About me

I am Professor of American Studies and International Affairs at George Washington University. My research focuses on the multiple “global visions” produced by and for Americans. In my writing and teaching, I focus on the ways in which cultural and political history intersect, and on the role of religion and culture in shaping US “interests” in other parts of the world. My own interests include nationalism and transnationalism; cultural theory; religion and culture; the rhetoric of foreign policy; and cultural and media history (including television, film, print, and digital). I am also an avid fan of science fiction, both literature and film, and am determined that one day I will write about China Miéville.

I recently completed The Kingdom of God Has No Borders: A Global History of American Evangelicals, which explores how US evangelical Christians, white and black, have constructed their understandings of — and relationships with — people in the Middle East and Africa. The book explores US evangelical investments, from their fears of decolonization in the 1960s to activism on international religious freedom in the 1990s to responses to the Iraq war after 2003. The book starts with US missionary responses to the decolonization of Congo in 1960 and ends with the debates over the Anti-Homosexuality Law in Uganda in 2014.  It was published in August 2018. Some of the images from the book are here.

My first book was Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, and US Interests in the Middle East since 1945. The book originally appeared in 2001, and it was received in the context of the September 11 attacks and the ensuing wars in the Middle East. I published a revised edition, with a new chapter, in 2005.

I am the co-editor of a book with R. Marie Griffith (Washington Univ. of St. Louis), Religion and Politics in the Contemporary United States. And I am co-editing volume 4 of the forthcoming Cambridge History of the America and the World, along with Max Friedman and David Engerman. The general editor of this exciting (and massive) project is Mark Bradley.

I received an NEH Fellowship for my next book, on the cultural and affective history of humanitarianism in the Cold War. See “Current Projects.”

I am a native North Carolinian and a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, where I attended as a Morehead Scholar, and where I tried to develop my own major in something that now exists at UNC, Global Studies. After working as a political organizer for several years, I returned to school and earned my PhD from Brown University’s American Studies program. I joined the faculty of George Washington University’s American Studies program in 1996 and live just outside Washington, DC with my life partner, Carl Conetta.

If you are thinking of applying to a PhD program in the humanities, I have some commentary and advice here.

You can follow me on Twitter: @MelaniMcA