Professor Beat Kümin
- Personal profile
- Teaching activities
- Public engagement & media work - in progress: 'Gersau 2014'
Publications - recent: 'Political Culture in Gersau & Dithmarschen'; 'Communication in the Late Medieval Parish' & opinion pieces on whether we are drinking more than ever and how pubs can solve our alcohol problem
I was born in the Swiss city of Biel. Having studied History and English at the University of Bern, I conducted doctoral research on 'The Late Medieval English Parish' at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (PhD 1993). As a Research Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge (1993-97), I served as Director of Studies in History in 1996. After a return to Bern - to pursue a Swiss National Science Foundation project on early modern public houses and to act as Peter Blickle's assistant - I joined Warwick's History Department in January 2001. Since then, I obtained a second doctorate (Habilitation in early modern history; Bern 2005), held a guest lectureship at Bielefeld University (2011-12) and spent six months as a Senior Fellow at the Alfried Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg in Greifswald (2012-13; reflected in the blog Greifswald Glosses). In 2014, I acted as Director of Warwick's Centre for the Study of the Renaissance.
I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and co-editor of the 'Cultures of Early Modern Europe' series published by Bloomsbury. Alongside, I serve on the editorial board of the journal Brewery History, the advisory panel of the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture at the University of York, the advisory board of the Journal of Baroque Studies, the committee of the Warwickshire Local History Society and as an heritage expert of the Swiss Department of Culture. Other scholarly bodies I am involved in include the German History Society (Committee Member 2005-8), the Warwick Drinking Studies Network and the Warwick Network for Parish Research.
Year I Core Module:
Making History (HI175)
Year II core module:
The European World 1500-1720 (HI203)
(see the associated Routledge textbook The European World, the companion site and the video of a debate on early modern historiography)
Year II option:
Germany in the Age of the Reformation (HI242)
(see the Historical Association's 'Reformation' podcast series with talks by Henry Cohn, Beat Kümin, Peter Marshall and Penny Roberts and the poster summary of the undergraduate research project undertaken by Martin Christ)
Year III advanced option:
The World of the Tavern in Early Modern Europe (HI390)
(see the associated source edition Public Drinking in the Early Modern World and a video recording of reflections on the interdisciplinary aspects of this module at the university's 'Teaching & Learning Showcase' 2011)
At other institutions
University of Hull, 2009-12: Chief external examiner of history programmes
Universität Bielefeld: BA Seminar 2011
English Reformations: Religion and Society under the Tudors
Universität Bern: Übungen 1999 and 2007
'Wirtshäuser im Ancien Régime' and 'English Reformations: Religion und Gesellschaft im Zeitalter der Tudors'
University of Cambridge: 'Themes and Sources' Option 1995-98
Popular Religion before and after the Reformation
Contributions to Warwick's MA in Religious, Social and Cultural History 1500-1750 and the Theory, Skills and Methods core module for all MA students
Lecturer for (August 2005 and 2011) and - from 2014 - Co-Director of the international Summer University of the Institut Européen d'Histoire et des Cultures de l' Alimentation / European Institute for the History and Culture of Food at Tours/France
MA Seminar at the University of Bielefeld 2011:
The World of the Tavern in Early Modern Europe: Conceptual Approaches in Transnational Perspective
University of Aberdeen, 2014-: External examiner of MLitt programme
Supervision of Postgraduate Theses (PhD, MA)
I welcome proposals for research projects in any field of early modern European history, particularly those relating to the social, religious and cultural history of local communities. Current and past topics (co-)supervised include:
Research students (MPhil/PhD, MA by Research)
- Ruth Barbour, 'The "Common Sort of Catholic" in Warwickshire 1660-1820' (e-portfolio; with Gabriel Glickman)
- Matthew Jackson, 'Drink and Identity: A Comparative Case Study of Early Modern Bristol and Bordeaux' (e-portfolio; with Penny Roberts)
- John Morgan, 'Negotiating hazardous landscapes: regions of risk and cultures of coping in early modern Britain' (e-portfolio)
