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David Doddington

Dr David Doddington

Senior Lecturer in North American History

School of History, Archaeology and Religion

Available for postgraduate supervision


Research interests

I am Senior Lecturer in North American History at Cardiff University and Programme Convenor for the History Department. I received my PhD from the University of Warwick in February 2013. Before taking up post at Cardiff in 2014, I held teaching and research positions at the University of Warwick, the University of Leicester, and the University of York. 

My research interests centre on slavery, race, age, and gender in the antebellum South, with a particular interest in examining resistance and solidarity within slave communities. I have published in journals such as Gender & History, Slavery & AbolitionJournal of Global Slavery, Journal of Southern History, and in edited collections, including Daina Ramey Berry and Leslie Harris (Eds.) Sexuality and Slavery: Reclaiming Intimate Histories in the Americas (Athens: Univeristy of Georgia Press, 2018). My first monograph, Contesting Slave Masculinity in the American South, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2018, and my second, Old Age and American Slavery is being published by Cambridge University Press in 2023.

Alongside Professor Enrico Dal Lago (NUI Galway), I was the lead editor for Writing the History of Slavery, which was published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2022. This was generously described by Professor Orlando Patterson as “the best collection of studies on the historiography, methodologies and theoretical approaches to the comparative and transnational histories of slavery.”

My work has been generously supported with a research fellowship awarded by the Leverhulme Trust, as well as funding provided by the British Association of American Studies (BAAS), the Eccles Centre at the British Library, British American Nineteenth Century Historians (BrANCH), and the Roosevelt Institute for American Studies, Middelburg.

I have broader interests in the history of U.S. expansion during the nineteenth century, noting the conflict and violence that marked such expansion, as well as wider issues associated with migration, movement, and colonisation. I welcome enquiries over teaching and supervision on slavery, gender, and race in American history.






  • Doddington, D. 2019. Slavery and the family. In: Burnard, T. ed. Oxford Bibliographies in Atlantic History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. -.









Book sections




Research projects

Contesting Slave Masculinity in the American South (New York; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018)

This monograph demonstrates that masculine identity was a site of contest and comparison within slave communities of the antebellum South. In exploring how enslaved people negotiated identities in relation to one another, and not simply with white society in mind, I help to demonstrate the fluidity of gender as a social and cultural construct and the limitations to any monolithic model of black solidarity.

Writing the History of Slavery (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2022)

Exploring the major historiographical, theoretical, and methodological approaches that have shaped studies on slavery, this addition to the Writing History series highlights the varied ways that historians have approached the fluid and complex systems of human bondage, domination, and exploitation that have developed in societies across the world. The first part examines more recent attempts to place slavery in a global context, touching on contexts such as religion, empire, and capitalism.

In its second part, the book looks closely at the key themes and methods that emerge as historians reckon with the dynamics of historical slavery. These range from politics, economics and quantitative analyses, to race and gender, to pyschohistory, history from below, and many more. Throughout, examples of slavery and its impact are considered across time and place: in Ancient Greece and Rome, Medieval Europe, colonial Asia, Africa, and the Americas, and trades throughout the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Also taken into account are thinkers from Antiquity to the 20th century and the impact their ideas have had on the subject and the debates that follow.

This book is essential reading for students and scholars at all levels who are interested in not only the history of slavery but in how that history has come to be written and how its debates have been framed across civilizations.

Old Age and American Slavery (New York; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2023).

Old Age and American Slavery reveals how antebellum southerners, Black and white, adapted to, resisted, or failed to overcome changes associated with old age, both real and imagined. Slavery was a system of economic exploitation and a contested site of personal domination: both elements of this were affected by concerns with age. In examining how individuals, families, and communities felt about the aging process, and dealt with elders, I emphasize the complex social relations that developed in a slave society. In connecting old age to the arguments of Black activists, abolitionists, enslavers and their propagandists, I reveal how representations of old age, and experiences of aging, spoke to wider struggles relating to mastery, paternalism, resistance, and survival in slavery. The book asks us to rethink long-standing narratives relating to networks of solidarity in the American South and it illuminates the violent and exploitative nature of American slavery.

Future Projects

Writing Histories of Age.

 Aging is both a biological reality that shapes the contours of human life but also a social and cultural construction. Although aging is universal, societies and individuals have disagreed over how to conceptualise and make sense of age and aging. Yet whether framed as a number, related to pivotal life events, understood as metaphor or symbol, or considered as subjective and subject to contestation and conflict, age has a history and, indeed, a historiography.

Instead of individuated discussions of particular ages in the life cycle, or attitudes to age in particular countries or regions, however, this book will ask students and scholars to think holistically about the value of age to historical research, provide critical reflections on how we might and why we must study age in the past, and push scholars in new and exciting directions. The book demonstrates how age has been – and remains – a vector of power, a contested identity, and a social and cultural construct that shaped the dynamics of, and the most personal experiences in, societies across the globe.

The first half of the book focuses on particular stages of the life-course and provides a roadmap to how scholars have understood age in relation to both chronology but also in relation to pivotal life-events. The second half of the book explores how scholars have tackled age and aging through distinct theoretical, methodological, and intellectual approaches, but also considers intersections between, and challenges relating to, different historiographies and modes of studying approaches to the study of the past.

