Mark Soderstrom, PhD

Mark SoderstromAssociate Professor and Program Chair
Department of History

Office Location: Dunham Hall, Room 214
Telephone: 630-844-6196
Email Address:

I came to Aurora University in 2011, and have enjoyed teaching here immensely. I particularly value working closely with students and seeing them make connections between course content and their own lives. My teaching interests range widely, though by training I am a historian of the Russian Empire. I am especially interested in studying individual lives as a way to make sense of the past, and am currently completing a book project on the lives, careers, and close personal friendship between Siberia’s first native-born historian and novelist. I have travelled widely across Russia, Asia, and Europe, and have studied at Moscow State University, St. Petersburg State University, Irkutsk State Linguistic University, and Edinburgh University. Having benefited immensely from these international experiences, as well as from close relationships with my own professors, I take a special interest in challenging students to see their lives within geographically broader and temporally deeper contexts, in encouraging them to define and pursue the questions they find most meaningful, and in helping them achieve their goals accordingly.

PhD, History, Ohio State University
MA, History, Central Michigan University
BA, History and Political Science, Central Michigan University

Areas of Specialization
Russia and the Soviet Union
Environmental History
World History
East Asia

Courses Taught
Russian History to 1917
Russian and Soviet History since 1917
East Asian History
Global Environmental History
World History I & II
Introduction to Historical Methods
Senior Seminar in History
Problems in History – The Soviet Experiment
Problems in History – Historians and “Modernity”
Western Civilization I & II
Human Geography
Introduction to Social Sciences
Secondary Social Studies Teaching Methods
Discover What Matters
Trajectories of Human History
Science and Society
Wellness and Social Responsibility

Highlights of Publications, Honors and Professional Contributions

“Siberia’s City on the Hill: Tobol’sk at the Apogee of Empire,” in Pavel Lyssakov and Stephen M. Norris, eds., The City in Russian Culture (New York and London: Routledge, forthcoming 2018).

“Big Empire, Little Stories: Biography, Microhistory, and Eurasian History.” World History Connected 14, no. 1 (February 2017).

“Russia’s February Revolution and the Precarious Politics of Nostalgia.” Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective (February 2017).

“‘And So Lived Our Ancestors’: Peter Slovtsov’s Urals Childhood and its Meanings.” Sibirica 14, no. 3 (Winter 2015): 28-43.

“Timofei’s Tale: Service and Selfhood in Eighteenth-Century Siberia,” in Emmanuel Waegemans, Hans van Koningsbrugge, Marcus Levitt, and Mikhail Ljustrov, eds., “A Century Mad and Wise”: Russia in the Age of the Enlightenment (Groningen: Netherlands Russia Centre, 2014): 181-193.

“Teaching the Meiji Restoration through Fiction and Film.” Japan Studies Association Journal 12 (2014): 44-56.

“Dissertating, Doubting, and Doing It Anyway.” Dissertation Reviews (October 2013). 

“Sibiriaki na sluzhbe imperii: Sluzhba i samoznanie (sluchai P.A. Slovtsova i I.T. Kalashnikova” [“Siberians in the Service of Empire: Service and Self in the case of P.A Slovtsov and I.T. Kalashnikov”]. Chapter in Sibirskii tekst v national’nom suzhetnom prostranstve [The Siberian Text in National Narrative Space], ed. K. V. Anisimov, 27-45. Krasnoiarsk: Siberian Federal University, 2010.

Numerous book reviews in Ab Imperio, Choice, Europe-Asia Studies, The History Teacher, Modernism/Modernity, Slavic Military Studies, and World History Connected.

“The Anthropocene, the Undergraduate, and the General Education Curriculum,” Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area Scholarship of Pedagogy Symposium, Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, IL, November 8, 2015. 

“Putin and Putinism in Perspective,” Arts & Ideas Faculty Speaker Series, Aurora University, Aurora, IL, November 18, 2015.

“Timofei’s Tale: Service and Selfhood in Eighteenth-Century Irkutsk,” International Conference of the Study Group on Eighteenth-Century Russia, Catholic University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium, July 17-22, 2014

“Enlightened Man v. Nineteenth-Century Man: Ivan Kalashnikov’s Autobiographical Novel Automaton,” Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies National Convention, Boston, MA, November 21-24, 2013.

“‘Believe me, wherever this man finds himself, he will be inseparable from Rome’: Peter Slovtsov’s Tobol’sk Sanctuary,” Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies National Convention, New Orleans, LA, November 15-18, 2012.

Professional Service and Honors:
Member, Executive Board, Midwest World History Association, 2014-
Fellow, Infusing Institute, East-West Center, 2016 and 2013
Fellow, NEH Institute “Tokyo: High City and Low City,” Florida International University, 2016
Fellow, NEH Institute “Transcendentalism and Reform,” Concord, MA, 2015
Fellow, Japan Studies Association Freeman Institute, Tokai University, 2013
Reviewer, Fulbright and IREX Russia Programs, 2013-
Dissertation Award, Ohio Academy of History, 2012
Presidential Fellowship, Ohio State University, 2010-11
Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Grant, 2008-09
IREX Individual Advanced Research Opportunities Grant, 2008-09 (declined)
Foreign Languages and Area Studies Fellowship, 2006-07

Highlights of Campus Involvement:
Chair, Department of History
Chair, General Education Committee
Chair, Trajectories of Human History (IDS 2020) Faculty Working Group
Faculty Advisor, Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society
Faculty Advisor, History Club
Faculty Mentor, Men’s Basketball Team