Stefan Hanß


  • Samuel Alexander Building (S2.30), Oxford Road

    M13 9PL Manchester

    United Kingdom

If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile


I am Professor of Early Modern History, working on material culture, cultural encounters, and global history, as well as the Deputy Director and Scientific Lead of the John Rylands Research Institute.

I explore new interdisciplinary collaborations between the humanities and the sciences, and new methodological trajectories in material culture studies like the use of digital microscopes and scientific analysis, remaking experiments, and historians' collaboration with artisans and artists. I have published widely on the use of digital microscopy in cultural heritage analysis and have collaborated with laboratories, industry, and academics worldwide to conduct novel scientific analysis of historical artefacts, like proteomics, SEM microscopy, or Imaging.

I was awarded a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award to organise Microscopic Records, and a Philip Leverhulme Prize in recognition of research achievements in early modern material culture studies and global history.

As the research group leader of The Bodies, Emotions and Material Culture Collective, I co-organise Affective Artefacts and run The Manchester Material Culture Lab reading group.

I held postdoctoral positions at the University of Cambridge and the Research Centre Gotha, University of Erfurt, before I was offered a senior lectureship at the University of Manchester in 2018. I was promoted to a chair in 2023.

I received the PhD from the Freie Universität Berlin and studied in Berlin, Venice, and at the Warburg Institute London. I was also an intern and research assistant at the Freie Universität Berlin, the Duchess Anna Amalia Library Weimar, and the German Historical Institutes in Rome and London.

Research interests

My current monograph project focuses on the history of hair in Reformation Germany and the broader Habsburg world. I explore what it meant to live in a 'hair-literate society', and how hair was linked to early modern identities. My History Workshop Journal article examines Habsburg and Ottoman captives' descriptions of forced hair removal in the early modern Mediterranean and their societal, religious, medical, and sexual meanings. Bringing gender history, the history of the body, and art history into a conversation with material culture studies, my Gender & History article argues that the sudden fashionability of beards in Renaissance Europe has been intricately linked with a culture of material and visual experimentation. Focusing on how people made hair matter, I suggest working with the concept of face-work. I also published on haircare and hair dyeing in early modern Germany, and run an interdisciplinary research project to conduct scientific analysis of early modern haircare recipes.

My most recent monograph Narrating the Dragoman’s Self in the Veneto-Ottoman Balkans, c. 1550–1650 (Routledge, 2023) is a microhistory of the Salvagos, an Istanbul family of Venetian interpreters and spies travelling the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Mediterranean. Part monograph and part memoir, this volume opens a conversation between translation studies, Mediterranean studies, and the history of life-writing. The book launch, hosted by The Society for Renaissance Studies, is available here.

In-Between Textiles, 1400-1800 (Amsterdam University Press, 2023) is my most recent edited volume. This is a decentred study of how textiles shaped, disrupted, and transformed subjectivities in the age of the first globalisation.

Two earlier monographs (3 vols.) focus on the Battle of Lepanto, in particular its sixteenth-century global event-making and the impact of material culture on the production of history. I have co-edited Mediterranean Slavery Revisited (500–1800) (2014), which develops a semantic, praxeological, and transcultural approach to slaving practices; The Habsburg Mediterranean, 1500–1800 (2021, open access), which proposes a thalassographic approach to Habsburg dominions inspired by debates of oceanic history and assemblage theory; and Scribal Practice and the Global Cultures of Colophons, 1400–1800 (2022) that charts the global diversity of early modern colophons to develop a new conceptual framework for the study of colophons.