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Prof. Dr. Hannah Spahn

15a1070-56 Kopie

Guest Professor

Lansstr. 7-9,
Room 301a
14195 Berlin

Office hours

Thursdays 2-3 pm (lecture period) and by appointment via email

If you have any questions concerning credit accreditations or transfers from elsewhere to the culture department, please send me an email. To acquire an Academic Credit Accreditation/Transfer Form please turn to David Bosold (more information here). Once you have prepared the accreditation form, I can sign it and forward it to the examination board.

Hannah Spahn has recently completed her Habilitation and her second book, Black Reason, White Feeling: The Jeffersonian Enlightenment in the African American Tradition (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, forthcoming spring 2024). She has been Principal Investigator of Cosmopolitanism and Character in Nineteenth-Century African American Literature (DFG/German Research Foundation) and Interim Professor at the University of Potsdam; Assistant Professor at the Department of Culture, Kennedy-Institute; Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Edinburgh; and Gilder Lehrman Junior Research Fellow at the International Center for Jefferson Studies, Charlottesville, Virginia. She is author of Thomas Jefferson und die Sklaverei: Verrat an der Aufklärung? (Berliner Beiträge zur Amerikanistik, 2002), Thomas Jefferson, Time, and History (U of Virginia P, 2011), and co-editor, with Peter Nicolaisen, of Cosmopolitanism and Nationhood in the Age of Jefferson (Universitätsverlag Winter, 2013). Most recently, she has edited Frederick Douglass: Mein Leben als amerikanischer Sklave (Stuttgart: Reclam, 2022).

Research interests: 

  • Enlightenment and Enlightenment reception
  • African American literature and culture
  • Theories of time and history
  • Intellectual history of the American Revolution and Early Republic
  • Cultures of enslavement and emancipation
  • Discourses of character, identity, cosmopolitanism, nationhood


  • Black Reason, White Feeling: The Jeffersonian Enlightenment in the African American Tradition (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, forthcoming spring 2024).

  • Thomas Jefferson, Time, and History. (Jeffersonian America). Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011. 

    (“Books in Summary,” History and Theory, 51 (October 2012): 481-82). 

    Reviews: 1. American Political Thought, 2.1 (2013): 149-152 (Terence Ball); 2. Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 121.3 (2013): 288-290 (R. B. Bernstein); 3. Journal of Southern History, 79.2 (2013): 458-459 (Andrew Cayton); 4. History of Intellectual Culture, 10.1 (2012/13), https://www.ucalgary.ca/hic/files/hic/gutzman-on-spahn.pdf (Kevin R. C. Gutzman); 5. Reviews in History, https://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/review/1223 (Dan Clinkman); 6. Journal of the Early Republic, 33.2 (2013): 359-363 (Sean P. Harvey);  7. Historian, 75.3 (2013): 588-589 (Michael Schwarz); 8. Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 137.2 (2013): 208-209 (Eran Shalev); 9. American Historical Review, 118.1 (2013): 180 (Peter Thompson); 10. Amerikastudien/American Studies, 58.2 (2013): 303-305 (Jasper Trautsch); 11. Journal of American History, 100 (Dec. 2013): 818 (Philipp Ziesche).

  • Thomas Jefferson und die Sklaverei: Verrat an der Aufklärung? (Berliner Beiträge zur Amerikanistik). Berlin: Freie Universität, 2002.

Edited Works

  • Frederick Douglass, Mein Leben als amerikanischer Sklave (Stuttgart: Reclam, 2022), reissued in Schriftenreihe der Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung / Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bonn: bpb, 2022).

  • with Peter Nicolaisen, Cosmopolitanism and Nationhood in the Age of Jefferson. Heidelberg: Winter, 2013. 

    Reviews: 1. Journal of American History, 102.1 (June 2015): 237-238 (Darren Staloff); 2. Archiv für Sozialgeschichte, 56 (2016), online: library.fes.de/pdf-files/afs/81674.pdf (Malte Hinrichsen); 3. Amerikastudien/American Studies, 62.4 (2017), https://dgfa.de/peter-nicolaisen-and-hannah-spahn-eds-cosmopolitanism-and-nationhood-in-the-age-of-jefferson-heidelberg-winter-2013-viii-256pp/ (Hermann Wellenreuther). 

