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Dr Stefan Hanß


Born and raised in Erfurt, I studied History and various minor subjects at the Freie Universität Berlin, the Università Ca'Fosari Venice, and the Warburg Institute London. During these years, I was also an intern, undergraduate research assistant, and freelancer at the Freie Universität Berlin's Faculty of History, the Duchess Anna Amalia Library Weimar, and the German Historical Institutes in Rome and London. I received the PhD from the Freie Universität Berlin (summa cum laude) after having been enrolled at the Dahlem Research School's doctoral degree programme ‘History and Cultural Studies’. After finishing my PhD, which won the Friedrich Meinecke Prize, I was a Herzog Ernst Postdoctoral Fellow of the Research Centre Gotha, University of Erfurt. In 2015, I joined the University of Cambridge as a Visiting Scholar of the Faculty of History and an Honors Fellow of the Dahlem Research School Berlin. In 2016, I started a postdoctoral position as a Swiss National Science Foundation/ Arts and Humanities Research Council Research Associate in Early Modern European Object History at the University of Cambridge. Since 2016, I am also a Research Associate at St John's College. In September 2018, I will start a position as a Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of Manchester.

Subject groups/Research projects

Early Modern History:

Research Interests

I work on cross-cultural contacts in the early modern Mediterranean from a global perspective as well as on the relationship between material culture and the body in Reformation Germany and the Habsburg world.

My first monograph examines the sixteenth-century global event-making of the Battle of Lepanto. I decentred the history of Lepanto, which is commonly defined as a victory of 'Christian Europe', by revoicing silenced stories uncovered through research undertaken in more than 170 archives, libraries, and museums. Contemporaries shaped Lepanto's meanings as connected histories in places as far-flung as England, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ethiopia, Russia, the German, Ottoman, and Persian lands as well as Japan, the Philippines, and South America. Building on that research, my second monograph studies the impact of material culture on the production of history. Objects taken during the Battle of Lepanto, such as Ottoman flags, textiles, and manuscripts, were crucial means for crafting narratives and establishing a material presence of this sixteenth-century event. By challenging the perception of a particular battle in a new methodological approach (histoire de l’événement), I contribute to a broader debate on the status of events in history. In this context, I studied further aspects of Christian-Muslim contacts in the early modern period. I published on Ottoman language-learning in early modern Germany, Veneto-Ottoman diplomacy, the Habsburg Empire’s relationships with the Mediterranean and on Mediterranean slavery as well as its implications for the historiography of slavery.

Building on my interest in early modern material culture, my current and future research centres on early modern materialized identities in the German- and Spanish-speaking Habsburg lands and on hair and feathers in particular. As a member of the Basel-Bern-Cambridge research group on early modern materialized identities, I conducted archival- and artefact-based research on early modern feather-work that led to a number of publications. A book chapter charts, for the very first time, the thus far unknown history of early modern European feather-working in its relationship with the world of matter and making. Another book chapter reconsiders the aesthetic appreciation of New World feathers in Renaissance Europe. Another journal article focuses on cultural encounters in colonial Peru by discussing the early modern nexus between feather-work and textiles. Two further texts on feather-working and feather-trading in early modern Germany and the Spanish world are in progress. In all my contributions and publications on early modern feather-working, I reconsider our understanding of the presence, transformation, challenges, and cross-cultural realities of early modern material worlds. Furthermore, I explore new methodological trajectories and heuristic tools in material culture studies such as the usage of digital microscopes, remaking experiments, and historians’ collaboration with artisans.

Above all, my current research is devoted to the history of hair in Reformation Germany and the Habsburg world. People's everyday performances of hair and their innovative usage of head, facial, body, and animal hair mirrored fundamental religious and social changes at that time. In the estate-based society of early modern Germany, authorities regulated hairstyles. In such a hair-literate society, however, people innovatively approached hair and managed their appearance by going to barbershops, using medicinal remedies, and staging particular beards and hairstyles. At the heart of the importance of hair was its ambivalence between the affirmation of societal norms and its potential to negotiate them in everyday life. This leads me to examine how hair enabled people to stage identities and to shape gender, social, and confessional boundaries in everyday life. In the context of early modern German history, I also published on self-narratives, concepts of time, and practices of timing.

