Martin van Gelderen is Professor for European Intellectual History.
I started my career in what was still West-Berlin, taking up a position as Wissenschaftlicher Assistent/Assistant Professor at the fine and fairly small history department of the Technische Universität Berlin in April 1989. Working with Volker Hunecke and his team during five exciting years was a special privilege. In 1995 I was offered, to my enormous surprise, the Chair of Intellectual History at the University of Sussex in England. The eight years in Sussex were formative, especially in intellectual terms. Donald Winch was a fine, wonderfully funny and very experienced guide in the labyrinth of Sussex’s university politics. With colleagues and friends like Brian Young, Brian Cummings, Vinita Damodaran, Adriana Bontea, Celine Surprenant and Richard Whatmore, I learnt a lot along the way, especially from the interdisciplinary make up, which was still the hallmark of Sussex during the period I was there.
In 2003 I returned to my alma mater, the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, where I had obtained my PhD in 1988 under the supervision of Wim Blockmans, Quentin Skinner and my superb EUI-Doktormutter, Gisela Bock. Between 2003 and 2012 I was Professor of European Intellectual History at the EUI. Within Europe’s academic landscape the EUI is a rare jewel. It stands out in so many ways! Intellectually it is one of those rare places where not only academics from many countries but also their rich diversity of academic cultures come together, cooperate, clash and conflict. Moving to another country, as I only know too well, obviously means that as foreign guest you have to adjust to the country and to its academic culture. Moving to the EUI is different. In academic terms no national culture dominates; the EUI is a true meeting place of Europe’s academic cultures, an intellectual melting pot.
Somehow, during the last two decades the combination of international academic management and research has come to characterise my career. At Sussex I was Co- Director (with Norman Vance) of the Graduate Research Center in the Humanities, at the EUI I was Dean of Graduate Studies at the EUI from 2008-2012 and for the last nine years, between 2012 and 2021, I was Director of the Lichtenberg-Kolleg, the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences in Göttingen, a unique academic institution, perhaps especially within the landscape of Germany’s quite peculiar academic culture.
As to scholarship, the emphasis is still on the history of political and religious thought, in particular on European traditions of republicanism and on debates on religious toleration. Hallmarks, I think, are the four volumes Republicanism: A Shared European Heritage and Freedom and the Construction of Europe – both outcomes of major international research projects co-directed with Quentin Skinner. More recently I have been working on a new transcription, translations and scholarly editions of the diaries of Anne Frank. Co-edited with Raphael Gross, the new Dutch editio princeps, and English and German editions are reaching the final stage. Work and research for editions in other languages are about to start.
My research plans for the years to come include a new English edition and translation of Hugo Grotius’ De Iure Belli ac Pacis / The Laws of War and Peace for the series Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought and the monograph Between Erasmus and Rembrandt: Visual and Textual Debates on Republican Politics, which highlights the importance of the combination of pamphlets and prints as sources of intellectual history in general and of early modern political thought in particular.
Selected Recent Publications
– ‘Greek, Patristic and Roman Legacies: Hugo Grotius and the Freedom of Will’ in: Hannah Dawson, Annelien de Dijn (eds.), Rethinking Liberty Before Liberalism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022, pp. 38-59.
– ‘Der Sonntag der Lebens. Deutsche und niederländische Debatten über Rembrandts Bilder des jüdischen Alltags’ in: Ivan Gaskell and Martin van Gelderen (eds.), Rembrandt: Lasting Impressions. Göttingen: Göttinger Verlag der Kunst (forthcoming).
– ‘Über Krieg, Gewalt und Tyrannei: Die Bilder des niederländischen Aufstandes von Bruegel bis Goltzius (1558-1590)‘ in: Ivan Gaskell and Martin van Gelderen (eds.), Sturm der Bilder: Bürger, Moral und Politik in den Niederlanden, 1515-1616, Göttingen: Göttinger Verlag der Kunst, 2016, pp. 57-86.
– ‘Hot Protestants: Predestination, the Freedom of Will and the Making of The Modern European Mind’ in: Gijsbert van den Brink, Harro Höpfl (eds.), Calvinism and the European Mind, Leiden: Brill, 2014, pp. 131-154.
– Quentin Skinner and Martin van Gelderen (eds.). Freedom and the Construction of Europe, two volumes., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.