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Roots of Contemporary Issues RCI

Eugene Smelyansky


Ph.D., University of California, Irvine, 2015
M.A., San Francisco State University, 2009
B.A., San Francisco State University, 2007

Academic and Research Interests

Dr. Eugene Smelyansky is an Assistant Professor (Career-Track) of History. He teaches history of pre-modern Europe and the Mediterranean, and The Roots of Contemporary Issues. His research interests focus on the history of religious persecution in medieval Central Europe and the histories of medieval urban culture, society, and environment. Another of Dr. Smelyansky’s academic passions is the study of the survival and popularity of medieval themes in the present, from politics to books, movies, and video games.

His first monograph, Heresy and Citizenship: Persecution of Heresy in Late Medieval German Cities (Routledge, 2020), examines the persecution of Waldensian heretics throughout German-speaking Central Europe between 1390 and 1404. Dr. Smelyansky also edited and translated sources for a collection of primary sources, titled The Intolerant Middle Ages: A Reader (University of Toronto Press, 2020). It features a selection of documents dealing with the treatment of individuals traditionally marginalized in medieval European society and the broader Mediterranean world: heretics, Jews, Muslims, the poor, the displaced, the disabled, women, and as well as people of different sexual orientations and identities.

His current project, Medievalisms and Russia: The Contest for Imaginary Pasts (forthcoming with ARC Humanities Press) explores key uses for the Middle Ages in Imperial, Soviet, and post-Soviet Russia. This book tries to explain why the medieval past – often mythologized – remains influential in animating Russia’s nationalist and imperialist sentiments, including its invasion of Ukraine.

Dr. Smelyansky is also very interested in world history, has taught it multiple times before coming to WSU, and tries to introduce students to world-historical themes and methods in all classes he teaches.