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Prof. Dr. Hannah Spahn

15a1070-56 Kopie


Lansstr. 7-9,
Raum 301a
14195 Berlin


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Hannah Spahn is currently completing Black Reason, White Feeling: The Jeffersonian Enlightenment in the African American Tradition (forthcoming from University of Virginia Press, 2023). 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

Upcoming talks:

  • July 20, 2022: “Black Reason, White Feeling: The Jeffersonian Enlightenment in the African American Tradition,” Kolloquium Literatur/Kultur, John-F.-Kennedy-Institut für Nordamerikastudien.
  • August 26, 2022: “Black Reason, White Feeling: The Jeffersonian Enlightenment in the African American Tradition,” Leonard J. Sadosky Memorial Fellowship Inaugural Lecture, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. 


  • Black Reason, White Feeling: The Jeffersonian Enlightenment in the African American Tradition. Under contract with University of Virginia Press (forthcoming 2023).

  • 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. Trans. Hans-Christian Oeser. Stuttgart: Reclam, 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