Eli Rubin

Eli Rubin

Eli Rubin

Dr. Eli Rubin
Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison (2004)
Modern Europe; Germany

Office: (269) 387-4646

Curriculum Vitae

4418 Friedmann Hall

Mailing Address
Department of History
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5334


Dr. Rubin teaches upper level undergraduate courses in modern European history, including “ Europe 1919-1945,” “ Europe 1945-Present,” “The Holocaust in History and Memory” and “Material Culture and Technology.” He also teaches introductory, survey undergraduate courses, including “Modern Western World” and “World History Since 1500.” He has alsoserved as a faculty facilitator for the First Year Experience program. 


Dr. Eli Rubin specializes in modern European history, German history, material culture, the history of the Cold War, and World War Two. Dr. Rubin is a recipient of the 2005 Fritz Stern Dissertation Award from the German Historical Institute in Washington, DC, as well as a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2007-2009) during which time he was a visiting scholar at the Center for Contemporary Historical Research (Zentrum für zeithistorische Forschung) in Potsdam, Germany.  He was awarded the 2011 Western Michigan University Emerging Scholars’ Award



His first book, Synthetic Socialism: Plastics and Dictatorship in the German Democratic Republic (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2008) looked at the role of plastics in the areas of official policy and everyday life inside communist East Germany.  It argued that this simple material, taken for granted in the West, became a highly valued substance within the world of communism for its high-tech potential, its association with modern design, and the fact that it allowed East Germany to build a consumer society apart from the capitalist world.  He has also published articles in journals such as German History, The Bulletin of the German Historical Institute, History Workshop Journal, The Journal of Design History and edited volumes such as Consuming Germany in the Cold War edited by David Crew, and The Socialist Car: Automobility in the Eastern Bloc, edited by Lewis Siegelbaum.

Rubin is currently working on two books, entitled Amnesiopolis: Material Memory and Plattenbau in Socialist East Germany and The Arc of Destruction: Materiality and Loss in Germany, 1937-1945Amnesiopolis is a history of Marzahn, the largest prefabricated housing settlement in the Eastern Bloc and in all of Europe, built on the outskirts of Berlin in the 1970s and 1980s, and focuses on the intertwined history of East Germans’ material surroundings, their sense-memories, and the physical and ideological realities of the PlattenbauArc of Destruction focuses on the progressive stages of destruction in the physical, urban environments of Berlin and other German cities and towns beginning with Nazi urban renewal projects and continuing through the bombing and urban combat of the war, and finally the weeks and months immediately after the end of the war.


Dr. Rubin teaches upper level undergraduate courses in modern Europe and Germany, including Modern Germany and The Holocaust in History and Memory, both of which are 4000 level baccalaureate writing courses, as well as History 3616: Europe 1919-1945 and History 3618: Europe 1945-Present, which are 3000-level writing intensive courses. 
He also teaches the general education courses History 1010: Modern Western World which satisfies the Area II (Humanities) distribution requirement, as well as History 3030: World History Since 1500 which satisfies the Area IV (Other Cultures and Civilizations) distribution requirement. Rubin has also taught History 2900: Introduction to the Study of History and FYE 2100: First Year Experience .  

Dr. Rubin has taught graduate seminars in historiography and modern Europe.  He welcomes applications from prospective graduate students at either the MA or the PhD level. (Click here for more information on applying)


Department of History
4301 Friedmann Hall
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5334 USA
(269) 387-4650 | (269) 387-4651 Fax