James McSpadden, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
James McSpadden


James McSpadden is a historian of modern Europe, particularly interested in Central Europe, Germany, and the Low Countries during the late 19th and 20th centuries. His research explores the histories of political culture, of power and politics, and of international networks.

Currently, he is working on two projects, the first of which is provisionally entitled “In League with Rivals: Parliamentary Networks and Backroom Politics in Interwar Europe.” His research looks beyond interwar Europe’s political polarization to uncover behind-the-scenes friendships and the informal networks that brought politicians together across party lines and across national borders. The 1920s and 1930s are remembered as Europe’s era of fascists and demagogues, but McSpadden explores how this was also a period in which women, working-class individuals, and radical democrats entered and reshaped elected politics.

McSpadden’s second project turns from informal networks among the political elite to networks of wartime book confiscation and redistribution both in Nazi Germany and in the United States. His research draws on book historical methods to explore Nazi practices of book looting and to understand the role of American librarians in bringing and distributing confiscated books from occupied Europe to the United States after the Second World War. In all of his research, he engages comparative and transnational histories that extend beyond the borders of one country and even stretch around the world.

Before coming to the University of Nevada, Reno in 2019, James McSpadden was a visiting postdoctoral fellow at the German Historical Institute in Washington, DC. His scholarship and research have been supported by the American Historical Association, the American Council on Germany, the Hoover Institution Library and Archives, Harvard’s Center for European Studies, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the German Historical Institute and the U.S. Department of Education’s Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Program.

Research interests

  • Modern German and Central European History
  • Political Culture and New Methods in Political History
  • Books and Cultural Artifacts in Wartime
  • Provenance and Restitution of Holocaust-era Property
  • Comparative History

Courses taught

  • HIST 106: European Civilization
  • HIST 367: The Holocaust in its European Setting
  • HIST 464: Europe: 1914-Present
  • CH 202: The Modern World


  • Ph.D., History, Harvard University, 2018
  • M.A., Dutch Studies, Universiteit Leiden, 2010
  • B.A., German Studies and Humanities, Yale University, 2008