Sean Griffin

Academic Appointments

Lecturer in Russian and Religion

Sean Griffin is an interdisciplinary scholar of Russia and Ukraine. His research focuses primarily on the history of the Orthodox Church and its role in the making of cultural memory: from the liturgy and chronicles of medieval Kyiv, to the dissident novels and digital propaganda of modern Moscow.

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Griffin's first book, The Liturgical Past in Byzantium and Early Rus, was published with Cambridge University Press in 2019. The chroniclers of medieval Rus were monks, who celebrated the divine services of the Byzantine church throughout every day. His study is the first to analyze how these rituals shaped their writing of the Rus Primary Chronicle, the first written history of the East Slavs. 

The Liturgical Past has been awarded two international book prizes. In 2020, it was awarded the W. Bruce Lincoln Book Prize from ASEEES. The prize recognizes "a first published monograph that is of exceptional merit and lasting significance for the understanding of Russia's past". The book was also the winner of the Ecclesiastical History Society Book Prize for the best first monograph published in 2019.

Griffin's newest book, provisionally entitled The Second Baptism of Rus: Cultural Memory after Communismwill be published with Cornell University Press. In the work, Griffin investigates the memory politics of the contemporary Russian Orthodox Church. The study documents the complex and ambivalent relations between the Kremlin and the Moscow Patriarchate and uncovers their collaborative efforts to transform cultural memory in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, in the three decades since the disintegration of the USSR.

Griffin is currently a research fellow in Helsinki, Finland. Over the next few years, his research will be funded, at various times, by the Gerda Henkel Stiftung, the ACLS/Luce Foundation, and the Collegium for Advanced Studies at the University of Helsinki. 

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Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Selected Publications


The Liturgical Past in Byzantium and Early Rus. Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought, Fourth Series. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019.

              *Winner, W. Bruce Lincoln Book Prize, 2020, ASEEES

              *Winner, Ecclesiastical History Society Book Prize, 2021

              *Paperback edition, 2020

              *Reviewed in Los Angeles Review of BooksThe Russian Review, Medieval Encounters, The Journal of Ecclesiastical HistorySlavic ReviewScandia, Kritikaand Orientalia Christiana Periodica.


Peer-Reviewed Articles

'Revolution, Raskol, and Rock 'n' Roll: The 1,020th Anniversary of the Day of the Baptism of Rus'. The Russian Review, v. 80/2. Lawrence, KS: Wiley Periodicals, 2021, pp. 183-208.

'Putin's Medieval Weapons in the War against Ukraine'. Studies in Medievalism, v. 29. Karl Fugelso (ed.). Suffolk, UK: Boydell and Brewer, 2020, pp. 13-21.

'Евхаристический подтекст мученичества князей Бориса и Глеба'. Вестник Санкт-Петербургского Университета. История, v. 65 (no. 1). St Petersburg: St Petersburg University Press, 2020, pp. 5-18.

'Аки деньица предъ слн҃цмь: литургические истоки изображения княгини Ольги в Повести временных лет'. Древняя Русь. Вопросы медиевистики, no. 1 (79). Moscow: Russian Academy of Sciences, 2020, pp. 96-109.

'Византийская литургия и создание Повести временных лет'. Ruthenica, v. 15. Kiev: National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, 2019, pp. 7-44.

'Rus'. Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Fourth edition. Andrew Louth (ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Forthcoming.

'V. V. Rozanov'Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism. Megan Swift (ed.).
London: Routledge, 2018.

'Le baptême d'Ol'ga dans le Récit des temps passés ou le palimpseste liturgique'. Ecrire et reécrire l'histoire russe, d'Ivan Terrible à V.O Kliuchevskii. Pierre Gonneau (ed.). Paris: Institut d'études slaves, 2013, pp. 159-168.

Works in progress

The Second Baptism of Rus: Cultural Memory after Communism (under contract with Cornell University Press)

Russian Orthodoxy in Alaska: Old World Faith in the New World (documentary film)