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Dr Harvey G. Cohen

Senior Lecturer in Cultural and Creative Industries


Harvey G. Cohen earned his PhD in U.S. and cultural history from the University of Maryland (2002). He taught there for three years, using music and film to trace significant themes in American culture and history from the colonial era to now – which he still does as Senior Lecturer at King’s College London, where he arrived in 2006. Cohen mostly writes books and teaches about the history and business of the music and film industries. His book “Duke Ellington’s America” (2010) was named one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post, won a Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Title Award and received significant coverage in the New Yorker, New York Times, Mojo Magazine, BBC, NPR and many other media outlets:

His new book, “Who’s In The Money? The Great Depression Musicals and Hollywood’s New Deal” was released in February 2018: To celebrate its release, Cohen will be doing book events throughout the year at USC's School of Cinematic Arts, the famous Book Soup book store on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, Oxford University's Rothermere American Institute, Film Forum in New York City, Lincoln Center (supporting Wynton Marsalis' Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra) in NYC, and the American Film Institute in Washington, D.C. The latter 2 events also will feature material from Cohen's Duke Ellington book, including a special set of screenings for Ellington's birthday on 29 April 2018. More events will follow in the US and Europe.

His third book, for which he recently won a year-long Leverhulme research grant, demonstrates the historical, as well as musical, importance of African American gospel music.

Research Interests and PhD Supervision

  • Cultural and political history
  • History and business of popular music and film in the US and UK
  • American and African American history and politics
  • Museums, publishing industry, New York City

Harvey G. Cohen welcomes applications for PhD topics related to any of his research interests. Before joining King's College London in 2006, he served as a Postdoctoral Fellow / Resident Scholar at the John W. Kluge Center, Library of Congress in Washington D.C., where he completed the research for his book Duke Ellington's America (2010). Cohen's forthcoming book, "Who's In The Money? The Great Depression Musicals and Hollywood's New Deal" (2017), will outline the history of the Warner Bros. movie musicals during 1933 and their political, historical and cultural connections on- and offscreen with the newly elected U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal programs that sought to alleviate the economic deprivation caused by the Great Depression. Portions of the book were being previewed at five conferences in Europe and America, as well as in live events at the British Film Institute and the British Library, during 2014-2015.

For more details, please see his full research profile.


At King’s College London, Harvey G. Cohen teaches about the history and business of popular music and film in the US and UK; the history of museums and the publishing industry; the business issues facing cultural industries; and American and African American history. In previous teaching positions in the United States, he taught the Harlem Renaissance and the cultural history of New York City, as well as survey courses on U.S. and African American history.

In Cohen's newest MA course offering at King's College London, "Readings In The Music Business," he has welcomed several surprise guests from the music business to attend the seminars, including Rough Trade founder/head Geoff Travis, music business lawyer Nigel Parker and best-selling recording artist, musician and academic Damon Minchella.

Expertise and Public Engagement

Harvey G Cohen's work has appeared in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, The Independent (UK), Metro International (Sweden and Denmark), and on BBC and SkyNews radio and TV stations.  In February 2014, he discussed his forthcoming book about the political significance of the Warner Bros. Great Depression movie musicals on a half-hour broadcast on the CSPAN TV network in the United States.

Cohen participated in London Jazz Festival live events four times in the last seven years. In 2015, among other media appearances, Cohen discussed the historical significance of swing music on a BBC Radio 3 Proms programme, and commented on the "Blurred Lines" song plagiarism case on the BBC World Service.