John Stauffer

Sumner R. and Marshall S. Kates Professor of English and African and African American Studies


John Stauffer is the author or editor of 20 books and over 100 articles, which mostly focus on antislavery, social protest, or photography. GIANTS:  The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln was a national bestseller. The Black Hearts of Men was the co-winner of the Frederick Douglass Book Prize and the Lincoln Prize 2nd Place winner. Picturing Frederick Douglass was a Lincoln Prize finalist.  His essays and reviews have appeared in Time, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, and in scholarly journals and books.  He has been on national radio and TV, including The Diane Rehm Show, Fresh Air, and Book TV.  He has served as a consultant for several films and exhibitions, including Django Unchained, The Free State of Jones, The Abolitionists, and WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY.  And he has been a speaker and scholar for the U.S. State Department’s International Information Program.  He lives in Cambridge with his wife, Deborah Cunningham, and their two sons, Erik and Nicholas.

Dissertation Committees

“The Man on the Dump: The Aesthetics of Waste in American Art and History” (Steven Brown)

“The Disappearing Bridge: A Literary History of the U.S. and Czechoslovakia, 1948-89” (Brian Goodman)

“‘Heard It on the Radio’: Automobile Radio and American Culture” (Aaron Hatley)

“The Importance of Biography in Antebellum American Literature” (Jacob Spencer)

“Through the Looking Glass Darkly: Episodes from the History of Deviance” (Altin Gavranovic)

“‘If you see something, say something’: Islamism, Threat and Individual Rights in Two Liberal Democracies, France and the U.S. since 1976” (Catherine Romatowski)

“Domestic Pleasures: Dreams of Joy and Fulfillment in American Home Life” (Phyllis Thompson)

“Slavery and the Civil War in American Cultural Memory” (Christina Adkins)

“American Whaling in Culture and Memory, 1820-1930″ (Jamie L. Jones)

“Object Lessons in American Culture” (Sarah Carter)

“Like Me: Identity Immersion Journalism and the Dilemmas of Self-Making” (Sara Gebhardt)

“To the Heart of Europe: Americanism, the Salzburg Seminar, and Cultural Diplomacy” (George Blaustein)

“The Reusable Past: Abolitionist Aesthetics in the Protest Literature of the Long Civil Rights Movement” (Zoe Trodd)

“‘Social Intercession’: The Religious Nature of Public Activism among American Women Reformers in Boston, 1892 to 1930” (Lauren Brandt)

“Carrying the Mill: Steam, Waterpower and New England Textile Mills in the 19th Century” (Marti Frank)

“‘Ain’t Got No Home’: Race and American Narratives in the Depression Era” (Erin Royston Battat)

“Performing History: History and Politics in the Works of Suzan-Lori Parks, Anna Deavere Smith, Naomi Wallace, and Charles Mee” (Talaya Delaney)

“Figurations of Catastrophe: The Poetics and Politics of AIDS Loss” (Dagmawi Woubshet)

“The Nervous American” (Kevin Burke)

“History, Memory, and Myth: Children’s Literature and Classroom Conceptions of the Past” (Sara Schwebel)

“‘An American Type’: The Kikuchi Diaries, A Cultural Biography (1941-1947)” (Matthew Briones)

“Back to the Blanket: The Indian Fiction of Oliver La Farge, John Joseph Mathews, D’Arcy McNickle, Ruth Underhill, and Frank Waters, 1927-1944” (Nancy Elam Squires)

“Forging Memory, Hereditary Societies: Patriotism and the American Past, 1876-1898” (Woden Teachout)

Selected Publications

  • blackhearts1

    The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race (Harvard University Press, 2001), by John Stauffer

  • Stauffer - Giants

    Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass & Abraham Lincoln (Twelve, 2008), by John Stauffer

  • Stauffer - State of Jones

    The State of Jones: The Small Southern County that Seceded from the Confederacy (Doubleday, 2009), by John Stauffer, with Sally Jenkins