My research has been generously supported by the Centro Tedesco di Studi Veneziani, the Dahlem Research School and Friedrich Meinecke Society of the Freie Universität Berlin, the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the German Academic Scholarship Foundation (Studienstiftung), the German Historical Institute Rome, the John Carter Brown Library (Center for New World Comparative Studies Fellowship), St John's College Cambridge, and the University of Cambridge.


I lecture for part II, paper 14 (Material Culture in the Early Modern World) and part I, paper 16 (European History, 1450-1760) of the Historical Tripos. I offer(ed) the courses (I) Gender and the Body, (II) The Ottoman World, (III) Ottomans and Europeans, (IV) Turquerie and Cultural Transfer, (V) The Spanish World: Connected Histories of Encounters, (VI) Muslim Spain, (VII) Habsburg Spain and (VIII) Spain, Morocco, and the Ottomans. I also contributed to The Uses of the Visual in Early Modern Germany that Professor Ulinka Rublack and Professor Sachiko Kusukawa jointly teach. In the Historical Argument and Practice paper at St John’s College, I offered a course on microhistory. In the Themes & Sources option Remaking the Modern Body, 1543–1939, I teach on gender and dress.

I am more than happy to mentor students and doctoral students. Beyond supervisions, I examine MPhil dissertations in early modern history, act as PhD Advisor, and assess PhD students' first year reports. Furthermore, Dr Tom Hamilton and I initiated and conduct together with a team of postdocs the Early Modern Palaeography Workshop that offers Cambridge students a platform to discuss archival sources from around 1450 till 1850. I also offer more formal classes on German and Iberian palaeography in the Early Modern History MPhil in 2017/18. I have taught courses, both for undergraduate and postgraduate students, on the history of slavery, dress, and the body in Berlin and gained further teaching experience in Erfurt and Tübingen. In Manchester, I will teach The Habsburg Empire, c. 1450–1800 (History in Practice Course) as well as Material Encounters in the Early Modern World, 1400–1800 (L3 Specialist Course).

Other Professional Activities

I hosted the international workshop History of Time: Perceptions and Practices of Time, ca. 1400-1700 at the Freie Universität Berlin in 2013. Together with Dr Juliane Schiel, I co-organised Transcultural Perspectives on Late Medieval and Early Modern Slavery in the Mediterranean. The international and interdisciplinary conference took place at the University of Zurich in 2012 and was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF), Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences (SAGW), Fritz Thyssen Foundation and the University of Zurich. I also organised the Cambridge workshop on Hair & History: Early Modern Material Culture and the Body in Reformation Germany, St John's College, in June 2016. The workshop was supported by the DAAD Cambridge Research Hub for German Studies with funds from the German Federal Foreign Office (FFO). Religion, Culture & Society in the Early Modern World is another DAAD-Hub-funded workshop that I co-organised with Professor Ulinka Rublack and Professor Renate Dürr (St John’s College, 18th and 19th September 2017). Dr Beatriz Marín-Aguilera and I jointly organised the international workshop In-Between Textiles: Weaving Cultural Encounters in the Early Modern World (6th April 2018). This one-day workshop reconsidered the significance of textile production and trade for cultural encounters and colonial settings in the early modern world. Furthermore, I am a member of the team (Dr Banu Turnaoğlu, Dr Deniz Türker) that runs the Cambridge-Oxford-SOAS Workshop Series on Ottoman Studies (June 2018). This annual workshop series aims to provide a platform for the discussion of current research in Ottoman studies. Christopher Bahl (Thornley Fellow of the Institute of Historical Research and School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London) and I jointly run the IHR workshop Colophons and Scribal Cultures across the Early Modern World on 2 July 2018. By addressing the role of the colophon as a person's signature, this workshop reconsiders the very personal stories of the production and circulation of early modern manuscripts across the globe. On 10 and 11 September 2018, the international symposium The Habsburg Mediterranean, 1500–1800 will take place at The Austrian Hospice in Jerusalem. I jointly organise this symposium, which will take place under the auspices of HIRH Archduke Karl von Habsburg-Lothringen, with Hon.-Prof. MMag. Markus St. Bugnyár (Austrian Hospice) and Dr Dorothea McEwan (The Warburg Institute London).

