Office Hours: Kira Stevens

Professor of History Kira Stevens has spent time in places all over the world, experiences which no doubt have influenced her teaching style.

Professor Stevens spent her childhood moving from place to place every few years, spending time in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Central Asia, Belarus, Eastern and Western Europe, Turkey, Latin America and West and Central Africa. She relates her time abroad to the experience of teaching history.

“History is like a foreign country,” Stevens said. “Trying to understand the past and helping others to do so too, is partly a puzzle and partly an intuitive process. Travel and studying history are both exercises in discovery.”

Professor Stevens’s parents certainly imparted to her a worldly view. Her mother is a Russian immigrant and her father, as she described him, was a “gandy dancer,” or a worker who laid railroad tracks across the U.S.

Professor Stevens earned her B.A. at the University of South Carolina and then went on to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor where she received her masters and PhD.

Professor Stevens specializes in early modern Russian history, a pursuit that was passed down to her from her mother.

“When I was in school, I had a tendency to procrastinate writing papers,” Stevens said. “But my mother had packed the bookshelves at home with Russian history textbooks, so it was easy just to pick one off the shelf and start reading.”

Professor Stevens also focuses on urban planning, which was her original career choice, although she admits that this ties in nicely with the study of history. Another specialty of hers is military history. She has written articles on the early modern Russian military and how it compares to other militaries of the time.

Her work has been published several times and she has published two books, the first of which, entitled Russia’s Wars of Emergence, 1460-1730, is about Russia’s rise as a world power. The second is called Soldiers on the Steppe, and is about 17th century Russian army reform.

In addition to English, Stevens is fluent in six other languages, including French, Spanish, German, Old Church Slavonic, Turkish and Russian.

Professor Stevens’s cosmopolitan outlook continues to assist her in teaching her students the study of history.

Contact Colin Sheridanat [email protected].