Illinois State University Speaker Series: Mark Steinberg
The Russian Revolution as Utopian Leap
Old Main Room, Bone Student Center
Mark D. Steinberg is a professor in the Department of History, as well as the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He specializes in the cultural, intellectual, and social history of Russia and the Soviet Union in the 19th and 20th centuries.
A century ago, amidst the catastrophe of world war, many Russians believed they were beginning a global transformation that would realize the deepest dreams of humanity for a fully humane world. A surprising expression of these dreams was public art, popular literature, and political writing filled with images of flight, wings, and even resurrection—of what Marxists called the “leap from the kingdom of necessity to the kingdom of freedom.” This talk will explore how many Russians, ranging from peasants and workers to intellectuals and political leaders, tried to capture the meaning of the historic age they were living through. In doing so, we will think about the complex relationships connecting revolution, religion, utopia, emotions, and history—and the principle of hope with the experience of failure.
Steinberg has published 13 books (a combination of monographs, edited volumes and a textbook that is now in its 9th edition and has been translated into Polish, Turkish, Chinese and Korean), the most recent of which is The Russian Revolution, 1905-1921 (Oxford University Press, 2017). He has also published dozens of articles, including several in Russian, and delivered numerous talks around the United States and abroad. His recent work focuses on revolutions, urban history, emotions, religion, violence, and utopias, and his new project addresses “the crooked and the straight” in urban public life in Odessa, Bombay, and New York City during the 1920s and 1930s.
The talk is part of the Speaker Series at Illinois State University. The Illinois State University Speaker Series seeks to bring innovative and enlightening speakers to the campus with the aim of providing the community with a platform to foster dialogue, cultivate enriching ideas, and continue an appreciation of learning as an active and lifelong process. All talks are free and open to the public.