Furthermore, I presented academic papers in Basel, Berlin, Bonn, Brunswick, Cambridge (at CRASSH, Darwin College, King's College, Newnham College, St John's College, Trinity College, and Trinity Hall College), České Budějovice, Düsseldorf, Erfurt, Essen, Fribourg, Gotha, Hamburg, Istanbul, Kassel, Leipzig, London (British Museum, Institute of Historical Research, Royal Geographical Society, Warburg Institute), Manchester, Oxford (Balliol College), Paris (EHESS/Bulac), Princeton, Tübingen, Vechta, Venice, Vienna, Villa Vigoni, Weimar, and Zurich. Further invitations to London (Institute of Historical Research, King's College), Madrid, and Venice are accepted.

I serve the editorial advisory board of Journal of Global Slavery (Brill, since 2015) as well as the editorial board of Hilâl: studi turchi e ottomani, which is a book series on Ottoman and Turkish history edited by Maria P. Pedani and Elisabetta Ragagnin (Edizioni Ca’Foscari, since 2012). I am furthermore a member of the European Labour History Network’s working group Free and Unfree Labour, Amnesty International, Gesellschaft Anna Amalia Bibliothek e.V., Ernst Reuter Society, and Friedrich Meinecke Society.

I published conference proceedings and wrote for a broader public in SupraLibros. Blog entries were published on Materialized Identities and University of Cambridge Museums. The University of Cambridge Research Webpage and BBC History Magazine (December 2016) reported on my research on the history of hair in early modern Germany. I also contributed to a German radio broadcast on the Battle of Lepanto, conducted by Tobias Mayer, that was broadcasted at the battle's 440th anniversary on NDR Info, SR 2, WDR 3 and WDR 5. I furthermore participated in the meetings of the opera project group 'Kepler's Trial', St John's College, Cambridge (Professor Ulinka Rublack, Tim Watts, Dr Aura Satz) and contributed to the Cambridge Festival of Ideas roundtable discussion on ‘What is Microhistory Now?’ (28 October 2016).


  • Early Modern History

Key Publications

[All non-English titles are given in translation, added in square brackets]


Monographs and edited volumes

Die materielle Kultur der Seeschlacht von Lepanto (1571): Materialität, Medialität und die historische Produktion eines Ereignisses [The Material Culture of the Battle of Lepanto (1571): An Event's Materiality, Mediality and its Historical Production], 2 vols., Istanbuler Texte und Studien, 38/1–2 (Würzburg: Ergon, 2017). [→]

Lepanto als Ereignis: Dezentrierende Geschichte(n) der Seeschlacht von Lepanto (1571) [Lepanto, the Event: Decentering the History of the Battle of Lepanto (1571)], Berliner Mittelalter- und Frühneuzeitforschung, 21 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht unipress, 2017). [→] [→]

together with Juliane Schiel, eds., Mediterranean Slavery Revisited (500-1800): Neue Perspektiven auf mediterrane Sklaverei (500-1800) (Zurich: Chronos, 2014). [→]


Source editions

Gestrich, Andreas and Dorothea McEwan, eds., Georg Wilhelm Schimper - in Abyssinia: Observations on Tigre. Critical Online Edition, in collaboration with Stefan Hanß (London: British Library/ German Historical Institute London/ Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, 2015). [→]


Articles in peer reviewed journals

'Ottoman Language Learning in Early Modern Germany', Central European History (under review).

'Material Encounters: Knotting Cultures in Early Modern Peru and Spain', The Historical Journal (forthcoming).

'The Fetish of Accuracy: Perspectives on Early Modern Time(s)', Past & Present (forthcoming viewpoint article).

'Hair, Emotions and Slavery in the Early Modern Habsburg Mediterranean', History Workshop Journal 87, no. 1 (2019) (in press).

