American Studies
American Studies

Nicholas Bloom

Doctoral Student
Nicholas Bloom



19th and 20th century US history; Atlantic slavery; the US South; early history of North America and the Caribbean; migration and diaspora; colonialism and modernity; critical theories of race and racism; critical theories of gender; intellectual history and political theory; radical political imaginary/the black radical tradition; Marxism; anti-colonial/postcolonial political projects; resistance literature; sports and popular music.


Nicholas Bloom is a doctoral student in American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.  His current research focuses on the relationship between identity formation, morality, desire, and political economy in the 19th Century plantation system, paying particular attention to processes and experiences of violence.  


Nicholas' M.A. Report, entitled "The Moral Investment in Anti-Black Violence:  White Overseers in the 19th Century Cotton Kingdom," considers the martial sense of moral duty that white overseers developed in relationship to the brutal violence of their profession.  Drawing on overseer notebooks, letters, planter instructions, and narratives and interviews of the formerly enslaved, his Report explores the power of this sense of duty as a key motivating force for overseers, and a crucial component in the formation and reproduction of violently constituted racial hierarchies.  Nicholas received his M.A. degree in American Studies from UT-Austin in the Spring of 2017.


Nicholas graduated with a B.A. in English with a History concentration from Columbia University. He worked as a middle school English teacher, a museum educator, and a curatorial assistant before beginning graduate school, and has since worked as a Teaching Assistant and a Supplemental Instructor in UT-Austin's Department of American Studies.  He works as an academic mentor and tutor for UT-Austin student-athletes, and helps to run the American Studies Department's social media accounts.  Nicholas is also a recorded singer-songwriter and performer.


AMS 311S • American Catastrophes

31096 • Fall 2018
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM BUR 436A

The history of the United States, both internally and internationally, has been defined and circumscribed by violent catastrophes.  Genocides, wars, exploitation of workers, violent manipulation of the land, and a centuries-long system of racial chattel slavery are all integral features of US history, and continue to shape the society we live in today. This course will consider a range of ways that artists, intellectuals, and activists have attempted to understand and articulate these legacies of violence and catastrophe, and have tried to imagine alternative ways of living and organizing society in response. The ultimate purpose of the course is to expose students to the rich history of radical thought in the United States, in the literal sense of the word “radical”:  to get to the root of something.

The course will be divided into three units.  The first unit will consider foundational catastrophes in the genesis of the United States, including indigenous genocide and African slavery, and the ways in which black and indigenous artists, thinkers, and activists—then as well as later—have understood and imagined this foundational violence and its historical and contemporary consequences.  The second unit will consider the movements and imaginaries that emerged out of the violent catastrophes that defined the first half of the 20th century:  two massive world wars and the development of unprecedented technologies of destruction; anti-colonial struggles abroad; and the persistence of a nation violently and unequally segregated by racial categories at home.  The third unit will consider contemporary instances of violent catastrophe, including the burgeoning American mass incarceration system and global climate change, and will also examine contemporary thinkers and movements that are attempting to understand these catastrophes radically in an attempt to transform them.  Students’ final project will require students to situate a contemporary social movement or thinker in the context of a particular element of the USA’s catastrophic history, as well as its rich tradition of radical thinkers, artists, and movements.

Profile Pages