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Professor Beat Kümin

Personal Profile

I studied History and English at the University of Bern and completed doctoral research on the late medieval parish at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Following a research fellowship at Magdalene College, a Swiss National Science Foundation project on public houses and a stint as Peter Blickle's assistant, I joined Warwick's History Department in January 2001. Since then, I obtained a 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 (Greifswald, 2012-13). In 2014, I directed Warwick's Centre for the Study of the Renaissance and in 2015 / 2018 took up guest professorships at Konstanz.

I am the 'Food & Drink Cultures' thematic lead for Warwick's Global Research Priority on Food, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society / Higher Education Academy and a member of the conseil scientifique of the European Institute for the History and Cultures of Food. Together with Prof. Brian Cowan at McGill, I co-edit Bloomsbury's 'Cultures of Early Modern Europe' publication series and serve on the boards of Adam Matthew's Food and Drink in History, the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture at the University of York and the journal Brewery History, Involvement in other scholarly bodies includes the Warwick Network for Parish Research (as My-Parish co-ordinator), Drinking Studies Network (co-founder), German History Society (committee member 2005-8), Warwickshire Local History Society (committee member 2012-19) and the Microhistory Network. In Switzerland, I was appointed a federal expert for heritage and help to assess doctoral scholarship applications submitted to the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Privately, I follow the changing fortunes of some footie teams and keenly explore all aspects of Italian gastronomy. Together with my family I enjoy travelling and skiing in the Alps.


Undergraduate Teaching

At Warwick, I have convened / contributed to three core modules ...

... and directed two options:

Teaching elsewhere includes modules on popular religion, Reformation change and drinking cultures at Bern, Bielefeld, Cambridge & Konstanz.


Postgraduate Training

I contribute to Warwick's MA in Early Modern History, including its core module. Further afield, I taught a masters option at Bielefeld / Germany in 2011, lectured for CEU and co-directed five annual Summer Universities of the European Institute for the History and Cultures of Food at Tours / France (2014-18). External examining experience includes PhD / DPhil / MA by Research theses at Birmingham, Dresden, Gloucestershire, Hull, Oxford, St Andrews, Trinity College Dublin, UCL and postgraduate taught programmes at Aberdeen, Cambridge, Oxford and York.

I always welcome proposals for PhD / MA research projects in any field of early modern European history, particularly those relating to the social, religious & cultural history of local communities. Current research students include:

  • Francesca Farnell, 'Gender and the Supernatural in Early Modern England' (with Peter Marshall; profile)
  • Daniel Gettings, 'Sustaining Body and Soul: The English People and their Water c. 1550-1750' (profile)
  • Serin Quinn, 'Love and Gold: A Comparative History of the Tomato in Britain and Italy, 1500-1900' (with Rebecca Earle; profile)
  • Maria Tauber, 'The Making of English Politicians: Early Modern MPs and the Transformation of the Media System' (with Mark Knights; profile)

Completed PhD / MA by Research projects:




The 'Alte Wirt', a sixteenth-century inn at Obermenzing near Munich. Source.


Research Interests

My field is the cultural history of German-speaking Europe and England (c. 1400-1800). In particular, I work on political/religious/social life, food/drink consumption & memory in local communities over the early modern period.

Principal research themes include:

  1. Parish communities in the 'long' Reformation: see books like The Shaping of a Community; The Parish in English Life; Landgemeinde und Kirche; The Communal Age in Western Europe c. 1100-1800, Pfarreien in der Vormoderne, contributions to the English Parish Church & advising on Warwickshire Parish Accounts
  2. Food, drink & social exchange: reflected in my roles in Warwick's Food GRP & the 'Social Sites' network; books like The World of the Tavern, Drinking Matters, Brewing Cultures, A Cultural History of Food in the Early Modern Age; the source collection Public Drinking in the Early Modern World; and a video on church ales.
  3. Rural self-government in the Holy Roman Empire: a Fellowship at the Alfried Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg in Greifswald led to lectures / publications on imperial villages & parish republics (esp. Gersau & Dithmarschen).
  4. Local memory and inter-generational communication: a project on the custom of depositing chronicles, coins and other writings / objects into the tower balls placed on top of prominent buildings all across the German lands since the late Middle Ages.
Ornamental crest of the Republic of Gersau from a statute book of 1605. District Archive.

Collaborative ventures help to set these topics in a wider interdisciplinary framework:



Public Engagement

Researching food, drink and popular culture offers good opportunities for outreach. Examples include helping actress Marta Dusseldorp exploring her Swiss (innkeeping) ancestry for the Australian 'Who do you think you are?' series & participating in a TV debate on the fall of the Berlin wall; reflections on the drinking problem featured in The Guardian, The Times, The Conversation and the Swiss daily Der Bund, while radio interviews focused on the impact of Brexit on European researchers, shifts in alcohol consumption & 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 support local history initiatives here & abroad. In 2014, I helped to celebrate the Swiss micro-republic of Gersau (see DVD recording of my address to the Landsgemeinde and the public debate on political 'freedom'). In autumn 2017, I discussed the Reformation impact and drinking cultures at the 'Warwick Words' History Festival.

In other activities, I produced several learning resources, wrote for A-level audiences, discussed the 'Renaissance from Below', took over the Twitter account of the Ecclesiastical History Society and participated in a public round table event on 'parishes & migration'.

More detailed information appears on my 'public engagement' and media work pages.

