Steven Vanderputten

Professor (Status-only)



Department of History, Ghent University

Fields of Study


Steven Vanderputten (°1976, BA University of Antwerp (1996), MA Ghent University (1998), PhD Ghent University (2000)) is an historian of the society and culture of the medieval West (with focus on the period between c. 800 and 1200). His current position at UGent's History Department is that of senior full professor (gewoon hoogleraar) in the history of the early and high Middle Ages.

Vanderputten's research is primarily concerned with the development, societal embedding and culture of religious groups, and covers a wide range of subjects, including memory and the shaping of collective identities, conflict management, rituals and public behavior, oral and written practices of communication, leadership, institutional development, discourses and realities of ecclesiastical and religious reform, and gendered identities. He is the author of several monographs, including Monastic Reform as Process: Realities and Representations in Medieval Flanders, 900-1100 (Cornell University Press, 2013), Reform, conflict and the shaping of corporate identities. Collected studies on Benedictine monasticism, 1050-1150 (LIT Verlag, 2013),  Imagining Religious leadership in the Middle Ages. Richard of Saint-Vanne and the Politics of Reform (Cornell University Press, 2015); Dark Age Nunneries. The Ambiguous Identity of Female Monasticism, 800-1050 (Cornell University Press, 2018); and Medieval Monasticisms. Forms and Experiences of the Monastic Life in the Latin West (De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2020). He co-authored a critical edition of Bishop Gerard of Cambrai's Acta Synodi Atrebatensis (Brepols, 2014), as well as a handbook on medieval written sources (Academia Press/Lannoo 2011, 2013, and 2016) and has edited and co-edited several collective volumes (Brepols, Leuven University Press, Brill, Amsterdam University Press). In addition to numerous contributions to edited volumes and conference proceedings, he has published widely in peer-reviewed journals, including Speculum, Viator, The Journal of Medieval History, The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Traditio, The Catholic Historical Review, Studia Monastica, Revue Bénédictine, Cahiers de civilisation médiévale, Revue Belge de Philologie et d’Histoire, Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte, Le Moyen Age, Studi Medievali, and Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique. His latest Dismantling the medieval: Early Modern Perceptions of a Female Convent's Past (Brepols, 2021), addresses questions about continuity and rupture in the memory culture of early modern communities of religious women.

In 2005, 2010, and 2015, Ghent University's Special Research Fund awarded Vanderputten five-year terms as research professor. His visiting fellowships include Clare Hall (Cambridge University, 2003), the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton, 2005), the Forschungsstelle für Vergleichende Ordensgeschichte (Eichstätt, 2008), the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (Wassenaar, 2009-2010), the Flemish Academic Center (Brussels, 2011-2012), the Institute for Advanced Study of Indiana University (Bloomington, 2012), the Institute of Advanced Study of the University of Bristol (2017), and the Accademia dei Lincei (Milan/Brescia, 2017). In April 2012 he was awarded the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award by the Humboldt Foundation for his contribution to historical scholarship. In October 2013 the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts proclaimed him Laureate in Humanities. The title of Laureate is the Academy's highest distinction for scholars.

He has led/is currently leading six major funded research projects. His latest and ongoing project is titled 'The Quest for Otherness. Uncovering Narratives of Religious Distinction in the Long Tenth Century' and is sponsored by FWO. In 2009-2014 he also acted as spokesman of the international research group "Conventus. Problems of religious communal life in the central middle ages"; he is currently acting as council member of the "Henri Pirenne Consortium for Medieval Studies" and “Episcopus”, and as member of the Scientific Committee of the collections "Corpus membranarum Capuanarum" (Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane) and "Vita Regularis" (LIT Verlag). From 2012 onwards, he has been  associated to the Forschungsstelle für Vergleichende Ordensgeschichte (FOVOG) of the Technische Universität Dresden. In 2015, he was the acting coordinator of the special strand "Reform and renewal" of the International Medieval Conference in Leeds. He is a member of numerous commissions at Ghent University, and is currently acting as vice-chair of the Henri Pirenne Institute for Medieval Studies.


PhD, Ghent University