- Matthew Wakeman, 'Table Games in Tudor England' (e-portfolio)
- Donald P. White, 'Out of the Woods: The Elaboration of Late medieval Cornwall Parishes' (e-portfolio)
- James Brown, 'The Landscape of Drink: Inns, Taverns and Alehouses in Early Modern Southampton' (PhD University of Warwick, 2008; e-portfolio)
- Paula McBride, 'Magic and Witchcraft in the Early Modern English Midlands' (MA by Research, 2014; e-portfolio)
- Angela Nicholls, 'Early Modern English Almshouses in the Mixed Economy of Welfare c.1550-1725 ' (PhD University of Warwick, 2014; e-portfolio; with Steve Hindle)
Taught MA dissertations
- James Brown, 'The spatial reordering of the English parish church in the 1630s' (2003)
- Anna Dawson, 'Parlours in Eighteenth-Century England' (2012; with Mark Knights)
- Angela Hopkins, 'Religion in Lincolnshire 1547-1576' (2002)
- Matthew Jackson, 'Women, Drink and Agency in Early Modern England and France' (2010)
- Denise Lim, 'Luther's Writings on Women' (2011)
- Sam Luton, 'A Flow of Soul: Taverngoing and Ethnic Interaction in Antebellum New Orleans' (2002)
- John Morgan, 'Coping with Disaster in Early Modern England' (2012)
- Maria Nicolaou, 'Marriage and Divorce in Early Modern England' (2012)
- Ruth Sanger, 'Dudley in Disneyland: Construction of Power and Identity at Kenilworth Castle' (2002)
- Charlie Small, 'Sailors and Drink in Early Modern England' (2012)
- Deborah Toner, 'Food and Alcohol in Colonial Mexico' (2006)
External examiner of postgraduate theses at Birmingham, TU Dresden, Gloucestershire, Hull, Trinity College Dublin, UCL.
The 'Alte Wirt', a sixteenth-century inn at Obermenzing near Munich
My general field is the cultural history of German-speaking Europe and England (c. 1400-1800). In particular, I work on political agency, religious life and social exchange in local communities during the early modern period.
My research focuses on three main themes:
- Parish communities in the 'long' Reformation
- Public houses (inns, taverns, alehouses) in early modern life
- Village republics in the Holy Roman Empire
Communal organization allowed common people enhanced influence, be it in English localities or the republican polities of Central Europe. Social exchange centred on microspaces like town halls, market squares, parish churches and public houses. My work has concentrated on the latter two: Through lay-controlled funds and representatives like churchwardens, parishioners assumed a growing role in the late medieval Church and shaped the course of Reformation change (see book publications The Shaping of a Community; The Parish in English Life; Landgemeinde und Kirche;The Communal Age in Western Europe c. 1100-1800 and contributions to the English Parish Church DVD). Public houses, in turn, were not just providers of food, drink and sociability, but communal hubs of communication and political culture (cf. The World of the Tavern, Drinking Matters, Brewing Cultures and the primary source collection Public Drinking in the Early Modern World).
The current microhistorical project, supported by a British Academy research grant, focuses on the village of Gersau on Lake Lucerne, a self-governing mini-republic (with patronage rights over its own church) from the late Middle Ages to 1798. This parish of some 1000 souls, with no nobility and only loose ties to four Swiss Catholic cantons, provides a unique opportunity to study a genuinely 'popular' regime, i.e. early modern political, socio-economic and religious life with minimal pressure 'from above'. I have become involved in the bicentenary celebrations of the (temporary) restoration of the republic in 1814. For information on all activities see the project homepage.
Ornamental crest of the Republic of Gersau from a statute book of 1605
[© Bezirksarchiv Gersau, LB Nr. 6, p. 13]
During a year of study leave in 2012-13, I took a wider comparative look at rural autonomy in early modern Central Europe. 'Communal Culture - Communal Power: Parishes in the Holy Roman Empire' was supported by a Senior Research Fellowship of the Alfried Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg at Greifswald/Germany.
Several collaborative ventures have helped to set this research in a wider interdisciplinary framework:
- The 'Warwick Network for Parish Research' , with the associated community platform 'My-Parish' and the annual 'Warwick Symposium on Parish Research', co-hosted with my colleagues Steve Hindle, Peter Marshall and Penny Roberts (hear the podcast featuring interviews from the sixth symposium on 'parish pieties').
