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Daniel Woolf


Daniel Woolf, a graduate of Queen's History Department (1980) served as Queen's 20th Principal and Vice-Chancellor for 10 years (2009-19) before joining the History Department full-time. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, of the Society of Antiquaries of London (UK), and the Royal Historical Society (UK). Since earning his doctorate at Oxford University in 1983, Dr Woolf has worked as professor or academic administrator at Queen's and 4 other institutions across Canada. His research has focused on two areas, early modern British intellectual and cultural history, and the global history and theory of historical writing. He is the author of five books and co-editor of several others, including the two-volume A Global Encyclopedia of Historical Writing (2 vols 1998) and the 5-volume Oxford History of Historical Writing (2011-12). His 2003 monograph, The Social Circulation of the Past won the John Ben Snow Prize of the North American Conference on British Studies in 2004 for the best book on British history pre-1800. His most recent single-authored book, published by Cambridge University Press in 2019, is A Concise History of History. His co-edited collection History from Loss: a Global Introduction to Histories Written from Defeat, Colonization, Exile, and Imprisonment was published by Routledge in 2023. Dr Woolf's articles have appeared in journals such as Past and Present, The American Historical Review, History and Theory, Renaissance Quarterly, and The Journal of the History of Ideas. He is currently serving as Editor of Cambridge University Press's series Elements in Historical Theory and Practice and working on several new research projects. He is a board member of Historica Canada (2012- ) and of Lakefield College School near Peterborough, ON (2020- ), and previously served for 3 years as a provincial appointee to the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (2020-23) and for 2 years (2021-23) on the Board of Radio Queen's University (CFRC). He is currently on the Executive Committee of the International Commission for the History and Theory of Historiography and on the advisory boards of several journals. The father of 3 adult children, he lives in Stone Mills township with his wife Julie and their dog Layla.

Selected Publications


  • History from Loss: a Global Introduction to Histories Written from Defeat, Colonization, Exile, and Imprisonment, co-edited with Marnie Hughes-Warrington (London and New York: Routledge, 2023). 
  • A Concise History of History (Cambridge University Press, 2019).
  • A Global History of History (Cambridge University Press, 2011).
  • Oxford History of Historical Writing, edited collection, Oxford University Press, 5 vols (2011-12).
  • Local Identities in Late Medieval and Early Modern England, edited collection, by Norman L. Jones and Daniel Woolf (Basingstoke and New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).
  • The Social Circulation of the Past: English Historical Culture, 1500-1730 (Oxford, Oxford University Press 2003).
  • The Spoken Word: Oral Culture in Britain, 1500-1850 edited collection, by Adam Fox and Daniel Woolf (Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2002).
  • Reading History in Early Modern England (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2000). Paperback edition 2005.
  • A Global Encyclopedia of Historical Writing 2 vols. (New York, Garland, 1998).
  • The Rhetorics of Life-Writing in Early Modern Europe: Forms of Biography from Cassandra Fedele to Louis XIV, edited collection by Thomas F. Mayer and D.R. Woolf (Ann Arbor, MI, University of Michigan Press, 1995).
  • Public Duty and Private Conscience in Seventeenth-Century England, edited collection by John Morrill, Paul Slack, and Daniel Woolf (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1993).
  • The Idea of History in Early Stuart England: Erudition, Ideology and the "Light of Truth" from the Accession of James I to the Civil War (Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1990).

