History | Heroes & Villains in Russian History
D303 | 11121 | Eklof

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.  With legendary figures such as Peter the
Great, Catherine the Great, Nicholas II, we look at the myth-making
process surrounding their lives to learn what such myths, as much as
the truth of their lives, tells us about Russian identity and its
search for a “usable past” (a term to be discussed in class).  We
also look at more obscure figures (Avvakum, Andrei Rublev,
Kanatchikov, Vera Figner, E. Ginzburg), whose lives embody
significant themes (religious belief, rebellion against the state,
martyrdom and heroic deed, or major groups-the peasantry, nobility,
workers, intelligentsia).  We pay equal attention to the experiences
and contributions of women to Russian history.  This is a course
focusing on Russians; the lives of the colonized peoples of the
Russian Empire, the world’s largest, cannot be treated in a course of
this brevity and chronological sweep (we will travel from the time of
the Mongols-13th century, to the Gorbachev era).  We watch, and
analyze, parts of famous films on several of these figures, again, to
address how myths are constructed.

Requirements:  There will be three exams (all essay, one take home).
The exams will be each count for 25%; the remaining 25% will be for
regular in-class quizzes on Thompson.

Readings:  [subject to change]
J. Thompson, Russia and the Soviet Union (4th edition:  Westview,
1997) (background)
M.S. Anderson, Peter the Great (Second Edition:  Longman, 1995)
Isabella de Madariaga, Catherine the Great (Yale, 1990)
(An  autobiographical accounts or accounts)
Assignments on e-reserve