- The 'Warwick Drinking Studies Network', which links scholars from different disciplines at this university and elsewhere. It organizes workshops, an annual symposium and facilitates research initiatives.
- The European Science Foundation exploratory workshop on 'The Historical Formation of European Drinking Cultures: Regions, Methods, Sources' co-organized with Angela McShane (Victoria & Albert Museum) and Phil Withington (Cambridge) at Venice in September 2010.
- The international network 'Social Sites - Öffentliche Räume - Lieux d'échanges 1300-1800' , established with colleagues from the Universities of Dresden and Paris I and supported by an 'Academic Collaboration' grant from the Leverhulme Trust (2005-8). This initiative investigated perceptions of space in premodern Europe, with reference both to contemporary awareness and modern theoretical approaches. Dissemination activities included a panel on 'Microspace and Larger World' at the German Historikertag 2004 in Kiel (video recording) and several collections of essays, including Political Space in Preindustrial Europe (published by Ashgate in 2009).
The Mellon-Newberry-Project of the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance, especially its first cycle 'Culture, Space and Power: Peopling the Built Environment in Renaissance England c. 1450-1700', which I co-directed in 2006.
A Sixteenth-Century German Public House (Barthel Beham, 'Country Fair', c. 1534)
[M. Geisberg (ed.), The German Single-Leaf Woodcut 1500-50 (New York, 1974), i. 132]
My research on food, drink and local communities offers good opportunities for community interaction. Examples include reflections on the drinking problem featured in The Guardian and The Times, while recent radio interviews focused on shifts in alcohol consumption and the cultural history of eating outside.
Interpreting drinking statistics for The Voice of Russia UK
Exploring the evolution of the picnic on German station SWR2
I regularly give talks to parish and local history societies. During 2014, I became closely involved in a year of initiatives commemorating the Swiss micro-republic of Gersau, e.g. through a public address to the Landsgemeinde (communal assembly) and moderating a panel debate on political 'freedom' in the past and present.
a) Books / edited collections
The Shaping of a Community: The Rise & Reformation of the English Parish c. 1400-1560
St Andrews Studies in Reformation History
(Aldershot and Brookfield/Vermont: Scolar Press, 1996)
Beat Kümin (ed.),
Reformations Old and New: Essays on the Socio-Economic Impact of Religious Change c. 1470-1630
St Andrews Studies in Reformation History
(Aldershot and Brookfield/Vermont: Scolar Press, 1996)
Beat Kümin (ed.),
Landgemeinde und Kirche im Zeitalter der Konfessionen [Rural Communities and the Church in the Age of Confessions] (Zürich: Chronos Verlag, 2004)
[content and availability: web / pdf-file]
Drinking Matters: Public Houses and Social Exchange in Early Modern Central Europe
Early Modern History: Society and Culture
(Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)
Content and availability pdf flyer e-book version reviews: 1 / 2
See also the WARWICK PODCAST series on aspects of the book.
Beat Kümin (ed.),
The European World 1500-1800: An Introduction to Early Modern History
(London: Routledge, 2009; enlarged 2nd edn, 2014)
2nd edn Contents & Availability; e-book version; companion site (with image gallery, timeline, glossary & weblinks)
Reviews of the first edn in English and German; first edn website
The second edition of the Warwick textbook, available in both hard-/paperback format, has now been published
Beat Kümin (ed.),
'Brewing Cultures in Early Modern Towns',
special issue of Brewery History 135 (2010)
[featuring refereed essays by James Brown, Katja Lindenau, Tim Reinke-Williams and Masatake Wasa]
Contents and Availability Introduction and Notes on Contributors
Beat Kümin and B. Ann Tlusty (eds),
Public Drinking in the Early Modern World 1500-1800: Voices from the Tavern
Vols 2-3: The Holy Roman Empire
(London: Pickering & Chatto, 2011)
An extensive collection of translated primary sources (travel reports, registers of public houses, taxation records, diaries, moral literature, court proceedings etc) from German-speaking Europe, especially the imperial free city of Augsburg, the principality of Bavaria and the Swiss city republic of Bern. The other two volumes in the series, edited by Thomas Brennan, feature evidence from France and America.
