Professor Robert Mason (BA, DPhil, FRHistS, SFHEA)
Professor of Twentieth-Century U.S. History; History
I have worked at the University of Edinburgh since 1998. Both my undergraduate and postgraduate studies took place at the University of Oxford.
In 2004–2005 I was a fellow at the John W. Kluge Center, which is at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. During 2021–2022 I was a core fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki.
In 2018 I received the Edinburgh University Students' Association award for best supervisor.
Responsibilities & affiliations
Between 2008 and 2010 I was chair of the Scottish Association for the Study of America, and between 2008 and 2011 I was a member of the British Association for American Studies executive committee.
I have acted as an external examiner for undergraduate degree programmes at the University of Dundee, the University of Nottingham, and the University of Sussex, as well as for a postgraduate programme at University College London.
I am an associate fellow of UCL Americas.
- American History 2
- Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal
- The Rights Revolution: American Society and the Supreme Court, c. 1935–c. 1990
- The United States in the 1960s
- The Rise of the Right in the United States, c. 1945–c. 1990
- Themes in American Historiography
- Conservatism in the United States, c. 1930–c. 1990
- The Sixties in the United States
Open to PhD supervision enquiries?
Current PhD students supervised
Name - Degree - Thesis topic - Supervision type - Link
- Thomson, Sarah - PhD - ‘A Transformational Conservative? Constructing Ronald Reagan’s Political Legacy, 1984-93’ - Joint - link
Past PhD students supervised
Name - Degree - Thesis topic - Supervision type - Completion year - Link
- Maxwell, Robbie - PhD - Educator to the Nation: George S. Benson and Modern American Conservatism - Primary - 2014 -
- Burns, Adam - PhD - An Imperial Vision: William Howard Taft and the Philippines, 1900-1921 - Primary - 2010 -
- Maxwell, Robbie - MScR - George Benson and the Long Term Origins of Modern American Conservatism - Primary - 2010 -
- McLay, Mark - PhD - Lyndon Johnson and the Republican Challenge to the War on Poverty - Primary - 2015 -
- Craig, Malcolm - PhD - The United Kingdom, the United States, and Nuclear Proliferation in South Asia: The Case of Pakistan, 1974–1980 - Secondary - 2014
- Zenou, Theo - MScR - The Storytellers: Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and the Story as Strategy in 1933 and 1981 - Primary - 2018
- North America
- Twentieth Century & After
My research is on the United States during the twentieth century, especially American political history of the post–World War II years. Much of my work focuses on the Republican party; I have also studied how the news media in the United States have covered politics. This reflects an interest in investigating how politicians develop an understanding of voters' concerns and how they then formulate efforts to speak to those concerns.
My first book, Richard Nixon and the Quest for a New Majority, examines how the Nixon administration reacted to the perception that liberalism's contemporary problems created a historic opportunity for a conservative breakthrough. The book argues that this response thoughtfully analysed current trends but was flawed in fashioning an agenda to harness the possibilities for the Republican party of this politically turbulent moment. The Republican Party and American Politics from Hoover to Reagan, my second book, investigates how Republicans tackled the problem of their party's minority status and considers why their efforts to boost its fortunes usually ended in failure. At the heart of the Republicans' minority puzzle was the profound, persistent popularity of New Deal liberalism; because of their Democratic rivals' popularity among voters, this puzzle was resistant to solution.
I am currently writing a book about Spiro T. Agnew, Richard Nixon's first vice president. During the Nixon years Agnew achieved fame and notoriety because he promoted conservative ideas in a particularly aggressive, controversial manner. Yet he began his career in Republican politics by promoting a more moderate path for his party. My project seeks to explain the transition in Agnew from moderation to conservatism, as a way to consider larger trends in the Republican party of that era.
