Paul Dover

Professor of History

BA, PhD, Yale University

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The RCHSS Distinguished Professor for 2023, Paul Dover joined the KSU faculty in 2005, and is a historian of Europe and the Mediterranean world in the late medieval and early modern periods. An enthusiastic teacher who relishes exploring period texts and big questions with his students, he routinely teaches surveys of world and European history, Origins of Great Traditions, senior research seminars, and specialized courses in topics like Machiavelli and the history of information. His textbook The Changing Face of the Past: an Introduction to Western Historiography (2014) stems from his experience teaching the historiography course. Dr. Dover’s research interests focus on the political, diplomatic and cultural history of Europe in the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries, as well as on the history of information. He has published articles in journals as varied as Mediterranean Studies, The Journal of Early Modern History, Renaissance and Reformation, The Journal of Urban History, Archival Studies, The Journal of Medieval and Renaissance History, The International Journal of the Classical Tradition, and Cahiers d'histoire. Revue d'histoire critique.

One thrust of his research focuses on diplomacy and international politics in the Renaissance - his most recent publications in this area are “Diplomacy", in Oxford Bibliographies in Renaissance and Reformation, edited by Margaret King (Oxford University Press, 2021), and “Ambassadors as travelers in fifteenth-century Italy”, in Gabor Galleri and Rachel Willie, eds., Travel and Conflict in the Early Modern World (Routledge, 2020). He is contributing a chapter entitled "The evolution of intelligence practices in early modern Europe" to the forthcoming The Cambridge History of Intelligence, edited by David Omand and Peter Jackson. He is the editor of, and a contributor to, Secretaries and Statecraft in the Early Modern World (Edinburgh University Press, 2016), a study of the role of secretaries, chancellors and favorites in early modern Eurasian diplomacy. He also contributed a chapter on diplomacy (co-authored with Hamish Scott) to The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern History (2015; ed. Hamish Scott). 

Professor Dover has also written on the related "early modern information revolution," tracing the changing attitudes and practices of Europeans toward information acquisition, storage and management. On this topic he has written a manuscript entitled The Information Revolution in Early Modern Europe (2021), part of Cambridge University Press' New Approaches to European History Series. He published an essay on diplomacy and espionage for The Princeton Companion to the History of Information (2020), edited by Ann Blair, Tony Grafton and Anne Marie Goeing, as well as “Variété et abondance. La copia et l’histoire de l’Europe des débuts de l’époque moderne" in the French journal Cahiers d'histoire. Revue d'histoire critique 149 (2021); and “The impacts of paper’s abundance, 1450-1650: an episode in coevolution” in Paper Stories: Paper and Book History in Post-Medieval Europe, edited by Þórunn Sigurðardóttir, Silvia Hufnagel, and Davíð Ólafsson (DeGruyter Press, 2023). Also forthcoming is "Transportation, technology, and communication", in A Cultural History of Historiography in the Emerging Early Modern World (1450-1650), edited by Kathryn Brammall and Gary Gibbs (Bloomsbury, expected in 2025).

Professor Dover is currently researching and writing a new monograph on the history of information entitled Information: a Human History, under contract with Johns Hopkins University Press, which aims to historicize and humanize the role of information in human society across the millennia. It is rooted in Professor Dover's conviction that in tackling the challenges of our current "Age of Information" we must understand information as a historical problem.
A third area of publication has been the reception and publication history in the Renaissance of works of classical geography, in particular the Polyhistor of Caius Julius Solinus – most recent of his several articles on the topic was “How Heinrich Bullinger read his Solinus. Reading ancient geography in 16th-century Switzerland” in K. Brodersen, ed. Solinus: New Studies (Verlag Antike, 2014). He has also recently written an article, “Reading Dante in the Sixteenth Century: The Bentley Aldine Divine Comedy and its Marginalia”, on a book housed at KSU's own Bentley Rare Book Library, which appeared in 2020 in The Journal of Medieval and Renaissance History

In 2015, Dr. Dover won two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The first was a long-term residential research fellowship for 2015-6 at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC, where Dr. Dover researched The Information Revolution. The second funded the development of an original, interdisciplinary course on the question “what is the relationship between the past and present?”, as part of the NEH’s Enduring Questions program. This course was delivered as part of the KSU Honors curriculum. It also served as the seed for an interdisciplinary volume, Engaging with the Past and the Present  (Routledge), which brings  together contributions from practitioners in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences reflecting on how their understanding of the reationship between past and present impinges on their methodologies and epistemologies. It was published in June 2023.

Prior to coming to KSU, Dr. Dover taught at the University of the South in Tennessee and at Georgian Court University in New Jersey. He lives in downtown Atlanta.