Universiteit Leiden

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Herman Paul

Professor of History of the Humanities

Prof.dr. H.J. Paul
+31 71 527 2757

Herman Paul (1978) is Associate Professor of Historical Theory at Leiden University, Professor Extraordinarius in Secularization Studies at the University of Groningen, and a member of The Young Academy (KNAW). After receiving his PhD in history (with the highest possible distinction) from the University of Groningen in 2006, he spent a year in Princeton as a member-in-residence at the Center of Theological Inquiry. In addition to visiting fellowships at the Institute of European History Mainz and the Catholic University of Leuven, he held a five-year research position at the University of Groningen. Since 2007, he has been affiliated with the Leiden History Department, where he teaches courses in historiography and historical theory. He also serves as editor of Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis and as associate editor of History of Humanities.


On appointment.

Fields of interest

  • Historical theory
  • Historiography
  • Intellectual history
  • Religious history

Research projects

Paul's current research project, 'The Scholarly Self: Character, Habit, and Virtue in the Humanities, 1860-1930', examines character features, personality traits, and (epistemic as well as moral) virtues that late nineteenth-century scholars believed to contribute to good scholarly performance. Focusing on the humanities in the decades around 1900, the project investigates how ideals of intellectual virtue were shared and traded across disciplinary boundaries, accepted or disputed on political and religious grounds, and negotiated in an ongoing interplay between the institutions that shaped the scholar’s intellectual environment (universities, journals, learned societies, voluntary associations, etc.).

Paul’s past projects include a deep dive into late twentieth-century philosophy of history, which resulted in a book entitled Hayden White: The Historical Imagination (Polity Press, 2011), and several inquiries into the less-known territory of early twentieth-century historical theory. Paul has also written a textbook, Key Issues in Historical Theory (Routledge, 2015), which originally appeared in Dutch as Als het verleden trekt: kernthema’s in de geschiedfilosofie (Boom Lemma, 2014). Additionally, Paul has co-edited about ten edited volumes or theme issues of journals such as History of the Human Sciences, History and Theory, and Journal of the Philosophy of History. Full-text versions of many of his papers can be found on his Academia website.

Major publications

Key Issues in Historical Theory (London: Routledge, 2015) 







Als het verleden trekt: kernthema’s in de geschiedfilosofie (Den Haag: Boom Lemma, 2014)







Het moeras van de geschiedenis: Nederlandse debatten over historisme (Amsterdam: Bert Bakker, 2012). 









Hayden White: The Historical Imagination ( Cambridge: Polity Press, 2011). 








Het vaderlandse verleden: Robert Fruin en de Nederlandse geschiedenis, ed. Herman Paul and Henk te Velde (Amsterdam: Bert Bakker, 2010).









Sober, Strict, and Scriptural: Collective Memories of John Calvin, 1800-2000, ed. Johan de Niet, Herman Paul, and Bart Wallet (Leiden: Brill, 2009).









Het gereformeerde geheugen: protestantse herinneringsculturen in Nederland, 1850-2000, ed. George Harinck, Herman Paul, and Bart Wallet (Amsterdam: Bert Bakker, 2009).








De Reformatie-herdenking van 1917: historische beeldvorming en religieuze identiteitspolitiek in Nederland, ed. Herman Paul, Bart Wallet, and George Harinck (Zoetermeer: Meinema, 2004).

Professor of History of the Humanities

  • Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen
  • Institute for History
  • Algemene Geschiedenis

Work address

Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Room number 2.02b



  • Universiteit Groningen Bijzonder hoogleraar secularisatiestudies

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