|Hist. 124: The Russian Revolution
Seminar in Scholarly and Creative Inquiry
M W F 1100-1150 Wyatt 204
Department of History
Office: Wyatt 128
Email (preferred method of contact): email@example.com
Telephone: X 3391
Office Hours: M 2-3, W 12-1, F 1-2
Class web resources:
Course Moodle page: access through moodle.pugetsound.edu
Course library page (with links to sources and other information): accessible through the library website subject guide at http://alacarte.pugetsound.edu/subject-guide/91-History-Subject-Guide
The Russian Revolution was a defining event of the twentieth century. It transformed or shortened the lives of millions of inhabitants of the Russian Empire and, after a bloody civil war, produced the world’s first socialist state that polarized politics the world over. Interpreting “revolution” in a broad sense, this course examines political, social, economic and cultural revolutions in the Russian Empire between the end of the nineteenth century and the consolidation of the Soviet order in the 1920s. A wide range of readings—including historical studies, revolutionary programs, memoirs, diaries, and fictional works—illustrates how the revolutionary period was experienced and lived by people from different social and ethnic groups. Close reading, structured class discussion and scholarly papers will advance students’ skills in framing and exploring questions, establishing claims and evidence and responding to multiple and often controversial points of view.
The course begins with an examination of the Russian old regime and its interlocked crises: economic underdevelopment, boiling social tensions, radical revolutionary movements, and destabilizing national divisions. We discuss different possible trajectories of change from 1905 to 1914, a period that saw the near-collapse of the autocracy and a short period of semi-constitutional rule, reform and intellectual exploration. The First World War reignited political, social and national upheavals that would only be put down by the Bolsheviks in the 1920s. Key questions will include: Was revolution inevitable in Russia and why? Could revolution have brought about political and social freedom rather than the despotic Bolshevik regime? Finally, how did Stalinism emerge from the Russian Revolution?
To advance skills in critically evaluating arguments, developing academic writing and public speaking.
To explore key questions of interpretation about the Russian Revolution.
To provide an introduction to the historian’s craft of constructing of interpretations using evidence.
To investigate the use of different kinds of sources and voices in understanding the past.
The following titles are available for purchase at the Campus Bookstore and through online services. They are also available on two-hour in-library reserve at Collins Memorial Library.
-Richard Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution (NY: Vintage Books, 1996)
Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001)
-Mikhail Bulgakov, Heart of a Dog (New York: Classic House Books, 2009)
-Course reader (listed as “CR” below).
A. Participation (12%)
This is a discussion class. You are expected to come to class having done the readings for that day and be prepared to offer questions and thoughts about them. Full participation in class discussions—not merely being present—is necessary for a satisfactory grade in the course. Note that active participation can take different forms, such as drawing connections, posing questions, and listening and responding to the comments of other students.
B. Discussion papers (21%) (See instructions below and the very end to find your group)
Each student will write 3 discussion papers. These papers give you an opportunity to consider an aspect of the readings for the day the paper is due and pose a question or raise an issue that the class as a whole might discuss. The due dates for these papers depend on which group you are assigned to (see below).
C. Take-home midterm exam (20%)
Guidelines to be distributed in class.
D. Final Project (30% overall) (See appendix to syllabus on final paper)
The final project includes the following components:
a. Prospectus for your final project (see instructions below)
(3% of final grade)
b. A 7-9 page analytic essay on a particular individual of your choice who lived and participated in the revolutionary period in Russia. It must include a bibliography (see instructions below)
(23% of final grade)
c. A short in-class presentation on your final project in the last few classes of the course. Presentations will be done in groups on related topics. (guidelines to be distributed in class)
(4% of final grade)
E: Quizzes (17% total)
4 quizzes will be given on dates indicated in the schedule below. The quizzes include multiple choice and short answer questions. They are designed to encourage reading and note taking. They do not require preparation beyond what is already expected of you: diligent reading, reflection on readings, and active participation in class. You may use your own notes on the readings during the exam but NOT the readings themselves, even if you have taken notes in the margins. You may not use a classmate’s notes during a quiz. Quizzes will not be offered multiple times, but if you have a valid reason for missing class that day your grade will not suffer from it.
