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Students are asked to write weekly short papers of approximately 2 pages responding to the readings (8 in all). In addition there will be two medium-length papers analyzing documents (4-5 pages each, due on session 8 and session 21). Each student will lead one class with questions prepared in advance for everyone to consider. At the end of the course there will be a final examination.
1 Introduction to the Course
2 Introduction to the Russian Empire Response Paper: From your brief acquaintance with Russia's geography and history so far, what can you tell about the role of geography and ethnicity in Russian history?
3 The Muscovite Heritage For Discussion: Be sure to examine closely the Ulozhenie of 1649. What did it mean to be a serf in 18th century Russia?
4 Peter the Great and the Petrine Reforms Response Paper: What is Hosking's main argument and what is Anisimov's? How do they compare?
5 The Age of Catherine II For Discussion: Catherine II had quite a number of formative issues to cope with during her tenure as tsarina. Which would you say were the most important and why?
6 The Eighteenth-century Nobility Response Paper: The nobility in the late 18th and early 19th centuries was trying in a new way to determine its role in the evolving state. How do you think the nobles you have read saw themselves? What were some of the competing pressures they faced?
7 Bureaucratic Monarchy For Discussion: What do you think of the concept of "enlightened bureaucracy"? How far do you think constitutionalism could go in this period?
8 The Decembrists

Short Paper (4-5 pages): Comment on the trial of the Decembrists. How do you think their views were and were not recognized by Tsar Nicholas I? To what extent do you think this was a "show trial," i.e., a trial with a foregone conclusion?

Or: Consider the Decembrist movement as a culmination of everything you have learned in the course so far. How did the movement reflect the stresses being experienced by both the state and the nobility in this period. Consider the causes leading to the rise of the secret societies and their evolution over time.

9 The Institution of Serfdom
10 Nobility in Literature Response Paper: How is the nobility portrayed in these two different stories (both excerpts from longer works)? They are set in very different contexts; yet there are many ways in which they both reveal enormous self-criticisms of the nobility. What do you think Pavlova and Goncharov are trying to say about their own estate?
11 Serfdom in Literature For Discussion: How is serfdom treated in these different stories?
12 Alexander II and the Great Reforms Response Paper: Comment on the Great Reforms of Alexander II. From what you have read, how successful do you think they might have been?
13 The Radicalization of the Intelligentsia Response Paper: Comment on Nechaev's and Narodnaia Volia's demands. How do they relate to the revolutionary tradition dating back to the Radishchev and the Decembrists? What has changed? What has stayed the same?
14 Village Life after the Great Reforms
15 Reaction and Counter-revolution Response Paper: What can you say about the nature of conservative sentiment in late Tsarist Russia? Why do you think there was such a pervasive commitment to the extremely reactionary policies?
16 Empire-Building
17 War and Peace in the Caucasus Response Paper: Comment on the portrayal of Chechen and Russian societies, their values, their ways of interacting as portrayed by Tolstoy in this novella.
18 Late Imperial Russia
19 Workers' Lives Response Paper: Comment on the factors in everyday life that might have led to a worker's radicalization in the late 19th century. You may want to draw on your knowledge of the industrialization process itself as described in Pavlov and Bonnell as well as in the autobiography of Kanatchikov and the fiction of Gorky.
20 The Revolutions of 1905
21 The Constitutional Monarchy Short Paper (4-5 pages): What do you think were the most important forces that made the Tsarist Empire fall apart?
22 World War I
23 The End of an Era
24 The Revolutions of 1917
25 Memoirs
26 Review

A sample long paper assignment from a previous year's version of this course may also be downloaded (PDF).

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