Selected Publications

A full list appears here
a) Books / edited collections


C. Scott Dixon & Beat Kümin (eds),
Interpreting Early Modern Europe
(London: Routledge, 2019)

Contents & information / 20% Discount Flyer - available as hardcopy / paperback / e-book, featuring surveys on the historiography of key themes in the period, with extracts from primary sources & secondary works.

Beat Kümin,
Imperial Villages: Cultures of Political Freedom in the German Lands c. 1300-1800
Studies in Central European Histories Volume 65
(Leiden: Brill Publishing, 2019)

Contents & Availability Book Flyer App. 1: Villages App. 2: Officeholders Review Rezension 1 Rezension 2




Beat Kümin,
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)

Now available from Routledge




Beat Kümin,
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 reviews: 1 / 2

See also the WARWICK PODCAST series on aspects of the book.



Beat Kümin (ed.),
A Cultural History of Food in the Early Modern Age
(Oxford: Berg, 2012) & now also accessible digitally on the Bloomsbury Cultural History platform
[= Vol. 4 of the six-part series A Cultural History of Food, gen. eds. F. Parasecoli & P. Scholliers]

Publisher Information (Volume HB, Volume PB / Series) Dustjacket Introduction




Beat Kümin,
The Communal Age in Western Europe c. 1100-1800: Towns, Villages and Parishes in Pre-Modern Society
Studies in European History
(Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)

Publisher Information Contents, Introduction and Index Review




Beat Kümin (ed.),
The European World 1500-1800: An Introduction to Early Modern History
(London: Routledge, 2009; enlarged 2nd edn, 2014; expanded 3rd edn, 2018; also available as an e-book)

Contents & Availability; Companion Website (with interactive map, image gallery, timeline, glossary & weblinks);
Editor Profile; reviews of the first edn in English, German and Hungarian; 2nd edn website




B. Kümin (ed.),
Politische Freiheit und republikanische Kultur im Alten Europa. Historische Essays zum Gedenkjahr "Gersau 2014"
[Political Freedom and Republican Culture in Old Europe. Historical Essays for the Bicentary "Gersau 2014"]
(Vitznau: Bucher Druckmedien, 2015) [includes Kümin, 'Vom Reichsdorf zur Republic: Grundlagen und Entwicklung der politischen Freiheit in Gersau', 93-8]

Available for CHF 19.50 at Bezirkskanzlei Gersau
Open Access to Full Text on 'Gersau 2014' homepage



Michele Ferrari and Beat Kümin (eds),
Pfarreien in der Vormoderne: Identität und Kultur im Niederkirchenwesen Europas [Pre-modern Parishes: Identity and Culture in Local Ecclesiastical Life], Wolfenbütteler Forschungen 146
(Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2017) [includes regional / thematic essays in four languages plus M. Ferrari & B. Kümin, ’Einführung – Pfarreien in der Vormoderne’, 9-22] [pre-print version; publication / ordering flyer; Rezension 1; Rezension 2; Review 3]




b) Articles and essays


B. Kümin, 'Nachrichten für die Nachwelt. Turmkugelarchive in der Erinnerungskultur des deutschsprachigen Europa [Messages for Posterity: Tower Ball Archives in the Memory Culture of German-Speaking Europe], in: Historische Zeitschrift 312 (3/2021), 614-648 [Open Access, with German & English abstracts]

B. Kümin, 'Cultural Representations', in: B. Ann Tlusty (ed.), Alcohol in the Early Modern World: A Cultural History (London: Bloomsbury, 2021), 159-177 [review]


Church pfarrhaus_leschen_pic_lisson_harald_free_use_cropped.jpg Parishioners

Researching the contents of tower ball deposits at St Johannis, Rosdorf (Lower Saxony / Germany),
which include a 1749 chronicle written by pastor Friedrich Wilhelm Leschen, with current parishioners.
Picture credits: Jan Stubenitzky (left), Harald Lisson (middle) and BK.



Beat Kumin 

Prof. Beat Kümin

Early Modern European History
Director of First Year Studies

Contact: FAB, 3.44; in-person office hours in term: Monday 5-6 & Tuesday 12-1 pm (please book a time here; online appointments only in reading weeks).

Department of History
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL, U.K.
T: +44 (0)2476 524915
F: +44 (0)2476 523437
E-mail twitter_logo_blue_640x520.jpg
















European World 






'Food & Drink Studies':
International Postgraduate
Summer University (Tours)

homepage / media coverage /
student report on 2018


Proceedings of 'Migration and the European City: Social & Cultural Perspectives from Early Modernity to the Present', the Italian-German Historical Institute's LXI Study Week I co-organized at Trento in 2019, are now being prepared for publication.


Webinar screenshot Joint Workshops for early modern PGR students at TU Dresden & Warwick have taken place in 2016 (Dresden) & 2021 (online)












Food GRP Video Still

A Video Intro to our Food GRP



 Project Homepage







 My-Parish Logo

See what's going on at My-Parish

Discussing the 'Passion' workshop series run in 2018-19.






With Marta Dusseldorp at the Bear in Ins
With Marta Dusseldorp at the Bear inn (Ins/Bern) in November 2018.


'The Renaissance from Below'?









 Interpreting Cover

Imperial Villages Cover 

 Shaping Cover






 3rd edn cover


 Gersau Cover


 Pfarreien in der Vormoderne Cover