Last modified on December 16, 2021, at 21:01

Chester Dunning

Chester S. L. Dunning​

(Historian of European and Russia at Texas A&M University)

Born January 27, 1949​
Scotia, Humboldt County
California, USA

Resident of Bryan, Brazos County, Texas

Political Party Democrat[1]
Spouse Madelon Elsie Kersten Dunning

Stephen Dunning​
Harold L. and Helen L. Mills​ Dunning
Alma mater:
University of California, Santa Cruz
Boston College

Chester S. L. Dunning (born January 27, 1949) is an American retired professor of European and Russian history at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.[2]


Dunning is a fifth generation Californian, born in Scotia in Humboldt County. His father, Harold L. Dunning (1919-1998) was an electrician; his mother, Helen L. Mills (born 1926), a retired librarian living in Bryan, Texas. Dunning attended elementary school in Fortuna, California, and Montgomery High School in Santa Rosa. In 1971, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree with highest honors from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He received both his Master of Arts and Ph.D. with distinction in 1972 and 1976, respectively, from Boston College in Boston, Massachusetts, with the major field in Russian history. He was from 1975 to 1976 a lecturer at Boston College and from 1977 to 1979 an assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. In 1979, he joined the TAMU faculty.[3]

Academic career

Among Dunning's books is Russia's First Civil War: The Time of Troubles and the Founding of the Romanov Dynasty, twelve years in the research and writing, nearly seven hundred pages long, a History Book Club selection in 2001, published by the Pennsylvania State University Press.[4] Dunning explains further in the preface that though there were earlier civil wars, mostly of a local nature among princes in Russia, modern Russia begins in 1613 with the founding of the Romanov dynasty. Preceding that dynasty was the 15-year Time of Troubles, a reference to the severe unrest that nearly destroyed Russia after Boris Gudunov and before the appearance of the czar Michael Romanov.[4] This lengthy work is condensed to 342 pages in the 2004 volume entitled A Short History of Russia's First Civil War.[5]

Another Dunning work is The Russian Empire and the Grand Duchy of Muscovy, released in 2006. Dunning indicates that the primary purpose of this work is to rescue from obscurity Alexander Pushkin's original historical drama Boris Godunov.[6] Dunning maintains that Pushkin's play is a comedy, not a tragedy.[7]

In 2008, Dunning co-edited with Russell Martin and Daniel Rowland the 513-page Rude and Barbarous Kingdom Revisited: Essays in Russian History and Culture in Honor of Robert O. Crummey through Slavica Publishers in Columbus, Ohio.[3] Crummey (born 1937) is a retired professor of Russian studies at the University of California, Davis.[8]

Dunning has published refereed articles in Slavic Review, The Russian Review, The Slavonic and East European Review, Comparative Studies in Society and History, The Pushkin Review, The Sixteenth Century Journal, Russian History, Slavic and East European Journal, Stanford Slavic Studies, Canadian-American Slavic Studies, and Albion. He holds six distinguished teaching awards from Texas A&M. In 2012, Dunning received an endowed professorship, the Murray and Celeste Fasken Chair in Distinguished Teaching in Liberal Arts. His research reflects his interest in early modern Russia, Anglo-Russian relations, comparative history, and the impact of censorship on Russian literature. He has received research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Davis Center for Russian Studies at Harvard University.[9]​ ​

Personal life

Now in retirement, Dunning resides in Bryan, Texas with his wife,the former Madelon Elsie Kersten (born 1951 in St. Paul, Minnesota). Formerly of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Elsie Kersten is a graduate of Texas A&M University's College of Architecture, remodels homes and is a published photographer. Their son Stephen (born 1989) is a high school music teacher in Houston, Texas.​


  1. Confirmed by the Brazos County registrar of voters, 2008.
  2. Faculty: History. Texas A&M University. Retrieved on January 20, 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Chester S.L. Dunning. Retrieved on October 16, 2010; no longer on-line.
  4. 4.0 4.1 (2001) Russia's First Civil War: The Time of Troubles and the Founding of the Romanov Dynasty. Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 0-271-02074-1. Retrieved on October 16, 2010. 
  5. (2004) A Short History of Russia's First Civil War. Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 0-271-02465-8. Retrieved on January 20, 2020. 
  6. (2006) The Uncensored Boris Godunov: The Case for Pushkin's Original Comedy. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 0-299-20760-9. 
  7. Stephanie Simon and Stephanie Banchero (October 22, 2010). "Putting a Price on Professors: A battle in Texas over whether academic value can be measured in dollars and cents". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved on January 20, 2020.
  8. Robert O. Crummey.
  9. Chester S.L. Dunning. Retrieved on October 16, 201; no longer on-line.

​ ​​​​​​