Bruce Berglund


  • B.A., History, University of Minnesota
  • Ph.D., East European and Russian History, University of Kansas


Professor Berglund throws baseballs in his yard, pushes kids on the swing, and rides his bike. He also travels a lot. He’s been to Bangkok, Beijing, Berlin, Budapest, Cracow, Croatia, Sarajevo, Slovakia, Slovenia, Transylvania, Trieste, Shanghai, and Xi’an. He is host of New Books in Sports, part of the New Books Network.

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Professor Berglund has done research on nationalism, art and architecture, and religion in 20th-century Czechoslovakia and Yugoslovia. He is co-editor of the essay collection Christianity & Modernity in Eastern Europe (Central European University Press, 2010).

See the review on H-Net.

He recently completed the manuscript of a book titled The Philosopher, the Architect, and the Social Worker: Religion, Art, and Ideals in Modern Prague. The book looks at the relationship of the first president of independent Czechoslovakia, T.G. Masaryk (the philosopher); the Slovenian architect Jože Plecnik, whom Masaryk commissioned to design the presidential seat at Prague Castle; and Masaryk’s daughter Alice, the American-trained social worker who led the new country’s Red Cross organization. Their lives and beliefs are set against the dramatic cultural changes of Prague in the 1920s-30s. The book will be published next year by Central European University Press.

His current research interest is global sports history. He hosts the weekly podcast New Books in Sports, which has featured episodes on Taiwanese baseball, Japanese sumo, Indian cricket, Scottish soccer, Canadian hockey, and American football. He is editor of the online journal The Allrounder, which offers essays on global sport by academics and journalists. He is working on an edited anthology of essays from The Allrounder, to be published in 2016 by Temple University Press, and he is researching a book on the history of world hockey.

Academic interests

As an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota, Professor Berglund studied different countries of the communist world: the Soviet Union, the East European states, and China. When he entered his graduate program at the University of Kansas, he chose to do his primary work in East European and Russian history and a secondary field in Chinese history. While his research work has focused on Eastern Europe, taking him to the Czech Republic and the former Yugoslavia, he has always included content on China and East Asia in the courses that he’s taught. Beginning in 2012, he took over teaching classes focusing on modern China and East Asia.

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Current projects

Cathedral and Castle in 20th-Century Central Europe: The Religious and the Modern in Architecture, Art and Thought, 1910-1939
This book will take a new look at the cultural history of Central Europe by addressing how artists, writers, and intellectuals addressed religion and religious themes in their work. The book focuses on Slovene architect Joze Plecnik, a Slovene trained in Vienna, who has been recognized as one of the most important architects of early 20th-century Europe. Some of his most notable works were completed in Prague during the 1920s-30s.

In addition to being a widely respected architect, Plecnik was also a faithful Catholic. He was one of a number of artists in the early 20th century, in Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, who were recognized both as modernists and believers. This book will discuss how they and their critics understood their work. The project is based upon research in Prague and Ljubljana, Slovenia, made possible by a U.S. Department of Education Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Grant, a Calvin College Alumni Association Grant, and a Calvin Research Fellowship. Initial research in the project was also completed by a Calvin student, with funding from a McGregor Summer Research Fellowship. That student, Melissa Smith, has gone on to bigger things. Check out the website about her research in architectural history:

Making Fans: A Cultural History of Sports in the Contemporary World
It was the night of January 24, 2010.  I was tucking my sons to bed, pulling up their purple-and-gold blankets, emblazoned with the logo of the Minnesota Vikings. On the wall above their heads was a large mural of the Vikings helmet, purple with the iconic white horn, and posters of their favorite players. We had just watched our team lose the NFC Championship in heartbreaking fashion, 31-28 in overtime. The New Orleans Saints went on to Super Bowl, while Vikings fans were again disappointed that their team had come so close to a glorious win, only to collapse at the end. As I kissed the boys goodnight, my older son asked, "Dad, are you surprised that they lost?"
            "No," I replied, in all honesty, "I would have been surprised if they won."
            "Then why do you keep rooting for them?"

There is a book in that question.

Making Fans asks: Why do fans follow teams? Why do they spend money on tickets and merchandise?  Why do they invest their time and emotional energy, and stake their identities to loyalty to a team? These questions are similar to those that historians of nationalism have been asking for the last three decades.  Just as nations are now recognized as constructed communities, in which narratives, symbols, and rituals mark the boundaries between "us" and "them," so can we look at supporters of teams as well-defined social groups that share stories passed from generation to generation, that participate almost instinctually in distinctive rites, and that nurture prejudices against rivals. Looking at clubs and their fans in different world regions, and in different team sports, Making Fans looks at these stories, rites, and prejudices, the ways that they are conveyed and learned, and how they have come to be, for many people in the world today, their most important source of identity.    

Read Bruce Berglund's posts on Historical Horizons, the history department blog.

Read his review of the 2015 documentary film on the Soviet ice hockey team of the 1980s. 


Christianity & Modernity in Eastern Europe (Central European University Press, 2010).

Encyclopedia and reference articles

“East European Christianity and the Boundaries of Europe,” article in Handbook of Global Contemporary Christianity, edited by Stephen J. Hunt, pp. 188-207. Leiden: Brill, 2015.

“Totalitarianism,” article in The Brill Encyclopedia of Christianity, vol. 5. Leiden: Brill, 2007.

Eastern Europe, article in Berkshire Encyclopedia of World History, edited by William H. McNeill, vol. 2, 603-610. Berkshire Publishing, 2004.

Ivo Andric, Edvard Benes, Karel Capek, Milovan Djilas, Jaroslav Hasek, Vaclav Havel, Milan Kundera, Tomas Masaryk, articles in Biographical Dictionary of Literary Influences: The 20th Century, edited by John Powell. Greenwood Press, 2004.


“‘We stand on the threshold of a new age’: Alice Masaryková, the Czechoslovak Red Cross, and the Building of a New Europe.” In Aftermaths of War: Women’s Movements and Female Activists, 1918-1923. Edited by Ingrid Sharp and Matthew Stibbe. Leiden: Brill, 2011.

“Demokratický Hrad jako posvátný prostor (Náboženství a ideály v obnove Pražského hradu)” [The Democratic Castle as Sacred Space: Religion and Ideals in the Renovation of Prague Castle], translated into Czech by Martin C. Putna, Souvislosti: Revue pro literaturu a kulturu (September 2007): 208-221. Read a PDF English version.

“Building a Church for a New Age: The Search for a Modern Catholic Art in Turn-of-the-Century Central Europe.” Centropa: A Journal of Central European Architecture and Related Arts 3, no. 3 (September 2003): 225-239. Winner of the 2004 Stanley Z. Pech Prize of the Czechoslovak History Conference.

“‘All Germans are the same’: Czech and Sudeten German Exiles in Britain and the Transfer Plans.” National Identities 2:3 (Summer 2000): 225-44.

“Political Culture and Cultural Identity: The Messages of Czechoslovak Propaganda in Britain during the Second World War,” published in Czech translation. Strední Evropa 14 (December 1998): 59-71.

Emigrantstina in England: Opposition to Edvard Benes during the Second World War,” published in Czech translation. Historie a vojenství 47:5 (September 1998): 26-60.

In the news

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Applied history allows Calvin to seek wise living in our time

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