Professor Rittgers joined the VU faculty in the fall of 2006 after having taught for seven years at Yale University. He is the first occupant of the Erich Markel Chair in German Reformation Studies and also serves as Professor of History and Theology.
Professor Rittgers is interested in the religious, intellectual, and social history of medieval and early modern Europe. He teaches introductory courses on the Christian Tradition and offers more specialized ones on the Reformation, Martin Luther, Christian Spirituality, and Historiography (the history of historical enquiry). Additionally, he teaches courses on themes such as forgiveness and early modern religious thought. His first research project examined how the Lutheran version of private confession shaped the politics and piety of the German Reformation.
His book, The Reformation of the Keys: Confession, Conscience, and Authority in Sixteenth-Century Germany (Harvard University Press, 2004), was nominated for the American Society of Church History 2005 Philip Schaff Prize, and for the 2006 Columbia Council for European Studies Book Award. His second book, The Reformation of Suffering: Pastoral Theology and Lay Piety in Late Medieval and Early Modern Germany (Oxford University Press, 2012) examines the efforts of Protestant reformers to change the way their contemporaries understood and coped with suffering.
Professor Rittgers has received research grants from the German Academic Exchange Service, the Lilly Endowment, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, Germany. He has also served on the Governing Council of the American Society of Church
Professor Rittgers is married and has three sons. He enjoys hiking, cycling, soccer, playing with his kids, and watching Star Trek re-runs.
B.A. - Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL 1987
M.T.S. - Regent College, Vancouver, B.C., Canada 1992
Ph.D. - Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 1998