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At the beginning of the eighteenth century Russia began to come into its own as a major European power. Members of the Russian intellectual classes increasingly compared themselves and their autocratic order to states and societies in the West. This comparison generated both a new sense of national consciousness and intense criticism of the existing order in Russia. In this course we will examine different perspectives on Russian history and literature in order to try to understand this changing state and society.


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.


Participation in the course will be evaluated as follows:

  1. class participation and response papers (25%)
  2. two 4-5 page papers (25% each)
  3. final examination (25%)

Reading each week will run in the neighborhood of 100-150 pages. Attendance in each class is mandatory.


Reading assignments should be completed before each lecture. The following books are required, in addition to course study materials:

Cracraft, James, ed. Major Problems in the History of Imperial Russia. Lexington, Mass.: D. C. Heath, 1994.

Dune, Eduard. Notes of a Red Guard. Edited by Diane Koenker, and S. A. Smith. Univ. of Illinois Press, 1993.

Gibian, George, ed. The Portable Nineteenth-Century Russian Reader. Viking Penguin, 1993.

Hosking, Geoffrey. Russia: People and Empire. Harvard UP, 1997.

Tolstoy, Leo. Hadji Murad.

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