Selected Articles and Book Chapters

  • “Cosmopolitanism, Character, and the Theories of Early African American Literature.” African American Literature: In Transition1750-2015. Ed. Joycelyn Moody, Vol. 3: 1830-1850, ed. Benjamin Fagan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021. 177-201.

  • “Jefferson and Me: A View from Abroad.” Critical Insights: Thomas Jefferson. Ed. Robert C. Evans. Amenia, NY: Salem Press, 2020. 221-232. 

  • “Public Feeling in Ida B. Wells’s Anti-Lynching Campaign.” American Counter/Publics. (Selections from the DGfA Annual Meeting.) Eds. Frank Kelleter, Ulla Haselstein, Alexander Starre, Birte Wege. Heidelberg: Winter, 2019. 103-116.

  • “Erasing the Stamp of Toussaint L’Ouverture? The Haitian Revolution and the Question of Character.” Hemispheric Encounters: The Early United States in a Transnational Perspective. Eds. Gabriele Pisarz-Ramirez and Markus Heide. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2016. 133-153.

  • “Blood and Character in Early African American Literature.” The Politics of Blood, 1500-1900. Eds. Kimberley Anne Coles, Ralph Bauer, Carla L. Peterson, Zita Nunes. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2015. 146-167.

  • “’Cruel war against human nature itself’: Krieg und Kosmopolitismus in der amerikanischen Revolution.” Krieg und Frieden im achtzehnten Jahrhundert. Ed. Stephanie Stockhorst. Hannover: Wehrhahn, 2015. 331-346.

  • “Eliza Potter’s ‘Barberous Profession’: Self, Race, and Nation in A Hairdresser’s Experience in High Life.” American Lives. (Selections from the DGfA Annual Meeting.) Ed. Alfred Hornung. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2013. 189-206.

  • “Introduction.” Cosmopolitanism and Nationhood in the Age of Jefferson. Eds. Peter Nicolaisen and Hannah Spahn. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2013. 3-22.

  • “Cosmopolitan Imperfections: Jefferson, Nationhood, and the Republic of Letters.” Cosmopolitanism and Nationhood in the Age of Jefferson. Eds. Peter Nicolaisen and Hannah Spahn. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2013. 113-135.

  • “Lost in a Boudoir of Mirrors: The Pursuit of Recognition in the Biographical War of the Early Republic.” Special Issue: “Tocqueville’s Legacy: Towards a Cultural History of Recognition in American Studies.” Ed. Winfried Fluck. Amerikastudien/American Studies, 57.4 (2012): 533-552.

  • “’The Silent Course of Happiness’: Domesticity and Politics in Jefferson’s Presidency.” The American Presidency: Multidisciplinary Perspectives. (Selections from the DGfA Annual Meeting.) Eds. Dietmar Schloss, Martin Thunert, Wilfried Mausbach. Heidelberg: Winter, 2012. 187-209.

  • “Character and Cosmopolitanism in the Scottish-American Enlightenment.” Character, Self, and Sociability in the Scottish Enlightenment. Eds. Susan Manning and Thomas Ahnert. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2011. 207-224.

  • “Thomas Jefferson, Cosmopolitanism, and the Enlightenment.” A Companion to Thomas Jefferson. Ed. Francis D. Cogliano. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2011. 364-379.

Encyclopedia Articles 

  • “Nordamerikanische Revolution.” Der Neue Pauly. Supplemente. Vol. 13: Das 18. Jahrhundert. Lexikon zur Antikerezeption in Aufklärung und Klassizismus.” Eds. Joachim Jacob and Johannes Süßmann. Stuttgart: Metzler, 2018. 567-577.

  • “Thomas Jefferson.” The Literary Encyclopedia, May 2009. www.litentencyc.com.


  • in American Historical Review, American Political ThoughtEarly American LiteratureDas achtzehnte JahrhundertJournal of American StudiesJournal of the Early RepublicJournal of Southern HistoryIntellectual History Review