Theodor Dunkelgrün



I am a cultural and intellectual historian of Europe and the Mediterranean World, c. 1450-1900. Much of my work takes place at the intersections of the history of Biblical scholarship and the history of the book. I am particularly interested in learned encounters between Jews, Christians and Muslims and in the ways their textual traditions respond to each other and to technological innovation, from the invention of print to the invention of photography. I teach in the faculties of History (Early Modern Europe) and Divinity (Judaism) and supervise for colleges across the university. In 2019, I am teaching an undergraduate module on the history of the Dutch Republic and the Early Modern Low Countries.
In 2015-16, I convened the Comparative Seminar in Social and Cultural History, together with Mary Laven, Liesbeth Corens and Peter Burke. In 2017, I co-founded the ongoing Cambridge Seminar in Early Modern Scholarship and Religion.
I am an affiliated lecturer in the Faculty of History, a member of the Cambridge Forum for Jewish Studies and of the Centre for Material Texts, and a former research associate of St John’s College (2013-2018).
While deeply engaged in European traditions and practices of scholarship, I have become increasingly interested in global and comparative approaches to history, and in 2017 I joined a research group at the Academia Sinica in Taiwan for a collaborative and comparative study of the material culture of the book from Japan to the Latin West.
In 2018, out of concern for and commitment to the future of the humanities, I joined a British Academy Early Career Network on Critical University Studies, directed by Alison Wood. 


Born in Delft to an American mother and a Dutch father, I was raised in The Hague and educated at the Christelijk Gymnasium Sorghvliet and at the universities of Leiden and Chicago. I was a visiting graduate student at Princeton (2005-6) and Oxford (2008), and received my doctorate from the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought in 2012. My doctoral thesis was a study of the Antwerp Polyglot Bible (Christopher Plantin, 1568-1573), supervised by Glenn W. Most, David Nirenberg, James T. Robinson and Anthony Grafton.  Researching the thesis brought me to libraries and archives from Rome and Madrid to Leiden and Oxford, and I spent a year working in the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp, the only Renaissance printing shop that has survived in situ, with its library and archives intact (now a UNESCO World Heritage Site). In the Spring of 2012 I held the visiting chair in Jewish-Christian Relations at the University of Antwerp.
I first arrived in Cambridge in the Fall of 2012, to take up a postdoctoral research fellowship on the ERC-funded project "The Bible and Antiquity in 19th-century Culture", at CRASSH. With 5 senior directors and 8 post-docs across history, art history, classics, modern literature and theology, "Biblant" proved an invaluable apprenticeship in the kind of long and deep interdisciplinary collaborative work that CRASSH fosters.
Over the years, my work has received generous support from i.a. the Belgian-American Educational Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, the Scaliger Institute at Leiden, the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies in Philadelphia, the Institute for Jewish Studies at the University of Antwerp, and the European Research Council. As of June 2017, I am senior research associate and academic co-ordinator of the CRASSH project, "Religious Diversity and the Secular University", directed by Simon Goldhill and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 

Select Publications

Edited Volumes:

  • History of Photography 40:3 (2016). Special issue: "Photography, Antiquity, Scholarship". Guest editors: Mirjam Brusius and Theodor Dunkelgrün

  • Het Lievelingsboek als zelfportret, eds. Maarten Asscher and Theodor Dunkelgrün (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2016). Festschrift for Willem Otterspeer.

  • Jewish Historical Studies: Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England 48 (2016). Special issue devoted to Solomon Schechter in his English period. Guest editor: Theodor Dunkelgrün

  • Theodor Dunkelgrün and Paweł Maciejko (eds.), Bastards and Believers: Jewish Converts and Conversion from the Bible to the Present (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, in production) 


Journal Articles:

  • "The Testimonium Flavianum Canonicum: Josephus as a Witness to the Biblical Canon, 1566–1823", in the International Journal of the Classical Tradition 23:3 (2016). Special Issue: "The Reception of Josephus in the Early Modern Period", edited by Martin Goodman and Joanna Weinberg, 252-268. 

  • "When Solomon met Solomon: A Medieval Hebrew Bible in Victorian Cambridge", Journal of the Bible and its Reception 3:2 (2016), pp. 205-253.

  • "Solomon Schechter: A Jewish Scholar in Victorian England (1882-1902)", Jewish Historical Studies: Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England 48 (2016), 1-8. Guest editor's introduction.


Chapters in Books:

  • "The Christian Study of Judaism in Early Modern Europe" in Jonathan Karp and Adam Sutcliffe (eds.), The Cambridge History of Judaism: Volume 7, The Early Modern World, 1500–1815 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), pp. 316-348. 

  • "The Humanist Discovery of Hebrew Epistolography" in Scott Mandelbrote and Joanna Weinberg (eds.), Jewish Books and their Readers: Aspects of the Intellectual Life of Christians and Jews in Early Modern Europe (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 211-259

  • "De boom, de puzzel, en het gemis. Over Georges Perec’s La vie mode d’emploi" in Theodor Dunkelgrün and Maarten Asscher (eds.), The Lievelingsboek als zelfportret (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2016), 67-86.


Book Reviews:

  • Ton van Kalmthout and Huib Zuidervaart (eds.), The Practice of Philology in the Nineteenth-Century Netherlands (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2015); reviewed in History of Humanities 2:1 (2017), pp. 294-297. 


Contributions to Curated Catalogues:

  • Jan Papy (ed.), Erasmus’ droom: Het Leuvense Collegium Trilingue 1517-1797. Catalogus bij de tentoonstelling in de Leuvense Universiteitsbibliotheek, 18 oktober 2017 – 18 januari 2018 (Leuven: Peeters, 2017).



  • "Thomas Kaufmann, ‘Luther and Lutheranism’, in The Oxford Handbook of Protestant Reformations, ed. Ulinka Rublack (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), German into English.



Senior Research Associate and Academic Co-ordinator, Religious Diversity and the Secular University


June 2017 - October 2021


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