Matthew Warner Osborn

Matthew Warner  Osborn
Associate Professor of History
Doctoral Program Coordinator
Humanities and Social Sciences

Contact Info
816-235-6118 x 8
212 Cockefair Hall
American history


A historian of early America, Dr. Matthew Warner Osborn is the author of two books. Night Hawk: America’s First Superhero (forthcoming, University of Chicago Press) tells the forgotten story of a superhero who flew over the streets of Philadelphia between 1828 and 1830. Night Hawk illuminates the early American roots of the far more famous twentieth-century figures like Superman and Batman, and describes how this obscure character, and his author, had an outsized influence on the development of nineteenth-century culture, especially with regards to newspaper writing, popular crime fiction, commercial theater, and the American labor movement.

Rum Maniacs: Alcoholic Insanity in the Early American Republic (University of Chicago Press, 2014) describes how the medical responses to the disease delirium tremens shaped modern conceptions of alcohol and drug addiction. This research will be featured in an upcoming documentary about the founding of Alcoholics’ Anonymous being produced by Altimeter Films.

Matthew teaches a range of undergraduate courses on colonial America, the American Revolution, and the early American republic, as well as introductory courses in alcohol and drug studies. His graduate colloquiums focus on the recent historiography of early America and the Atlantic World.



  • HISTORY 101 - U.S. History to 1877
  • HISTORY 215 - Getting High: Alcohol & Drugs in American History 
  • HISTORY 302 - Colonial North America, 1492-1763 
  • HISTORY 303 - The American Revolution, 1763-1789
  • HISTORY 304 - The Early American Republic, 1789-1850
  • HISTORY 375 - Success and Failure in Nineteenth Century America


  • HISTORY 5502 - Colonial North America, 1492-1763 
  • HISTORY 5503 - The American Revolution, 1763-1789
  • HISTORY 5504 - The Early American Republic, 1789-1850
  • HISTORY 5581GR - Introduction to Graduate Studies 
  • HISTORY 5582 - Colloquium in American History I 
  • HISTORY 5587R - Research Seminar 

Academic Credentials

B.A. University of California, Santa Cruz (1989)
M.A./Ph.D. University of California, Davis (2007)