Mark D. Steinberg

Professor of History, University of Illinois

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, forthcoming October 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). Current projects include Crooked and Straight in the City: Street, Night, and Morality in New York, Odessa, and Bombay in the 1920s and 1930s and preparing a 10th edition of A History of Russia. I retired from teaching at the University of Illinois in May 2021.

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 (

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. Sasha’s mother, Jane Hedges, a long-time scholarly editor, died of cancer in 2015. In the summer of 2020, I married Daniela Steila, a historian of philosophy at the University of Turin in Italy. In the years ahead, I will be living in New York City and Italy.

Official department page (with link to CV):  

Recent courses (and links to syllabi)

Recent Interview on the history of protest in Russia, for Russian media project “Russia of the Future,”, by Daria Gavrilova, summer 2020, posted December 8, 2020: . English