Michael Cullinane

Michael Cullinane

I am Professor of US History at the University of Roehampton. I research the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, and the American presidency.

Location London


  • Dear all, many thanks for your point here. We've clarified the error.

  • Hazel, thanks so much for these links to BBC radio programming. These are excellent additions to the course. I think we shall add them, and others to the further reading sections!

  • Thanks Liz!

  • Hi everyone! Thanks so much for a most stimulating week. I just wanted to let everyone know there are over 19,000 comments here and the educators are trying there very best to react to as many as 10,800 learners. It's impossible to answer every post, but we'll try and summarize everything at the end of the week - and send an email on Monday morning giving some...

  • Thanks Moira and Emma. These are really good comments that strike at the very heart of historical interpretation. The past is gone, and we'll never be able to truly know it. Even professional historians who dedicate their lives to uncovering the "history" never achieve a true understanding of the past. Week 1 is designed to illustrate the way in which the...

  • Or Northern! Thanks Tim for all your comments. It was great to engage with learners like you.

  • Thanks Paul, and the "everything is local" point is well taken. Accents strike me as something we didn't include but demonstrate that point about place and regional differences which runs to the heart of the course's key learning objective. Happy travels in the USA!

  • It's great to see learners building relationships as they work through the content of the courses. Thanks so much to you Mary and Margaret!

  • Harold, with all due respect, you are wrong about the main focus of the course. Plantations, slavery, and race relations form only a fraction of what is covered. Feel free to count the number of steps that detail music, food, sport, politics, and economics. And frankly, your comment that we "missed" the uniqueness of Southern Culture is rich given the learning...

  • Thanks Ian! I'll take that as a massive compliment! We definitely aimed to challenge and we're glad you've enjoyed it so much.

  • I see what you mean, Pat. I guess those victim and perpetrator figures are just rolled together because they are both deaths.

  • Thanks for the feedback.

  • We've increased the amount of hours per week for the next run, Judy! Thanks for the comments...

  • Wish we could have covered more Barbara!

  • Sorry to hear this Lornas! Hopefully you'll still review all the materials at your own pace.

  • The intention was never to present the South in a negative manner, but a realistic one. I think we've covered in great length the incredible food, unique culture of song and heritage, and the diversity of people that make up the South. We've look at those elements as much as we have its uncomfortable history, the often uneasy race relations, and social ills....

  • Kate's got it. Having guns everywhere makes it more likely to be shot, regardless of whether you are a gun-owner.

  • Hi Pat. The statistics I've come across (and statistics are interpretable) suggest that its 15-24 that are "most affected" but that does not mean they shot a gun, but can be victims. See US Justice Department figures: http://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/gun-violence/pages/affected.aspx

  • Can I ask why? If you don't have a baby, can you not be a mid-wife?

  • Thanks to everyone for making this such a stimulating experience as an educator. I am overjoyed that the course inspired so many comments on so many fronts.

    The comments on the scope and coverage of the course was super-useful and we will be using your feedback to shape the second run. We will look to add more on Northern carpetbaggers, jazz, New Deal...

  • Hi Julia. We do practice a sort of "scrutiny" by which I'm going to assume you mean "understanding". No one here is suggesting we don't learn more. That is, after all, why we added these steps. Understanding religion is vital!

    Yet, because religion endures/thrives does not mean we should tear down its adherents as easily persuaded because they are dumb...

  • Thanks!

  • Of course! I was being a little facetious!

  • Hi Ross. This is not helpful. People who have faith in a higher power should not be referred to as gullible, in much the same way we should not use derogetory langugage for other demographics. Faith is personal, and peoples reasons for faith should not be subject to stereotypes.

  • Thanks David. And you're right. No one here should be on a mission to convert. We're trying to make it a safe place for conversation ... No easy task with strong opinions!! Thanks for all your contributions.

  • Everyone has their own way of finding God. And just about every Church sends around the collection plate! Otherwise the ministers don't get fed!

  • Much of the local emergency relief efforts were roundly criticized, as Richard says. Total failure.

  • Hi Richard, and thanks for your comments. We're not trying to diminish the scale of the storm, but NOLA and the Gulf Coast were worst hit by far (OK, someone died in Ohio, and floods in West Virginia this year killed 23 - but we're talking scale). Parts of NOLA have not recovered, and the situation was not just one of a white Republican president failing to...

  • Hi everyone. Spot on Colleen and John. Wireless homes are more likely to be transient. And thanks to Mark for the wikipedia link which explains the black belt in greater depth. And Ian, you're right. These maps/statistics are designed to make you think! First line of the article: "these are slippery!" You need to make informed decisions about these. Perhaps we...

