History | Icon & Axe: Russia from 1861 to the Present
D103 | 27272 | Ransel


Above class carries Culture Studies credit
Above class open to freshmen, sophomores, and Education
undergraduates only

This course offers an introduction to the main events and issues in
Russian history from the middle of the nineteenth century to the
present. It covers the great liberating reforms of Tsar Alexander II
that freed the serfs and explains the policies of rulers such as the
last tsar, Nicholas II, the revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin, the
brutal tyrant Joseph Stalin, and the last Communist leader Mikhail
Gorbachev. Lectures will focus on the great upheavals of the
nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including the emancipation of
the serfs, three revolutions, a civil war and two world wars. The
main textbook is "A History of Russia: Peoples, Legends, Events,
Forces" by a team of Georgetown scholars. Other materials include
readings in documentary sources.  Nearly all lectures will be
accompanied by slide images to illustrate aspects of the life of the
time being studied.  Grades will be based on three exams and five
short papers (one page each) responding to the documentary readings.
The exams relate directly to the course readings and lectures, and
students will be provided with study questions to help them organize
their exam preparation.

Cultural studies credit justification:

This survey of modern Russian history places at its center the issue
of cultural and personal identity and its effect in shaping the
character of Russian life and politics in the era since the Great
Reforms. The course explores not just the development of Russian
social and political institutions and cultural expression in
literature, art, and music but also the conflict, which is cultural
at its heart, between the nativist thinkers and the westernizers and
between the populists and the Marxists about Russia’s proper
identity and aspirations. During the Soviet period this same
conflict takes on the guise of a “cultural revolution” that seeks to
transform the human personality by creating the “new Soviet man,” a
devoted and selfless citizen of socialist society.