Joseph Theodoor (Joep) Leerssen

Born 1955 in Leiden; married, two children; Netherlands nationality

  1. Appointments

  2. Responsibilities

  3. Honorifics

(Publications are listed here)

1. Appointments

Studies, employment

  • 1973Gymnasium leaving certificate, Henric van Veldeke College, Maastricht
  • 1973-1984Studied Comparative Literature at RWTH Aachen University (MA 1979), Anglo-Irish Studies at University College Dublin (MA 1980), doctoral research in Dublin and Toronto (1980-1984)
  • 1981Licentiate, Royal Irish Academy of Music
  • 1983-1986Assistantships and junior lecturerships at University of Toronto, Aachen University, Translators’ Training College Maastricht
  • 1986PhD at the University of Utrecht
  • 1986Lecturer, then (1989) senior lecturer at the Dept. of European Studies, Universiteit van Amsterdam.
  • 1991-2022Professor of Modern European Literature in the Dept. of European Studies, Universiteit van Amsterdam.
  • 2010-2015Academy Professorship, Royal Netherlands Academy (KNAW)
  • 2019Part-time appointment as research professor at the Sociaal Historisch Centrum Limburg / Maastricht University.

Visting fellow/professorships

  • Erasmus Lecturer, Harvard 2002-2003
  • Parnell Fellow, Magdalene College Cambridge, 2008-2009
  • Research fellow, Lichtenberg-Kolleg, University of Göttingen, 2012-2013
  • Visiting Lecturer, St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto, 2014
  • Chercheur invité, École Normale Supérieure, Paris, 2015
  • Teaching Fellow Koninklijk Nederlands Instituut Rome (KNIR), 2017
  • Royal Library (KB) Fellow, Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies (NIAS), 2017
  • Visiting Professor, Willem Alexander Chair of Low Countries Studies, University of Liège (2017-2018)

2. Responsibilities

  • Director, Huizinga-Instituut (National Research School for Cultural History), 1996-2006
  • Coördihator, SPIN (Study Platform on Interlocking Nationalisms), 2008-2022
  • President, NISE (National Movements and Intermediary Structures in Europe), Antwerp, 2018-2023

Editorial boards for scholarly periodicals:

  • Series editor of Studia Imagologica (Leiden: Brill; with Yolanda Rodríguez Pérez)
  • Series editor of National Cultivation of Culture (Leiden: Brill)
  • Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, Comparative Critical Studies, Dutch Crossing: Journal of Low Countries Studies, European Studies, Irish Historical Studies, Nations and Nationalism, Orbis Litterarum, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy (Section C)

Projects and incidental academic services (selection):

  • Chair, advisory committee to the Province of Limburg on the recognition of Limburgish as a Regional Language
  • Visitation Committee Chair for the 2012 evaluation of FASOS, University of Maastricht
  • Visitation Committee member, Royal Netherlands Academy, Frisian Academy
  • Advisory board, Digitale Bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse etteren; initiator / supervisory board member for its the Limburgportaal (Limburg Regional Literature Online Text Repository)
  • Developed "Cultural Dynamics" programme for HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area) Consortium
  • Advisory committee History of Political Thought in Central and Eastern Europe (Central European University, Budapest)
  • Referee for the Netherlands scientific funding organization NWO to the 2012 ministerial evaluation committee on academic funding
  • Member of various professorial search committees in The Netherlands and Ireland
  • Member of various advisory committees for mid-size research projects funded by NWO
  • Co-author of various advisory reports as member of the KNAW
  • External Examiner, various British and Irish universities
  • Jury member, Keetje Hodshon and J.W. Brouwer Prizes, Kon. Holl. Mij der Wetenschappen
  • Jury member, VSB Poëzieprijs 2013 (Dutch/Flemish annual poetry prize)
  • Advice/ chapter for SCR Rapport Denkend aan Nederland”, Sociaal-Cultureel Planbureau (2018) 

3. Honorifics

Honours, distinctions

  • Academy Professorship, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)
  • Honorary Doctorate, University of Bucharest
  • Honorary Fellow, Trinity College Dublin

Elected memberships (regular):

  • Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)
  • Koninklijke Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen
  • Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde
  • Academia Europaea

Elected memberships (honorary/corresponding):

  • Royal Irish Academy
  • Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften
  • Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen


  • Recipient of the Madame de Staël Prize 2020
  • Recipient of the Spinoza Prize 2008
  • Recipient of the NFWO comittee medal
  • Mere Irish & and Fíor-Ghael received the JC Baakprijs in 1988
  • Remembrance and imagination among the Times Literary Supplement Books of the Year for 1996
  • National thought in Europe shortlisted for the Europe Book Prize 2007 and thematized for the Nations and Nationalism Debate 2012 (London School of Economics)
  • Spiegelpaleis Europa shortlisted for the Jan Hanlo Essay Prize 2013, awarded the Wijnaendts Francken Prize 2015
  • Encyclopedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe among the Times Literary Supplement Books of the Year for 2018
  • Shortlisted Faculty of Humanities (University of Amsterdam) Lecturer of the Year, 2006, 2007, 2019
  • Elected Faculty of Humanities Lecturer of the Year, 2013, 2021
  • Shortlisted University of Amsterdam Lecturer of the Year 2008, 2013, 2021