Professor of History
Director of the Pre-Modern & Ancient World Studies Program
Professor Raffensperger obtained his B.A. from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. His first book, released by Harvard University Press in 2012 won the Ohio Academy of History Publication Award in 2013 and is titled, Reimagining Europe: Kievan Rus’ in the Medieval World, 988–1146. It deals with the relationship of Rus’ (the medieval kingdom that will become Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus) to the rest of Europe. It focuses on the multiplicity of connections between the ruling family of Rus’ and the other ruling families of medieval Europe; including dynastic marriages, religious ties, and trading relationships among other topics. The marital connections of the Rusian royal family are the subject of his second book entitled, Ties of Kinship: Genealogy and Dynastic Marriage in Kyivan Rus' (Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, 2016) which also provides a complete genealogy for the Volodimerovichi through the mid–twelfth century (this project has a parallel digital humanities component which can be viewed at genealogy.obdurodon.org and is discussed more below). This project has generated recent interest, due to the political situation in modern Ukraine and Ties of Kinship was part of Dr. Raffensperger's editorial at the Washington Post, as well as the subject of an article by the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute.
During his first sabbatical (2013-14), Dr. Raffensperger turned his focus of research to governance of Rus’ and to conflict management in medieval eastern Europe. This resulted in two book publications. The first of those, The Kingdom of Rus’ (ARC Humanities Press 2017) shifts the discussion about Rus’ from a principality or a collection of principalities to one kingdom among many in Europe. It discusses how and why the titles came about, and why Rus’ was a kingdom. The second book to come out of his sabbatical work focuses on intra–familial conflicts in medieval central and eastern Europe, and how families manage those conflicts through the creation of "situational kinship networks," as a way to mitigate the effects of the conflicts. This book, Conflict, Bargaining, and Kinship Networks in Medieval Eastern Europe (Lexington Books, 2018), not only deals with conflict management, but shifts the perception of medieval eastern European polities, Rus’ in particular, as rife with “civil war” or “internecine warfare”, into polities that are dealing with conflict among families in proactive ways – deescalating conflict, rather than maximizing body counts. The goal of both of these works is to shift the perception of Rus’ in particular as one kingdom among many in medieval Europe, rather than a dysfunctional outlier.
This larger theme is continued in his current research project, “Comparative Political Development in the Arc of Medieval Europe” which looks at political culture from Ireland in the north, through Scandinavia and down through eastern Europe, all in the period 1000-1300. By examining this zone, often viewed as peripheral to a normative view of medieval Europe, we can shift our perception about what is medieval Europe as well as what kind(s) of polities are normative; ideally leading to a shift away from an England-centric focus of political development.
Christian Raffensperger is currently an Associate of the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute as well. He is also active in multiple scholarly organizations. He has recently served on the governing board of the Byzantine Studies Association of North America and the board for the Ohio Academy of History. He is also a founding member of the editorial board for the journal, The Medieval Globe. The Medieval Globe's goal is to bring scholarly interconnectivity to our modern understanding of the medieval world.
Digital Humanities has become one of Professor Raffensperger's interests over the course of working on his own project - the Rusian Genealogical Database. This website, which uses a backend XML database, was developed in conjunction with David J. Birnbaum of the University of Pittsburgh. In conjunction with this project, the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute sponsored the development of a genealogy map, as part of their Mapa project, to highlight the interconnectivity of medieval Europe using this dynastic marriage date (for more information see the Rusian Genealogy Map). These applications are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to digital humanities. Collected here are some of the many Digital Humanities resources and projects that students, and fellow academics both, can use for their own research.
- Ph.D. University of Chicago
- M.A. University of Chicago
- B.A. Bates College
- Reimagining Europe: Kievan Rus’ in the Medieval World, 988–1146 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2012) - (see reviews in The American Historical Review, Slavic Review, Choice, and Comitatus)
- Ties of Kinship: Rusian Genealogy and Dynastic Marriage (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute Publications, 2016) - (see reviews in Russian Review and Slavonic and East European Journal)
The Kingdom of Rus (Kalamazoo, Mich.: ARC Humanities Press, 2017)
Russian translation in 2018, forthcoming in 2020
Portraits of Medieval Eastern Europe, 800-1300, Co-Edited with Donald Ostrowski (New York: Routledge, 2017)
The online component of this project is available at - routledgetextbooks.com/textbooks/9781138701205/default.php
Radical Traditionalism: The Influence of Walter Kaegi in Late Antique, Byzantine, and Medieval Studies, Co-Edited with David Olster (New York and London: Lexington Books, 2018)
Conflict, Bargaining, and Kinship Networks in Medieval Eastern Europe (New York and London: Lexington Books, 2018)
“East Central and Eastern Europe: concepts, geography, and historiography,” in A Handbook of East Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500-1300, ed. Florin Curta (in process)
“Alternatives to Commonwealth: Modes of Connectivity Between Byzantium and Medieval Eastern Europe” in The Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Byzantium, eds. Elizabeth Bolman, Scott Fitzgerald Johnson, and Jack Tannous (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020 [Anticipated]) (in production)
“Conflict and Coexistence: Kyivan Rus’ and Europe” in Research Companion to Medieval Eastern Europe (volume in process)
“Kingdom of Rus’: A New Theoretical Model for Rulership in Medieval Europe” in Rulership in Medieval East Central Europe: Power, Rituals, and Legitimacy in Bohemia, Hungary, and Poland, eds. Grischa Vercamer and Dušan Zupka (Leiden: Brill 2020 [Anticipated] in production)
“Visualizing Prosopography Through Digital Humanities – The Case for Rus’” Medieval Prosopography 34 (2019): 207-219.
