Dr Thomas  Ellis

Dr Thomas Ellis

LSE Teaching Fellow

Department of International History

Room No
SAR M.13
Office Hours
Tuesday, 3.15pm to 4.15pm
Key Expertise
US Foreign Policy; US-Russian Relations; Cold War; Aerospace History

About me

Dr Thomas Ellis’ research interests centre on American perceptions of Russia, technological utopianism and how 20th century Americans have envisaged the future. In 2018 he received a PhD in History from the University of Southampton where his thesis examined American perceptions of the Soviet space programme, focusing particularly on the implications of a communist presence in outer space during the less-studied period after America’s triumphant 1969 Apollo 11 lunar landing.

His doctoral research was funded by the AHRC South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership and facilitated through a 6-month fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. He is currently adapting his thesis into a monograph exploring how Americans have contended with Soviet/Russian space activity between Yuri Gagarin’s 1961 flight and the privatisation of the Russian aerospace industry in the early 1990s.  His first journal article, for the Journal of American Studies, examines the political symbolism of Detente-era US-Soviet space cooperation.

He obtained a BA in History and Politics from the University of York in 2010, an MPhil in historical studies from the University of Cambridge in 2012 and his PhD from the University of Southampton in 2018. Before his fellowship at LSE, he taught at the University of Southampton and Durham University.  He has a strong interest in public history, having previously worked as a researcher for the popular History-themed children’s sketch show “Horrible Histories”.

Awards and Scholarships

• PhD fully funded by the AHRC’s South West & Wales Doctoral Training Partnership
• 6 month AHRC International Placement Scheme Fellowship at the Space History Department of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC (October 2015-March 2016)
• Royal Historical Society Conference Travel Grant (2018)
• Gerald R. Ford Foundation Researcher Travel Grant (2015)
• University of Cambridge Sara Norton Fund Research Grant (2012)

Expertise Details

US Foreign Policy; US-Russian Relations; Cold War; Aerospace History; Cultural History; Utopianism



Conference papers

  • “‘The Seacoast of the Universe”- Historical Analogy, Cold War Fear and Visions of a Spacefaring Future in Reagan’s America.’ Imagining the History of the Future: Unsettling Scientific Stories Conference, University of York, York, March 2018.
  • ‘“Why can’t we be friends?” The 1975 Apollo-Soyuz Test Project as a flawed blueprint for US- Soviet cooperation.’ HOTCUS Conference, UCD, Dublin, Ireland June 2017:– Awarded an ‘Honorable Mention’ in the Postgraduate Paper prize competition
  • ‘Death Beams on the High Frontier: Visions of Space Warfare during the Age of the Strategic Defence Initiative.’ HOTCUS Winter Symposium, British Library, London: February 2017.
  • ‘Contesting the High Frontier: Professor Gerard K. O’Neill, Lt. Gen. Daniel O. Graham and the Future of American Space Capitalism.’ RGS Annual Conference, Royal Geographical Society, London, August 2016.
  • ‘Death from Above 1978: The Accidental Demise of Cosmos 954.’ HOTCUS Conference, Middelburg, the Netherlands, June 2016.
  • ‘Fellow Travellers From Outer Space: American Media Depictions of Soviet Cosmonauts’ September 2015: ‘After Image: Celebrity and Life Writing Conference’ Wolfson College, Oxford.

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