'Objects that Made History: A Material Microhistory of the Sant Crist de Lepant (Barcelona, 1571–2017)', Forum Kritische Archäologie 7 (2018): 18–46. [→]

'Eine Zeit-Geschichte der Seeschlacht von Lepanto' [Time and the History of the Battle of Lepanto], Militär und Gesellschaft in der Frühen Neuzeit 21 (2017): 171–212. [→]

'Timing the Self in Sixteenth-Century Augsburg: Veit Konrad Schwarz (1541–61)', German History 35, no. 4 (2017): 495–524. [→]

'War and Peace: Shaping Politics in Reformation Germany after the Battle of Lepanto', The Muslim World 107, no. 4 (2017): 652–664. [→]

'Giorgio del Giglio Pannilini und die Seeschlacht von Lepanto: Rekonversionen, Selbstzeugnisse und Mehrfachzugehörigkeiten im 16. Jahrhundert' [Giorgio del Giglio Pannilini and the Battle of Lepanto: Reconversions, Self-Narratives and Cultural Affiliations in the Sixteenth Century], Quellen und Forschungen aus italienischen Archiven und Bibliotheken 96 (2016): 264–307. [→]

'Eigene und fremde Zeiten im 16. Jahrhundert' [Time and the Other in the Sixteenth Century], Traverse 23, no. 3 (2016): 25-37. [→]

'Sklaverei im vormodernen Mediterraneum: Tendenzen aktueller Forschungen' [Slavery in the Pre-Modern Mediterranean: Trends in Current Research], Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung 40, no. 4 (2013): 623–661. [→]

'"Io ritorno, serenissimo principe dal sultan Solimano […]": Devşirme and Yeñi çeri in a Record of the Venetian Bailo Bernardo Navagero, 1553', Eurasian Studies 10 (2012): 97–125.

'Eine Untersuchung auf Diskurse, symbolische Kommunikationsformen und Inszenierungsstrategien: Eine "Türckhische fahne" in der Neuburger Pfarrkirche St. Peter (1687)' [On Discourses, Symbolic Communication and Performativity: A "Turkish Flag" in the Parish Church St Peter, Neuburg (1687)], Archiv für Kulturgeschichte 94, no. 1 (2012): 87–112. [→]

'Graf du Manoir in Weimar: Emigrationsalltag und Lektüren eines französischen Revolutionsflüchtlings' [Count du Manoir in Weimar: A Refugee's Everyday Life and Readings during the French Revolution], Francia: Forschungen zur westeuropäischen Geschichte 39 (2012): 499–519.

'"Per la felice vittoria": Venezianische Reaktionen auf die Seeschlacht von Lepanto (1571)' ["For the Felicitous Victory": Venetian Responses to the Battle of Lepanto (1571)], Frühneuzeit-Info 22 (2011): 98–111.

'Bibliotheksbesuche und Lesealltag in Weimar um 1800: Die Ausleihjournale der Herzoglichen Bibliothek Weimar' [Library Visits and Readings in Weimar around 1800: The Loan Records of the Ducal Library Weimar], Weimar-Jena: Die große Stadt. Das kulturhistorische Archiv 3, no. 1 (2010): 5–28. [→]


Book chapters

'Making Feather-Work in Early Modern Europe', in Susanna Burghartz, Lucas Burkart, Christine Göttler and Ulinka Rublack, eds., Materialized Identities: Objects, Affects and Effects in Early Modern Culture, 1450–1750 (submitted).

'Pastoral Care, Discipline, Everyday Life, Material Culture', in A Companion to Lutheran Orthodoxy, ed. by Joar Haga et al., Brill's Companions to the Christian Tradition (Leiden: Brill, in press).

'New World Feathers and the Matter of Early Modern Ingenuity: Digital Microscopes, Period Hands, and Period Eyes', in Ingenuity in the Making: Materials and Technique in Early Modern Europe, ed. by Alexander Marr, Richard Oosterhoff and José Ramón Marcaida (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019, in press).

