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Faculty and Staff

John Sbardellati
Visiting Associate Professor

I am an Associate Professor of History at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, with a visiting position here at the University of Houston for 2022. My interests include twentieth century U.S. political, cultural, and diplomatic history.  I am especially interested in the connections between American domestic politics and foreign relations, and how these connections surface in the policies of the national security state.  I received my Ph.D. from the Department of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2006. My book, J. Edgar Hoover Goes to the Movies: The FBI and the Origins of Hollywood’s Cold War, was published by Cornell University Press in 2012. It analyzes the FBI’s probe of the motion picture industry and its efforts to rein in the production of what it considered politically-suspect movies. My current research continues my focus on American political culture in the early Cold War, with a new emphasis on connections between race and national security politics.   


  • B.A. University of California, Riverside, 1996
  • M.A. University of California, Santa Barbara, 2000
  • PhD University of California, Santa Barbara, 2006

Research and teaching interests

  • Twentieth century U.S. political, cultural, and diplomatic history

Courses taught at UH

  • HIST 1378: The US Since 1877
  • HIST 6393: Readings Seminar in US History—America and the World

At my home institution I have taught such courses as:

  • History and Film
  • The Vietnam War
  • The United States through the Civil War Era
  • The United States since the Civil War Era
  • U.S. and the World
  • Special Topics in History: Secret History—Inside the FBI
  • Graduate reading seminar in American history
  • Graduate research seminar in American history

Recent ​grants and awards

  • 2017-2022 - Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Insight Grant for A Double-Edged Sword: Confronting the Color Line in American Cold War Culture
  • 2013 - Michael Nelson Prize for a Work in Media and History (International Association for Media and History) for J. Edgar Hoover Goes to the Movies
  • 2012 - University of Waterloo Outstanding Performance Award

Recent ​publications

  • "Reagan’s Early Years: From Dixon to Hollywood" in A Companion to Ronald Reagan (Blackwell Companions to American History), edited by Andrew Johns (Wiley-Blackwell, 2015).
  • J. Edgar Hoover Goes to the Movies: The FBI and the Origins of Hollywood’s Cold War (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2012).
  • “The ‘Maltz Affair’ Revisited: How the American Communist Party Relinquished its Cultural Influence at the Dawn of the Cold War,” Cold War History Vol. 9, No. 4 (2009): pages 489-500.
  • “Brassbound G-Men and Celluloid Reds: The FBI’s Search for Communist Propaganda in Wartime Hollywood,”Film History Vol. 20, No. 4 (2008): pages 412-436.
  • “The Emergence of McCarthyism,” in History in Dispute, Volume 19: The Red Scare after 1945, edited by Robbie Lieberman (St. James Press, 2004).
  • “Booting a Tramp: Charlie Chaplin, the FBI, and the Construction of the Subversive Image in Red Scare America” (with Tony Shaw) Pacific Historical Review Vol. 72, No. 4 (2003): pages 495-530.