Professor Robert Berkhofer

Subject: History

Department/institution: Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo

Contact details: robert.berkhofer@wmich.edu


Research Interests

Robert Berkhofer is Associate Professor of History at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Professor Berkhofer’s research focuses on England, France, and Flanders in the period from circa 900 to 1200. He is particularly interested in documentary culture and the uses of literacy by monks and secular lords. He is currently finishing a book, Rewriting the Past: Monastic Forgeries and Historical Writing, 900-1200, which explores how medieval monks used writing to create usable pasts, including invented traditions, to affirm their communities and their interests in the present and future. It adopts a comparative approach to three important medieval monastic centres of writing: Christ Church, Canterbury, Saint Peter’s Ghent, and Saint-Denis near Paris. While at Clare Hall on sabbatical, he will be working on projects re-evaluating medieval monastic writings in light of forgery and documentary culture, including Eadmer’s Historia novorum and the Liber Eliensis.

His publications include Day of Reckoning: Power and Accountability in Medieval France (University of Pennsylvania Press) and the co-edited volume, The Experience of Power in Medieval Europe, 900-1350 (Ashgate).

Professor Berkhofer earned his BA from Cornell University and his MA and PhD in medieval history at Harvard University. During his time at Western Michigan, he has supervised more than two dozen MA students in medieval history and medieval studies and several PhD students. From 2016-2019, he was president of the Haskins Society, an international scholarly organisation dedicated to studying the history and cultures of the peoples of northwest Europe in the early and central middle ages. He is currently on the program committee of the International Congress of Medieval Studies, the largest gathering of medievalists (3000+) in the world, hosted by Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo annually each May.