John Stauffer is a leading authority on antislavery, the Civil War era, social protest movements and photography. He is a Harvard University professor of English and American Literature, American Studies and African American Studies. His 19 books include The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race (2002), Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln (2008), and The Battle Hymn of the Republic: A Biography of the Song That Marches On (2013). Two of his books were national bestsellers and several have won numerous awards. He is currently working on a biography of Charles Sumner. He is the author of more than 50 academic articles and his essays have also appeared in Time, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New Republic, and the Washington Post, among other places. He is the editor of 21st Editions, has served as a consultant for the traveling exhibition War/Photography, and has co-curated an exhibition on Douglass and Melville at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. He also has advised three award-winning documentaries, and has been a consultant for feature films including Django Unchained (2012) and the Free State of Jones (2016), which is based on his book The State of Jones (2009). He has held the Ruth Garvey Cochener Fink Visiting Professorship in Leadership at Washburn University, a Massachusetts Historical Society Fellowship and a Gilder Lehrman Institute Fellowship, served as a Bancroft Prize Juror, and received Purdue University's Distinguished Alumni Award. He has appeared on national radio and television and has lectured widely throughout the United States, Asia and Europe, including for the State Department's International Information Program.
John received his PhD from Yale in 1999 and won the Ralph Henry Gabriel Prize for the best dissertation in American Studies. He began teaching at Harvard that year and was tenured in 2004. He teaches courses on protest literature, Emancipation, southern literature, Douglass and Lincoln, the Civil War, autobiography, the nineteenth-century novel and historical fiction. In 2009 Harvard named him the Walter Channing Cabot Fellow for "achievements and scholarly eminence in the fields of literature, history or art." He has received two teaching awards from Harvard: the Everett Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Award and the Jan Thaddeus Teaching Prize. He served as Chair of American Studies at Harvard from 2006-2012. John came to Yale and Harvard from an unlikely and circuitous route. He was raised in Iowa, Nebraska, and North Dakota and educated in public schools. After receiving a BSE in Mechanical Engineering from Duke University and working briefly in finance, he received an MA in Humanities from Wesleyan University and an MA in American Studies from Purdue University before pursuing his PhD. He lives in Cambridge with his wife, Deborah Cunningham, and their sons Erik and Nicholas.