GUIDELINES FOR DISCUSSION PAPERS:
You will belong to a paper group—A, B, C, and D. Discussion papers for your group are due on the days indicated in the course schedule below. Discussion papers are due in class. Given that the papers are meant to spur discussion, you will not receive credit for late papers (in certain circumstances, I may allow you to switch the day for which you write a discussion paper, but you should ask permission in advance). Discussion papers should be typed and be at least 3 full pages (12-pt. font, double-spaced). As in all writing in history, your paper should be analytical; it should make an argument. A major goal of the papers is for you to develop your own view of the material based on the reading. To this end, you must cite at least one primary source reading for the day. Of course, you will want to cite ideas in the scholarly works we use (mostly the Pipes and Fitzpatrick volumes). But you should read these textbooks critically—do not simply borrow these books’ interpretations, but use the books to formulate your own views. You MAY wish to use your discussion papers grapple with questions I have provided under PREP for each class, but this is not necessary or recommended: the questions are listed under each class simply to give you a sense of some questions to ponder.
Structure of discussion papers:
The discussion paper has two components: a topic discussion and an issue identification.
Topic Discussion: For the topic discussion, you should write 2-3 paragraphs about some aspect of the reading for that day that grabs your attention and you would like to discuss. The goal is not to summarize the reading. Instead, I would like you to identify some theme or issue presented in the reading and to interpret its significance. You do not need to deal with the reading as a whole; you may want to focus on a smaller part or passage. You may wish to draw comparisons between the readings of the day, or between the reading of the day and previous readings. You may wish to discuss how the reading relates to some larger issue in the class. You should include at least one quotation from the reading in your paper and at least two citations with page numbers (see bit on citations below).
Issue Identification: The second component of the discussion paper is the identification of an issue that might be suitable for class discussion. This might consist of a brief question, or a few sentences of provocative thought, or simply the identification of a quote along with a brief statement about why you think it merits discussion. It may or may not be connected to your topic discussion. Be prepared to present your issue ID to the class.
Feb 6: Quiz 1 in class
Feb 27: Quiz 2 in class
March 12: Take-home exam due at 5 PM in folder outside my office
March 30: Quiz 3 in class
April 6: Library session in Collins Memorial Library 118
April 18: Prospectus for final project due at 5 PM in folder outside my office
April 22: Quiz 4 in class
May 13: final paper due at 12 noon in folder outside my office
Attendance at all class meetings is expected. Each unexplained absence is viewed with irritation and dismay; after three absences, the final grade in the course will be dropped by half a letter grade. I will distribute an attendance sheet at each class. You are responsible for making sure your name is on it. If medical or family emergencies prevent you from coming to class, please let me know before or soon after the class.
I strongly encourage you to visit me in office hours. There is no need to schedule an appointment during scheduled office hours. If you are unavailable during these times, please contact me in advance by email to schedule a meeting.
The best way to reach outside of class is via email. Please check your UPS email account—or an alternative account you provide to me—regularly. On occasion, I will send emails to the class to provide you with reading questions and important contextual information. I try to respond to email as quickly as possible, but I cannot promise that I will respond promptly to messages sent on weekends or holidays.
Claims for academic accommodation for an individual’s learning disabilities must be directed at the beginning of the semester to Disabilities Services at the Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching at 253.879.2692.
All assignments must be submitted at the start of class on the due date or as otherwise instructed. Papers should be typed, double-spaced, and proofread, with page numbers and proper citations.
Please submit papers in hard copy only. Late papers can be sent by email (be sure that you have attached the file).
Late work will be penalized at the rate of ½ a letter grade per day late (a ‘B’ paper handed in two days late becomes a ‘B-‘) and will not be accepted more than five calendar days following the due date. Please notify me before the paper is due if health or family emergencies prevent you from submitting work on time.
You are strongly encouraged to review UPS’s policies on academic honesty and plagiarism as detailed in the Academic Handbook. You are responsible for being familiar with the university’s policies. Plagiarism will result in a 0 on the assignment in question, with greater penalties possible.
Students who want to withdraw from the course should read the rules governing withdrawal grades, which can be found at http://www.pugetsound.edu/student-life/student-resources/student-handbook/academic-handbook/grade-information-and-policy/#withdrawal
GUIDELINES FOR WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS
All written work should be double-spaced, 12 point font, preferably Times New Roman or something like it. Please put your name on the first page only (this allows me to grade “blindly”)
On citations for written works: For all written works in the course, please use footnotes according to the Chicago Notes and Bibliography System (detailed in the library page for the course). You may cite course readings in an abbreviated way, for example: Pobedonostsev, History 124 course reader, 3 (course reader page number); all literature cited from outside the course readings should receive full footnotes. A bibliography is required for the final paper (not annotated), but not for the response papers or the midterm.