  • Hi Steven. That's the Gallup data of the highest gun ownership. It's not singling out caucasians as such, and if you visit this link - http://www.gallup.com/poll/160223/men-married-southerners-likely-gun-owners.aspx - you can see breakdown by race, religion, age, region, etc...

  • Hispanic and Latino/a refer to those living in the United States, with a Spanish-speaking western-hemispheric heritage. That is, all the nations once colonized by Spain in the Americas. Brazilians, who are Portugese-speaking, are sometimes, but not always, included in this designation. Hispanic was the original term used, and Latino/a came along later.

  • Is it any wonder that Northern Irish civil rights activists in the 1960s and 1970s sang the same sorts of anthems ("We Shall Overcome" for example) as the African American freedom fighters in the South!

  • Hi Richard. I'm not sure what you're asking, but discriminatory gerrymandering based on race is the same for all states. Pollsters identify electoral bases and re-draw districts with the assumption that these demographic markers translate to votes at the ballot box. It's identity politics.

  • Gerrymandering does not exist in exactly the same way, but it does exist. The UK is currently redrawing constituency boundaries! And Northern Ireland has quite a troubled past with gerrymandering. Ask anyone from Derry!

  • To be fair, gerrymandering is a nationwide thing. New Jersey is as bad as Florida.

  • Hi, thanks Chelsea. I always found one thing weird about the Confederate flag and those who fly it: do those patriotic Americans who wave the "stars and bars" not consider it a disloyal act? After all, they are flying one of the national emblems of defeated country, and a country with a national identity so diamentrically opposed to the Union that...

  • In the US its about trigger warnings. Here's an article that explains why they exist, although here's a trigger warning: it does posit that trigger warnings have gone too far. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/05/trigger-warnings-can-be-counterproductive

  • Interesting point about your school team. In Ireland, Co. Cork is called the "rebel county" and at Gaelic sports games you'll often see a Confederate flag. Still makes me uncomfortable even if the meaning in that context is so much like your high school.

  • Of course, Trump rails against political correctness!

  • Great comments! I must admit, I think of the weather as well. The warm breeze ... something you don't get in North East England!

  • Definitely not ridiculous. The reality is they were all advocates of civil rights, but in different ways and, when circumstances permitted, they acted on those convictions or were constrained. JFK is a good example. Civil rights was one part of his platform but international relations dominated his administration (think Bay of Pigs, US-Soviet relations, Laos,...

  • And Carter was a terrible candidate. He nearly lost to Ford in actuality. The debates showed him to be less a master in command of the issues than Ford, but the Watergate scandal loomed large in 1976, and many voters rejected Ford as a Nixon stooge.

  • Jimmy Carter is the only American president to visit Newcastle (where Northumbria University is located). He was accompanied by Prime Minister James Callaghan and Carter famously utter a typical Geordie phrase to open his speech: H'way the Lads.

    While he was popular in Newcastle, and there is a small concrete memorial to his visit at the Civic Centre, he...

  • Well said.

  • The notion of social equality was well and truly behind the advocacy for political equality.

  • Hi John, I think you're right that a global racial ideology existed, and the Klan was part of that. I mentioned in other comments how the Klan became a part of Northern conversations about race. And you're also on to something with regard to those John Ford films that depict Native Americans as "others." Why do you think the Klan is popular in the 1910s-20s...

  • The North had its share of lynchings and race riots, too. In fact, in the years following the release of the film, the KKK became a major point of debate in governor and legislative races in New York. In other words, the Klan might have been "birthed" in Griffith's view in the South, but it existed everywhere.

  • Hi Liz, sadly Wilson was a dyed in the wool racist. He further segregated the armed forces, talked disparagingly about Latin Americans and Asians, and appointed some of the most racist politicians of the day to his cabinet.

  • Alabama. I've updated the step. Well spotted Andy!

  • I'd like to thank everyone who posted photos of their drinks/food. My mouth is watering. I also have a thing for "sidecars" and couldn't help but try and remake that recipe. Delicious!

  • Muddy Waters moved to Chicago and made his name there, but he was a Mississippi native. In fact, his childhood house (shack, I should say) is preserved in the Blues Museum in Clarksdale, MS. Although, it might be better to go visit the original site of the house, aside a still working farm. I watched the sun set there one evening, and suddenly the idea of...

  • Hi Ann. Thanks for your comment, although I think "black" and "white" might be the best description of this film! If you have time, watch the whole thing. It's a mesmerizing achievement for it's day, but also deeply uncomfortable. As for the absence of black actors, that was Griffith's choice, which goes some way in demonstrating his views on race.

