William Theiss

Alumni; Ph.D. 2023

Dissertation Title:
Village and State in the Central European Churchbook, 1548–1945

I study the cultural, social, and intellectual history of Central Europe in the period 1500-1800. My dissertation, entitled “The Registration of Souls in Central Europe,” describes how manuscripts kept by village churches (Kirchenbücher) became pillars of the modern administrative state. Central to this research are the history and sociology of collective memory, the history of religious practice and secularization, and the history of manuscript literary culture.

My teaching ranges Mediterranean antiquity to the European early modern period, including the Latin and ancient Greek languages. My other research interests include: the history of Greek art criticism, early modern French literature, and German literature from early modernity to the twentieth century.

I received a BA in Comparative Literature from Yale University in 2016 and an MPhil in Early Modern History from the University of Cambridge in 2017. From 2020 to 2021 I was a DAAD scholar in German Studies at the Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg in Germany. My research has also been supported by the Gates Foundation and the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies.


William Theiss, “The Abbé d’Aubignac’s Homer and the Culture of the Street in Seventeenth-Century Paris,” Journal of the History of Ideas 84 (2023): 77-102.

William Theiss, "Conrad Peutinger's Treatise on Greek Art," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 82 (2019): 159-194.

Degree Year
Year of Study
Area of Interest
Cultural History
Intellectual History
Home Department & Other Affiliations
15th & 16th Centuries
17th & 18th Centuries