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Professor Ulinka Rublack


Ulinka Rublack was born in Tuebingen and studied in Hamburg and Cambridge, supported by a scholarship. Further scholarships enabled her to return to Cambridge to complete a PhD under the supervision of the late R.W. Scribner. Rublack next became a Junior Research Fellow at St John's College and was offered a lectureship at Cambridge University in 1996. She has taught at the History Faculty ever since. Rublack's research interests focus on sixteenth and seventeenth century culture, its visual and material aspects, the Protestant Reformations, gender and society as well as methodological concerns. She is the author of four major monographs in English and two monographs in German. Her work has been translated into Italian, Chinese and German.
Her most recent monograph, 'The Astronomer and the Witch: Johannes Kepler's Fight for his Mother', presents the untold story of how the persecution of witchcraft affected families and recasts our sense of Kepler's life and times (Oxford University Press, October 2015). It brings to life a Lutheran community one hundred years after the Reformation began, on the eve of the Thirty Years' War. 'The Astronomer' was an Observer Book of the Year and has inspired an opera project - see the website
She is sole editor of the 'Oxford Handbook of the Protestant Reformations' (December 2016) as well as of the 'Oxford Concise Companion to History', whose contributors are the late Sir Christopher Bayly, R. Bin Wong, Donald Kelley, Bonnie Smith, Kenneth Pomeranz, Christopher Clark, Peter Burke, Pat Thane, Dorothy Ko, Megan Vaughan, Elizabeth Buettner, Pamela Smith, John McNeill, Miri Rubin, Eiko Ikegami and Anthony Grafton.
Her previous monographs include 'Dressing Up: Cultural Identity in Early Modern Europe', also published by Oxford University Press, which explores the relation between dress and identities in the period, won the Bainton Prize and was one of six books nominated for the Cundill Prize, the largest non-fiction history book prize in the world.
Ulinka Rublack is sole founder of the Cambridge History for Schools outreach programe; she is a co-founder of what became the Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies and has served on its working party for over ten years.
Rublack has been a full member of three European research networks and most recently served as a member of the steering committee of the AHRC-funded network on the history of luxury. She has been visiting scholar at the Maison de l'Homme, Paris, and in 2017 will be Descartes Fellow at NIAS as well as Senior Visiting Fellow at the Leibniz Institute in Mainz. She has co-curated the Fitzwilliam exhibition 'Treasured Possessions' and curated its exhibition 'A Young Man's Progress' (March - September 2015), which resulted from her collaboration with an artist and fashion designer in response to Renaissance fashion images. Further information is available on her tumblr The First Book of Fashion. She is also co-investigator of a Swiss National Foundation grant (2016-18) to explore the relationship of materiality, objects and emotional communities in the early modern world, Rublack has recently been appointed as Gender Equality Champion for the University. She combines her busy career with raising two children.

Subject groups/Research projects

Early Modern History:

Departments and Institutes

St John's College:

Research Interests

Ulinka Rublack has most recently finished a monograph on the witchcraft trial against Katharina Kepler, the astronomer's mother. This is the only case in which a leading intellectual legally defended a family member during the European witchcraze. 

Ulinka Rublack has also recently co-edited The First Book of Fashion, which presents the first colour edition of the Books of Clothes of Matthaeus and Veit Konrad Schwarz, an unparalleled chronicle of fashion innovation and male Renaissance lives between 1500-1570. This project was undertaken in cooperation with the Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum in Brunswick, Maria Hayward and Jenny Tiramani.  The First Book of Fashion is published by Bloomsbury. Rublack has collaborated with Jenny Tiramani to reconstruct dress worn by Schwarz in 1530. It was displayed in the National Gallery, London, on the 28th of March 2014, and at the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge from March to September 2015. She has collaborated with artist Maisie Broadhead and fashion designer Isabella Newell to explore contemporary male dress and modes of pictorial display in relation to Renaissance art: see the tumblr link first book of fashion above.  Rublack currently serves on the advisory committee of an exhibition about Matthaeus Schwarz and male Renaissance fashion.

