History | Heroes & Villains in Russian History
D303 | 10004 | B. Eklof
Above class carries culture studies credit. Open to undergraduates
and Education MA's only. Meets with REEI-R 500.
This course examines major themes in Russian history through the
lives of colorful, controversial, mainly famous, but also obscure,
individuals. We examine biography and memoirs as historical
sources, and focus upon the connection between the private and
public, the individual and society. We look at the myth-making
process surrounding their lives to learn what such myths, as much as
the truth of their lives, tell us about Russian identity and its
search for a “usable past” (a term to be discussed in the course).
We watch and analyze popular films and “documentaries”, again, to
address how myths are constructed and why certain figures occupy a
permanent place in the Russian or Western imagination.
This year we will look at Ivan the Terrible and the consolidation
of the Russian [Muscovite] statehood; the obscure religious icon
painter Andrei Rublev; a peasant and religious rebels Stenka Razin
and Avvakum, legendary rulers Peter the Great and Catherine the
Great, the “blessed” Alexander I, victor over Napoleon in 1812;
populist female revolutionary and “terrorist” Vera Figner; Nicholas
and Alexandra [the “last Romanovs” ] and their “friend” Rasputin; ;
Stalin, and some obscure figures from the period of Stalin [Zoya
Kosmodemianskaya, a Jewish partisan executed by the Nazis; Pavlik
Morozov, a child who informed upon his own parents, and others] The
strategy will be to read a concise history of Russia, as well as a
full length biography of Peter the Great and a sprinkling of other
sources on E-RES.
Requirements: There will be two exams (a combination of in-class,
short essay, and take home essay). The format will be a
combination of informal lecture and discussion and for that reason
it is important that you regularly come prepared. I will
periodically quiz you to encourage such preparation, thus to enhance
the interactions in class.
Readings: [list is tentative]
Roger Bartlett, "A History of Russia"
John Channon, "A Map History of Russia"
Lindsey Hughes, "Peter the Great"
Other short readings on E-Reserve [also available for purchase as a