Spiro T. Agnew: a political biography
Robert Mason, The Republican Party and American Politics from Hoover to Reagan (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012)
Robert Mason, Richard Nixon and the Quest for a New Majority (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004)
Robert Mason, Alix Meyer, and François Vergniolle de Chantal, Réactions en Chaîne: Les Républicains, de Dwight D. Eisenhower à George W. Bush (1952–2008) (Paris: Éditions Fahrenheit, 2015)
Patrick Andelic, Mark McLay, and Robert Mason, eds., Midterms and Mandates: Electoral Reassessments of Presidents and Parties (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2022)
Robert Mason and Iwan Morgan, eds., The Liberal Consensus Reconsidered: American Politics and Society in the Postwar Era (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2017)
Robert Mason and Iwan Morgan, eds., Seeking a New Majority: The Republican Party and American Politics, 1960–1980 (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2013)
Journal articles and book chapters
Robert Mason, 'Winning without winning: neoliberalism, public opinion, and electoral politics in the United States (1968–2000),' in Nathalie Lévy, Alexis Chommeloux, Nathalie A. Champroux, Stéphane Porion, Selma Josso, and Audrey Damiens, eds., The Anglo-American Model of Neoliberalism of the 1980s: Construction, Development and Dissemination (Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2022), 117–133
Robert Mason, 'Midterm elections, the Republican Party, and the challenge to New Deal liberalism, 1946–1958,' in Patrick Andelic, Mark McLay, and Robert Mason, eds., Midterms and Mandates: Electoral Reassessments of Presidents and Parties (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2022), 143–167
Robert Mason, 'The Republican minority and voter mobilization: the pursuit of grassroots activism and the politics of conservatism and moderation in the United States, 1933–1964,' in Véronique Molinari and Gregory Benedetti, eds., (Re-)Mobilizing Voters in Britain and the United States: Political Strategies from Parties and Grassroots Organizations (1867–2017) (Berlin: De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2021), 201–223
Robert Mason, 'War Hero in the White House: Dwight Eisenhower and the Politics of Peace, Prosperity, and Party,' in Jelte Olthof and Maarten Zwiers, eds., Profiles in Power: Personality, Persona, and the U.S. President (Leiden: Brill, 2020), 112–128
Robert Mason, 'Realigning Politics: Electoral Coalitions, Political Change, and the Republican Party from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush,' The Forum 15 (2017): 667–684
Robert Mason, 'Transatlantic Dimensions of Electoral Strategy: Republican Party Interpretations of UK Politics, 1936–c. 1960,' in Clarisse Berthezène and Jean-Christian Vinel, eds., Postwar Conservatism, A Transnational Investigation: Britain, France, and the United States, 1930-1990 (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2017), 215–242
Robert Mason, 'The Domestic Politics of War and Peace: Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and the Election of 1980,' in Andrew Johnstone and Andrew Priest, eds., US Presidential Elections and Foreign Policy: Candidates, Campaigns, and Global Politics from FDR to Bill Clinton (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2017), 250–270
Robert Mason, '"Down the Middle of the Road": Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Republican Party, and the Politics of Consensus and Conflict, 1949–1961,' in Robert Mason and Iwan Morgan, eds., The Liberal Consensus Reconsidered: American Politics and Society in the Postwar Era (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2017), 186–206
Robert Mason, 'Dimensions transatlantiques de la stratégie électorale: Interprétations républicaines de la politique britannique, 1936–v. 1960,' in Clarisse Berthezène and Jean-Christian Vinel, eds., Conservatismes en mouvement: Une approche transnationale au XXe siècle (Paris: Éditions de l'EHESS, 2016), 203–231
Robert Mason, 'Kennedy and the Conservatives,' in Andrew Hoberek, ed., The Cambridge Companion to John F. Kennedy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 225–239
Robert Mason, ‘Citizens for Eisenhower and the Republican party, 1951–1965,’ Historical Journal 56 (2013): 513–536
Robert Mason, ‘Foreign Policy and the Republican Quest for a New Majority,’ in Robert Mason and Iwan Morgan, eds., Seeking a New Majority: The Republican Party and American Politics, 1960-1980 (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2013), 160–178
Robert Mason and Iwan Morgan, ‘Introduction: Republicans in Search of a New Majority,’ in Robert Mason and Iwan Morgan, eds., Seeking a New Majority: The Republican Party and American Politics, 1960-1980 (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2013), 1–12
Robert Mason and Iwan Morgan, ‘The Ongoing Republican Search for a New Majority since 1980,’ in Robert Mason and Iwan Morgan, eds., Seeking a New Majority: The Republican Party and American Politics, 1960-1980 (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2013), 213–227
Robert Mason, 'Political Realignment,' in Melvin Small, ed., A Companion to Richard M. Nixon (Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), 253–269
Robert Mason, 'Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party: Responses to Realignment' in Cheryl Hudson and Gareth Davies, eds., Ronald Reagan and the 1980s: Perceptions, Policies, Legacies (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 151–172
Robert Mason, 'The struggle for free time: media reform in the United States during the 1990s,' Media History 12 (2006): 313–328
Robert Mason, 'The Media,' in Gillian Peele, Christopher J. Bailey, Bruce Cain and B. Guy Peters, eds., Developments in American Politics 5 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 165–181
Robert Mason, '"I was going to build a new Republican party and a new majority": Richard Nixon as party leader, 1969–1973, ' Journal of American Studies (2005): 463–483
Robert Mason, 'Political parties and the party system', in Robert Singh, ed., Governing America: The Politics of a Divided Democracy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 94–108
Robert Mason, '"If you're disgusted with us, I don't blame you": television and American politics today', in Robert Singh, ed., American Politics and Society Today (Cambridge: Polity, 2002), 80–100
Robert Mason, 'Review article: The citadel and the home place under siege,' Reviews in American History 33 (4) (2005): 111–118