Part One: The Demise of the Old Regime
January 18: introduction to course
In class: Vladimir Lenin, introduction to John Reed, Ten days that Shook the World (CR)
Crane Brinton, The Anatomy of Revolution, pp. 15-20 (CR)
January 20: Russia: historical introduction
The syllabus (please come with questions if anything is unclear)
Walter G. Moss, “Lands and peoples: from ancient times to the present,” in A History of Russia (CR)
January 23: Social Crises of the Old Regime: rural life (group 1)
Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, 3-10 (“The Peasantry”)
Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, 10-18
Anton Chekhov, “Peasants” (CR)
PREP: What was the status of the peasantry after the abolition of serfdom in 1861? Why were free peasants still, in many cases, discontent with the legal and political order? What values dominated peasant culture in Chekhov’s depiction? Is this fictional account consistent with the Pipes reading?
January 25: Russian educated society (group 2)
Richard Pipes, Russia under the Old Regime, 249-269 (CR)
Chekhov, “Gooseberries” (CR)
PREP: What was distinctive about the place of educated society in Russia according to Pipes? What is an intelligentsia? Why did opposition to Tsarism appear among it? Does Gooseberries illustrate any of the themes from Pipes?
January 27: Intellectual rebels in Russia (group 3)
Richard Pipes, Russia under the Old Regime, 269-280 (CR)
Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, 24-25
Praskovaia Ivanovskaia in Five Sisters: Women against the Tsar, 98-142 (CR)
PREP: How does Pipes explain why so many educated Russians define themselves in fundamental opposition to the Tsarist system? Does Pipes pass a judgment on them, and do you find his account persuasive? What might Pipes have to say about Ivanovskaia’s memoir? Does it confirm his point of view?
January 30: Nicholas II and reactionary rule (group 4)
Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, 10-20 (“Official Russia”)
“Pobedonostsev’s Criticism of Modern Society,” in Basil Dmytryshyn, ed., Imperial Russia: A Source Book, 1700-1917, 2nd ed. (CR)
PREP: The goal of today’s class is to get a preliminary look at the autocracy that ruled Russia. What was wrong with the Russian autocracy at the turn of the century? Was Nicholas II’s ineffectiveness as a ruler a product of personal failures or the political traditions he represented? Pobedonostsev was an advisor at court and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church for many years. On what basis does he reject liberal and democratic politics? Why was autocracy appropriate for Russia? Why couldn’t the ignorance of the masses be remedied in his opinion?
February 1: Marxism in Russia (group 5)
K. Marx and F. Engels, excerpts from The Communist Manifesto (CR)
Cecilia Bobrovskaya, “Twenty Years in Underground Russia: Memoirs of a Rank-and-File Bolshevik” (CR)
PREP: Why might Marxism appear to be poorly suited to Russian conditions? What does the Bobrovskaya source say about why a Marxist movement appeared in the Tsarist Empire?
February 3: Lenin and Leninism (group 6)
Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, 26-32
Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, 101-113 (“Lenin and the origins of Bolshevism”)
“Lenin’s Conception of the Vanguard Party,” from Imperial Russia: A Source Book (CR)
PREP: What was the appeal of Marxism, an ideology for industrial workers, in overwhelmingly peasant and agrarian Russia? The big question: did Leninism contradict classical Marxism or adapt it faithfully to Russian conditions? How did Lenin differ from other early Russian Marxists? What does Pipes have to say about the origins of Lenin and how his background might have been tied to his politics?
February 6: The non-Russians
Geoffrey Hosking, “Russification,” from Russia: People and Empire to page 390 only (CR)
Primary Sources on Mixed Marriages in the Russian Empire (CR)
Quiz 1 in class
February 8: The Russian Jewry and anti-Semitism (group 7)
Geoffrey Hosking, “Russification,” from Russia: People and Empire, 390-397
“Mary Antin: A Little Jewish Girl in the Russian Pale, 1890” (CR)
Vladimir Medem, “The Youth of a Bundist,” in the Golden Tradition: Jewish Life and Thought in Eastern Europe, 426-434 (CR)
PREP: The two primary sources focus on the Jewish experience in the Russian Pale of Settlement. What was everyday life like in the Pale? Why did violent pogroms become a reality in imperial Russia? What does Medem say about why socialism appealed to significant parts of Russian Jewry?
