Michels received his Ph.D. in Early Modern Russian and East Slavic History from HarvardUniversity after training as a Slavic linguist at UCLA and GöttingenUniversity in his native Germany. His monograph At War with the Church: Religious Dissent in Seventeenth-Century Russia (Stanford, 1999) explores the multifaceted forms of resistance (religious, elite, popular) triggered by imposed reforms in the Orthodox church liturgy. His many other publications investigate the history of the Old Belief (Russia’s principal movement of religious dissent), religious persecution and intolerance, the Russian patriarchate (1589-1700), and Russian-Ukrainian relations. Michels is also co-editor of Russia’s Dissident Old Believers, 1650-1950 (Minneapolis, 2009).
More recently, Michels expanded his research to the Hungarian lands of the Habsburg Empire where imposed religious changes (i.e., the Counter Reformation) generated not only significant local resistance but escalated into a major international crisis culminating in war between the Ottoman and Habsburg empires and the 1683 siege of Vienna. This research was awarded the American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship and the UC President’s Research Fellowship in the Humanities. Michels was also Visiting Professor at HarvardUniversity and the Europe Institute of the HungarianAcademy of Sciences in Budapest. He has received grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, HarvardUniversity’s RussianResearchCenter, National Endowment of the Humanities, Social Science Research Council, and International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX).
Michels currently serves on the editorial boards of the journals Hungarian Cultural Studies and Canadian American Slavic Studies. His favorite activities include learning foreign languages (most recently Hungarian and Turkish), working in the archives in Budapest and Vienna, and hiking (especially in JoshuaTreeNational Park in Southern California and NorthYorkMoorsNational Park in England).
Co-editor of Russia’s Dissident Old Believers, 1650-1950 (Minneapolis, 2009)