James is a Ph.D. candidate at Great Britain’s University of Nottingham, where he completed a BA and MRes in American Studies in 2013 and 2015 respectively. During his undergraduate study, he spent a year abroad in the U.S. at the College of William and Mary.
His guest posts at Emerging Civil War have highlighted the research he does on portrait photography and Civil War soldiers. Last summer, he participated as part of an ECW program offered at St. Bonaventure University in conjunction with the reunion of the descendants of the 154th New York Infantry.
“Though it’s my intention to pursue a career in academia and historical research, I would never want to lose sight of the significance of public engagement,” he says. “Establishing the creation of accessible, informative articles for non-academic audiences will be important in my development as a historian.” The blog, he says, is a vital reminder of the importance of public education.
He also appreciates ECW’s “network of like-minded Civil War historians.”
James’s undergraduate dissertation was an examination of the significance of tintype portraiture in relation to Civil War soldiers. He recently completed his MRes thesis, which studied the uses of photographic portraiture by Federal soldiers as a means to better manage the trauma of the Civil War and as a means to reimage the figure of the citizen-soldier.
James will build on this research for his Ph.D., which will look at the significance of varying forms of visual culture produced and utilised by rank-and-file soldiers and how that betters our understanding of the conflict. The thesis will examine these democratic forms of visual culture and how they stood in opposition to conventional, mainstream representations of the Civil War.
James also engages in Civil War living history across both Europe and the U.S. and acts as an assistant to an itinerant nineteenth century historical photographer.