Victor and Gwendolyn Beinfield Professor of History
Modern Russia and Modern Germany; history of globalization, religion
Gregory L. Freeze (Ph.D. Columbia University 1972) is the Victor and Gwendolyn Beinfield Professor of History at Brandeis University. His primary teaching interests are modern Russian history, with a particular focus on religious and social history. As a student of the "new social history" of the 1970s, Freeze initially focused his research on the parish clergy--an important segment of Russian society, yet totally ignored by prerevolutionary, Soviet, and Western scholarship. That research led to two archivally-driven monographs, one on the formation of the clergy as a caste in the eighteenth century, and a second on attempts to transform that caste into a new professional class of pastors in the nineteenth century. In the 1980s, however, the "new cultural history"--shifting focus from class to culture--opened new perspectives for historical research, and this new approach had a strong impact on Freeze's research. Above all, it meant a shift in focus from the clergy to "everyday religion," especially the meaning of Russian Orthodoxy for popular religion and the worldly lives of believers. That led to numerous publications on the religious politics of canonization, patterns of religious observance, the interplay of religion and social institutions (above all, the family, marriage, and divorce). This subject, "Church and Society in Imperial Russia, 1750-1914," is the principal focus of Freeze's current research and writing, which has produced a number of ancillary essays and which will culminate in a two-volume study based primarily on research in an array of central and provincial archives.
While Freeze's earlier research focused on Imperial Russia, the "archival revolution of 1991," the collapse of the Soviet Union, the sudden access to Soviet archives--all this encouraged Freeze to expand his research beyond 1917 and to see Russian religious and social history from a broader chronological perspective. He is currently preparing a volume for the Yale University Press series, "Annals of Communism," devoted to the confrontation and interaction of Bolsheviks and believers in the first decades of Soviet power. This study provides a fresh perspective on social and religious life "from below," emphasizing not the decrees from Moscow but grassroots realities at the local level. Freeze was also director of the "Russian Archive Project," funded by an American research organization and designed to compile and publish datasets on newly accessible archival collections. The result was a series of archival guides on previously closed repositories, for the first time enabling researchers--Russian and foreign--to know what collections existed and therefore vastly expanding the horizons for research.
Freeze teaches a broad range of courses and seminars, primarily in modern Russian history. He is also the director of a number of recent and current dissertations in Russian religious history (including major new works on monasticism, the parish clergy in Kiev diocese, and the Russian Church Council of 1917-1918), as well as pioneering work in Soviet history (including studies of Jewish colonization in the Soviet Crimea in the 1920s, indigenization of power and culture in Soviet Belarus in the 1920s-1930s, social change in Kyrgyzstan in the 1920s-1930s, and reconstruction of the Ukrainian village after World War II). Freeze also lays a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary training, reflected directly in a core graduate course "Historical Research: Methods and New Departures," which emphasizes the new frontiers and new approaches to historical scholarship. His goal is to train graduate students to conduct research that is original and innovative--thematically, conceptually, methodologically, and empirically.
Freeze is also very active in international scholarly activities. He regularly presents papers at international conferences, most recently a 2006 conference in Moscow (on the Stalinist repression of 1937), a June 2007 conference in Urumqi China (on post-Soviet Central Asia), and a 2007 conference in Moscow (on nineteenth-century Russian Church history). He has also taught extensively in Germany, including the universities in Tübingen, Heidelberg, and Göttingen, where he offered lecture courses and seminars on Russian religious history, on Imperial Russian and Soviet history, and on a variety of specialized subjects.
Columbia University, Ph.D.
Columbia University, M.A.
DePauw University, B.A.
Awards and Honors
Norman Faculty Grant for research in Russia (2010)
IREX (International Research and Exchanges Board) Fellowship (2000)
International Man of the Year, International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, England (1999)
Gastprofessor, University of Goettingen (1997)
American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship (1996)
National Endowment for Humanities Fellowship (1996)
National Council for Soviet and East European Studies Research Award (1994 - 1995)
National Endowment for Humanities Summer Seminar, Director (1993)
NEH Faculty Summer Seminar (Director) (1991)
Gastprofessor, University of Heidelberg (1990 - 1991)
NEH Faculty Summer Seminar (Director) (1990)
National Endowment for Humanities Senior Fellowship (1989 - 1990)
Humboldt Foundation Grant (1987)
Gastprofessor, University of Tuebingen (1986 - 1987)
Guggenheim Fellowship (1980 - 1981)
Ford Foundation Fellowship (1970 - 1972)
|GSAS||302d||Interdisciplinary Dissertation Seminar|
|HIST||149b||Russian Women in Politics, Society and Culture|
|HIST||177a||The Politics of Soviet Cinema, 1921-1953|
|HIST||177b||Modern Germany: Rise of a Global Power|
|HIST||206a||Christianity in the Modern World, 1750-1914|
|HIST||206b||Twentieth-Century Christianity: Secularization and Globalization|
|HIST||210a||Historical Research: Methods and New Departures|
|HIST||211a||Seminar in Comparative History I|
|IGS||10a||Introduction to International and Global Studies|