Dr. Steffan Spencer

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Professional Title
Assistant Professor of History

Dr. Steffan A. Spencer is Assistant Professor of African History & researches the Classical Ethiopian language of Ge’ez.  He received his MA & PhD degrees with distinction from Howard University in African History & Public History, and his BA from Northwestern University in Philosophy & Religion.  Formerly he taught as a lecturer of African & African-American Studies at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and as an instructor at Howard University & Bowie State University. 

Dr. Spencer’s current book project is entitled, “The Ge’ez (Classical Ethiopic) Book of the Trinity: A 15th  Century Homily from the Monastic Order of Daqiqa Estifanos (The Disciples of Abba Estifanos).” The work is a historical analysis of a 15th century Trinitarian treatise composed of stories elaborating upon biblical narratives, and rules for certain religious & cultural observances.  As a part of the project, he produced the first ever translation, transcription, digital reproduction & historical analysis of this manuscript first pinned over 5 centuries ago. The book builds upon his PhD dissertation, for which he conducted field work as a Fulbright Scholar in Ethiopia. The work is currently under the consideration of Brill Publications, & an article by the same title is under Peer-Review by the 20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES) Proceedings’ Journal.

Also, his forthcoming article is entitled, “Matrifocal Retentions in Ethiopian Orthodox Traditions: The Madonna as Ark & Queen Makeda as Prefiguration of Mary; with Egyptian Queen Tiye & Pharaoh Hatshepsut as Reference.”  The article argues that the prominence of women such as Mother Mary & Queen Makeda (The Queen of Sheba) in the theology and ideology of Ethiopian Orthodoxy is indicative of African matrifocal traditions. The article is forthcoming in the journal African Identities of Taylor & Francis Press.

As a Public Historian, and in an effort to make his research accessible to a broader audience, Dr. Spencer produced the documentary short Kissed By The Sun: A Study of Nile Valley Cultural Continuity for use in the classroom & to share with the public, to vividly demonstrate the wonders of Nile Valley Civilizations.  To date, the documentary short has been featured by the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, & selected for film festivals and screenings including: The Twin Cities Black Film Festival, The African World Film Festival, The California Film Awards, The African World Documentary Film Festival, The East Tennessee Film Gala & was screened in partnership with TransAfrica Forum.

Courses Offered:

HIST 2515: Ancient to Pre-Modern African History

HIST 3615: Modern Africa

HIST 3550: Africa and Her Early American Diaspora

HIST 3695: Special Topics in Ancient African History

HIST 5905: History Seminar