Rublack is sole editor of the Oxford Handbook of the Protestant Reformation, which brings together 36 contributors (2016), and is working on a long term project to provide an account of the Reformations with a global perspective. 

She continues to work on the history of dress and material culture in early modern Europe, visual history, as well as Reformation history. One of her most recent journal article is `Matter in the Material Renaissance', Past & Present May 2013, 41-84, which explores how matter related to craft and consumption in the period with reference to leather in fine shoes and wall-paper, and a recent article in West86 argues that sophisticated Renaissance tailoring should be understood as form of polychrome sculpting and generative of great visual interest. She currently works on a book about Making and Crafting in the period.

Research Supervision

Ulinka Rublack currently supervises seven PhD students from England, the US, Switzerland, Italy and New Zealand. Katy Bond is an Overseas scholar who works on early modern costume books; Regine Maritz has been Robert Owen scholar at Christ's College Cambridge and now is funded by the German Historical Institute in Paris to work on gender at early modern courts in a global, comparative perspective; Sophie Pitman is AHRC-funded to work on clothing cultures in London around 1600; Victoria Bartels studies the role of armor in early modern civilian dress ensembles; Eleanor Barnett is AHRC-funded and researches food in the Reformations; Valerio Zanetti is AHRC-funded and works on gender, embodiment and dress; and Abigail Gomulkiewicz researches the history of aristocratic dress in England. Rublack has also supervised PhDs on the history of religion and material culture in Prague, on sound, Reformation music, and gender as category in understandings of the German witch-craze, and mentored doctoral research on the memory and material culture of the Battle of Lepanto. She has sponsored post-doctoral work on the history of disability in early modern Europe and mentored post-doctoral work on the role of confession in the German Catholic Renewal. She currently mentors post-doctoral work on the history of hair in the early modern period. Ulinka Rublack has supervised eleven MPhil students on a wide variety of topics ranging from pilgrimage in the Catholic Renewal to purses in German dress.  Interested graduates are very welcome to get in touch with her to discuss proposals.


Ulinka Rublack teaches undergraduate as well as MPhil courses courses on early modern visual and material culture, outline papers, and is co-convenor of post-graduate seminars.

Other Professional Activities

Ulinka Rublack serves on the editorial boards of History TodayThe Historical Journal and Fashion Theory . She is co-editor of the book series Konflikte und Kultur and has served on the editorial board of German History for many years.

She has chaired an international grant awarding committee for the Academy of Finland and regularly reviews international grant applications.

Rublack has repeatedly lectured at the Hay Literary Festival and other public venues, and has delivered a range of keynote and public lectures at conferences and institutes, including museums. She has taken part in BBC radio programes including In Our Time (on Kepler), Free Thinking (on Luther) and Beyond Belief. In May 2013, she delivered a plenary lecture `Did Europe need the Reformation?' at the Kirchentag in Hamburg and in September 2013 the Rand lecture at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, on the history of dress. In February 2014, she delivered the Oxford Faculty of History Annual Lecture. In 2015 she delivered two international master classes for graduates and deliver keynote lectures in Rome, London and York. She was co-organiser and co-teacher of a summer school on the history of emotions in Cambridge in September, in collaboration with the MPI in Berlin.

In 2011, Ulinka Rublack initiated the outreach programme Cambridge History for Schools. The 2013/14 programme of interactive sessions for school children aged 7-14 can be found under 'Events' on the Cambridge History faculty website. Ulinka Rublack is also part of the Speakers for School charity initiative and offers to provide free talks to state schools in her region.

In 2012, Rublack organised a British Academy debate on 'Teaching History in Schools', which is documented on youtube.

In 2013, Rublack was elected as historian to the president's assembly which prepares the bi-annual German Kirchentag.

Between 2012-2015, Rublack co-curated an exhibition on early modern material culture at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, Treasured Possessions, which featured the outcome of her collaborative work with Jenny tiramani, Maisie Broadhead and Bella Newell.


  • Early Modern History


Key Publications

1. Books written by Ulinka Rublack in English:

The Astronomer and the Witch: Johannes Kepler's Fight for his Mother, Oxford: Oxford University Press October 2015. Observer Book of the Year. Translations into German, Italian and Chinese forthcoming.

