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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, before joining the University of Cambridge in 2015 as a Visiting Scholar of the Faculty of History and an Honors Fellow of the Dahlem Research School, Freie Universität 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 September 2016, I am also a Research Associate at St John's College.

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 PhD thesis, which won the Friedrich Meinecke Prize and is now published in two monographs, examines the sixteenth-century global event-making of the Battle of Lepanto. I decentered 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. My first monograph examines these stories of sixteenth-century event-making. Building on that research, my second monograph studies the impact of material culture in the production of history. Objects taken during the combat, such as Ottoman flags, textiles, and manuscripts, were crucial means for circulating narratives and establishing a material presence of this event in sixteenth-century Europe. 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 Veneto-Ottoman diplomacy as well as on Mediterranean slavery, primarily in the Italian, Spanish, Habsburg, and Ottoman lands, and its implications for the historiography of slavery. My research on the impact of slaves on Ottoman language learning in the German lands around 1600 shall result in a broader study entitled Slaves and Scholars: The Emergence of Ottoman Language Studies in Early Modern Germany.

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. As a member of the Basel-Bern-Cambridge research group on early modern materialized identities, I am conducting archival- and artefact-based research on early modern featherwork. I currently have several publications under review or in progress that aim to reconstruct (a) the emotional appeal of New World feathers in Europe, (b) the cross-cultural making and trading of featherwork and textiles in the Spanish world, (c) the transmission of European craft expertise in an increasingly connected world, and (d) the impact of the new fascination with feathers on natural history. I focus on sixteenth-century feather-workers in the Americas, Spain, and the Spanish Netherlands as well as in Germany, Italy, and the Ottoman Empire. To this end, I apply new methodologies in material culture studies such as the usage of a digital microscope. Above all, my postdoctoral research at Cambridge 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. Undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral students are encouraged to approach me with source samples that will then be discussed together with a group of postdocs whose palaeographic expertise covers a wide range of the early modern world and its languages. 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.

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 organise the international workshop In-Between Textiles: Weaving Cultural Encounters in the Early Modern World (6th April 2018). This one-day workshop reconsiders 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. 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 10th and 11th September 2018, the international symposium The Habsburg Mediterranean, 1500-1800 will take place at The Austrian Hospice in Jerusalem. I jointly organise this symposium 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, Paris (EHESS/Bulac), Princeton, Tübingen, Vechta, Venice, Vienna, Villa Vigoni, Weimar, and Zurich. Further invitations to Barcelona, London (Institute of Historical Research, King's College), Oxford, 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?’ (Prof Thomas Robisheaux, Drs Liesbeth Corens, John Gallagher, Mélanie Lamotte, Tom Hamilton, St John’s College, 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

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

'The Fetish of Accuracy: Perspectives on Early Modern Time(s)', Past & Present (under review).

'Hair, Emotions and Slavery in the Early Modern Mediterranean', History Workshop Journal (under review).

'Eine Zeit-Geschichte der Seeschlacht von Lepanto' [A Temporal History of the Battle of Lepanto], Militär und Gesellschaft in der Frühen Neuzeit 21 (2017) (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. [→]

'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

'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, submitted).

'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, submitted).

'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 30 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.