“Reimagining Europe: An Outsider Looks at the Medieval East-West Divide” in Medieval Networks in East Central Europe: Commerce, Contacts, Communication, eds. Balázs Nagy, Felicitas Schmieder and András Vadas (New York: Routledge, 2018): 9-24.
- “Iziaslav Iaroslavich’s Excellent Adventure: Constructing Kinship to Gain and Regain Power in Eleventh-Century Europe” Medieval Prosopography 30 (2016), 1-30.
- “Identity in Flux: Finding Boris Kolomanovich in the Interstices of Medieval European History” The Medieval Globe 2:1 (2016), 15-39.
- “Reimagining Europe: Discussing Rus’ in a Wider Context” in “Forum on Reimagining Europe: Kievan Rus’ in the Medieval World” Russian History 42:2 (2015), 204-216.
- “The Place of Rus’ in Medieval Europe” History Compass 12:11, 853-865 (November, 2014)
- “Mia syntome istoria tou kratous ton Ros [A brief history of the kingdom of Rus’],” in P. Sophoulis and A. Papageorgiou (eds), Mesaionikos slavikos kosmos (Herodotus: Athens 2014), 213-248.
- “The Missing Rusian Women: The Case of Evpraksia Vsevolodovna.” In Putting Together the Fragments: Writing Medieval Women’s Lives. Ed. Amy Livingstone and Charlotte Newman Goldy (New York: Palgrave, 2012), 69–84.
- “Mapping History: Using Technology to Showcase Medieval Familial Interconnectivity.” With David J. Birnbaum. Festschrift in Honor of Orysia Karapinka in Russian History/Histoire Russe 37:4 (2010), 305–21.
- “Dynastic Marriage in Action: How Two Rusian Princesses Changed Scandinavia” Imenoslov, F. B. Uspenskii, ed. (Moscow: Indrik, 2009), 187–99.
- “Shared (Hi)Stories: Vladimir of Rus’ and Harald Fairhair of Norway” Russian Review 68:4 (2009), 569–82.
- “Rurik and the First Rurikids,” with Norman W. Ingham. The American Genealogist 82:1 (2007), 1–13 (part 1); 82:2 (2007), 111–19 (part 2).
- “Rusian Economic and Marital Policy: An Initial Analysis of Correlations.” Festschrift in Honor of Richard Hellie in Russian History/Histoire Russe 34:1–4 (2007), 149–59.
- “Rusian Influence on European Onomastic Traditions” Imenoslov: Istoricheskaia semantika imeni. (Moscow: Indrik, 2007), pp. 116-34.
- “Revisiting the Idea of the Byzantine Commonwealth” Byzantinische Forschungen 28 (2004), 159–74.
- “Evpraksia Vsevolodovna between East and West” Russian History/Histoire Russe 30:1–2 (2003), 23–34.
- Ties of Kinship discussion on YouTube
- Reimagining Europe discussion on YouTube
- Washington Post Monkey Cage op-ed on Ukraine's EU bid
- WBUR's Endless Thread, Episode: Olga of Kiev
- Anthony Kaldellis's Byzantium & Friends, Episode 7
- Криниця (Krynytsya) --- The Well
- History 105 Pre-Modern World
- History 106 Modern World
- History 111 The Medieval World
- History 201 Medieval Eastern Europe
- History 204 Visions of Byzantium
- History 251 Medieval Russia
- History 252 Imperial Russia
- History 253 Soviet Russia
- History 306 Byzantium (team taught with Dr. Brooks Hedstrom)
- History 309 Eurasian Nomads in the Ancient and Medieval World
- History 311 The Viking World