Department of History
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
I have specialized for most of my career on the cultural, intellectual, and social history of Russia and the Soviet Union in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. My recent and current research focuses on cities, revolutions, emotions, religion, violence, and utopias. My most recent book is Russian Utopia: A Century of Revolutionary Possibilities (in the series “Russian Shorts” / London: Bloomsbury, 2021). Other recent books: The Russian Revolution, 1905-1921 (Oxford University Press, 2017) and the extensively revised ninth edition of A History of Russia, with Nicholas Riasanovsky (Oxford, January 2018). My most recent article: “The New Socialist City: Building Utopia in the USSR, 1917-1934,” International Critical Thought 11:3 (2021), 427-449, 10.1080/21598282.2021.1966819. Current projects include Crooked and Straight in the City: Stories of the Street, Night, and Morality in Odessa, Bombay, and New York City in the 1920s and 1930s and preparing a 10th edition of A History of Russia. I retired from teaching in June 2021 and now live in Brooklyn, New York and Turin, Italy.
Older publications include Moral Communities: The Culture of Class Relations in the Russian Printing Industry, 1867-1907 (California 1992); The Fall of the Romanovs: Political Dreams and Personal Struggles in a Time of Revolution, with Vladimir Khrustalev (Yale 1995); Voices of Revolution, 1917 (Yale 2001); Proletarian Imagination: Self, Modernity, and the Sacred in Russia, 1910-1925 (Cornell 2002); Petersburg Fin-de-Siecle (Yale, 2011); plus a video/audio lecture series, A History of Russia: From Peter the Great to Gorbachev. I have also co-edited a number of volumes, including Cultures in Flux: Lower-Class Values, Practices and Resistance in Late Imperial Russia, ed. with Stephen Frank (Princeton 1994); Sacred Stories: Religion and Spirituality in Modern Russia, ed. with Heather Coleman (Indiana 2006); Religion, Morality, and Community in Post-Soviet Societies, ed. with Catherine Wanner (Indiana, 2008); Kul’tury gorodov Rossiiskoi imperii na rubezhe XIX – XX vekov, ed. with Boris Kolonitskii (St. Petersburg, Evropeiskii dom, 2009); Interpreting Emotions in Russia and Eastern Europe, ed. with Valeria Sobol (Northern Illinois, 2011).
From 2006 to 2013, I was editor of Slavic Review, the interdisciplinary academic journal of ASEEES, the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, of which I served as president in 2019. For three years I also coordinated the Illinois Department of History’s “Center for Historical Interpretation,” which focused for three years on Global Utopias (http://globalutopias.weebly.com).
I was born in San Francisco in 1953. I received a B.A. from U.C. Santa Cruz in 1978 and a doctoral degree from U.C. Berkeley in 1987. In the 1970s, I worked in New York City as a taxi driver and a printer’s apprentice. I have taught at the University of Oregon, Harvard University, Yale University, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (from 1996 to 2021). The amazing drag artist Sasha Velour is my son.
Official department page (with link to CV): https://history.illinois.edu/directory/profile/steinb
Recent Interview on the history of protest in Russia, for Russian media project “Russia of the Future,” Reforum.io, by Daria Gavrilova, summer 2020, posted December 8, 2020
Recent courses (and links to syllabi)
- Film and Revolution: From “Do the Right Thing” to “Battleship Potemkin” (History 300A / Spring 2021)
- Urban History: Exploring Modern Cities (History 381 / Spring 2021)
- Russian History from Early Times to the Present: Experience, Imagination, and Power, (History 260 / Fall 2020)
- History 560: Russian and Soviet History, 1881-1939 (Fall 2020)
- History Now! “A Century of Revolutions, 2017-1917: From Black Lives Matter to the Russian Revolution.” Co-taught with Prof. Jessica Greenberg (Anthropology) (History 102 / Fall 2017)
- The Russian Revolution, 1905-1921, (Education Justice Project, Spring 2017)
- Approaches to History (593 / Fall 2015)
- History of the Soviet Union: Experiencing Revolution (462 / Spring 2015)
- Russia from Peter the Great to the Revolution (461 / Fall 2014)