February 10: The consolidation of radical Russia (group 8)
Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, 27-30
A Radical Worker in Tsarist Russia: The Autobiography of Semen Ivanovich Kanatchikov Reginald E. Zelnik, trans. and ed., 302-317 (CR)
PREP: Kanatchikov was an industrial worker of peasant stock who became a dedicated Bolshevik. His memoirs were written after October. How does his memoir explain the rise of worker opposition before 1905? Why did the revolution of 1905 occur and how did the Tsar manage to survive the ordeal? How did Kanatchikov and his comrades view the intelligentsia?
February 13: 1905 and the collapse of the autocracy (group 1)
Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, 31-45 (“The Revolution of 1905”)
Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, 32-35
Documents from Gregory L. Freeze, ed., From Supplication to Revolution: A Documentary Social History of Imperial Russia (CR)
February 15: The Constitutional Experiment: Stolypin (group 2)
Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, 36-39
Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, 45-56 (“Stolypin”)
Petr Stolypin, “We need a Great Russia” (CR)
PREP: Today’s class focuses on the experiment with constitutional rule in the wake of 1905. Why was the figure of Stolypin so important for this period? To what extent does Pipes view Stolypin with sympathy?
February 17: Russian culture at the turn of the century (group 3)
Petr Struve, “The Intelligentsia and Revolution,” in Vekhi / Landmarks: a Collection of Articles about the Russian intelligentsia, 145-154 (CR)
PREP: Struve, one of the founders of Russian Marxism, moved away from intelligentsia radicalism after 1900. The Landmarks volume brought about acrimonious disputes among educated Russians. Why was that the case? According to Struve, how should political oppositionists approach the reactionary Russian autocracy?
Part Two: Imperial Decline and Collapse, 1914-1917
February 20: The brewing catastrophe: Russia in the Great War (group 4)
Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, 56-75 (“Russia at War”)
Kowalski, The Russian Revolution, 1917-1921, 20-31 (CR)
PREP: How did WWI influence the longstanding tensions in Russian society such as the peasant problem, the intelligentsia problem, and the nationalities problem? What impact did Russia’s early losses in the war—the so-called Great Retreat of 1915—have on the country?
February 22: meeting with exchange from student from Crimea, Ukraine (in class)
February 24: The February Revolution (group 5)
Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, 75-92 (“The February Revolution”)
Documents from Kowalski, The Russian Revolution, 1917-1921, 35-41 (CR)
PREP: Why did the unrest in Petrograd in February 1917 bring about the fall of the dynasty whereas the regime had survived decades of similar unrest and revolts? Of what significance were the actions of elites—particularly military leaders and politicians from the prorogued Duma—in bringing about revolution?
February 27: Experiencing the February Revolution
quiz 2 in class
February 29: The woes of the Provisional Government (group 6)
Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, 92-97
Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, 40-49
“Provisional Committee of the State Duma, Proclamation” (CR)
Kowalski, The Russian Revolution, 1917-1921, 51-57 (CR)
PREP: On what basis did the Provisional Government claim the right to rule? What was the relationship between the PG and the Petrograd Soviet? What was the impact of the Provisional Government’s June Offensive in WWI? Why didn’t the PG leave the war given its difficulty of ruling?
March 2: The Revolution deepens: summer 1917 (group 7)
Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, 49-61
Petr Petrovich Shidlovsky, “Things fall apart,” in The Other Russia, 54-63 (CR)
Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, 113-128 (“The Bolsheviks’ Failed Bids for Power”)
PREP: How does Shidlovsky depict changes in the country, and particularly in the countryside, during the unstable months of rule of the Provisional Government? Fitzpatrick argues that a “popular revolution” occurred in the course of 1917. Pipes focuses on the Bolsheviks’ political diversions and plots. Does Shidlovsky suggest that one or the other argument is more persuasive?
March 5: no class (other academic obligations)
March 7: The October Revolution (group 8)
Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, 128-149 (“The Coup”)
Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, 61-67
Kowalski, The Russian Revolution, 1917-1921, 72-76 (CR)
Vladimir Lenin, “Marxism and Insurrection,” from The Lenin Anthology, 407-413 (CR)
PREP: Was October a revolution or a coup d’etat? What degree of social support did the Bolsheviks have in deposing the Provisional Government and “all power to the Soviets”? What are Pipes’s positions on these issues and do you find them persuasive? Why did Kerensky and the other radical parties fail to stop the Bolsheviks? How does Lenin justify the need for an insurrection? How did the Petrograd Soviet and the other radical political parties fit into Lenin’s political strategy?
