Education: B.A. Russian and History, Cornell College; M.A History, University of Nebraska at Omaha; Ph.D. History, University of Illinois at Chicago
Ben Whisenhunt is a Professor of History at the College of DuPage in Illinois.
When did you first develop an interest in Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies?
Like many people my age, it was the events of the 1980s. I was in high school and college for much of that time and things were changing rapidly. I had taken German and Spanish in high school, but I did not care for either. Once in college, I took Russian and I guess I was hooked. I had a special affection at that time for two Russian/Soviet writers, Ivan Turgenev and Mikhail Bulgakov.
How have your interests changed since then?
My initial interests in Russian history were in law and education. I have moved away from that over the past decade or so. Now, I am researching and writing about Russian-American Relations. I published (with Marina Swoboda) a translation of Pavel Svin’in’s travel narrative in America from 1811-1813 in 2008. Most recently, I published a reprint of Marguerite Harrison’s Marooned in Moscow in 2011. This edited edition includes an introduction, footnotes, photographs and material from Russian and American archives to help complete her story.
What is your current research and/or other educational project?
I am currently working on three projects. First, I am working a travel/course for my college to take students to Russia in May 2015. This will be my fourth student trip to Russia. Second, I am co-editing (with Norman Saul) a collection of essays on Russian-American relations with scholars from the US, Russia, France and Italy contributing. It is an exciting collection of essays covering more than two centuries of relations. Third, I am writing a biography of Albert Rhys Williams (1883-1962). He was an American journalist who was an eyewitness to the Russian Revolution and a lifelong defender of the Soviet system.
What do you value about your ASEEES membership?
As a person who teaches at a community college, I value it quite a lot. I faithfully use the ASEEES resources (including the National Convention) because there are few on my campus who have an interest in this field. In many ways, it is my lifeline into the field.
Besides your professional work, what other interests and/or hobbies do you enjoy?
I enjoy traveling, biking, hiking, and reading. I even sneak in a little archery with my son.