black history via music and employ sources as diverse as comic books and political satire as well as more traditional historical texts, to show how culture operates in its political and historical context.

In the third year I offer two modules on the civil rights movement, the first deals with the period from 1890 to 1954 and the second from 1954 to 1970. The first of these modules looks at the roots of the modern civil rights struggle, examining key figures such as Booker T.Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey and Walter White, and key events such as Scottsboro, the Great Depression, WWI and WWII and the Cold War. The second module deals with the more familiar territory beginning with the Brown decision of 1954 and concluding in the aftermath of the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King.

Staff serving as external examiners


Research interests

I am currently working on a book project provisionally entitled Faithful Sentinel: Northern Ireland, the United States and the Era of the Second World War. This will analyse the positive reaction of the government of Northern Ireland, the only self-governing region of the United Kingdom at the time, to the presence of the American military. Stormont saw the war effort and association with the United States as a way of strengthening the union. Conversely, I will also consider how the issues and problems of Northern Ireland were reported back to Washington by the Belfast consulate, and the attitude of the American minister in Eire during the war, David Gray, towards partition and Irish history more generally. The final aspect of this research analyses the efforts of the Northern Ireland government to seek support for, and investment in, the country after the war, concentrating primarily on Prime Minister Brooke’s tour of North America in 1950. I am hoping to publish this book in 2019.

This research grows out of three articles dealing with the stationing of African American troops in Northern Ireland during the war: the first examined their reactions to the locals and vice versa in addition to their treatment at the hands of their white comrades and the US military authorities. The second analysed the attitude of the government of Northern Ireland to the importation of American racism, while the third, accepted by the Journal of African American History and due for publication in 2017, uses Northern Ireland as a case study for the racist application of American military justice during the war. 

Further ahead, I am hoping to write a monograph on comics and the Great War, focussing on Charley's War.

My previous research analysed the pre-1954 civil rights struggle in the United States, looking in detail at the black vote and culminatingin the publication of Lincoln’sLost Legacy: The Republican Party and the African American Vote, 1918-1952 (University Press of Florida, 2008). I also contributed a chapter on Walter White to Longis the Way and Hard: One Hundred Years of the National Association for theAdvancement of Colored People (NAACP), (Universityof Arkansas Press, 2009) and have published articles in the Journal of African American History, the Journal of American Studies, the Irish Journal of American Studies, OVERhere (now the European Journal of American Culture), Historical Research and the African American National Biography. I have also written a numberof book reviews for national and international journals.



