This course discusses Russian history
from the 1825 to the present. It focuses heavily on cultural history,
particularly in the nineteenth century, but also covers the main
events in recent Russian history. It also discusses the history of
nationalities in Russia and the USSR, attempting to include Central Asian and Russian-Jewish
the course readings. It is a
reading-intensive, upper division course.
Class structure: This
course meets for four hours a week (not
counting the supplementary readings), for three lectures and one
section. The discussion sections will be
devoted to class readings. Students are
expected to contribute actively to discussions.
Figes Natasha’s Dance
McCauley The Soviet Union, 1917-1991 (2nd
There will also be an extensive
course reader/reserve book list
Grading system: midterm 20%
essay 40% final 30%
discussion section 10%
The midterm and final
have the same format, with two
parts. In the first part, students will
answer ID questions on various key terms and concepts.
In the second part, students will select one
of three essays to answer in class. The
final will include an additional cumulative essay.
The essay is 12 pages
long (times new roman, double spaced, font size 12, footnotes included,
counting bibliography, maps or charts). Students must identify a
historiographic problem or controversy, making reference to at least
historians, and then discuss primary sources in light of this
making reference to at least three different primary sources. In total, students must cite ten non-internet
sources. A list of suggested topics will be given out, but students are
encouraged to choose their own topics with the approval of the
The map quiz is
graded as part of the discussion sections.
Supplementary readings in Russian
Literature: Companion course
Students with a special interest in Russian culture
extra course credit by reading works of Russian belles
lettres during the first 12 weeks of the class.
We will meet for one hour each week to
discuss these books as contributions to Russian intellectual history. Students must write a research essay based on
those works in the last weeks. This is intended for senior students
Russian language, Russian history, or Russian studies.
(It might be designed in cooperation with, and cross-listed in,
a Russian language
Attendance is not mandatory for lectures, but
is mandatory for discussion sections on all weeks except week 1 and
week 8 (the
midterm review session). To count as
“present,” students must BOTH be present AND have a one-page response
about the readings for that week’s discussion section, printed in bold letters on the syllabus. The
response paper is pass-no pass, it is not
graded for content, which should encourage students to give their
opinions. However, no credit is given for the response paper if the
The two map quizzes will be graded pass-fail
as part of the discussion section. Both
quizzes include five basic geographical features, students must
identify all five. Students who do not pass will be marked as absent an
day for each quiz they do not pass. The geographic features students
required to know are: Moscow, Leningrad/Petersburg, Ukraine, Poland,
mountains, Uzbekistan, Siberia, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, the
The response paper has two objectives.
It encourages students to complete the
reading by the discussion section, and it helps them to critically
primary and secondary sources. These skills are important for the
paper, but also for a liberal arts education generally.
Tolstoy War and Peace (1)
Intro to class: Russia’s geography, population
The old social order: Nobility, clergy, raznochintsy,
Diversity of Russian Agriculture: State peasants, Obrok,
Barshchina, black earth, Cossacks.
Figes, “European Russia,”
Tolstoy War and Peace (2)
The service state and the army. Napoleon’s invasion of
The discontented nobility: Decembrism (1815) and its
Nicholas I “the stick” and his early years.
“Paradomania” and the state peasant reforms.
Figes, “Children of 1812”
Lermontov A Hero for our Time
The Russian Empire in Siberia, Alaska, and Central Asia
Islam in Russia: Ottoman-Russian relations after Kuchuk
kainarji (1774), war in Caucuses
Russian diplomatic relations with the rest of Europe:
The Holy Alliance
Moshe Gamer Muslim Resistance to the Tsar, 23-46, 113-129, 167-191
Figes, “The Descendants of
Genghiz Khan”, 358-410; Map quiz 1
Radischev Journey from Saint Petersburg
The beginnings of the Russian Intelligentsia: Radischev,
Westernizers and Slavophils
Non-Russian intelligentsias: Ukrainians,
Poles, Jews, Tatars
The Holy Alliance in action: Poland 1830, Hungary 1848.
Figes, “Children of 1812”
119-146; Herzen My Past and Thoughts,
132-184 (52 pages)
Ottoman Politics, Religion, and the Crimean War.
Nicholas I’s death, Alexander II.
Great Reforms and the abolition of serfdom. The zemstvo.
Figes “The Peasant
Decree of Feb 19
Supplement: Turgenev Fathers and Sons
Russian nobility’s response to the end of serfdom
The radical Russian intelligentsia: Socialism, populism,
“going to the people.”
The zemstvo liberal. Russian “capitalism.”
Democracy” Riha 409-429 (34 pages total)
Breshkovskaia “Going to the People” Riha, 357-371
; Figes “In
Search of the Russian Soul,” 325-354
Cherneshevsky What is to be done?
Alexander III and conservatism.
Nicholas II and his advisors. Witte and the Railroad
empire in Manchuria.
The emerging Russian working class. The
on the Eve of War and Revolution, ch. 8-10 (60 pages)
The Durnovo Memorandum Riha 457-470 (13 pages). Stolypin’s Report of 1906
Shalom Aleykhem In the Storm
The Russo-Japanese war and Russia’s defeat. The
Revolution of 1905.
The Duma. Stolypin’s “wager on the strong.” Optimism and
[In discussion section: review for midterm]
Solzhenitsyn August, 1914
Russia in the First World War. Tannenberg, the Brusilov
offensive. Trench warfare in the east.
The fall of the Romanovs, the provisional government.
Revolution in the countryside.
Lenin’s life and pre-revolutionary career. The
Bolshevik party to October 1918.
McCauley “Revolution” 1-37
3 March 1917
History of the Russian Revolution.
“Capture of the Winter Palace” (around 40 pages)
Land, Peace, Bread. Brest-Litovsk. German defeat, War
The civil war in Ukraine, the Caucuses, Turkestan,
Baltic. Makhno vs. Pilsudski.
War in the countryside: Greens, Whites, Reds. Why the
of Toiling and Exploited…http://www.dur.ac.uk/~dml0www/decright.html; Chokaev’s memoir
Economic Catastrophe and NEP. Socialist social policies
in the cities. Socialist arts.
Lenin’s death and the power struggle between Trotsky and
Experts and Proletarians in the Stalinist system. The
Monkhouse Moscow, 1911-1933, 93-147 (54 pages) McCauley
“New Economic Policy,” 48-77.
Collectivization of agriculture, the Ukrainian famine,
and Soviet Industrialization.
Soviet Diplomacy from the Cominern to the
The Nazi invasion, occupation policy. Nationalism vs.
McCauley “The Thirties” part of “Great Fatherland
speak for the silent”, Zdanov “Adventures of an Ape”
Partisans and the countryside. Stalingrad-Kursk-Berlin.
The beginnings of the cold war, the doctor’s plot, and
Khruschev and destalinization. “Virgin Lands.”
McCauley “Great Fatherland
war (conclusion),” “Last Years of Stalin.” 152-202
Kuznetsov. Babi Yar 21-37, 149-166,
Khruschev’s fall. The Cuban Missile Crisis. The Cold War
Brezhnev and his social contract. Corruption,
giganticism, and stagnation.
Islam in the USSR. The invasion of Afghanistan.
Andropov and Chernenko.
Kotkin Steeltown, USSR 1-53 (53 pages), Figes
“Russia through the Soviet Lens,”489-521,
McCauley, “Brezhnev” 216-315.
Gorbachev, Glasnost and Peristroyka.
Yeltsin and the coup. The CIS. Economic collapse.
Chechenya and Putin’s Russia.
Kotkin Steeltown USSR, 161-203 (42 pages)
Final exam: Time, Place