Lewis Defrates

PhD Candidate in American History

I am a cultural historian of nationalism, race and the Anglophone world in the 19th and 20th centuries. My PhD is funded by AHRC and the Isaac Newton Trust. I received my BA from the University of Warwick and my MA at Durham University, where my dissertation focused on a series of association football tours from British colonies in Africa and the Caribbean to the metropole in the 1950’s. An edited version of this dissertation was recently published as an article in Sport in History. I founded and convene the Cambridge American History Seminar Podcast. I've also written about baseball for the Washington Post. In 2019 I was a fellow at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas. I am supervised by Gary Gerstle.

My PhD explores the physical movement and work of a variety of cultural actors from the United States in the United Kingdom in the period between the Gilded Age and the start of the Great War. I am interested in the primacy of national identity in this work and interrogate how differing conceptions of Americanness were formed, articulated and received in Britain. I explore how these articulations, which I characterize primarily as either 'dominant' and 'oppositional', were structured by race, class and region. More broadly, I am interested in transnational travel, discourses of race and empire, and the history of popular culture.

Available for supervisions in paper 24

'Transatlantic Travel, Letters of Introduction and Networks of Knowingness in the Gilded Age and Beyond', SHAFR, New Orleans, Louisiana, 18-20 June 2020.

‘Reflecting Across an Ocean’, American History Workshop, Cambridge University, 18 February 2020

‘Steam and Hot Air’, American History Workshop, Cambridge University, 11 June 2019

‘Formulating African-Americanism on the Transatlantic stage: Three case studies from the turn of the 20th century’, African American Intellectual History Society Conference, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 22 March 2019

'Marking the "National" Game: American Baseball Tours to Britain, 1874 and 1889', Cambridge Body and Food Histories Group, 30 October 2018

“Historical Perspectives on the Performance of National Identities in Foreign Contexts”: University of Cambridge Nationalisms and Identities Research Group, 22 October 2018

“Making Race in the Metropole: Association Football Tours from Britain’s Colonies to England, 1949-1959”, International Society of Cultural History Conference, New York City, September 2018

“Signifying the Nation: American Performance and Reflection in Britain 1865-1900”, History Lab Conference, Institute of Historical Research, London, June 2018

Public Outreach and school teaching- Bringing the Wild West Across the Ocean: Buffalo Bill in Queen Victoria’s London, 1887, University of Cambridge History for Schools Programme (Ages 7-11), 11 May 2019

Buffalo Bill's Wild West and the Fisk Jubilee Singers in Britain 1873-1888: Transatlantic Visions of America, Christ's, Sidney Sussex and Murray Edwards Subject Masterclass webinar, University of Cambridge School outreach campaign (Ages 16-18), 23 January 2019

“Causes of the French Revolution” History Lecture, Gravesend Grammar School, (Ages 17-18) October 2018


Tags & Themes