  • Thanks Allan, and Wally who defines carpetbaggers above. Scalawags were southerns who collaborated with Northern Republicans. During Reconstruction, there were c. 60 carpetbaggers elected to Congress, and hundreds more who opportunistically moved to the South. The number of scalawags who worked with the Union after the war and took the Ironclad Oath, is...

  • Michael Cullinane replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    Claire, I think you've hit it on the head! We don't want to purposely provoke offense. It's the same reason why the first amendment does not extend free speech to yelling "fire" in a crowded cinema. Symbols and language have implications in reality. They are not inanimate when we invoke them.

  • Michael Cullinane replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    My point, Staci-Jill in relation to your first post, is that individuals are not the only ones who assign meaning to symbols. Society, as a collective of individuals, does as well.

  • Michael Cullinane replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    I don't disagree with either of you on the "right" to do something symbolic or expressive of one's views. What I was getting at is not the individual's rights, but the social (collective) mores that decide something is offensive. As a society, the US changed its practices when saluting the flag because it collectively decided that roman salutes were...

  • Michael Cullinane replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    It's interesting you bring up Hitler, Staci-Jill. In the 1930s U.S. school-children used to salute the American flag with the Roman salute (aka Bellamy salute) which is pretty much identical to the way Germans saluted Hitler. Congress amended the "Flag Code" in 1942 and did away with the Bellamy salute, officially. Putting our hand on our hearts stems from...

  • This is a fascinating point. Twain's contemporary Finley Peter Dunne, the author of "Mr. Dooley" columns, disagreed with Twain on that. He believed cities and urban areas were the most "sivilized".

  • Tom, nice salutation: no need to apologize!

    The UK has not apologized for slavery. That is true. It has, however, apologized for other atrocities in places like Kenya. And, of course, the UK did lead the global abolition of slavery after, as you say, profiting from it.

    I think you might be overthinking this step, and indeed the course. If you think a 5...

  • Hi Tom. What seems initially "silly" might encourage you to think a little further. If you accept that violence is a part of slavery, and an important one, you might ask whether it alone perpetuated the peculiar institution. The step is designed to make you think of other reasons why slavery endured: apathy, self-interest, profiteering, and social...

  • Thanks for posting the full letter, and I think you've struck on something by mentioning the cast of characters in the antebellum USA.

  • Thanks for sharing Evelyne!

  • Thanks for the feedback! I'll make sure Prof. Gleeson reads this.

  • Thanks to everyone who participated in the discussions. I agree that these comments "made" the week. And I really respect those of you who did not learn much new about the history of the South, but came to grips with the stereotypes, perceptions (from home and abroad), and media-generated impressions. This was the purpose of week 1, and I think a good way to...

  • Hi Katherine, as someone who would instinctively say exactly the same thing (and also a Yank), I would humbly say that baking soda does something magical to tea. Any whiff of bitterness disappears when that white stuff gets mixed in. You don't taste it at all, and the glory of the sugar comes through. Honestly, that recipe is for the ages.

  • Hi Wanda, I think you've hit on something with the New Orleans cuisine ... its one of a kind. If only we had more time to talk about Po' Boys, Emril Lagasse, Paul Prudhomme (rest his soul), and beignets served with chicory coffee at Cafe du Monde! It's 8am, and I'm tempted to have gumbo for breakfast!

  • I must admit, I'm with those of you who mentioned Twain's "Huckleberry Finn." No matter how many times I read it, there is always something I missed or forgot. It's like living the South becuase there are so many moving parts, none of which ever remain static.

  • I like that Laetitia. What makes a place/people is so much more than geography!

  • You know what they say ... American by birth, Yankee by the grace of God!

  • Hi John ... Chuck Berry has a new album coming out. He's 90! so this is very much contemporary and past. Hope you enjoy it.

  • Well stuff me with jalapenos and cheese and call me whatever you want! Nice one Kevin!

  • Check out the step on food! There are so many recipes for sweet tea!!

  • Hi everyone. It's a useful question because the course is very much about what it means to be "southern." For many it will be accent, that is rooted in culture of the South, but what about all those who never visited like Chicago blues players who "felt" the South even if they never went to the Mississippi Delta; or Julia Child who felt Louisianan when Emril...

  • A few people have mentioned Missouri ... its worth noting that, in the nineteenth century, it was a flashpoint for slavery and very much a part of the debate on where the South is. See week 2!

  • Good question! Can you answer it?

  • Hi Sean, do check out the module options on the Northumbria BA (Hons) History. Lots of choice for American History

  • Hi everyone ... I might be a carpetbagger Yank, and I might have an Irish name, but this course is going to knock your socks off.