Contents and Availability Introduction Review 1 Review 2 Rezension
Beat Kümin (ed.),
A Cultural History of Food in the Early Modern Age
(Oxford: Berg, 2012)
[= Vol. 4 of the six-part series A Cultural History of Food, gen. eds. F. Parasecoli and P. Scholliers]
B. Kümin and Cornelie Usborne (eds),
FORUM essay collection for: History & Theory 52 (2013)
[featuring refereed essays by Willem de Blécourt, Amanda Flather, Leif Jerram, Matthew Johnson, Krisztina Robert and a comment by Gerd Schwerhoff]
b) Recent essays
(a fuller list appears here)
- B. Kümin, 'Sacred church and worldly tavern: Reassessing an early modern divide', in: W. Coster and A. Spicer (eds), Sacred Space in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: UP, 2005), 17-38
- B. Kümin, 'Taverne, Bad und Take Away - Das Worber Gastgewerbe zwischen Mittelalter und Moderne [Inn, bathing house and take away: Commercial hospitality at Worb between Medieval and Modern Times]', in: H. R. Schmidt (ed.), Worber Geschichte (Bern, 2005), 634-51
- B. Kümin, ‘Das vormoderne Wirtshaus im Spannungsfeld zwischen Arbeit und Freizeit [The premodern public house between the poles of work and leisure]’, in: Hans-Jörg Gilomen, Beatrice Schumacher and Laurent Tissot (eds), Freizeit und Vergnügen vom 14. bis zum 20. Jahrhundert (Zurich: Chronos, 2005), 87-98
- B. Kümin, ‘Friede, Gewalt und öffentliche Räume: Grenzziehungen im alteuropäischen Wirtshaus [Peace, Violence and Public Space: Drawing Boundaries in the Early Modern Public House’], in: Claudia Ulbrich, Claudia Jarzebowski and Michaela Hohkamp (eds), Gewalt in der Frühen Neuzeit: Beiträge zur 5. Tagung der Arbeitsgemeinschaft Frühe Neuzeit im VHD, Historische Forschungen Bd. 81 (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2005), 130-9
- B. Kümin, ‘Drinking and public space in early modern German lands’, in: Contemporary Drug Problems: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly 32 (Spring 2005), 9-27
- B. Kümin, ‘Wirtshaus, Verkehr und Kommunikationsrevolution im frühneuzeitlichen Alpenraum [Public House, Road Transport and the "Communication Revolution" in the Early Modern Alps]’, in: Zeitsprünge: Forschungen zur Frühen Neuzeit 9 (3-4/2005), 376-393
- B. Kümin, 'Wirtshäuser und Bäder [Public Houses and Spas]', in: A. Holenstein (ed.), Berns Mächtige Zeit. Das 16. und 17. Jahrhundert neu entdeckt (Bern, 2006), 544-50
- B. Kümin, ‘The secular legacy of the late medieval English parish’, in: C. Burgess and E. Duffy (eds), The Parish in Late Medieval England, Harlaxton Medieval Studies XIV (Donington: Shaun Tyas, 2006), 95-111 and pl. 1-4 [link to pre-print version]
- B. Kümin, ‘Public Houses and Civic Tensions in Early Modern Bern’, in: Urban History 34 (1/2007), 89-101
- B. Kümin, ‘Wirtshaus, Reiseverkehr und Raumerfahrung am Ausgang des Mittelalters [Public Houses, Road Traffic and the Experience of Space at the Close of the Middle Ages]’, in: Rainer C. Schwinges (ed.), Strassen- und Verkehrswesen im Mittelalter, Vorträge und Forschungen LXVI (Sigmaringen: Thorbecke, 2007), 331-52
- B. Kümin, ‘Popular Culture and Sociability’, in: P. Wilson (ed.), A Companion to Eighteenth-Century Europe (Oxford: Blackwell, 2008), 192-207
- B. Kümin, ‘Das Gastgewerbe als Wirtschaftsfaktor [Commercial hospitality as an economic factor]’, in: André Holenstein (ed.), Berns goldene Zeit: Das 18. Jahrhundert neu entdeckt (Bern: Stämpfli, 2008), 114