Articles and Book Chapters

  • "Introduction" to History and Historical Fiction across Three Cultures, ed. Daniel Woolf, theme issue of History of Humanities 7.1 (2022), 1-16.
  • "Getting Back to Normal: On Normativity in History and Historiography", History and Theory 60.3 (2021), 469-512.
  • “A Late Seventeenth-Century Englishwoman and her History Books: Sarah Cowper (1644-1720) as Reader and Commentator”, in J. Willoughby and J. Catto (eds) Books and Bookmen in Early-Modern Britain (Oxford, 2018) 362-85.
  • “Concerning Altered Pasts: Reflections of an Early Modern Historian”, Journal of the Philosophy of History, 10 (2016) 415-34.
  • “English Vernacular Historical Writing and Holinshed’s Chronicles”, (with Jane Wong Yeang Chui), in Malcolm Smuts, ed. The Oxford Companion to the Age of Shakespeare (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 213-30.
  • “Afterword: Shadows of the Past in Early Modern England”, Huntington Library Quarterly, 76.4 (2013), 638-50.
  • “The Wider World of Chronicling”, in F. Heal, I. Archer and P. Kewes (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Holinshed’s Chronicles (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 253-65.
  • “A most indefatigable love of history”: Female Epistolary Discussions of History and Historians, 1740-1790”, Women’s History Review 20.5 (2011), 689-718.
  • “Biography”, in The Classical Tradition, ed. Anthony Grafton, Glenn W. Most and Salvatore Settis (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010),126-30.
  • "History and Historiography", in Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History, ed. Bonnie G. Smith (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), vol. 2 pp. 458-63.
  • "Of Nations, Nationalism, and National Identity: Reflections on the Historiographic Organization of the Past", in Q. Edward Wang and Franz Fillafer, ed. The Many Faces of Clio Cross-cultural Approaches to Historiography (New York: Berghahn Books, 2006), pp. 71-103.
  • "The Image of the Antiquary in Seventeenth-Century England", in S. Pearce, ed., Visions of Antiquity: the Society of Antiquaries of London 1707-2007 (London: Society of Antiquaries, 2007), 11-43.
  • "From Hystories to the Historical: Five Transitions in Thinking about the Past, 1500-1700", in Paulina Kewes, ed., The Uses of History in Early Modern England, special issue of Huntington Library Quarterly, 68.1 and 2 (2005), 33-70 (reissued as hardback by University of California Press, 2006).
  • "Jane Austen and History Revisited: the Past, Gender, and Memory from the Restoration to Persuasion", Persuasions 26 (2005), 217-36.
  • "Historiography". New Dictionary of the History of Ideas, ed. M.C. Horowitz (New York: Scribners, 2005), vol. 1, pp. xxxv-lxxxviii.
  • "Senses of the Past in Tudor Britain", in A Companion to Tudor Britain, ed. N. Jones and R. Tittler (Oxford, Blackwell, 2004), 407-29.
  • "Elizabeth Freke" (document and commentary), with Aki Beam, McMaster University, in H. Ostovich and E. Sauer (eds.), Reading Early Modern Women (New York and London, Routledge, 2004), 289-93.
  • "Introduction", in Fox and Woolf (eds.), The Spoken Word (Manchester, 2002), pp. 1-51 (co-authored with Adam Fox).
  • "Speaking of History: Conversations about the Past in Restoration and Eighteenth-Century England", in Fox and Woolf (eds.), The Spoken Word (Manchester, 2002), pp. 119-137.
  • “News, History and the Construction of the Present in Early Modem England", in B. Dooley and S. Baron (eds.), The Politics of Information in Early Modern Europe (London and New York, Routledge, 2001), pp. 80-118.
  • “In Praise of Older Things: Notions of Age and Antiquity in Early Modern England,' in Historians and Ideologues: Essays in Honor of Donald R. Kelley, ed. J.H.M. Salmon and Anthony Grafton, (Rochester, University of Rochester Press, 2001), pp. 123-52.
  • "The Shapes of History", in David Scott Kastan, ed. A Companion to Shakespeare (Oxford, Blackwell's, 1999), 186-205.
  • "A High Road to the Archives? Rewriting the History of Early Modern English Historical Culture", Storia della storiografia , 32 (1997), 33-59.
  • "A Feminine Past? Gender, Genre, and Historical Knowledge in England, 1500-1800", American Historical Review, 102, no. 3 (June 1997), 645-79.