Dressing Up: Cultural Identity in Renaissance Europe, Oxford University Press: 2010, Winner of the Roland H. Bainton Prize for History 2011, which recognizes the best book published in English during the preceding year in any historical field from 1450-1660, and Finalist of the Cundill  Prize, the world’s largest non-fiction history book award, which recognizes outstanding history books accessible to the wider public. 

Reformation Europe, Cambridge University Press (New Approaches to European History) 2005, second edition 2017

The Crimes of Women in Early Modern Germany, Oxford University Press 1999, pbk 2001, shortlisted for the Longman/History Today Book of the Year Award 2000.

2. Books Ulinka Rublack wrote in German:

Die Reformation in Europa, Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 2003, 2nd edition 2006.

Magd, Metz' oder Morderin: Frauen vor fruhneuzeitlichen Gerichten, Frankfurt: Fischer Verlag, 1998.

Geordnete Verhaltnisse? Ehealltag und Ehepolitik im fruhneuzeitlichen Konstanz, Constance 1997

3. Books edited by Ulinka Rublack:

The Oxford Handbook of the Protestant Reformations, Oxford December 2016.

Hans Holbein: The Dance of Death, Penguin Classics, October 2016.

A Concise Companion to History, Oxford University Press 2011, paperback ed. September 2012, translated into German and Chinese.

Gender in Early Modern German History, Cambridge University Press, Past and Present Series, November 2001, 308 pp, paperback ed. October 2010.

together with Maria Hayward: The First Book of Fashion: The Book of Clothes of Matthaeus and Veit Konrad Schwarz, Bloomsbury 2015.


                    Other Publications

                    Edited Journal Issues:

                    Joint editor (with Mary Fulbrook) of German History, 3/2010 on 'Ego-Documents in German History', with an Introduction 'In Relation: The "Social Self" and Ego-Documents', pp.263-272

                    Editor of German History, 1/1999, Special Issue on 'Gender in Early Modern German History', with an Introduction, pp.1-8

                    Selected articles in peer reviewed journals:

                    'Female Spirituality and the Infant Jesus in Late Medieval Dominican Convents', Gender & History, 6/1994, 37-57

                    'Metze und Magd: Frauen, Krieg und die Bildfunktion des Weiblichen in deutschen Städten der frühen Neuzeit', Historische Anthropologie, 3/1995, 412-432, translated by Pamela Selwyn for History Workshop Journal, 44/1997, 1-22, as 'Wench and Maiden: Women, War and the Pictorial Function of the Feminine in the Early Modern Period'

                    'Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Female Body in Early Modern Germany', Past & Present, 150/1996, 84-110

                    'Frühneuzeitliche Staatlichkeit und lokale Herrschaftspraxis in Württemberg', Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung, 2/1997, 1-30

                    'Körper, Geschlecht und Gefühl in der Frühen Neuzeit', in Paul Münch ed., Erfahrung als Kategorie der Frühneuzeitgeschichte, Munich 2001, Beihefte der Historischen Zeitschrift, N.F., vol. 31, 99-106

                    'Erzählungen vom Geblüt und Herzen. Zu einer Historische Anthropologie des frühneuzeitlichen Körpers', Historische Anthropologie, 2/2001, 214-232, translated by Pamela Selwyn as 'Fluxes: The Early Modern Body and the Emotions', History Workshop Journal, Spring 2002, 53, 1-16, translated into Spanish as 'Flujos. El cuerpo y las emociones en la Eded Moderrna', in Maria Tausiet, James S. Amelang eds, Accidente del Alma. Las Emociones en la Edad Moderna, Madrid: Abada Editores 2010, 99-122

                    'Sexual Difference, Subjectivity and the Law in Early Modern Germany', Storica, 39/2009, 29-52

                    'Grapho-Relics: Lutheranism and the Materialization of the Word', Past and Present, 5/2010, 144-66

                    'Matter in the Material Renaissance', Past & Present, May 2013, 41-84.