Gregory L. Freeze (Ph.D. Columbia University) 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.
Professor, Brandeis University
Areas of Expertise