- B. Kümin, 'Wirtshausgeschichte. Das Gastgewerbe in der historischen Frühneuzeitforschung [Commercial hospitality in early modern historiography]', in: Peter Friedrich and Rolf Parr (eds), Gastlichkeit. Erkundungen einer Schwellensituation (Heidelberg: Synchron, 2009), 117-31 [pdf-flyer] [review]
- B. Kümin, ‘Political Culture in the Holy Roman Empire [Review Essay]’, in: German History 27 (2009), 131-44
- B. Kümin, 'Iconographical approaches to the early modern public house', in: Food & History 7 (2/2009) , 29-42
- B. Kümin, 'Introduction' [to special issue 'Brewing Cultures in Early Modern Towns'], in: Brewery History 135 (2010), 2-7
- B. Kümin [associate editor of / author of contributions on late medieval worship, Christian community, parishes, laity, churchwardens, finance and fundraising, secular/political dimensions and parish-state relations in:] The English Parish Church Through the Centuries, ed. Dee Dyas et al. (Interactive CD-ROM, Christianity and Culture, 2010)
- B. Kümin, ‘In vino res publica? Politische Soziabilität im Wirtshaus der Frühen Neuzeit‘, in: G. Schwerhoff (ed.), Stadt und Öffentlichkeit in der Frühen Neuzeit, Städteforschung: Reihe A, vol. 83 (Cologne: Böhlau, 2011), 65-79 [publisher information]
- B. Kümin, ‘La parrocchia "dal basso": strutture comunali e vita religiosa a nord delle Alpi nel tardo medioevo [The Parish from Below: Communal Structures and Religious Life north of the Alps in the Late Middle Ages]‘, in: S. Boscani Leoni and P. Ostinelli (eds), La Chiesa dal "basso". Organizzazioni, interazioni e pratiche nel contesto parrocchiale alpino alla fine del medioevo (Milan: FrancoAngeli, 2012), 17-33 [publisher information]
- B. Kümin, ‘Wirtshäuser als frühneuzeitliche Kommunikationszentren [Public Houses as Early Modern Communication Hubs]’, in: Lukas Morscher, Martin Scheutz and Walter Schuster (eds), Orte der Stadt im Wandel vom Mittelalter zur Gegenwart: Treffpunkte der Stadt, Verkehr und Fürsorge (Innsbruck: StudienVerlag, 2013), 91-105 [publisher information]
- B. Kümin and Cornelie Usborne, 'At home and in the workplace: A historical introduction to the spatial turn', in: History & Theory 52 (2013), 305-16 [introduction to a FORUM collection on 'Domestic and Occupational Space in Western Europe from the Middle Ages']
- B. Kümin, ‘Musik in englischen Kirchgemeinden der Reformationszeit [Music in English parishes during the Age of the Reformation]', in: Michael Fischer, Norbert Haag and Gabriele Haug-Moritz (eds), Musik in neuzeitlichen Konfessionskulturen (16. bis 19. Jahrhundert): Räume - Medien - Funktionen (Ostfildern: Jan Thorbecke, 2014), 15-29 [publisher information]
- B. Kümin, ‘Oral and written communication in the late medieval English parish’, in: Jan Marco Sawilla and Rudolf Schlögl (eds), Medien der Macht und des Entscheidens: Schrift und Druck im politischen Raum der europäischen Vormoderne, The Formation of Europe 5 (Hannover: Wehrhahn, 2014), 67-81 [publisher information]
- B. Kümin, 'Kirchgenossen an der Macht. Vormoderne politische Kultur in den "Pfarreirepubliken" von Gersau und Dithmarschen [Parishioners in Power: Premodern political culture in the "parish republics" of Gersau and Dithmarschen]', in: Zeitschrift für historische Forschung 41 (2/2014), 187-230 [abstract]
The Parish Church of St Andrew, Ashburton (Devon)
Prof. Beat Kümin
Early Modern European History
Humanities, Room H 313
Office hours normally:
(but best by email appointment)
Department of History
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL, U.K.
T: +44 (0)2476 524915
F: +44 (0)2476 523437
(15thC; Horley, Oxon)
See what's going on at My-Parish
See my blog 'Greifswald Glosses