Sean P. Cunningham

Sean A. Cunningham

Contact Information:

Office: 45 Holden Hall


U.S. since 1945, American Political Culture, Texas, Sunbelt

About Dr. Cunningham:

Sean Cunningham teaches broadly in twentieth-century U.S. history, while specializing in the history of post-1945 American political culture. His geographic emphasis is on the American Sunbelt, Texas in particular. His first book, Cowboy Conservatism: Texas and the Rise of the Modern Right, was published by the University Press of Kentucky in 2010 and won the Texas Tech University President's Book Award in 2012. His second book, tentatively titled The Contested Ascendancy: Sunbelt Politics since 1945, is under contract with Cambridge University Press. Cunningham also recently finished a short biographical chapter on John Tower, which will appear in a forthcoming book from Vanderbilt University Press on GOP growth, 1960-1980, edited by Robert Mason and Iwan Morgan. Additionally, Cunningham recently finished a chapter covering the political history of West Texas, to be published in a forthcoming survey of the history of West Texas, edited by Paul Carlson and Bruce Glasrud. He also recently finished a chapter for a forthcoming volume edited by David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison on the "Radical Roots" of Texas conservatism, to be published with Texas A&M University Press. That chapter will cover the so-called Texas "Far Right" between 1950 and 1970. Cunningham also recently completed a historiographical chapter covering Texas history, 1945-1980, to be published in Writing Texas History: A Guide to the History of the Lone Star State, edited by Bruce A. Glasrud, Light Townsend Cummins, and Cary D. Wintz. Cunningham has presented his research at the Southern Historical Association, as well as several state and local conferences, and has published articles and numerous book reviews for the Journal of American History, Journal of Southern History, American Historical Review, and Southwestern Historical Quarterly, among others.

In 2012, Cunningham was selected as a recipient of the "Professing Excellence" award, presented by Texas Tech University Student Housing. In 2011, he was honored with the Department of History's Distinguished Faculty Award. He was also honored with this award in 2008. In 2010, Cunningham was honored as the College of Arts & Sciences winner of the Texas Tech Alumni Association's New Faculty Award. He was also nominated for this award in 2009. In 2007, he was awarded the Calvin A. VanderWerf Award in recognition of his selection as the outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Florida, where he earned his Ph.D. Prior to his graduate work in Gainesville, Cunningham completed his B.A. in Public Relations from Texas Tech University in 1999, before earning his M.A. in History and M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration, also at Texas Tech, in 2002. In 2003, he worked as a Counseling Specialist with the Advising Center at Texas Tech where he coordinated several programs and research projects dealing with undergraduate student retention and success.

Published Works

Cowboy Conservatism

Cowboy Conservatism: Texas and the Rise of the Modern Right by Dr. Sean Cunningham

During the 1960s and 1970s, Texas was rocked by a series of political transitions. Despite its century-long heritage of solidly Democratic politics, the state became a Republican stronghold virtually overnight, and by 1980 it was known as "Reagan Country." Ultimately, Republicans dominated the Texas political landscape, holding all twenty-seven of its elected offices and carrying former governor George W. Bush to his second term as president with more than 61 percent of the Texas vote.Sean P. Cunningham examines the remarkable history of Republican Texas in Cowboy Conservatism: Texas and the Rise of the Modern Right. Utilizing extensive research drawn from the archives of four presidential libraries, gubernatorial papers, local campaign offices, and oral histories, Cunningham presents a compelling narrative of the most notable regional genesis of modern conservatism. Spanning the decades from Kennedy's assassination to Reagan's presidency, Cunningham reveals a vivid portrait of modern conservatism in one of the nation's largest and most politically powerful states. The newest title in the New Directions in Southern History series, Cunningham's Cowboy Conservatism demonstrates Texas's distinctive and vital contributions to the transformation of postwar American politics.

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