Department Directory

Ezra Greenspan

Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Chair in Humanities

Ph.D., Brown University

Ezra Greenspan is a literary and cultural historian who studies the history of print culture in its various manifestations in the United States. He is interested, in particular, in the central activities (such as writing, reading, printing, and publishing) and institutions (such as libraries, bookstores, and schools) of American print culture. His central figure has long been Walt Whitman, but he also has an active scholarly interest in the culture of letters of nineteenth-century African Americans. He is currently working on a comprehensive literary biography of the most important and versatile nineteenth-century African American writer, William Wells Brown. As an undergraduate and graduate teacher, he offers a variety of courses on the canonized and minority literary cultures of the United States.  He is the co-editor of the journal Book History.

Courses taught

  • History of the Book in America
  • Authorship in America
  • Nineteenth-Century African American Literature
  • Modern Jewish Literature

Publications (selected)

  • Walt Whitman and the American Reader (1990)
  • George Palmer Putnam: Representative American Publisher (2000)
  • “Song of Myself”: A Sourcebook and Critical Edition (2005)
  • William Wells Brown: A Reader (2008)
  • Editor: William Wells Brown: Clotel and Other Works (NY: Library of America, 2014)

  • Co-editor, vol. 17 of Book History (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014)


Upcoming Reading and Interviews

  •  Sept. 11 (Politics and Prose, Washington, DC)
  • Sept. 12 (Center for the Book, Library of Congress, Wash., DC)
  • Sept. 17 (University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky.)
  • Oct. 7 (Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC)
  • Nov 6 "Black Book Talk," on KBOO FM (Portland, OR) (Listen Here)

  • Nov 14 NPR-PRI's "The World" (Listen Here)


Review of William Wells Brown: An African American Life in New York Times Book Review (Nov. 17, 2014) - (Read it here)

William Wells Brown: An African American Life in New York Times Book Review Selected as "Editor's Choice,"- New York Times (Nov. 23, 2014)