Sonja Ostrow
Sonja Ostrow, Ph.D., 
Assistant Professor of Arts and Humanities
  • Recipient of the Social Science Research Council's International Dissertation Research Fellowship

  • Recipient of multiple research grants from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

  • Invited to present research at institutions, including the Transatlantic Doctoral Seminar of the German Historical Institute, the Freie Universität Berlin, the University of Colorado-Boulder, and Vanderbilt University

  • Guest Historian on "The World that Wasn't" podcast

  • Contributor to the blog of the Journal of the History of Ideas

  • Worked as an advertising account strategist, directing consumer research projects and advising clients like Coke Zero, Microsoft Windows, and Old Navy on brand positioning and strategic direction

Sonja Ostrow's primary research interests are in modern German political and cultural history and the history of the human sciences. Her current project, based on her dissertation, examines the use of public opinion polling in western Germany after World War II as a lens onto the institutionalization of democracy after fascism and the application of scientific methods of management to national populations. Professor Ostrow earned her Ph.D. in modern European History from Vanderbilt University and her B.A. in History from Yale University. 

Professor Ostrow previously worked as an advertising account strategist, an experience which strengthened her conviction in the importance of historical inquiry to the analysis of culture and society in the present. In the societies and institutions of the past, she sees not only the sources of contemporary developments, but laboratories for understanding the challenges, possibilities, and complexities of modern life. At Vanderbilt University, Professor Ostrow taught courses on Modern Germany, the Holocaust, and the ethical dimensions of World War II. In her teaching, she aims to provide students with the analytical tools to formulate their own questions about historical and contemporary problems and sources. She also encourages students to sharpen their writing and communication skills, and further develop their abilities to construct and deconstruct narratives. Professor Ostrow teaches the first-year Multimodal Communications Cornerstone.