Paul Michael Kurtz is a modern cultural, intellectual, and religious historian, with further expertise in ancient Judaism and Semitic studies. His research centers on the history of human sciences: specifically, the formation, transmission, and circulation of knowledge about the ancient world both in and between Europe and the Middle East from 1770 to 1930.
In his early work, Kurtz concentrated on the technical scholarly practices as well as the nationalist, political, and theological ideas that shaped representations of early Judaism in the German Empire. The focus centered on historiography in biblical, classical, and oriental studies.
With his more recent endeavors, he investigates philology as the premier science of the long nineteenth century. This research concentrates on the networks, media, infrastructure, and technics involved in collecting, circulating, and processing textual artifacts. His approach expands traditional work on the history of the humanities by combining an understanding of global and colonial history, media theory, informatics, and history of science.
At Ghent, Kurtz is Associate Research Professor in History of Human Sciences as well as Principal Investigator of the ERC-funded project PhiSci: Philology as Science in 19th-Century Europe (since 2022). Alongside his principal appointment in the Department of History, he works with the Department of Philosophy & Ethics and with the German Studies Section. Kurtz is also Visiting Lecturer at the University of Groningen, in the Department of History.
Previously, he was a Research Fellow of the Flemish Research Council at Ghent (2019–22), Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Cambridge and Queens’ College (2017–19), and Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Göttingen (2016–17). In 2016, Kurtz earned a Dr. phil. in History at Göttingen, summa cum laude, where he first began as a Fulbright Scholar. During doctoral studies, he also held fellowships at the University of Chicago, Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz, and Max Weber Centre for Advanced Studies in Erfurt, which followed an MDiv at Princeton Theological Seminary.
Kurtz's work appears in the finest journals of history, religion, and culture, such as History & Theory, Critical Inquiry, Central European History, and Harvard Theological Review. His first monograph, on the historiography of ancient Israel in the German Empire, was published by Mohr Siebeck in 2018.
Over the years, he has received generous support from, inter alia, the European Research Council, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, German Academic Exchange Service, Flemish Research Council, Fulbright Program, and American Schools of Oriental Research.