March 9: no class (other academic obligations)
March 12: the Russian Revolution in film: screening and discussion
Note: if you do not attend the film screening you will need to make up this assignment by watching Eisenstein’s Ten Days that Shook the World on your own time and writing a two-page paper analyzing its portrayal of the Russian Revolution.
Take home midterm due
March 13—18 Spring Break
Part Three: War and Reconstitution, 1918-1921
March 19: The Bolsheviks’ survival in power I: oppositions and old elites
Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, 150-165
Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, 87-92
Kowalski, The Russian Revolution, 105-109 and 216-217 (CR)
Source on the nationalization of the state treasury (CR)
PREP: How did it prove possible for the Bolsheviks—who had called for the planned Constituent Assembly to decide Russia’s constitutional future—to rule as a one-party dictatorship? Why did democrats, including democratic socialists, fail to mount an effective opposition to the October Revolution/coup? Why did the Bolsheviks wield terror against their opponents? Can such violence be justified by revolutionary ideology?
March 21: The Bolsheviks’ survival in power II: WWI and the Left SRs (group 1)
Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, 166-191
Seventh Bolshevik Party Congress, “Resolutions for Peace and War, March 8, 1918” and “Accounts in the Press. July 7, 1918”
March 23: Civil War (group 2)
Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, 233-259 only
Kowalski, The Russian Revolution, 118-123 (CR)
Trotsky on the Red Army (CR)
PREP: Why did the White” forces—which represented the Tsarist establishment and included many leading figures from the imperial army—fail to defeat the Bolsheviks? What were some weaknesses of the different centers of opposition to the Bolsheviks: the Volunteer Army in the South, the states supported by the Czech Legion in the Volga area, and Admiral Kolchak’s forces in Siberia?
March 26: War Communism (group 3)
Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, 192-210
Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, 78-82
Documents on Grain Requisitions (CR)
Alexis V, Babine, A Russian Civil War Diary: Alexis Babine in Saratov, 1917-1922 (CR)
March 28: Red Terror (group 4)
Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, 211-230
Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, 72-78
Sofia Volkonskaya, “The Way of Bitterness,” in In the Shadow of Revolution: Life Stories of Russian Women from 1917 to the Second World War, 140-157 (CR)
PREP: What were the major components of War Communism? How did the countryside fit into the Bolsheviks’ plans? Was War Communism an ideological agenda or a tactical response to wartime conditions? How does Volkonskaya describe and explain the changes in Russian life during the Civil War? How do you explain the harsh measures meted out against those officially dubbed “former people,” citizens disenfranchised for their connections to the old regime?
March 30: Revolution and Civil War in Ukraine: one big mess
Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, 275-285, 259-265 (on Jews during Civil War)
Mikhailo Hrushevsky, “A Free Ukraine,” Towards an Intellectual History of Ukraine: An Anthology of Ukrainian Thought from 1710 to 1995, eds. Ralph Lindheim and George S. N. Luckyj , 227-238 (CR)
Quiz 3 in class
April 2: Spreading Revolution or recreating empire? The Russian Revolution Looks West (group 5)
Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, 286-299
Isaac Babel, Red Cavalry (New York: W.W. Norton, 2003), “Crossing the River Zbrucz,” “A Letter,” “The Reserve Cavalry Commander,” “Gedali,” “My First Goose” (CR)
PREP: Babel’s semi-autobiographical novel Red Cavalry depicts the Bolsheviks’ war against the newly created Polish state in 1920. The action takes place in Eastern Poland/Western Ukraine, a territory settled largely by Ukrainian peasants and Jewish city dwellers. Why were the Jews major victims of the Civil War period? Like Babel himself, the narrator was in a unique and highly complicated position as a Jew fighting in a Cossack unit of the Red Army. How did the Red Army interact with the local populations? What picture does Babel draw of the Red Army?
April 4: no class: individual meetings on final paper projects
Sign-up sheet to be distributed in class
April 6: Library session in Collins Memorial Library 118
We will be meeting with history liaison librarian Peggy Burge to discuss research for your final projects.