'Diplomatie' [Diplomacy], in Außereuropäische Geschichte in der deutschsprachigen Forschung: Eine Bibliographie, ed. by Barbara Schneider, Global-Lokal: Beiträge zur Geschichte Europas in der Welt (Münster: MV-Wissenschaft, 2018, in press, handbook for students with short bibliographical introductions).

'Face-Work: Making Hair Matter in Sixteenth-Century Central Europe', in Das Haar als Argument: Zur Wissensgeschichte von Bärten, Frisuren und Perücken, ed. by Martin Mulsow, Gothaer Forschungen zur Frühen Neuzeit (Gotha: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2018, in press).

'Die Universität Tübingen und die Anfänge osmanischer Sprachstudien im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert' [The Beginnings of Ottoman Language Studies at the University of Tübingen, Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries], in Spätrenaissance in Schwaben: Wissen, Literatur, Kunst, ed. by Wolfgang Mährle (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2018, in press).

'"The Catholic Ambassador will Sing the Mass": Ambassadorial Service and Venetian Celebrations after the Battle of Lepanto (1571)', in Culture and Diplomacy: Ambassadors as Cultural Actors in the Ottoman-European Relations from 16th to 19th Centuries, ed. by Reinhard Eisendle, Suna Suner and Hans E. Weidinger (Vienna: Hollitzer Wissenschaftsverlag, in press, submitted in 2013).

'Gefangen und versklavt: Muslimische Sklaven aus der Seeschlacht von Lepanto in Rom' [Captives and Slaves: Muslim Slaves from the Battle of Lepanto in Rome], in Mediterranean Slavery Revisited (500-1800): Neue Perspektiven auf mediterrane Sklaverei (500-1800), ed. by Stefan Hanß and Juliane Schiel (Zurich: Chronos, 2014), 337–379.

together with Juliane Schiel, 'Semantics, Practices and Transcultural Perspectives on Mediterranean Slavery', in Mediterranean Slavery Revisited (500-1800): Neue Perspektiven auf mediterrane Sklaverei (500-1800), ed. by Stefan Hanß and Juliane Schiel (Zurich: Chronos, 2014), 11–23.

'Udienza und Divan-ı Hümayun: Venezianisch-osmanische Audienzen des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts' [Udienza and Divan-ı Hümayun: Veneto-Ottoman Audiences, Sixteenth and 'Seventeenth Centuries], in Die Audienz: Ritualisierter Kulturkontakt in der Frühen Neuzeit, ed. by Peter Burschel and Christine Vogel (Cologne et al.: Böhlau, 2014), 161–220. [→]

'Baili e ambasciatori: Bayloslar ve Büyükelçiler' [Baili and Ambassadors], in Il Palazzo di Venezia a Istanbul e i suoi antichi abitanti: İstanbul'daki Venedik Sarayı ve Eski Yaşayanları, ed. by Maria P. Pedani, Hilâl. Studi turchi e ottomani, 3 (Venice: Edizioni Ca’Foscari, 2013), 35–52. [→]

'"Bin auff diße Welt gebohren worden": Geburtsdatierungen in frühneuzeitlichen Selbstzeugnissen' ["I was Born into This World": Birth-referential Datings in Early Modern Self-Narratives], in Frühe Neue Zeiten: Zeitwissen zwischen Reformation und Revolution, ed. by Achim Landwehr, Mainzer Historische Kulturwissenschaften, 11 (Bielefeld: transcript, 2012), 105–153. [→]

Other Publications

More than 35 reviews of English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish books are currently in print or already published in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Colonial Latin American Review, Frühneuzeit-Info, German Historical Institute London Bulletin, geschichte.transnational: Fachforum zur Geschichte des kulturellen Transfers und der transnationalen Verflechtungen in Europa und der Welt, Historische Zeitschrift, H-Soz-u-Kult: Kommunikation und Fachinformation für die Geschichtswissenschaften, Journal of Global Slavery, Journal of World History, L'Homme: Europäische Zeitschrift für Feministische Geschichtswissenschaft, Quellen und Forschungen aus italienischen Archiven und Bibliotheken, The Americas: A Quarterly Review of Latin American History, Traverse, WerkstattGeschichte, Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung and Zeitschrift für Thüringische Geschichte.