  • "Little Crosby and the Horizons of Early Modern Historical Culture", in Donald R. Kelley and David Harris Sacks (eds.), The Historical Imagination in Early Modern Britain (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997), 93-132.
  • "The Writing of Early Modern European Intellectual History, 1945-1995", in The Routledge Companion to Historiography, ed. Michael Bentley (London, Routledge, 1997), pp. 307-35.
  • "Narrative Historical Writing in the Restoration: a Preliminary Survey", in The Restoration Mind, ed. Gerald Marshall (Newark, University of Delaware Press, 1997), 207-51.
  • "Introduction" (co-authored with T. Mayer) in The Rhetorics of Life-Writing in Early Modern Europe, eds. Woolf and Mayer, pp. 1-37.
  • "The Rhetoric of Martyrdom: Generic Contradictions and Narrative Strategy in John Foxe's Acts and Monuments", in The Rhetorics of Life-Writing in Early Modern Europe, eds Woolf and Mayer, pp. 243-82.
  • "Conscience, Constancy and Ambition in the Career and Writings of James Howell", in Public Duty and Private Conscience in Seventeenth-Century England (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1993), pp. 243-78 (see above under books edited).
  • "The Dawn of the Artifact: The Antiquarian Impulse in England, 1500-1730", Studies in Medievalism, 4 (1992), 5-35.
  • "The Power of the Past: History, Ritual and Political Authority in Renaissance England", in Political Thought and the Tudor Commonwealth: Deep Structure, Discourse, and Disguise, ed. Paul Fideler and Thomas F. Mayer (London, Routledge, 1992), pp. 19-49.
  • "Of Danes and Giants: Popular Beliefs about the Past in Early Modern England", Dalhousie Review, 71 (Summer 1991), 166-209.
  • "Memory and Historical Culture in Early Modern England", Journal of the Canadian Historical Association, new series, 2 (1991), 283-308.
  • "Non-Canadian Intellectual and Cultural History in Canada: a Survey, 1960-1987", Journal of Canadian Studies, 24 (1989), 92-113.
  • "Rethinking Renaissance Historical Thought: Time, Narrative, and the Structure of History", Studies in History and Politics 6 (1989), 183-200.
  • "Genre into Artifact: the Decline of the English Chronicle in the Sixteenth Century", Sixteenth Century Journal, 19 (1988), 321-54.
  • "The True Date and Authorship of Henry, Viscount Falkland's History of the Life, Reign and Death of King Edward II", Bodleian Library Record, 12, no. 6 (1988), 440-52.
  • "The `Common Voice': History, Folklore, and Oral Tradition in Early Modern England", Past and Present, 120 (August 1988), 26-52.
  • "Community, Law and State: Samuel Daniel's Historical Thought Revisited", Journal of the History of Ideas, 49 (1988), 61-83.
  • "Erudition and the Idea of History in Renaissance England", Renaissance Quarterly, 40 (1987), 11-48.
  • "Speech, Text, and Time: the Sense of Hearing and the Sense of the Past in Renaissance England", Albion, 18 (1986), 159-93. Reprinted in abridged form in Mark M. Smith, ed., Hearing History: a Reader (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2004, 112-35.
  • "Two Elizabeths? James I and the Late Queen's Famous Memory", Canadian Journal of History, 20 (1985), 167-91.
  • "John Selden, John Borough, and Francis Bacon's History of King Henry the Seventh, 1621", Huntington Library Quarterly, 47 (1984), 47-53.
  • "Francis Bacon, Edmund Bolton, and the Making of the Hypercritica, 1618-1621", Bodleian Library Record, 11 (1983), 162-68.
Awards and recognition


Honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) from Queen's University, 2019

John Ben Snow Prize from North American Conference on British Studies, 2004, for The Social Circulation of the Past (OUP 2003).

Carl Meyer Prize from Sixteenth Century Studies Association for best conference paper by early career researcher (1986)

Fellow, Royal Society of Canada (Academy I), 2006-

Fellow, Society of Antiquaries of London (Great Britain), 2004-

Fellow, Royal Historical Society (Great Britain), 1990-

Graduate supervision

see above under research interests. I am accepting new Masters and PhD students for autumn 2022.

In the News

Department of History, Queen's University

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Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.