Research groups

  • Centre for Humanities, Music and Performing Arts Research (HuMPA)
  • History

Key publications are highlighted

Journals
Articles
Topping SD 2013 ''"Laying down the law to the Irish and the coons": Northern Ireland’s Response to American Racial Segregation during World War Two'' Historical Research
Topping SD 2013 '"The Dusky Doughboys: Interaction between African American Soldiers and the Population of Northern Ireland during the Second World War"' the journal of american studies 1-24
Topping SD 2004 '“‘Never argue with the Gallup Poll:’ Thomas Dewey, Civil Rights and the Election of 1948.”' Journal of American Studies
Topping SD 2004 '“Supporting Our Friends and Defeating Our Enemies: Militancy and Non-partisanship in the NAACP, 1936-1948.”' Journal of African American History
Topping SD 1999 'Turning their pictures of Abraham Lincoln to the Wall:’ The Republican party and African Americans in the Election of 1936.”' Irish Journal of American Studies, 8,
Topping SD 1996 '“‘A Question of Citizenship?’ James Meredith and the Ole Miss Integration Crisis, 1962.”' Irish Journal of American Studies 5,
Topping SD 0 '“‘In no election since 1860 have politicians been so Negro minded as in 1936:’ Courting the African American vote in the Election of 1936.”' OVERhere (now European Journal of American Culture) 18,
Books
Topping S 2008 Lincoln's lost legacy: the Republican Party and the African American vote, 1928 - 1952. Univ Pr of Florida
Chapters
Topping SD 2009 'All Shadows are dark: Walter White, racial identity and national politics' in Verney K; Sartain L Long is the way and hard: one hundred years of the national association for the advancement of colored people (NAACP) Univ of Arkansas Pr 3-15
Topping SD 2008 'African American National Biography: Aaron-Brown, Ruth ; Vol. 2, Brown, S.-Diggs ; Vol. 3, Dihigo-Gwynn ; Vol. 4, Hacker-Jones, Sarah ; Vol. 5, Jones, Scipio-Moore, Kevin ; Vol. 6, Moore, Lenny- Romain ; Vol. 7, Roman-Tzomes ; Vol. 8, Uggams-Zuber' in Gates HL; Higginbotham EB African American National Biography: Aaron-Brown, Ruth ; Vol. 2, Brown, S.-Diggs ; Vol. 3, Dihigo-Gwynn ; Vol. 4, Hacker-Jones, Sarah ; Vol. 5, Jones, Scipio-Moore, Kevin ; Vol. 6, Moore, Lenny- Romain ; Vol. 7, Roman-Tzomes ; Vol. 8, Uggams-Zuber
Conference Papers
Topping SD 2016 '‘‘‘Here to Give Hitler Hell’: The arrival of American troops in Northern Ireland in January 1942 and its impact upon local politics’' Historians of the Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS) Middleburg, Netherlands 06/07/2016 06/01/2017
Topping SD 2016 '‘”Purely a courtesy call’: Sir Basil Brooke in the United States, 1950’' Transatlantic Studies Association Conference Plymouth University 04/07/2016 06/07/2016
Topping SD 2016 '‘”Developments in Northern Ireland”: American diplomacy in Northern Ireland during the Second World War’,' British Association for American Studies (BAAS) and Irish Association for American Studies (IAAS) joint conference Belfast 07/04/2016 09/04/2016
Topping S 2015 '“An absolute and exclusive jurisdiction”: American Military Justice in Northern Ireland during World War Two' BAAS conference Northumbria University 09/04/2015 12/04/2015
Topping S 2013 'The Double ‘M’: Mutiny and Militancy among African American soldiers during World War Two' BAAS Exeter 19/04/2013 21/04/2013
Topping SD 2012 '“Racial Justice in the US Military in Northern Ireland in the Second World War”' British Association for American Studies (BAAS) Manchester Metropolitan University 12/04/2012 15/04/2012
Topping SD 2011 'Northern Ireland and the American Presence During the Second World War' New England American Studies Association (NEASA) conference Plimoth Plantation, MA 04/11/2011 05/11/2011
Topping SD 0 '"Faithful Sentinel: Northern Ireland, America and the Second World War,"' The Second World War: Culture and Popular Memory Conference University of Brighton, //0 01/07/2011
Topping SD 0 '"Stormont, Washington and the Second World War"' BAAS Conference University of Central Lancashire //0 01/04/2011
Topping SD 0 '"African American Troops in Northern Ireland during the Second World War"' BAAS Conference University of East Anglia //0 01/04/2010
Topping SD 0 '“Of Mr Walter White and Others….” Walter White, Partisan Non-partisanship and the NAACP, 1938-1952' BAAS Conference University of Nottingham //0 01/04/2009
Topping SD 0 '“’The Politics of 1948’: Truman, Dewey and the African American Vote"' 1948: American Realignments conference University of Sussex //0 01/09/2008
Topping SD 0 '“Why Barack Obama is not a Republican: Race and American Politics”' Roosevelt Study Center in association with the Roosevelt Academy Middelburg, the Netherlands //0 01/09/2008
Topping SD 0 '"’The Unfinished Business of America:’ Eisenhower and Civil Rights in the Election of 1952"' BAAS Conference Edinburgh University //0 01/03/2008
Topping SD 0 '“Harry Truman, Moral Imperatives and Civil Rights"' BAAS conference University of Leicester //0 01/04/2007
Topping SD 0 '“Wendell Willkie: Republican Anathema.”' BAAS conference Manchester Metropolitan University //0 01/04/2004
Topping SD 0 '“‘Never argue with the Gallup Poll:’ Thomas Dewey, Civil Rights and the Election of 1948.”' BAAS conference Oxford University //0 01/04/2002
Topping SD 0 '“Non-partisanship in the NAACP during the Depression and New Deal,”' BAAS conference Keele University //0 01/04/2001
Topping SD 0 '“‘In no election since 1860 have politicians been so Negro minded as in 1936:’ Courting the African American vote in the Election of 1936.”' BAAS/OVERhere postgraduate conference Nottingham Trent University //0 01/11/1999
Other Publications
Topping SD 2016 ‘An Orangeman in New York: Sir Basil Brooke’s North American Trip, 1950’. 0 0
Topping SD 2015 Race and Justice in the US Military Justice during World War Two. 0 0
Topping SD 2015 Race and US military justice during the Second World War, Northern Ireland as a case study. 0 0
Topping SD 0 "God's Lonely Man" Scorsese's Taxi Driver, ,. 0 20101101
Topping SD 0 "Walter White: Forgotten Civil Rights Pioneer”. 0 20081101
Topping SD 0 "Failing 'To Secure These Rights' Harry Truman and the Politics of Race". University of Plymouth 0 20070301
Topping SD 0 From Anti-lynching to Fair Employment: The Legislative Programme of the NAACP in the Pre-Civil Rights Era,” invited research paper, hosted by the Inter-Disciplinary Human Rights Research Group, University of Newcastle, May 2006. 0 20060501
Topping SD 0 “Walking Between the Raindrops: The African American Vote in the Election of 1952,”. 0 20051101

Other academic activities

Co-ordinator of Department of Humanities reciprocal student exchanges with the United States and Erasmus exchanges with the Netherlands and Sweden.

Co-ordinate Humanities student exchanges to the United States as part of the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP)

Manage study link/scholarship scheme with the Roosevelt Study Center in the Netherlands