April 9: Anti-Bolshevik Revolution? Anarchists, bandits and others in 1920-1921 (group 6)
Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, 93-102
Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, 343-360 only
Excerpts on Makhno and the Krondstadt Rebellion in The Anarchists and the Russian Revolution, ed. Paul Avrich (CR)
PREP: Why and how did the Bolsheviks retreat from the radical agenda of war communism? Why did revolts of the Russian masses threaten to dislodge the communist regime in 1920 but not in 1917-1919? What was the role of Makhno’s army and how did it become so powerful? What drove sailors at the Krondstadt naval base—a pillar of Bolshevik power in 1917—to revolt against the party?
April 11: Culture and revolution (group 7)
Pipes, Concise History, 312-330
P. I. Lebedev-Polianskii, “Revolution and the Cultural Tasks of the Proletariat” September 16, 1918 (CR)
April 13: Revolution, women and the family (group 8)
Pipes, Concise History, 330-333
Fitzpatrick, Russian Revolution, 84-87
Barbara Evans Clements, "The Birth of the New Soviet Woman," in Abbott Gleason, Peter Kenez, and Richard Stites, eds., Bolshevik Culture: Experiment and Order in the Russian Revolution (CR)
Alexandra Kollontai, Theses on Communist Morality in the Sphere of Marital Relations (1921) (CR)
PREP: How did avant-garde intellectuals see their place in the revolution? Is there a contradiction between the individual creativity of artistic creation and the politicized and (frequently) violent ethos of the revolution? Was the “New Soviet Woman” a new entity or a continuation of previous trends? What was the zhenotdel that Clements discusses? What were Lenin’s views on the “woman question”? What does the letter in the Soviet press tell us about the party’s view on women and the real experiences of women during the revolutionary period?
April 16: Political culture and the succession to Lenin
Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution, 107-119
Trotsky, “The New Course” and Zinoviev’s response (1923)
PREP: Why did Stalin win the leadership contest in the USSR? As historians, should we focus on Stalin’s political acumen, Lenin’s decisions, the political culture of the party, or some other factor? What do our readings say about Stalin as a politician and a Marxist? Can you imagine a scenario in which some other Soviet leader might have defeated him in the struggle for power?
April 18: reading day/submit prospectus
Prospectus for final project due on April 18, 3 PM in folder outside my office
April 20: The Soviet Union in the 1920s: Bulgakov’s Heart of a Dog
Mikhail Bulgakov, Heart of a Dog, entire
PREP: Bulgakov was a Russian from Kyiv/Kiev from a religious family (his father was a priest at a Theological Academy). He fought in WWI and then served as a medical doctor with the Whites in the Civil War. He had difficulty getting published in the USSR due to the anti-Soviet nature of his convictions; Heart of a Dog (1925) was only published in Russia in the 1980s. He probably only avoided arrest in the 1930s due to the fact that Stalin liked one of his writings.
For our discussion of Heart of a Dog, please find a passage or section in the text that you think is important. We will jump right into discussion by working off some of your ideas. A few questions:
-how does Sharik appear as a dog and then in his later incarnation? Who was Chugunkin, whose organs are implanted in Sharik?
-how does Bulgakov depict the interactions of Preobrazhensky with the housing committee? How does he resist their inroads on his apartment? Were such interactions possible in the NEP-era USSR?
-How does Sharikov interact with Shvonder and the other communists?
-is doctor Preobrazhensky a positive character or not? Are his inventions of positive value to society? What conclusions does he draw about his experiment?
April 23: fellow travelers (and quiz!)
Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, 299-311
Quiz in class
April 25: Drawing conclusions about the Russian Revolution
Fitzpatrick, Russian Revolution, 1-14
Pipes, A Concise History of the Russian Revolution, 383-406
PREP: Evaluate the extremely negative view of the Russian Revolution presented by Pipes. Based on our work this semester, do you see any flaws in his arguments? Pretend that you are a Bolshevik sympathizer (if you are not one already)—how would you attempt to refute the evaluation of the revolution presented here?
April 27: presentations
April 30: presentations
May 2: presentations
Discussion paper groups
1 Aubrie Bates, Megan Baunsgard, Emily Doyle
2 Anne Fetrow, Emma Franz
3 Shelby Isham, Lauren Lee
4 Zachary Ludwig, Auna Lundberg
5 Melissa Marlin, Theodore Oja
6 Julia Owens, Jonathan Pearl
7 Marina Popkov, Ethan Sheldon
8 Christie Smith, Julie Taquin