Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Recruitment
Hannah R. Johnson received her PhD in English from Princeton University and MA in Medieval Studies from the University of York (UK), after completing her BA in English and Medieval Studies at Emory University. She joined the Pitt faculty in 2006 and was promoted to the rank of full professor in 2021.
Johnson’s published scholarship focuses on medieval antisemitic legends and the rhetoric of exclusion in premodern Europe. Her research interests include modern intellectual and disciplinary history, the psychology of conspiracism, Islamophobia, comparative religious studies, and Jewish Studies. With the support of an ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship, Johnson and colleague Heather Blurton wrote and published The Critics and the Prioress: Antisemitism, Criticism and Chaucer’s Prioress’s Tale (Michigan, 2017), an interdisciplinary examination of the troubled critical history surrounding the famous medieval poet’s most inflammatory work, The Prioress’s Tale. Johnson’s first monograph, Blood Libel: The Ritual Murder Accusation at the Limit of Jewish History (Michigan, 2012), examines the underlying ethical commitments that have historically structured academic investigations of a libelous historical myth, originating in the Middle Ages that Jewish communities murder Christian children. Most recently, she was supported by a 2023 Fulbright fellowship to undertake collaborative research with New Zealand scholar Simone Marshall on a podcast series and academic trade book tentatively titled, The First Era of Fake News: Witch-Hunting, Antisemitism and Islamophobia.
Johnson is an engaged proponent of interdisciplinary and collaborative research, community-engaged scholarship, and public humanities. In her home department of English, she has previously served as Director of the Literature Program, Acting Director of Graduate Studies, Multimodal Pedagogy Coordinator, and Faculty Grant Support advisor, among other roles. She is affiliated with Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Jewish Studies, the University Center for International Studies, and the Collaboratory Against Hate. Johnson has been a Visiting Scholar at the University of Otago and UC Santa Barbara.