Mixed Martial Arts: Gender, Power, and American Identity

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is one of the most popular sports across the globe, but also one of the most controversial. Since its contested “birth” as a sanctioned sport in the US during the 1990s, critics have excoriated both its violence – assumed and real – but also the relative frequency with which practitioners, promoters, and fans have supported extremist political viewpoints. These have frequently related to visions of manhood predicated on strength and dominance and been tied to political movements associated with “strongmen,” with exclusionary rhetoric and a focus on authority by force. The ever-growing popularity of MMA, alongside its controversial nature, provides an ideal focus for an interdisciplinary study that reveals insights into US and UK society. The project will explore the history of MMA and its connections to social and cultural tensions in the Atlantic world from 1970 to 2022, with focus on age, class, gender, and race.


My teaching at Cardiff includes:

  • Year 1: Making of the Modern World.
  • Year 1: History in Practice.
  • Year 1: Projecting the Past.
  • Year 2: Approaches to History
  • Year 2: Exploring Historical Debate.
  • Year 2: “An Empire for Liberty”: Race, Space, and Power in the United States, 1775-1898.
  • Year 3: Dissertation.
  • Year 3: Slavery and Slave Life in North America, 1619-1865.
  • PGT: Skills in Historical Research.
  • PGT: Trends in Historical Research.
  • PGT: Slavery, Resistance, and Survival in the U.S. South, 1815-1865.

I am supervising PhD students on the following topics:

  • Co-supervisor (50%) for Elizabeth Maeve Barnes, 'Rape, Power, and Race: Black Women’s Responses to Sexual Violence in the Antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction US South.’  COMPLETED
  • Co-supervisor (50%) for Erin Shearer, 'Women of Violence: Challenging Perceptions of Enslaved Women’s Resistance in the Antebellum United States, 1815-1861.'
  • Co-supervisor (50%) for Pamela Price, 'Who holds the book? The Rise of the Eighteenth-Century Child and the Contemporary Young Adult Reader.' COMPLETED

I welcome enquiries for supervision in topics relating to slavery, gender, and race in American history.

Teaching outreach and engagement:

  • Outreach and engagement with ECR and PhD students. Includes invitation to deliver PhD “Masterclass” on Slavery in the Americas, Leiden University. Organized by the N.W. Posthumus Institute, Research School for Economic and Social History in the Netherlands and Flanders. Presentations at ECR events for BrANCH, BGEAH, and BAAS; publication for BAAS online relating to job applications.
  • Outreach and engagement with schools and community organizations. Includes publications targeted at secondary school-level students, namely AQA A-Level History Textbook, The Making of a Superpower: USA, 1865-1975, Modern History Review. Providing workshops at secondary schools in Cardiff, Kent, Coventry, Malvern, Monmouth. Delivering public lecture at National Trust property, Tredegar House, Newport.


Career overview

2019- – Senior Lecturer in North American History, Cardiff University.

2014-2019 – Lecturer in North American History, Cardiff University.

2013-2014 – Lecturer in U.S. History (fixed term), the University of York.

2012-2013 – Lecturer in U.S. History (fixed term), the University of Leicester.

2012-2013 – Early Career Fellow, the Institute of Advanced Studies, the University of Warwick.

2009 – 2013 – Seminar Tutor, the University of Warwick.

Education and qualifications

2005-2008 – BA (Hons), First Class, History, the University of Warwick.

2008-2009 – MA in the History of Race in the Americas, the University of Warwick.

2009-2013 – PhD in History, the University of Warwick.

Honours and awards

Honours and Awards (select)

  • 2023 – Nominated for Enriching Student Life Awards: Personal Tutor of the Year.
  • 2021 and 2022 – Nominated for Enriching Student Life Awards: Most Uplifting Staff Member.
  • 2020 – Elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
  • 2018/19 – Fellowship, Roosevelt Institute for American Studies, Middelburg University.
  • 2018/19 – Leverhulme Research Fellowship, Old Age and American Slavery – £50,148.
  • 2018/19 – BAAS Founders’ Award, “The Inexorable Hand of Time”: Age and Power in American Slavery.
  • 2018/19 – AHRC/BBC 3 New Generation Thinkers Finalist/Workshop Stage.
  • 2017 – Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy.

Professional memberships

  • British Association for American Studies (BAAS).
  • The Association of British American Nineteenth Century Historians (BrANCH).
  • The Southern Historical Association (SHA).
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
  • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Committees and reviewing

  • Solicited book reviews, and peer reviews of book and article manuscripts, including: American Historical Review, Family History, Journal of the Civil War Era, Black Perspectives, Slavery & Abolition, Journal of Southern History, William & Mary Quarterly, Nineteenth Century American History, Gender & History, Journal of Global Slavery, Journal of the Early Republic, Reviews in History, Journal of Social History, Social Sciences, Oxford University Press, Louisiana State University Press, De Gruyter.
  • Advisory Board for the Routledge Online Encyclopaedia of Race and Racism.
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Global Slavery.
  • External assessor for ECR fellowship Applications to Cambridge University Colleges: Churchill, Fitzwilliam, Murray Edwards, Robinson, Trinity Hall.
  • Assessor and moderator for AHRC DTP Scheme.
  • Awards committee for BAAS student prize.


I welcome enquiries over teaching and supervision on slavery, gender, age, and race in American history.